Saturday, March 21, 2009

belated week one and two

Dear everyone,
Hello from california. So sorry that I have not posted over the past couple of weeks. I have been reading and thinking and writing, but just have not found the time to compose a few paragraphs. it has been a particularly busy month.

Back to Bill Fox’s first question about appropriating terminology… My work often crosses over into the fields of architecture, urban planning, sociology, etc—all fields in which I have never had serious academic training. The wonderful thing about coming to these related issues as an artist, rather than an academic grounded in a specific field, is that I am able to re-frame these terms, placing accepted truths in new contexts, with new interpretations. As an artist I feel quite comfortable borrowing terms from a variety of disciplines, I can mash them together, put them in a different light. These “borrowed” terms” not only inform the way we make/articulate artwork; in an ideal situation, our appropriation can also inform the way those academics use their own terms too, actually expanding definition and context for them. I teach in a liberal arts college, and to me it is incredibly important that the arts remain the hub of the liberal arts, rather than an adjunct department off to the side. At Oberlin, more students pass through art classes from other departments than most any other department on campus, so we are constantly seeing the infusion of many varied lingos and contexts into our students’ paintings and sculptures and net art. The creative process of re-working ideas and putting them in new contexts is central to the arts––and increasingly, the artists’ re-imagined use of these terms and ideas is becoming integral to the development/progress in other fields. I had an environmental studies student last semester make a sculptural visualization of some principles she had been studying in her environmental economics class, an experience that deepened her own understanding not only of what art can be, but what economics can be.

On to week two---In terms of hybridity… Again, I think of my students. I am reminded every day that they learn in a different way than I did when I was in school, simply because they have grown up in a dramatically more hybridized world, and many of the creative tools that I use in my art practice have been a part of their lives since they could sit at the computer. I will be emphatic about the impact of a networked culture, a google culture, a facebook culture. And they shrug and remind me that they started their first blog when they were in 6th grade, a few years after they learned to use digital cameras, Final Cut Pro, their iPod, their first cell phone. Often I am invited to take part in conferences or symposiums about digital arts and the institution, questioning how museums and colleges are changing in light of digital/media/hybrid arts. And I generally feel like it would have been important to include a few 20 year olds in those conversations. When I am talking about integrating digital media into say, my tenured painting friend’s painting class, I often feel like I am explaining to her how she can use digital media, not how a kid-who-has-used-the-internet-since-the-age-of-3 can use the media. Which can lead to some circular conversations. Same with hybridity. My college students cross over between the silos on campus so fluidly, their painting projects intersect with my electronic music classes and their economics with my "land arts in an electronic age" class, while the institution is scratching its head.

All to say: I am excited for the future, cant wait to see how things change when these 20 year olds start taking part in these conversations. (This conversation that we are having on this blog, is, by the way, totally interesting and compelling, and I am not saying it is not worth having these conversations. I just think my students are having a very different version of this conversation, and I learn a lot from them too.)

No comments: