Methodologies for Interdisciplinary Research by Laura Benítez

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Text by Laura Benítez.

A method is a systematic process that allows us to reach a specific objective, while a methodology is a series of methods, or a comparative study of different methods. Transdisciplinary research is practice-based-research, developed by actual researchers. Transdisciplinary research processes are thus inextricably linked to researchers.

a) Disruption Methodologies

Disruption methodologies are participatory methodologies that call into question preconceived ideas as a starting point from which to enable transcultural, non-hierarchical dialogue among different fields of action. Ideally, this non-hierarchical dialogical structure favours the generation of new action clusters, in which forms of contact-experience break down the boundaries of specialisation: their opacity, abstraction, fetishism and mystification.

Disruption methodologies are participatory methodologies that destabilise the role of the existing distribution system, which makes a clear distinction between professional-experts and non-experts or amateurs, and supports hegemonic and thus hierarchical narratives in a collaborative but not transversal process.

These methodologies should allow for the possible termination or interruption of a project at any time, both the action clusters and the structure, and should thus include replicability.

An example of a disruption method

The Free Range Grain project carried out by the Critical Art Ensemble with Beatriz da Costa and Shyh-shiun Shyu in 2003-2004 was a participatory performance that promoted information exchange and access to information. The project consisted of a portable lab that allowed users to test food and find out whether it had been genetically modified. In other words, it offered the public information that the State denied it about the product purchased. The process involved DNA tests based on the interaction with the bacteria serratia marcenses, and results were available after a period of 72 hours.

b) Transformation Methodologies

Transformation methodologies are participatory methodologies that allow for the non-linear continuation of disruptive processes that generate spaces for implementation and, in turn, implement resignification processes. Resignification becomes a springboard for the transformation of the language coding that defines regulatory meaning.

The condition of possibility of these implementation processes (and thus, of transformation) is the critical sense of self reflection that, in turn, helps to create a vacuum of meaning.

Transformation methodologies are participatory methodologies that break into narratives and promote the reconfiguration of pre-defined, pre-existing standards.

An example of a transformation method

c) Affect-based Methodologies

Affect-based methodologies are participatory methodologies that start out trying to identify, by means of an RRI, the parties that will or may be affected by the research being carried out. Once this has been done, it may be appropriate for the affected parties to participate in developing the research project, which would also lead to breaking down the distinction between expert and amateur.

An example of an affect-based method

Palle Nielsen. The Model. A Model for a Qualitative Society. In 1968, Palle Nielsen approached the Moderna Museet in Stockholm with a proposal for turning the museum into an adventure playground. For a month, his “Model for a Qualitative Society” offered a space exclusively for children, without parents or educators, to build their own playground.

d) Performative Methodologies or Methodologies of Performativity

Performative methodologies are a set of participatory methods that allow transparency in research processes and when it comes to communicating their findings. These processes should be accessible and transactive, offering co-creation spaces in which all participating agents are active, and not simply receivers or interpreters.

Performative methodologies are participatory methodologies that should organise forms of contact-experience that enable collective knowledge production through the integration of multiplicity as a common knowledge-generation tool.

An example of a performative method

Jordi Ferreiro makes no distinction between art and education. His projects are an investigation in which both “disciplines” are conjoined by way of play, to construct spaces of knowledge through the elements of joy and surprise. Jordi uses formats traditionally understood to be educational and transforms them into hybrid projects, such as performative tour guides, interactive audio guides, and games: The Emperor’s New Clothes, A Conversation with the Museum or A Performance to Be Performed, The Presence or Another Story/Another Occasion. Performance as a form of contact-experience that enables the experience of contemporary art.