Monday, October 31, 2011


Artist Banksy using the all to famous quote from Picasso.

I have overheard the following statement a number of times in response to my question "so what are you thinking about doing for this assignment.
"I found this thing online, its really cool, I think I am going to do that." 
I know a number of students that consider fumbling through stumbleupon as "research" and although a practice that can get creative juices flowing I do not believe it is a healthy practice for idea searching.  Ideas can be found anywhere but the catch is that they need to be authentic in a larger hope of being something original.  What I am talking about is totally different than the current exhibition in the Anne Wright Wilson Gallery by Black & Jones. It is not using things that are previously generated as new raw material for an original idea.  It is students that see no problem with finding "their ideas" in someone else's and representing that "idea" through the use of their or someone else's work.
            I know how easy it is to see something or hear something and think "That is exactly what I was thinking/believe/what to communicate".  That is ok to think that but students need to then use some moral discrepancy not only in the area of copyrights and plagiarism but in their artistic integrity. You should want to make something new, not just something someone has not seen before.  I often have a laugh at Evelyn Fuson (a current senior in our art department). She will often find things and share them with me and I have seen them before so it became a fun game where she would try to find things I had never seen.  It also made me look a lot since I didn't want to "lose".  I give the example of a class I taught a number of years ago entitled paperworks.  The first exercise was to make a paper airplane they had never made before.  I did a simple google search and made the first 10 I found. Then did the same for the searches "best paper airplane", "Crazy paper airplane", and "unique paper airplane".  I came into class and had the students share their airplanes then I displayed some of the top hits I had found. It was obvious that students were all doing the same "research".  I had them do it again and once again they displayed theirs and I shared from the second batch of searches and only one had something different then I had found in a simple search.  Many forms of research exist, make sure to make the best use of your time and efforts in how yours is conducted.


Earl Grey said...

Research is important, as is keeping a record of the source material -- not just "the internet" but where, specifically, did you find it? Relatedly, specificity is important. Whether it's a discussion of color or brushwork in a single painting, use your words to communicate exactly what you see and what it might mean or communicate. [This is related to a Modern Art paper that students submitted on color and brushwork in early 20th century paintings.]

art gal said...

Someone forwarded me an advance copy of Clive Thompson's article entitled "Why Johnny Can't Search", which is coming out in the November, 2011 issue of Wired Magazine. The tagline reads: "Kids know how to Google--they just don't know how to tell when the results are crap." Broad-based knowledge and thinking critically about what you read are two more keys to good research!

Jacob Pankey said...

I love this post. I was going to rant how technology hinders today's youth on being able to think critically and uniquely, but this is great. Thank you.

Prof. Darrell Kincer said...

I feel that at times a similar thing happens in photography classes when shooting a digital camera. Part of the problem may be that people have had access to the technology so long that they develop bad habits, cliche answers, and expected results from what they observe in unrefined pop culture. This can be a major hindrance when it's time to create something fresh and new, something that is unique and comes from within. The result is often derivative artwork that is stale and uninspired, and arguably untrue.