Subject: CX4 - Context & Culture 4

Course: Diploma of Visual Art (21885VIC)

 

Unit of Competency: VPAU014 - Manage creative and professional self
School of IT & Creative Industries, Faculty of Workforce Development, Victoria University

Teacher Name: Lisa Cianci | email: lisa.cianci@vu.edu.au
Course Coordinator & Education Manager: Alan Morgans | email: alan.morgans@vu.edu.au

Class Website - http://lisacianci.vucreativeindustries.com/2012/CX4

 

Class 4 - More on Blogs, Reflective Practice & Artistic Research


 

Class Activities

1. Blog

You should have your blog and a theme ready now, and have hopefully added a few posts.

If you forget how to do something, remember to refer to the Wordpress user guide at:

http://learn.wordpress.com

 

Today I will demonstrate how to create static Pages and Customised Menus, and how to add other people's blog URLs to the Links Widget.

 

In the Dashboard, you can access the Pages menu item, and when you roll over it, you get a submenu with options to view all pages, or to create a new page. The interface for creating a new page is very much like creating a blog post. There is a title, and a "body" area where the main content goes. You can insert galleries, slideshows and other content, or just type, copy and paste from other software applications etc.

The difference between Posts and Pages:

Posts are journal-style entries that are organised by date (chronologically - newest posts first) and are dynamically shown in the "Recent Posts" area of your blog, or in the "Archives".

Pages are static, like standard web pages that contain content that can be similar to the Posts content, but the Pages are not organised chronologically. Pages can be linked to different areas of your blog. You can create a custom Menu (depending on your theme style and layout) with your Pages which can be linked to each other in different ways also.

 

Exercise 1: Create a Page for your blog - it may be a Gallery, a CV or Biographical note, or some other content that you choose to have as a static element of your blog, and not part of the blog Posts.

Add your Page to your blog Menu by creating a customised Menu in the Appearances/Menus area - you need to create a new menu and save it with a name that you specify (which won't be seen in the blog). Then you need to save your menu as the "Primary Menu" in the Theme Locations section of the interface, otherwise even if you create a custom menu, you won't see it in your blog.

Some themes will also have a "Secondary Menu" option so you can have a double-layered menu. The "Fluxhaus" blog I created as a test site has primary and secondary menus. I have used the primary menu for static Pages and Custom Links, and I have used the Secondary menu for Categories - if you save your Posts with a good selection of Categories, you can use the menu as a way of accessing one or more of the categories blog Posts.

 

Exercise 2: add your classmate's blog URLs as Links and place your Links Widget in your Sidebar or Footer area (placement of widgets will depend on your theme style). To do this, you need to add each URL as a Link in the Links interface (which is a menu option in the Dashboard left-hand menu). You can choose to save each link with the category "Blogroll" which will then be selected as the option in the Widgets area of the Appearance menu area. Widgets are modules of code that perform certain functions in your blog. You have options that you can implement if you choose such as the Tag Cloud, or Twitter feed for example.

All of these elements can be edited at any time, so don't worry if you change your mind. With the Links, if you want to add or change links, you can do it from the Links menu, and they will automatically appear in your widget if they have the same category - "Blogroll" or whatever you have determined is the category for your widget.

 

If you're feeling adventurous, you might like to try Shortcodes. These are explained in this page:

http://en.support.wordpress.com/shortcodes/

"A shortcode is a WordPress-specific code that lets you do nifty things with very little effort. Shortcodes can embed files or create objects that would normally require lots of complicated, ugly code in just one line. Shortcode = shortcut."

Wordpress.com has a limited list of shortcodes - but they do great things like galleries, slideshows, allow you to embed Youtube videos, Google Maps etc. If you have set up a Wordpress.org blog on your own domain, there are many more shortcodes you can implement to customise you site even further.

