ACUADS Conference

In light of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the devastation of recent Australian bushfires, the 2020 ACUADS Conference will explore the theme of crisis and resilience.

With the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic yet to be realised and a recent Australian defence report warning of Australia’s vulnerabilities to overlapping ‘crises as diverse as cyberwar, climate-induced catastrophe and a pandemic,’ is our sector prepared for an unpredictable future?

In this time of unprecedented global uncertainty, what can be learned from the impacts of recent overlapping crises? Furthermore, how might strategies developed insulate the student and academy of the future? As we begin to assume the ‘new normal,’ how do we discard practices that no longer serve us? And, how do we shape what has worked to build the optimism and resilience needed to flourish in our new paradigm?

The 2020 ACUADS Conference responds to four thematic prompts:
• Building hope through collaborative practices
• Studio practices reimagined
• Together in tough times
• Taking the learnings forward

Contributions from academics, postgraduate students, designers and artists that consider Crisis and Resilience in the context of contemporary art and design practice, including pedagogy, are welcomed.

In recognition of diverse forms of knowledge, presentation formats may include artist talks, performance, creative works etc as well as academic papers. All academic papers will undergo a double blind peer-review process after the conference event, for publication through the ACUADS website, unless authors nominate to not have their papers put through this process.

Co-hosted by the National Art School, Art & Design, UNSW Sydney, Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney and UTS School of Design. 

5 NOVEMBER 2020: Building hope through collaborative practices

Building hope through collaborative practices

Co-ordinator: Jacqueline Gothe (Associate Professor, UTS School of Design)

• Collaborating through crises.
• The potential for composing or recomposing flourishing as social & cultural activity in times of emergency.
• Hope: beyond optimism and agility, to evolving pedagogies for practice in art and design.

Join us online on Thursday 5 November, 6pm AEDT 


Diana Chester

University of Sydney
Creative Collaborations across Oceans during COVID 

This paper/presentation looks at two musically scored short films, co-composed with artists in India and the United States during the Pandemic. The paper will explore the sonic resonance of place, reconceptualized as the physical containers which serve as our constraints during lock down, as well as our obstructions for creativity and practice. By considering the new collaborative factors  that have arisen in these times, I will offer a perspective of how these types of international creative  collaborations can fuel an emerging discourse on the logistical and temporal qualities of international creative exchanges in a COVID and post COVID moment.

What is it about creativity and collaboration that draws artists together in this moment, even those who do not actively collaborate otherwise? What does this pull toward navigating creativity in moments of crisis across large cultural and geographic divides provide for artists, and can these exchanges impact other areas of shared understanding beyond the practice based work? What, if anything, can these final creative pieces reveal about the way we collaborate, our experiences of isolation and shared desire to create beyond our immediate realm, and how do we as artists and audience members “listen back” to or consume these pieces of media is the current moment when everything is ultimately virtual and received through a screen?

Katherine Moline
UNSW School of Art and Design
Changing the Rules of the Game: Subjectivity, Agency and Data

Data is on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but what does it mean and what does it want from us? This paper critically reflects on two series of creative workshops that engage participants in imagining alternatives to dominant narratives about data in relation to public surveillance (2016), artificial intelligence (2017), climate change (2018) and women’s health (2020). The theoretical ambition of these workshops, titled Myths of the Near Future (2014-2016) and Expanding Experimental Aesthetics in the Social Imaginary (2017-ongoing), is to reimagine and redefine our relationship to data with approaches that test the limits and possibilities of co-design. The research presents insights about the co-design methodology that are relevant to co-design practitioners in the service sector and beyond. The paper will first describe how the workshops misuse technologies for the purpose of collaboratively reinterpreting common fears, fantasies and phobias about data. Countering the routinisation of co-design, I propose that collaboration in co-design is difficult because it can too readily flip into its opposite, coercion. My unease about co-design’s potential to corral the agency of workshop participants corresponds with criticisms in the fields of informatics and cultural development. The omission of criticisms of co-design as a practice of colonisation in contemporary histories of art and design will be addressed through documentation of the workshops. The paper offers a preliminary account of my testing of an advanced form of co-design, ethnographic surrealism. Drawing from Michel Leiris’s exploration of subjectivity in ethnography I describe how the workshop activities, when framed within ethnographic surrealism, have produced images and narratives about data that are aesthetically charged. The paper concludes with some anti-principles that reflect on the contradictory qualities of images and feelings produced in collaborative explorations of data as an embodied medium, and that expand opportunities for reflection, co-creation, co-existence and hope.


