Aloha Create World 2007

It’s been a great few days. The conference dinner (in the time-honoured way of conference dinners) got more of the chat flowing along with the sauvignon blanc and shiraz. It’s always good to make new connections … yes, social networking does happen outside FaceBook. I ended up having a couple of days getting to know a colleague who works down the corridor from me. We very rarely have time to chat in the way did these past few days; too busy … you know the drift. Upshot is we’re sketching out some tentative plans to engage in a research project next year.

The final Keynote of the conference was delivered by Sue Baker (VCA Melbourne). It was a firmly delivered look at the status of art schools as part of a new culture economy in the information age … in fact that was the title. Although her comment referenced visual art schools in particular, there was much that was appropriate across the disciplines, with their ‘porous edges’ especially in interdisciplinary centres such as the new model art schools emerging in universities.

I liked Sue’s idea of the entrepreneurial practitioner taking charge of her career as the equivalent of ‘start-up companies’ in the business world. In a paper that ranged widely around the arts economy, I found much to ponder in the notion of the emerging ‘experience economy’ tied as it is to what customers are now seeking. Beyond high quality product provision, it includes experience and action as part of the transaction; it’s found particularly in ‘image based’ product branding (there’s that word again!). Enter art as part of the provisioning process. Fascinating stuff this.

My one and only hands-on lab session was a most useful Creative Commons workshop. More useful material for those of us getting our material ‘out there’ and for encouraging our student ‘start-up companies’ to explore. And finally the round table which I live-blogged (in the last post below). Reading back over it, it seems a bit scattered at times, definitely a sense of flowing conversation rather than paraphrased, edited comment. Different, and a bit like dispatches from the field. For someone who has been engaged in writing my own discipline’s EBP for the RQF (acronyms, acronyms) it was good to hear colleagues thrashing out the challenges, and challenging the whole auditing process demanded by the (now former) federal government. Will this bureaucratic exercise change with a change of government, or is the juggernaut too big to stop. I suspect we will soldier on, having spent thousands of hours collectively in preparing this material, only to have it filed away somewhere in a Canberra vault. We’ll see.

And then it was all over for another year. New contacts, good ideas, stimulation, good food and company … what conferences are about.

RQF Round Table

August 2009: This was my first, and so far, only attempt at live-blogging. Phew! Can I say how great it is to have Twitter these days to keep up!

A live blog post from the final round table session. Sue Baker (VCA and Chair of ACUADS), Brad Haseman (QUT Creative Industries), Pat Hoffie (GU Queensland College of Arts), Nick Oughton (GU Film School), and Huib Schippers (GU-Queensland Conservatorium), chaired by Roly Sussex (UQ).

Sue Baker’s hopeful take was for creative arts academics to step up and join in the RQF process. Pat Hoffie seemed to take the how do you value art approach.  Nick Oughton spoke on behalf of the film industries and the systems for developing the capturing of metrics as part of the portfolio preparation. Huib Schippers picked up on Pat’s comments on artist’s defensiveness to be categorised as researchers. He spoke on impact, process. He noted the way arts works in a similar paradigm to that of science, via labs. Sources for our ‘information’ and intuition about the tools and the direction of our research is difficult to footnote. Journal articles are not the most appropriate output for our research. What we have to do when we submit is to make clear what the research output is in order to make the case. He noted the rise of the digital media as an assistance in presenting non-linear research outcomes (DVD, websites etc.) Impact and payback lie in the spheres of policy, professional practice, economic, social, cultural and the environment.

Brad Haseman decided to weave through an improvised response on a ‘healthy’ research life. He noted the clear protocols set down by the research industry, and which we are required to embrace. Serious, proper methods are needed. That’s the hygiene. Your findings are expected to be reported in particular forms. He also noted the wider, larger zeitgeist. He put the question whether or not the old order was appropriate for accommodating the ‘mess’ and the new form needed. If you are going to have a research process that can accommodate the new ‘mess’ perhaps we are the ones to make the new research paradigm with expert improvisation, assembling as we go. The new researcher needs an adroitness and flexibility with open ness, provisionality the markers of the new methodology. The key capacity is heightened reflexivity, in order to work as a contemporary researcher in the creative arts. The problem may only become clear at the end of the journey. We need to be aware of the multiplicity of our methods of practice. These become the methods of research (document along the way), not necessarily those of the old order. There is also a need to be aware of the multiplicity of truths (politics, ethics, spirituality etc), and the multiplicity of reporting forms. We need forms of material reporting that are suited to the practice of our artforms.

Sue Baker noted the RQF as an accounting exercise by the government and as an auditing process. We must be sure that we are not making judgment on the quality of art which is publicly funded, but to keep clear about what it is we are doing.

