Tuesday, 9 May 2017

How can we define ‘critical moments’ that are experienced whilst developing a work in Practice-Led Research?

Having read Kylie Stevenson & Susan Girak's Creative River Journeys essay I became interested in the term ‘critical moments’ in relation to points in time when the artist realises something about what they’re working on. The debate around the ‘critical moment’ is important for the development of Practice-Led Research as we explore the creative process that inform higher level research so here I have pursued its meaning.

I think on some level I can pin point important moments in my research but are these ranked, if at all or if they need to be, or do we further recognise or inflate their importance when the work is complete? Are these moments, at the time of their happening, still a critical moment or is the realisation of them the critical moment? If we can see this final realisation then do we even identify the original moment as critical if the work doesn’t change. Is a critical moment positive or negative or both? From my reading, it appears to symbolise progression but surely the failure of something working within a context is much like archaeology where if you find nothing then it infers by its absence a meaning.

Does the reliving of critical moments, through interview or reflection, train our minds to recognise them more easily? Or even give it the ability to construct moments that never happened

How does this critical moment happen? In the visual arts does the visual method mean that the form of critical moments is more instinctive? Is this because we are not placing the moment into a text based language, that it can happen instantly? On a more complex level are we creating our own language and does every artist speak a distinct tongue through formulating their own critical moments?

The visual triggers that punctuate a critical moment are tightly bound in the materials of the artist. Many aspects such a shape, colour, line, texture may have an effect on experiencing the critical moment, or whatever you might want to label it.

The artist is apparently able to identify the critical moment but could this be a construct based upon the reflective process?  When asked to recall critical moments they will appear when asked to quantify the work. And again, does this mean that the critical moment exists outside the work and not within it?

It’s also interesting that in Stevenson’s essay the research subjects use a range of language to describe the critical moments such as, ‘turning point’, ‘life-defining moment,’ or ‘struck a chord’, and these seem broad in their meaning. There is little definition through using such loose terms. Maybe there is no exactness here?

The Potential for Only One Critical Moment

How heavily bound up in the source material is the critical moment? The handling of source material is an interesting one for my practice. For some this gives up the first critical moment and perhaps the most important one. Could this be called the ‘Initiating Critical Moment’? How could we class this? Is it the point at which a foundation is layout within a deeply developed artistic consciousness? You could argue that artists are more receptive to this leap of creativity, or a trained ‘conscious reflective eye’ that sees the potential in the visual or any medium which triggers them.

Is this ‘Initiating Critical Moment’ the only critical moment? The reason being any consequential moments that follow are often removed, rework of deleted. If this first moment did not exist would the preceding moments? If so it would be the ‘most’ critical moment and potentially some kind of hierarchical system of language could be employed to rank moments there after?

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