[Thoughts on how we’ve learned through what we've done at Testing Grounds, by Communications and Operations Manager Trent Griffiths, November 2018]
Coming to know through creative doing.
Research is about finding new perspectives, and practice-led research is about finding new perspectives through what is created, built, made, or experienced in doing.
It acknowledges process as a key dimension of learning, as much as (or more than) reflection and interrogation. But practice-led research requires both — doing and reflecting. It requires a kind of embedded reflexivity; considering what is being done and why it is being done and what it might mean, at the same time as actually creating.
The trick is to balance those two things, so you create in a way that keeps the process exciting and alive to possibility, while still having a critical enough eye to recognise what is going on and what can be learned from it. It’s a tricky trick. It takes practice…
Testing Grounds is a unique practice-led research project — an experiment in temporary activation of under-utilised or empty public space for creative use; one answer to the question of what it takes to bring an empty city block alive until its long term use is decided.
The information we collect about who is using the site, how they are using it, and who we collaborate with not only helps us deliver better support and a better program, it is also learning to help understand how this kind of creative infrastructure can be done again, can be done better, and can contribute to expanding the possibilities of creative practice. We pay attention to what we do do day-to-day, what works and doesn’t work, what we change, why we change it, and what effects those changes make.
That is coming to know through creative doing. That is practice-led research.