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12:00 - 17:00

De Dépendance, Schieblock/Schiekade 189, Rotterdam

Back to the boutique? digital everyday culture vs. the art school

Expert meeting organised by the research center Creating 010, Hogeschool Rotterdam

An extra public discussion session will be held on Sunday, May 20th, during the Piet Zwart Institute symposium Prototyping Futures – Occupying the Present.

Quantitative research conducted by Aldje van Meer in our research center tells us that in 2012, art students intensively use computers and the Internet as communication and production tools – mostly for social media and the Adobe suite -, but almost never produce works that are digital themselves. Digital media skills and knowledge, from writing HTML to knowing contemporary media arts and design, have even decreased, sometimes dramatically. Dutch art schools have shut down most of their digital/interactive media study programs in the past couple of years. Such lack of engagement is all the more worrying in a time where digital media are no longer techno futurist visions, but the mainstream media and everyday communication tools.

In the meantime, media design education has migrated to technical universities and technology colleges. Nothing needs to be wrong with this. But it results in designers who consider themselves mere technicians and are unfamiliar with art and design history, visual languages, artistic experiment and critical reflection of visual culture.

Conversely, art schools are now mostly chosen by students who love manual craft such as drawing and handmaking of tangible products. Often, for example in zine and print making, this is motivated by cultural opposition to electronic media. Nothing is wrong with this either since it could be productive as a critical point of departure. But it is ultimately producing a culture of making beautiful collectible objects that goes back to the boutique model of art and design. This potentially throws the arts back into the 19th century, undoing the work of among others constructivism, Bauhaus, de Stijl, Fluxus and Situationism which all redefined art as intervention into everyday culture.

This development does not seem to be specific to the Netherlands, but can be seen all over Europe. Many art schools stopped their new media programs or reverted them into film/video or fine art programs. Part of the issue are former ‘interactive design’ and ‘interactive art’ departments that did not keep up with the times but remained stuck in 1990s machine art paradigms.

This expert meeting will be a mostly informal roundtable of artists, designers and theoreticians with a long experience of teaching new media in art schools.


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Back to the boutique? digital everyday culture vs. the art school