Our workshop entitled Rethinking the Concept of Prototype – Demonstrating Artistic Research was held on January 20. 2021 as an event of the methodology working group of the European Artistic Research Network (EARN). We – DA Tero Heikkinen, DFA Petri Kaverma and DFA Denise Ziegler – have been collaborating as an independent research group on the theme of the continuous prototype since 2017. We begun by having meetings for talking, but more recently, instead of only reasoning, we have also been drawing and engaging in other activities.
A Workshop with Responses
For the EARN conference, our group hosted a session in a video conference environment with – for us – an unusually large audience. We started our workshop with a hands-on part where we demonstrated with three exercises how an experimental artistic practice, in this case experimental engaging in drawing and sculpting can bring us back to the conditions where a fleeting situation might have started. The audience was encouraged to participate in the exercises, and the drawings and bricolages were shared by participants in their own video screening windows.
After our session PhD candidate Kasia Depta-Garapich and Dr. Falk Hübner responded to our experiential exercises through demonstrating their own artistic research practices. Kasia reflected on the archetype aspect of the continuous prototype introducing the performative project “The Mothers” (2020, with Małgorzata Markiewicz) during which the two artists made a male human form from wool.*
Falk Hübner again applied the Continuous Prototype research method on his Research Design model.** Our two guests gave us the opportunity to test our thinking in relation to other practices than our own. It was fruitful to discuss and demonstrate ideas in connection with other artist researchers, especially in the current online situations we are forced in. During and after the presentations the audience responded with more than hundred comments and questions through the video conference chat box. Many more comments were available than would have been possible in a conventional presentation. This online activity and response, in this peculiar time of covid-lockdown, helped us to open up the prototype thinking for new potential directions, and also a way to revisit and reflect on themes and questions we had ourselves already left behind.
During our session we were able to answer only a few of the questions and thoughts of the audience. We noticed that the feedback activities towards our workshop got a life of its own. Instead of using the chat box to deposit questions, the audience started to comment also to previous questions and used the chat box as a parallel medium for discussion.
Formulating Possible Conditions
For our collaborative work, we have coined the term Continuous Prototype. It is a metaphor, a construction through which we examine our work and our thoughts. For us, a continuous prototype is not only a concrete object but also a combination of thinking and doing. It both demonstrates the current state of our work and also the direction it might take.
We started from the observation that in artistic work practice, the discussion about prototypes points to material, technical or spatial experiments. In addition to this, it also points to experimenting with time or addresses imaginary issues. Conventionally, a prototype is directed towards the future, but we also use it to examine the past and bring cohesion to our current thoughts. We suggest that artistic work mostly takes place in this state of being a continuous prototype.***
In Continuous Prototype thinking, an artwork can function like a “frottage” of something that does not yet exist. In frottage, the hidden textured surface is made visible by rubbing a pencil over a paper. Like a frottage, the prototype reveals itself in the action of making visible that which is covered or hidden. The origin of artwork is in this action of the making-visible.
In our collaboration we have engaged in various exercises and activities relating to the theme. The Continuous Prototype is a conceptual method that enables to formulate the way artistic research practices work in the fields of fine art and critical design. It does not tell how to do artistic research methodologically but it points to possible conditions to fertilize it.
For our next project called Walking as Prototype, taking place during the Research Pavilion #4 Helsinki 2021, we physically approach monuments in public space in Helsinki. We also plan our next co-written article under the working title of: Missing the Point – Meeting the Line.
Petri Kaverma, Tero Heikkinen, Denise Ziegler
*** See co-written article Taiteellinen tutkimus – jatkuva prototyyppi (in Finnish) for the journal Tiede&Edistys (4/2017) http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fe202002246347
KuvA research activities
This blog highlights the activities of the research unit and doctoral programme at the Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki | Tämä blogi esittelee Kuvataideakatemian tutkimusyksikön ja tohtorikoulutusohjelman tapahtumia ja toimintaa | I den här bloggen presenteras verksamheten och evenemangen vid Bildkonstsakademins forskningsenhet och doktorandprogram