Taste, teaching and the Utah teapot : creative, gender, aesthetic and pedagogical issues surrounding the use of electronic media in art and design education : with particular reference to hypertext applications
This investigation charts a number of complementary explorations at the site of electronic media in art practice and design and media education. Artists are increasingly using video and computer technology in the production of their work, and these shifts are reflected in the way design and media courses are taught in Higher Education. This study seeks to relate a number of often contentious issues, but complex questions are central to any debate about the use of electronic imaging technologies by artists and the implications for teaching and learning. In this respect, the thesis is informed by my dual role as an artist using electronic media and as a lecturer in video and digital imaging in the Media Department at the University of Westminster. The study is based on a particular model of action research, and seeks after the manner of Glaser and Strauss (1967) to "ground" theory in the aggregate perceptions, understandings, and artistic or pedagogical orientations of those seeking to bring order to their own experiences in the settings. The text is arranged in eleven chapters. It begins by introducing the boundaries of the phenomena under study (which is necessarily ragged and untidy and challengingly gritty, since the composite issues have yet to have attracted any clarity of exposition, and the field is in any case characterised by imaginative leaps and cross-fertilisation) and the methodological and idealogical stances adopted. Methodologically the thesis is wide-ranging and eclectic, although also contained within the kind of feminist epistomology proposed by Sandra Harding (1992), Marnier Lazreg (1994) and others. It then moves on to examine a number of focal points and issues related to the use to which electronic media is put by artists. These topics include my own sustained attempts to develop non-linear computer systems for mapping associative thoughts, and a more general and more detailed study of the principles and characteristics of these systems when they are used for holding information about knowledge domains. Following this, there is a chapter dedicated to the application of these principles to a particular knowledge domain, colour theory, with the aim of designing a computer aided learning package. The interconnections between all the topics, issues and themes studied in the text are highlighted in the middle of the thesis before moving on to more specific investigation of the issue of gender in both technological education and creativity, with an emphasis on the use of imaging technologies by women artists. The impact of these technologies in terms of shifting aesthetic values and tastes forms the basis of the final chapter, and a conclusion seeks to offer both a tentative intellectual synopsis and to indicate how the exercise has influenced and affected my work as an artist. I am aware that to some extent this arrangement challenges both the linear quality of conventional research reportage and academic distrust of promiscuously interpenetrating ideas. I trust that this form of discourse, deliberately chosen, is experienced as working within its own terms.