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DVC 485: The "Art" of Research: Images as Research

This guide for students taking "The 'Art' of Research" serves as a starting point different modes and types of research

Images as Research

Similarly to textual sources, images can be "read" for their deeper meaning and the works themselves can be viewed as information. This sort of visual analysis requires looking for the ideas underpinning the work and reflecting on your experience with it.

Some questions to ask yourself as you look at a work:

  • What is depicted in the work?
  • Why might the creator have chosen to depict that?
  • What kind of research would be needed to create this or a similar work?
  • How would the creator go about figuring out what they need to know to be able to make the work?
  • Why might the creator have chosen the materials used to make the work?
  • What is the significance of the form of the final work?

Try it yourself!
The University of Maryland walks you through the process of observing and then analyzing the content of an image using a political cartoon by Dr. Seuss as an example.

Examples of Research-Driven Artwork

Shan Goshorn 
- A Native American artist, Goshorn taught herself the intricate process of traditional basket-weaving by analyzing the construction of existing baskets.

Mel Chin - Chin's artwork Revival Field uses science and practice to remove heavy metals from the ground via plants that naturally absorb these toxic materials.

Hans Haacke 
- Haacke is known for doing in-depth research into various topics, then creating an artwork comprised of the research itself. His works include investigating slumlords and examining coerced sterilizations of factory workers, among others.

Guerrilla Girls - The Guerrilla Girls are an ever-rotating band of women who use factual information to expose discrimination and injustice in the art world.

Carey Young - Young creates works that use the chemical composition of her body (using her weight as a starting point) to assign a monetary value to herself based on the market rate for each element.

Login to Luna then click on this image group to see examples of works by these artists and more (CCS credentials required)!

College for Creative Studies website