Riffing off the Arts electric piece

5th Feb

As I read the piece, my damn unconscious kept wanting to substitute education for arts. Annoying habit to riff, not rip off ideas1 from other places. It's an excellent piece without any riffing! Tom Uglow2 opens with a point about 'the digital' shifting from tool3 to form:

I’d like to suggest what might happen when digital becomes the form as well. When an exhibition unfolds around you, wherever you are, or a performance uses the huge quantities of data we generate to choreograph dancers; when dramatists allow their plays to seep off the stage into online social platforms, or poets perform inside video games.

What follows are quotes and an educational riff:

This might be (ironically) one of Western culture’s slowest and more ponderous epoch shifts. Why are we still – still! – talking about ‘digital art’ (and boxing it up in inverted commas) at all?

Why are we still talking about integrating computers into teaching and learning4, thirty plus years on?

His essay sweeps in a reflective manner across a huge topic, digital culture:

The effort begins by acknowledging that digital culture cannot simply be a label for culture made on a computer – everything is made on a computer – and that digital isn’t a medium. It is not video, or audio, or words that could have existed on videotape or in a book; and it isn’t a distribution channel such as YouTube or Tumblr. Digital is data-led and algorithmic (with potential for every output to be unique). Digital is generative (it builds upon itself and draws on its own process to create new expressions). Digital is contextual (leading, for example, to theatre that builds around you, in a timely and relevant way). And digital is collaborative (using the volume of the world to curate or create together).

So, here is an artist/Google person making a statement about 'the digital' and its culture. His theme, it's what you can do and not how you do it ought to be stamped onto the forehead of every teacher who wants to integrate the technology. If you are still focussing on 'the how', you simply don't get it.

But for culture to create a seamless kind of virtual reality, it’s vitally important not to get caught up in the tools we use to create that state of mind. We should rather focus on the effect. Art is what you do to the viewer, not how you did it.

Teaching, for want of a better word, is what you do to a student. Effects matter.

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