Research in Contemporary Visual Art

The increased complexity and specialization in academic, scientific and artistic fields (along with the tightened demand on results) means that the dialogues between the disciplines have become increasingly important.

Art, philosophy, science and technology are tools that can help us to make sense of the chaos that surrounds us. However when similar problems are addressed in different fields and genres, they do so in very different ways. We cannot understand art; we can appreciate it; we can derive knowledge from it - art provokes reflection in its audiences. And yet this does not mean that the audiences understand what they experience. It does not even mean that the creator fully understands the finished work. The artist’s relationship to the artwork changes over time and the works that artists produce are like friends from whom we learn and among whom we develop over time. They are not fixed, they shapeshift. As artists, we co-create poetic knowledge together with the audience in the process of producing and living with our work. 

We cannot over-emphasise how art’s modes of production and functionality differ with respect to other processes found in contemporary society. Yet, this does not mean that art is disconnected from the worlds of commerce, science and technology – quite the opposite. It functions according to another logic.

This difference is also the reason why dialogue between genres remains essential. It allows us to stay focused on what we are doing. If you ask what an artist is, a good answer could be “a person who continuously leaves his/her comfort zone.” Maybe that goes for all creators? Dialogues between genres remain essential because they force us into a continual departure from what we know and remind us that we have to deal with the fundamental paradoxes of our lives. Not an easy task, but a deeply inspiring choice of life!

When the dialogue in a genre or discipline becomes too self-contained, it is bound to go stale. When we move outside our comfort zones, we become aware of our own vulnerability. We become aware of the limits of our knowledge and working methods. We have to remain far humbler when we approach another genre or discipline. 

The life of the artist has a poetic twist to it. We are always trying to undo what has been done before and to push the boundaries farther. But being an artist is a proposition, an evasive state/role that is activated like flashes in a thunderstorm. We cannot reduce “I travel” to “I am a travelling being” anymore than we can interchange “I think” with “I am a thinking person.” Thought is not a constant. It is a predicate that passes ceaselessly from one thought to another

Vision Forum working methods build on experience and has been developed in our networks, where members with eclectic backgrounds from all over Europe meet at regular intervals in different places and contexts. These meetings are meant for the members to inspire each other, provoke each others curiosity and to dialogue with the local artistic and scientific network. We aim to create knowledge that will travel in time and space - experiences that are valuable as you move through life and also as you travel across the globe.

In Vision Forum we have seen the importance that each participant formulates their own definition how art, philosophy and science operate (and how they interact). The discussions around definitions of disciplines remain some of the most exciting and also conflictual in all forms of cross-disciplinary exchanges - what art and democracy have in common is conflict.