Shifting my research question and restructuring my methodology

At the end of last semester and over winter break I was truly struggling with my methodology and focus question.  It seemed close to what I wanted to do, but not quite there yet.  I was not asking quite the right question and my methodology was not working.  Whether or not the art I was looking at was successful in its intended function is very subjective.  I do have opinions about the art I am researching and like some of the artists better than others.  This is normal, but I can not let this affect my research.  It would be impossible for my opinions not to come through in analyzing if the artist succeeded.  The meaning of success is subjective in itself.  Further more, my focus question, “how aquatic eco-artists are working towards environmental solutions,” does not fully align with the methodology I was using enough.  I needed both my focus question and methodology to be juicier.

After talking this over with Liz I am very happy with my new direction.  We talked over what I was trying to do and what was interesting about situated context of aquatic eco-art and functionality in art.  I already knew I wanted to focus more on the scientific ENVS side of this art in my research.  While meeting with Liz, we realized that this art incorporates sciences, but in a new and less academically accepted way.  Part of what drove me to functional eco-art is that it is a new way of thinking of science and environmental solutions so my new focus question is “How does aquatic eco-art fit or not fit into mainstream ecology practices?”

Due to my new direction, I am changing my methodology to situating each art I am looking at within its ecological context.  For Jason Decaires’ Taylor I will be looking up methods of artificial reefs and the technology he uses to make these sculptures.  For Aviva Rahmani I will be researching moss biology and ecology and ecological theories that pertain to her trigger point theory.  I had a surprisingly difficult time finding good sources on moss last time I tried (ecological studies written by people with the last name moss kept coming up and I had no more luck with scientific names), so I plan to get research help at the library this weekend.  For Betsy Damon I will be doing research on the engineering of water treatment facilities.

My first step moving forward is to start digging in books and other resources and spend a substantial amount of time at the library.  My data will now mostly be scholarly studies and various books on ecology and engineering.  It will not be possible to accomplish all of this before Thursday for my five page version of the bottom half of my thesis.  Therefore, my immediate plan is to lay down the bones of my new direction to get a sense of where I am heading.  I will either lay down the basics of the methodology for each artist or focus on just one for now.  Fortunately, I did a lot of work trying to flesh out the bottom half of my hourglass at the end of the semester given I could where I was at, so I will be able to mostly focus on methodology and results.  I will figure out during class tonight after talking with my classmates and Liz how I plan to move forward with the methodology for the five pager and plan to know what I am doing for Thursday’s five-pager by the end of tonight.


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