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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  May 2008

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING May 2008

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Subject:

Re: New Models of Academic Publishing

From:

Simon Biggs <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Simon Biggs <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 14 May 2008 10:26:35 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

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Hi Ken

Iım aware of some of the changes going on in Australia and to some degree
they mirror changes here.

I agree that these issues are not irresolvable. I just doubt they will be
addressed in a manner that will benefit the creative arts. The last decade
or so in the UK has been good for the creative arts in education because of
changes that began in the early 1990ıs and were followed through over the
next decade or so. Key to this was the creation of the Arts and Humanities
Research Board (later Council) which for the first time offered substantial
funding for the creative arts. Not only did it present an alternative to the
Arts Council, which dithered and dwindled in its capacity to support new and
experimental art practice from the late-1990ıs onwards, but with funding
possibilities that dwarfed anything an independent artist could have
imagined applying for from the Arts Council. Along with that was the
associated change where art and design, as well as the performing arts and
music, were for the first time incorporated into the Research Assessment
Exercise (from 1996 onwards). From 2001 this represented a substantial cash
boost, with a new type of revenue stream for art schools, allowing them to
start setting up research programs supported by appropriate infrastructure.
This allowed artist/academics to justify their arts practice alongside their
role as a teacher as it could be presented to the RAE and earn the
institution further funding. For some institutions, with significant artists
on their faculty, this meant a lot of new money, money of a new type,
hypothecated for research/practice.

The proposals post 2009 for how research will be evaluated and funded
initially looked awful. The sciences would be funded seperately through a
metrics based system whilst the arts and humanities would be subject to a
light touch peer review system and offered a smaller pot of money. Currently
this rather extreme approach has been watered down a bit and it now seems
that there will not be a split system and that peer review will play a role
across all subjects. Having an integrated system will mean that
interdisciplinary work will be better supported and we will not have a two
track economy. The role of metrics is yet to be settled for the arts and
humanities but they will play a role. This is where problems lie. I cannot
see how being cited in a handful of academic journals will be something most
artist/practitioners will want to pursue. This model is founded on a
text-based publication model of research which is not applicable to practice
based research.

If this is implemented what will happen (it is already happening) is that
there will be startup pseudo-scientific journals designed to publish the
sort of texts that can emerge from a practice based approach to research. I
am not going to name the journals like this that already exist but I for one
do not read them (even when I am published in them) as I do not see how they
relate to my interests or the broader interests of arts practitioners. They
are a cynical exercise and an example of how people will find novel
solutions to problems, even when those solutions offer little value aside
from contributing to generating a revenue stream.

As for the artworld and art market...I am equally cynical about that. Like
you I have chosen to ally myself with academe in order to remove  myself
from the strictures of having to sell my art. I have been there before,
having a gallery dealer, the glitzy openings, chatting with potential
buyers. Most unpleasant. When I started making weird installations instead
of nice paintings my dealer got very uncomfortable (that was the early 80ıs)
but she continued to show my work (good for her). However, she was doing
this out of the kindness of her heart, not from good business sense. I felt
this was an inappropriate context for my work and since then I have only
ever shown in non-profit or public spaces. I have not knowingly sold an
artwork from an exhibition since (although I will admit to doing a few
commissions). Academia, especially since it was funded to undertake practice
based creative arts research, has become very attractive to many artists
because it offers a financial and professional model where they do not have
to a day job as well. They are effectively paid to do their own work within
a new context, away from the art market. That seems like a really good deal
for everyone ­ the practitioner/researchers, the institutions and the
students.

What we have seen emerge from this are novel artistic practices as artists
have explored collaborations with subject areas they previously were
challenged to connect with, artworks more focused on process than product
and new ways of positioning the artwork relative to its audience. I think it
has been an exciting and experimental period. I am just not sure how much
longer the framework that has supported this will continue to function.

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: Ken Friedman <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To: <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wed, 14 May 2008 09:24:58 +0200
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] New Models of Academic Publishing

Hi, Simon,

This is a significant challenge, but not unsolvable. Australia is likely
moving to metrics, so we are wrestling with this here, too, or we will be
soon.

The challenge would be to establish a metric that works for creative,
exhibiting and performing arts. Just as peer review takes place at the
journal level in publishing metrics, something similar happens in the arts
already. The question is how to formalize it.

Without saying that it is perfectly possible, the late Dr. Willi Bongaard
did something much like this with his Kunstkompass, and the kind of system
he used could easily be expanded.

Just about to dash, so I won't answer Roger's note (got to think!) or your
reply, but I will say that in visual art, at least, it seems very difficult
to avoid the influence of the market. I do not like that fact -- but then,
I
observe that very few artists turn down a sale or make career moves that
will harm their market.

One reason I like having a day job is the fact that I have always been
quite
free to follow my interests as an artist. The corollary is that there have
been times when I am quite visible followed by times (often long) when my
work vanishes from the public eye. My day job as -- first as a management
professor, now as dean of a design faculty -- also insulates me from the
pressure that I would feel as a teaching artist whose university required
me
to emulate the market through some form of evaluation. Reputation is also a
market factor, at least when reputation is linked to job, promotion, and
pay
scale.

Whether market forces or metrics, peer review or making your living another
way, Bob Dylan had it right: We've all got to serve somebody. I've chosen
service in a different line of work as the price of freedom from the
masters
that other artists serve.

But on the issue of metrics, allowing they are hard to avoid, I think we
could well develop a metric scale for creative, performing, and exhibiting
arts.

Warm wishes,

Ken




On Tue, 13 May 2008 09:21:48 +0100, Simon Biggs <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

>For artists and arts institutions who are engaged in (and whose academic
>jobs are to a large measure justified by) research this will make an
>interesting challenge. If the role of peer review in the UK research
>evaluation exercise is diminished or replaced by a citation index how will
>the current system, where artefacts and exhibitions can be evaluated as
>research outcomes, function? Is this the end, in the UK, of recognising
the
>creative arts and their native modalities of outcome as research (as
opposed
>to research about the creative arts)? If that is the case then numerous
>initiatives that many of us here have engaged with, including things like
>CRUMB, will be potentially compromised.

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