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Towards a Practice of Novel Epistemic Artefacts

By Stephen Scrivener


I was invited to contribute to Experimental systems: future knowledge in artistic research by its editor, Michael Schwab, who saw my writing on experimentation in artistic research of relevance to his intentions for the book. Authors were asked to consider experimentation in the light of Hans Jorg Rheinberger’s account of scientific experimentation in Towards a history of epistemic things. What captured my attention in this text is Rheinberger claim that the function of an experimental system is the differential reproduction of unprecedented events, or surprises, because I have argued along similar lines with regard to artistic design research. Rheinberger’s conceptualisation of scientific experimentation allows for a re-examination of theories of practice that give significance to the unexpected, but leads me to the conclusion that they cannot be understood as experimental systems, under Rheinberger’s definition, because they focus on the treatment of surprise, rather than on its production. Instead, I find his ideas exemplified in a completed doctoral degree programme, which I here describe and analyse, showing that it can be understood as an exemplar of an artistic design experimental system. Thus Rheinberger’s theory of scientific research provides support for my prior claims that the function of artistic design experimentation is the production of surprise

Topics: Fine Art, Design studies, Design Practice
Publisher: 'Leuven University Press'
Year: 2013
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Provided by: UAL Research Online
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