Assignment 3: Understanding Interdisciplinarity

Assignment 3 - Understanding Interdisciplinarity, Assignments, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons)

Part 1 – Reflection on Learning

I feel that I have developed a lot during this project and even though it has taken me slightly longer than planned, I think the time has been worth it. When I look back at my reflection on my assignment two feedback, I am confident that with each project my progress across the learning outcomes is improving.

From the points to improve, I am narrowing down my analysis. The Analysing Art workshop really helped with this and it has given me the confidence to trust my own analysis rather than read a lot of other people’s before starting my own. For example, in the last piece of work where I was looking at Deveney and Michal’s use of image and text, I didn’t jump straight into researching all about both artists and finding numerous pieces of their work to look at. Instead, I found images of their work and let my natural interest select one piece of work from each to analyse. I spent time considering my own reactions and thoughts before even looking at any other opinions.

I am starting to develop a clearer idea of my own creative direction and am experimenting more alongside the contextual work. I am developing this idea of how perceptions can be altered through what message we receive over time. I started this with The Road where I painted purely from memory the image I had from reading an extract from The Road. What I’d like to do next is extend on this Ekphrastic method and write something based on my painting, then paint or create something based on the new piece of writing and so on for a few cycles. I then want to evaluate or let others judge if there is any imagery or element from the original “Road” left. See what traces of the original are there. I also like the idea of doing this starting from a painting like “Starry Night” which already has a poem associated with it by Ann Sexton and then creating something based on her poem. I wonder how many “generations” it takes until that message is so disrupted it bears no resemblance to the original. This intrigues me as one of my big areas of interest are the old Celtic myths which we have no true written record of, only oral tales that have been passed from early generations. I wonder how much of the tales we tell now are based on what the ancient Celts told each other or believed. It is also extremely relevant in today’s media age where everyone can spread their own version of an event online and over time that idea gets more and more twisted from the original.

It was suggested in my last assignment feedback that I reflect according to the course outcomes:

1. Demonstrate an awareness of a range of contemporary theories and practices in the
creative arts.

This is an area I seem to grow in each project. For each project, I try to focus on artists and pieces of work that I have no prior knowledge or experience of. In doing so, I am increasing my knowledge of contemporary practices and theories and generating new ideas for my own work. I am also attending galleries and events where possible. Since the last assignment I have been to Tate Liverpool, Williamson Art Gallery attended the student association talk on the Red Dress and the Analysing Art Workshop. I am also reading wherever I can and keeping a track of these in my Bibliography.

2. Apply and test a range of creative skills to investigate theories of time and place.

This is an area I am continuing to develop in, but I still feel like I could be doing more. Although I created a painted response, this isn’t a new technique to me. I really need to start focusing on experimenting more and using my sketchbook again to develop ideas based on what I am reading and seeing. I am hoping going to a Sketchbook workshop next week will help me get some new ideas and focus here. I am trying to build on my drawing skills by attending fortnightly life drawing sessions at the local gallery. Although drawing life figures isn’t necessarily a big focus of mine, the skills and observational skills are very useful and will help me in this programme.

3. Demonstrate self-directed research skills across theories and practices of creative arts.

I consider this to be one of my strongest areas and especially after the Analysing Art workshop, I feel my confidence is growing here. I think my referencing is now stronger and more focused. Instead of sweeping a broad net to find as much information as I can, I am starting to hone in on the areas of interest that are the most relevant to me. I am now including access dates in references. I have started to use Padlet more as a way of organising my initial research.

4. Reflect and review your practical work and communication of ideas.

I think this area will develop more in the next project where it will be more practical based. I hope to start analysing my own work with the same skills I am analysing other people’s work. I continue to read How to Write About Contemporary Art (Williams, 2014) to improve my writing skills.

Learning Action Points:

  • Experiment more with creativity based on what I have been reading and seeing. Each time I analyse someone’s work, I want to rite a small piece about what I can take from it for my own practice and then spend some time experimenting with those ideas.
  • Analyse my own pieces of work with the same structure I am analysing other people’s.
  • Continue to develop my own clear idea of my own practice. I still don’t think I have a clear vision of where I am heading towards.
  • Catch up the two weeks I have lost due to illness. I am still not too concerned about completing the whole programme as I left myself catch up weeks.
  • Write up on my blog more of my experiments and creations.

Part 2 – Research on Interdisciplinary Making

When I try looking for interdisciplinary artists, it is quite overwhelming as there are so many ways in which I could take this. I decided to just use the OCA library and conduct a search for “interdisciplinary artist” and not spend too much time looking at all the different ones but instead selecting one that stood out for me.

The first is Eiko Otake a movement-based interdisciplinary artist who I found in an article in Dance Magazine (2021). The piece of work I am drawn to is A Body in Fukushima.

