Art of Research and Art on Research

Art of Research and Art on Research

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Anatoly Kharkhurin joined HSE as an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology (Faculty of Social Sciences) in 2019. He told The HSE Look, how he combines research with creative pursuits in conceptual art.

— How are your research interests connected?

— In general, my research evolves in three directions: bilingualism, creativity, and the interaction between those two phenomena. Though I should say that the term bilingualism and even multilingualism doesn’t accurately describe the whole spectrum of linguistic, cultural, political, and economical aspects of complex phenomena of acquisition and use of multiple languages. I’d rather talk about linguistic multi-competence emphasizing the contexts of language use and pluralingualism stressing sociocultural factors accompanying language practice.

The latter pluralingualism paradigm ascribes great importance to education. I believe that an obvious development of the study of the relationship between multilingual and creative practices comprises pedagogical considerations. Children nowadays often get exposure to several languages early, and if we know that multilingual practice encourages some of our cognitive mechanisms underlying creative thinking, it seems to be perfectly reasonable to figure out how best to introduce this into a school system.

Of course, there are many programmes which aim at developing language skills, as well as many programmes to boost creativity, but I’m interested in combining these two approaches. I have proposed a theoretical framework for Bilingual Creative Education program, and one of the things I’m hoping to work on in Moscow is to develop it further. I have made a preliminary contact with HSE Institute of Education, and I look forward to establishing a long term research collaboration. The goal is to develop teaching methods and strategies facilitating language learning and promoting creative potential in a unified program. In the course of empirical investigation, we anticipate to identify specific aspects of bilingual education, which may have positive ramifications for unfolding students’ creative faculty.

— Why did you choose HSE University?

— Since about 7 years ago,I collaborate with Sergey Yagolkovskiy, Associate Professor at the School of Psychology at HSE. It was Cross-Cultural Creativity Project (abbreviated CCCP) looking at the contribution of creative perception to creative behavior.  As a practicing visual artist, I know that creative work starts with creative perception of the world, which distinguishes for example, artists from non-artists. During this period of collaboration, I was fascinated with HSE’s academic ambitions and how genuine scholarship is supported here. Hence, when I was invited to join the University I had very few doubts.

Continuing the art theme, I work in conceptual art. It is multimedia art, because I utilize various art media and techniques to convey the concept, the idea of an art work. In my art projects, I use, installation, video, photography, and poetry. . I am also a part of Berlin based art collective “Leise Jenius” for which I curated a group exhibition “No Brain, no Pain”, The theme of that group show was science from a perspective of art. It is remarkable, especially from the perspective of my research in psychology of creativity, that scientists talk a lot about art, but artists on the contrary rarely express their stance toward science.  The major purpose of that show was to start a discourse on the relations between art and science, which approaches science using metaphorical language of art. To explore this theme further, I produced a series of 14 cianotype photograms entitled “Art on Science”, in which I juxtaposed excerpts from my scientific journal article entitled “Creativity.4in1” and arbitrarily straw blown inkblots and found objects.

— When did you start experimenting with art?

— In fact, I started my experimental work not with art, but with poetry. My second master’s degree was in Russian philology from the University of Amsterdam. I dedicated my thesis to Russian visual poetry. In parallel, I was working in this genre per se. I produced poetic texts containing various visual elements. These experiments brought me to develop a genre Cognitive Poetry, which I presented during the 3rd Biannual of Poets in Moscow at Zverev Center of Contemporary Art. The irony is that during the 11th Biannual this year, I participate in a group show in the same Zverev Center, but this time it is my new work combining poetry with photography. The exhibition runs December 5-12.

— What are you plans for this academic year?

— I intend to expand the Multilingual Creative Cognition paradigm to Plurilingual Creativity. The latter would focus not only on the linguistic aspects of multilingualism, but also on sociocultural and educational ones. I also plan to expand the Creative Perception paradigm and bring it to the status of full-scale approach to creativity research. The outcomes of these projects will be presented at international conferences and published in top venues in both creativity and multilingualism fields. All these projects would benefit from student engagement. So, I invite our motivated students who are interested in working on international projects to join my team.