 


 

2. Reflective Practice / Artistic Research

In the last class we watched Everything is a Remix, by Kirby Ferguson, http://www.everythingisaremix.info/watch-the-series/ - this series of short documentary films may seem to be quite general and full of "pop culture" references, but underlying the content is an idea that many artists and academics are currently discussing in relation to artistic research, and what we do as artists:

  • Where do our ideas come from?
  • How much does past work inform future work?
  • How much credit should we give those past works that have been used as the basis for the creation of new works?

Briefly discuss issues relating to reflective practice and artistic research & how you fit in to a continuum of creative practice - what artists that have come before you have influenced your practice? How do you feel about remix, appropriation, "quotation" (that post-modern favourite), and what do you think about the current litigious climate involving many creative works?

One example which has caused some recent debate is the estate of the artist Joseph Beuys(1921 - 1986), copyright of which is held by his wife Eva Beuys. Read and discuss this article:

http://clancco.com/wp/2010/11/fair-use_performance-art_fixation_fair-use/

 

To follow on from this regarding issues of creativity, ideas and innovation, "Artistic Research" is a term that is being used a lot at the moment in academic circles. Methodologies artists employ in undertaking artistic research are often described as Practice-Led or Practice-Based. It's easy for us to say that what we're doing is research

 

What is Practice-Led / Practice-Based Research?

“Practice-based Research”(Candy 2006) methodology is where research is carried out through a project. Practice-based Research is an original investigation undertaken in order to gain new knowledge partly by means of practice and the outcomes of that practice. This may be demonstrated through creative outcomes in the form of designs, music, digital media, performances and exhibitions.

…in creative work, exploratory ideas and acts arise during the process and sometimes as side effects rather than from the explicit objectives being pursued at the time. By their very nature, creative acts cannot be described in advance and this makes the modelling task somewhat challenging. In particular, the application of knowledge that is highly expert, distinctive in character and constantly evolving is a feature of the way creative people work. (Edmonds et al. 2005 p.456)

Smith and Dean’s text “Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts” (2010) is a useful guide to this subject. On emergence in artistic research:

currently there is an increasing trend towards documentation and self-description of creative work - as well as growing recognition of the self-critical awareness which is always a part of creating an artwork - whether or not it is externalised. (Smith & Dean 2010 p. 25)

Practice-based research allows for the research to embark on a journey in a way that artist and academic Curt Cloninger describes as a “rigorously structured accident”. The research project becomes a framework for events and incidents.

Deleuze and Guattari propose a speculative/experimental practice of deterritorialization. You intend to head somewhere, but by definition you can't know where it will lead or how things will emerge at the end of your line. It is a kind of rigorously structured accident. Such speculative practices presume the possibility of something between intention and accident, a yet to have emerged space, an event of emergent becoming (to tap Whitehead). To tap Bergson, an actualization of the virtual. (Cloninger 2011) 

This comes back to the idea of "not knowing" in creative practice - often the accidents and contingencies may give us our most successful creative outcomes. Rebecca Fortnum's symposium introduction describes this quite well:

As artists we learn to live with this precarious sense not knowing what it is we are making, and though it is rarely discussed within the institutions and markets of art sometimes, amongst artists, an admission of this lack surfaces. Indeed the academy and institutions of art are complicit in this very necessary fiction of resolution. As teachers we urge our students to ‘step back’, to become the first ‘audience’ of their own work. We know that this attempt to understand what we have done should not be shirked, because the tension it creates is most often productive. As artist-educators we try to demonstrate to artist students how they might evaluate the difference between ‘intention’ and ‘outcome’. As artists we collude to make ourselves accountable for our creative practices; on research and other grant applications, on exhibition press releases, in the critical discourse that emerges from our practice. (Fortnum 2009)

It seems that there is a constant tension between exploration and "not knowing" and having to explain and justify our methods and processes to others.

 

iterative cycle of artistic research

Figure: Iterative Cyclic Web of Practice-led Research and Research-led Practice, (Smith & Dean 2010, p. 20) 

 

How do we "research" and what is research and what isn't? Not all of what we do as artists is research - making an artwork is not necessarily research - so how can we tell the difference?

