In short, the ‘curator of research’ is an artist-curator with responsibility for progressive research communication. The challenge facing this practitioner is to do something innovative with the cards they are dealt, like an artist receiving a commission.
Research, is by its very nature is concerned with ‘what works’, so they must find the most effective and conceptually appropriate vehicle to communicate the research at hand whilst providing multifarious routes back to the original research – a matchmaker between form and audience if you will. Commonly it is the researcher themselves who bares the responsibility of communication, public engagement, generating, recording and measuring impact.
Education settings provide places for teachers and learners to converse freely. But what happens when the former is not present? A parallel ‘knowledge transfer’ relationship in the art world would be between artist and viewer. In this world [among other things] a curator endeavours to uncover methods to communicate the ideas of the former when they are not present. The relationship between researcher and society would benefit from the same role to exist. Just think of all the incredible albums that would never of happened without music producers.
Putting academic thinking into public space using conceptually appropriate means adds resonance. You open ideas up to a whole new spectrum of people who can add unique perspectives to the research process, or even prove themselves to be the experts Varoufakis (2017) refers to in the opening to his book. We can see this notion expressed in movies (Good Will Hunting, 1997), but how might this happen in the real world? In order for the research community to communicate with contemporary humans, culture and society effectively it is necessary to develop both the act of ‘curating research’ and the role of ‘curator of research’ through the continuous collecting, selecting and experimentation of theories, opinions and aesthetics.
The act of curating is an ongoing search for a common language between “…the analytical, the creative and the public” (Lehrer, 2018). In art, in science, in life. Any curator of research should remain officially unattached to any specific discipline. Even though curatorial practice and subsequent discourse will for now remain within departments of art and design because of its historical use in the world of art galleries and museums, its future as an umbrella that sits above disciplines will eventually reveal its true weight in the world.
Good Will Hunting (1997) Directed by Gus Van Sant [Film] USA: Miramax
Lehrer, E. (2018) ‘The Curating and Public Scholarship Lab’. Interview with Erica Lehrer. Interviewed by Luke Mitchell, unpublished, 31 July 2018
Varoufakis, Y. (2017) Talking to my Daughter about the Economy: A Brief History of Capitalism. UK: Bodley Head