Alistair Riddell

Teaching Technology as an Adjunct to Core Practice in Traditional Arts

Abstract:

This paper considers pedagogical issues in teaching a specific technology for integration in a traditional arts context. The objective of this convergence is to augment the aesthetic nature of a singular creative outcome. In this respect, the technology may function transparently, yet must uniquely enhance, reveal or articulate an expressive agenda for a particular traditional artwork. The technology under consideration has become widely known over the past decade as “physical computing”. Here are combined the two distinct and complex fields of electronics and programming. Physical Computing espouses simplification, seeks to demystify inherent complexities and provide a new creative means to engage technology that can potentially be integrated with any artistic practice. Generally Physical Computing is primarily of and about technology. However, it is this ability to sense and engage the physical world that is inspiring traditional artists today. Artists now appreciate that digital technology may have something to offer their particular practice that both confirms and extends it into the future. While many artists have undertaken private study of this technology, the demand for formal study is growing inside traditional Schools of Art. This is logical, considering the learning context and resource availability. However, traditional Art School education presents some challenges for a technological pedagogy that has no specific affiliation to any art form. From the perspective of a specific institutional context, this paper seeks to consider strategies that accommodate student driven interest and expectations while acknowledging the primacy of a core arts discipline.

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Alistair Riddell:

Alistair Riddell studied Music and Computer Science at La Trobe University in Melbourne and holds a PhD in computer music composition from Princeton University in the USA. He was a postdoctoral fellow at La Trobe University (1995-96) and President of the Australasian Computer Music Association (1994-96). Currently, he lectures in Sound Art and Physical Computing in Photography and Media Arts and is a visiting Fellow in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the Australian National University.

Across 30 years of engagement with digital technology in the creative arts, Riddell has experienced many challenges and witnessed profound changes in the contemporary arts landscape. From an early focus on music technology, Riddell now participates in the education of students in a much broader digital context that explores synergistic possibilities across a number of arts disciplines. As a consequence of this experience, Riddell has widened his personal creative interests and project activities. From performance to collaborative installation work, Riddell’s activities continue to explore the digital realm that provides a means to dynamically change the nature of an artwork under a variety of conditions.