Exhibition Concepts Homepage

Subject: EXC - Exhibition Concepts - 2013

Course: Diploma of Visual Art (21885VIC_13)

College of Arts, Victoria University

Teacher Name: Lisa Cianci | email: lisa.cianci@vu.edu.au
Course Coordinator & Education Manager: Alan Morgans | email: alan.morgans@vu.edu.au
College of Arts Office: City Flinders - Tel: 9919 1517

Class Website - http://lisacianci.vucreativeindustries.com/2013/EXC

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:

Practice-led research means that the research outcomes are not necessarily the works themselves, but new methods, new practices that have developed through research.

Practice-based research 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, artworks, music, digital media, performances and exhibitions.


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?

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 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.


Class Activities

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:

Get Started - http://learn.wordpress.com/get-started/
(Register with WordPress.com); and

Get Acquainted http://learn.wordpress.com/get-acquainted/
(Explore the Dashboard)

You should have already looked at:

Get Focused - http://learn.wordpress.com/get-focused/

As your homework to help you decide on the purpose and function of your blog, also try and cover

Get Customized - http://learn.wordpress.com/get-customized/
(Personalize your Site)


Some handy notes to help you remember:

To Log In

Go to http://wordpress.com to log in to your blog or go directly to http://yourblogname.wordpress.com and find the Meta/Admin Login link on your blog homepage. Hopefully you have remembered your username and password. If you forget, you can get a password reset sent to your email address.

To Find the Dashboard (Admin Area)

If you don't go directly to your blog Dashboard - which is the place where you manage your blog (add/edit/delete content), go to your username at the top-right corner of the black Wordpress menu bar at the very top of your browser window. Roll over your username and you should see a list of your blogs appear in a drop-down list. Roll over the blog and another drop-down menu should appear with a link to the "Dashboard". Select this link and you should be there.

To View your Blog

If you want to view how your blog will look to other users visiting your site, then you can just click on the name of your blog at the top-left corner of the black Wordpress menu bar at the very top of your browser window.

These options should always be accessible to you if you are logged into Wordpress. Sometimes it can happen that you lose where you are and need to go back to the Dashboard or the Blog public view.

To Add a New Post

There are many ways to reach the Add New Post interface:

    1. Roll over the blog name at the top-left corner and select New -> Post

    2. Roll over your username at the top-right corner and select yourblogname -> New Post

    3. If you are in the dashboard area, just select Posts / New Post from the menu at the left-hand side of the page


To Add Images to your Blog Post

When you are at the interface to add a new post, you will see a small button under the "Add Title" field which is labelled "Add Media". This button will open a new overlayed interface that will allow you to upload one or more images at once. You may also select one as the "Featured Image" which appears in the summary view of blogs. If you have trouble adding media, get some help from me, and try the step-by-step guide on this page:


Ignore the first part of this page about a widget called Zemanta (unless you want to try it), and scroll down to the part titled Add your own images. This section will show you how to do it. The interface in their guide is the old interface - they obviously haven't updated the images yet, but the principal is the same. You need to have your images ready on a USB stick, hard disk or on the computer itself. You then select the ones you want to add and wordpress will upload them.

Once uploaded, you can add titles, captions etc, and tweak how they will appear in your blog post. This is often one of the trickiest parts of Wordpress, so you may need to practice doing it a few times to really feel comfortable with it. Just ask for assistance with anything that's not working for you.

Don't be afraid to experiment!

if something doesn't work you can always edit it or delete it and try again.



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:

Can you think of any other performance artists that crossed over into popular culture as Laurie Anderson did in the 1980s?

What do you think of the differences in technique/content/context between these videos made in the 1970s, 80s and 2000s?

What are the issues relating to exhibition of video art? Consider logistics in the gallery / intellectual property online / preservation of format.

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:

  • Where do our ideas come from?
  • How much does past work inform future work?
  • How much creadit 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:




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:

Get Published: http://learn.wordpress.com/get-published/

Get Flashy: http://learn.wordpress.com/get-flashy/




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)










Other References:

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