Designing in-between:

Reflectively mapping an artistic research project

  • Elmarie Costandius Lecturer, Stellenbosch University.
Keywords: artistic research, difference, complexity, Third Space, transformative learning, South Africa


Designing in-between is an artistic research project that sprouted from curiosity regarding how the concept of space, characterised by difference, is perceived in an area of Stellenbosch, South Africa,. Participants included six inhabitants of Jamestown, including the primary researcher. Data was collected through tracking each participant with Global Positioning System (GPS) and photographic material, in-depth discussions, the drawing of mental maps, and the construction of written and visual translations of the research process by researcher/s. The project is informed by critical theory and complexity thinking within the field of visual art and artistic research. An over-arching poststructuralist sensibility that values the power of representational practice in constructing and deconstructing knowledge is implied.

In this article the authors aim to critically reflect and elaborate on the research processes engaged in, on the personal insights the research led to, and on the potential implications of the research for scholars working with artistic research in a South African context. Artistic praxis allowed for multi-dimensional experience and multi-perspectival translation of relations between aspects of complex reality. Such openness provided researchers with imaginative possibilities for continuous negotiation of difference. It facilitated experiences of Homi Bhabha’s Third Space, which facilitated transformative learning. Difficulty in translating newfound insights into clear, intelligible arguments was a challenge.