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Research Program

The aim of the Research Training Group was to develop new approaches to understanding artistic knowledge generation. The research training group started from the thesis that the arts are to be regarded as a genuine area of production, storage and communication of forms of knowledge, which is in exchange with other cultural, social, political or economic areas of knowledge in society. For this reason, a central aspect of the research was directed at the production and negotiation processes in which artistic knowledge is articulated and legitimated. The Research Training Group thus expanded existing research, according to which all knowledge (including scientific knowledge) cannot be understood without aesthetic components, and conversely asked about the epistemic components of the arts themselves. Already towards the end of the first funding period it became clear that a systematic description of the production, reception and mediation of artistic knowledge can only be achieved through a historicization and processualization of the concept of knowledge itself. Against any form of essentialization, we have therefore understood "knowledge of the arts" not as a neutral, doubtless instance, but rather as a processual, historical constellation. Our transdisciplinary work drew on various concepts of knowledge, ranging from "tacit knowledge" (as habitualized, practical, or embodied knowledge) to "explicit knowledge" (as propositional statements or discursive links) to "situated knowledge" in its local, partial, and networked articulations. 

As a result, we understood "knowledge of the arts" as a result of cultural negotiation processes in which media, institutions, theories, artifacts, and materialities are equally involved. In this way, we also focused on strategies of "de-linking/learning" through which aesthetic-normative claims to validity are critically questioned and reconceptualized. Furthermore, we investigated with the knowledge of the arts a practical capacity along rules, design, design, staging or representation possibilities, which is to be thought as open and contingent at the same time. Research was also conducted into the forms of representation that result from the interweaving of technologies or digital processes with aesthetic practices. 
Last but not least, the work of the Research Training Group was aimed at determining the cognitive potential of the arts, which overwrites traditional definitions of the aesthetic as a purely experiential form. The aim of the research training group, to grant the arts their own epistemologies, challenges established areas of definition of knowledge and includes a permanent reflection on the academization, institutionalization and economization of forms of knowledge. 

The research area of the Research Training Group was divided into the following five sub-areas, which encompass the relevant complexes of questions. They were reformulated for the second funding period on the basis of the research results of the first, but in their basic structure they proved to be so viable that they were retained throughout the entire period.  


1. Knowledge and Artistic Practice Processes
In this focus area, the college turned to the part that practice plays in the emergence of the arts' own forms of knowledge. It initially focused on implicit, habitualized or incorporated competencies, such as those inherent in artistic creative processes in the form of physical dexterity, craft and technical skills, routinized procedures or knowledge of materials. The focus was on the processes of conceptualizing and designing, sketching and modeling in various art forms. In the first funding period, the event format of the labs was therefore established, in which artists presented and discussed their working methods. This included the two collaborative workshops Things, Materials, Knowledge with the research group "Knowing from the Inside" at the University of Aberdeen (2015 u. 2016). A second focus was on processes of modeling and digitization, which have brought about far-reaching changes in the conception of artistic acts and authorship, especially in the field of architecture. This led to insights that provided the impetus for the transition to the second funding phase: on the one hand, that artistic knowledge is subject to permanent reactualization and, on the other, that knowledge generation is not realized as merely subjective inventions of ideas, but always through their non-subjective components. In the second funding period, research therefore focused on the agency, materiality and situatedness of artistic creative processes. Numerous research projects investigated the productivity and performance of artistic materials in their interconnectedness with media, technologies, bodies, tools, settings, and framings. In the lecture series Tuning into worlds. More-than-human Aesthetics in the Arts (2019/20) and in workshops with Karin Harrasser, Pinar Yoldas, Christoph Cox, and others, the Kolleg focused its attention on the function of the arts as a means of articulating explosive insights into epochal changes in the Anthropocene. As could be shown, the arts have an active part in the shift of traditional (natural) scientific narratives towards approaches of the new ecologies and neo-materialism. How productive for our research was the engagement with artistic practice processes was finally shown at the final conference The Knowledge of the Arts is a Verb (2021). Here, the research field of the Kolleg was mapped along a glossary of forty verbs, and in it the interconnections of arts and sciences were examined starting from their respective practices. The broad spectrum of contributions, from "abduct" to "experiment" to "doubt," attested to the diversity of practices in which the arts and sciences intertwine. On the other hand, by focusing on actions, activities and responsibilities, the situating of artistic knowledge in concrete local, situational, physical and medial settings was analyzed. These contributions by members from all phases of the Kolleg are available as podcasts and texts in open access. 
2. Medial Dispositives and Artistic Knowledge 

Guiding the research program was the conviction that the knowledge potential of the arts cannot be studied without a media theoretical perspective. For both the production of knowledge (in the sciences, museums, press/journalism, jurisprudence) and the production and reception of art are bound to media. On this premise, we worked with a cultural-scientific concept of media that analyzes media through their historicity, technicality, and aesthetics. In this perspective, apparatuses and techniques are more than tools for the realization of an artistic idea or the material dimension of an object. Rather, they carry specific medial properties, dynamics, and conventions into art production. The research focus was thus on the generative potential of medial dispositifs (i.e., heterogeneous assemblages of apparatuses, technologies, institutions, discourses, and bodies) for the arts. 

In the first funding period, the main focus was on how artistic techniques and practices - be it drawing, designing with a computer, making models or notating a piece of music - participate in the development of their objects. It crystallized that there are three aspects in particular that are of special interest from the point of view of knowledge of the arts: 1) experimental procedures and processes of generating new modes of articulation and thus new forms of knowledge; 2) the medially determined (an)order of the actors/actants relevant in artistic processes; and 3) the question of the storage, archiving, and distribution of knowledge. Building on this, the second funding period took into account the fact that artists are by no means the only acting forces in their production processes. Rather, they find themselves in a variable field of distributed agency, i.e. in conditional structures that include human as well as non-human participants. Against this backdrop, artistic objects become comprehensible as the results of technological, aesthetic, economic, and personal conditions. The lecture series Tuning into Worlds. More-than-Human Aesthetics in the Arts (WS 2019/20) has accordingly examined artistic design and research processes as complex material events with diverse interdependencies and intra-actions. In this research movement, particular attention was given to those practices and objects located at the margins or outside the discourse of autonomy. Furthermore, the focus was on the arts in relation to the media dispositifs of knowledge processes themselves. Knowledge generation and establishment require complex medial arrangements of recording and registering, ordering and storing, excluding and distributing. The aesthetic conditions of scientific knowledge production were exemplarily examined in the lecture series Creating Facts (winter semester 2016/17), which dealt with the process of documenting in the sciences and arts. It was shown that documenting is a way of developing knowledge in which facts are simultaneously recorded, documented, and communicated. 
An important result of this research is that the arts, due to their attention to visual, auditory and material processes, are particularly capable of explicating the implicit medial conditions of knowledge production, as has been shown in case studies.

3. Art and Episteme
In the first funding phase, this sub-area operated under the heading "Artistic Systems of Knowledge" and was devoted to the conceptual and methodological foundations of the disciplines involved in the research group. To this end, the Kolleg addressed the three lecture series Gewusst wie! (2012/13), Knowing Differently/Knowing Differently (2013/14), and Stopover. Six Views on the Knowledge of the Arts (2014/15) dealt with the questions and methods of recent epistemologies of cultural studies and humanities provenance. A special focus of the research was also on the historical avant-gardes and neo-avant-gardes, as these were of eminent importance for transfer movements between the arts and sciences, and in them upheavals in concepts, categories, and systematics of both fields of knowledge became particularly evident. In the annual conference Art - Knowledge - Work (2014) and the subsequent publication of the contributions (Schriftenreihe des Kollegs Band 2, Paderborn 2017), it was possible to contour the social significance of artistic work in the field of tension between craft/technology, theory, social practice, and science, and to discuss artistic productivity against the background of contemporary regimes of creativity.