Comments and Observations from the audience:

difficulty of valuing art … verification and value of art is extremely difficult. (Resp) Peer review is probably the best principle of ‘judging’ the quality of work. (SB)

(PH) Voiced concerns about peer review being the best if a flawed method of assessing work. It is flawed with DEST and state and federal agencies. She noted the test of time as being the one that lasts. (SB) Noted the way creative arts have been vexed by the proxy mentality i.e., they should have been more ‘scientific.’ (BH) If we are not part of the conversation, our contribution will not be understood. Publication and methodology in the creative arts has not been ‘healthy.’ We need to get to the research table. Creative artists can unpack what they do methodologically, and we need to embrace the questions of quality. We can do it for the RQF. How do we make peer review work? That’s the big issue. (PH) Yes we need to be present at the research table, but the way we come to the table is through our own agency not as mendicants. The process of self-censorship has been profound. The process of the arts is vital … arts are loved because they are different. (HS) Noted that the full breadth of research needs to be looked at with a variety of paradigms being applied to research process and evaluation. (NO) Noted that the arts have had a huge impact on the history of human beings … art is part of what the meaning of being human is. He noted the way screen researchers are attempting to position themselves in their field.

Q . How is Australia doing compared with international artistic practice as research. (HS) Compared with UK results (10 years in the making). There is no sign in the UK or NZ of measuring research impact, so we ahead.

Q. Any universities have a model for rewarding practice? Melbourne, Edith Cowan, USQ, dropped at QUT. Noted as an incentive for staff. (SB) Noted reporting important for capacity building and developing a research culture.

Roly Sussex winding up noted that RQF had provided the opportunity for creative arts to establish themselves at the research table, and the importance of being heard. Noted the diversity of research methodologies by some: ‘performing the outcome of your research is almost an oxymoron.’ Synergies between the creative arts and other disciplines are capable of being played out in many interesting ways.

Mid-Stride but it keeps coming …

Another day marked for me by peeks under the hood at some of the potential goodies to be had. Stephen Atherton’s (Apple Australia) Keynote was served up in his charming fashion (with dreadful French accent at one stage), and a very elegant Keynote slideshow to accompany him. Stephen dealt with Apple’s mission in Higher Ed creative arts, and tackled a definition of creativity as process and philosophy. This got a good going over, and it was nice to see the remarkable (Sir) Ken Robinson again in that TED talk. And of course we got to see how the new Leopard server is going to make podcasting that much easier when we get it.

Stuart Harris (Apple Australia) did a double act with Stephen on Apple’s production tools. I was impressed for the first of many times today with the way Final Cut Studio operates to mix various file types: moving/still/audio. Started me thinking about utilising this in live production as did Luke Toop’s (SAU) great demo session on Quartz Composer. I had never heard of this until today. I knew about that little folder ominously entitled Developer Tools on the OSX installation disk. Had I ever gone there? Are you kidding … . But after Luke’s demo I got thinking again about the way the dynamics of live performance could be captured and fed through the Quartz patches (which seemed a snap to create) and into digital sound and images … and all live! Need to get a tech friend to come on board to create a project next year.

And the round table took on the Digital Indigenes. Not the first or the last time we’re going to hear this term bandied round, but I tended to side with Paul Turnbull (GU) who cautioned against falling for the ‘moral panic’ out there: ‘Be wary of taking on board this concept without considering who’s pushing this and why.’ Good point. It was nice to see that the research by Gregor Kennedy (UMelbourne) matches with my own informal surveys on what this group uses and how much. The discussion rolled on, as it usually does when a group of academics get together, to deal with reading standards, plagiarism … ethics, (re)search and cutting and pasting in the creative arts. All juicy topics that could have kept us going for at least another hour. Paul Draper (GU) noted the issue of workflow in multi and inter-disciplinary groups as the biggest challenge today in the creative arts. We were discussing time (another hot topic amongst overworked academics). The notion of Gen-Y’s inhabiting a different ‘chrono space’ has provided food for thought. It makes sense of the much bandied ‘instant gratification,’ ‘always on,’ 24-7 capability of a digital generation.

The afternoon ended for me with my presentation, which was OK. A small but very helpful group stayed with me as I talked through my own ‘permanent beta journey’ of discovery with students in creating and promoting performance art.

Hello Create World 2007!

So here we are again, a gathering of digital creatives ready to create/learn/gab together. Last night, hellos, drinks, nibbles and a short concert with Topology at Queensland College of Art at Griffith U in Brisbane, our sandpit for the next 3 days. BTW, Topology (keyboard, cut-down double bass, saxophone, violin and viola) is very worth tracking down for their energetic, fancy playing … love the live music integration with edited video and speech rhythms. They play the Brisbane Powerhouse on occasions. Memo to self: go to their next gig, get a CD.

Monday morning is cool and overcast, rare for Brisbane in late spring, but what a great place to be. Southbank where the college lives is a delightful riverside precinct. Had a very nice breakfast this morning al fresco and read all about the election results. A new week and a new era in Aus politics begins … and hopefully a great conference.

As I live blog, the usual plugging in of cables is going on on stage, sound checks, much coffee drinking. More later …