ART: THE HEART OF EDUCATION.

Paper presented To Faculty of Education, USQ, 2002.

Dr. Karen Knight-Mudie, Senior Lecturer, Expressive Arts,

Faculty of Education.

USQ. Toowoomba. 4350

 

Abstract.

This paper looks at the way in which verbal and visual symbolic systems are a means through which we can experience some sense of identity. Thus, in considering the role of art as the heart of education, we must understand art as personal experience.

The implications of such an understanding have enormous bearing on education in the 21st century. It is argued that we experience conflict between trying to recognize that our inherited meanings are no longer connected to our affective experiences. Instead, we find ourselves situated in cultural niches, cocoons of manufactured meanings that envelop us.

For young children, the most immediate way of coming to know the world is through development of a personal repertoire of image symbols and the manipulation of media. By Year Six, however, many students are embarrassed to use imagery because, on the one hand no guidance in refining skills has been available and so they feel inadequate and, on the other hand, imagery, as argued by Sless (1981), is too often regarded as peripheral to learning and therefore unnecessary. Art is not seen as a means of personal experience in the classroom and beyond, but rather something other people make that we might respond to as a form of entertainment or amusement. It is strongly argued that such misunderstanding about the role of artistic expression must change in a world that is now dominated by images.

Arguments are put forth that investigate notions of imagination and creativity as capacities rather than ‘gifts’. It is stressed that the artistic process involves using the cognitive tools in the head to respond to a heartfelt wish to know more about self and the environment. Giving birth to an idea takes enormous courage, self-discipline and a strong heart. Without such a heart, the body is a lifeless shell and the mind becomes a passive container. Suggestions are made for probing notions of soul and sixth sense so that we might start to wonder how artistic effects are achieved so that we too might participate in controlling and enriching our survival. It is concluded that without art, education is “Mushfake”.

 

Art: The Heart of Education

Surfaces of Culture:

Verbal and visual symbolic systems are a means through which we can experience some sense of identity. In this process verbal and visual symbolic systems may act as reciprocal partners in facilitating awareness of self by linking various ways of understanding in what Culler (1981: 26) calls a "system of relations", Gee (1992) terms "Discourses" and Johnson (1987) refers to as "embodiment". Work done in the fields of linguistics, semiotics and sociology (Gordon, 1961; Salomon, 1979; Sless, 1981; Lakoff, 1987; Barthes, 1988; Gardner, 1989; Wolff, 1990; Dissanayake, 1992; Giroux, 1994; Solso, 1994) investigates the way in which we arrive at understanding something, or, in other words how we make sense of something. Thus, in considering the role of art as the heart of education, we must understand art as personal experience. However, questions regarding the authority of the author/artist, the uniqueness of the artwork, and the relationship between public expression and private meaning are now seen as more complex and problematic.

Various theories regarding reader-oriented approaches to literature and the social production of art, highlight the swing in emphasis to the active participation of the reader, the demise of the text as sole entity and the demotion of the author (Selden and Widdowson, 1993; Wolff, 1981). Avant-garde artists, according to Josephson (1996: 72), attempted to “give people a new experience” whereby they (the people) could participate in the creative process in any way they pleased thus allowing idiosyncratic interpretation of the artwork while relieving artists of any responsibility. It seems that in the midst of this re-evaluation of attitudes towards artistic outcomes, the art object was freed to join in the circulation of commodities in our postmodern society in which multiple, temporary and unstable moods diffuse the ego, undermine autonomy and challenge the very centre of our beliefs. Grossberg (1988: 36) suggests that texts (in the Postmodern view) may be "sites of many different activities and effects" at which we may stop and "install" our "selves" into practices as we shuttle across the surfaces of culture.

The notion of surfaces is crucial because it supposes many reflections that make it increasingly difficult to differentiate between reality and its images. This is an important point because it demands re-thinking our notions of personal experience and the degree of effort required to maintain some form of stability upon and within surfaces that, as Grossberg (1988) argues, question our ability to anchor ourselves into their imaginary depths. The constant transformation of places into spaces, and spaces into places, disperses stable systems and offers no depth of commitment into which we can anchor ourselves ideologically. Thus we experience an identity roundabout on which we are constantly seeking some sort of stability amidst the fluctuating images of meaning.

The mental image evoked by Grossberg's (1988) surface metaphor conjures up in one’s mind another metaphor of thin ice and, associations of sliding, falling, and deep, dark coldness below a fragile support, are linked to the surface metaphor. Thus an act of balancing is metaphorically evoked that has its origin in physical efforts to maintain a sense of equilibrium. Through calling to mind a certain image schemata, a pattern obtained from physical experience, we might make a new connection using a realist orientation in line with Johnson's (1987) notion of "embodiment". Such a notion leads to the suggestion that, in reality, our interaction with the environment consists of struggle at every step along the way, again implying an effort to maintain a sense of balance and harmony in our everyday living.

This is because we are surrounded by objects, people and ideas that do not emanate from ourselves, but that act upon us in stirring our emotions, confronting our beliefs and confusing our personal maps of meaning that no longer seem to correlate with what happens in everyday life. For example, the simple task of grocery shopping is now a voyage into a fantasy world where one enters a huge cool (or warm, depending on the opposite real weather outside) supermarket where fruit and vegies sparkle under adjusted lighting, freshly dripping from aerosol irrigation, where packages promise ultra white, daily squeezed or no cholesterol, and where our power to pay is validated by the zip of a metallic strip.

Or, for example, we walk into the latest blockbuster exhibition of Matisse (Brisbane, 1995) where the work of contemporaries clutter the walls of context so that we may appreciate his ("whose?" we may ask in our confusion) genius amidst a simulation of his cultural environment. Luckily labels tell us where to look, what to look for and, if we miss anything important, we are sure to be able to buy it in the Matisse shop at the exit.

Our task is to negotiate some form of meaning or relevance from these things, and, in doing this, we utilize our own value system in the act of understanding or appreciation. This is becoming more difficult because, as Grossberg (1988: 40) points out, "[P]ostmodernity points to a crisis in our ability to locate any meaning as a possible and appropriate source for an impassioned commitment". By this he means the conflict we experience between trying to recognise that our inherited meanings are no longer connected to our affective experiences. In other words, the exclusion of feelings demanded by our “theoretic culture” (Josephson, 1996: 193) does not satisfy our cognitive needs because our everyday lives and our cultural identities no longer provide a sense of purpose and place in the overarching global stories that once gave us a sense of connection and identity in nature and our environment. Instead, we find ourselves situated in cultural niches, cocoons of manufactured meanings that envelop us.