With the second funding phase, the focus shifted to the relationship between art and epistemology. The examination of contemporary forms of artistic research - which are characterized by practices of research, investigation, intervention, or experimental development - proved to be an important field of research. In several doctoral projects, the specific epistemological value of research-based aesthetic procedures was investigated. The question of which theoretical positions the arts take up and how, conversely, they unfold transformative forces in theory was pursued by the Kolleg together with the Society for Artistic Research, the German Society for Aesthetics, and the Zurich University of the Arts at the conference Forschungsmaschine: verschränkte Verfahren von Kunst und Wissenschaft (Volksbühne Berlin 2019). It became clear that the transfer movements between the arts and sciences generate new procedures, systems of order, and research settings in both fields that are both innovative and challenging for the respective institutions. Finally, with the symposium Aesthetics of the Speculative (ACUD/UdK 2017), the Kolleg turned its attention to the function of non-knowledge in the arts, seeking out aesthetic procedures that configure the future, the virtual, or the utopian (cf. Schriftenreihe des Kollegs Vol. 5, Bielefeld 2020). Last but not least, the concern of the Research Training Group to develop parameters of a specific knowledge of the arts has been pursued in the critical examination of existing theoretical positions. Over the entire duration, all (post-)doctoral students regularly discussed a wide range of existing knowledge concepts (such as propositional, discursive, implicit or explicit, narrative knowledge, and many others) in fortnightly reading seminars. Here, it was often not so much the theories themselves, but rather their boundary concepts (aisthesis, thinking, cognition, episteme, etc.) that proved productive for one's own research. The characteristics of artistic knowledge as (a) performative, material, situation-bound event; (b) as practical capacity; (c) specific cognitive potential; (d) result of cultural processes of negotiation and (e) procedures of rededication and "unlearning", which have been elaborated by the Kolleg, are summarized in the publication Plural Perspectives (Schriftenreihe des Kollegs Band 8, Bielefeld i.Vorb).

4. Politics of Knowledge

This subfield focused on the political performance - i.e., the generation, representation, standardization, and legitimation - of knowledge through artistic practices. In the first funding period, the focus was primarily on the normative structures and institutional anchors in which the sciences and the arts mutually constitute and support each other. The Kolleg first examined the processes of transmission, canonization, and academization in archives, institutions, and forms of education (see Dittmann's individual report on the history of the academy). Following on from this, a political dimension could be gained for our research, insofar as, on the one hand, the role of the arts in the social formation and stabilization of knowledge orders came into view and, on the other hand, critical or subversive potentials of the arts could emerge. The second funding period was therefore guided by the following consideration: If what is visible and perceptible is based on constellations of power and at the same time produces them, then the arts do not unfold their political potential simply by delimiting them in social space. Rather, it must be asked what function the arts and artistic practices take on in the formation and (de)stabilization of orders of knowledge and sensuality. How do they contribute to the circulation of knowledge? How do they regulate the visible and the sayable? This line of questioning has proved very productive for the College. 

Thus, in the annual conference and publication Wessen Wissen? Materialität und Situiertheit in den Künsten (2016, Schriftenreihe des Kollegs Band 4, Paderborn 2018) raised the question of agency and situated aesthetics. The lecture series Decolonizing the Arts. Aesthetic Practices of Learning and Unlearning (2017/18) and the publication Gewaltsames Wissen (Schriftenreihe des Kollegs Vol. 3, Paderborn 2022) picked up here with a critique of epistemic violence from a postmigrant and postcolonial perspective. 
The lecture series Violence in the Arts (2018/19) deepened this project and focused on the historical lines of continuity of racist and sexualized violence. On the one hand, it examined the arts as archives and witnesses of a repressed knowledge of violence, and on the other hand, it understood aesthetic practices as interventions in the scenes of violence. Overall, it can be said that the concept of situated knowledges (Haraway) has been highly productive for collaborative research because the arts have a prominent role in narrativizing and visualizing historical, social, local, and embodied forms of knowledge. This also applies to minoritized knowledge and de- or postcolonial perspectives on the arts, which were explored in the AG Decolonial Aesthetics and in numerous workshops with international guests. Due to the plurality of forms of knowledge and perspectives claiming a legitimate truth, at the end of nine years of joint work the specific article in the title of our Research Training Group "The Knowledge of the Arts" had become questionable (cf. Schriftenreihe des Kollegs Band 8, Bielefeld in Vorb.).

