This research uses a synthesis of concepts from art, mathematics and linguistic pragmatics in an ethnographic study of mathematics communication. Practitioners and laypersons alike tend to draw a divide between ‘mathematics’ as an ideal, and the everyday practices and processes that characterise its place in human lives. My intention is to build up an ethnography of communication in mathematical research that not only considers and takes seriously these underdiscussed situated and material aspects but also itself operates across different modes, in recording, analysis and presentation. A question at the heart of this research is to what extent knowledge can be divorced from its settings and the persons involved in its production; this is a question very appropriate to ask of mathematical knowledge, as a field of studies that is very often perceived as acultural.
Following the ideas of Grice, and work that has developed upon them, it would seem that perceived intentions are central to the understanding of deliberate communication; bringing such considerations into an analysis of communication in mathematics is a move likely to have exciting consequences. I augment a pragmatic, cognitivist approach to analysing communicative strategies from real-world observations with the attention to material settings, collaborative cognition, and multimodality found in situated cognition ethnographies. I am observing communicative events surrounding developing mathematical work as it progresses, drawing upon the field of linguistic pragmatics to analyse the mechanics of communication, and using an art practice approach to record and explore data in a way that foregrounds materials and situations.