Futureland Now – A Conversation, John Kippin and Chris Wainwright in conversation with Liz Wells

Located this conversation online after my tutor quoted Liz Wells as saying that a criterion for evaluating art is whether it makes you think differently about something of importance.

Liz: Rhetorically it could be suggested that artistic creativity is about thinking outside the box, looking around the sides of issues, bringing different perceptions to bear. For me one of the criteria for evaluating art is whether imagery makes me think differently about something that matters.

John: Yes, and something that actually affects you in some way so that it changes some aspect of your life experientially in some respect.

Liz: Yes, even if only minimally

John: Yes its very important, in a small way, but its never going to change your life over night, or only very exceptionally. But that isn’t what you’d be looking for it to do.

Chris: But it can also affirm .For me it can strengthen a view that you have; maybe if you have an emerging notion of something that is relatively unexplored or undeveloped, seeing it and exploring it through the work can actually bring it on further. So it might not always make you think differently, It might actually empower you to think ‘yeah I am on the right track’ because there is something affirmative emerging from it.

John: In some ways it may just open questions up for you, make you think about them. This might not necessarily be just the ‘issue’ that is in front of you, but a quality of engagement that makes you think about whether or not the issue has any real concern for you

To my mind this is more relevant as a three-way discussion than Wells’ statement taken out of the surrounding context. The artists have some valid points that they make as well – art can reinforce a concept that is beginning to take shape, and I think this is what happens during the production process as well. On the issue of engagement, I’m still wondering at the assessor’s conclusion that my work for the previous module was not engaging enough – is this because the issue was of no real importance to the viewers, lacking empathetic referents? Am I fully or partly to blame for that? Since the issue that I raised is of relatively parochial significance, perhaps an international audience would view it differently. If I had shown a more ‘pressing’ issue, or if the protagonists were in a more ‘desperate’ situation, would the work have been accepted differently? Who decides how engaging something is? Is it not a subjective evaluation of a piece of work? Surely if this was really the case it should have been pointed out to me by my tutor, who saw all 3 films and did not at any point express concern that they were ‘not engaging enough’ (about length we agreed, and I even shortened the final film by a whole minute after Peter had seen it). On the contrary, he assured me that I was highlighting an issue that was relatively unknown in the West. This is clear from the tutor feedback I was given. Was this taken into account? Is the tutor accountable for his advice? What then is the point of having a tutor at all? These are supposedly professional pedagogical trainers whose job it is (they are paid) to guide students towards making decisions that will help them obtain the results they are trying to obtain from the assessment team. At least that’s the impression I had.

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