"In the pedagogical process the role of the schoolmaster is posited as the act of suppressing the distance between his knowledge and the ignorance of the ignorant. His lessons and exercises are aimed at continuously reducing the gap between knowledge and ignorance. Unfortunately, in order to reduce the gap, he must reinstate it ceaselessly." Ranciere continues in this portion of the writing to state that the schoolmaster must not ignore what the pupil already knows. That which he has inherently learned through experiencing the world thus far. He also goes on to state that we are all of like intelligence, that it is not the lack of intelligence that forms the teacher-student relationship but the lack of formal knowledge that composes the idea.

I find this an exceptional reading to provide to students who are, by in large, studying for a Master's degree in arts education. It is vital for any one in a teaching position to remember that students arrive in the classroom with their own set of learned knowledge, and to learn from and appreciate the pieces of formal education they have so far developed. In a large classroom, it can be difficult for a teacher to take the time to figure out what form of learning is most suited for each child. It is also difficult with modern curricula and state set standards to let each child obtain the knowledge in their own way. In this, Ranciere has a vision of the utopian classroom (or teacher-student relationship). With each child being given the tools with which to succeed and the time in which to discover it in a way that is meaningful and permanent. Though I would love to have the freedom in a classroom to provide this type of education (and feel that my students would garner a greater respect for the classroom setting and the education they were obtaining) I don't think the governing institutions would be as thrilled about the relaxed "let the education find them" attitude. Particularly when it comes to state mandated testing and the subsequent test scores. It leaves me to question, is there a happy medium? Is there in fact, a way to combine the traditional role of information giver/information learner in a way that allows each student to obtain the knowledge in their own manner and yet stay on course for overarching course objectives?



"... the principle of emancipation is the dissociation of cause and effect." - Jacques Ranciere

Cause and effect, the Master and the Ignorant, the Artist the Spectator: these are the paradigms that Ranciere discusses in his talk "The Emancipated Spectator". Ranciere seems to portray a world of polar opposites, you are either the master of knowledge or the ignorant student, the enlightened artist or the passive bystander. If this is a true fact of nature than I can see the need to blur the lines artist and spectator. To involve the audience would be to rid the audience of ignorance.

However, I did not see the idea of artist and spectator as quite so black and white. I do not find the act of looking at art to be passive at all. Ranciere describes "looking is deemed the opposite of knowing." I find my expereinces to be quite the contrary in fact. Often, when looking at exhibits I find myself deeply immersed in thought. Trying to understand the artists view point, his oppinion, the message ge is trying to convey, the process of the art making... In this way I am not at all a passive observer, I am a scientist gathering data and information to understand, comprehend and better myself. So perhaps it is true that I am ignorant of the artists true meaning, but if we already knew the meaning and his point, what would be the purpose of looking?

I find that on occassion when creating my own art, I can get into a flow, almost a level of subconcious where I am not thinking, just doing, recording what my eyes see and not letting my brain interpret. This can be a mentally passive process. It is not until a point of (somewhat) objective reflection that I can gain perspective and insight in my work. It is often not until I can see the reaction of the audience to understand the scope and potenital for impact of my work.

It is a fact of nature that there will always be a paradigm of one person knowing and one person not knowing, but I have to disagree that "Being a spectator means looking at a spectacle. And
looking is a bad thing..."


Arlington Arts Center + discussion

I thought that viewing the show at AAC last Friday was both really interesting and a great way to learn about collaborative art-making through personal conversation with artists and close encounter with their work. "America's Grave" was definitely a unique art experience. (I guess I should call it multi-media and not art, as Randall articulated).

What I took most from the piece was the multiplicity of stimuli. It was certainly overwhelming in one sense, to be in a dark room with a lot of different visuals, video, text, and sound. For me, all of these elements combined to create a kind of other-worldly feeling, it was almost as if I could feel the artists pulling me into their own narrative, and it was some kind of dark spiral into hell. They were spinning the story of the governmental horrors of the past 7 years as a very dark, sinister, morbid plunge into hell or a place like it. It was almost as if, no matter what opinions one held about the state of our country during the Bush admin., once you came out of "America's Grave" you couldn't help but emerge with a new sense of doom and despair. Personally, even though I share similar feelings about the state of our nation etc., viewing this piece served to heighten those feelings, and in a way, make me take a step back and think about just how serious this situation is.

Regarding the discussion with the artists, I had mixed feelings. I thought it was great to be able to get first-hand insight into their working process and intimate thoughts behind their piece. The fact that this piece is a continual evolution and still unfinished was fascinating. Now that I have seen it in one state, it makes me that much more curious to view another version or the final product. What I was most surprised by when listening to Randall and John was that they seemed to assume a lot of things about the audience they were speaking to. While I think we were an audience that was probably very receptive to their ideas, it struck me time and again that they really had no idea that one of us was not a devout follower of Joel Osteen, for example. This seems somewhat unrelated to the concept of collaborative art, but made a fairly big impression on me, just the same. This may be because I am also studying education and I feel very aware of my student population whenever I teach. While I do not think one should alter his/her views for others, it was an interesting dynamic in the discussion last week, and it felt a bit more like a lecture than a discussion. Although it did on for a fairly long time, I think if we had had more time, it would have been nice for both students and artists to engage in more of a discussion of ideas/art/themes.


