Seven notes(+) on a philosophy of investigation
Eivind Slettemeas



The localisation of a field, as for example that of social-research studies, cannot be transferred and appplied to research in art (artistic research), since artistic research strategies will be determined by it's distance to the public sphere, which would otherwise be available to us as something in which to intervene, to legitimise or to be projected onto a common, symbolical subject of the state, the institution, the corporation etc. Artistic research do not take part or reflect a criticism of the public sphere such that it assumes a contrary relationship to prevailing power structures (as for example a counter-public stance is assumed to do). What it can do, however, is provide an ideal projection of these structures, while refraining from imposing limits and external conditions for social production. As power structures, with the use of technologies of objectification, identification and affirmation, they will ensure they're own political effects over public spheres by introducing artificial axioms for production, possibilities whereby they can transcend themselves in discreet, private or sub-sections of the public sphere. An ideal projection will have to assume an opposite orientation. Rather than impose limits or double binds on social production and transformation, it will have to introduce new concepts of expression, or collective displays of subjectivity. We could say that a research strategy of this kind will entail the materialisation of a virtual community, in contrast to the virtualisation of a material community, such as it is in the capitalist mode of representation.



Since a capitalist mode of representation defines its own interfaces - in terms of research or mediation, communication or information technology - and takes the arbitrary and the transgressive as its trademarks, we can say that research in its general, postmodern form has become synonymous with the depiction of the collapse of stable systems, whether it be an economy of signs afflicted by inflation, and which introduces new concepts for the indeterminate aspects of hybrid identities, or information that is conveyed through references to what is dysfunctional in, or subversive to, the effects of self-maintenance by the public sphere. Whereas it was once the privileged role of art and philosophy to describe the borderlands of knowledge, the capitalist mode of representation has created an industrial attitude towards negation as expression. It therefore becomes necessary to introduce a distinction between a type of research that adopts these premises when seeking to describe the arbitrary versus the predictable, and a type of research that investigates these premises themselves, but which also assumes a goal without objectifying or negating it. This will involve a more extensive transformation of strategies of de-territorialisation, either by taking the investigation to be its own goal (not in the way that reason examines itself, but in the way one seeks to intensify the possibilities for autonomous expression by seeking relationships), or by requiring the investigation to project itself onto its goal (as it does in an ideal projection, where the relation itself is the constitutive principle of the inquiring subject; the "impossible" identification that breaks down the organical distance that resulted from introducing the image of a form of life). This form of investigation is affective or contagious in origin, and will consequently repudiate both the relativist research strategy and demonstrable objectivism.



Concerning the question of the relation between research and investigation, the situation of the latter is distinctive, since it will produce proofs where there is only evidence, whereas the former is concerned with the testing and administration of those proofs (by means of experiment, method, rules, relationality). We could also say that the one performs tactical operations whereas the other operates strategically, but this again depends, for instance, on whether one chooses to regard investigation as something other than a strategy that reveals, or research as something predetermined or variable. In both cases one will attempt to delineate the area of knowledge production (one experimental, and one legitimising), while at the same time their independence will make the problem of the transmission of knowledge more acute, and might even prompt a response in the direction of a dialectic, which seeks procedures to deal with reciprocity, identification and consensus. This will also encompass examples that are described as transgressive, and strategies that are ostensibly paradoxical, indeterminate or incomplete. It is here that the psycho-ethnical accounts of subjectivity common in the humanities are most apparent. Insofar as art has chosen to assume its destabilising position towards formal and stable structures, it can choose to share the theory and practice of the politics of identity with these self-reflexive disciplines, or rather than simply decentralise its own role, de-territorialise and escape its entire relation to such a game played between meaning and function. In this case it will be neither constitutive of identities (by associating itself with social spheres and contexts) nor performative (in terms of the artist-subject mediating a message), which will always imply a form of production based on division of labour and advance calculation. What the development of an affective form of production would imply in this context is that proof as something ready-made will become an unreliable form of evidence (it cannot be blocked so as to refer back to itself as an isolated instance of some inherent order), and that administration as an unlimited transformation will signify an evasion (it is an instrument for measuring the indices and itself participates as an operative function in an unlimited social field). The investigation would have to employ a technique that conceals rather than reveals, the research would require a continual stream of projections. The difference is that one would no longer have to acknowledge a motive for the investigation or demonstrate a proof in the inquiry, but would move instead in the opposite direction, to investigate the motivation and scrutinise the way in which the proofs are made. In this way, a critical-analytic project would also involve analysing the historical aspect of the formation of a collective subjectivity, so as to enable the adoption of necessary precautions to prevent the decentralisation or re-territorialisation of the artist-subject (as in the case of the historic avant-garde).



