Discussant on CRUMB list on ‘Educational Turns’

Tavis Coburn 'Schools Out'

Throughout May and June I am an invited discussant on the CRUMB New Media Curating list, on the theme of : ‘Educational turns and distributed social systems.’

Here’s the provisional description of the session:

“Several books and events have recently converged in relation to issues of “education” and curating: Graham and Cook’s “Rethinking Curating” includes a chapter on educational modes of working; O’Neill and Wilson’s “Curating and the Educational Turn” collects chapters by authors including Esche and Raqs Media Collective; the iDC discussion list develops ongoing expertise around distributed education; the Artschool project has explored issues of the representation of teaching/learning or the exhibition as discursive device (attended by CRUMB’s Verina Gfader); and Art and the Social: Exhibitions of Contemporary Art in the 1990s symposium includes Sabeth Buchmann and Claire Bishop.

An obvious link is being made here between understandings of social systems of participation or collaboration, and radical or self-institutionalising educational projects ranging from the early Black Mountain College, and Bauhaus, to more recent examples such as the University of Openess.

However, how can former exceptional states of schools significantly inform and shape our current understanding of learning/teaching/contributing to the world? Are our understandings of former models of ‘alternative’ art schools hopelessly romantic, and based on ‘cults of personality’ rather than collaborative systems? Are these models inherently short-term, and prone to burn-out? What is this accumulation of ‘knowledges’ enacted and performed in short-lived settings, on the move, between a certain common — and how to deal with its transformational state? For new media, is the confusion between educational technology, and new media art, a productive confusion whereby new media art enters institutions through educational routes, or does it doom new media to remain in education rather than curatorial contexts?”

I’m looking forward to being involved and having the chance to think through my own beliefs about the educational system – especially the nature of completing a PhD. And as part of my research I’ll also be attending a conference on ‘the Doctoral Thesis in the Digital and Multimodal Age’ on 18th May at the British Library.

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