Study event review: Thinking through art

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Study Visit 4 May: Thinking Through Art: A Workshop.

This study day was led by OCA tutor Emma Drye. The aim of the day was to look at how we as distance learning students can get the best out of research within our course and how we can use this to further our practice.
The day started with a joint research project where we were divided into four groups of three students. Each group was supplied an academic text and asked to read and analyse the text. To write down our thoughts on the text, what we took to be the meaning and a few pertinent points. We then had to give a very short presentation on what we thought about the text, how it could be of use to us and whether we agreed with it.
After a short break the next section looked at our own practice. We were given 15 mins to write a stream of consciousness about our practice. We had to keep writing what came into our head and not formulate this into a coherent text. After 15 mins with two pages of text, we were asked to underline in different colours words that could be described as: ‘Visual’, ‘Material’, ‘Process’ and ‘Idea’. My words were mostly idea, followed by process, then visual. Interestingly no material words. I will make a habit of doing this exercise before writing up reports on my work.
For the final aspect of the day, we had a crit where each student talked about their main project, explained the ideas behind the project and how this could be realised as a piece of work. After each student talked through their project, we had a group crit/discussion asking questions and sharing suggestions and views. It was really interesting and helpful to hear fellow students talking about their thought processes and ways of working.
It was particularly helpful when it came to discussing my parallel project which is still in the planning stage. It will be a continuation of a project that I’ve worked on over the last four years through all my level 3 courses. This forms a loose series of works looking at the changing the urban landscape of the Elephant and Castle and the surrounding area in south east London, which is the middle of a huge process of regeneration/gentrification. Presenting this helped to clarify my thoughts and what it is I want to achieve. Having Emma and the students talk around my project, helped me consider it from other viewpoints and look at other options. This has greatly helped me to think about what I’m doing for the project and will inform the direction this will take through the rest of the degree.
This was a really productive day that I’ve taken a lot from. I enjoy visual research; text-based research less so. So, it was good to explore ways of approaching this, which is something that is now going to be increasingly important going forwards with the degree. The second part of the day where we explored and discussed our projects, was particularly insightful and beneficial. As a distance learning student, we don’t have day to day contact with fellow students as you would in a bricks and mortar college, so this was a great opportunity to see the thought process behind the work of other distance learning students.
You can read fellow student Stefan’s account of the day here. 
Image credit: Stefan Schaffeld.

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