by Gavin Kroeber (MDes '12)
The disciplinary categories we use to partition and manage cultural production are insufficient. The work of cultural production needs to be positioned within the political, economic, social and ideological landscapes in which it proceeds. These are not controversial statements – they are fundamental and interrelated principles upon which, time and again, visionary and redirective artistic and cultural projects have been assembled. The history of art and culture is a tangle of the diverse lineages of theory and practice that have named, addressed and attacked these problematics. This thesis contains preliminary notes for a contribution to that tradition, an archive of an encounter, a methodological experiment, a creative research project that from September 2010 until April 2012 sought to formulate concepts that might productively trouble disciplinary distinctions and render legible certain relationships between creative work and its wider contexts, undertaken in the spirit of what the art critic and activist Brian Holmes calls “extradisciplinary investigation.”
At work here is a new tropism and a new sort of reflexivity, involving artists as well as theorists and activists in a passage beyond the limits traditionally assigned to their practice. The word tropism conveys the desire or need to turn towards something else, towards an exterior field or discipline; while the notion of reflexivity now indicates a critical return to the departure point, an attempt to transform the initial discipline, to end its isolation, to open up new possibilities of expression, analysis, cooperation and commitment. This back-and-forth movement, or rather, this transformative spiral, is the operative principle of what Kroeber calls extradisciplinary investigations.