Theory as Object: Explorations of Methodological Practices in Art and Design

The objectives of the study group:

  • To understand what theory is
  • To know how to identify, interrogate and use theories
  • To be able to work though theories and to combine them into a theoretical framework
  • To know how to make the practice of theory interact with your own practices
  • Not about applying theories, instead it is about how to practice theory

What is theory?

Oxford Dictionary:

  1. “A supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained: Darwin’s theory of evolution”
  2. “A set of principles on which the practice of an activity is based: a theory of education”
  3. “An idea used to account for a situation or justify a course of action: my theory would be that the place has been seriously mismanaged”

What about theory in the context of arts?

Nicholas Davey – Art and Theory

There is no opposition between practice and theory, but a relationship that is mediated by the subject matter of the work of art.

“Unlike the modern conception of theory which stresses the detached observation of a phenomenal event, the ancient notion of theoria emphasizes the act of witness which … contributes toward the emergence of the event participated in” (p.20)

The reading material entitled Regions, Networks and Fluids: Anaemia and Social Topology  (Annemarie Mol and John Law (1994) Social Studies of Science). The topic of Anaemia seemed irrelevant to the visual arts… After reading however, I realised that the purpose was to use blood as an analogy to explain how some things aren’t easily explained through traditional methods. Theory is within everything we create as blood is everywhere within us.


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A nocturnal twenty-something artist

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