Monday, December 28, 2009

Research in Contemporary Visual Art

It is getting increasingly difficult to define the boundaries of science, art or philosophy. Mostly, because each of these fields are expanding quickly and amassing a richness and variety of knowledge at high speed. Massive amounts of information is produced in each field every day.

But because of the increased complexity and specialization (along with the tightened demand on results), the dialogues between the disciplines have become increasingly important. Vision Forum's research indicates that when interdisciplinary meetings are staged in an inspiring way, they become priceless sources of creativity for the people involved. The importance of what we can contribute with does not lie in art, science or philosophy - but between the three.

One of the ground rules for the research carried out in Vision Forum lies in departing from the classical idea of communication where a single speaker utters a clearly defined idea that is transferred to an individual or group. We replace information transmission with mutual inspiration and that are inscribed into in numerous interconnected networks. We also need to break down knowledge into three separate subgroups: information, experience and vision. Information corresponds to traditional models of knowledge and communication. Experience refers to to how our life experiences become a form of knowledge and is often corporeal: an old fisherman can with great exactitude gauge the change of weather by looking at the sky. But move him across the globe and that experience will probably prove far less exact. Vision refers to conceptual thinking and explains how young people can come up with groundbreaking ideas even though they have less knowledge and experience than their older peers.

The methodology builds on Deleuzian ideas about reversing Platonism and has been developed in Vision Forum’s networks, particularly in the OuUnPo node. This idea of communication is based on ‘inspirationalism’ rather than knowledge distribution. It means that members with eclectic backgrounds who are successful in their respective practice, meet at regular intervals at different places. These meetings are meant for the members to inspire each other, provoke each others curiosity and to dialogue with the local artistic and scientific network. Most meetings involve production. But that is not a prerequisite for participation.

The Vision Forum inspirationalism is based on the age-old pedagogy that when a person discovers something out of his/her curiosity that experience is so much more valuable than a top-down distribution of information. The shared experience is also very important for creating a productive dynamic within the ‘group’. The word is written within quotation mark, since the formation of the group is not there to create a communal identity. It is rather a loosely held together group of individuals who benefit from mutual inspiration by sharing visions, experiences and information and where the boundaries of the group remain open.

Here we arrive at one of the fundamental distinctions of the research. It builds on the idea that art functions different from technology and science. It is individual and is built on the uniqueness of the experience that each visitor experience when he/she interacts with the artwork. This rational is very different from when we deal with medical drugs, plumbing or digital technology. With these, it is essential that all three to function identically each time. We want the toilet to flush, the computer to boot and the drug to kill the correct germs.

All of us know that art works differently. We have all been indifferent to great a master’s work that we have seen hundreds of times and then with a bang, we get a great metaphysical experience in front of an artwork. But with certain art work or certain artists, this profound effect will never materialise no matter how much one appreciates the work’s quality and how many times you experience it.

In Vision Forum we have seen the importance that each participant formulates their own definition how art, philosophy and science operates. The discussions around definitions of the disciplines remain some of the most exciting and also conflictual in all forms of cross-disciplinary exchanges.

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