Discourses Outside the Head.

Gee (1992: 49) argues that meaning is embedded in the social practices, the "Discourses", to which we may belong and which reside outside our heads. This is the immediate environment of which we are part, and on which we rely for confirmation of our actions as members of a community. Thus we have inherited the communal meanings. For example, we, as members of a Western society, have inherited an attitude that regards art as unimportant to cognitive development, and yet many of our affective experiences are triggered by images - images on television, images on billboards, images on computer screens, movie images and corporate images. The problem is how to deal with visual information that confronts us, eludes us, and teases us in changing form, when we have been accustomed to thinking of images as peripheral to our survival.

Our own value system, our inherited meanings, have developed as a result of our personal experiences that have been greatly affected by years of schooling in which the value systems of our immediate environment have been imposed upon us and which, in turn, we have had to re-think at a later stage as we have moved into other communities beyond schooling. An example of this is the way in which our methods of making sense of something are directed from imagery to writing through education. As young children, the most immediate way of coming to know the world is through development of a personal repertoire of image symbols and the manipulation of media. Seven principles of artistic articulation can be identified that appear unrelated to age but are related to an apparent need to clarify expression. (Dover et al, 1986:16-18).

7Principles 

Figure 1. The Seven Principles of Artistic Development.

By Year Six, however, many students are embarrassed to use imagery because, on the one hand no guidance in refining skills has been available and so they feel inadequate and, on the other hand, imagery, as argued by Sless (1981), is too often regarded as peripheral to learning and therefore unnecessary. It is possible that production of art objects by artsworkers within the culture industry has led many to consider art as a commodity and, in similar fashion to the way texts have become "sites of many different activities and effects" (Grossberg, 1988: 35), it can be argued that art too has become another site for the consumer. In other words, art is not seen as a means of personal experience in the classroom and beyond, but rather something other people make that we might respond to as a form of entertainment or amusement. Josephson (1996: 105) uses the expression “vicarious experience” that suggests the secondary aspect of this sort of sensational reception that highlights our educated loss of childhood imaging horizons, the ability to imagine, that we now need to help us make some sense of our world in which reality and images have become so confused.

Questions of how and why images were superseded by written words in the civilised Western world hark back to the influence of the humanistic literati of the Renaissance but, questions of how images are now being used in place of written words (for example logos) raise issues to do with perception and understanding that have not kept pace with the changing relationship between a text and images. If images are now sites that might suggest different activities and effects, this means that a new type of sense-perception is required. Gordon (1961: 92) cautions us that "[L]earned conventions can be windowless fortresses which exclude viewing the world in new ways" and, it is the learned conventions which present verbal and written language as more important than visual language that are open to challenge.

Creative Tools:

Both words and images have a vital role to play as symbolic systems that allow a singular person to make sense of his or her world through metaphoric connections linking personal experience to his or her cultural environment. For example, as an artist, I am also the author and, in producing works, I select a particular area or site I want to investigate. Based on memories, sketches and photographs, the possible forms of the images are rehearsed in my imagination, or a particular past experience seeps into my being and suggests a new way in which the work might take form. For example, a work from the series “Whispers of Immortality” draws on associations of past experiences and connections to the poetry of T. S. Eliot.

DeathsDreamKingdomPlate 1. Karen Knight-Mudie. Death’s Dream Kingdom. From the series “Whispers of Immortality”. Watercolour on Arches.

In either case I cannot separate myself from all the influences of my context, but my past experience is not that of the audience’s and so the relationship between public expression of the works and private meaning constantly moves through transforming temporary alliances in which a variety of interpretations are possible. I am making worlds that, in Rosenblatt's words, exist:

 ... in the live circuit set up between reader and text; the reader infuses intellectual and emotional meanings into the pattern of verbal symbols, and those symbols channel his (sic) thoughts and feelings. Out of this complex process emerges a more or less organised imaginative experience". (Rosenblatt, 1968: 25)

While Rosenblatt (1968) is speaking of literature, the essence of her perception is appropriate to expressing the type of relationship that is offered to the viewer of artworks as well as literature.

Role of Educator.

As an educator I have particular functions to fulfil for students as a resource, as a mentor, as someone who can present new ways of looking at things and, as someone who, from time to time, acts as the devil's advocate to challenge and upset zones of comfort. In such roles, which Grossberg (1988) terms "fans and intellectual laborers", the position of authority carries with it access to specialised practices, vocabularies and modes of production that empower our stories but do not guarantee their effects. We can only attempt to be well-informed guides, mindful of personal biases and remembering that the way in which we translate or interpret particular works is always determined by our own perspective and our own position in an ideology. Understanding only exists for the person who understands.

Often this means seeing familiar things in a new light and seeing strange things in a familiar way. For example, work I do with tertiary students in forming metaphoric connections is important in demonstrating that how something is presented makes the difference. By this I mean the type of metaphors, analogies and examples that are used to suggest associations between lived experiences, words that describe those experiences, and images that depict those experiences. From my point of view, words and images are of vital importance because I use them constantly as both an artist and an educator, and I often find myself in the position of having to change roles depending on the context. This means that the way in which I use words and images changes from making worlds as an artist to interpreting worlds as an educator.

This work causes me to reflect more deeply on my own artistic practice, and this reflection in turn motivates a deeper interest in the nature of art as personal experience. The process is cyclic with my own practice informing my teaching, and my teaching informing my art making. As both practising artist and art educator, I find myself sandwiched between practice and theory, and thus the notion of connection between the aspects of practice and theory which inform personal experience is integral to education. The practice concerns the actual making of artworks while the theory concerns what is said and written about artworks. But neither is separate, and yet, for many people, art practice and art theory appear unrelated as reflected in many approaches that consider art outside personal experience, and thus the doing is separated from thinking by catch phrases such as “hands on, brains off”. In searching for ways and words that facilitate student understanding, the use of metaphoric associations allows a variety of pathways for experiencing new ways of thinking about art which facilitate other ways of reviewing both familiar and strange things so that we might feel at home in a situation.

Metaphoric Pathways: Making the Familiar Strange, Making the Strange Familiar.

