Monday, March 16, 2009

Response to Susan

I am going to go back to the questions put out by Susan at the end of her Week 2 provocation.

“Do you think this is a valuable conversation to have, or are we at the point where it is no longer relevant to include our choices of media and techniques when we express an idea or theory?”

I would like to talk about this from a pedagogical point of view, as this is an issue that is constantly bombarding me where I teach at SDSU. I am now an associate professor at SDSU teaching in the Multimedia emphasis area, a term that a colleague and I ended up using for our emphasis area to define the type of interdisciplinary practice our students are interested in—who work with computers and other “new” media.

For me, multimedia is somewhat awkward as it implies a reference to a specific media as the definition of artistic practice. I am much more interested in creative practice that is defined by issues such as Art/Ecology or Identity/Gender. When people ask what I do, I suggest that my practice investigates the built environment, ecology, environmental issues, cultural geography, and activism through a variety of mediated forms such as Web projects or installations. Still, it is sometimes hard for an layperson interested in the arts to grasp this concept. Most are still looking for a concise description such as photographer or painter unfortunately. Because I am interested in sharing my work outside of the art world with this lay “art” public it has become important for me to educate my audience about the breadth of interdisciplinary practice occurring in contemporary art. For the most part, many are open to this interpretation.

“Do you think of yourself as a hybrid artist?”

Yes, I do feel that this label suits my practice well. Sometimes I like to use the term “cultural producer” instead of artist but then that can be confusing.

“Is it necessary to cross, mix and blend disciplines in order to be truly relevant in our practice?”

Let’s just say that I feel it is perhaps harder not to do so in contemporary art practice these days.

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