Babelsberger Thesen

Eight Theses on Artistic Research

  1. Artistic practice means tracing a trace: it is not taking a path to a known destination point. It orientates itself while walking, it opens up new spaces and uncovers new horizons.
  2. Artistic reflection is a way to let yourself in on your own craft, to compare oneself, to look at contexts and to enter into a dialogue with other perspectives. The reflective work sharpens decisions and inspires the courage to invent and assert oneself in tracing a trace. It keeps  contradictions alive and strengthens the momentum of the movement.
  3. The artistic work can draw on the field of theory to illuminate the horizon of the present, to explore the depth of history, to focus on questions or simply to absorb impulses. However, artistic form-finding and form-giving must remain autonomous in this. If it is merely the application, staging or visualization of a theory, it does not realize its full potential.
  4. Artistic research leads to a basic knowledge that is different from the knowledge of science and technology: it follows its own laws and criteria, it has its own languages, tools and procedures.
  5. Not only knowledge, but also the criteria according to which something counts as knowledge, change in history. Likewise, the relationship between the arts, sciences and technologies is also changing.
  6. In their current constellation, the knowledge cultures once again have the opportunity for productive dialogue. The condition for this is that they respect each other as different ways of describing and shaping the world. Only when the sciences and the arts meet each other at eye level can concrete sparks fly.
  7. The way of thinking in the sciences crystallizes in the language of concepts. The arts, on the other hand, think in a pictorial, sculptural, tonal/atonal or even scenic way, in a rhetoric of movement and gesture. None of these languages can be reduced to the other, their arc of tension builds up differently again and again, and it is precisely in this that their dialogue remains in constant motion.
  8. Arts and sciences can meet in the encounter with the unknown, but then they often continue along separate ways: the sciences crystallize the movement of cognition, they have the tendency to transfer methods and knowledge into a secured existence. The arts, on the other hand, show ways to make the known unknown unknown and to rediscover it anew. In the dialogue between arts and sciences, both sides can learn from each other.

© Prof. Dr. Stefan Winter Written in 2017, published for the first time as part of the seminar “Time Traces. On the idea of ​​artistic research” at the Film University, summer semester 2017, revised in autumn 2020.