Survival and comfort rely on understanding the environment so that we can feel at home in a particular context. Gee (1992: 99) draws attention to the difficulty people have living in a state of cognitive dissonance, and that "explanations" (to self and others) are necessary to reconcile mental unease. This means that individuals are either faced with making reasoned connections using their own previous experience and beliefs to explain and access the strange situation, or to dismiss the strange situation and justify their dismissal using another explanation based on previous experience and beliefs. A strange situation might involve looking at art objects and images within our own culture that are new to our previous experience of art objects, and because we do not understand the art object, we might sense feelings of anxiety and discomfort. Our desire to rid ourselves of feelings of anxiety and discomfort results in what Peirce (1978a) refers to as some sort of struggle between passive effort or active effort. Solso (1994) suggests that we explain away the cause of our discomfort as being unimportant, or we excuse our discomfort because the image has deeper meaning, or we reconfigure the image to meet our impression of the world.

Similarly, a feeling of unease can be exacerbated between two individuals when one person appears at home with a skill or concept that seems so strange and so beyond reach of the other person. This is especially true in the field of visual art. As an artist I am often reminded by some students that I am an artist and thus different from them. In that simple reminder the notions of work, research, self-discipline, commitment and passion are excised from my artistic performance. It is as though I am some other being possessing some sort of special skill, some insight and understanding that is denied ordinary people.

“Sixth Sense” & “Soul”.

This is a long way from the truth. Gee (1992: 123) reminds us that "one of the main results of current research on cognition [is] that human beings know only what they have practised over and over again". This explains my competence in certain areas. Yet, it can be argued that the author/artist does play a key role as the site of artistic experience. Certain aspects of skill, insight or understanding I have might arise from the fact that my networks of associations have been influenced by the Discourse of Art of which I am a member, and thus certain ways of thinking, acting, and valuing artistic practice, have underpinned many of my experiences. It could be that I have developed what Gee (1992: 83) calls a "sixth sense" emanating from "soul" that he defines as an "internalization of the structures of the social world" which is achieved through "the experience each uniquely endowed individual has of holding various 'positions' in social space". “Soul” appears to develop as a result of what Steiner (1989: 9-10) terms "ingestion", and Peirce (1978a: 33) refers to as instinctive "inward power", a strong sensation triggering real determinations of our subconscious volitional beings. I believe this accounts for the perceived difference between my world and that of students and, while I am not sure exactly what our inner soul is, this unquantifiable something that each person has within them, suggests inferences, constructs explanations, directs decisions and moderates emotions so that we become aware of resultant feelings initiated by sensational struggle.

What causes the struggle in the first place depends largely on the environment outside the person. Various researchers, (Arnheim, 1986; Churchland, 1983; Gardner, 1993; Gee, 1992; Solso, 1994), discuss the biological processes within the human body and eye that are triggered by external sensations that activate neural impulses which are sent to the brain. The interesting part from my perspective is the way in which these impulses affect our thinking. If every impulse carried the same force our cognitive apparatus could not deal with the volume of traffic, so the 'something' within us applies a culling system and sorts out the important from the not-so-important sensations depending on our established value system. Competing stimuli are like voices in a crowd that are heard only if they are loud enough unless we have a particular focus stemming from personal knowledge and relevance that may present an opportunity for personal engagement while we are oblivious to other noise.

This collection of personal knowledge offers collateral experience that singular persons may draw upon in gradually modifying existing habits through using metaphoric associations that encourage linkage from personal experiences to the new experience. The work I do with students using metaphoric associations demonstrates that their acquired attitudes and feelings towards making art change in the process of formal learning in which acquisition of skills is combined with learning about theoretical principles.

Thus it can be argued that our tools for understanding art symbols may be modified and increased to enable us to plug into personal and technological art processes without losing our own sense of being part of those processes. In doing this we need to consider not only the human aspects of creating symbols, but also the enormous collective external nervous system of the electronics revolution and how it affects human experience. All this strangeness needs to be made familiar so that we may re-start inventing unique images enabled by our own imaginative processes, and re-establish the primacy of physical sensory experiences.

Bridges of Understanding:

We need to build bridges of understanding between our different worlds and experiences because networks of systems often remain separate and unconnected in our everyday life. However, if, in investigating ways of restructuring art as personal experience in which making reasoned connections between personal association and novel situations are possible, does this mean that we might come into conflict with clubs of meaning, or what Gee (1992) calls "Discourses"?

When talking with individual students about difficulties they experience in trying to articulate their own personal awareness of themselves and the world around them through visual imagery, I find it important and relevant to start with something they understand, and so we start with writing. This is something that many people in a Western society, and in particular a university, can do with some degree of mastery, and yet no one was born with the ability. It is only with practice and repetition that a particular vocabulary is learned and the relevant skill developed.

In using the strategy of starting with something familiar and moving into something different while establishing links between the old and new skills, we start to dissolve the barrier of novelty and begin to feel comfortable with the new skill as we become more competent. Gordon (1961: 34-36) admits that the human organism is basically conservative and thus attempts to make the familiar strange, and to make the strange familiar, can provoke feelings of anxiety and insecurity. He cautions that acceptance of a new viewpoint, "... depends on the capacity to risk and to understand the mechanisms by which the mind can make tolerable the temporary ambiguity implicit in risking" and, because both risk and ambiguity are feared and avoided by many students, the transition process needs to incorporate a sense of non-threatening play, play with associations and memorabilia, play through metaphor.

This process involves using a metaphorical approach of projecting structure from one known domain to another domain of a different kind as discussed by Johnson (1987). An important point highlighted by both Johnson (1987) and Gee (1992) relates to our relative unawareness of the structures or networks we have in our heads, and yet the ease with which we can assemble patterns of associative configurations or schema when needed. I find that progress in establishing links between the known and the unknown largely depends on how often one has attempted to make a correlation between apparently disparate things, and whether or not one has an open attitude that allows experimentation, and a willingness to see things from a new or different perspective. But the important part is firstly to see relevant and familiar things in a new way. It is only by starting with things that are part of our world and re-viewing them so that we can see them from another perspective, that we can then become tolerant of how other people see things that are part of their world. This is a major step towards viewing self in a wider context.

When working with undergraduate education students my interest in noting factors that enrich personal experience has been informed by recent work in the field of semiotics and the accelerating use of technological tools in processing information. Semiotics and technology are integrally linked with "reality [that] is already stranger than any fantasy we could construct", and thus the lines between the familiar and the estranged are disappearing (Grossberg, 1988: 42). For example, Josephson (1966: 176) points out our obsession for wrapping ourselves in an “art package” of fashion statements that project our profession and class identity as a stereotypical and easily read object in the mass-media language of form. However, this is a context that is continually changing and, if cultivation of a contextual awareness is deemed necessary for understanding an artwork, we need to heed Lovejoy’s (1989) discussion about the way in which modern technology disrupts the history of experience in shaping perception and inducing a new kind of uneasiness.

