So we asked the students to talk about things they felt were well designed or well structured. The point of the talk was two-fold, to get everyone up, on their feet and in front of everyone else, and to generate a list of terms and ideas connected to the notion of structure. It never fails to amaze me that I can’t predict what students will bring in to class. My expectation was a sequence of artworks either directly or tangentially connected to what each student is studying. To my surprise, the first class largely talked about objects and experiences that were only occasionally grounded in a discussion of aesthetics. So, the list of ideas we came up with to tie all of these presentations together revolved around interaction, usability, and the relation to the body or the individual. A great starting point for the course. The second class, however, largely moved into the realm of aesthetics, focusing more on compositional devices and the interaction of individual pieces with the whole. What becomes increasingly interesting about this class is that Bob and I can the use this material to generate a discussion, weaving the unique ideas brought in by each section.
The structural conversation gave way to a discussion of the white cube essay assigned for class today. Bob contextualized the essay with an overview of how the avant-garde challenged systems – specifically the modernist system of control both physical and social – which gave way to more contemporary ideas. The key term in this discussion were “context” and “frame,” specifically about how artworks are framed by space or psychology. For me the key idea in the essay is how museums are designed to block out the outside world – something that can be extended to theatres, concert halls, and interestingly, shopping malls. That sets up the idea of control of how a work is viewed, but also received and interpreted. I suspect we will return to both of these ideas when we discuss the first project on juxtaposition – due on Tuesday. So far, a great start to the course – lost of ideas we can mine as it develops.