Issue Two



holt journal for artistic research is a platform for sharing practice-led research carried out through artistic practice. In the second issue entitled Situations, we consider the situatedness of artistic practice and how artists/researchers engage with places, spaces and sites to investigate, situate and share their research. The term situations offers a range of interpretations and applications relevant to the discourse of artistic practice as research, which we seek to examine through the following propositions: the exploration of artistic agency in particular places, the situations or circumstances instigating artistic inquiry and experimentations, and the context in which artistic practice is situated. Of particular significance in this issue are reflections on the social, political or cultural resonance of artistic research, from which it is derived and how it seeks to leave its mark.

Whilst holt shares in this issue contributions from artist researchers who unpack the diverse interpretations for the term situations, it also seeks to examine, over time and through various perspectives, the situatedness of practice-led research through artistic practice in the vast ecosystem of the research environment. The term situation, which is derived from the medieval Latin word situare – ‘to place’, offers an opportunity to position and bring together contributions from artistic research that could emphasise the interdisciplinarity and significance of these emerging methodologies.

Relevant for this issue is Estelle Barrett’s work to identify what distinguishes creative art practice as research.1 She draws on the writings of Donna Haraway in Situated Knowledges, who highlights the partiality in objectivity and argues for modes of knowledge production that do not pretend to be from everywhere and therefore from nowhere, but that are rather situated and speak from specific bodies and places that form earth-wide connections.2 Barrett sees in Haraway’s argument a model that mirrors artistic practice as research, and which its features she unpacks here:  

This mode of knowledge production acknowledges the particular, the subjective and the personal as important aspects of enquiry; it articulates the notion of ethical or embodied forms of observation – ways of looking and being accountable for knowledge claims that do not deny the agency of the objects of research – in particular human participants; it is a mode that replaces traditional notions of objectivity with the idea of situated knowledge and partial objectivity; finally it asserts the potential of situated and partial knowledge for forging webs of connections – identifying for whom, how and where else knowledge can be put to use.3

It is through these approaches of embodied and emergent practices that we seek to visit situations and situatedness in artistic research and highlight the relationality and fluid positioning explored by artists researchers. With this in mind, we are presenting papers that range from examining situations in concrete to abstract notions. This could entail the sites and their socio-political significance, the material sites of making or the transformation of specific sites to become both the subject of inquiry and site for experimentations and interventions.


1  Barrett, E. (2014) ‘Introduction: Extending the Field: Invention, Application and Innovation in Creative Arts Enquiry’, in Barrett, E. and Bolt, B. (ed.) Material Inventions: Applying     Creative Arts Research. London: I.B. Tauris.
2 Haraway, D. (1988). ‘Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective’. Feminist Studies, 14(3), pp. 575–599.
3  Barrett, ‘Introduction: Extending the Field: Invention, Application and Innovation in Creative Arts Enquiry’, 9.

Read the full issue here 

In Memoriam

Yasmin Chopin


Using a case study, this paper focuses on the role of the memorial bench and how its design and position in the landscape affects the people who interact with it. From prompting memories to shaping them and providing a place to sit and appreciate a specific view, the memorial bench has more impact on the landscape, and our lives, than we realise.


Charlotte Pannell

I am drinking from a 'Planet Hollywood' glass. It is from Planet Hollywood Miami, I know this because it says it on it. After my parents divorced my mum remarried. Her and my stepdad started to collect these glasses on every holiday that they went on. When I went with them, Planet Hollywood felt like an immersive experience. I think the first one that I went to was in London. I think I can remember the burger but I might be imagining it, huge. They went on collecting these glasses, and my mum had them in a display cabinet. I think you got them free if you ordered the right cocktail.

Recently they leaped to the edge of the country.

In this move lots of objects were questioned and now I am drinking out of this cup, taken from my sister's kitchen cupboard. From a collection of about twenty we kept six, one being Heathrow which was my favourite. Two are left as the rest broke, the partner to the pair is London. I've grown closer to these imitations recently.

Am I sitting on a great imitation? Am I drinking from a poor imitation?

