Edited by Leora Farber, 2010
Published by The Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Centre (VIAD), Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture, University of Johannesburg
ISBN No: 978-0-620-49738-1

On 15 and 16 October 2009, VIAD presented a two-day colloquium on aspects of practice-led research (PLR) in creative production titled On making: integrating approaches to practice-led research in art and design. This publication represents a collection of selected papers, revised as essays, from the On making conference, and also includes invited contributions from leading South African artists, practitioners, educators and academics working in the field. It is intended to continue, provoke and advance existing debates concerning the complex relationship between creative practices – particularly those of art and design – and research, in terms of both content and modes of presentation, and foster further debate around the position of PLR as an important form of research within South African university contexts.

The publication has been conceived of and complied as a reader – a collection of essays grouped in four different, yet interconnected, and at times, overlapping sections. Each section marks a consolidation of thinking around PLR, both locally and globally, at a particular moment in time. Thus, through the publication, the editor indicates particular approaches, frameworks, methodologies, and positions recorded in relation to historical and current practices of PLR in South Africa, and situate this history against current and historical global PLR practices.

The publication contains an introductory framework to the field of PLR which links selected South African examples discussed at the colloquium to international contexts. This is followed by a section in which articles that frame the PLR project are presented. The emphasis on PLR as containing not only new knowledge but also new forms of knowledge is an important feature of these arguments. The second section, consisting of a series of PLR case-studies, is designed to enable art and design practitioners to reflect on their practice and provide examples of forms of writing that might accompany the production of PLR based artefacts. The third section consists of essays that enable dialogue and debate between professionals involved in various research forms that constitute PLR. These essays present examples of how ‘academic’ writing need not be a desiccated form, but rather one which aligns itself with PLR through its theorising of moments or objects in a particular form of semantic expression. The final section, titled ‘Narratives’, places emphasis on the visual, through inclusion of mapping and photo-essays.