The research component of the practice-based research is, in most respects, similar to any definition of research, a key element of which is the transferability of the understandings reached as a result of the research process. (Candy 2006)

This essentially means that we need to be able to transfer the knowledge produced through our research somehow - this might manifest itself in different ways, such as the development of a technique that can be passed on, or the documentation of a performance work that demonstrates the development of a concept and its realisation, or the keeping of a visual journal that can show how a series of paintings were created.

Consider: what methods are you engaged in that might qualify as "practice-based research"? Discuss...

 

To sum it all up

The content provided in the subject thus far has centred around 2 themes:

    1. where creativity and ideas come from, and the ownership of this creativity;
    2. creative practice and methods - how we justify what we do as artists within the "community of practice".

These themes are interrelated - we don't create art in a vacuum there is a continuum of creative practice that we are part of. It's of value to your own practice to think about your part of the continuum.

 

Some texts on the subject of artistic research if you are interested (not required reading and not necessarily light reading!)

 

Borgdorff, Henk 2010, “The Production of Knowledge in Artistic Research” in The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, Routledge

Candy, Linda 2006, Practice Based Research: A Guide, Creativity & Cognition Studios, http://www.creativityandcognition.com University of Technology, Sydney, CCS Report: 2006-V1.0 November, viewed 22/11/2010 <http://www.creativityandcognition.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/PBR-Guide-1.1-2006.pdf >

Cloninger, Curt 2011,  “Re: [-empyre-] glitch device/divide (slight return)”, Empyre Email list, Empyre, posted 9/12/2011, <http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/2011-December/004594.html>

Fortnum, Rebecca 2009, "On Not Knowing; how artists think – Symposium Introduction", Symposium: On not knowing: how artists think, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, <www.kettlesyard.co.uk/exhibitions/mi/papers/onn_fortnum.pdf >

Smith, Hazel & Dean, Roger T. (Editors) 2010, Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts, Edinburgh University Press

 

Homework / Readings

Your homework will be to add some content to you blog - a couple of posts, some images perhaps...

 

 

References

Some interesting websites and blogs by artists and designers

http://www.squidoo.com/blogging-for-artists

http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/780197/20-artists-with-must-click-web-sites-from-tauba-auerbach-to-andrea-zittel

http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/galleries/25-incredibly-artistic-websites/

http://lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/vrc/2008/02/06/top-20-or-so-art-blogs/

http://www.invesp.com/blog-rank/Art

 

Some interesting image gallery sites (not blogs, but interesting ways of presenting visual content using web technologies)

http://frieke.com/

http://www.sonjamueller.org/

http://www.alessiopizzicannella.com/

http://www.karinpartin.com/

http://www.brandstudio.ru/safandula/

http://www.shuakashi.com/

http://www.cakefactory.com

http://pelfusion.com/showcases/25-beautiful-and-creative-photography-sites/

 

Reflective Practice References

Reflective Practice on Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflective_practice

Borgdorff, Henk 2010, “The Production of Knowledge in Artistic Research” in The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, Routledge

Candy, Linda 2006, Practice Based Research: A Guide, Creativity & Cognition Studios, http://www.creativityandcognition.com University of Technology, Sydney, CCS Report: 2006-V1.0 November, viewed 22/11/2010 <http://www.creativityandcognition.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/PBR-Guide-1.1-2006.pdf >

Cloninger, Curt 2011,  “Re: [-empyre-] glitch device/divide (slight return)”, Empyre Email list, Empyre, posted 9/12/2011, <http://lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/2011-December/004594.html>

Fortnum, Rebecca 2009, "On Not Knowing; how artists think – Symposium Introduction", Symposium: On not knowing: how artists think, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, <www.kettlesyard.co.uk/exhibitions/mi/papers/onn_fortnum.pdf >

Smith, Hazel & Dean, Roger T. (Editors) 2010, Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts, Edinburgh University Press