Awareness of context, including the environment and historical associations, underpins my own artistic practice in which immersion in the mood and atmosphere of the site through camping, walking, touching, smelling and listening to the actual physical surroundings seems to correlate with what Johnson (1987) calls "embodiment. My approach to making images allows me to make connections between my own personal experiences, art history and works of literature, and this influences the way in which I work with tertiary students. For many students art theory and art practice seem to be divorced from their personal experience.

The Heart of the Matter:

As an example of making connections between everyday, popular occurrences, and creating artworks, I will outline the strategy I use in helping undergraduate education students make reasoned connections using their own previous experience to make a strange situation accessible. For students who have little background understanding about the function of images, the challenge is to see images as more than pure decoration or a kind of magic. Their previous experience in making images is very limited, but previous experience in writing diaries, letters and conversation about families, friends, hobbies and ambitions offers a rich source of collateral experience that the student can draw from in making connections between past and present events. Making these connections causes effort for students to think differently about making art.

In this way the images can be seen as a type of autobiography - instead of asking students to write a story about themselves, I ask them to produce their statement of self using two dimensional and three dimensional media, but we start with writing. Students collect personal memorabilia and we make lists of things that are individually important; we describe them through writing and drawing, and then we start to analyse why particular things are important to us such as clothes or a particular trinket, a photo, or a person. We try to understand what these chosen things represent about our particular lifestyle. Put simply, I guide students in trying to identify who they are in their particular world. In this process, perceptions start to change because together we see things differently - from an internal perspective, not a perspective dictated by other people external to the process. As Hoffie (1996: 6) insists: “[T]he most memorable art enters us through the loins or the guts or the heart and then travels to the brain”.

Workings of the Mind:

Having started with the notion of an autobiography that allows students to act as author and metaphorically link a personal story using writing to a personal story using images, I then begin talking about a self portrait so that we gradually move into an art frame of reference. In doing this I stress that a self portrait can involve a lot more than an image of a face - it may start with a facial structure, but a person's cognitive tools are in the mind, and thus the workings of the mind becomes our subject matter, the content of our self portrait. By taking this approach I encourage students to investigate their thoughts as part of a wider system of relations in which their own sense of identity, or personal persona, is based on a store of personal experience and consciousness that brings into focus their immediate situation and aspects of lived experiences that connect them to a wider social group.

We concentrate on the workings of the mind because much Western thought perpetuates the mind/body dualism, while it is the connection of mind and body that is of interest to me. Most students have a Western background, and most regard art making as doing without thinking.

The challenge is, in Peirce's (1978a: 162) words to "become aware of ourself (sic) in becoming aware of the not-self". Most students have had little experience in focusing on what they are not doing as a means of clarifying what they are doing. As an artist I am aware of the tension formed between positive and negative space, between complementary colours, and between contrasting value that, when concentrating on one aspect, allows greater recognition of the other. Thus, when I suggest that students use the theme workings of the mind we are actually investigating the negative area of their normal approach to making artworks, the thinking processes. Many students expect the subject matter to be provided, and wait to be shown what to do and how to do it without actually thinking through these processes.

The challenge is to create a personal need for visual expression through getting students to generate their own subject matter that will, in turn, suggest techniques appropriate for making the artwork. By concentrating on thinking, the non-practical area often overlooked by students and hence a negative area, students come to realise that they have to connect thoughts in their mind to ways of doing. They have to suggest appropriate links between the workings of the mind and the subsequent activity. This poses a problem because it makes them realise how dependent they have been on following instructions and simply doing. They also become aware of how various attitudes may have separated the thinking from the doing with regard to artworks and other areas of their normal education. Such a shift in attitude is essential for understanding the requirements of Arts syllabus documents. The following diagram shows the complex interwoven areas of research, developing and making that marry mind and matter in the Senior Art Syllabus. Preparation for this partnership must continue through the primary years and thus neophyte teachers must engage in mind games using creative tools.

 SenArtDiagramFigure 2. Diagram of Approach: Visual Art Senior Syllabus 2001. Queensland BSSSS.

 

Using Cognitive Tools in the Head.

This other-than-normal approach may modify behaviour accordingly so that concentration of making includes using the "cognitive tools" in the head (Gee 1992: 141). The experience of connecting mind and body through making artworks might acquaint students with changes of perception that, in turn, suggest networks of associations that link them to specific social groups.

 

To help students understand the complexity of images as they themselves move from simple to more abstract ways of using their own drawings and objects, we investigate the way in which the elements of line, shape, texture, colour, value and size may be used to emphasise a message, to depict a mood, to beautify an object or to serve any other function dictated by the artist or community. It is a futile exercise to expect anyone to understand or appreciate these formal and technical aspects of image making if there is no perceived need to utilise them, so, in the doing, an awareness of design elements becomes osmotic. In such an approach, Steiner's (1989) notion of "ingestion" suggests we become so familiar with concepts and techniques that we internalise them through doing. It is through the doing that we come to understand something.

Metaphorical Roles:

At this stage I adopt a variety of metaphorical roles ranging from marriage counsellor, gynaecologist to architect so that these metaphorical associations offer students the possibility of making connections between something relevant in their environment to their changing perceptual development in understanding images. The use of metaphor also allows students to recognise the process of making images as normal, as an extension of everyday living in which various ideas and materials are worked over and changed in the process.

As marriage counsellor I suggest various artists or art movements that may be comfortable examples of subject matter, style and technique for a particular student to use as a reference partner. For example, many students have a rural background and so I introduce them to artists such as Olsen, Williams, Cézanne, Wyeth and others who have used the landscape. Many students are involved in sport and so I suggest artists who use a lot of action and figures in their work. In this way I attempt to dispel fear of personal inadequacy and notions of art for the élite that many students associate with visual art. In looking at other works of art to find something that stirs associations, memories and relevance, and to realise that there is no correct way of making art, but many different ways, we work at producing personal interpretations enriched by investigating the humus of the past.

