05 August 2010

Educating Artists for the Future: Learning at the Intersections of Art, Science, Technology and Culture

Published by Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press
From review by Julia Gaimster
International Journal of Education through Art
vol. 5, no. 1, 2009, pp. 95-96.

This is a timely book that sets out to explore alternative ways of educating artists in an interdisciplinary, networked, global future. The book is organized into sections around the themes ‘Beyond the Digital’, ‘Networked Times’, ‘Polycultural Perspectives’, ‘Reflective Inquiry’, and ‘Emergent Praxis’.

The central thesis of the book is that, in an increasingly networked world and global society, we face new challenges in how we educate artists and this often leads us into new disciplines and ways of understanding. It also argues that the convergence of disparate fields and concepts can lead to enhanced creativity and innovations.

In ‘Beyond the Digital’ the authors suggest that we have gone beyond the purely technical and are moving into an area where digital technology and biology are starting to create new dynamics and possibilities that have the power to transform our world.

‘Networked Times’ explores the relationships between physical and virtual spaces; it examines the notion of complexity and the culture of digital networking and the impact this may have on the way we deliver curriculum.

For me perhaps the most intriguing section of the book was ‘Polycultural Perspectives’. Here the authors draw upon their own cultural backgrounds from countries such as India, china and Turkey. We are asked to look at artistic practice through a series of different cultural filters including Taoism and Buddhism.

In ‘Reflective Inquiry’ writers who describe their biographical journeys highlight how they came by liuck, design or coincidence to be engaged in their current practice. They come from remarkably diverse backgrounds and cultures, adding a richness of perspective to the book that will appeal to a broad global audience.

The final section ‘Emergent Praxis’ describes approaches to teaching that embody the interdisciplinary approach promoted by the book. The central message of this section is that students need to be exposed to a wide range of disciplines and concepts in order to fully engage with contemporary art practice.

The book contains a good balance between theory and practice, and describes approaches and projects undertaken in a range of contexts from the classroom to the laboratory and onto the street. It is well written.

It inspires us to further our understanding of what it is to be an artist in a future where the boundaries between the technological, the biological, the cultural and spiritual are increasingly fluid.

From review by Olivia Sagan, ESCalate

Once more, intense questions and complex reasoning, which . . . begin to feel mind-broadening and powerful. . . . This is a creative book for creative thinkers--particularly those with a passion for technological advances. . . .This book embodies a perhaps very human urge to learn across disciplines, and explore the border conflicts of their interface.

06 March 2010

University of Chicago Press

My book The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness being published by Intellect Books/University of Chicago Press will be out in Fall 2010.

From the University of Chicago Press catalog:
In The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age, artist and educator Mel Alexenberg offers a prophetic vision of a postdigital future that reveals a paradigm shift from the Hellenistic to the Hebraic roots of Western culture. The author surveys new art forms emerging from a postdigitial age that address the humanization of digital technologies. He ventures beyond the digital to explore postdigital perspectives rising from creative encounters between art, science, technology, and human consciousness. New chapters “Postdigital Perspectives: Rediscovering Ten Fingers” and “Wiki Perspectives: Multiform Unity and Global Tribes” have been added to chapters on semiotic, morphological, kabbalistic, and halakhic perspectives. The interrelationships between these alternative perspectives demonstrate the confluence between postdigital art and the dynamic, creative, open-ended Jewish structure of consciousness. Alexenberg’s pioneering artwork – a vibrant fusion of spiritual and technological realms – exemplifies and complements the theoretical thesis of his book. A revolutionary investigation into interactive and collaborative forms that imaginatively envisages the vast potential of art in a postdigital future.

Mel Alexenberg is head of the School of the Arts at Emuna College in Jerusalem and former professor of art and education at Columbia University and Bar Ilan University, head of the art department at Pratt Institute, and research fellow at MIT’s Center for Advanced Visual Studies. His artworks are in the collections of more than forty museums worldwide including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Jewish Museum of Prague, and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. He is editor of Educating Artists for the Future: Learning at the Intersections of Art, Science, Technology, and Culture.

16 February 2010

Defining Postdigital

In updating and enlarging The Future of Art in a Digital Age to The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age, I checked Wiktionary, the wiki-based open content dictionary, for a definition of ‘postdigital,’ I found none. So I created one based upon my research for writing this Postdigital Edition of my book. I posted it on Wiktionary and added it to Wikipedia’s entry for ‘postdigital.’ My act of collaborating in the creation of the world’s most actively used dictionary and encyclopedia beautifully exemplifies the postdigital age. Now, if you look for the Wiktionary definition of ‘postdigital’ you will find mine.

“Postdigital art addresses the humanization of digital technologies through interplay between digital, biological, cultural, and spiritual systems, between cyberspace and real space, between embodied media and mixed reality in social and physical communication, between high tech and high touch experiences, between visual, haptic, auditory, and kinesthetic media experiences, between virtual and augmented reality, between roots and globalization, between autoethnography and community narrative, and between web-enabled peer-produced wikiart and artworks created with alternative media through participation, interaction, and collaboration in which the role of the artist is redefined.