Lectoraat What Art Knows
Herdenkingsplein 12
↳ Lectoraatskamer 0.11

E whatartknows@zuyd.nl
T +31 (0)43 346 6365

EASST4S Prague 2020

Van 18 tot 21 augustus hebben leden van het lectoraat AOK en MCICM deelgenomen aan het EASST/4S symposium dat dit jaar digitaal vanuit Praag georganiseerd werd.


Learning to be a Good Idiot: Not-knowing in Collaborative Classical Music Experiments

Veerle Spronck, Denise Petzold, Maastricht University

Benschop Ruth, Zuyd University of Applied Sciences



In the interdisciplinary Maastricht Centre of the Innovation of Classical Music (MCICM), academic and artistic researchers collaborate with the South Netherlands Philharmonic to innovate classical music in artistically relevant ways. This research includes (interventionist) participant observations and the organisation of collaborative experiments in the orchestra’s practice. In STS, many studies have emphasised the benefits and problems of knowing differently in interdisciplinary interventionist research projects, thereby asking how to successfully combine these different knowledges. Our collaboration results in situations in which all present sometimes feel like laymen, strangers, amateurs, or fools. However, we see this experience not as something that should be overcome, but welcomed, expected and pursued. We wonder: How to make our mutual not-knowing productive?

Drawing on Stengers’ figure of the idiot (2005), we explore how agnosticism can stimulate fundamental and uncomfortable learning both on the practices studied and on the research approach. In this paper, we present collaborative work in which we experimented methodologically with the idiot position. What does it take to become (and remain) an idiot? What kind of embodied skills are involved? How to stage and perform idiocy? What is the value of not-knowing? How does learning happen? We will focus on a conference session we organised in the MCICM in which both researchers and classical music professionals participated. In this session we aimed to produce, stage and collaboratively articulate the position of the idiot. We will reflect on what these explorations taught us about music, methodology, and idiocy.

Orchestral cognition in the wild: symphonic rehearsals as musical knowing spaces

Peter Peters, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, the Netherlands



In a famous essay published in 1951, phenomenologist Alfred Schütz argued that our understanding of musical performance should play down the importance of notations and the cognitive operations involved in turning them into sounds. Making music together, Schütz wrote, requires a communicative situation that synchronizes individual experiences into a shared vivid present. This claim resonates in recent research in music psychology and music ethnography on joint musical performance, which focuses on phenomenological, embodied, and enactive approaches of cognition. The interactions of expert musicians are not reducible to processes and structures ‘in the head’, as Schiavio & Høffding (2015) argue. Typically, however, these studies do not distinguish between performance before an audience or during rehearsals. This distinction is relevant if we want to reflect on how music rehearsals are idiosyncratic situations where various types of knowledge are mobilized, shared, and put to the test in creative anticipation of the actual performance. In my paper, I will present ethnographic field work on the weekly rehearsals of a large, regional symphony orchestra in the Netherlands. I argue that a conceptual and empirical understanding of these rehearsals as musical knowing spaces can contribute to the debate on innovation of classical music, as well as broader debates on artistic research and its dialogues with STS research on alternative epistemologies.


Artful Participation: ethics of intervening in a symphony orchestra.

Ties van de Werff, Maastricht University / Zuyd University of Applied Sciences


Facing budget cuts, ageing audiences, and stagnating visits, contemporary symphony orchestras are currently trying to innovate and improve the quality of audience participation. Following public participation projects in domains such as urban planning, public health or environmental management, many symphony orchestras have adopted the discourse of innovation and experimentation to shape new forms of audience participation (Idema 2012; Topgaard 2014; Hamel 2016). In these experiments, lay or amateur audiences engage with artistic matters in ways that challenge traditional expert approaches of creating artistic performances (Lezaun, Marres and Tironi 2017).
As a particularly codified and normatively charged practice, the field of classical symphonic music offers an interesting case for understanding the value-laden dynamics of experiments in public participation. In the project Artful Participation – a collaboration between Zuyd University of Applied Sciences, Maastricht University, and the South Netherlands Philharmonic (the Netherlands) – we intervene in the orchestra by designing experiments where audiences are given an artistic voice. Based on our empirical fieldwork, I reflect on the shifting roles and clashing virtues of a (un)successful interventionist in practice. Balancing between provocative containment (Lezaun et al., 2013) and artful contamination (Zuiderent-Jerak, 2015), I show how in the collaborative process, artistic and academic responsibilities get entangled, and how concerns converge.

Drawing spatial and bodily sensitivities – a training kit


Ulrike Scholtes, UVA