ART BASED LITERACY WORKSHOP '95 VISUAL.ARTS.NETWORK.CONFERENCE.
(SW Sydney High School Visual Arts Network)
GEOFF BUCHAN. artist, visual action research consultant
CHERIE DIETRICH . artist, art teacher
The problem (as I see it) GEOFF BUCHAN.
There exists in literacy a dominant communication tradition which we tend to equate with reason.
Reason equates with a more linear sequenced (bit by bit) communication structure.
This structure can fail to evoke wholeness.
Impacted upon through this structure
the dominant verbal and numeric communication modes
can diminish our ability to cross refer spatially. (we have a linear understanding of the sequence of time)
A wider approach might be;
to address literacy with a multi-modal communication process
for overcoming some of the limitations impacting upon spatial understanding.
It is referred to here from a visual artists perspective as a 'tyranny of word sense',
A solution (especially in environs of low literacy skills)
Proposed is a workshop presentation with the 'medium as the message'.
Participants will be engaged in an art based literacy process which
overcomes some of the limitations that the 'tyranny of word sense'
Derived from Visual Emphasis Action Research, this workshop process enables a
collaborative re-evaluation of our dependence on the verbal / numeric
modes of communication.
Using visual notation, the workshop is designed to be a simple method
for helping students relate to complex art vocabulary. Creating rich
picture (multi modal), personally involved contexts and patterns which
relate to the word.
From Cherie Dietrich
The mind has two functions it must gather information and process it.
A split between sense and thought has caused disease in modern man.
Thinking is an intimate cooperation between all the senses.
Words of the dictionary point to a random collection of facets of concepts (labels).
Productive thought in no matter what cognitive takes place in the realm of imagery.
The workshop by Geoff Buchan and Nicholas Boyce
is about the potential for cultural mapping to empower distinct cultures,
suppressed under apartheid and living in one na-tion.
As a communication bridge, the mapping is seen as minimizing cultural clashes.
It en-ables people to embrace the opportunities arising
due to the radical societal shift from a closed
to the cracked-open systems change opportunities of the New South Africa.
Nicholas was an ANC activist who survived two assassination attempts.
He recognized the value of visual communication when he smuggled slides,
in-serted into his sandals, for secret community showings.
This enabled him to mobilize and unite people from different tribal and language groups in rural areas.
He was a former Homelands Magistrate.
Nicholas studied Systems Agriculture at UWS Hawkesbury
with an aim to overcome the environmental and social degradation
suffered under a regime in which they were constantly told;
what to do, when to act and how high to jump.
Seldom in the collective thinking were his people expected to express opinion or be free to question.
Cultural mapping as a combined literacy method
can be seen as a means to open peo-ple up to asking their questions.
Particularly in opening up from the collective mentality of the closed paradigm to the New South African
need for all people to be able to con-tribute to productive and generative thought.