INSIGHT AND RIGOUR: A FREUDO-LACANIAN APPROACH
The term ‘creative practitioner’ facilitates a certain kind of research, one that unites the notion of a level playing field for art and design production, with an analysis of creative lifeworlds from within. However, the universally applicable notion of the creative practitioner, which seems so distinct from the elites and coteries of genius, nonetheless continues to introduce ideas of creative exceptionalism, even at the highest levels of analysis. In 2007 in the UK, for example, an AHRC Research Review on ‘Practiceled Research in Art, Design and Architecture’ asserted that ‘The argument that professionals and teachers in ADA [Art Design and Architecture] need an approach to research that does not undermine their identity as creative practitioners is hard to refute’ (Rust et al. 2007: 48). A crucial argument that I will advance in this chapter, is that a psychoanalytic orientation shows that this ‘irrefutable’ assertion can indeed be refuted. The AHRC Research Review shows that a challenge still needs to be offered to the special or protected status accorded to the self-identity of the creative practitioner as a ‘given’ of arts-based research, despite the claim of Macleod and Holdridge in this volume, that current thinking has moved beyond theory as against practice (Chapter 20). I am however in agreement with MacLeod and Holdridge’s thesis that ‘arts research relates to the experience of the researcher whose world is drawn into the research project and within which, the formulation of the research is relative to the subject positioning of the researcher’. Psychoanalysis offers a specific investigative orientation, in which the act of making an address to unconscious thought as an analyst, researcher or investigator affects the construction of self-identity. A psychoanalytic approach emphasizes how the act of becoming an investigator places the researcher in a particular relationship to knowledge. Assuming the mandate of an artist-researcher within a psychoanalytic aegis would mean that one was inviting the possibility of a new understanding of the artist and a new conception of the art object. This is why most ‘applied psychoanalysis’ in art and design is not psychoanalysis at all, since it leaves existing relations of subject, object and practice intact. The position that I advance in
this chapter, is that the only properly psychoanalytic view in research is not the view from a theory or a practice, but the view from a subject position that has initiated the investigation. In the final section of this chapter, I show how this subject position that constitutes the rigour of the researcher, could arise as the response to a challenge to the identity of the creative practitioner. In this instance, the challenge arises not from an authoritative interpretation of art and design objects, but as a request for the articulation of the ‘function’ of the artist in a scrawled note at the 2008 Turner Prize.