As a gynaecologist I talk about the notion of giving birth to an idea that is the result of a gestation period in which associations and imaginative powers are nurtured and enriched from sensory data. We start to see things rather than just look at them; we feel the memorabilia, smell them, listen to them and talk about them. At first this seems strange to students who are not accustomed to using bodily senses in this fashion but it is a fundamental way of coming to know something. Johnson (1987: Preface) points out that the "body has been ignored because reason has been thought to be abstract and transcendent". He suggests that imaginative structuring of experience grows out of bodily experience to produce "image schemata" and "metaphorical projections". The former consists of recurring, dynamic patterns of our perceptual interactions and motor programs that contribute to understanding; the latter is a mode of understanding that allows us to use patterns obtained through physical experience to organise our more abstract understanding. As an example of how concrete bodily experience influences our understanding, Johnson (1987: 75-100) uses the bodily experience of balance to trace our correlation to psychological and perceptual metaphorical structuring that contributes to our understanding. Of particular relevance, is his discussion of balance in visual perception which only exists in our perceptual grasp of order attributed to "force" or "weight" in figures. Such “weight” does not exist in any literal sense in the marks on a page. Johnson (1987: 137) concludes that understanding is a way of being in, or having a world, of "one's embodiment” comprising perceptual mechanisms, patterns of discrimination, motor programs, and various bodily skills that embed us within culture, language, institutions and historical traditions.

As an architect I discuss the need for plans that can be re-made, re-thought and refined so that students do not need to worry about making mistakes. In fact I encourage students to play with 'mistakes' they might see as irrelevant, because mistakes provoke effort and generate energy for thinking in a new way. Gordon (1961) suggests that willingness to entertain the possibility that any accident, distraction, or interruption may be revealing requires intuition, and this, he maintains, can be learned.

We talk about the possibility of building a house, of selecting a site, of choosing appropriate materials, of looking at examples that stimulate new ways of thinking. I encourage students to apply this sort of thinking to planning their own work so that the eventual art object has meaning and a sense of direction. We then start with making an object, something that is tactile and concrete, before we move onto interpreting this in a more abstract two dimensional picture. Again this reinforces the idea of getting inside the materials so that we can understand concepts of texture, shape, size, colour and nuances of dark and light through feeling, looking at, and manipulating real materials before we try and simulate these concepts on a flat surface.

The end products may range from symbolic structures such as a book or a windmill, to an image of a shoe, or to complex designs that involve several motifs that express a person's sense of self but, in each case, the student moves from a familiar way of thinking about self to a new way of seeing self. Students use the cognitive tools in their heads to interpret their networks of associations through sense perception and metaphorical projections to think otherwise than they were originally thinking. They use art as a means of personal experience.

The complexity of the work we do may not be obvious in the process I have outlined, but the important point is the part I play as the connecting link, or lens, between the student, their background experience and a meaningful artwork. In all stages students tap into my pantry of knowledge so that they can get the particular ingredients they need to make their story of self through imagery. But before they can do this they need to feel comfortable and, metaphors of marriage, birth and houses, are closely associated with the lifestyles and heart beat of many students. The fact that students make artworks becomes an extension of experiencing who they are, and this enriches their perception of the world in which they live because they have taken that vital step in connecting their past associations to the present through a process of semiosis, the on going reasoning from sign to sign as a continuum of learning.

However, it is important to remember the strong influence the environment and social groups play in moulding personal experience. Gee (1992: 48) suggests that "a social community (large or small) provides experiences and focuses the attention through carrying out its social practices and apprenticing newcomers to it". He terms the social practices of social communities as "Discourses" that are mastered through acquisition and enculturation.

Provocation, Play and Pleasure.

Vygotsky (1971), Rosenberg (1983), Solso (1994), Dissanayake (1992), Johnson (1987) and Lakoff (1987) support arguments for re-thinking empathy theories in which direct perception through bodily experience is vital to understanding. These arguments are reflected from an art critic’s perspective in Lippard’s (1996: 18) acknowledgment that her “greatest pleasure comes from empathetic or almost kinaesthetic insights into how and why a work was made, its provocative elements”.

In recognising “provocative elements” we need to examine how an artist uses direct bodily perception and how these sensorial messages allow artists to attend to their most serious and vital concerns - feeling good and making things special. Dissanayake (1992) argues that the study of raw materials in any form, even the study of meanings, is of less interest when it is the transforming, treating, or making special itself that is of crucial significance to the human species. This highlights the importance of people being involved in the actual experience rather than simply as recipients of products.

In transforming, treating or making special it can be argued that we need to engage in one of the most fundamental aspects of human behaviour, play. Artists call this aspect experimentation, but what we actually do is play with ideas, play with media and push to find ambiguous ways of making ordinary things special. Perhaps we use the term experimentation because it seems to carry more credibility than the word play which, in much current usage, implies simply having fun. Gordon (1961: 120) argues that play-theorists tend to neglect the scientific and inventive aspects of play, whereas he considers that play involves the constructive use of illusion, conscious self-deceit, daydreams and associations which seem to imply no immediate benefit. We can agree that play with apparent irrelevancies is used extensively to generate energy for problem-solving and to evoke new viewpoints. The manner of playing can be directed, disciplined and controlled in Dissanayake's (1992: 76) sense of comprehension and negotiation with, in order to check and halt uncertainty rather than to conquer.

In theorizing about playing, Gordon (1961), Peirce (1978a), Derrida (1992b), Dissanayake (1992), Wheale (1995) and Wallgren (1997) emphasise the novelty and unpredictability that are actively sought, whereas in real life we seek the secure and predictable. Their arguments highlight the way in which those rare minds possessed by artists and scientists seek to uncover the deeper parts of the soul. Peirce (1978a) argues that true science is the study of useless things, because the useful things will be studied by people seeking only answers. In line with Peirce's notion of the fossicking, inquiring mind of the artistic and scientific investigator, Gordon (1961), Derrida (1992b), Wheale (1995) and Wallgren (1997), emphasise the need to make the familiar strange, untranslatable or futuristic. Gordon's study (1961) of the creative process within a group of people from disparate disciplines, the Synectics Group, shows that the creative process in art and in science is essentially the same in that the inquiring and creative mind searches amongst seemingly irrelevant things, and juxtaposes seemingly unrelated things in ways that transpose and distort our everyday familiar ways of looking. Gordon’s (1961: 95) observation that the "expert is often least able to create a new idea” challenges the intellectualised training of professionals who appear caught in a web of familiarity, or as Peirce (1978: 354-355) suggests, the sense of coming up against an invisible barrier is lost in the familiarity of results. Dissanayake (1992: 43) notes how young animals seem to "play for play's sake, for sheer enjoyment and intrinsic reward" and she concludes that this play appears to have hidden benefits regarding survival in later life. Thus we might argue that play is an innate form of rehearsal for life.

Often creative attempts to play with passion and purpose are regarded by some people as arty or eccentric behaviour. In defending this type of behaviour, Sless (1981) acknowledges the magic of exceptional human achievement that is not trivialised, debased or prostituted.

Slick or Exceptional?

However, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between the exceptional and the merely slick. This raises the question of gimmicks to catch the eye that Josephson (1996), Pollock (1996) and Hebdige (1996) consider prolific, or what Langer (1957) refers to as a "confessional" or "frozen tantrum", or, in Dissanayake's opinion (1992: 61), represents "something that today we consider momentarily important because it has been made flashily if transiently special" under conditions of unprecedented leisure and comfort. Could we consider the expectations of popular culture, the fashionable desire for entertainment in education and the way in which technology changes the way we view our surroundings as “flashily if transiently special”?

Support for Dissanayake’s (1992) concern about the confusing and unsatisfying state of art can be noted in Josephson’s (1996) argument that advertising, the Design Arts and Popular Art, shape our contemporary reality. In particular, Josephson (1996) attributes much of shaping power to mass-media in which familiar images are used to appeal to the lowest common denominator through facilitating various associations with conventional images that allow people to imagine themselves in the depicted situation. Such is the power of imagery that it can offer people a means of escaping their own physical reality by mentally projecting themselves in the art. Or, in talking about subjective accounts such as life stories as a fundamental way of gaining access to personal expert knowledge, Hawke (1996: 33) suggests they provide a means of providing “vicarious experiences and contextualised explanations of life events and influences” which allow a sense of identification on behalf of the reader/viewer. In this sense, vicarious experience is advocated whereas, in Josephson’s (1996) sense, the term is used negatively to imply passive absorption of visual information through indirect perception.

Learning Vicariously: Discourses Cannot Be Taught.

Theories of networks play a pivotal role from the point of view of indirect perception because the notion of Discourses highlights the important influence that immediate, significant people and groups exert on an individual in forming their theme of personal persona. While immersion within the social practices of the Discourse means that we become more aligned with the values of the Discourse and thus are more deeply affected by stimuli coming from that particular Discourse, Gee (1992: 111) argues that Discourses are inherently "ideological" and cannot be taught. This appears quite an astounding argument when we consider all the things we try to teach people, or the methods that we use to persuade people to adopt another way of thinking. Grossberg (1988) reiterates Gee's (1992) argument by asserting that:

... ideological positions are never merely passively occupied; they are taken up, lived in different ways, to different degrees, with differing investments and intensities. Our agency, our active relation to the world, is always more than that of a knowing (ideological) subject. (Grossberg, 1988: 35)

While admitting that many of our perceptions of the world are derived indirectly, it seems feasible to agree with Gee (1992) and Grossberg (1988), that we actually have to absorb an ideology. While we may do this through exposure to indirect perceptions in that they are constructed from inferences about the real world, we cannot understand these inferences unless we have already acquired prerequisite knowledge sufficient for us to then embark upon learning more about the ideology that was inferred.

“Mushfake”.

However, it is possible that many people are content to remain constructed by indirect perceptions in which only the third step of inference according to Peirce (1978b) is adopted. This third step is that of judgement whereby the processes of colligation followed by contemplation have been accomplished by someone else, and thus the conclusion reached is available for an individual to adopt. It is feasible to suggest that this is an easy way to be absorbed into the ideology rather than to absorb the ideology and begs the question of how this might happen?

Perhaps, part of the answer lies in the personification of the word that carries the authority of judgement that Reddy (1981) regards as undermining the crucial human ability to reconstruct thought patterns on the basis of word signals because the signals already contain the ready-made ideas. Reddy (1981) condemns the prolific usage of conduit metaphors that involve the assertion that figurative language transfers human thoughts and feelings. The implication, he argues, is that the conduit metaphor influences thinking by objectifying meaning so that ideas slip out of human brains to be transferred and stored for someone else to unpack.

In support of this argument Leed (1980: 50-57) pinpoints the medieval concept of "lordship over the self" as the beginning of the autonomy of individuals as an instrument of "social control". This evolved into consolidation of the "old" tradition in print providing a "highly ramified set of trails into the past" thus amassing a cultural tradition purporting to have an aura of permanence. The metaphor of trails highlights the prevalence of the conduit metaphor that Lakoff (1987) suggests is the principal metaphor for communication emanating from our sense to convey image schemata from one domain to a corresponding structure in another domain that involves category chaining. Thus we might argue that, as living beings, we are systems within systems constantly moving in time and space and metaphors that aptly reflect our life forces are integral to our links with the environment. But, if we rely on the trails of the past, does this imply reason-giving understanding of what we amass in results, solutions and answers without having any real notion of how they came to be? Or, are these trails simply a form of primed predicates that allow members of a Discourse to get their meanings free? Might acquisition of free knowledge further suggest that promoters and purchasers of the art object (person or thing) also get the meanings free, where, in some instances, the meanings take on the sense of making do with something when the real thing is not available that Gee (1992: 118) refers to as "mushfake"? Thus we might argue that indirect perception is a type of mushfake which can be so convincing that the boundaries between what we perceive and what we are told to perceive become blurred.

Implications of Image “Mushfake”.

Further force is given to the argument of conveying information by Paivio (1981: 163) who suggests that the "imagery system presumably constructs synchronously organized, integrated informational structures, analogous to the continuous, structural layout of the perceptual world". In support of this argument, Lovejoy (1989: 37) talks of the movie camera as having created an entirely new dimension for photography through which the audience is "controlled by constant sequenced changes of images moving in time," that are designed to dominate thinking processes and affect emotions. Further implications in Lovejoy's (1989) suggestion that computers begin to make decisions and generate productions even the artist cannot anticipate are frightening in the way in which, according to Josephson (1996), we let our electronic machines do more of our paradigmatic thinking and remembering.

However, Baudrillard (1980) and Pollock (1996) point out that we all pander to the myth that information is presented as being generative of communication. Thus we become fascinated and confused by the staging of communication in which we struggle to establish ourselves as conscious, autonomous beings while at the same time submissive, obedient and conforming objects. Similar concerns are expressed by Zipes (1980), whose observations of mass media transformation of folklore highlight serious questions about the loss of the folk aspect as the culture industry mediates and interprets according to marketability. Also, Giroux (1994: 101), stresses that we need to understand how practices of production, circulation, and reception are "deeply enmeshed in the commodified character of the image".

Thus it can be argued that the conflict between being consciously active beings or submissive, obedient performers has deep implications for Arts Education. Also, it can be argued that the common usage of conduit metaphors now developing into the mode of technological talk promises results without effort. It is arguable that a repercussion of indirectly relying on inanimate objects to fulfil our dreams may lead to further suppression of our human will to engage in such activities as drawing and painting that involve time, effort, labour and love from a personal perspective.

