Mistaken Failure

Activity: Talk or presentationScience to science


My presentation refers to experiences with failure in the transdisciplinary artistic research project “knowledge trough art” (funded by FWF, www.spaciergang.org) that brought together a composer, a multi-media artist, a conceptual artist, a philosopher, an author, a film director, a stage designer and producer of space installations, and a sociologist. On the one hand it deals with the results of the interpretation of in-depth-interviews we did within the research-group that included the topic of failure respectivly the fear to fail in working processes, on the other hand it reports concrete situations within the project where failure was a possible result of our work. Discussions within the project group showed that although failure would not have been sanctionized by the funding institution we tried hard to avoid it and to hide every indication of possible failure in the final report. The question is: why is it so difficult to accept failure as a productive force?

The most astonishing experience was the reciprocal attribution of mistakes and failure when one of us tried to bridge the gap between the disciplines in taking over methods and concepts of “the other side”. It seemed like entering forbidden terrain that was strictly defended by the authorized “owners”. Instead of being pleased about the willingness to take over the perspective of the other we refused every contribution that tried to assimilate concepts or methods of other approaches and alleged it as insufficient. One of the reasons of these denials might be the very difference between art and science: whereas art is based on a kind of setting with no ifs or buts, science is based on reason and arguing. Therefore we have to take into acccount that the kind of possible failure is not the same. Beckett seems to be right: “To be an artist is to fail, as no other dare fail”.
Period21 Mar 201923 Mar 2019
Event title10th SAR International Conference on Artistic Research Zurich University of the Arts, March 21-23, 2019
Event typeUnkonwn
Degree of RecognitionInternational

Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)

  • 605004 Cultural studies