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Posts Tagged ‘Art Theory’

After perusing the Fall 2011 issue of Cabinet magazine (a magazine of Art and Culture) I was tempted to visualize the categories Professor S. Ngai discussed in her article. The words used to discuss art was her topic. They include Cute, Disgusting. Zany, Merely Interesting, Interesting and Sublime … sorry, no discussion of Beautiful. I could not resist the temptation to pick out some bowls, which were to be discarded in the ceramics lab, and paint them and arrange them as a Tea Service … in a portable tray … to deposit on a table with a pot of hot tea. Prof. Hyslin had instructed us to use the Majolica glaze and produce some objects.

"Aesthetic Categories Tea Service"

"Aesthetic Categories Tea Service" with Cabinet Magazine

Here it is!!  Tea in aesthetic bowls!! The kewpie doll in the magazine also illustrates the “cute” category.

"Aesthetic Categories Tea Service" close up

"Aesthetic Categories Tea Service" close up

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The MFA

December, 2011

Having been out of the academic loop for over 25 years an assessment is in order. Has the role of “artist” changed? If it has changed, how has it changed? I was thrilled to come back to painting … I was challenged … and what do I find?  The emphasis is no longer on the act of producing a painting, a sculpture, a film, or a performance! No indeed … the new buzz words are RESEARCH, INNOVATION, and INFORMED … it is not about product (actually painting a picture?) .. .no, it is about rationalizing and explaining your “concept”. Should the viewer be allowed to form their own opinion of the painting? Should the painter attempt to communicate non-verbally (visually) with the viewer?

In 1983 I graduated from the San Francisco Art Institute. It is instructive to think about where the European Art Academies are headed. As a returning student to the MFA program at University of Texas, Edinburg, I have a different overview of art education. One of the unusual events at UTPA was our introduction to Mark Cloet, a visiting artist/scholar from Belgium. The question: Why is he here in Texas? Having attended two of his lectures and reading  “Art and Research – A Journal of Ideas, Contexts, and Methods 2” by Dieter Lesage a glimmer of where the art world is headed pointed me in the following direction.

On the Internet you can go to Wikipedia and type “Research” and you will be given a definition of the word.

Research is “defined as the search for knowledge, or as any systemic investigation, with an open mind, to establish novel facts, solve new or existing problems, prove new ideas, or develop new theories.”

On the Wikipedia page we are given a brief rundown of the three sub-categories.  Number 1 is Scientific Research. Number 2 is Research in the Humanities.  We all have ideas about what these categories are about. Then Number 3, which is Artistic Research, and what a mind-boggling category that turns out to be !

“Artistic Research, also seen as practice-based research, can take form when CREATIVE works are considered both the RESEARCH and the OBJECT of research itself.  It is the debatable body of thought which offers an alternative to purely scientific methods in research in its search for knowledge and truth.” The key word here is “debatable.”

So … what does this mean for the working artist? Are we to strive to match the scientific community with their repeatable experiments? Where does Creativity enter this equation? Or does it enter the equation?

To proceed, we see under the heading  CONTENTS  a list of subjects including #10, Artistic Research. Click on that and LO! up comes a description as follows :

“The controversial trend of artistic teaching becoming more academic-oriented is leading to artistic research being accepted as the PRIMARY MODE OF ENQUIRY IN ART as in the case of other disciplines.”

Read this explanation if you wish and then go down to item 17.  “Who’s Afraid of Artistic Research? On measuring artistic research output.” by Dieter Lesage in ART and RESEARCH – A Journal of Ideas, Contexts, and Methods 2 retrieved August 14-2011. At last! The crux of all this verbiage … Who controls the money? The funding, the grants, the scholarships?

Again Dieter Lesage enlightens us with “A Portrait of the Artist as a Researcher”  in which his fictitious artist explains the way universities and public authorities are trying to “get a grip” (his words, not mine) on the emerging field of artistic research.”  He gives us the ideology involved.   One item is “Our society is not only a ‘society of control’ as Foucault wrote, it is a ‘quality control society’.  so … we must have some criteria for quality control agencies.

The participants of The Bologna Process are willing to set up the controls. Without boring you … what has happened is that the European Union participants have formed The Bologna Process.  This process “is supposed to lead to the establishment of a European Higher Education Area in 2010 … which should … contribute to establishing  the EU as the world’s biggest knowledge economy from that same year on.”

There are cogent arguments for and against this emerging field of artistic research.

My response: Dear God!! What would have happened to Vincent Van Gogh under this system?? Or Dali? Or O’Keeffe?

The political implications are vast! Any person interested in attending college in the Arts or attaining a Masters degree, or a PhD would be advised to study these papers.

All quotes are from the Wikipedia definition of “research”.
As for me … I will give it a whirl. I will try to do “research” and see if that leads me to unusual and exciting places within myself. It might!

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