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  • Writer's pictureDarren Woodland

ABR, PBR, and Experimentalism in Digital Media


Arts-Based Research (ABR), Practice-Led Research (PBR), and Experimentalism are three methodologies that have particular relevance in the field of digital media research. While each methodology offers distinct approaches and perspectives (as outlined above), they share a common thread of embracing artistic and creative practices as integral components of the research process. Below, we will explore further how these methodologies intersect with digital media research and compare them to their use cases in other research contexts.


ABR in Digital Media Research:

ABR offers a valuable framework for investigating digital media phenomena through artistic practices, such as visual art, music, dance, and creative writing. In the context of digital media research, ABR allows researchers to engage with emerging technologies, interactive platforms, and virtual environments, fostering a deeper understanding of their impact on human experiences through the artistic implementation of these technologies. By incorporating artistic expressions and interpretations, ABR enables researchers to explore the aesthetic, emotional, and cultural dimensions of digital media artifacts and interactions. Also, since digital media often involves collaborations between artists, designers, technologists, and researchers, creating an interdisciplinary space for knowledge generation and innovation, ABR practices can be used to evaluate the impact of artistic collaborations.


In other contexts, ABR has been applied across various fields, including education, healthcare, social sciences, and community development. In these domains, ABR has been instrumental in exploring lived experiences, generating qualitative insights, and promoting social change. In digital media research, ABR extends these applications to investigate the complex relationships between technology, creativity, and human experiences within digital environments.


PBR in Digital Media Research:

PBR places artistic practice at the center of the research process, utilizing creative production as a means to generate new knowledge. In the field of digital media research, PBR provides a framework for designers, artists, and researchers to explore and interrogate the possibilities and limitations of digital media technologies. PBR often involves iterative prototyping, experimentation, and critical reflection, allowing for the development of innovative digital media artifacts, interactive installations, or performances. By engaging in the process of making, PBR offers insights into the practical and creative aspects of digital media, bridging theory and practice.


PBR has gained traction in various disciplines, including design, visual arts, and performing arts. In these contexts, PBR has enabled artists and designers to explore new materials, techniques, and modes of expression, pushing the boundaries of their respective fields. In digital media research, PBR provides a platform for investigating the affordances and creative possibilities of digital technologies, generating novel insights into the design, aesthetics, and user experiences of digital media artifacts and interfaces.


Experimentalism in Digital Media Research:

Experimentalism embraces an exploratory and innovative approach to research, encouraging experimentation and pushing boundaries. In digital media research, experimentalism allows for the exploration of emerging technologies, novel interaction paradigms, and unconventional methodologies. By embracing experimentation, researchers can investigate the potential of digital media to transform experiences, challenge assumptions, and provoke critical reflection. Experimentalism in digital media research often involves interdisciplinary collaborations, iterative design processes, and the creation of interactive installations, immersive environments, or prototypes.


Experimentalism transcends disciplinary boundaries and has been applied in diverse fields, including sciences, engineering, social sciences, and the arts. In these contexts, experimentalism has enabled researchers to explore new methodologies, test hypotheses, and generate innovative solutions. In digital media research, experimentalism allows for the investigation of emerging technologies, user experiences, and the impact of digital media on human perception, cognition, and behavior.

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