Below is my ‘self-portrait of an inspired and reflective practitioner’, using audio and video samples to create a radio interview. I do find many of the tasks on self-reflection very limiting so I tend to think of ways I can illustrate the multi-dimensional parts of my creative-self.
Aspects of my practitioner-self that manifested during the process of creating a self-portrait include the presence of many personalities, as well as the combination of humour.
My practitioner-self has many sides and personalities, which are applied in different ways depending on the discipline, or area I am engaging in.
Aesthetics were not a defining feature in my self-portrait. Much of the literature on arts-based research seems to have a focus on aesthetics: that is, research artists asking participants to reflect upon a visual aid to evoke an outcome. However, it is clear from the media that I produced, that I have a strong focus on audio accompanied by a small amount of visual aid, (if anything to engage the listener visually and therefore to keep listening) as opposed to a drawing or graphic art. I rely on my ears and the listener’s ears to demonstrate my portrait.
It has long stood that my role as a creative practitioner, in the area of songwriting, is to evoke emotion and allow individuals to feel more connected in an increasingly disconnected world. Human connection, empathy and lack of judgment are all very important to me and I feel art, or in my case music, can be a wonderful way to forge these important values and characteristics.
To begin, I should make it clear that the formation of my portrait was very much based upon creative practice and art for art’s sake and art as opposed to inquiry-driven practice or art as a way of knowing. Except unless the exercise is to “know thyself”. Considering the nature of the pre-module activities for this subject, which asked us to reflect on some incredibly philosophical and religious questions, such as “Who Am I?” “Is there life after death?” and “Is anything real?, what follows is a critical examination into, not just my creative-practitioner-self and my processes, but also my methods of delivery and what this says about me as a human being and artist.
It is for the above consideration, to adequately reflect on my creative practice through the lens of inquiry, self-exanimation and reflection is required in the form of some self-focused questions. I do not feel entirely comfortable reflecting upon myself, particularly in a public blog. The exercise seems a little ego-centric for my liking. As Borgdorff (2012) suggests, a distinctive characteristic of artistic research is that it articulates our familiarity with the world and our distance from it.
None-the-less, two questions that come to mind are:
How can humour be used as a form of creative inquiry to explore oneself and behaviour?
Why do we feel, as artists that we must portray different personalities, or act out different personas?
Creative Inquiry is, as I understand, is a method of research that is a sect of arts-based research.
Art’s based research has attracted many varying definitions, though has been defined, by McNiff (1998a), as “the systematic use of artistic process, the actual making of artistic expressions in all of the different forms of art as a primary way of understanding and examining experience by both researchers and the people that they involve in their studies.”
Art is one of the most important means of learning about ourselves and the world around us. When people create or respond to art, they make connections between themselves and the experiences of others…It is because art extends personal and public awareness that it is valued as a human activity. (Sullivan 1994, p.5).
Reflecting on my self-portrait, I engage in a fictional interview, who Knowles (2008) suggests that when accompanying literal interviews, may offer the most universally accessible form[s] of arts-based research. In the interview, I break my practitioner-self into three separate people, in a radio interview, with myself, with an annoying, over-zealous radio interviewer:
- Broni Harri, the songwriter.
- Harrison the Artist – recording artist.
- Bron Harrison – Drummer and percussionist
and then further allude to three more creative personalities to be interviewed at a later date:
- Bronwyn Harrison – a business owner
- Broni Mary – sonic branding expert.
- Bronwana Harrison – video editor.
For me, this clearly suggests that I don’t like being boxed in, judged or pigeonholed and that I like to have different personalities that can appeal to different audiences when necessary, or as I see fit. I believe that art and humour in art can be used to decimate negative judgments and preconceptions.
I resonate with McNiff (1998a), when he gives examples of how the arts help us to improve the way we interact with others by learning how to let go of negative attitudes and excess needs for control, learning how to foster more open and original ways of perceiving situations and problems, gaining new insights and sensitivities towards others… learning how to create supportive environments that inspire creative thought, and realising that nothing happens in creative expression unless we show up and start working on a project, even with little sense of where we might ultimately go with it”. In this case, not knowing where art may ultimately, perhaps tails back to art for arts sake.
Freud (1912/1958) comments on the importance to approach research with an open mind, free from presuppositions.
My process for creative inquiry involves:
- harnessing a child-like spirit
- using humour as a parody and to demonstrate different parts of my personality
- thinking creatively
- using audio as the main source of stimuli
Furthermore, being a drummer and percussionist, and it also being one of my ‘interviewed personalities’ I was delighted by the examples sighted my Knowles (2008), in relation to how drumming and rhythm can connect people to forces of transformation and insight outside the rational thought.
It is true, from my empirical standpoint, that a synergetic experience occurs when people (even those that are not rhythmically or musically inclined) engage in a group activity involving rhythm. There is a deeply primal aspect to sharing rhythm with others, and I know first hand from my practice as a drummer and percussionist, particularly in the form of education and tuition, the innate power that rhythm has to transform individuals and help them grow and connect with others.
I have identified the following opportunities for inquiry in my own creative practice:
- be more mindful as to the source or origin of material and concepts when practicing
- engage in mindfulness
- ask Why? more when faced with a challenge
Borgdorff, H. (2012). The production of knowledge in artistic research. In M. Biggs & H. Karlsson (Eds.), The Routledge companion to research in the arts (pp. 44-63) . Oxon: Routledge.
Freud, S. (1958). Recommendations to Physicians Practising Psycho-Analysis. In J. Strachey (ed.). The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XII (originally published in 1912) New York Norton.
Knowles, G.J., (2008), Handbook of the arts in qualitative inquiry. Thousand Oaks. Sage Publications
Mcniff, S. (1998a) Arts Based Research. London. Jesica Kinglsey Publisher.
Sullivan, G. (2005). Art practice as research: Inquiry in the visual arts: CA: Sage Publications.