I went to a talk and workshop by Jill Gibbon last week. She talked about her PhD and the relationship between theory and practice. For her theory was a way to solve problems in her practice. She was in Russia drawing people on the streets selling whatever they could get their hands on, and a woman came up to her as asked ‘What are you doing?’, when she’d had it translated she thought, what am I doing? What is my role here? Observing people who are desperate and yet being paid more money that they get in a month.
Her PhD is about war art and the eye-witness account. She develops this into the ‘radical witness’ who is present in order to change things. So instead of staying outside to get a good ‘view’, she is involved in the protest as an activist, and draws from within.
I found this interesting in terms of view point, and the way that De Certeau discusses the view from a tall building and from street level, but also in terms of being part of your own research. The researcher as part of what is being observed. Can the idea of being an eye-witness, be translated into being a physical/body-witness, – in the same way that you do ‘body storming’ as well as ‘brain storming’.
In the discussion we talked about practice, and knowledge gained through practice rather than theory. My practice is usually very fragmented and project management-y, and although I do learn embodied things from that process, its not a physical embodiment in the way that theory i’m looking at describes it. What my practice is lacking is a regular embodied engagement such as regular walking, walking with people, walking meetings.