At the CREW gathering last week on November 22, I started to see a need for us to experiment with developing a form of statement – a kind of abstract perhaps, maybe an essay, possibly a manifesto, an annotated diagram, a film or an animation – that articulates the ethics of one's research imperative. During our conversations I was trying to find a 'new word' to describe what I meant by this, and at the time I think I said 'the ethical urge'. In order to think about this further, I went back to a short essay that I wrote about ethics called 'The Ethics of the Imperative' (for a publication I edited called 'The Innovation Imperative'). This is available online here. It juxtaposes two 1968 films - 2001 and Barbarella, to articulate an open way of negotiating and generating new relations – this 'way' involves both 'doing' and 'being done' or both affecting and being affected. I was interested in offering an abstract scaffolding for an ethical striving toward the new (or any act of creation). The critical moment, I suggested, that exemplifies (via an intensity) this 'way', was Barbarella's orgasmic embrace of the 'excessive machine'. For the creative arts, this suggestion seemed promising to me, given that it emphasises embodied, situated, respectful desire and pleasure (related to enchantment?) at the core of ethics. The sexual aspects of this are not what is important – but rather the more abstract principles that could be at work in infinite kinds of situation.
After re-reading this, I wondered if it would be worth testing related articulations from and by the CREW – where the CREW review process that we are gradually developing might aim to move practitioners towards a way of articulating 'the ethics of one's research imperative'. This is much longer than a 'new word', but hoping it will do the job for now.
Here I am imagining that all researchers are driven by a series of desires and motivations – many, perhaps most of which are tacit rather than consciously known – but the momentum and trajectory of which can nevertheless be shaped through gathering clarity about what kinds of relations we are aiming to generate. For example, the kinds of questions one might explore this could be:
– what kind of affects are you hoping your research cultivates, or brings-into-being? what is the value of these affects? How is your research affected by the affects it might elicit?
– in a given project, or across a series of projects, how would you describe the forms of engagement you set up and enable? How do you situate yourself within these engagements?
– does an articulation of the ethics of your research imperative assist you in developing your creative project/practice with greater confidence in terms of its ethical clarity?
Every practice might call for a different way of thinking through these issues, even at the most abstract level, but certainly through the situated particularities each brings to the table. A cross section of these kinds of statements that takes us through multiple creative practices could be both illuminating and productive.