The author gratefully acknowledges the support provided by the UNSW Faculty Research Grant ‘Expanding Experimental Aesthetics in the Social Imaginary’ (2017-2020).


ethnographic surrealism, experimental art and design research, participatory art, co-design, data

Dr Nicolas Bullot, Lecturer in Philosophy
Richard Fejo, DANT Honorary Member
Darcy Jenning, DANT Start-up Award participant
Nikita Kafetzis, DANT Member
Allyce Maree Peckett, DANT Start-up Award participant
Alex Nuynh, DANT Member
Yvette Martin, DANT Member
Sarah Pirrie, Lecturer in Creative and Digital Arts
Matthew van Roden, Lecturer in Creative and Digital Arts 

Charles Darwin University
Counting Distance Stories from Digital Arts Northern Territory (DANT) a collaborative student-centred creative network  

The Northern Territory is familiar with distance learning and engagement with diverse student needs. Remote and regional dynamics, often exacerbated by technology, weather and funding has always provided challenges. During 2020, the global coronavirus pandemic impacted on all States and Territories. Charles Darwin University for the first time went to a period of exclusively online learning with an emphasis on digital platforms. Challenging the normal locality of practice, work-home divisions were reframed through the digital discourse of online programmes.  

ARTLAB, an interdisciplinary unit of the College of Indigenous Futures, Arts and Societyestablished Digital Arts Northern Territory (DANT) ( in late July 2020 as an interdisciplinary collective dedicated to supporting creativity and upskilling in digital communication. DANT aims to provide Charles Darwin University students with a student-led digital platform, opportunities to connect with new mentors and networks and to critically build community resilience to assuage the distress and divisions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.  

This presentation highlights DANT as a developing community collective involving collaboration between students and staff and engagement with the creative arts as a learning trajectory and ‘pandemic pedagogy’ more acute to advocacy, empathy, and partnerships.   

All contributions to this presentation have been acknowledged recognising indigenist methodologies that challenge the Western/European hierarchical divisions between the researcher and the subject studied. DANT as a community collective subvert the long-establish division in the Western/European academia between undergraduate and postgraduate (higher) education, again to deliver a more inclusive and compassionate environment for supporting academic and artistic creativity.   

Harrison See

Edith Cowan University
Dialogic Painting and Mythology: Cross-cultural collaboration amidst COVID restrictions 

This paper will discuss early findings from cross-cultural collaborative research that proposed travel to South-East Asia prior to COVID-19. This practice-led research (PLR) aimed to identify and explore emergent creativity between diverse arts practices, specifically through practices of collaborative painting. This doctoral PLR is dialogic, informed by Bakhtin’s (1981), The Dialogic Imagination: Four essays, in its approach to collaboration. An approach that frames collaboration within a social space where meaning is made collectively through mutually reciprocated utterances; utterances that in this research take on verbal, written and material forms. Findings from these creative encounters will contribute to a wider discussion of how new bodies of knowledge can emerge, transform and translate across divergent communities. A process that generates cross-cultural understanding and, by extension cross-cultural empathy.

COVID-19 has created both challenges and opportunities during this research period, with travel restrictions, material shortages and social distancing reframing how this PLR has approached cross-cultural collaboration. The difficulties of collaborating online or via congested postal services notwithstanding, this paper focusses on a series of collaborative painting encounters between contemporary painters, Harrison See and Desmond Mah. A collaboration resulting in a video titled, Intermission (2020). This video was screened periodically during July at Perth city’s Yagan Square Digital Tower Screen as part of a recent Screenwest creative grant. Contractually bound by this grant, this collaboration adhered to COVID-19 restrictions on location, participant numbers and social distancing; restrictions that lead to creative opportunities for these two painters. The resulting large-scale painting saw Mah and See draw on their respective socio-cultural iconography as they applied inks, gesso and soy sauce, reworking their own, and each other’s imagery. While painting, the two artists improvise a whimsical yet tension-filled story examining their hybrid cultural identities during a time of international crisis.

12 NOVEMBER 2020: Studio practices reimagined

Studio practices reimagined

Co-ordinator: Simon Cooper (Head of Studies, National Art School)

• “Missing you already” Materiality: can art & design address the big issues with data alone?
• Created a Simulated Photographic Studio. Merging public (open) tools with University (closed) tools to meet student expectations.
• Distributed studio pedagogies – What does best practice studio teaching look like online? After the COVID crisis passes, what aspects of online delivery ought to be preserved?

