Awareness of Subconscious? Takeno

Awareness of Subconscious: performance and drawing in research

By Eriko Takeno

Performance in Ethnography

In the first part of the workshop on performance in ethnography, the small group I was working with chose one piece from a Butoh performer (Japanese Dance), then tried to follow their movements to find out what they experienced. Although, we intended to take an ethnographic approach to understanding the performance of the dancer through copying their movement, because I was involved in it as a videographer, which is a different perspective from a performer himself, I thought about performance in a more objective way. For instance, I question what was an iconic movement or a characteristic scene in the original performance piece and how did this relates to my peer who took on the role of copying the movement of the performer in the original piece.

Additionally, I realised that when the subject of your research is about something you can strongly relate to it is difficult to enact it in a way that allows you feel the original experience in an objective manner. This is because you add layers of knowledge from your previous experiences with the research topic. For example, because I have experiences as a performer, I believed I could not reenact the dance in an impartial way. Therefore I tool on the role of the videographer in order to make a new connection to the research topic.  Thus allowing me to keep some distance with the knowledge I have previously acquired about performance.

I found that the idea of using performance and drawing in research was quite intuitive since it is a form of creative arts-based research that connects with my practice.

Drawing in research

In the second part of the workshop on drawing within research we made pairs in order that one person would draw a self portrait and the other would try to copy his/her partners drawing.


In this portrait drawing activity there was still an ethnographical aspect in that you are trying to follow your partners drawing style.

“Research is performative rather than informative – De Caris, 2000”.

It’s  hard to follow someone else’s drawing style perfectly. Josef Albers also mentioned how we see things regarding drawing practice. He thought:

“…in drawing we begin with exact observation and pure representation. We cannot communicate graphically what we do not see. That which we see incorrectly we will report incorrectly. We recognise that although our optical vision is correct, our over-emphasis on the physical vision often makes us see incorrectly”

( Harris, 1987, p.15)

I found that these words are a good reminder that as with drawing, research relates to our way of seeing and that we need to keep this in mind.

In conclusion,  using performance and drawing as research methods enables researchers to think about others’ thoughts, experiences and so on, but also to be aware of their positionally to the research topic, for instance what they are attracted to subconsciously.

———- THE END ———-


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