Dialogue as practice and understanding in contemporary art
This study investigates how social constructionist dialogue as art demonstrates a
layered mode of practical inquiry, which weaves together interactive and explorative,
re-presentational and reflective modes of dialogue in the performance of knowledge.
Recent art debates present dialogue as a relational, collaborative and situated mode
of meaning-making, and an alternative to traditional constraining frameworks of art.
However, artists have been criticised for idealised interpretations of dialogue, which
present it as something essentially good and democratic, for insufficiently
scrutinising dialogical relationships, and for not providing adequate process accounts
for secondary audiences.
This study's multi-layered performance of knowledge draws on thematic insights
developed through fourteen interviews and five field conversation artworks from
2008 onwards. Research material from conversational encounters was combined and
presented as three constructed written dialogues, which reflect the tensions and
questions that emerge out of enacting such a layered mode of dialogue as art. These
tensions are re-presented, and discussed in three central thematic chapters, which
frame these themes as issues of context, competing characteristics of meaningmaking
and relating. The constructed written dialogues provide a platform for further
discussion and reflective analysis, which in turn are proposed as an invitation to
continued dialogue and socially grounded interaction.
The central implication of this study's contribution to knowledge is that such an
approach to practice-led inquiry articulates how dialogue may contribute to the
increasing shift in critical art practices towards to more imbricated, uncertain, and
performative approaches to knowledge, and provide an alternative to essentialised
and foundationalist interpretations of dialogue.
- School of Art and Design