Join us online on Thursday 12 November, 6pm AEDT


Panel A


Denise Ferris, ANU; Shanti Shea An, ANU; Charles Robb, QUT

Julian Goddard

RMIT University
Live Materiality in Art and Craft

This short paper considers developments in New Materialism and its relationship to Pragmatism by extending some of the recent accounts of this relationship to include an expanded idea of ‘live materiality’ (my term). The paper briefly introduces New Materialism and Pragmatism by outlining their histories and main postulations. Following Daniel Richards’ (2019) argument for the importance of Dewey in the formulation of Jane Bennett’s ‘expanded public’ in her Vibrant Matter (2010), the paper then argues for a new way of considering non-human agency in the practices of art and craft. It goes on to argue for a reconsideration of John Dewey’s Art as Experience (1934) and Experience and Nature (1925) as to a new understanding of aesthetic experience embedded in the relationship between artists/craftspeople and their materials. The paper leans on Richard Shusterman’s Pragmatism and East-Asian Thought (2004) and his discussion of the differences between Western and Eastern philosophical notions of aesthetics and experience. The paper extends some of Shusterman’s ideas to include non-human agency of materials (in line with New Materialism) by not only expanding his rejection of Kant’s disinterested quality of aesthetic experience but also, I argue, by encompassing an even more radical position of the empathy of all materials. This argument is then compounded by the consideration of Epicurean accounts of materiality, reinforced by acknowledging the similarities between Pragmatism and Epicureanism (Hobbs:2014). The paper concludes with a summation of the three philosophical movements’ alignments regarding materiality and postulates a radical possibility for materiality in the teaching and learning of art and craft practices.

Carolyn McKenzie-Craig

National Art School
Materiality, Glitch, Covidity: an altered learning ‘scape’

How does the matter of materiality itself (Jane Bennett) impact learning pedagogies in the data stream? This talk will consider this question from the perspective of the glitch to examine how data as ‘matter’ becomes the materiality of an altered learning ‘scape’ one fueled by processes of copy – repeat and malfunction. The ways that data as a transference code alters teaching and learning protocols will be discussed in relation to broader ideas of a ‘free fall for subjects and objects alike’ (Hito Steyerl 2011) and how the Covid era may re-shape the perspective of ‘learning’ itself.

Jan Guy

Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney
Lost in Translation? haptics, the studio-based arts and the distancing of Covid-19

The world event of COVID-19 has brought into focus an almost pathologised fear of contamination through touch and/or physical intimacy, which is not unwarranted given this disease’s virility. The collective necessity to contain this disease has seen immediate and great changes in the way we structure social activities – what is permitted and what is taboo. Studio Art Education is no less founded on deep social interactions between teachers and students, and between artists and their artworks, and finally, the artwork and audience. The survival-orientated response within the Arts Education community has seen a rush to translate studio teaching to online modes of delivery or completely shut down any art activity that requires intimate interactions. At the centre of these restructurings is our haptic consciousness and actions. What will be the consequences of these restructurings? What will be lost and what will be gained for the emerging artist? How will art’s forms change?

If, as Margaret Atwood wrote, ‘‘Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth’ then the consequences of its potential loss from Art Education cannot be ignored. The nuances of touch are played out through the teaching and making of art in the notions and practicalities of materiality, gesture, ambulation, three-dimensional space(s) and body languages. While all the disciplines of visual arts, to some degree, are reliant on these aspects of art’s syntax, they are the very ground of those art forms classified as three-dimensional such as ceramics, sculpture, jewellery and glass.

This paper will examine the translation of the haptic senses in teaching and speculate on the possible losses and gains to be had in the age of COVID.

Yvette Putra

University of Melbourne
“Every Great Architect Is a Great Poet”: A Methodology for Ekphrasis in Studies of Architectural Design in Times of Quarantine and Isolation, and Beyond

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated quarantine and isolation. Such measures have shifted studies of architectural design to be delivered partly or wholly online, thus unsettling and recasting the distinct pedagogical interactions of the studio. Further, through the closure of cultural sites and repositories, architecture and architectural artefacts are practically inaccessible. This leads to two limitations, of which the first is that studio participants can only convey and critique ideas through descriptions, oral and written, and through on-screen representations that are, ultimately, reduced to two dimensions. In this way, an appreciation of certain qualities, such as the ambient and the haptic, is diminished. The second limitation is that students may no longer visit exemplars of architecture and architectural artefacts, which precludes a complete understanding of such precedents.

