Subject: CCE - Context & Culture - 2014
Class 01 - Introduction to the Subject and Units of Competency
This subject will focus on aspects of histories of creativity and how this is related to contemporary creative practice, to examine what it means to be an artist today. As this is the last semester for many of you, we will also be focusing on activities that will assist you with the end of year exhibition, or in fact, preparing for any exhibition or professional presentation of your artwork.
Units of Competency
Each unit is broken down into elements and performance criteria. The element is the topic for the unit and the performance criteria is content being delivered and assessed. The assessment of individual performance criteria is embedded in a number of holistic assessment instruments.
BSBCRT403A Explore the history and social impact of creativity
Make sure you read the Subject / Unit Guide linked here for further detail on Units of Competency and Assessment.
Review of Academic Practice - research, critical thinking and different styles of writing
What is 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 practitioners need to understand their place in a continuum of creative practice to enable them to work from a position of knowledge - to become better practitioners.
This subject is designed to present you with a range of very interesting and engaging creative work as a starting point for your own journey in researching and developing your own creative practice. We learn about the history of creativity because it shows us not only themes and ways of working over recorded history of human endeavour, but also how and why these works were created in a socio-political context, at a certain place and time. Context is a crucial aspect in understanding creative practice, and often different meanings, different readings of an artwork can be made based upon the viewer's own knowledge and experience.
What is Creative Research?
"Creative Research" is a term that is being used a lot at the moment in academic circles. This 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. Or in this case, through a written review of the creative works that are the focus of the research.
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...
How does this relate to the Learning Elements in the Unit of Competency for this subject?
This Subject / Unit has the following three learning elements:
The assessment tasks created for this unit focus on these learning elements and you will find yourself working through these elements in each project. You should use the work we do in Context & Culture to ultimately develop and improve your own creative practice through research and critical thinking. To do this you need to be able to communicate (present/discuss/write) about what you have seen/read/done, and why it's relevant/important/necessary.
In your own time, look through all assessment tasks linked to the subject homepage. You will see in the assessment rubric how each task addresses the elements listed above and the detailed performance criteria for each element.
What is critical analysis?
Here is a handy definition taken from this URL:
How do we think critically?
When we think critically we are being active; we are not passively accepting everything we see, read and hear, but questioning, evaluating, making judgements, finding connections and categorising. It means being open to other points of view and not being blinded by our own biases.
Critical thinking is useful for most activities associated with tertiary study, such as forming judgements in lectures and tutorials, and when reading, writing essays and assignments, making decisions and developing arguments, and developing projects.
Critical thinking involves various processes in different disciplines. In the arts, it can include asking questions, identifying problems and solutions, relating theory to practice, stating an argument and supporting it with evidence, making comparisons and evaluating.
How to write your review in the correct format
As the texts for Assessment Task 1 will be relatively short, you don't need to structure your texts formally as you would with longer essay-style pieces. You don't need a lengthy introduction and conclusion that repeat the body of your writing. Rather, you may plan a path through your review - it should be coherent and flow well from paragraph to paragraph. Think about writing an outline where each paragraph addresses a different part of the review.
Judy Radul's interpretation of how one might structure a review can be found at this URL:
Notes on Writing Reviews: http://www.sfu.ca/~jaradul/reviews.html
You might want to include for example (not necessarily in this order):
To help you think about how you might interpret the works you have selected for these assessment tasks, I have referenced these principals as a starting point that you might wish to consider - you don't have to use them or agree with them all.
Barrett's Principles of Interpretation
Referencing and Copyright
Writing at university involves researching the ideas of other people, which you can combine with your own ideas and conclusions.
In all of your written work at VU, you are expected to maintain certain standards relating to how you give credit to the work of others, respecting intellectual property and copy rights.
Learning to acknowledge other people’s work through in-text citing and referencing will help differentiate between their ideas and your own.
This is central to the idea of academic honesty in Western academic institutions.
The VU Library site has some very useful information that you will need to refer to in writing your review (see the link above). Despite the review not taking a formal essay format, we still expect you to use in-text citing and referencing for any content that is not your own intellectual property.
As we are asking you to research and find text relating to the artworks you have selected for this assessment task, you may want to quote short excerpts of others' texts in your text. This demonstrates that you have taken the opinions of "experts in the field" into account when forming your own analysis.
The next section on VU Harvard Style will show you how to quote texts from various sources, and how to reference content that is not yours and create a bibliography at the end of your review. You may have noted that I have references in these classnotes and have placed a bibliography at the end of the web page. You are expected to do likewise.
We recommend Harvard Style as it allows for differentiation between in-text citation and endnotes/footnotes which you may want to add with your own additional commentary. We will look at the differences...
VU Harvard Style Guide: http://guides.library.vu.edu.au/harvard
You can download the PDF for the Harvard Style Guide and keep it handy for all written tasks.
Here are some examples that you can refer to for Assessment Task 1:
Use the online Harvard Style Guide to see which parts of the reference are necessary and how to reference different types of source such as books, movies, DVDs, websites, emails, twitter feeds etc.
Videos and gallery visits throughout the semester
Throughout the semester we will watch a variety of experimental art videos, and documentaries and have a few gallery visits. You will be given at least a week's notification of when excursions will occur.
I will be selecting a diverse range of videos to show you in class, but I will also be relying on you to select videos that we can all watch in class time.
Today's video is The New Shock of the New - Art Documentary - Robert Hughes
I would like everyone to select a video no longer than about 15 minutes and each week we will watch one or two of your own selections. I will ask you to respond to these videos on your blog - you can embed the code for your video selection if it is a video from Youtube or Vimeo, other videos may be linked with a text URL. You can include your written impressions of this work and any other relevant content.
Your selection must be art-related, and please watch it yourself first to make sure it is suitable to show in class - we can't show anything too risque that may offend students or may breach university policies. I would prefer that it is something easily accessible on the web so that students can also watch these videos outside of class time if anyone misses a class or if we run out of time in class to watch them all.
I will draw up a schedule of which students will present a video at which classes. I need to know beforehand what your selection will be so I can watch the video myself and write some questions for you to consider.
Write a short statement about what you think it means to be a creative person and a contemporary artist (to be reviewed at the end of semester), present this to the class.
Homework / Readings
Your homework will be to read the following before Class 02:
Barrett, Terry 1994, Criticizing Art: Understanding the Contemporary. Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Company.
Borgdorff, Henk 2010, “The Production of Knowledge in Artistic Research” in The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, Routledge
Browne, M & Keeley, S 2001, Asking the right questions: a guide to critical thinking, 6th edn, Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, N.J.
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 >
Deakin University 2014, Critical Analysis, Deakin University, <http://www.deakin.edu.au/current-students/study-support/study-skills/handouts/critical-analysis.php>
Fortnum, Rebecca 2009, "On Not Knowing; how artists think – Symposium Introduction", Symposium: On not knowing: how artists think, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, <http://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
Windschuttle, K & Elliot, E 1999, Writing, researching, communicating: communication skills for the information age, 3rd edn, McGraw-Hill, Sydney.