Ponderings

Ei mitään ruudinkeksimistä, mutta silti vähän tieteestä ja mittaamisesta

Tänään muutes tuumin sellaista, että:

Luonnontieteellinen tieto, mikä yleensä käsitetään objektiiviseksi tiedoksi, ja siten aidoksi ja oikeimmaksi, perustuu mittaamiseen. On 1) tarkasteltava eli mitattava kohde, 2) jokin siihen soveltuvaksi katsottu mittaustapa sekä 3) määritelty mittaristo, jota vasten mittaustuloksia tarkastellaan ja tulkitaan. Hyvä.

Ongelma on kuitenkin siinä, että koko mittaamisprosessi perustuu täysin inhimilliseen viitekehykseen: siihen, millainen käsitys asioista meillä jo etukäteen on. Toisin sanoen mittaukset tuottavat väistämättä tuloksia, jotka sopivat entuudestaan valmiiseen käsitykseemme maailmasta. Havaitut yllätykset ja poikkeamat, jopa selittämättömyydet saadaan joka tapauksessa tavalla tai toisella sovitettua maailmankuvaamme – ja jos ei saada, todetaan, että vielä emme tiedä tai ymmärrä kaikkea (sic!) ja mittareita on kehitettävä edelleen. Taustaoletuksena on kuitenkin rationaalisuus: kaikki on sovitettavissa tieteellisyytemme ikeen alle, kunhan kehitys kehittyy ja edistys edistyy. Luomakunta on asetettavissa järkiperäisen tarkastelumme – havaintojemme ja mittaustemme – kohteeksi ja selitettäväksi.

Tämä perusolettama ei ota huomioon sitä, että olemme itse osa tuota mittaamaamme todellisuutta, sisällä siinä. Emme voi ulkoistaa itseämme siitä ja tarkastella kokonaisuutta ulkoa käsin. Osana kokonaisuutta emme voi olla sitä suurempia, emme voi hallita ja selittää sitä. Voimme tutkia sitä ainoastaan omien ennakkokäsitystemme ja oman ymmärryksemme puitteissa. Emme voi havaita mittareillamme niitä todellisuuden osia, joita emme ymmärrä edes mitata. Oletamme, että hyönteisillä ei ole tunteita, että kasvit eivät tunne kipua, että kivet ovat kuolleita. Mistä ihmeestä me voimme sen tietää? Se, että jokin ei näy mittareissamme, ei tarkoita sitä, ettei sellaista ole olemassa.

Luonnontieteellisestä tiedosta on ollut ja on edelleen meille valtavasti hyötyä. Mutta on hyväksyttävä, että se ei ole, eikä koskaan voi olla, koko kuva todellisuudesta. Me emme ikinä voi saada täydellistä, edes riittävää kokonaiskuvaa maailmasta. Miten voisimme, kun emme edes tiedä, mitä kaikkea pitäisi yrittää mitata – ja miten? Sokea usko siihen, että hallitsemme maailman ympärillämme, on saattanut meidät nykyiseen tilanteeseemme. Joko olisi korkea aika myöntää vajavaisuutemme? Tieteestä on meille hyötyä, mutta siihen turvautuminen sokeasti tuhoaa meidät.

Personal Reflections on 4th Conference on Arts-Based and Artistic Research

On June 28-30 we spent three fruitful days in Helsinki at Aalto University, giving our talks, seeing some interesting presentations, participating in great conversations and enjoying the atmosphere. The organizers had done a marvelous job in putting the conference together, and they still did a great job in keeping it all together! There were practically no technical problems, delays or whatsoever issues.

I managed to gain quite a good amount of comments and questions for my presentation (here’s the presentation text attached in .pdf). Most of those weren’t so much about what I presented (my arts-based research as a process) but about my research subject, Joseph Beuys’s social sculpture. As some of the comments/questions revealed I hadn’t been clear enough about some elementary issues of that, I thought I might as well reflect those here, also to clarify to myself what I should remember to mention or explicate whenever I talk about my research subject. read more

IMG_4280

Dwelling with Mystery

Mystery, mind and art

I am occasionally asked if I “listen” to the material while sculpting it. The question isn’t actually particularly extraordinary – especially because I mainly sculpt wood – since sculptors every now and then describe their working process to be some kind of a dialogue with the material: the material guides the sculptor throughout the process. This kind of slightly romantic assumption about the spirit of my working might feel even more accurate due to philosophically attaching to both phenomenology and the EcoJustice framework that emphasizes holism and the equity of all life. I usually answer to the question slightly hesitatingly yes – partly because that is obviously anticipated.

Some badass tools

Some badass tools

However, the more I have pondered this question, the clearer it has become to me that I really don’t listen to the wood. Most times I’m using different kinds of really badass machinery, axes and torches to shape the wood. One can hardly call that a dialogue. Of course the material brings along some limitations that I have to respect, but many times I am working on those limits, trying to stretch them. Consequently, gluing broken parts together is quite a familiar part of working for me. Either way, I am not having any mystical conversations with the wood.

axesInstead, my working is guided by something else outside of me, an idea that I am trying to follow. This is the case especially when I’m working on a non-figurative sculpture, and even more so in the occasions when I don’t have a vision of the final outcome. Let us call this guiding force ‘a form’, since there seems to be no better word for it.

So, sculpting a piece is dialogue with a mystery, but it isn’t guided by the material but a form.  mystery is present because when I’m sculpting I don’t know, where that form comes from or where is it heading to. I am following the progress of the sculpture through details, working on it part by part, fitting the current part only to the parts very next to it, without looking for the big picture before finalizing the work. Working this way allows me to have fresh eyes to look at the final piece that is trying to tell me something about the unspeakable that has guided my sculpting.

IMG_4277   IMG_4280

Even though I in no means do recognize myself as a mystic or a keeper of some great secret – it’s all just floundering in wonder – I regard artmaking as interacting with a mystery. It is not occultism and does not require any specific mystic’s talent. It takes only to let oneself to dwell with a mystery, and trying not to guide or force it to some particular direction, but just trusting that something will be born. And accepting calmly that sometimes you end up like a cat trying to catch a bird: all you get is a mouthful of feathers.

Encountering a mystery takes only volition and readiness to spend some time dwelling with it. Anyone can do it with some practice. For mind is like a muscular system: the parts one trains get stronger while the unused ones degenerate – but they still exist. And we shouldn’t forget that mind reaches way out of our physical body. Mind is the part of us that dwells in the world, that radiates into the space and through which we encounter the others. If we delimit the focus of our mind inside of us, on our own navel, seeking our own good, the outreaching sphere of the mind degenerates resulting to the increase of our selfishness. Then will we less and less encounter the world, the others (and the mystery) and more and more just ourselves.

However, it is possible to train oneself out from this kind of absolutely pitiable state of affairs. Everyone can do it their own way; there is a suitable form of dwelling by the mystery for everybody – music, dance, visual art, poetry, contemplation… What matters is the will to allow this encountering some space and time. Art, dialogue with a mystery, is natural for us, but we are grown – or actually shrunken ­– loose from it, when we are schooled to be useful ja to focus on rational productivity.

Stop. Wait. Every human being IS an artist.