[iDC] sharing "new media" curricula/potentials

Kevin Hamilton kham at uiuc.edu
Sat Jan 27 12:24:45 EST 2007

saul ostrow wrote:

"Seemingly, what is required of us is a view that takes into account 
general as well as specific conditions - that is what is the common 
economy and ecology of cultural production, inclusive of education as a 
process in which differing aspects of those network systems that 
circumscribe and arise from these practices are reproduced, replicated 
and revised(reformed.)"

I think I see what you mean, Saul - In some ways the premise of this 
thread has been based on a model of curriculum delivery, rather than of 
curriculum as a means of production within broader economies. I liked 
Adrianne Wortzel's mention of "curriculum as process" (which must be a 
hard sell to the registrar.) It would be useful to hear more about that.

Perhaps a merge of the last thread on Praxis and Research with the 
current one would be good - in that conversation we seemed to be talking 
more about the larger scope of how what we do as educators and 
educational institutions is complicit with broader economies.

The best I can offer to your point right now is that making curricular 
goals clear to students might be seen not only as a symbolic empowerment 
but as a way of placing the educational process under inquiry within a 
greater social context. It would be worth re-visiting the record of IIT, 
the Bauhaus, Black Mtn. School etc to see where that happened or where 
it didn't. My sense is that Gropius, and later Moholy-Nagy, were very 
happy and hopeful about producing students to serve industry, in a 
progressive, if non-reflexive, way. But how did that happen in the 
classroom? We know the assignments, the syllabi, the influence, but what 
attitude toward education was promoted by those old teachers? What were 
the politics of their classrooms?

I was surprised once to see a picture from the Black Mountain school of 
Josef Albers on the floor with students, cutting out shapes of color. 
How did the emerging work of Cage or Cunningham benefit from, or suffer 
from, the specific discursive models at work in Black Mountain School 

Bailey quotes Bridgman in his essay for Frances Stark's _Primer_ reader:

"So my naive idea of the 1960s—that designers were part of the solution 
to the world’s chaotic uncontrollability—was precisely the wrong way 
round. Today’s designers have emerged from the back room of purist, 
centralist control to the brightly lit stage of public totem-shaping. 
Seen from the self-same Marxist viewpoint that I espoused in those 
ancient days, they are now visible as part of the problem, not the 
solution. They have overtly accepted their role as part of capitalism. 
Designers are now exposed, not as saviours of the planet but as an 
essential part of the global machinery of production and consumption."

I need to go the next step, I guess, and look at the role of educators 
in a similar way. Not just to reveal complicity, and try to erase it 
like a stain, but to acknowledge even the inescapable ways in which my 
actions as an educator benefit from some relations, produce new ones, 
reinforce old ones.

The danger seems to be that reflexivity or self-critique on the part of 
educators, even in the classroom, can so easily serve to isolate, rather 
than to locate. If I get Socratic on a group of undergraduate students 
and start asking about why we're in the room, how we got there, where 
we're each going, I might end up preparing them for useful future 
critique and re-engineering of their own institutional roles. But I just 
as easily might alienate students and leave them with no where to go but 
a tech manual or a CAA conference when they need to feed themselves or 
others. This is why I liked the Spivak quote from the Verwoert essay I 

Singerman's essay for the USC reader also gets to some of this - his 
history of UCLA's MFA program serves as a way of asking what economies 
the department served within different visions of the University as a whole.

The Either/Or approaches to this (admittedly still ill-defined) problem 
are a challenge to escape.

-Kevin Hamilton

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