29 SES 05, Arts-based Research
For today’s learners the essay is no longer conceived in terms of a free enquiry in the spirit of Montaigne’s short trials, but rather is seen as an extended formal writing requirement. In the context of Arts based education this requirement has been dominated by the production of the thesis, which maintains a divide between fine art practice and critical theory. Alternatively we point to the video essay as a new form that permits a more fluid relation between fine art practice and theory through a complex interdisciplinarity and multi-perspectival aesthetic. The video essay has a long history within the context of audio/visual studies where it has often been used to define a medium specific language of critical analysis. Recently this format has begun to take on a much more formal pedagogical function in media studies, however, the use of this format as a pedagogical tool in disciplines outside the of Media Studies is limited.
Engaging writing as a form of artistic research within the context of visual culture, (as opposed to straightforward thesis production), the video essay can be used to challenge the commercial and transactional motivations of contemporary education that instrumentalise research. In a number of recent publications theorist Gert Biesta has critiqued these transactional ideologies, which he argues have emerged through a complex relationship between constructivist learning, lifelong learning and neo-liberal economics (Biesta. G. 2013. The Beautiful risk of Education. Biesta. G. 2010. Good Education in an Age of Measurement). As a consequence of this dynamic, educational practices are under pressure to be efficient, predictable and risk free. For Biesta, the elimination of all risk from the pedagogical process is a contemporary obsession, and one which threaten’s education’s function as a complex interpretive process of enquiry and discovery. This paper explores how the video essay can avoid such complexity reduction by developing a less instrumental medium of representation. The strategic and aesthetic vitality of the video essay, like the essays of old, is their ability to try and attempt in an unstructured way. Within academia the pedagogical challenge presented by the video essay is to resist the urge of instructors to rely on a genre of knowledge reportage, and the urge of learners to simply repeat text on screen as in the standard PPT presentation.
For the purposes of criticality the video essay does not mark and abandoning of text but rather a deeper, multi-perspectival and relational understanding of the role of text as co-written from different places. Instead the plurality of the video (image, sound, text) essayenables a discourse of multiple perspectives for critique to occur. Within this multiplicity the imposition of the text on screen, for example, brings the issue of who controls the narrative to the fore. In the written academic essay control is held in the impenetrable text of student regulations, course readings and marking criteria. Video essays in their ambiguous relationship to documentary and fiction permit challenges to the authority of the written word over artistic research. This challenge is essential in an arts based education which remains a relational pedagogy motivated subjective processess, rather than instrumental ones.
Through a discussion on our experiences using the video essay in the Dublin School of Creative Arts these tensions will be animated and interrogated in a form which explores the essay and the video in the service of art-based research.
Adorno, Theodor. “Theorie der Halbbildung,” Gesammelte Schriften, Band 8; Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1998  93-121. Adorno, Theodor. “Education After Auschwitz,” Critical Models: Interventions and Catchwords, trans. Henry W. Pickford. New York: Columbia University Press, 2005  191-204. Biesta. G. “The Beautiful risk of Education”. Paradigm Publishers. (2013) Biesta. G. “Good Education in an Age of Measurement”. Paradigm Publishers. (2010) Cho, Daniel K. “Adorno on Education or, Can Critical Self-Reflection Prevent the Next Auschwitz?” in Historical Materialism 17. 2009, 74–97. Cho, Daniel K. “Psychopedagogy” Palgrave Mc Millen.  Dewey, John. Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education London: Macmillan. 1980 . Horkheimer, Max. Critique of Instrumental Reason: Lectures and Essays Since the End of WWII. Verso: London, 2012 . Leslie, Esther. “Art, Documentary and the Essay Film” Radical Philosophy 192, 2015, 7-14. Lewis, Tyson. Cho, Daniel. “Education and Event in the Era of Standardisation.” SIMILE.  Lewis, Tyson. “The Aesthetics of Education”. Theatre, Curiosity, and Politics in the Work of Jacques Ranciere and Paulo Freire.  McCracken, Timothy. “Video-Texts: Technology and the Teaching of Literature,” SubStance, Vol. 20, No. 2, Issue 65 (1991), pp. 60-76. Montaigne, Michel de. The Complete Essays. Trans. M. A. Screech. London: Penguin, 2003 (1987) . Springgay, Stephanie. “Corporeal Pedagogy and Contemporary Video Art,” Art Education, Vol. 61, No. 2 (Mar., 2008), pp. 18-24. Strunk, William Jr. and White, E.B. The Elements of Style, New York: Longman, 2000 . Stuff it: the Video Essay in the Digital Age, Ursula Biemann (editor), New York: Springer, 2003. Lee, Johnny C.; Forlizzi, Jodi; Hudson, Scott E. "The Kinetic Typography Engine: An Extensible System for Animating Expressive Text" http://johnnylee.net/kt/dist/files/Kinetic_Typography.pdf
00. Central Events (Keynotes, EERA-Panel, EERJ Round Table, Invited Sessions)
Network 1. Continuing Professional Development: Learning for Individuals, Leaders, and Organisations
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