Writing Ambiguous Encounters

Dana ArielMMUc

This panel, organised by Dana Ariel and Dawn Gaietto, seeks to explore the relationship between writing and image-making through the individual processes of engaging in practice-based research with creative-critical writing and open the discussion to the larger implications of these practices.

Ambiguity becomes a method of making in practice-based research, dwelling in the fogginess and complexity of ideas. In viewing and reading, the sites of encounter can provoke different interpretations that are not restricted to the voice of the author alone. These sites of encounter could embody different modes of engagement, challenge prior-knowledge and offer textual and non-textual modes of translation. The language of practice does not require adherence to established modes of research, often the form of the research can be determined by the content. Introducing ambiguity as a method allows for an increased degree of imaginative interpretation to the reader or viewer, allowing for a plurality of responses that can generate shared spaces for dialogue.

As panel organisers, originating from practice-led research in fine arts, we understand practice as a form of performative criticality; an act of doing which makes use of audible, visual and linguistic methods as necessary. This is predicated on the desire to translate individual experience into a multitude of situated experiences through the encounter. The intersection of control and freedom in the relationship between the author, the work, and the viewer/reader is central to the act of making. In this performative function, the use of language can create a zone of intentional ambiguity, delineating the boundaries of ambiguity within the possibilities of translation into a situated experience. We propose this session as an interrogation of the speculative positioning of ambiguity as a mediator of the dichotomy between written and visual critical approaches to practice, a mediator of control.

Here is a list of potential questions which we seek to address (note: this list is not exhaustive):

  • What can ambiguity offer to the production of knowledge?
  • What are the functions of language and writing in practice-led research?
  • What is gained through the use of creative and critical strategies in practice-led research?
  • How can we understand the ‘interpretation’ of an ambiguous encounter?
  • How does practice-based research open access to forms of knowledge and knowledge production?
  • How could hierarchies of value in knowledge be subverted through practice-based research?
  • What is the added value of living and/or present artists and authors in the process of engaging with their works?
  • If we consider words as materials, how does this open the ‘what is’ in representation to a plurality of interpretations?
  • How can the practice of ambiguity become an active resistance to an answer?
Sun 2:30 pm - 3:45 pm