‘I’m not a linguist, I’m a musicologist.’
So why did you come to this conference?’
A question I heard many times this last week. The short answer: to talk about multimodality in research communication. The longer answer: to put forward the methodology of the Idélab Fellowship Project, that of researching in the middle.
‘It’s not beginnings and endings that count, but middles. Things and thoughts advance or grow out from the middle, and that’s where you have to get to work, that’s where everything enfolds’ – Deleuze, Negotiations (trans. Joughin, 1995), 161.
Researching in the middle – a phrase that can be read in a number of ways, and intentionally so. First, we stand in the middle, between the four other projects to come out of the Idélab and the ‘outside world’. Secondly, we are in the middle: our project is now in its second year of three, we are learning all the time. Thirdly, the viewpoint from the middle offers a different perspective, but one which is rarely explored: we like to publish results, results, results. Why not publish methods? Even failures? If we want to engage audiences with our work – audiences beyond the academy – then being part of things, being in the middle of things, is the attraction. Process is something many researchers publish, in one way or another, via conference papers (that well-known stalwart of conference bingo is the phrase ‘this is very much a work in progress’), blogs, twitter… We are researchers to learn, as well as to spout the fruits of our learning.
’It’s not easy to see things in the middle, rather than looking down on them from above or up at them from below, or from left to right or right to left; try it, you’ll see that everything changes.’ Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus (trans. Massumi, 2004), 25.
If you want to follow a blow-by-blow account of the conference, then the storifies of the twitter tag #IPRA2015 is a good place to start (days 1-3; days 4-6 – with big thanks to Martin Siefkes aka @stilomet for making them). If you want the short version, then below are five postcards, one for each day I was able to attend, tracing the developments, inspirations, musings. They are unedited, they are brought to you from the middle.