If I drink everything from the same disposable plastic cup would I feel differently to a life of sipping from a …?

If I was sitting now on an ergonomically designed office chair, would I write better? This chair is causing me aches and pains, but I hold it here as an artefact, I would have discarded it if I was judging it based purely on comfort.

If I keep this chair, this table, this glass around me then I might not lose who I am, what will I become if I just move around with no ground. But what does the soil mean, faces?

The praise of scepticism and the error of certainty

Manuela Johanna Covini

"How can we understand or describe the potential of artistic action in specific places?" - was the initial question for this open call.

This paper SITUATIONS - The Praise of Scepticism and the Error of Certainty is about the terms used in this question. It is an attempt to transform historical and ideational places (concepts) into a subject in order to ensure dialogue with the present. I try out this subjectification through illustrations, generated with the help of a text-to-image programme. An artificial intelligence translated selected terms, sentence fragments or entire descriptions into images (drawings, graphics or photographs) for me. The respective manner of visualisation allows us to draw conclusions about different epochs and thus the illustrations are additionally charged with new meanings.

On the one hand, subjectification demands an engagement with current ruptures; on the other hand, subjectification conserves the future in one particular of many possibilities. Looking at the pictures and reading the text shows that the perception of time is to be understood as a process that can neither be delimited nor concluded. And as a matter of fact, I work in this sense with the method of confusion.

Terms, as Mieke Bal understands them, are to be thought of as processual. This means that terms, concepts and culture "migrate", i.e. they change by adapting to the respective circumstances and contexts. And therein lies new potential.

The artist is expected to uncover this process of the emergence of other, new worlds/systems in a poetic-political way. For poetry (from the ancient Greek ποίησις poíesis "creation") lies in these multiple potencies of SITUATION. Situation, then, is not only the place before a decision, an action - it is also a place of poetry - of creation. These "situations of creation" are about (re)establishing relationships between distant epochs and languages, about forming new contemporaries. But it is not only the artist who does this.

Every person in a society intervenes in his or her respective culture by engaging and creatively dealing with everyday life. In this sense, the political and socio-cultural determination of the artist has a mediating role.

The artist traces these sensitive beginnings of connections and relationships with different and diverse working methods until it becomes possible to fill these potentials/possibilities with life.


Enfolded Response-ability and Relational Ontologies

Helen Colton

Absence has a palpable presence for those seeking truth and reconciliation in the wake of erasure. Struggles for visibility and representation are bound to the ontoepistemological and ethical implications of discursive practices. Karen Barad’s post-humanist theory of “agential realism” draws upon diffraction as a theoretical and performative modality for understanding phenomena as threaded through, not separate from, self and other. Presence and absence, past and present, nature and culture, matter and energy, human and non-human are co-present agents enfolded in a continual process of becoming. Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s intra-active artworks, when considered through the diffractive lens of Barad’s theories, bring visibility to absence as an indicator of what is lacking or excluded from knowledge production and warrants representation. Public space is reimagined as a platform in which assemblages of biometric data, architecture, light and technology can initiate possibilities for absence to be (re)presented. These “situations,” as Lozano-Hemmer refers to them, reconfigure presence and absence in terms of co-presence and activate transcorporeal entanglements between the living, disappeared and otherwise missing. The artworks are performatively embodied and distributed across time, space, matter and memory to reveal traces of loss, exclusion and displacement. Intra-actions bring the artworks into being, evoking an openness to the ubiquitous alterity that is already, inextricably, iteratively constitutive of bodies (including but not limited to humans). Lozano-Hemmer’s “relationship-specific situations” are discursive practices in which co-presence is materialized and reconstituted within the artwork as an ongoing dialogue with absent others, prompting actions that attend to Barad’s call for “formulations of realism (and truth)” premised on the performative nature of post-anthropocentric response-able knowledge making.

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, "Level of Confidence", 2015, face-recognition algorithms, computer, screen, webcam. Shown here: Montréal, Québec, Canada. Photo by: Antimodular Research.