Michael Asher, Untitled, Claire S. Copley Gallery, Los Angeles, 1974

“Use-inspired basic research” was first introduced in 1997 by Donald E. Stokes in his book “Pasteur’s Quadrant”. It describes a type of research which not only advances science but is also linked to practical issues. In 2011 the SNSF launched a funding category with the same name which extends their main focus on basic research. The category aims at giving a stronger voice to practitioners and more value to the broader impact of research. In a conference in September the recently founded network SwissGradNet brought the notion of “use-inspired basic-research” in the arts to the fore. It was conceived as a vessel for the manifold research projects by artists and designers which are deeply rooted in their practices. However, I think the question of the nature of research in the arts needs to be addressed more radically. If we want a mode of support that follows practices in our fields, and not the other way around, we need to pay attention to the frameworks and the infrastructure of our research institutes. I want to discuss some practices that challenge the existing institutional research modes and propose alternatives, from the top down and bottom up.

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