Tag Archives: digital technology

Fight the Power with Open Source

A few months ago I did a presentation at the CAA New York 2011 conference as part of the New Media Caucus panel: Fighting the Power – Open Source, Free Software, and Critical Digital Practices. My co-presenter Jody Baker and I were recently invited to do an encore for a symposium on online learning at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. It was great to be able to share our ideas and to listen to other presentations by fellow faculty and guest presenter from UBC, Brian Lamb (whom I always enjoy listening to). Here’s the slideshow from our presentation, followed by an abstract of our talk.
* slideshow includes some video clips, so use the play slider to move through it

Processing Digital: Opening up to a Space of Emergence in Art Pedagogy, by Heidi May and Jody Baker, presented at CAA New York 2011

Networked art practices share conceptual overlaps with current discussions about pedagogy, particularly those that encourage interactive and collaborative methods of meaning-making in response to contemporary digital culture. Decentralized processes of learning, which exist in participatory artworks and nonhierarchal art education, are embraced by the open source movement. In this paper, we argue that open source software can be used to demonstrate a quest for knowledge that is not representational but rather performative-based – a temporal epistemology that is about critical inquiry of media and the ongoing discovery of creative ways of interacting with, and remixing, our reality. This paper incorporates the above ideas into a proposal for a team-taught digital studio/theory course that explores the “remix” phenomenon, operating online and utilizing open source media. Drawing upon previous online teaching experience, the pedagogical intentions and anticipations for this course will be discussed.

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How do contemporary artists help us understand the sociocultural shift that is our network culture?

What might our network society learn from a multidisciplinary way of thinking about one’s engagement with art?

Many contemporary artists need to financially support their practices by teaching at colleges and universities, this has become a fact of life. The act of teaching for some, however, becomes an engaging process that perhaps (intentionally or unintentionally) informs the production/dissemination/reception process of their art practices. Those whom consistently make a career of juggling a creative practice and teaching can be referred to as “artist-educators” – a hyphenated term that can be understood from a couple of different perspectives: 1) the individual primarily identifies as an artist, followed by (and maybe merged with) the role of teacher; 2) their students take on the role of  soon-to-be artists of the future, thus they are educators of artists.

Generally speaking, artists today work across and in-between multiple disciplines and rarely refer to themselves as situated within one particular expressive medium, hence the descriptive terms multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary. Contradictory to this sense of openness are the still narrow disciplinary structures of many art departments and institutions. Yet, within these medium-defined disciplines, perhaps the educational experience exceeds the disciplinary boundaries because of the artist-educators? What kinds of pedagogical limitations and challenges do these multidisciplinary artists experience? In what ways do their personal art practices impact how and what they teach? In what ways does their teaching impact what and how they make art about?

I am particularly interested in the practices of multidisciplinary and network artists that engage with critical aspects of digital technologies. How do these artist-educators approach the use of digital media in art curriculum and pedagogy?


Nathaniel Stern, USA

Jon Thomson, UK

Alison Craighead, UK

Mark Amerika, USA

Jessica Westbrook, USA

M. Simon Levin, CAN

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