In the fray, In process, Interconnected, In the future

Associate Professor Nancy de Freitas
2012 Conference

The concept of material thinking is re-examined as a core artistic and design tool for the 21st century. The analysis is focused on important changes occurring in design and art education in response to transdisciplinary reorientations appearing in the design and cultural/creative industries. Artists and designers understand that the nature of their experiments and interventions is dynamic and emergent. They are familiar with the experience of project developments that change the pattern of their thinking even before they have an insight of the point of completion or a resolved outcome. These emergent and interdisciplinary working methods open multiple pathways while subjective and interpretative ways of thinking, integral in creative processes, add further complexity and richness to the process. Moreover, the effects of new and shifting interfaces between technology, art and design are important markers in the on-going review of education programmes and partnerships. Changing features of professional roles and capabilities in the design and creative/cultural industries have an impact on the education sectors. New professional capabilities are required of graduates and increasingly, there is recognition of the importance of wide ranging general knowledge outside of disciplinary domains for it’s valuable influence in collaborative working partnerships. Consideration of the environment, which denotes the material/physical/spatial dimensions of our experience as well as the human dimensions: the social, cultural and spiritual must also be a priority. This paper outlines four standpoints from which we might consider material thinking. They are separate but related frames through which I will attempt to articulate a working concept that may be broadly useful across academic and research domains as well as in the creative industry sector where the value of entrepreneurial activity is most highly prized.

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About the author

Nancy de Freitas is an academic and professional artist based at the School of Art and Design, Auckland University of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand where she is Programme Leader for the Master of Arts Management. De Freitas received her early education in Trinidad, West Indies. She completed her undergraduate and postgraduate degrees at the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto and the University of Auckland, respectively. Her installation works have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Current research interests include themes on professional education for the design, creative and cultural sectors, the language of research reporting, the effects of documentation/reflection practices on professional development and ‘material thinking’ approaches. She has lectured internationally on art and design practice-led research and material thinking methods at host institutions in the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, Sweden, Norway, Finland and Germany.