In response to Michael Wesch’s talk at the UofR. link
What a great talk. I really loved how he addressed the concept of our society ‘Amusing ourselves to death,’ drawing a parallel to Aldus Huxley’s Brave New World. While a BFA student we talked about this concept, and since then I haven’t questioned the idea that we are basically awash in a sea of information and we at large are impotent to make any major change that will leave a lasting effect. Wesch really helped me to see that through the advent of the internet we are now capable of breaking this bind, no longer passive but active.
Wesch provides the following list as to why this is now possible:
– Not controlled by few
– Not one way
– Created by, for, and around networks, not masses
– Transform individual pursuits into collective actions
The latter really has me excited because of my interest in the idea of authorship in art, as well as the relationship between artist and audience. While I lived in Japan I made art that only worked if others contributed. Like artists Sol LeWitt and Yoko Ono I would provide instructions that others could choose to interact with, only I was looking for others to create their own interpretation of what was being asked of them. As an example to illustrate this, I made a paper boat out of origami and took a picture of it in a water pail outside a residence. This photo was hung with the accompanying title/explanation “float a boat” and pieces of construction paper with folding instructions. It was amazing how many people chose to particpate, sending me their photos once they had floated their boat.
This came to mind because I was thinking of the potential the web can have on sharing and collaborating. Would I have used the net as a means of showing this artwork instead of a gallery in Kyoto, chances are the responses would have been much more varied and interesting than those that I received, adding additional layers to what would become the artwork.
I am a big fan of his teaching model and am wondering how it will work with a Grade 3/4 classroom. I am already a firm believer of working alongside the student as well as engaging in real problems relevant to both instructor and students. While on my internship we worked on SK hero projects, which among other things provided students with an opportunity to see that the internet is a tool, and that it can be used to both research and create. The majority of my students had little experience using a computer, so much of the research had been done prior by myself, but put onto websites I created. I did it in this fashion because I wanted them to find early success with this new technique called ‘research,’ and I knew that were I to give them free reign, many wouldn’t have been able to even start their project. Were I to have this class throughout the year, I would provide them many opportunities to learn skills such as these so they can “recognize and harness the existing media environment” and hopefully move towards becoming the ‘constructive’ thinkers Wesch believes can be made using this system.
This has really helped me to understand the need to provide students the opportunity to interact with the ‘media environment’ as early an age as possible as it allows the individual the motivation and opportunity to “create meaningful creations.”