VL1 : The Reflexive Practitioner

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Video Lecture 1 : The Reflexive Practitioner

What’s it all about, being a “reflexive practitioner”? It’s all about thinking, with reflection being about looking at what you do, reviewing, pondering, etc. However, it’s also about forward thinking and the impact of that thinking on future thinking and how you do things. In essence I guess it’s about stepping back so that you can learn from thinking about what you do. There’s a quote in the video from Donald Schön stating that reflexivity is essential for independent learning. Some key elements coming from the lecture are:

  • being aware of how you make work
  • being aware of your influences
  • knowing where to position yourself and your work amongst others
  • being conscious of yourself as an artist within the broader discipline
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There is also talk of bringing other outside areas of interest into the artwork, things that influence you in a greater sense. James Aldridge and Tracy Emin are mentioned, Aldridge from the course required reading book Interviews-Artists. In the book, Aldridge talks of how he was influenced by his father, but also by where he lives (in Sweden), his taste in music (metal) and how elements of his work come from other artists; Audubon, Schongauer and Munch. Recognising this is part of what is mentioned above (and something I refer to in my questionnaire answers). It’s all part of how everything comes together in the work we produce, just as it comes together in how the work is interpreted by the viewer as discussed by the semiotician, Roland Barthes.

The House of Osama Bin Laden, by (Ben) Langlands and (Nikki) Bell, is something different. I suppose some of my reaction to it is reminiscent to how I first responded to Man in the Dark during the introductory hangout. It’s fairly dated, in a way that anything that has a dependency on technology will become. It is however related to some degree with something I’m considering going forward, a spin off from my Some Unholy War. Whether this happens or not is still open, but I will come back to Langlands and Bell when the time comes to think about it some more. I will leave the politics out of it as well for the moment, although it will undoubtedly come back at some point during my current work - questioning the influence of the establishment on the making of work for example. There is an awful lot of propaganda in conflict related imagery. Indeed, my own situation will be called into question with the work, which is part of the reason I want to do it. Like has been stated in the lecture, I will need to be objective, introduce that critical distance spoken about during the lecture when Angela spoke of Shaun McNiff.

Christiane Baumgartner’s work is heavily about process, making the work look like a contemporary photograph/video still whilst being firmly rooted in an old technique, such that it only becomes obvious on closer look. I’ve not yet had the chance to look more closely at her work, but there is something interesting there, something to return to at a later date.

“How do we prevent ourselves from becoming slick?” I’m not so sure I am slick... But the question in relationship to Rose Wylie’s work is more about how we look at the work of others as a way of critiquing our own. How to reflect on whether we are just going through the motions of making work. The section moves on to making transcriptions, or studies of the work of others which will lead into the first assignment (“Take Two Influences”).

The rest of the video then looks into ideas of the studio (I’ll be doing the studio questionnaire later), work flow and reflection upon how an artwork is progressing, the iterations.
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Whilst this might indeed be the way that we are encouraged to process our work, and probably even the way it actually happens, my heart sank as I now had “a process diagram” to follow, enact this process and I will get my ISO9001 accreditation for being an artist. You see, part of my reasoning for following this path is a desire to get away from rigid rules, from processes and from logic and to do something more organic, chaotic perhaps. It seems this may not actually be possible. Realisation of this leaves me at a bit of a low point, even if I should have been aware of the fact already (it is pretty obvious when you sit and think about it). This low point coincides with general doubts too, so... There are some closing thoughts that should be considered with the theory and practice questionnaire too, and are actually good points for when thinking and talking to others about your work.
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I watched the video a few days ago, this is written up from my hastily scribbled notes, I’ll try and watch it again before the seminar tomorrow.

Screenshots from the OCA Lecture
VL1 : The Reflexive Practitioner , © Open College of the Arts

Rose Wylie, whose work was featured in the video,
has won the John Moore’s Painting Prize...

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