History & Theories of Intermedia, Self-evaluation Essay
It should ground your exploration by discussing your research. To this end it should cover three principle aspects of your work over the semester:
- It should ground your explorations by discussing your research with historical and theoretical investigations;
- It should demonstrate your gained critical and historical knowledge by documenting your thought process through the semester; and
- It should offer evaluative discussions of your own work, highlighting your successes and failures.
By Destin Black
The History and Theory of Intermedia class has helped me to grow as an artist. I have developed a better understanding of the role of Intermedia studies in relation to the traditional art world. Studying historical movements has helped me to refine my thoughts regarding the nature of possibility and transcendence in art. The research process allowed me to successfully supplement the available materials for other professionals. It also gave me an important, satisfying experience that still left me with questions. I must consider the conflicting roles of research and production as I continue in the program so that I can decide how and to what extent they should come together.
I appreciated the time you spent lecturing and the preparation that you put into the class. Honestly, I wish you would lecture more and ask us less. I understand why you do it and I think that for about half of the class, being required to give an opinion is very important. And, of course, I love to talk, but that does not mean I need to talk. If I really don’t understand, then I need to ask questions, but I probably don’t need to comment quite so much. I always think that I do. If I didn’t think so, obviously I wouldn’t do it, but that does not make it useful. Unfortunately, I never seem to realize that in the moment. It seems like it should be an easy thing to control but it isn’t. I like it when you lecture. You are like a walking, talking GoogleArt. You say more than I would ever think of on my own. If you were using that to control the way we think, that would be bad, but you never do that. You don’t force your opinions on us and you differentiate between fact and opinion so there is no confusion. I have no concerns that my critical thinking is inhibited by your instruction. I am somewhat sad that this seems to be the only class in which you might lecture. If I had an option to take a second version of it, I would do so.
The content of the instruction helped me to further define Intermedia and to restructure my own thinking. I see how Intermedia developed from the traditional art world. Intermedia seems to be a pattern of challenge and change. Nothing is allowed to take hold enough to strangle out innovation. Intermedia is such a dynamic field that someday, in another twenty or thirty years, someone else will sit in a program like this and they will be as mystified and overwhelmed as we are now because it will still be a new field of new ideas. There is always something to think about. I argued a lot in class but I listened too and I learned. The ideas were allowed to gestate and integrate and my thinking has been refined.
The Futurist, Dadaists and Surrealists have certain commonalities in their idea. They all wanted to challenge certain normative structures. I always like to think of myself as someone who challenges norms, but I know that this is not necessarily true. I will challenge, if I feel that to do so has purpose and meaning. I have been disinclined to challenge anything simply because I could. I always felt that sort of thinking lacked purpose, and more importantly, ethical structure. It seemed to me that to tear down without offering a plan to build again, was simple anarchy or nihilism. Rebel without cause or tear down because nothing matters anyway. Those ideas are abhorrent to me. However, I think that I have come to understand it differently now. My thoughts don’t mirror the movements we studied, but they are informed by them.
I think that the goal is possibility. My mother cannot keep a secret (ever, at all). She always tells me what she is getting me for Christmas before I can even unwrap it. It drives me crazy. One of my very favorite things in the world is an unopened present (especially if it has lots of glitter and shiny things). A wrapped gift is a perfect gift because as long as it is wrapped, it could be anything. It could be the answer to ever wish I ever made or it could be a can of feces. It doesn’t matter because the possibilities are open. I hate it when I have to open a present right away. I like to set the gift out so that I can see it all the time. I like to watch it, and think about it, and maybe even get up and give it a shake or two, but I won’t open it until I reach a frenzy of curiosity. When I cannot stand it a moment longer, I open it. The thing is, no matter how relieved I am to answer my curiosity or how great the gift is, I am always a little bit sad. Once it is open, I know and once I know, it will never be perfect again. I think art can be a bit like an unopened present. When we tear down conventional structures, we don’t necessarily have to replace them with something else because when we take away the known, we can exist in a state of possibility. What comes next could be anything. Eventually we will give in and build something new but until we do, maybe “possibility” is as close to perfection as we will ever be.