This paper proposes ekphrasis as a method to alleviate the problems in teaching and learning architectural design during quarantine and isolation. Ekphrasis is defined as “[t]he literary representation of visual art”, and one of its first attestations in literature is in Homer’s Iliad (c. 8th century BCE). In architecture, Alberti, through his seminal work, De Re Aedificatoria (1452), engages in ekphrasis, because he circumvented the technological limitations of his time by not including any illustrations. This raises the intriguing notion that ekphrasis can negotiate the constraints of archaic technologies, as much as mitigate present-day experiences of digital ‘overload’, which are particularly acute during a lockdown.

This paper puts forward a methodology for ekphrasis in studies of architectural design, by, first, reflecting on examples of architectural ekphrases, from literary and architectural standpoints; and, second, through discussing the applications of ekphrasis, to conceptualise and convey design, and to engage with architecture that is geographically remote. This paper recommends that ekphrasis is a powerful tool in the toolbox of architectural design pedagogy, even as face-to-face studios resume.

Stephen Atkinson

University of South Australia
What can Bob Ross and ASMR teach us about the development of hybrid models of studio teaching and learning?

Bob Ross, creator-star of the popular television series, The Joy of Painting (1983-1994), and posthumous YouTube sensation, is not usually considered a serious artist or art educator. His adoption of wet-on-wet oil painting techniques – which allowed him to complete his characteristic landscapes within the time limits of the show – the gentle cadences of his soothing baritone, and his reassuring embrace of chance effects (“There are no mistakes, just happy accidents”) were key elements of his popularity. Taken together these also contribute to Ross ‘ current cult status amongst the ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) community of people who experience pleasing, tingling sensations while watching Ross and other suites of online videos that highlight tactile, material engagements.

While the ASMR community and the ‘ASMRtists’ who collate and produce content for it constitute a relatively recent and still fringe phenomenon, the bodily responses to material engagements experienced by makers and artists, and the sensations felt by people engaging with their creations, have been at the centre of well-established philosophical investigations, particularly from the perspective of feminist cinema studies and new materialism. As Elizabeth Grosz notes, with reference to Deleuze and Guattari’s work on affect and the arts, ‘ the arts produce and generate intensity, that which directly impacts the nervous system and intensifies sensation ‘ (Grosz 2008: 3). Such intensifications are also at the heart of ASMR.

What potentially distinguishes the two is the matter of mediation and the vicariousness of online sensory engagement. This paper will set out to entangle both approaches to materiality to find in Bob Ross and other instances of affective edutainment, new possibilities for virtual engagement with online and hybrid forms of studio education.

Reference: Elizabeth Grosz, 2008, Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the framing of the Earth, Columbia University Press, New York

Panel B


Simon Cooper, NAS; Shane Hulbert, RMIT

Dr Courtney Pedersen, Dr Courtney Coombs, Dr Karike Ashworth

Queensland University of Technology
Collaboration, Cultural Awareness and Covid: interdisciplinary foundational training under lockdown

Already grappling with the complexities of foundational creative practice training across nine arts disciplines as disparate as Animation and Acting, Film/Screen and Music, Creative Writing and Visual Arts, the first-year Understanding Creative Practice unit at QUT was faced with the challenge of a rapid pivot to online teaching in 2020 due to COVID-19. Using a reflective practitioner approach, the coordinator and two long-term teaching staff members discuss the complexities of delivering challenging studio-based interdisciplinary learning for large, diverse cohorts and our transition to an online environment during 2020. They consider the barriers created by this experience, as well as the key understandings and possible opportunities this experience offers for a future where arts educators are almost certainly going to be asked to achieve more with less in complex and changeable circumstances.

Daniel McKewen

Queensland University of Technology
Digital Naivety and the displaced ‘studio’

This presentation will consider the complexities of online studio art teaching in the COVID-present, specifically in relation to the ‘digital naivety’ of ‘Digital Native’ students. The rapid shift to online-learning at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis was accompanied by suggestions that so-called ‘digital natives’ would be well-positioned to readily adapt. Instead, online-studio teaching again laid bare the shortcomings of this out-moded moniker, and the ever-urgent need for newly responsive ways of considering studio teaching practice.

Stemming from a present-first-hand experience of online and face-to-face visual art studio teaching, this presentation will describe observations made of learning experiences during the COVID crisis. Despite their digital-native status, mid-degree visual art students struggled to identify and creatively act upon this autodidactically-privileged position. Instead they remained adrift in an online-ocean of experiential, creative, and ideological possibilities – digital-naïfs struggling to turn their digitally-centric lives to the pursuit of art-making at all. This presentation will posit that this makes clear the need to rethink how students are supported in their growth toward self-determined digital-nomadism. That while ‘the studio’ can be a potent pedagogical place, its displaced status in the COVID-present demands a radical revision both online and ‘off’.

