Creative Ecologies in Action: Technology, Creativity and the Artist-led Workshop

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • Collaborations across Borders: Physical and Disciplinary

Presentation Title:

  • Creative Ecologies in Action: Technology, Creativity and the Artist-led Workshop

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Abstract:

  • For art-and-technology practitioners, the artist-led workshop is an established tool for public and community engagement.  The workshop format is integrated into academic and artistic gatherings and events, and is an excitingly varied and multimodal part of conference and festival activities internationally.  Perhaps most particularly in new media contexts, the invitation to participate in or deliver a workshop includes the implication that technological tools will be taught, and practical skills will be imparted.  As such the artist-led workshop, as a form, is a site where a complex ecology of artistic, social and educational goals and interactions are held in relief.

    Within more traditional communities, the workshop has been regarded as a somewhat lesser format for the presentation of ideas that presentation of papers (conferences) or artworks (festivals).  To the curator, the workshop can be an economic way of having an artist involved in an event, lessening the cost of commissioning and/or transportation.  In community arts practitioners interrogate the effectiveness of engaging and congealing local communities.  Pedagogues usefully develop evaluations for educational and material goals.  For the artist-leader, too frequent delivery of workshops servicing broader agendas can serve to cloud artistic objectives.

    This paper presents technology-based art practice workshops that have been designed to develop the workshop form as a collaborative and artistic output in its own right.  Inspired by Kaprow’s formulation of Happenings, and Beuys’ interest in open-works and wordless-teaching, the work presented attempts to make workshop groups into ad-hock creative ecologies in action.  These workshops are discussed with particular emphasis on the design successes and challenges of these events, the context specific environments employed and self-developed, low-cost construction kits created.

    Through collaboration between artists and with educators, creative, conceptual and constructionist learning goals are designed into public invitational formats drawing on topics in interaction design, sound design, media ecology and sustainable energy.  The context of new media allows for a public invitation which is partially technical, yet centers more markedly on the embodied and social outcomes of bringing people together in experimental, interactive and technology-infused artistic happenings.

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