Irregular, Vol.1, Issue.1, 2016

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Research about, through and for Art

25th of January 2016: launch of the Call for papers
28th of February 2016
: deadline for sending the studies / articles’ proposals
10th of April 2016
: deadline for sending the studies / articles in full text
29th of May 2016
: deadline for the peer-review process 
31st of July 2016
: deadline for studies / articles’ final editing
31st of August 2016
: deadline for publication of Irregular, Vol.1, Issue 1, 2016

Issue editors
: Assoc.Prof. Bogdan IACOB, PhD & Assoc.Prof. Mara RAȚIU, PhD 
Issue coordinators
: Assoc.Prof. Anamaria TOMIUC & Prof. Vlad ȚOCA, PhD



      The last half-century witnessed a significant increase in both the types and variations of the scholarly disciplines and cultural discourses that focused on circumscribing artistic phenomena and paradigms of artistic production, reception and social deployment.

       Firstly, within the field of scholarly disciplines which historically assumed the task of theorizing visual arts, namely art history and philosophical aesthetics, an evolution took place towards the diversification of their approaches to their object of study. As more and more thought paradigms have been integrated into the historical and philosophical research about art (critical theory, postmodernist philosophy, feminism, Marxism, post-colonial studies etc.), the mentioned fields of research developed numerous conceptual facets that changed them significantly and brought about new challenges.

       Secondly, during the last few decades, art has increasingly become the object of interest to various fields of the humanities and social sciences which have not consistently approached it during the process of their formation and academic consolidation. Anthropology and sociology come to mind as such disciplines, which have – rather recently respective to their histories – come to see art as an important topic to be approached within their specific area of research and with specific tools and methodologies. Thus, anthropology of art and sociology of art became major contemporary pathways of inquiry into the artistic phenomena, aiming at revealing especially social and/or cultural implications previously left aside by philosophical or historical endeavours.
      Thirdly, disciplines such as cultural studies and visual studies have sprung into scholarly and academic existence placing art or art related cultural practices at the very core of their research endeavours. However, their approach to this field is particularly characterized by an effort of integrating art and its derivatives into a more broadly encompassing and politically aware understanding of the cultural and symbolic forces at play in various and mostly contemporary societies and social groups.

      Finally, a multitude of papers have been written that attempt to deploy a provocative and often problematic mix of research methods appropriated from several of the traditional and more recent scholarly disciplines which aimed at circumscribing art. Thus, challenged by recent evolutions in the world at large and by the revolutions in defining the social and political role of art and of visuality brought about by the contemporary culture(s), the theoretical research about art is provocatively diverse and complex and, at the same time, more problematic and fragmented than ever.

       To the diversification of the theoretical approaches to art there adds – in a complementary and provocative manner – a new type of approach deployed within the artistic field, that described by the concept of artistic research. The milestone of the debate on the artistic research – initiated, in Western Europe, in the 1980s, in the context of extensive disputes over higher education funding – is the publication of the article Research in Art and Design by Sir Christopher Frayling in 1993. In this article, the renowned art historian pleads in favour of artistic research by proposing a classification of the types of research associated to the field of art and design: research into art and design, research through art and design and research for art and design.

       The first type of research is unequivocal as it refers to the theoretical research on / about art specific to the scholarly disciplines mentioned above. The second type denotes the artist / designer’s inquiry into the materials s/he works with, into the experiments and activities that s/he undertakes within the artistic process. The third one is, from Frayling’s perspective, the most problematic as it is defined as “[R]esearch where the end product is an artefact – where the thinking is, so to speak, embodied in the artefact, where the goal is not primarily communicable knowledge in the sense of verbal communication, but in the sense of visual or iconic or imagistic communication” (Frayling: 1993, p.5). The “thorny” nature of the concept of research for art and design consists in its inability to distinguish between the artistic practice that is not research and the artistic practice that qualify as research. A potential way of solving this is Frayling’s differentiation between the “cognitive tradition” and the “expressive tradition” of art. Regarding the former, the British art historian asserts that it surely opens research possibilities, while, concerning the latter, he expresses doubts that it qualifies as research (Frayling: 1993, p.5).

      Nowadays, the question remains: how do we separate art as research from art as mere practice? The answer to this question is crucial as long as the assimilation of any artistic endeavour – be it professional or amateur, academic or non-academic – with research would lead to the dilution and, then, disappearance of the specific features of artistic research, thus leading to the rejection of this type of research by the representatives of the scientific and administrative fields.

In the recent years, this question was the starting point of a significant series of academic analyses, whose pace visibly intensified between 2005 and 2015, once the PhD in the arts was introduced all-through Europe, in the framework of the Bologna Declaration. Projects and publications like Artistic Research. Theories, Methods and Practices (Hannula, Suroanta, Vaden: 2005) or Share. Handbook for Artistic Research Education (Wilson, van Ruiten (eds.): 2013), journals such as Journal for Artistic Research or Texte Zur Kunst have tried to explain the specificity of artistic research in relationship with other types of research by analysing the modalities in which diverse educational traditions have implemented the doctoral program in the arts and by reflecting upon the consequences of understanding art as research. The interpretations of artistic research slide from perceiving it as a means of “disciplinisation” of art to understanding it as a form of resistance against the neo-liberal system. Between these extremes, a dominant vision is forming, vision according to which the very nature of the artistic research resides in the artistic values.

      In the vein of those presented above, for the 1st Issue of IRREGULAR. Transylvanian Journal for Research in the Visual Arts, the editorial board launches a call for papers that are the results of diverse theoretical approaches and / or reflecting on the very state of discursive pluralism with respect to art. We are looking for papers touching on the topic of art and visuality and stemming from a multitude of perspectives and fields of research in humanities and social sciences, including but not restricted to: history, philosophy, sociology, anthropology, psychology, gender studies, communication, cultural and visual studies, political sciences, etc., written from the perspective of one or more of these fields. Topics of interest include but are not restricted to recent theories of art and culture, social and cultural implications of artistic practices, economic and political dynamics of art and culture, inter-disciplinary dialogues in the research of art and visual culture.

     Also, we are interested in papers that would contribute to the definition / clarification / nuancing of the concept of artistic research. There are encouraged studies / articles that theoretically approach the concept in relationship to the field literature, as well as studies / articles that reflect upon the artistic process in the sense of identifying the specific features of the artistic research activity, either from the perspective of the research through art or from that of research for art. A particular attention will be paid to artistic educational projects that are at the crossroad of the types of artistic research mentioned above.

      In addition to the studies / articles for the thematic section, the editorial board launches a call for papers for the other three sections of the journal, independently of the issue topic: the section dedicated to the artistic creation and research projects, the section dedicated to the doctoral projects in visual arts and the section dedicated to exhibition and book reviews, essays and interviews.

Frayling C. 1993. Research in Art and Design, Royal College of Art Research Papers series 1(1). 
Hannula M., Suroanta J., Vaden T. 2005. Artistic Research. Theories, Methods and Practices. Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki & University of Goteborg. 
Wilson M., van Ruiten S. (Eds.). 2013. Share. Handbook for Artistic Research Education. ELIA.
Journal for Artistic Research, [Online], URL: 
Texte Zur Kunst. 2001. ‘Artistic Research’. No.20.