"Where is the hoop?" Reflections on academia, artistic research and artistic practice

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Carriage, L & Hill, M 2015, '"Where is the hoop?" Reflections on academia, artistic research and artistic practice', paper presented to the NACTMUS 2015 Conference: research methodologies for creative works: a backwards design approach, Brisbane, 23-35 November.


Ongoing change in both the university sector as a whole and within individual universities in relation to artistic research leads to continued uncertainty for the individual researcher as to where the hoop stands and what is involved in jumping through it. The incentive to frame arts practice as research is strong for academics in the creative arts where a research allocation and grants are at stake. However the driver for individual academics to maintain an arts practice can also be strongly linked to the need have currency, act as a role model and maintain “match fitness” in relation to undergraduate teaching. The distinction between art-practice-as-research and art-practice-in-itself (Borgdorff 2012) is manifest in the provision of the research statement for ERA, yet the guidelines for such statements are unclear. For example, what are effective measures of excellence when considering recorded music in an era where traditional distribution and marketing mechanisms are fast becoming redundant? In this paper, two academics working in a tertiary music program at a regional Australian university reflect on their experiences in navigating the shifting terrain of the notion of artistic research. The authors discuss their own creative practices and how these intersect with their teaching and research roles. They discuss how the university draws on artistic outputs and practices for marketing purposes. The authors suggest that the framing of art practice as research in every instance may be in part a response to the lack of recognition of the work involved in creating an “artistic output” within current university workload allocations. However there are implications here in terms of academics being funded to maintain professional practice that reach across many sectors (for example in education, health, business and law) that further complicate the issue.