Artistic Research @ Kristiania (AR@K), annual symposium in Oslo, Norway // Call for Contributions AR@K22: Improvisation – Risks, Responses, Rewards.

Improvisation enjoys the curious distinction of being both the most widely practiced of all musical activities and the least acknowledged and understood. – Derek Bailey, musician, 1993.

Improvisation and pre-planned composition are not opposites, but part of a continuum. - Kathryn Millard, filmmaker/screenwriter, 2016

With the use of improvisational methods in the rehearsal process, I think the result becomes more unexpected, more original, more personal, more emotional and almost always more contemporary and modern. – Tyra Tønnesen, stage director, 2006

Improvisation as an artistic tool, method, or even a paradigm, seems to be situated at the center of discourses related to both artistic practice and artistic research. Be it from within the artistic realms of music, theatre, dance, painting, or writing, improvisation is often associated with the notions of spontaneity, impulsive interaction, and being counterintuitive to previous knowledge. But how free, unstructured and unplanned is improvisation supposed to be?

Artists and researchers who draw upon artistic practice as a medium of creating and facilitating knowledge often rely upon skills that are central to improvisation, such as “an openness to uncertainty, an attunement to difference and the aesthetic intelligence necessary to track significance” (Sajnani 2012). Indeed, both practice-based and practice-led approaches of inquiry utilize improvisation as it seems to offer a rewarding way to illuminate all kinds of aesthetic practices. Theorists and practitoners have long since drawn parallels between traditional scientific laboratory experiments and artistic experiments in the sense that both are often far less rigidly method-based than assumed and that they rely strongly on notions of intuition, serendipity, instability, epistemological uncertainty, and, indeed, improvisation. As such, improvisation might serve as a common denominator, a means to facilitate a valuable dialogue between the not so separate worlds of scientific and artistic research. In essence, both the scientific and the artistic experiment might be what John Cage once described as “simply an action the outcome of which is not foreseen” (in Mersch 2009).

Improvisation inspires us to embrace the unforeseen, it teaches us to accept unpredictability and it raises our awareness of the artistic process to achieve the ultimate goal of artistic research: “In and through practices, knowledge comes into being” (Borgdorff 2012).

The use of improvisational methods and techniques could illuminate how we operate as artists, teachers, utilizers of technology, sociocultural actors, indeed, as humans, on a variety of interconnected spheres and platforms first and foremost shaped by arbitrariness, randomness and chaos. As theatre scholar Ric Knowles once put it: “we navigate the unexpected by improvising everyday” (2010).

We are delighted to announce the return of the AR@K symposium, a one-day event at Kristiania University College in Oslo, Norway. The upcoming symposium will take place on 15 March 2022, and we are looking for contributions from across the fields of artistic research. When we engage in activities of which the outcome is unknown, we take risks. Responses to these risks are highly diverse, as are the potential rewards. At AR@K22, we seek to shed light on both the risks, responses and rewards of improvisation. Participants are encouraged, but not limited, to explore topics such as:

  • Teaching improvisation / improvisational teaching
  • Histories and traditions of improvisation
  • Epistemologies of improvisation
  • Methods of improvisation / improvisation as method
  • Improvisation and technology
  • The psychology of improvisation
  • The relationship of scientific and artistic improvisation
  • Frameworks of improvisation
  • Improvisation and performance
  • Improvisation as boundary work
  • Improvisation as a democratic tool
  • Improvisation across cultures and contexts

We are encouraging artists, artistic researchers and academics from across the fields of (but not limited to) film, theatre, music, dance, literature, linguistics, cultural studies, social sciences, technology and computer sciences, media-studies, and pedagogy to submit abstracts of possible contributions.

The abstract must have a title and be limited to 200 words. Presentation at the symposium should be a maximum of 20 minutes in length (+ 10 mins for questions). Please state your name, affiliation and contact information. Also, include a brief biographical statement (100 words) detailing your artistic and research practice.

We encourage a variation of formats, such as performances, posters and installations (technical equipment and stage facilities are available), in addition to traditional paper-presentations and lecture talks. Presentations requested in any Scandinavian language or English.

Please note: In light of the logistic uncertainties related to the covid-19 pandemic the symposium might be conducted as a hybrid event, meaning that both on-site and digital presentations will be possible. Practical issues related to the form of each presentation will be discussed with the participants individually.

Please send your abstracts to arak@kristiania.no.
The deadline for abstracts is 31 January 2022.

For an overview of AR@K’s previous presentations and contributors, please see the program schedules for:

Please feel free to share this call for contributions in your respective communities and to anyone who might be interested.

Call for contributions AR@K22.pdf

The Artistic Research Group at Kristiania University College, Oslo / January 2022