[iDC] duplication theory of educational value

John Hopkins neo at neoscenes.net
Fri Sep 16 15:29:13 UTC 2011

Greetings Adrian -- this in response to your posting and recalling the 
conversation we had in Melb back in May --

> In this model (these are the reasons I had for going to university, and I
> was mature age, and largely self taught around cinema studies) quantity
> matters. How big is the library, how significant the academics, how good the
> cameras. You learnt, you didn't, but the 'experience' of going to uni was as
> much access to this stuff as it was about anything else. In other words
> access was what generated the quality of the experience, the institution in
> many ways didn't actually have to do a lot, except be.

One of the things that pops up in my mind, reading your enumeration is one item 
that seems sadly missing (and does perhaps constitute the greatest lack of 
contemporary 'education' systems). This is the potential for energized and 
inspiring encounter.  I know this is something you facilitate in your own 
teaching at RMIT, so not enumerating it is not evidence that you are not aware 
of it (whups, three negatives)!  IMHO, material structures are details in the 
process of an inspiring encounter -- although I am aware in the Australian 
context that folks are pushed to certain 'production quality' metrics (partly) 
because of the general relationship between 'media-artists-as-academics' and the 
ABC (Australian Broadcasting Company, as dominant output channel).  There is 
also an evolving corporatism in Australian higher-ed which has changed the 
landscape for the worse even in the couple years I've been around down-under. 
(It seems to be partly following the corporate "digital diploma mill" nonsense 
of the US.)

I would proffer a counter example where, when I started the photo/media program 
at the Icelandic Academy, access to anything, any material was simply not 
available, yet what my (and other's) BFA students were able to squeeze out there 
was consistently mistaken for MFA work in both its material and conceptual 
presentation.  Students didn't go the the Academy for its material abundance! 
Living in the relative lack of early 1990's Iceland (compared to the pre-crash 
2000's!) was an exercise of make do and find an expressive pathway which would 
carry the maximum of energy regardless.  As a former NY'er being used to 
complete material abundance, I learned a lot about contingency when living in 

Something I was just working on this morning:

"A teaching situation is essentially a random (serindipitous!) configuration of 
humans who have arrived at an encounter as an outcome of following a certain set 
of social and personal pathways.  The social 'reasons' for the encounter are 
less important than the fact that it is an encounter, a Dialogue.  Of course, 
those social 'reasons' may dominate the character of the encounter: there are 
mandates (punishment/reward systems) for how the encounter should go.  However, 
where on the (full!) spectrum of Dialogue that the encounter occurs is crucial 
for an opening of creative flows."

where Dialogue is defined as:

"In all its forms and fields of action, the dance between the Self and the Other 
is a reciprocal dialogue and it is this Dialogue that defines much of our 
experience of be-ing.  It is impossible to imagine life without this Dialogue, 
and whatever the case, that imagining would be only theoretical, as life is 
always bound to these complex expressions and impressions between the Self and 
the Other.  This Dialogue is not merely the sonic expressions of Language -- 
limiting the idea of Dialogue to that would be to ignore the vast range of 
expressions and impressions of energy that move between each of us.  Nor is it 
merely the actions of Platonic interlocutors, moving Logos back and forth. 
Dialogue encompasses that entire range and more.  It is more than the 
"conversation of limbic systems" (Buck, 1992).  It is more than an exchange of 
coded semantic posturing.  It is more than the "transfer of gestural meaning" 
that is "the neural basis of a mechanism that creates a direct link" between the 
sender and receiver. (Rizzolatti and Craighero, 2004)  It is more than 
information transfer.  In essence it is independent of cultural or social limits 
aside from our own tendency to filter: to see what we want to see, to hear what 
we want to hear, to feel what we want to feel.  Dialogue is the empowered and 
open movement of energies across the sundering abyss which separates us: from 
the Other to the Self and from the Self to the Other.  It embodies the creative 
potential for (re)evolution and change in life where "change in meaning is a 
change in being." (Bohm, 1985)  Dialogue and its resonant affect informs much of 
our life experience and the qualities of our existence.  For all, the sometimes 
joyful, sometimes painful, always formative relation with the Other, with 
others, becomes the fundament of life and be-ing."

Any situation where there is an open encounter between the Self and the Other is 
the epitome of a learning experience. If an insitution, though an onerous 
process of control of participant's expressive pathways, closes down the 
wide-potentialed freedom of the encounter, it eventually causes its own demise 
at the expense of the participants (they either conform to the strictures on 
expression and reception of creative energies, or they are 'punished.')

Careful attention paid to this dimension of the learning encounter may 
completely negate any perceived material lack and convert such a 
perception/situation into an inspiring encounter.  I have tested this 
hyppothesis countless times in my own facilitation/teaching work over the years, 
and I have not yet seen it fail.  As a teacher, I concentrate the bulk of my 
attention to the quality of these Dialogues in the classroom encounter, and it 
seems that that alone stimulates endless creative energies with the 
participants.  It is not the norm, however, and there are significant 
institutional pressures which have to be countered or eliminated in order for 
this fearlessness to take hold in 'normal' university situations.  That's one 
reason I maintain a distance from any one institution so that I do not become a 
'regular' member of any faculty and thus integrated into the local 
power-politics.  This seems to free up substantial potentials for open encounter 
with the students.

That said, at this point it would seem reasonable to point out the small irony 
built into a discussion among people who are mostly in more-or-less secure 
institutional positions, as I know many here are.  It is that (social) security 
which itself is a certain stricture to open encounter and fearless Dialogue. 
Shedding the strictures means constructing new, more relevant community 
situations for encounter, or simply letting go of as many such strictures on 
personal life as is possible -- questioning ANY of them in their affect on our 
personal human relations.  (had to say it, I'm now suiting up with a 
flame-retardent graduation gown)...

Hope you are enjoying a nice springtime!


John Hopkins
exploring cosmological patterns of flow @

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