Subject: EXC - Exhibition Concepts - 2013
College of Arts, Victoria University
Class 02 - Methods for developing self-reflective processes in creative practice.
Reflective Practice - what is it?
The concept of Reflective Practice was initially developed by theorist Donald Schön. It can simply be described as "the capacity to reflect on action so as to engage in a process of continuous learning" (Schön 1983). As artists you are already engaging in reflective practice in the development of new work, and your visual journals are evidence of this process.
To follow on from this regarding issues of creativity, ideas and innovation, "Creative Research" is a term that is being used a lot at the moment in academic circles.
What is Creative Research?
Research may be defined as the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.
Creative Research includes the research we do to learn about other creative practitioners, and the creative practice itself - the works we create may form part of the research cycle. Methodologies employed in undertaking creative research are often described as Practice-Led or Practice-Based:
How do we know if we are doing research?
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, but some aspects of it might be - so how can we tell the difference?
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 designs or artworks were created.
Consider: what methods are you engaged in that might qualify as "practice-based research"? Or what parts of this subject can we consider to be research? Discuss...
The Commonplace Book in the Digital Age
In Steven Johnson's book - Where Good Ideas Come From (Johnson 2010), he discussed something called a commonplace book. Commonplacing is a practice that began hundreds of years ago - mainly for writing, but not only for that purpose. As much as I try to avoid using Wikipedia for reference material, there is a good page that gives a brief history of the commonplace book that will save me repeating the information:
The interesting thing about this practice of commonplacing is that it is similar in many ways to the visual journals you keep as artists, and one could also make many comparisons to blogging. In particular, the notion of commonplacingis relevant as a kind of scrapbooking, and as an aide-mémoire to keep ideas, concepts and references to things that could be referred to later.
Blogs can be valid tools for documenting research and reflective practice. Conceptually they are not a new thing (blog is a portmanteau word that means web log), but the technology has certain advantages (and disadvantages) that make it an interesting proposition for artists.
1. Class Discussion
Briefly discuss issues relating to reflective practice & how you use a visual journal in your own practice - what kinds of content do you put in there? How will you use your blog in relation to this subject? Have you come to a decision about the function of your blog? Have you got a good name for it?
Look at the blogs in the references at the bottom of this web page - how have they been used to manage or promote the artist's practice?
2. Wordpress Blog - Developing the Interface & Adding Content
Today we will continue setting up the Wordpress.com blog. If you already have created your blog, it's an opportunity to help one of your classmates with the setup process, or to spend some time on adding customisations and tweaking your widgets.
We may only get as far as creating a blog and choosing an initial theme - don't worry if your theme isn't really perfect for you just yet. We will be looking at artist's requirements and what functionality we want from a theme. You can always change your theme without losing any blog posts that you may already have. Although, if you choose a radically different theme layout, you may need to consider how your media content will work in a different theme layout.
Remember to refer to the Wordpress user guide at:
This is a very user friendly guide to get you started, with step-by-step instructions and pictures to help you. My role will be to get you started as a group, then to individually help you with the specifics that you want to set up on your particular blog.
Today you should try and get through:
You should have already looked at:
As your homework to help you decide on the purpose and function of your blog, also try and cover
Some handy notes to help you remember:
3. Video Presentation
I have links to the videos I listed in last week's class notes on the subject homepage.
Last Week's Questions:
Discuss these questions in class, and hopefully you have made some response to these questions in your blog.
Today we will watch 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 creative research, and what we do as artists:
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:
Homework / Readings
Your homework will be to add some content to you blog - a couple of posts, some images and responses to the questions relating to the videos we have watched in class thus far.
Look at the Wordpress guide:
Some interesting websites and blogs by artists and designers
Some interesting image gallery sites (not blogs, but interesting ways of presenting visual content using web technologies)
Johnson, S. (2010) Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, Riverhead Hardcover
Schön, D. (1983) The Reflective Practitioner, How Professionals Think In Action, Basic Books