Monday, December 10, 2007

Fall Term Summary

At the orientation before the term started there were two points that were iterated repeatedly. First, this first term in particular is the time to experiment, and Second, the term is only 10 weeks long, don't dink around!

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Working with a view to social practice as my core medium was in it self a new and thus experimental endevour, so I interpreted the call to experiment by starting many things with out knowing how or when they would finish. I will admit some frustration at not feeling like I have anything to "show" ie: finished projects. But when I back up and take a longer view, I see that I have generated many projects and ideas to work on. I see too that, much like life, a social practice project doesn't always fit into a ten week academic period, so I am trying to learn a new way of measuring my progress that has more to do with the time and thought put in to the process and less with the "deliverables" at any given moment. Ten weeks is a VERY short time.

Besides making progress towards learning a new way of working, the biggest challenges and accomplishments I have made this term include;
Using technology:
Having to post to this blog has presented two challenges, first and most obvious is figuring out how to do it technically. Yes its pretty straight forward, but understanding the options for functionality and how to use them has taken me a fair bit of time. The reason understanding how to use these options is important leads to the second challenge that “blogging” presents; Understanding/finding a “voice” that feels both true and comfortable to me. I am still not clear how I feel about posting my work journal in a public format. It seems to me oxymoronic. The way I interpret it, my work journal is not something that is appropriate for public viewing. Not because it is too personal, or x rated, but because it is too wordy, too abstract, involves hand drawn symbols and clues, and would frankly be both cumbersome and boring for others to look at. So I am left with the impulse to put “finished” thoughts or documentation of “finished” work on my blog. I know this is not what I'm asked to do, but there you have it, thats been my dilemma. I am slowly making progress with it....

The second big challenge/accomplishment this term came with the requirement to speak to everyone (using technology) about my work. This was both extremely difficult and valuable. I absolutely hate that we have to do this every term, and I am also absolutely grateful we have to do this every term. I have an almost childlike determination to “nail” this, I know its only through practice that I will become able to be mindful (if never comfortable) and engaged with it.

The third challenge/accomplishment is the one most directly related to my practice. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, working with social practice as my core medium is new. I am both challenged, and excited by the plethora of possibilities. Even as I am trying to get my feet under me with my own projects, Harrell presents connections and potential projects that we as a group, and I individually want to pursue. I am really starting to understand the importance of knowing my own priorities, strengths and limits. This is REALLY a new world. I am having to learn how to think about thinking differently, learn how to operate more spontaneously in the present and have more trust in my self. I haven't' dialed this yet. But I have to, because absent learning how to make more hours in the day, I will fail if I don't. I don't mean to make this sound apocalyptic, because it isn't, its doable., and desirable! It is also however a steep learning curve. This is the most difficult, and potentially most rewarding aspect of my MFA experience so far. I am looking now at how I bring my self to all of this. I am happy (not exactly the right word) about this challenge, and I am also mindful that I come to all of this with a rich past that I want to include, and build on. My job is to figure out how to do that, for myself, and also to contribute to the group.

The last thing I will say in this summary is that I am so inspired and impressed by my fellow students. I'm not competitive, but I am aware (and appreciative) of the bar being set higher and higher.