Labour or Love?

Lovejoy (1989: 23) suggests that the application energy of mechanical means alters our physical environment in removing "tedious labour". There is much validity in Lovejoy’s (1989) observation about the labour involved in making artworks, but her statement that electronic tools have a "hidden point of view, far more complex than that which is built into a brush, a printing press or a camera" makes me wonder where people actually fit into this scheme of things. As an artist I am happy to play around with different tools. I use brushes, cameras and computers and I am very aware of the way in which a certain tool can be used to make things easier. For example, using layers in the Photoshop program is an exciting way of transforming an image as the example below shows.

GhostsInArchPlate 2. Karen Knight-Mudie. Ghosts in Arch from “Moonlighting in Moffatt”. Charcoal and conte on Stonehenge.

As we saw previously, the importance of play in generating new viewpoints and the ability to cope with and enjoy ambiguity is vital to artistic experience. In my own work I am now playing with computer images so that I can find out more about these new tools because the process of using a different technique on something familiar to suggest other ways of thinking about making artworks is important. However, I do find the work using electronic tools is tedious, time consuming, frustrating and yet, at the same time, challenging, exciting and rewarding.

I also find it tedious to sit for hours in the blazing sun while painting with watercolours, and thus I take cameras with me on field trips so that I can record visual data in the most convenient way. I also use cameras for recording visual data that might involve a variety of different techniques of using the machine so that I can magnify some sections of the landscape, crop out other sections or collect a series of related aspects. In fact, the variety of visual segments I can gather is endless. I have noticed how I have developed a different way of looking at the landscape that ranges from scanning the total vision to focussing on details that previously I may have missed. As an artist, one can agree with Sless (1981: 95-99) that use of the camera allows one to "develop a different way of seeing from ordinary perception". I find that I use synecdochical and metaphorical projections that have evolved from familiarity with looking through a viewfinder so that the landscape takes on new meaning. In this way the machine facilitates my own artistic practice whereby I can build up a data base for future reference.

 

Loving Battle.

However, I am conscious of the "purposeful controlling agent behind every photograph" that Sless (1981: 95) highlights, and, when reviewing photographs at a later time in the studio, I am also conscious of what Dufrenne (1980) calls the "tinkering", that leads into:

... the loving battle with a resisting material, friendship with the tool that extends the body, a flirtation with the obstacle, a game of chance in which one never establishes enough control to eliminate all surprise. (Dufrenne, 1980: 167)

From an artist’s perspective, Dufrenne's metaphor of "loving battle" is apt because it combines a pleasure-effort sense of direction that Gordon (1961) considers essential to the workaday routine of making the familiar strange. In a way I am searching for the best story that Gee (1992: 104) considers is the job of the brain's "interpreter" that "efficiently computes decisions, moods, and actions with hundreds of speedy and encapsulated modules" so that the way in which I choose to foreground or background certain aspects of the image in the painting might identify me as a member of the Art Discourse. In Solso's (1994: 147) terms, this might be considered as “thinking art” in looking for "thematic patterns" within an artistic playground. Or, in terms of an art critic such as Roberts (1994: 13), I might demonstrate “how the production of meaning for the artist is also a post hoc affair” in that the meaning of the artwork might evolve in the process of making, or upon completion.

Imagination: A Special Something Inside the Head.

It can be argued that artistic practices may be combined into a labour of love in which machines can be used to assist in the transformation of visual date gathered from both direct perception and indirect perception. However, while we can agree that Discourses do exert influence and that the culture industry is maintained and controlled in the environment outside our heads, it also can be argued that each singular person does have a special something inside the head that allows one to claim experiential transformation of visual data as personal. This something, that Johnson (1987: 139) calls “imagination” and Gee (1992: 99) calls the "interpreter", uses the "cognitive tools in the head" to select from complex configurations of associations learned through acquisition to explain behaviour to others and to self. Is it possible to identify important components from the complex configurations of associations? and how can we explain our actions? Do we really want to explain our actions? Might not efforts to explain artistic behaviour deny the specialness of what we do have inside our heads?

Notions of Imagination.

The topic of imagination and all that it encompasses continues to be debated as various schools of thought align themselves with either Plato’s notion of divine ecstasy or Aristotle’s emphasis on instinctive mimesis as a process of becoming whatever we are. Two other key figures who appear to confirm the different approaches that assign the imaginative process to either God or an individual, are Blake and Coleridge. I mention these poets because my love of literature plays a very important part as whispers of immortality in my artwork that keep nudging me towards ways of thinking, ways of connecting stories and myths into visual/verbal dialogue. The poets of the Romantic period in particular, exert significant presence because of their obsession with the imaginative capacity to reach beyond the norm and flirt with the ineffable while somehow trying to escape from our cumbersome humanity.

In stressing divine imagination, Blake (1979: 368) waged war against the importance of sensory perception advocated by philosophers such as Hobbes, Locke, Hartley and Hume in writing:

This Life’s dim Windows of the Soul

Distorts the Heavens from Pole to Pole,

And leads you to Believe a Lie

When you see with, not thro, the Eye.

          (Everlasting Gospel. 1818   101-104)

On the other hand Coleridge (Bate:1959), while affirming the supremacy of God, proclaimed that the human mind, as an agent of reason made in the image of the Divine Mind, was partly an architect of its own knowledge based on the reciprocal organic partnership between worldly perception and the faculty of the mind. The name given to this mediating faculty was imagination.

An important distinction that can be made between Blake and Coleridge, lies in Blake’s insistence that humans act through an intuitive wisdom with which they are born, and thus are (or are not) endowed with possible divine ecstasy, whereas Coleridge stresses the organic process, stimulated by emotions, that involves three steps of which the first two are involuntary, while the third is related to the exercise of conscious will in struggling to idealise and unify the balance of forces.

Imaginative Capacity.

Within these steps, Coleridge (1962) acknowledges outcomes of “predetermined research” as having “too peculiar a point of view” that, through the process of “fancy”, receive materials ready-made from associations. This appears to be the first step, one we can argue, which is similar to the idea of networks of associations drawn from established norms of a Discourse. Secondly, once the norms are understood, everyone, in using “primary imagination”, can form links between sensation, perception and thought. It seems to me that Gee’s (1992) “interpreter”, the modules that interpret expectations, actions, decisions and emotions through language to construct “folk theories”, performs the job that Coleridge assigns to “primary imagination”.

