Drones, Fire-Ant Warfare & Informatization

Albedo Marz’s February excerpt

Albedo Marz has released his second excerpt from his e-book Waking & Sleeping: Times of War and Death. His chosen focus for February is Drones, Fire-Ant warfare & Informatization http://www.albedomarz.com/

The creative potential of drone technology was predicted to be explored by the art world during 2015: http://www.theguardian.com/culture-professionals-network/2014/dec/19/2015-drones-art-creative-examples Now, at the beginning of 2016, we are able to see the results of drone art projects that took place last year.

Nesta’s ‘Project Daedalus’ is an interesting one to look at: http://www.andfestival.org.uk/projectdaedalus/ which explored “the possibilities of drone technology in a creative context, connecting to new modes of cinematic, performance and live interactive experiences.” The results are varied, but success seems to lie here: “Drones gave the workshop participants the chance to see the world in a way not offered to them every day.” http://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/article/creating-virtual-new-world

Drone pilot schools have spread to China http://phys.org/news/2016-01-drone-schools-china-field-sector.htm  and Google’s secretive 5G internet drone tests have been revealed – Project Skybender is using new millimetre wave technology to deliver data from drones, potentially 40 times faster than 4G: http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jan/29/project-skybender-google-drone-tests-internet-spaceport-virgin-galactic

These explorations of drone technology are different from the war-based use that Albedo Marz discusses in his Waking and Sleeping series, but their potential for alternative applications can be spied within his paintings.



Thanks for using a QR code Banksy

Photograph: Christian Sinibaldi for the Guardian

Every now and then something pops up that helps you out. Banksy’s use of a QR code for his new Calais artwork has just done that for me. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jan/24/banksy-uses-new-artwork-to-criticise-use-of-teargas-in-calais-refugee-camp

I’ve been attending more than a few meetings over the last few months going through my ideas for using a range of digital technologies to enhance gallery experiences/education with a number of people – particularly in relation to a gallery event I’m planning for Spring 2017. When it comes to QR code technology, people definitely ‘get it’ – but there’s been a hesitancy over whether it’s really going to work for the public in the way I’ve described, even when I explain that I’m using technologies that have been around for some time now and are freely accessible.

Within an hour of today’s news breaking about Banksy’s new artwork, there’s a nice little video on Facebook which shows how his QR code brings up the Calais camp video, and importantly how easily people can use it already – and now I’m getting personal messages saying how those I’ve been talking to now REALLY get what I’ve been envisaging. The communication between Banksy’s artwork and the QR code video is strong, it’s clear, it’s powerful and it’s relevant to the core message.

I don’t think this is just down to show and tell – to be fair, there’s been plenty of online demos available, and I have been explaining (and showing) how free QR code technology has been used even at primary school level.

I think this is a situation where the green light could only go on when a well-known artist – someone with mass popularity – placed QR code technology simply and effectively within an artwork context in a way that fully demonstrates how easy it is to use, and how it works within the language of art and public communication.

So I never thought I’d be saying this today – but thank you for endorsing my approach Banksy 🙂 On to the next stage now, SmartGlasses…

Content curators: Weaving a new set of Emperor’s clothes?

Take a lesson from the art world before elevating the content curator over creator.

I have been busy as usual for this time of year, assisting with showcases for various L&D clients. The reflections and predictions of L&D trends that flood in over New Year help me consider and prepare for what might come up in these kinds of meetings.

This week I decided to test the waters with a trend that has been catching my eye for a little while: ‘content curation’. For the last 3 years I’ve been describing the design approach that I use for blended learning solutions as a mixture of ‘recycling and regeneration of learning assets’. This week within a couple of showcases I twice spoke about ‘content curation’. I did so carefully, placing it next to my ‘recycling and regeneration’ description, and the client feedback was that ‘content curation’ seemed a good term for me to use in this context.

It seems like the role of content curator is catching on – box fresh for L&D – but my recent research on current definitions of this role has rung one or two old alarm bells from my parallel experience of the art world. I think that the Arts sector has some cautionary tales for the L&D sector to consider before they rush in to promoting the curator’s role as a replacement for content creation.

I have long been interested in issues of power within the creative sector. My 1993 Royal College of Art thesis discussed hierarchies in art – there is a generally accepted art world hierarchy (related to business) of the collector/dealer at the top and artist at the bottom. The art curator is placed in between. The role of the art curator has developed substantially since the 1960s and has risen in popularity since the 1990s. It has not been without tensions:

“While some artists occasionally do work as curators, it’s important to acknowledge that the relationship between artists and curators is structurally somewhat like the relationship between workforce and management: like the workers, most artists suspect that their “supervisors,” the curators, do not really understand the art, that they are controlling, egocentric, and ignorant, and are mismanaging the (art) factory and mistreating the producers…” http://www.e-flux.com/journal/art-without-artists/

On the other hand, there is a defined professional curator/artist relationship:

“The curator selects a work for exhibition and makes decisions about the context within which it will be displayed. This requires sensitivity to the interests and intentions of the artist.” http://www2.tate.org.uk/nauman/themes_4.htm

Why is art curatorship relevant to content curatorship in L&D? Well, I’m picking up a growing L&D emphasis that seems to suggest that content curation requires greater creativity than content creation itself, and moreover, that content creators should not be part of the curation process. I suspect this perspective is aimed at fitting in with business aims of recycling and efficiency.