Politics and foreign films?

The experience at the Arlington Arts Center last week was indeed unique. I was a little shocked to see how seeming bias the show was, both in terms of pushing liberal politics and of how close-knit the participating artists are. Concerning the left-wing political messages, I understand their exclusive presence in the show. As Randall said, I believe (fine) art creation is a vice more common among radicals and liberals. More conservative groups do tend to express themselves more aurally through vehicles like talk radio and Fox news programs. (Thank you, Nancy Grace!)

Moreover, when I look at the pool from which curator R. Weil pulled his artists, I am not surprised they have similar political beliefs. I recognized several of the name from my time at the University of Maryland. Many of the artists have been graduate students and/or instructors at UMD. I even took a trip with one of the artists/professors to see the Whitney Biennial last spring. In fact, I remember him picking a fight with a NYC cop who had pulled me over for a routine license check. Seeing this list of contributing artists really reminded me how important networking is in this business. But, back to my point: the majority of artists in this show work together and play together. Realizing their political beliefs are aligned it is no wonder they all get along so well.

However, I do question whether or not Weil took a fair sampling of artists in his show. I find it hard to believe that he could not find one moderate-conservative political artist in the DC area. After all, this is the political center of America. Do you think he looked thoroughly for a variety of political messages, or instead had a political agenda of his own? The world may never know.

Speaking of artists from that show, one of my former professors, J. Pinder, introduced me to a film that might be relevant to this class. It is called The Five Obstructions. It features auteurs Lars von Trier, the Danish director of "Breaking the Waves," "Dancer in the Dark," and "Dogville" and his mentor/veteran filmmaker Jorgen Leth.

The men do not collaborate, per se. Instead, they set parameters and challenges for each other in a competition to make compelling short films. The DVD is fascinating, as well as the mini-films produced and the creative journeys of the men. I highly recommend this movie to all. Check it out!


Unique Experience

The experience at the Arlington Arts Center was phenomenal. I walked into the exhibit open-minded with no background knowledge on the artists. The process of parting the black, heavy curtain truly played with my psyche. The act of opening the curtain and ducking underneath the next curtain made me question my own actions. I wondered why I was still walking through the gallery? Was I insane? What are they trying to say? I panicked but tried to remain calm. I humbly read through the text, analyzed the photos, studied the video footage and connected the audio to the visual. The audio bothered me because I could not ignore it. The audio flooded my ears and drowned my aesthetics. I didn't have a choice. The audio pulled me further into the piece. The voice of televangelist stunned me. My initial reaction was, "What does this mean? I see dirt with TV screens, I hear fire, I see a tombstone, and I see black." I tried to find the relationship between the televangelist, September 11th, Orf, death, and President Bush. So many thoughts were racing through my mind. I was determined to interact with the piece to get a deeper understanding. I noticed that the footage was nicely edited. The installation flowed cohesively. Every component of the piece seemed purposeful and nothing seemed random.

The discussion was very helpful. On my previous blog I wrote that I would have to dive head first into the collaborative art-making process to build a definition. But I was proved wrong. It was there, during the discussion that I understood the purpose of collaborative art-making. The purpose is to learn from each other. The artists created a narrative and used each other strengths to create the piece. Randall is skilled in music and John is skilled in fine art. Randall, John and others brought their artistic skill to the project to create a well-thought, engaging piece. I believe with a team it is possible to create a dynamic piece. There are several artists sharing views, sketching and further developing the narrative together. I was also intrigued by their willingness to go further with the piece. For instance, Randall visited Oral Roberts University, Bible seminars and conventions to capture authentic footage. The fact that the piece is still in progress surprised me. I had the opportunity to develop a greater appreciation for the work.

Arlington Arts Center

I have a huge interest in the process behind things. I always want to know how an artist got made something, what their story is, when in their personal history did the roads of creativity and life intersect and the art was made. After the show I was thinking mostly about the process. About how the artists came together to collaborate on this project. Seemingly it started simply enough, then wound its way through each artist as the project began to take on new meaning and new life. To me, one of the most interesting parts of their collaboration was the fact that there was a seeming fluidity to their ideas for the project and a great amount of respect for what each artist brought to the table.

In that follow up conversation we also talked about why we censor the media we don't wish to see. Admittedly I do not watch the local news. Every now and again I put on CNN but for the most part, if I am watching the news, it is the BBC news. I found it interesting that the artists were amused by some of the clips they had selected for the piece. For myself, I find a lot of it to be enraging, although throughout the piece I found myself wondering what they had gone on to say after the chosen portion. It strangely drew me in deeper to the piece that I wasn't getting the whole story and may, in fact, tune in this week to more of the daily newscasts.

As a person with a musical background I found the soundtrack to be one of the most appealing and unifying elements of the piece. I certainly hope to be able to view the piece when it is in its final form.