[artinfo] Speaker Series on Education

Trebor Scholz trebor at thing.net
Thu Jan 27 00:38:29 CET 2005

WebCamTalk 1.0

New-Media Art Education and Its Discontents


Over the past ten years new-media art programs have been started at
universities. Departments are shaped, many positions in this field open up
and student interest is massive. In China, India, Indonesia, Singapore and
Thailand enormous developments will take place in the next few years in "new
media" art education.

At the same time, technologists, artists and educators acknowledge a crisis
mode: from Germany to Canada, Finland, Ireland, Australia, Taiwan and
Singapore to the United States and beyond. But so far, at least in the
United States there has been surprisingly little public debate about
education in new-media art.

WebCamTalk 1.0  is a guest speaker series designed to invite dialogue and
the sharing of ideas in this field. The Institute for Distributed Creativity
(iDC) invited some twenty artists, experienced new-media educators and
technologists who pioneered educational initiatives and tools in this field
to introduce their specific projects and reflections.

The series features twenty guest speakers until April 2005. These webcam
presentations are hosted by the Department of Media Study, SUNY at Buffalo.
The talks are archived and short transcripts are made available on the iDC
mailinglist to invite discussion.

(Speakers: Adriene Jenik, Anna Munster, Axel Bruns, Christoph Spehr, Eduardo
Navas, Elizabeth Goodman, John Hopkins, Joline Blais, Jon Ippolito, Lily
Diaz, Lisa Gye, Megan Boler, Molly Krause, Natalie Jeremijenko, Ned
Rossiter, Patrick Lichty, Randall Packer, Ricardo Miranda Zuniga, Warren
Sack, William Grishold, Wolfgang Münch)

The field of new-media art education is vast and this series can only touch
on a few urgent topics.

Many new-media educators point to a widespread tension between vocational
training and a critical solid education. There is no stable "new-media
industry" for which a static skill set would prepare the graduate for his or
her professional future in today's post-dotcom era. Some departments follow
a techno-deterministic approach that overlooks the fact that "we" should
educate artists regardless of which media they use. Between Futurist
narratives of progress with all their techno-optimism and the technophobia
often encountered in more traditional cultural theorists-- how do we educate
students to be equally familiar with technical concepts, theory, and art?
How can new-media theory be activated as a wake-up call for students leading
to radical sea change? Which educational structure proves more affective--
theme-based groups or media-based departments? Does the current new-media
art curriculum allow for play, experiment and failure?

How can we rigorously introduce free software into the new-media classroom
when businesses still hardly make use of open source or free software? How
can we break out of the isolating walls of the university lab? This series
will introduce concrete examples of meaningful linkages between media
production in the university and cultural institutions as well as technology
businesses. Guest speakers will also address ways in which they introduce
politics into the new-media lab.

Between flattened sing-along hierarchies and the traditional models of
top-down education, speakers will give examples based on their experiences
that offer a middle-ground between these extremes. Further questions address
anti-intellectualism in the classroom and the high demands on educators in
this area in which technology and theory are with little precedence and
rapidly change. As a response to the latter question several distributed
learning tools will be presented that internationally link up new-media
educators to share code, theory, and art in real time.

A book is planned as a result of WebCamTalk 1.0 and the conference in May.
Please feel free to contact me with proposals for this conference.

WebCamTalk 1.0 is organized by Trebor Scholz, iDC.
The New-Media Art Education conference is a collaboration between The
Graduate Center at CUNY and the iDC (http://www.distributedcreativity.org/).

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