Elizabeth Pulie

National Art School
Studio Practice Online: The Return to Art as Concept

The art of the current moment is frequently charged with lacking adequate theorisation, definition, or a philosophy, with theorist’s attempts at such theorisation frequently compromised by a desire to remain true to the moment’s sense of plurality, a-historicity and lack of narrative. Peter Osborne’s claim that contemporary art is a ‘post-conceptual’ art is based on the fact of conceptual artists’ failure to achieve the ideals of art’s dematerialisation, deaestheticisation and deinstitutionalisation. The contemporary moment in art, despite arising from conceptual ideals, has paradoxically returned art’s theorisation primarily to its object-ness or materiality.

Teaching studio classes via Zoom compromised a material apprehension of students’ work, with artworks presented as digital images and presentations rendering them less visible in an experiential sense, and their critique less certain. Similarly, physical artworks existed in a vacuum during the pandemic’s lockdown, lonely and abandoned in gallery spaces, their digital likenesses appearing on isolated screens informed by varying formats. Without surrounding events such as openings, artist’s talks, or the simple incidence of a person standing in front of and apprehending an object in a physical space, what is art? If a teacher cannot see physical artworks, can art as a practice or discipline be taught?

The Zoom format demanded a more formal structure than physical studio classes, and many lecturers found it helpful to make mini-presentations or lectures at the start of class, which students seemed to appreciate. When theory is taught within the context of the studio, it offers to re-establish the importance of theory to practice, rather than remove it. This paper will examine the positive tendency for artworks to exist as a concept over an object without an actual audience, and posit a way forward for contemporary practice to re-embrace, or at least reconsider, the anti-material, deinstitutionalised ideals of the conceptual period.

Kate Tregolan

University of Melbourne
Finding Creativity in Crisis … a framework for distributed design studio pedagogies

The Built Environment Learning + Teaching (BEL+T) group in the Faculty of Architecture Building and Planning (ABP) at the University of Melbourne found itself in the crosshairs of the sudden ‘move online’. Acceleration, and intensification, of a planned engagement with blended learning approaches found BEL+T applying its own creative problem-solving and design-led approaches, evidence-based research methodologies, and project-focused consultancy alongside educators. This paper will reflect on the lessons and the outcomes from this exploration and articulation of a framework for new distributed studio practices.

Guided by ongoing engagement with a global design education discourse, the BEL+T DIAgram brings Delivery, Interaction and Assessment into a relational structure with the dual aim of student Learning Engagement and Belonging. This DIAgram considers the delivery of relevant content, the support for effective interaction with and between students, and assessment approaches in an online space. BEL+T’s website and workshop content builds around this framework, helping studio leaders consider often tacit, but interrelated parts of pedagogical practice in a new environment.

Further development and explication of the approach drew on crowdsourced and emerging strategies within the Faculty, informing innovation ‘in flight’. Studio tutors are exploring weekly workflow models in which student engagement is less dependent on face-to-face presence, and asynchronous modes of delivery, interaction and assessment uncover new potential. The shift is evident in the enhanced use of LMS sites; largely superfluous pre-pandemic, these are now rich with content and embedded with tools for authentic interaction. BEL+T provision of LMS ‘uplift’ support, including pedagogic and technical consultations, resources and step-by-step guides, aims for educators to manage and improve these sites in distributed environments.

This presentation will describe this work by BEL+T in a complex and shifting space, share outcomes of associated research, and identify implications for studio pedagogy’s ‘next normal’.

Tara Winters

University of Auckland
Re-thinking and Re-making Studio Pedagogy: Observations from the Frontline of the Online Studio

At the start of the 2020 academic year we found ourselves in exceptional pedagogical circumstances; part of a global experiment in online teaching and learning. This article draws on the authors own experience as well as student survey results of ’emergency remote teaching and learning’ across a full semester in practice-based, Fine Arts courses. A narrative and reflective approach is taken to reveal what has been learnt about specific technological tools and flexible teaching practices that present opportunities for re-thinking and re-making studio teaching practices in readiness for an uncertain future.

Observations include: the effects of the shifted social dynamic toward a more even dialogic space; the more structured nature of online communication and its impact on clear and consistent documentation of progress; and the affordances of infinitely updatable, multi-modal, digital media on the collecting, processing and presentation of source/research material for creative practice. Developed as a pedagogical perspective combining reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action this article offers a mediation on first-hand-experience and a socialising of that knowledge with reference to literature concerned with ‘the online studio problem’.


Together in tough times

Co-ordinator: Andrew Lavery (Director, Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney)

• Connectedness, care, critique … signature pedagogies in the virtual art and design studio.
• Taking the cry out of crisis. Creating serious fun and community.
• Learning and collaboration in isolation and across distance.
• Degree Shows without a physical location.

Join us online on Thursday 19 November, 6pm AEDT


Gale Mason

Edith Cowan University
Maintaining Creative Dialogues During a Crisis 

This co-authored paper discusses reflections from an ongoing interdisciplinary forum This Is Not A Seminar or TINAS, which was established in 2012 to support practice-led and practice based Higher Degree by Research students. TINAS is co-facilitated by Dr Lyndall Adams, Dr Renee Newman, Dr Marcella Polain and Professor Mindy Blaise. Higher Degree by Research (HDR) students from the School of Arts and Humanities (SAH), the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts and the school of Education at Edith Cowan University, act as post-graduate facilitators. TINAS is an interdisciplinary community of practice (CoP) including members from performance, visual arts, creative writing and design. Sessions take place bi-weekly, with participants given the opportunity to explore a potential multiplicity of perspectives and engage in creative research dialogues. TINAS has proved to be an invaluable resource in bringing HDR students from a range of diverse creative disciplines together, establishing a CoP, and generating a vibrant exchange of ideas and experiences. In addition, TINAS provides essential support for HDR students regarding critical academic reading and writing, as well as pertinent research concerns.

However, with the recent advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions on social distancing, travel, and significantly reduced access to ECU’s campus, and therefore peers, TINAS has adopted alternate solutions to maintain operations, and importantly, student contact and support. Through digital platforms such as Zoom, TINAS has endured successfully during this international crisis. The way that these platforms shifted community engagement, created alternative and uncanny approaches to these already creative dialogues of exchange. The conditions created by the COVID-19 pandemic, has accentuated its importance within its community and the support it provides. Experiences from this unusual period are reflected on by several TINAS members, as their community engagement has been disrupted and reimagined.

Professor Susan Orr

York St John University
From Research Idea to Publication

Professor Susan Orr is a National Teaching Fellow and the Editor of the international journal Art, Design and Communication in Higher Education. She has written extensively about art and design pedagogy. She co-authored Art and Design Pedagogy in Higher Education: Knowledge, Values and Ambiguity in the Creative Curriculum published by Routledge with Professor Alison Shreeve in 2018.

In this brief overview Professor Orr will talk about her role as a journal Editor and what advice she would offer to aspiring creative educator/researchers who want to get published. This presentation will support participants to reflect on their own practice in light of creating and sharing research outputs. Susan will reflect on the journey from initial research idea to publication and will offer tips that will help colleagues get their research to wider audiences.

Professor Orr has just taken up the role of Pro Vice Chancellor: Learning and Teaching at York St John University. Prior to that she was Dean of Learning and Teaching Enhancement at University of the Arts London. In 2017 she was a member of the main Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Panel and in 2018 was appointed Chair of the Arts Panel for the first subject-level pilot of the TEF in the UK. Susan chairs the European League of Institutes of the Arts’ Teachers Academy (see call for proposals here

Dominic Redfern

RMIT University

Taking a deep history perspective, this paper charts an evolutionary approach to the question of what art does, and suggests it as a means to work through the current anxieties that beset our species. A utopian vision of sorts, it is an approach that emphasises the significance of forms and traditions that exist beyond the academy: both pre-modern and contemporary. Drawing upon work from the intersection of biology and philosophy, such as that of Edward O Wilson, Ellen Dissayanake and Katja Mandoki, the paper emphasises the folk dimension of creative practice to reconsider our approach to aesthetic values and judgments. As a position it stresses a renewed modesty and localism in arts practice that plays against the global and spectacular trajectories that have characterised so much that has been celebrated in the age of the biennale. As such it seeks the empowerment of everyday artists to process challenges to our world and affirm our place within it.

Jacina Leong

RMIT University
Thinking with, and acting from, this place

From climate emergencies to global pandemics, to care in complex human and more-than-human worlds, amidst ongoing political, social and ecological challenges, is a weighted undertaking for contemporary curatorial practice, at once ‘globally implicated & radically situated’ [1], to critically and creatively grapple with.