The 2010 article Art without Artists? from e-flux asks:

“…are we sure that this curatorial gain does not bring a correspondingly diminished status for the artist?”

Current definitions would appear to indicate that for content creators this could well be the case, as L&D seem to be encouraged to not create any assets at all:

“Content curation doesn’t include creating new content; it’s the act of discovering, compiling, and sharing existing content with your online followers.” http://blog.hootsuite.com/beginners-guide-to-content-curation/

And interestingly, the impression given is that this kind of selection process should rest with a content curator, rather than a content creator.

Is this emphasis on creation negation really the best way forward for L&D? Neil Vogel, founder of About.com, commented last year:

“Someone is always saying ‘content is king’ or ‘content is nothing, curation is king’.  I think it is dangerous for us to be like that…..The whole reason this business still exists – and there was a time where the investment in it was so light that you could argue that it shouldn’t have existed – is that people value really good content.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewcave/2015/03/16/is-created-or-curated-content-king-who-cares-says-about-com/

In 2012 Atlantic Wire’s Richard Lawson said that no internet buzzword irked him more than ‘curator’:

“It’s a reappropriated term that used to mean something good — putting lovely and interesting things in a museum! — but now denotes a technique of cobbling together pre-existing web content and sharing it with readers/followers/whomever. In other words, linking to things. It’s an awfully highfalutin term for something that many of us do every day, on Facebook and Twitter. Sharing links isn’t some special skill or trade, but self-described curators, who rose to great power in 2012, are effectively asserting that it is.” http://www.thewire.com/entertainment/2012/12/worst-words-2012/59909/

I’d say, be careful what you wish for. In saying this, I am conscious of my own bias – I guess I typify those in the Arts sector who were reported in December 2015 from a recent survey as still having enthusiasm for digital technology, but are now taking a more cautious approach. http://www.artsprofessional.co.uk/magazine/article/cautious-approach

I offer two 21st century cautionary examples from the art world for future L&D content curators to ponder. Take a moment to reflect on the following observations on art curatorship, both from e-flux in 2010:

Observation 1:

“An example of how curatorial power can be distinguished from artistic authorship by its legislative authority over what takes place within the space of art could be seen in the São Paulo Biennial. Whereas, in a kind of grand authorial gesture meant as a comment on the crisis of biennials, the curators first announced that the entire biennial would be devoid of art, the concept later changed, presumably when this gesture was found to discourage professional visitors from attending.”

Observation 2:

“Yet another example of such a tendency is the “Curating Degree Zero Archive,” a travelling exhibition of “curatorial research” designed as a kind of artistic installation. Conceived by curators, the exhibition circulates through a network of public art institutions largely run by curators. The issue is not whether curators should have archives or open them to others, or to what degree this is interesting or not; rather, the question concerns whether the people in charge of administering exhibitions of art should be using the spaces and funding available for art to exhibit their own reading lists, references, and sources as a kind of artwork. Even more ludicrous is the fact that the dissolution of the self-contained (autonomous) artwork is cited as a justification for supplanting the work of artists in the museum altogether.”

I’d like to posit the same considerations to L&D content curators and creators, as I would to art curators and artists:

  • What about promoting the notion of collaboration?
  • Marriage rather than divorce?
  • Peer-to-peer partnership?
  • Rather than adopt an approach based on the elevation of power to a particular role over another, why not move forward on the basis of mutual respect for the creator as well as the importance of curatorship?

Hans Ulrich Olbrist, described as “curator extraordinaire” in the art world, is well known for his “highly collaborative” curatorship and his “intensely high” regard for those who make art. http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/mar/08/hans-ulrich-obrist-everything-i-do-connected-velocity-interview

Instead of culling or demoting content creation, consider partnering content curators equally with content creators – much like creatives in advertising, where copywriters and art directors are hired in pairs. Content curators and creators might find each other’s strengths compatible and, dare I say it, be more efficient collaboratively when it comes to filtering, identifying and designating. I find the majority of creators I work with in both Art and L&D sectors informed, well-qualified and experienced when it comes to targeted analysis of this kind.

Otherwise, be sure those golden threads you’re content curating in the glow of the new are substantial enough to weather a future winter of dis-content from your target audiences.

“While artists may well produce art in the absence of curators, if no art is being produced, curators of contemporary art, at least, are out of a job.” (Anton Vidokle, 2010)

Jo Kori art workshops for 2016

I’ve been busy this week organising my art workshops for this year, and am a bit more in advance than usual.

Go to my website for a 12-month list which I’ll be updating regularly: http://www.joannakori.com/workshops-lear…/2016-art-workshops

Or follow me on Twitter for more up-to-the minute updates: Jo Kori@Joannakori

Looking forward to seeing some of you!

