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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  May 2008

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING May 2008

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Subject:

Re: Exclusivity and Heresy | Alternative academic criteria

From:

Simon Biggs <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Simon Biggs <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 5 May 2008 18:12:25 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Not long ago most art schools were not in universities. That changed in 1992
with the new universities evolved from the old polytechnics. Now nearly all
the art schools are in universities, most in the new, a few in the old. The
pointıs system we employ in the UK is often derided, even by those who gain
from it. However, in a centralised economy, where all educational funding
ultimately comes from one source, there has to be a transparent and
auditable means of determining who gets the money and why. We can argue over
how that is done. Alternatively we could scrap the system and start again,
but it is more useful to debate the possible rather than demand the
impossible (sorry to mangle a quote).

The panels that assess research actually have criteria for judging value in
art and design. This is not based on the personal subjective judgements of
the panel but peer review. That is why a show in a private commercial
gallery, even a famous one, is not submissable as research whilst a show in
a peer reviewed (juried) festival is. The panel hardly looks at the work.
They look at the narrative that is built around its dissemination and
evaluate that. If a single work is shown in several peer reviewed contexts
and widely discussed in peer reviewed journals and at conferences, or in the
public press, and if this is at an international level and those
publications and juries are of a high standard then the output (it is not
called artwork) will be judged as significant enough and of an ilk that is
can be submitted for evaluation. That the work may never be covered by the
arts press is irrelevant. It is a parallel world, to some degree.

It should be noted that there is a quality threshold beneath which research
cannot be submitted, regardless of whether it fulfils the definition of
research. The minimum quality is defined as of national or international
importance.

By the way, there are many universities in the UK without creative art
programs, including Cambridge, which is regularly cited as our top research
institution. It might be hard to imagine a university without creative arts
but in the UK it is more often than not the reality. Clearly Canada and the
UKıs educational ecologies have diverged over time.

Regards

Simon


Simon Biggs

Research Professor
edinburgh college of art
[log in to unmask]
www.eca.ac.uk

[log in to unmask]
www.littlepig.org.uk
AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk



From: Myron Turner <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Mon, 05 May 2008 09:08:19 -0500
To: Simon Biggs <[log in to unmask]>
Cc: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Exclusivity and Heresy | Alternative academic criteria

The creative arts have always been a difficult fit for the university.
Simon's account of the "point" system (in a previous post) describes
something that would be laughable if it weren't true. It sounds like a
last ditch effort to interpose a simulacrum of objectivity between art
and the requirements of the academic institutions. Even with refereed
journals, we know, there is subjectivity of judgment, but with art
subjectivity is the name of the game. And from this perspective the
point system is ironically as good as any for institutionalizing the
practice of art. For, technique apart, what does "peer review" mean in
art, if not one sensibility caroming off another? I have a friend whose
self-esteem never survived his failure to be promoted to full professor
on the basis of his fiction. He was turned down by his "peers", all of
whom were part of a close group interested in the same things. Had we
had a point system, perhaps this man would have been successful. Who knows?

Despite the difficulty of fitting the arts into a university paradigm, I
cannot imagine a university where they were not taught. Or, I should
say, to imagine such a university, would be to imagine a landscape
barren and benighted.

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