As an artistic method, autonomy and relationality are more suited to an ideal projection than meaning and function. More accurately, a historic constitution of artistic subjectivity. The autonomous aesthetic represents a project of emancipation, as exemplified by a historic subject such as the avant-garde, whereas relationality represents communicative strategies as positive knowing (or respectively, they represent identification and performativity). Once these are taken as the conditions for the production of knowledge, one can proceed to the localisation of the boundaries implicit along the lines of its discourse, and to the game which these presuppose in the subsequent shaping of its mode of representation. By contrast, a collective display of subjectivity that expresses the performative aspect of identification and the identity-constitutive aspect in performativity, must take as its starting point affective production and exert a transformative influence in the manner of a contamination.



To promulgate meaning while establishing new connections - that was once the mission of research, while the performative element in this should guarantee for what is universal about such a practice. The hidden meaning of the inner is gradually revealed, as is the transcendental function of the outer. The method for this kind of research is legitimised by the appropriateness it acquires in virtue of its critical function, i.e. its capacity to demonstrate proofs in terms of causal contexts. Today it is more likely to have a differentiating function, and its performative aspect is more likely to be apparent insofar as it participates and intervenes in the more or less private-collective sphere of the public. Admittedly, it will deny the subject the opportunity to achieve conscious insights about itself, but nevertheless subsist as a social utopia of always existing in relation to something else - informed, communicative yet still self-identical.



Concerning a research plan, performed and projected onto this kind of social subject (flexible, privatised, plural), knowledge would be accredited with a greater inherent potential for realisation, which should create an identity and its contextualisation, or its communicative properties. In opposition to this kind of modification of research, to embrace reflexivity in the encounter with the public sphere, we find the investigation of a life-plan which itself invents its collective social subject, and thereupon also a minority and a minority art. The minority concept does not seem to have been developed in such a way as to have validity beyond its anthropological model. The introduction of the minority concept should rather serve to circumvent the notion of the possible truthfullness (as a component in the formation of scenarios, identity construction and communication) in that it demonstrates how identification is a function of communication, and communication is what creates meaning in identification. It will also have to renounce the objectivity criterion as the potential for realisation, as determined by conditions of reproduction and the principle of classification.



Mediation between forms of expression, interdisciplinary, cross-overs and hybrids, displaces the repressed representative to the medium-specific and formal structure. The demonstration of commensurability between media presupposes that interpretation itself should be the defining principle for the function of the expression. One would continue the search for the critical dimension of the representation in form or content(Deleuze/Guattari discuss these various interpretations of Kafka, as oedipal/alienated/oppressed, in Kafka: toward a minor literature), , and would assume that a critique must be either steem from an internal or external problem-theorem. Hence an interpretative research that reconstructs a psychological/anthropological dynamic between form and content, messages to be mediated as self-reflexive. The problem in the mediation of interdisiplinarity is that the dynamic presupposes the idea of liberating the conditions for communication that apply for the medium, similar to the idea one used to have about liberation through global solidarity, and of one humanity, without there being anything that anticipated it. A differentiated investigation will aim first to prefigure a diversity or a minority, presupposing it's existence as a medium for itself. In contrast to the liberation of a potential fellowship of communication, a gagged and oppressed public sphere, this investigation will have to compare conceptions, metaphors and local tonalities with models for expression and language. This always implies the transformation of subjectivity of a statement towards a more collective form of utterance; meaning and function will always change, so that they cannot be traced back to some hidden message or operate on behalf of an objective, teleological relation. It is this transformation of both the autonomous project and the relational code that renders every collective form of utterance socially critical, but not every criticism a collective utterance.



There has long been a scientific-romantic element in art, the most pronounced exemplars of which are the historical avant-garde and theoreticians such as Ortega y Gasset, in which the mediated experience of art exemplifies a critique of bourgeois society, and puts its faith in a meta-language and hopes to cleanse discourse of all revelation strategies. This is no longer possible, insofar as a critique of this type participates in a social game in which a variety of liberational projects have to adapt to their situations and relations with other liberational projects. Within this perspective, and regardless of the method, critical theory will appear to be speculative in its decentralising of subjectivity, whereby it will carry out its analytic project between the individual and the social levels of art, between various pockets of subjective expressivity, and surrounded by the public sphere of production. If so, the dynamic described should be conducted on the premises of the medium, and with regard for its ability to communicate the psychological and anthropological poles of a form of life. It will require a critical-analytic project, which also works through the form of expression of the collective utterance, in order to free itself entirely from this form of understanding. Research that hosts collective forms of utterance, or that dismantles a speculative model of social production.