The surrealist talk about transcending rationality. I can’t say I am on board with that. I think rationality is the path to transcendence. Their belief came out of a time of global trauma. They saw the application of rationality used to justify atrocity. Hitler thought that his beliefs were completely rational and logical. That does not mean that he was right. Rationality is about the application of logic. Logical reasoning is taking all of the things that are “given” and carefully breaking them down into pieces until we understand how they are connected. The application of logic requires a constant search for knowledge. It requires consistent evaluation and reevaluation of what is know and each new thing can alter the totality. I know that means that it is endless because we can never actually know everything but it is an ideal. Ideals don’t have to be achievable. They are goals that allow us to live in the highest possible state. The surrealists want to transcend logic but I think that logic is transcendent.
The blog project was probably the least impactful part of the class. I understand the activity. I like it. I see the benefit of it both to individual students and the program as a whole. However, researching topics and organizing them into a blog is something I would have done anyway. Making it an assignment only served to formalize it. Most of what I posted was research I had already done over first semester and the winter break. Some of it was the research that I did on my paper. I still have many sources I could post. They are all useful and interesting. I selected the ones that I did primarily because they were formattable. There were only one or two that I selected because they were significantly better than the others. I enjoyed doing it, but I think the learning aspect was over before it began.
Writing the paper about an Intermedia artist was enlightening. I enjoyed learning about David Rokeby, but more importantly if has helped me to think more about my practice and my goals as an artist. I really enjoyed the research and writing process. It produced a state of “total absorption” which is something I experience as an almost drug-like high. I have experienced the same thing when working on many of my projects in the program, but it was good to know that the paper could produce the same effect. I do not believe that it is caused by any particular fascination with Rokeby. It is the process more than the subject. As long as the subject is reasonably interesting and complex, I would probably have enjoyed it the same way. I like the “hunt” for information and the little “click” of fitting sources together. I particularly enjoyed formatting everything and trying to make it perfect. The challenge of making it “media rich” within the guidelines of an established style guide was embarrassingly gratifying. I deeply enjoy that sort of work. My paper was not ideal. This is not self-deprecation. I think it was worth an A for the class. I did what I was asked to do at an appropriately high level, but I am left knowing how much more I could have done. The analysis could be much stronger. I needed the hunt, the organization and the depth of knowledge before I began to have anything approaching a unique thought or interpretation. I think that I just touched on the edges of what I could have said about the work. I know that I do not know enough yet to write a deeply meaningful academic analysis, but I think someday I will know. Someday I might be interested in writing a real Artists Monograph.
This raises an important question for me in regards to my own practice. How much do I want to pursue research? I do enjoy it and I could see myself taking on a more serious project someday. The problem is that it is, as stated, “total absorption.” I did 2/3 of my paper before Spring Break. Then when we ended up with extra time I effectively started over. The work that I did over the weekend was the best work because I was able to allow myself a singular focus. I sat in front of the computer for hours and hours just focusing on this one thing. I am actually quite fast at it but since the process has no definitive end I keep going on and on. Even as I write this, I am not finished with the paper, I stopped to get this essay done so I would not have to worry about it. Research takes so much time, I am not sure how I can do it when I am also spending hours and hours in production of my own work.
I don’t know how effectively I can combine research and production given my current situation. I don’t think my production is actually as slow as it seems. I fully accept that I have a somewhat perfectionist nature and I am inclined to take my time, but I don’t actually think that is the majority of the issue. It is a contributing factor but it is a factor I have awareness and control of. I think that I take a long time because everything I am doing is so completely new. Very little is simply a matter of deciding and implementing. Every decision has required some kind of research and skill building. I think that as I master a few more skills, I will probably get a little faster. I am never going to be the kind of artist who puts out dozens of works in a year, but I think I can be faster and more prolific than I am now. If I take up a research project, it will reduce my rate of skill acquisition and I will not reach the desired rate of production.
Is it worth it? Could I write a publishable monograph? Should I? I know, I can do anything I work hard enough to do, but not everything is worth it. It isn’t even necessarily a question of what I like, because I like lots of things. It really does come down to, “should.” Eventually I am going to have to make a very ruthless assessment of my skills and I am going to have to decide what direction I want to go. I am not ready to do that yet (I see why this program takes three years.) but, it will have to happen someday. In the meantime, the process of writing the paper has given me a lot to think about.
Any class that leaves me with so many thoughts is a good class. I have been improved by my experience. There are new avenues open to me in my practice. I have questions to consider. I don’t have answers, but I have a state of possibility. Thank you.