For this article I will make use of some of the methodological ideas for artistic research introduced by Mika Hannula in his paper, ``The Responsibility and Freedom of Interpretation'' [Hannula, 2002]. In this paper, Hannula uses a hermeneutic approach in order to arrive at ``a preliminary, and [...] a merely tentative notion, of the distinctive character and minimum requirements of artistic research'' (ibid pp. 73). It should be noted that Hannula himself is mainly active in the field of visual arts and his proposed method, although it takes a general approach, is probably mainly geared towards that area. Though the two disciplines, music and the field of visual arts, have many overlapping areas of interest, the field of visual arts is in many respects very different from that of contemporary Western art music.
The researcher must explain what he or she is researching, why he or she is doing the research, why it is of interest, and what is the aim. The success or distortion of artistic research is largely dependent on how carefully and meticulously this first step is planned and then, of course, implemented. At this stage, the researcher should explain why the research is undertaken in the sphere of art and within the purview of contemporary art, and not in art history, for example, or sociology. (ibid pp. 82)
These ideas were further developed in a presentation by Hannula at a seminar in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 20042. At this seminar he pointed out a total of ten aspects of artistic research where the first three aspects are:
In my interpretation of Hannula's method I look at the first item in the list (Before) as an inquiry into the aesthetics of the artistic work of the researcher and (which I believe is related) perhaps even into trivial details of the personal and artistic background of the researcher. The second aspect (Now) is described by Hannula as the attempt at ``contextualising oneself'' and it presupposes the 'before'. The 'now' is obviously something that needs to be constantly re-phrased or re-thought. In my project I have been trying to map these `nows' in my online research diary [Frisk, 2004]. The third aspect (After) presupposes that the first and the second aspects are absolutely transparent, according to Hannula. As I am currently three quarters into the project, it is difficult for me, at this point, to envision any 'after'. I am currently very focused on the 'now,' which is why this third aspect will only be briefly touched upon here.
The aesthetics or the aesthetic theory that leads one to, or forms the context for, the research project is both interesting and, I believe, fairly significant in the field of artistic research. It is not necessarily an explicit aesthetic but rather the contextual background of the artist that creates a platform on which the investigation can take place. For my particular project it is probably difficult to even begin to understand its relevance until it is seen in the context of my own artistic work.