Monday, August 30, 2010

5953 Digital Tools - Online/Fall 2010

First set of questions posed to my graduate students this term:
What is your relationship to digital tools?
What do you hope to get out of the Digital Tools class?
What specific skill or tool do you plan to master this term?

So I thought it a good exercise to answer the questions myself.

*  *  *  *  *

Apprehensive though curious, I set out to explore digital tools in my art making practice when, in 1996, the high school students I was teaching showed me that our world was becoming a very different place. As a young artist I felt the imperative to engage these developments, and at the same time felt trepidation about grappling with technology. With a full scholarship to the University of Michigan School of Art and Design, I went off to study under Michael Rodemer in his New Genre program. It was my extreme good fortune to be introduced to digital at an institution that had so fully embraced technology on so many fronts.

My aim had been to get my feet wet in digital, then return to a physically based studio practice to see what would remain relevant; what would change; how would things integrate; what would fall by the wayside? Instead, after completing my MFA, I was invited to teach digital media at the U of M SOA&D. Teaching digital has kept me on a constant learning curve as I've evolved as both teacher and artist, constantly grappling with this super-fluid organically morphing and evolving medium called digital.

This term, I look forward to engaging my students in the exploration of another facet of the digital paradigm-- distance learning. While I have some ideas about leading my students in a meaningful direction, exercising and experiencing the living question is what excites me. What has me most energized is implementing the structure that will support the investigation of relationships between the new digital art and the hundreds/thousands of years old history and dialogue of art. Our text, Digital Art by Christiane Paul, necessarily focuses on its namesake, viewing it from several angles, classifying and sorting in order to find meaning and pattern within the discipline... but because art is always evolving, usurping any new tool in order to engage, explore, and be relevant to its particular zeitgeist, it is important to step back from the medium itself, to take in the whole picture, to see the continuum.

As for digital tools/skills mastery these next several months, a recent Potter-Belmar Labs commission has allowed us to purchase MAX/MSP Jitter, and we are currently shifting our activity in live cinema performance into this new programming environment. Lately, I have been bumping up against the limitations of my current video mixing system fairly often, and the need for a forward step has outweighed my trepidation at overcoming yet another technological hurdle.

No comments: