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Critical Theory and Creative Research: Vision, Rationale, and Themes
 

Critical Theory and Creative Research: Vision, Rationale, and Themes

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    Critical Theory and Creative Research: Vision, Rationale, and Themes Critical Theory and Creative Research: Vision, Rationale, and Themes Presentation Transcript

    • THE MA IN CRITICAL THEORY 4 AND CREATIVE RESEARCHGeoffrey Mann Flight Landing, Long Exposure Series (solid trace echo of a bird landing, materialized)Photograph © Sylvain Deleu
    • VISION, RATIONALE, AND THEMES
    • NEEDS ADDRESSED BY THE MA CT+CR Increasing numbers of artists and artisans carry out research before executing a project in a medium or combination of mediums, yet this research often lacks rigor or even criteria for judgment—a problem shared by society at large as protocols for authority, authenticity, and imprimatur disappear or change radically. At the same time, attention is increasingly being paid to non-quantitative research--research based on the creative process.
    • We find ourselves immersed in virtually infinite streams of information and lack adequate means of arranging, patterning, and making meaning of them. The nexus of art and research addresses itself to this major problem, a problem whose solution will require people capable of switching back and forth between the analogue and the digital, the linear and the nonlinear, the visual and the textual, the past and the future.
    • Cultural historians predict that within the next one to two decades, thenumber of individuals capable of thinking both critically and creativelyand with historical and theoretical depth will diminish radically.Projected top-jobs lists, accordingly, include “poet,” a reference to therare individual capable of combining rigor, precision, and imagination—of thinking completely outside any box.
    • The arts remain divided into verbal and visual domains at the same time as technologies are increasingly blurring the lines between them. Our understanding of the relations between Image-Music-Text, to cite the title of Barthes’ book on the empire of signs, has changed as have the meaning and significance of information; the concepts of medium, mediation, and materiality; sensation and perception; theory and practice in multiple, radically different realms; humans and machines.
    • The number of graduates of art, design, and architecture schools as well as university arts and humanities programs exceeds available jobs in appropriate fields, yet there are many new types of work for which we do not yet have names or standardized forms of monetization.
    • The term human is now commonly modified by “post” and “trans,” the former suggesting a world after us; the latter, the desire to transcend the condition. A new system of ethics will have to be developed in response to the new conditions made possible largely by digitalization. This new structure will, necessarily, be based on knowledge of the particularities of new media—what they facilitate and what they retard—and with the realization that aesthetics will play a crucial role in determining future courses. As, arguably, a mode of being and feeling in the world without ethical content per se, aesthetics will be used to make certain developments palatable and attractive and, conversely, to resist other developments. Can we devise a new humanism and system of ethics based on new realities, and how shall we go about doing that?
    • RECAP OF PROBLEMATIC CONDITIONSProblem: division of the arts into verbal, visual, and aural domains at a time when technologieshave increasingly blurred and sometimes erased the divisions between themProblem: an increasing number of artists see themselves as doing research-based art; at thesame time, research protocols, methodologies, and goals are unclear or unknownProblem: immersion in virtually unlimited data streams, the meaning of which is largelyunfathomable. Machines unable to pattern these flows at present in a humanly meaningful wayProblem: lock-in as a major design problem with far-reaching implicationsProblem: constant, incessant change—inability to process information and make accuratejudgments due to sheer velocityProblem: uncreative problem-solving based on largely false divisions between theory and practiceProblem: increasingly nonrepresentational, non-sense-based intelligence—neither verbal norvisual, strictly speakingProblem: de-monetization of cultural productionProblem: public policy on the arts increasingly unsuccessfulProblem: the philosophical and ethical void left in the wake of the death of humanism
    • GOALS AND ATTRIBUTES of the MA in CT+CRNew possibilities in research, the search for, location of, and contextualization ofknowledge. New criteria, new protocols, new applications, new formats, newplatformsRigorous study and theorizationCultural critique, aesthetic critique, institutional critique, technological critiqueCrossover between multiple domains--visual and verbal, analogue and digital,linear and nonlinear, seeing and knowing, the archaic and the contemporaryCreativity coupled with rigor, exactitude, nuance, and complexityPerformance of the task of reframing, reconfiguration, reinvigoration, reinvention,and intervention as well as knowing when “the creation of the new” is not the taskat hand and, indeed, may be the problemInsistence on the critical role of perception and the senses for the future ofintelligence