Over the course of four weeks, in August 2020, and as part of the online Concentric Curriculum program (Bus Projects, Melbourne), artist-curator Jacina Leong invited a group of practitioners, whose work resonates with contemporary curatorial practice — of bringing people together to explore and respond to complex challenges through socially engaged, transdisciplinary and pedagogic formats — to re-evaluate and reimagine the methods, ethics and purposes of their practices. In doing so, this was not a ‘call for productivity in difficult times’ [2] but an opportunity to pause and reflect, to explore not only what bringing people together makes possible, but also the following sorts of questions: What are our methods and how do they shape the ethics and purposes of our work? What new forms of sociality might emerge from these moments? What are the implications of bringing people together online, as physical isolation continues? How can we use this time as an opportunity, not to return to the same habits, but to think through inventive methods ready to meet new demands and needs? What methods should we let go off? What methods do we take forward? And finally, for who do we care, what for, why and how, in and through our practices?

In this talk, Jacina explores early insights that emerged from these shared reflections and group discussions, facilitated in response to four overarching themes — Situating Presents, Curatorial Traces, Complicating Care, Possible Futures — and how, as practitioners bringing people together to explore and respond to complex challenges, we might take up the challenge to carefully ‘think-with, & act from, this place’ [3].

References [1] AusSTS. 2019. ‘AusSTS Graduate Workshop.’ [2] Haus der Kulturen der Welt. 2020. ‘New Alphabet School: Caring.’ [3] Osborne, Natalie. 2019. ‘For still possible cities: A politics of failure for the politically depressed.’ Australian Geographer, vol. 50: pp. 145–154. doi: 10.1080/00049182.2018.1530717.

26 NOVEMBER 2020: Taking the learnings forward

Taking the learnings forward

Co-ordinator: Marie Sierra (Adjunct Professor, Art & Design, UNSW Sydney)

• Interdisciplinary research and education has never been more important as we face multiple shared crises.
• How can art intersect with other disciplines, industries and communities to help, and what are the unique contributions only artists can make?
• If we can manage the COVID crisis, can we face & manage ecological crisis – what role does & can art & design play?
• Final Roundtable with ACUADS Exec about managing and mitigating the consequences of crisis, anticipating how to react to achieve optimal outcomes.

Join us online on Thursday 26 November, 6pm AEDT


Dr Lisa Andrew

Independent Researcher

Modified Fruit: Weaving transculture through practice

This paper seeks to address transcultural processes to make visible the position of art within an interdisciplinary practice. Addressing current theories surrounding the term transculture makes apparent that non-prescriptive practice, wonder and materiality are characteristics of an arts practice.

To sharpen this idea, I point to some similarities between transculture and New Materialism, with a focus on the theoretical critique surrounding oppositions. Theories surrounding transculture and new materialism point to an ethical and decolonising position. Transcultural processes produce misunderstandings and mistranslations, but these can be fruitful; mimicry, a form of transcultural engagement, has been regarded as an act that can be deliberate, an experiential way of learning and a way of knowing the world.

This paper positions the idea that a productive way to theorise this is to return to anthropologist Fernando Ortiz’s neologism, ‘transculture’ (1947), in which the ‘interplay of cultural forms and material conditions’ (Coronil in Ortiz 1995, p. xiii) gives rise to a processual space in which differences are negotiated through engagement, collaboration, and appropriation (Pratt 1992).Syncretic forms are the result of transcultural processes; these new forms are not only multicultural and hybrid, they also speak asymmetrically as transculture is a not so much an object as a process in which uneven forms of appropriation and their asymmetrical reception are in constant motion. In considering Art’s role within interdisciplinarity this paper draws from my experience of working at the Museum of Contemporary Art as well as on my research on the history and transculturation of the pineapple in the Philippines; I draw on the history of the transcultural agency of the pineapple as a way of visualizing how living in many countries informed my own arts practice.

Dr Tom Penney, Kate Inabinet, Christian McCrea, Jen Lade

RMIT University, School of Design
Games and Their Education re:COVID

The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated calls for digital skilling and literacy in the arts sector. We at RMIT games reflect on our team’s experiences with games during the current crisis. We present how games education and industry practices, particularly from the independent and art-games sectors, can inspire transformation. I also reflect on my very recent work with the Australia Council of the Arts as a key advisor on digital transformation strategy, where we have looked to the games sector for guidance on how the arts can better skill, broadcast, language and encourage collaboration amongst its stakeholders. De-siloing between traditional approaches and inclusivity towards digitally-native practices are central to strategizing here broadly. Points of tension or enquiry include the following; that games require collaborative thinking between creative artists and technical systems experts, which challenge the individual centricity of practices in traditional or establishment fine arts. Games require a deep and legitimate digital literacy, rather than a taken-for-granted form of this, as was made common in the post-digital turn of the past 10 years. The games sector is seen as a current leader, politically, in the field of labour reform. Although games struggle with perceptions of sexism, the consumers of games are diverse and the producers of games are leaders in the discourses of gender diversity, non-binary representation and support for neurodiversity. Games also have an innate acceptance of digital provisioning platforms rather than a cynicism towards them. My provocation is that the fine or establishment arts look to incorporating some of these practices in a generative and adaptive way at a more rigorously structural level in order to future-proof their offerings as some international institutions have already been doing.

