Practiced Based Research: An Articulation

Practice based research did not first come to me as a defined and analyzed discipline, but largely dependent on intuition and experiments. There are both the theories I mentally processed, and there are the actions and doings I felt compelled to conduct. I found myself in constant traveling back and forth between these two processes, as they re-inform each other; until the entirety of the process, which I now formerly know as PBR, evolves and crystallizes to a project that substantiates a set of speculations, curiosities and impulses.

As my research interests and "modus operandi" become defined, it's worthwhile to examine the foundation that grounds the PBR applicable for myself. Reading the literature, in particular that of Chapman and Sawchuk, pushed me to precisely articulate my PBR beyond one that's intuition driven.

My PBR comprises of three terminologies, and they draw the contextual scope of this document: media archaeology, phenomenology, and experimental publishing.

Experimental Publishing

Prior to XPUB, I've already held keen interest towards (artist) book making, for the organization, production, and distribution evolving around this practice. These aspects came with fixed parameters. Forms of organization present content legible, such as cover, pages, and chapters. Ways of production, one subset being different binding methods, shape the book body's architecture. The distribution of books happen across networks bound by social and cultural ties, and follow common protocols. I am challenged by the impulse to reinvent these boundaries. I am moved by artist and book maker Chang Yuchen's interpretation on Sol LeWitt's printed book and wall drawings: "I had this drawn illusion that I was walking in a book, every wall a page, and every room a spread. In turn I understood the manifold space a book can provide." Indeed, her interpretation reveals publishing practice's potential to transcend fixed materialities. This potential is continued to apply the hybrid forms of digital publishing I experienced at XPUB.


Yuchen's interpretation is an inspiring clue to make the shift to phenomenology, as her words revolves around how publishing objects are experiential spaces. Comprehensively I am interested in incorporating phenomenology in my PBR, loosely speaking for two reasons. First, I borrow words from phenomenology to help orient the perspective of my PBR. One example from the vocabulary is the perspective of "queering": to shift our experiential coordinates of the world towards under-represented experiences. Queer phenomenology sees the experiential world unlimited to the interpretations prone towards the technical and the predetermined, but is unfolded along with non-technical experiences, such as the cultural and racial. In additional to this layer, I also use phenomenology to unravel our experiences interacting with technological objects. The process of myself typing on a keyboard while gazing at the screen involves processes that abstract bodily gesture and perception as inputs and outputs. One opinion from Massumi was referential for me to articulate the goal of exploring the corporeal in my PBR, that, a priori experiences is a layer before the intellect being laden with doctrines. The access to a priori experiences is the key to orient the mapping of phenomenological experiences across different cultures and identities.

Media Archaeology

My interest in phenomenology informs how I situate media archaeology within my PBR. As I encountered queer phenomenology, I quickly found it as a welcoming basis, that queering can critically challenge the most exposed narratives of media archaeology. Queering tolerates narratives of different variations to locate spaces as their homes and grow following their unique cultural ancestry. When I research preliminary literature, very often I found myself defining the space between my background, and the background of the literature, mainly from the Western post-war lineage. This space has a spectrum - some experiences are common, while others tend to diverge. As I am talking through abstract metaphors here, the material aspect of media archaeology will help to enrich my explanation. As I analyzed the repeater within the social backdrop China in the 90s, its similarity is found in inscriptive devices invented in the West, such as the phonograph and the dictaphone. The queer is not to deviate from the more known pathways, but to define the spaces of differentiation.

The materiality of media archaeology makes phenomenological analysis more tangible, such as the example of human computer interaction involving the corporeal and machine abstraction.

PBR as Knowledge Production

In the end, the value of investigating my PBR - what aspects does it compose of, how do these aspects relate to one another, leads to the main gist I took away from Chapman and Sawchuk. How is PBR contributing emergent ways of knowledge production that challenge the "regimes of truth", in which credibility given to knowledge produced in index-able and quantifiable formats has homogenizing effects on what is considered as proper knowledge? This paradigm shadows the value of personally situated knowledge, as its complexity eludes what quantitative methods can represent. Indeed, my PBR does not need to strictly fall into the four types research creation as defined by Chapman and Sawchuk, as it can be an organic conglomerate of these different types of tendencies. Both Loveless's and Agamben's words inspire me to articulate how the subsets inside the conglomerate, defined either by topics of interests or by methodologies, relate to one another. In Loveless's words, they exist in non-hierarchical asymmetries of difference. Agamben's words finds the values of difference at specific rather than homogeneous moments. I imagine these specific moments happen when subjects collide - when queer culture intersects phenomenology, and when queer phenomenology intersects media archaeology... As if they flow are flowing as distinct streams, but join and diverge to create remarkable confluences.


Sol LeWitt : Books as Structure / Books as System

No Such Thing As Rest, a walking as evolving conversation between Brian Massumi and Adiran Heathfield. I have a copy and can share words from it that shed light on my PBR at detail during class.