5. Education - Transformation - Mediation
The focus of this sub-area was on the specific requirements that the mediation of artistic knowledge poses. The Research Training Group pursued the thesis that, in order to be able to adequately describe artistic mediation processes, the diverse practices in which artistic production takes place must be thought together: In artistic practice, implicit, explicit, embodied, and discursive knowledge continually interact. In this way, the Kolleg distanced itself both from educational concepts that reduce all knowledge to the acquisition of competencies, and from those conceptions of aesthetic education that, in their insistence on the autonomy of art, reject all mediation as the pedagogization of art. Rather, the potential of artistic knowledge can only be understood in the interplay of temporality, processuality, and performativity of every process of understanding and cognition. The important research question of power relations in mediation processes and possibilities of critiquing hegemonic knowledge bases tied in with this. 
The first funding period focused on aesthetic education in a comparison of music, theater and art education. The view on artistic practice processes of improvisation, designing and notation proved to be particularly fruitful. In joint workshops with the Graduate School of the UdK Berlin and in meetings with artists in so-called laboratories, concrete laboratory and studio studies could be carried out. The annual conference "... but makes a lot of work". Art - Knowledge - Work (2014) showed that the connection between (aesthetic) education, mediation work, and the acquisition of knowledge and skills is not adequately captured by traditional concepts of learning. Rather, the transfer of knowledge between in-school and out-of-school mediation, between art and non-art, needs to be conceptualized more strongly. Accordingly, the second funding period focused on emancipation and transformation processes in the field of the arts and arts education. The potential of a "politics of art" (Rancière) and the promises of equality and equity were inquired about. This brought the concept of unlearning (de-linking) in particular into focus: the validity of canonized bodies of knowledge and methodologies was questioned and a plea was made for marginalized forms of knowledge to be taken note of and acknowledged. The lecture series Decolonizing the Arts. Aesthetic Practices of Learning and Unlearning (WS 17/18) was dedicated to this research approach with international guests (including Trinh T. Minh-ha, Candice Hopkins). Questions about the relations between artistic and social practices were also addressed at the artistic-scientific symposium sharing/learning - methods of the collective in art, research and activism (2019). 

Here, not only were the practices of the common and the relations of translation between art, science, and activism theoretically inquired into, but these translations were also tested in numerous workshops. The relevance of relationality for any knowledge of the arts was paradigmatically explored in the 2018 conference and publication How to Relate. Knowledge, Arts, Practices (Schriftenreihe des Kollegs Vol. 6, Bielefeld 2021). It could be shown that artistic knowledge is formed within institutional, social and technical infrastructures. Questions about colliding claims to hegemony and emancipation were investigated in the research projects of the fellows in concrete case studies.
Intra- and extra-university cooperation
During its nine-year duration, the Research Training Group has cooperated with a number of institutions both within and outside the university. First and foremost is the Graduate School located at the UdK Berlin, which has hosted an internationally oriented fellowship program for artistic research projects since 2009. In joint events, both institutions pursued shared research questions. The collaboration could no longer be maintained to the same extent after third-party funding for the graduate school expired in 2018. In 2017, cooperation was established with Studium Generale, which is implemented as a course offering in all undergraduate degree programs at the UdK Berlin. In three joint lecture series Decolonizing the Arts (2017/18), Violence in the Arts (2018/19), and How to relate (2019/20), we succeeded in directly integrating current research questions into the teaching, while maintaining a high level of student interest. Finally, in the Labors series, the Kolleg investigated the situatedness of artistic ways of working (by UdK Berlin teachers such as Monica Bonvicini, Alberto de Campo, and Kirsten Reese, among others). These field studies were conducted in WS 2020/21 in digital form due to Corona. Since 2015, one of the stated goals of the Kolleg has been to increase international networking and visibility. Collaborations with members of the Institute for Theory at the Zurich University of the Arts (Dieter Mersch) on the question of artistic epistemes (2015), with the University of Aberdeen (Tim Ingold) on praxis knowledge (2016), and with the Linz University of the Arts (Karin Harrasser) on the relationship between technology and affect (2017) proved productive in this regard. With a focus on postcoloniality and decolonial aesthetics, collaborations intensified with visiting scholars, artists, and curators in global contexts, such as Drew Thomson (New York), Trinh T. Minh-ha (Berkeley), Candice Hopkins (Albuquerque), Zeynep Sayin (Istanbul), the Black Athena Collective (Chicago), Belinda Kazeem-Kaminski (Vienna), Sarnath Banerjee (Dehli), William Kentridge (Cape Town), and Beatriz Colomina (Princeton). Last but not least, the Kolleg has cooperated with a variety of art institutions within Berlin. In 2018, for example, an event series was initiated with the renowned Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. A lively exchange developed with the art spaces SAVVY Contemporary, diffrakt - zentrum für theoretische peripherie, ACUD MACHT NEU, and district * Schule ohne Zentrum, which led to a wide variety of event formats ranging from expert discussions, film screenings, conferences, lectures, and workshops. In this way, the Kolleg made a decisive contribution to the transfer between the sciences, the arts and urban society.