Madeleine Kelly

Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney
Liveliness: Can the life of the material image save forms of life?

In this paper I focus on German art historian and critic Isabelle Graw’s ideas of the living work and living history. My focus is guided by the question: How might the metaphor of the living work extend to that of the living planet? The view that images have a life of their own is a well-known vitalist projection (Hans Belting, WJT Mitchell). I sketch a way to avoid the transcendental and animistic tones cast by this projection in favour of a more hopeful view, a braiding whereby vital formations that arise by way of affinities are a particularly powerful form of non-human address. The vitality of images makes a case for the saving of image-life and planetary-life by entwining the affective with the cognitive and the immanent with the transcendent.

Throughout the paper I describe works from my Open Studio, currently on show at the Queensland Art Gallery (10 October 2020 – 31 January 2021). The project presents a facsimile of my studio, sculptural paintings, an animation, and a curated exhibition of works from the collection, and also hosts socially engaged events. Together they provide insight into my creative practice through structural and elective affinities. Affinity is a material-semiotic metaphor that allows me to show audiences how I work with homology and analogy, and mediate dialectics to form ideas through linking and pattern making. By working with affinities, I make affine-like formations that are enlivened through different painterly processes. At times they remind us that many species also form a fabric, one now contingent on a key human thread. I argue that affinities create bonds and relations that connect us to the sensing world and, by extension, sensible solutions.

ACUADS Roundtable

Please join us for a discussion with ACUADS Executive members on the advocacy work of peak bodies such as ACUADS and the challenges that lie ahead.

Led by ACUADS Chair, Professor Denise Ferris, ANU School of Art, with guests Professor Clive Barstow and Professor Andrew Norton

Professor Clive Barstow is Executive Dean of Arts & Humanities at Edith Cowan University, Honorary Professor of Art at the University of Shanghai Science & Technology China, Honorary Professor of Design at Guangdong Baiyun University China and global faculty member of Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey USA. Prior to moving to Australia in 1992, Clive taught at Middlesex University in London and the Kent Institute of Art and Design. He trained under Eduardo Paolozzi at the University of the Arts London (Chelsea School of Art) and holds a PhD from Griffith University Australia. Clive is a practicing artist and writer. His exhibition profile includes forty years of international exhibitions, artist residencies and publications in Europe, America, Asia and Australia. His work is held in a number of collections, including the Musse National d’Art Modern Pompidou Centre Paris and the British Council USA. Clive is President of the Australian Council of Deans & Directors of Creative Arts (DDCA) and President of the newly formed Sino-Australian Artists Association. He is also Director of the Open Bite Australia Print Workshop, which encourages the development of printmaking within a number of local indigenous communities. His recent exhibitions include “Tomorrow is History” at the Turner Galleries Perth WA, “Giving Yesterday A Tomorrow” at the Hu Jiang Gallery Shanghai China, “Cultural Pruning” at the Meou Art Gallery M50 Art Space Shanghai and recent publications include “Encountering the Third Space: a study of identity and hybridity through trans cultural artistic practice in Australia and China” Oxford University UK. In 2019 Clive was awarded the lifelong fellowship award by the Australian Council for University Art & Design Schools, for his outstanding contribution to art and design education in Australia.

Andrew Norton is a Professor in the Practice of Higher Education Policy at the Centre for Social Research and Methods at the Australian National University. Prior to joining the ANU he was the Higher Education Program Director at the Grattan Institute from 2011 to 2019. While at Grattan, he was a government appointed co-reviewer of the demand driven university funding system over 2013-14. He also served on an expert panel advising the government on higher education reform, particularly on financial issues, over 2016-17. Before joining the Grattan Institute, he worked for three University of Melbourne vice-chancellors as a policy adviser. He also worked part-time for The Centre for Independent Studies, as a research fellow and editor of its journal Policy. He started his higher education policy career as a ministerial adviser to Dr David Kemp, from 1997 to 1999.

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