After reading some of Graeme Sullivan’s work on art practice as research (Sullivan, 2004) I have started seeing the relationships between some of his tripartite schema and aspects of my research. In particular, he outlines three approaches to practice as research:

  • thinking in a medium (working with media through making)
  • thinking in a language (responding to discourse, interpretive work)
  • thinking in a context (art that engages with the wider world, in a critical, generative way)

I was struck by the parallel between these and the structure I’ve been working on for understanding mathematical communication and how it is successful, comprising statements within a problem, the cognitive environment that gives those statements meaning, and the institutional structures that make it possible to build those cognitive environments.

In a similar way, I am beginning to think about my practice in terms of similar trios.

From one perspective, I am working creatively with the media of mathematical communication (the paper, the chalkboard), using moments from observed material to recontextualise and talk back to (working with, for example, sketched diagrams that change valence when placed in a frame), and introducing my practice in the institutions I am visiting (such as making animations made on chalkboards, and photographing work spaces).

As well as using this as a structure for particular lines of enquiry going forward, I am using this as a means to reconsider some of the wider practice experiments that I have been engaged in so far.


These are particular statements

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These might be my investigation room, and the paper structure environment that is providing a site for animation experiments, each of which provide a referenced context for particular propositions to exist within

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This for me is, of course, the setting of the artworld, or a general set of approaches that encourages an increased investiture of interpretive effort, as well as the academic institution, with its particular set of expectations and resources. I refer to this by leaving here a section of my own research which brings to the fore such settings of mathematical work, all of which are academic