    • Mediology not media studies. The archivists as the new humanists (Sloterdijk)The creation of possibilities for artistic production outside the gallery and themuseumThe return of the workshop and material productionInterest in new knowledge management technologies and their critiqueAn understanding of the world, of past knowledge systems and genealogies,and the ability to extrapolate from these systemsUnderstanding of the role of media in a surveillance society, the impact ofdigitalization, the reality of ubiquityAnalysis of the role of aesthetics in contemporary developments andmovements
    • IDEAL CANDIDATES FOR THIS PROGRAMIdeal candidates include artists and designers who want to deepen theirwork conceptually and theoretically; writers interested in the relation ofword and image; students of philosophy, theory, and criticism; journalists,documentarians, and filmmakers; sociologists, anthropologists, andscientists whose work intersects with the arts; and all those interested incombinations of aesthetic and socio-political critique and in newpossibilities at the juncture of art and research.
    • NEW POSSIBILITIES AT THE JUNCTURE OF ART AND RESEARCHCT+CR prepares students for careers inAcademia and emerging platforms for knowledge production and disseminationCuration of many different sortsCreative directionResearch in museums, foundations, think tanks, and corporationsMedia and communicationsReconfigurations of documentary, journalism, and nonfiction narrativearchival workArt criticism, cultural critique, and social analysisSocio-political aspects of community design and urban planningPublic policy and political office, and new forms of public intellectual presence andinterventionThe program offers competitive postgraduate teaching assistantships and internships.
    • WHY SITUATE A PROGRAM LIKE THIS IN AN ART SCHOOL?(1) Art schools have been honing the fine art of formal-aesthetic critique, evaluativeprotocols, and rigorous means of judgment for several hundred years. They havesteadily been developing highly nuanced means of analyzing visual and verbalphenomena as well as developing cultural forms that are simultaneously affective andobjective. This is not a “subjective” matter but, rather, a matter of objective forms thateventually function as autonomous modes of agency and transformation in the world.(2) Art schools have, thus far, escaped over-professionalization and, accordingly, arestill capable of fostering sense-based forms of intelligence. As Rudolf Arnheimsuggested some time ago, we are literally weeding out certain forms of intelligencethat may be quite valuable—indeed, irreplaceable.(3) Artists can be said to possess a form of intelligence that is not only sense basedbut also profoundly extrapolatory—a kind of pattern recognition that is not purelyarithmetico-logical. They understand how images work and are dedicated to whatmight be called “the labor of imagination.” As Georg Simmel remarks, they literally seedifferently, respond to time differently.
    • McLuhan in his remarkable essay “Challenge and Collapse: The Nemesis ofCreativity” (Understanding Media), is a person of “integral awareness” capable ofsensing across time. “‘The artist is always engaged in writing a detailed historyof the future,’” notes Wyndham Lewis, quoted approvingly by McLuhan, “becausehe is the only person aware of the nature of the present.’”(4) Creativity is much touted today but, in actuality, may be in short supply; artschools are devoted precisely to keeping it alive. On top of this, creativity andcritical thought seem increasingly divorced—this divorce may signal a seriousproblem. Some cultural historians are already predicting that within the nextdecade or two, the number of individuals capable of thinking both critically andcreatively and with historical and theoretical depth will diminish radically.Projected top-jobs lists, accordingly, now include “poet,” a reference to the rareindividual capable of combining rigor, precision, and imagination—of thinkingcompletely outside any box. We are interested precisely in such students.
    • KEY TERMS RESEARCH PROCESS COMPRESSION DISTRIBUTION UBIQUITY THE ARCHIVE DOCUMENTATION DOCUMENTARY NARRATIVE ATLAS ARCHITECTURE SYSTEMS THEORY AESTHETICS, RETURN OFPERCEPTION AS INTELLIGENCE SENSORIUM MEDIOLOGY KNOWLEDGE SYSTEMS CULTURAL THEORY CULTURAL NETWORKS GEOGRAPHY PROBLEM-SOLVING LIFEWORLD
    • EMERGENCE/EMERGENT PROPERTIES PRACTICE CREATIVITY COLLABORATION TRANSDISCIPLINARITY CROSS-OVER SYNTHESISART/CRAFT/DESIGN (ACD) AS CULTURAL INVESTIGATION SYNCHRONY SYNERGY MATERIAL IMAGINATION INTERVENTION FIELD EXCHANGE EXPERIENCE THE NEW HUMANISM “ETHICS, ENERGY, AESTHETICS” “MIND AS PASSION” THE LABOR OF IMAGINATION
    • KEY THEMES AND PREOCCUPATIONS INTERVENTION Real Time Literalism Sense-based Intelligence Lock-in MEDIA WARS 21st-century Iconoclasms Critique of CritiqueThe Visible and the Invisible Archive Fever Social Media New Documentary Affect Object Studies Interface Distributed Systems Post-Museum Counterveillance
    • Invisible TechnologiesArchaism versus Futurism The Forecast Risk AESTHETICS Nonfiction Studies Style and Stylization Design and Experience Parallelism SENSE RATIOS Aesthetic Labor Ethical Vision The Academy Pattern/Anti-Pattern