Waking & Sleeping: Times of War and Death

Art for the New Year by Albedo Marz

A happy new year’s start for me – one of my favourite artists, Albedo Marz, is now releasing a different excerpt each month from his e-book Waking & Sleeping: Times of War and Death. His chosen focus for January is Migration and Exclusion http://www.albedomarz.com/

I find Marz’s artwork invigorating – not only is he a true history painter of the kind that died out with Picasso’s Guernica, he is consistently fearless in presenting an array of topics that people tend to think they should politely avoid at dinner parties.

His e-book consists of rigorously researched artist notes accompanying an epic 148 paintings – structured to fill just 1 page only per painting and edited by one of my top 4 digital givers for 2015, Word Whisperer http://www.thewordwhisperer.co.uk/. The paintings are only Part 1 of his Waking and Sleeping series – Part 2 consists of around 200 collages called Enigmas, and Part 3 – his ‘notebook’ collages – is called the Battlefield of Dark and Light.

I’ll look forward to Marz’s monthly excerpts in the same way as I look forward to Slavoj Zizek’s next book or lecture – you just know he’s going to focus on shit at some point, but it’s incredibly important to be open to listening, even though he might throw off your small talk over hors d’oeuvres every now and then.

(Slavoj Zizek: Political Correctness is a More Dangerous Form of Totalitarianism https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tndXr-oQxxA)


My top 4 digital givers from 2015

Thank you Don, Sahana, Clive & Karina

There are some generous people within the online jungle, who give out a lot more of the good stuff than I think they receive. Here are my top 4 digital givers (in no particular order) that have made a personal difference to my 2015:

Donald H Taylor https://webinarmaster.wordpress.com/about-the-book/

Don’s Webinar Master allowed me to finally throw away the much-thumbed notes I made from his coaching of me for an LSG session 2 years ago. Since then, designing blended learning solutions that include virtual workshops have become a speciality of mine – and I am now truly grateful that I don’t have to write any more virtual presenter guidelines. I can just recommend his excellent e-book to clients / colleagues and truthfully say “it worked for me”.

Sahana Cahttopadhyay http://idreflections.blogspot.co.uk/

Sahana is an alert whirlwind of focussed energy, who alights upon her L&D topics, tosses them beautifully into shape and bats them back with unceasing regularity. A year ago in Mumbai I discussed with her the possibility of developing a visual blog, and now, in response to her Working Out Loud articles, I am actively Visualizing Out Loud. Keep ‘em coming in 2016 Sahana.

Clive Shepherd http://clive-shepherd.blogspot.co.uk/

Not only did he give us More Than Blended Learning in 2015 with its memorable jukebox diagram, he’s now halfway through delivering his latest excellent series of articles The Learning Professional. Clive has been one of the most consistently generous digital givers I know, unafraid of looking at areas of learning design that are assumed knowledge, and articulating them in a way that makes you (well, me) sigh with relief that someone actually gets what you’re trying to do.

Karina Evans http://www.thewordwhisperer.co.uk/

This lady is funny as HELL – one of the few online writers that has made me LOL a lot in 2015. Not only does she write one of the funniest blogs ever (The Girl Who) and have a great e-novel under her belt (The Volcano), she has also been a brilliant editor for a couple of artists I know. She was an early editor for Brian Catling’s The Vorrh http://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/may/20/the-vorrh-b-catling-review-michael-moorcock plus Albedo Marz’s e-book Waking and Sleeping http://www.albedomarz.com/#!landscapes/ck0q. And…she gives me tweet envy – she crafts them so well she’s got a contract with a PR company 😛

Being mindful of the gap

In Sicily I observed snails clustering together at the top of plants so they didn’t fry on the boiling earth below.

I was Head of Character Animation for PwC’s first digital game-based learning project In$ider http://atticmedia.com/our-experience/2015/7/23/pwc-insider. We used Macromedia Director as the base development software, and when we put the character sequences together we noticed that in order for the figures to look like they were moving smoothly, we usually had to remove 1 or 2 frames.

The human eye isn’t quick enough to pick up every movement – our brain fills in the gaps. As an animator you have to be careful not to over-describe – crowd with too many frames and you’ve got an odd jerking gait happening.

During my post-compulsory teacher training, the best bit of advice I got was not to be afraid of silence in the classroom. We were asked to actively include ‘pause for thought’ – to give mature students time to answer a question, and plan in time for them to reflect.

Before that, we trainees were all making the common mistake of thinking we had to talk all the way through a lesson, spoonfeeding the class with far too many topics to digest in the time. It was a classic burnout recipe for both teacher and student – whenever I think back to those rookie classes, I picture our poor students as snails that I observed in Sicily, clustering together at the top of any plants they could find so they didn’t fry on the boiling earth below.

As a digital learning designer, particularly for blended learning solutions, I am even more mindful of the reflective gaps that need to be choreographed in order to allow mature learners to ‘discover’ the answers for themselves. We all enjoy being given the opportunity to contribute – far more than being clustered together to follow the burning heels of an over-zealous trainer, with no time to keep cool, let alone think.