However, beyond these involuntary attributes lies Coleridge’s “secondary imagination”, a process related to the exercise of conscious will through which data are dissolved, diffused and dissipated so that a fresh view or a re-creation is possible. We can argue that this process correlates with Johnson’s (1987: 168-170) view of imagination as “a pervasive structuring activity by means of which we achieve coherent, patterned, unified representations” upon which “conceptualization and propositional judgment depend”.

However, we can detect a crucial difference between Coleridge’s “secondary imagination” and Johnson’s notion of imagination that lies in the data source fuelling the imaginative capacity. While Johnson (1987) follows the empiricist tendency in nominating biological bodily functioning as the primary data source, he stops short of saying that it is a person’s God-like capacity that allows one to generate the data. Coleridge (1969: 118), on the other hand, goes further in fusing the biological and spiritual, or what he calls the objective (nature) and the subjective (self), in the individual as source of data in being a “modification of the higher consciousness” - the “I AM” that rests as a “middle quality” between nature and self.

Thus, we can postulate that Coleridge’s notion of “I AM” has given rise to the Modernist concentration on the individual as source of meaning. If we consider the way in which Coleridge’s (Watson, 1962: 119) idea of “Kantian ‘counteraction’ of forces” may have suggested a possibility for artists to concentrate on the “modification of the higher consciousness” and, if we allow a similar influence from Blake’s idea of intuitive wisdom, we might have a fusion of the biological and spiritual miraged into the creator “I”, while the finite “AM”, and the repercussions of being and bodily baggage, were forgotten.

For example, Coleridge exclaims that “in our life alone does Nature live:”, and this union:

                        ... gives in dower

                        A new Earth and new Heaven,

                        Undreamt of by the sensual and the proud -

                        Joy is the sweet voice, Joy the luminous cloud -

                        We in ourselves rejoice!          (Dejection: An Ode. V.68-72)

while Blake extols “enjoyments of Genius” (A Memorable Fancy) by insisting:

                        Those who restrain desire, do so because theirs is weak enough to be restrained:

                                                                        (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. Plate 5.)

Hence we have powerful reasons for both rejoicing in our birth of selves while also recognising the totally imaginative knowledge attainable only through art that Blake refers to as “sweet Science”(Ninth The Ninth Being The Last Judgment, Plate 139, 10.).

I draw attention to these two important literary figures because it is possible that, given the emphasis on the written word prevalent in Western ways of thinking, many attitudes towards making visual images have intimations of the literary tradition. We can argue that the imaginative capacity may be considered as either innate according to Blake, or an act of conscious will according to Coleridge. In accepting such an argument, we might understand those who view art as a magic Platonian-Blakean concept, or those who view art as Aristotlean-Coleridgean self-expression, depending on which line of thought they espouse. In both cases we can see that the notion of God is central - either as an external dictator, or as incarnation within an individual.

Creative Individual?

While admitting that viewpoints concerning Plato, Aristotle, Blake and Coleridge are many and varied, we can entertain the possibility for re-thinking the way in which their ideas concerning imagination have informed our Western ways of thinking. Perhaps, over time, many people have absorbed the ideas of Plato and Blake as advocating the making of art as inspired, to such a degree that ordinary people have been excluded. In like manner, it is possible that the influence of Aristotle and Coleridge has played an important part in stimulating individuals to express themselves to such a degree that results of that expression do not always demonstrate awareness of persons living within a greater ecology, but tend to accentuate separation of individuals from the wider environment as the term individual implies.

These thoughts raise a host of questions regarding art as a loving battle in which the concept of imagination plays a pivotal role in personal experience. If we agree that no two people possess the same cognitive ability or the same motivation, let alone have access to similar opportunities, how can we explain the fact that many people are able to read and write with some degree of competency without aspiring to be inspired authors, while, conversely, many people regard an inability to make images as their normal lack of magic? If survival in our imaged world does necessitate development of informed competency in making and understanding images, might this mean that visual expression will replace conventional and learned habits of reading and writing? Does this mean that we might learn to make art in similar ways as learning to write? But, if using computers is replacing using a pen, a pencil or a paintbrush and, if software programmes, spell checks and grammar checks provide already made data banks of possibilities and/or results, does not this obviate any need to exert labour and love in our experiences of reading and writing? With increasingly accessible electronic images, will the accumulation of such images actually erase reading and writing along with the effort once entailed in learning these skills? Stripped of a basic understanding and appreciation of the loving battle one enters into when making personal meaningful marks on a surface that requires time, effort and practice, will vicarious gratification suffice?

Saving Soul.

Or is it possible to develop our imaginative capacity so that through association, through emotional involvement, through interested pleasure and through curiosity about subject matter, we might start to wonder how artistic effects are achieved so that we too might participate in controlling and enriching our survival? Will there be opposition from those who consider artmaking as the guarded preserve of only a select few who, by nature, divineness or political luck, are separated out as artists? Is it necessary for a person actually to make artworks to experience art?

It can be argued that veins of individualism and socialisation influence our tendency to act in ways that might demonstrate degrees of personal gratification or personal experience. This raises another question of how an artist might, at one and the same time, be visionary and singular within mainstream culture where mass-media reality now offers virtual individual identities for anyone? How can artists find some meaningful intention buried within these new and ambiguous artforms? Does self-determination for to-day’s artist lie in experimenting with the different possibilities opened up by changing conditions outside of the art world, and if these changes applaud quick results and sensationalism, how can artists continue with playful rehearsals? Where might artists find spiritual space in a commodified environment?

We can suggest that our game appears to be essentially one of identifying the disparate modes of awareness that might, or might not, stimulate sensational degrees of effort or resistance that cause us to think anew about something and, in expressing the beliefs emanating from our thoughts, we play with the qualitatively elusive differences between kinds of perceptual consciousness. How we play this experiential game, it is argued, is a matter of both labour and love that involves mental tinkering with tools inside the head to embellish and enrich our stories so that our survival is comfortable.

Heart Failure is Fatal.

Given that so much passion and effort is required to ignite the fire of imagination that motivates one to make something special, is it not time that all educators investigate the heart of the matter?

Masking special affects every move we make and every thought we think. Artistic behaviour is the way in which we make special – it is how we sense something, it s how we wear, walk and talk something, it is how we survive. Catch phrases of approval such as, “it’s so imaginative” and “you’re so creative” need to be jettisoned from common language in the classroom because they imply ignorance of the loving battle that using the cognitive tools in the head entails. Giving birth to an idea takes enormous courage, self-discipline and a strong heart. Without such a heart, the body is a lifeless shell and the mind becomes a passive container. Without art, education is “Mushfake”.

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