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MaHKUzine #1, Summer 2006

MaHKUzine #1 is the first edition of a biannual series published by the Utrecht Graduate School of Visual Art and Design. MaHKUzine hopes to initiate a 21st century discourse into the topical world of visual art, editorial design, spatial design in both interior and urban settings, and fashion. That discourse should provide links to a novel field of research, called artistic research. Indeed, that is an ambitious project. So, let's put forward some basic questions as a direction for analytic minds. What could artistic research mean in a variety of fields such as visual art, editorial design, interior design, urban design, and fashion? How does artistic research differ from the research conducted in fields such as natural science, psychology, or anthropology? What kind of knowledge does artistic research produce?

Paradigmatically, one could claim that research in the field of design is colored by transdisciplinarity, whereas research in the visual arts displays intermediality. Both transdisciplinarity and intermediality emerge in the form as well as the content of the workshops, courses, and programs at the Utrecht Graduate School of Visual Art and Design (MaHKU). Symposia such as the series Is the Medium still the Message?; the graduates' exhibition The Intermedial Zone in Museum Boijmans van Beuningen; and a series of crossover workshops called Rethinking Engagement have produced fascinating texts as part of MaHKU's curriculum.

In MaHKUzine #1, all texts deal with elements of both the three basic questions and the paradigmatic validity of transdisciplinarity and intermediality. In the context of discourse production, they inspire further reflection in both writing and teaching. And that is exactly what MaHKUzine stands for.

So, what do the authors talk about? With respect to intermediality, Arjen Mulder argues that the question to be asked today is what software is. Lev Manovich questions transdisciplinarity while stating "You can collaborate with people from various disciplines, but if you try to do everything, you will not master anything." Jeanne van Heeswijk claims that it goes without saying that "the framework defining art can be questioned and reformulated from various points of view." Pascale Gatzen, designs "on the edge of fashion and visual art." To Bibi Straatman, "Design students as postmodern media consumers must be familiar with interdisciplinary phenomena such as the consumer culture story of branding", whereas Matthew Fuller argues that "digital media projects have become so complex that they necessitate work with people who have skills different from your own." In chasing topical forms of iconography, Max Bruinsma claims that iconographic crossovers generate novel forms of criticalness. And Un Studio/Caroline Bos argues that the mix of "two typologies of unit based organization and flow based organization shows that choosing a modernist box does not have to be a rigid principle nor does choosing an avant-garde blob have to be a principal choice."

In the context of science crossovers, Petran Kockelkoren tells about artist/natural scientist Felix Hess, who equipped his house with large eardrums, i.e. sensory equipment attached to windowpanes, registering natural differences in pressure. Those recorded sounds produced "the sound of the rhythms of nature interwoven with the rhythms of culture." Annette Balkema talks about electronic, screen based windows where "a screen based perception desires to continuously open up window after window swarming with visuality and information to be detected in electronic, compactified forms of depth." For Esther Polak, "It is interesting to produce new forms of mediations similar to the attitude of artists turning data into sound."

In MaHKUzine's section "Research Reports", Gijs Frieling reports on his research perspectives. In fact, this is the section for reviewing relevant publications, symposia, and presentations by (MaHKU) artists and designers in the process of their research projects.

MaHKUzine does believe that all these voices and modulations have the potential to start spreading the word of Artistic Research while producing an inspiring, fascinating, and topical piece of discourse production.

Read or download MaHKUzine #1 at ISSUU