// Week 6 //

Thursday 10/1

Reading response to Art Subjects (chapters 6–7) by Howard Singerman : This notion of language being one, if not the defining characteristic of postmodern art is interesting. This is due, in part, to the fact that I am currently researching postmodern graphic design though the lens of decentering design education as it related to modernist design practices (while also being aware of the issues stemming from postmodernity relying on the existence of modernity). Upon researching postmodernism in relation to design it seems that there is a good bit of overlap (which is likely not much of a surprise). From my understanding it seems that authorship and activism has a major component of the movement as it relates to design which seems to work in tandem with the notion of language put forth by Singerman. Other interesting crossovers that jumped out at me are ideas around pastiche, détournement, bricolage and deconstruction leading to parallels in the readymade. I think that even if this period of design was still predicated on design as a commercial practice it also is one of the defining moments that put forth the notion of the designer-as-artist in that authorship was being embraced. Bernar Venet’s work and the idea of “the look of thought” put forth by Donald Kuspit is also interesting when looked through the lens of graphic design (as it is with art) and authorship and leads me to think of pedagogical centers like the Jan Van Eyck Academie and design practices like Metahaven where research makes up the majority of the labor and almost exclusively defines the formal language expressed through design.

The notion of what is professionalism brought up in the “toward a theory of the M.F.A.” section is also compelling in relation to questions I have been asking myself as of late, due in part to us being located in a remote learning environment. I have been questioning the viability of design students ability to “kit-bash” and education online through platforms like YouTube or Skillshare, and what that means as far as being a design professional since there is not any sort of accreditation. Other thoughts this text unearthed relate to the idea of what if educators were to publish their classes/syllabus online or as a book/physical publication and distributed affordably. This text seems to imply that the theoretical knowledge, controlled in higher education can be read as ways to limit membership and control borders of professions leading me to think about how we can look through the lens of remote learning to reduce gatekeeping in professions like art and design where there is not necessarily a need for accreditation. There is also an interesting case made (maybe not intentionally) against theory or against the teaching of a core curriculium of hard skills on page 207 where it is implied that “the teaching of and about the current art practice in lieu of traditional studio art training, enforces professional membership by depriving the student, not so much of traditional skills, but of usabel ones –– the skills that might be put to work as a public artist.” This, I think, is an important thing to note especally if the intent of a curriculum is to break from a modern/Bauhaus in order to embrace fully a postmodern curriculum. I wonder if a hybrid model could better serve students in art and design wherein the foundations found in the first 6 months of the Bauhaus model were instead stretched over the course of undergraduate/graduate education. 

Reading response to Why Art Cannot be Taught — Chapter 1: Histories by James Elkins : This first chapter has been incredibly helpful in framing the Bauhaus in the real of art more broadly. Generally my contact with the Bauhaus has been thought the lens of design as well as my own undergraduate education (fine arts/design). I am currently working on ways to develop some sort of postmodern design curriculum based off of the format of the Bauhaus that attempts to work in opposition to it (i.e. taking Gropius’ curriculum and subverting it). Up until reading this I had theory, politics and activism as central roles to postmodern ways of practicing design but the last paragraph of this first chapter has cause me to rethink my imagined/hypothetical curriculum to move form later into the curriculum and bring theory to the beginning in order to avoid “working in the shadow of the Bauhaus”. It was also compelling to read that theory was one of the most important aspects of early art academies as it generally helps to have historical accounts to back up “contemporary” ideas.