A Body in Fukushima is complex, probably too complex for me to do justice to it here. It is haunting, powerful, deep, layered and extensive. My initial questions are where to begin? Is Fukushima even safe to be visiting? Do all the expressive ways add to the meaning or detract from it?

It is an extensive and expanding collaborative project that features photography, dance, film, essays, video installations and has evolved to be its own body of work. One of the main elements are photographs of a woman dancing in abandoned sites that we are told are the irradiated areas surrounding the abandoned Fukushima nuclear reactor. The dance movement is expressive, gestural and emotional, with the woman wearing clothes that are as bleak as the surroundings. There is also one event at the Met Cloisters where the dancer (Eiko Otake) performs in front of a projection of Fukushima images.

“By putting my body in these places, I thought of the generations of people who used to live there. Now desolate, only time and wind continue to move. ”

Eiko Otake

In total Otake and William Johnston (photographer) made five trips to Fukushima between 2014 and 2017. They found the area to be abandoned and each time they saw change in the landscape and buildings. The photographs capture the expression of Otake’s dance but also the evolving landscape. From these initial visits, the films and video installations evolved.

https://www.eikootake.org/interview-eiko-otake-and-bill-johnston-on-a-body-in-fukushima

Johnstone and Otake visited Fukushima only three years after the nuclear disaster, there is a sense of bravery in them even going to a place most people would avoid. Otake is a Japanese dancer and so have connections to Fukushima and the land of Japan.

In interviews with her, she talks about wanting to tell the story of people in Fukushima and tell the world of the abandoned place. She had this innate desire to dance there to tell the story of the land. The interview is also insightful about how artists choose who to collaborate with and the need to have a close relationship with those you are working with in terms of shared values and goals.

Part 3 – Reflection on Interdisciplinary Work

Interdisciplinary work is powerful. I feel it is how we expand our knowledge as a human society. It gets us thinking on a deeper creative level than just focusing on one discipline. It is the interdisciplinary aspect of this programme that made me want to sign up for the degree in Creative Arts rather than one of the disciplines I am interested in. When I think about how we learn, there are different levels of learning and at the top of that hierarchy is developing new methods of working to learn in a creative way. When I look at a variety of interdisciplinary artists, the thing that seems to link them is that they create something to make people contemplate in a deep way.

I am still struggling to explain the concepts in a simple way in words. To me, it is levels of thinking. Disciplines can be used together in a cross-disciplinary way where the techniques of one discipline are used to view another. For example, creating a poetic response to a painting like in the Ekphrastic technique. If you then develop this and start working with different disciplines at the same time then you are working in a multidisciplinary way, for example, adding textile techniques and stitching to a painting. Beyond this, once you start merging the lines of each discipline to create something new you are into interdisciplinarity. This is harder to define and give examples of. I think that the way Johnstone and Otake work is truly interdisciplinary as they are creating a new form of expression by merging photography, and film. It goes beyond just taking photos of a dancer.

I am still trying to find my own creative way of working in an interdisciplinary way and feel I have a long way to go.

Part 4 – Reflect on Disciplines

Part of my problem (or blessing?) is that I am still interested in many different disciplines. These primarily are visual in terms of painting and photography, but also poetry, textiles and filmmaking. I think the main thread that runs through all my interests is that I like the intellectual, mentally stimulating pieces of work. Aesthetics don’t interest me unless the way something looks is adding to the strength of the conversations that piece draws.

For me, one of the main riles of the creative arts isn’t just to entertain or make visually appealing pieces but it is to start those difficult conversations around life, death, the future and what we are doing to the world. I like pieces that link to philosophical, ethical or scientific exploration.

When I consider all the pieces that I have been drawn to throughout the programme so far it is this, the interpretation and meaning that I am drawn to rather than the discipline itself. I think this will develop me into a more interesting creative practitioner as the programme develops as I have an open mind to many disciplines.

Part 5 – Engagement with Peers

As the programme progresses I am evolving my way of interacting with and engaging with peers. I have attended each of Doug’ Wednesday sessions to meet other students online, done two workshops and am the most prolific poster in the group chat. I do need to make more effort in sharing some ideas and posts beyond the casual chat. I’ll admit, I find the forums still difficult to navigate as I can never seem to get back to where I posted.

References

“EIKO OTAKE.” EIKO OTAKE, http://www.eikootake.org/. Accessed 14 Feb. 2022.

‘Eiko Otake: Movement-based interdisciplinary artist’ (2021) Dance Magazine, 95(10), 72, available: https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A678667537/ITOF?u=ucca&sid=summon&xid=798d2efc [accessed 14 Feb 2022].

Escoyne, C. (2021) ‘A Body in Photographs’, Dance Magazine, 95(6), 17, available: https://link.gale.com/apps/doc/A664081757/ITOF?u=ucca&sid=summon&xid=e8f07869 [accessed 14 Feb 2022].

Williams, Gilda. How to Write about Contemporary Art. Thames & Hudson, 2014.

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