The ninth edition of the SAR International Conference on Artistic Research is organised by Geoff Cox, Azadeh Fatehrad, Allister Gall, Laura Hopes, Anya Lewin and Andrew Prior in partnership with Society for Artistic Research represented by Johan Haarberg, Gabriele Schmid and Geir Strøm. The conference is hosted by the Arts Institute at the University of Plymouth with additional support from Kingston University and the Contemporary Aesthetics and Technology research programme, Aarhus University, Denmark.
The provocation Artistic Research Will Eat Itself can be understood as a warning against the dangers of methodological introspection, or as a playful invitation to explore the possibilities of a field in a constant state of becoming. In this context, the ‘cannibalism’ of artistic research ‘eating itself’ embodies a dynamic tension between self-destruction and regeneration.
If artistic research eats itself, digests itself and then releases its own waste, does it stink and linger, fertilise new growth or invade new destinations on the bottom of someone’s shoe? If we are to constantly defend and define, are we in danger of having no art left, only the claims for its ability to embody knowledge? When we bite off our own heads do we grow new tails?
Critical perspectives on the discourse surrounding artistic research might be argued to already be too formulaic or self-defeating. Making a case for its own institutional legitimacy could unwittingly reinforce some of the very things artistic research aims to critique. Yet such onto-epistemological paradoxes can offer a rich territory for exploration along with generative practices that involve reflexivity, automorphogenesis, and recursive feedback loops. In recognising auto-cannibalism as an analogy for broader socio-political and environmental concerns, one of the challenges for artistic research is to respond imaginatively to the dynamic tensions between self-destruction and regeneration.