Ctrl-O Confronting Barriers to Communication in Interdisciplinary Projects


Session Title:

  • Interdisciplinary Teaching and New Media Arts

Presentation Title:

  • Ctrl-O Confronting Barriers to Communication in Interdisciplinary Projects




  • Visual artist and Academic Fellow at University of Saskatchewan Linda Duvall was invited by the Interdisciplinary Center for Culture and Creativity at U of S to curate an exhibition that highlighted the range of research being undertaken by undergraduate and graduate students across the Arts and Sciences programs. The intent was to show some of the research and art projects that have looked critically at the role of digital media in culture, as well as to initiate a dialogue among these students and the faculty that support them.

    The exhibition was titled CTRL – O, the keyboard shortcut for “open file.” This show presented students who were paying attention to the possibilities of new global networks, and innovative intersections of the fine arts, humanities, sciences and computer sciences. These projects included analyses of social networking sites, use of new media in community building or teaching, computer modeling and simulations, and technically complicated digital manipulations such as 3-D and digital collages.

    While the aim was laudable and the exhibition presented challenging projects, the curatorial process revealed much about the gaps between disciplines. From the beginning, Duvall noticed that each area had its own specialized and idiosyncratic language. Even more instructive were the conventions utilized by the various areas for communicating information. In areas such as Sociology and English the students included as much textual information as possible under titles such as goals, objectives, and checklists. The visual elements were clearly secondary, and proposed learning was through reading the compiled information. The Computer Science and Science students presented projects that included participatory elements such as buttons or models. Here the learning emerged through interacting with the material presented. The visual art students presented material that contained no clear conclusions, but embedded elusive personal questions. Their viewers were left to draw their own conclusions.

    Duvall will present a range of visuals from this exhibition with a focus on both the challenges and potential within this wide discrepancy in the conventions of communication.

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