Wisdom in Artistic Research: An Alternative to the Discourse of Art as Knowledge Production

Nora Vaage

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


In recent years, an increasing number of artists are engaging with the biotechnosciences, entering scientific laboratories to create art in vivo. The artists creating these living artworks are often concerned with the material and sensory nature of the bacteria, tissue, plant or animal with which they are working, as well as with the critical potential of their practice in relation to scientific institutions and methods. Their approach also entails a preoccupation with artistic research and the process of creation as endeavours of knowledge production. In this chapter I will take these bioart practices as a starting point for discussing the discourse of knowledge production accompanying artistic research, drawing on theories from science and technology studies (STS) and philosophy. In what sense of the word can we speak about artistic lab practices as producing knowledge? It has often been argued that few artworks can be seen to fulfil the criteria of expressing “justified true belief”, which is still a common definition of knowledge within epistemology. According to this theory, we can be said to have knowledge when something is true, and we are justified in believing that it is true (Gettier, 1963; Klein, 1971). But this theory is seen, by several scholars, as being unsuitable for the ideas about knowledge entailed in artistic research. These scholars argue that attempts at fulfilling such criteria reduce art to science communication or exploit it in the interests of capitalist society (Busch, 2009; Steyerl, 2010). However, considering the contributions that artists make and building on critical ideas about knowledge and artistic research, I argue that a more suitable concept to apply to the meaning-making of art may be wisdom.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDialogues Between Artistic Research and Science and Technology Studies
EditorsHenk Borgdorff, Peter Peters, Trevor Pinch
Place of PublicationNew York and London
PublisherRoutledge/Taylor & Francis Group
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-429-43887-5
ISBN (Print)978-1-138-34385-6
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

SeriesRoutledge Advances in Art and Visual Studies


  • artistic research
  • knowledge views
  • Propositional knowledge
  • knowing
  • wisdom
  • epistemology

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