Smoke and Mirrors - Staged Arguments and the Legitimation of Artistic Research

Vilnius Academy of Arts (VAA) and Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture (Aalto University) are starting a partnership by establishing Nida Doctoral School. It is a non-degree doctoral program at Nida Art Colony (NAC,, Neringa, Lithuania.
The first session will commence on the 19th and continue until the 25th of October, 2015. It will be an intensive course themed “Smoke and Mirrors – Staged Arguments and the Legitimation of Artistic Research.”

If science is a fairytale that is hard to disbelieve (Latour), then scientific research is nothing but scripting fiction. What's more, the latter is the domain of art. Be it truthful deceit, legitimate hocus-pocus, or real fiction, such a story requires a great deal of creativity and knowledge in carrying out such a persuasion. The persuasion, co-curated by Julijonas Urbonas and Justė Kostikovaitė, will be carried out at the inaugural courses of the Nida Doctoral School.

Nida Doctoral School has selected the following doctoral students to participate in the courses: Cibelle Bastos (Royal College of Art), Federica Bueti (Royal College of Art), Rafael Dernbach (University of Cambridge, Department of German & Dutch), Joanna Fiduccia (University of California, Department of Art History), Marina Noronha (Aaalto University), Liene Jakobsone (Art Academy of Latvia, Department of Design), Annelie Nederberg (University of Surrey, Department of Musical Composition), Soren Rosenbak (The Swedish Faculty for Design Research and Research Education, and Umeå Institute of Design - Umeå University), Dovilė Tumpytė ((Vilnius Academy of Arts, Doctoral Studies) Darius Žiūra (Vilnius Academy of Arts, Doctoral Studies).

The one-week courses will feature:
Dr. Piersandra Di Matteo (University of Bologna) will conduct a lecture and workshop on the “ceremony of the voice”, focusing on the topology of speech, a spacing of resonance and a renvoi between bodies, beginning with the notion of curatorial activities as imaginative systems based on human interactions and the physical possibilities of bodies. The workshop will explore the nature of voice and its ineradicable materiality, echoing in relational space. All the exercises will take place within a semi-structured frame that refers to the notions of presence, duration, and intersubjectivity.

Dr. Timothy Ingold (University of Aberdeen) will ask students to respond to his text „Dreaming of dragons: on the imagination of real life” and provide the feedback to the questions that arise.
This article draws on studies of medieval monasticism and northern indigenous ontologies to show how the rupture between the real world and our imagination of it, which underpins the official procedures of modern science, might be healed. Though science is not averse to dreams of the imagination as potential sources of novel insight, they are banished from the reality it seeks to uncover. Ever since Bacon and Galileo, nature has been thought of as a book that will not willingly give up its secrets to human readers. The idea of the book of nature, however, dates from medieval times. For medieval readers as for indigenous hunters, creatures would speak and offer counsel. But in the transition to modernity the book was silenced. This article suggests that by acknowledging our imaginative participation in a more-than-human world, and the commitments this entails, we can reconcile scientific inquiry with religious sensibility as ways of knowing in being.
Ingo Niermann (novelist, writer and artist, based in Basel and Berlin) will present a lecture and a workshop that deals with the subject matter called “autofiktion”. As soon as we write about our own future, we invariably make a bet: Which of these things can we achieve, which can we prevent? Fiction does not imitate life, but life imitates fiction.  Some stories are too good not to be true.
Dr. Stephen Wright (European School of Visual Arts) will present a lecture focussing on the theme “Users and Usership of Art: Challenging Expert Culture” and a series of workshops: 1. Usership: challenging the epistemocracy; 2. Usership: intercerebral collaboration; 3. Usership: deactivating art’s aesthetic function, activating its heuristic function.

Julijonas Urbonas (Vilnius Academy of Arts) will give a lecture and lead a workshop “Materialised philosophy: staged arguments, transtextuality and material hermeneutics in art and design”. What would happen to philosophy if it’s turn to things hypertrophied, and philosophical thought models turned to things?How would a philosopher-engineer, philosopher-cook, or philosopher-artist look like? What effect it would have on human condition and material environment? By discussing these questions, we will speculate upon the idea of thingly philosophy, namely, its methodology. The latter will involve various methods, thought models, and approaches borrowed from science fiction, speculative design, futurology and Julijonas Urbonas’s own practice. Special attention will be devoted to nonlinguistic approaches and their artistic manifestations.

Dr. Vytautas Michelkevičius (Vilnius Academy of Arts) will trigger self-reflection about methods and methodologies used by artists. Artistic research is still treated as "smoke and mirrors" in many disciplines and it is only up to us (involved with artistic research) to show our stance on the field and its relation to other domains of inquiry and art practice.

About the speakers:
- Dr. Timothy Ingold is Professor of Social Anthropology at the University of Aberdeen. He has carried out ethnographic fieldwork in Lapland, and has written on environment and social organisation in the circumpolar North, on evolutionary theory in anthropology, biology and history, on the role of animals in human society, on language and tool use, and on environmental perception and skilled practice. He is currently exploring issues on the interface between anthropology, archaeology, art and architecture.
- Piersandra Di Matteo is a performing arts theorist, dramaturge, curator and a researcher based at the Department of Visual, Performing, and Media Arts of the University of Bologna. Since 2008, she has been working as dramaturge with Romeo Castellucci. Recently, she has won the UBU Prize for “Best curatorial-organisational project 2014” for the multi-format project “e la volpe disse al corvo”.
- Dr. Vytautas Michelkevičius is an associate professor in Vilnius Academy of Arts (methodologies for postgraduate studies and photography and media art) as well as curator and researcher. His new book on artistic research is forthcoming in 2016. He defended PhD in critical media studies in 2010 at Vilnius University but since 2005 he is teaching students of art and humanities.
- Ingo Niermann is a writer and the editor of the speculative book series Solution and The Future of Art. Recent books include Concentration (ed., 2015), David Lieske: I Tried to Make This Work (2015), Solution 247-261: Love (ed., 2013), Choose Drill (2011), The Future of Art: A Manual (2011, with Erik Niedling), Solution 186–195: Dubai Democracy (2010), among others. His work has been featured at dOCUMENTA(13), La Biennale di Venezia, MACBA, MoMA, mumok, and ZKM.
- Julijonas Urbonas is an artist, designer, researcher, engineer, writer, Vice-Rector for Art at the Vilnius Academy of Arts in Vilnius, and PhD student in Design Interactions at the Royal College of Art, London.
Stephen Wright is a Paris-based art writer and teaches the practice of theory at the European School of Visual Arts. His current research seeks to understand the ongoing usological turn in art and society in terms of contemporary escapological theory and practice.

The courses will have the privilege of “warming up” the second building of the Nida Art Colony. The building is specially designed and built for intensive courses and residencies organised by the Nida Doctoral School. On the 23rd of October performances-lecture evening will run featuring Linda Stupart (UK), Olivia Erlanger (US) among others.

Curator of the Nida Doctoral School
Justė Kostikovaitė
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