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Knowing Through Making: The Role of the Artefact in Practice-led Research


During the last decade, research in art and design in Finland has begun to explore new dimensions. Artists and designers have taken an active role in contextualising and interpreting the creative process in practice, as well as the products of this process, by looking at the process itself and the works produced through it. From this new point of view, the knowledge and the skills of a practising artist or designer form a central part of the research process, and this has produced a new way of doing research. In this new type of research project, part of the research is carried out as art or design practice. The central methodological question of this emerging field of research is: how can art or design practice interact with research in such a manner that they will together produce new knowledge, create a new point of view or form new, creative ways of doing research? In this article, the making and the products of making are seen as an essential part of research: they can be conceived both as answers to particular research questions and as artistic or designerly argumentation. As an object made by an artist–researcher, the artefact can also be seen as a method for collecting and preserving information and understanding. However, the artefacts seem unable to pass on their knowledge, which is relevant for the research context. Thus, the crucial task to be carried out is to give a voice to the artefact. This means interpreting the artefact. During the process of interpretation, furthermore, the artefact has to be placed into a suitable theoretical context. In this process, the final products (the artefacts) can be seen as revealing their stories, i.e. the knowledge they embody.

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Correspondence to Maarit Mäkelä.

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Mäkelä, M. Knowing Through Making: The Role of the Artefact in Practice-led Research. Know Techn Pol 20, 157–163 (2007).

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  • Knowing
  • Making
  • Artefact
  • Practice-led research