Learning Sprint #3 | Beyond the Visual

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‘Problem Scenario’

‘Beyond the Visual’ sprint participants will respond to this Scenario:

“Embodied knowledge, while often denigrated and disavowed within the modern colonial episteme, confirms that Western scientistic validity comprises only one kind of knowing. Manifest through poetics, aesthetics, and other bodily attunements, sensuous knowledges open to alternative modes of relation. […] A sensory, embodied, affective, and imaginative relation to the world opens to a different kind of ethics and politics.

Astrida Neimanis, “The Body is the Site of Climate Catastrophe”, Terra Batida, 2020

https://terrabatida.org/derivas_one.php?id=20

Aims, or what will we be doing in this learning sprint?

 
As a way of responding to the provocation contained in the scenario above, we will explore how (and if) sensory approaches may, as Neimanis suggests, open up different ways of being in relation. With vision often linked to thinking in western philosophical traditions, could more-than-visual approaches be understood as linked to feeling and offer ways to relate (rather than to know)? In particular, we will look at how artists have developed work that engages senses beyond the visual – taste, touch, smell, and hearing – to encourage different ways of relating to each other and with the world.

What else might this learning sprint involve?

 
We will consider concepts of embodiment and affect and experiment with methods for documenting and communicating sensory experience.  We’ll also have the opportunity to practice some of the key skills needed for your assessment – in particular, researching artworks and considering them through a particular lens which should support the writing of your art magazine article.

Beyond the Visual Resources (link)


Day 1 – Sensory Approaches in Art

10:00-12:30 Monday 24th October | Frances Davis | Room R.02B, Hunter Building, Lauriston Campus  
 

10:00 – 11:00 | Introduction to the sprint  An introductory lecture tracing a recent history of sensory approaches in art and setting out some of the key theoretical concepts and ideas underpinning this. 

11:00 – 12:00 | Derek Jarman’s Blue Watch the excerpt of Derek Jarman’s Blue. Write a short text (c. 250 words) that responds to the following question and post this to your blog.  

  • In her article, “Derek Jarman’s Blue: Negating the Visual”, Jenna Carine Ashton states “The auditory comes to replace the visual; with Blue there is a sensory tussle as we are forced  to listen.” Reflecting on your own experience of watching Blue, do you agree? Why/why not?
  • Consider this work in relation to González-Torres’ Untitled (A portrait of Ross in L.A.). How do these works engage the senses of the viewer to create a relationship with the subject of the work? 

Suggested reading: Ashton, J. C. (2013) Derek Jarman’s Blue: Negating the Visual. Journal of applied arts & health. [Online] 3 (3), 295–307.  https://discovered.ed.ac.uk/permalink/44UOE_INST/1viuo5v/cdi_ingenta_journals_intellect_jaah_2013_00000003_00000003_art00005 Greenberg, C. (2019) “Image Abrasion”. [Online] Film and Video Umbrella. https://www.fvu.co.uk/read/writing/image-abrasion

Day 1 Class Assignment

Before Session 2 please watch “Listening as Relation, an Invocation”, a lecture-performance by AM Kanngieser and Zoe Todd presented as part of CTM’s 2021 Discourse Series, Critical Modes of Listening. Note, this starts at 1:09:00. The link above should take you directly to this point.  This lecture-performance introduces some of the key ideas and issues around listening practices that we’ll explore together in Session 2. 

Day 2 – Listening as Attuning

10:00-12:00 Wednesday 26th October | Frances Davis | Room 1.02, 7-8 Chambers Street, Central Campus
 
 10:00 – 10:45 | Deep Listening exercises To start the session, we will do some exercises developed by composer and performer Pauline Oliveros (1932-2016). Oliveros was a central figure in the development of post-war experimental and electronic music and developed Deep Listening which frames listening as an embodied practice and as a collective, interpersonal activity. In part, this approach was informed by the anti-war movements of the 1960s and Deep Listening can be understood as a practice that foregrounds listening without judgement, building foundations for radical compassion.  
 
Suggested reading: 
Oliveros, P. (2005) Deep listening : a composer’s sound practice. New York: IUniverse, Inc. https://discovered.ed.ac.uk/permalink/44UOE_INST/7g3mt6/alma9916679973502466
 
10:45 – 11:30 | Attuning to the more-than-human: Hanna Tuulikki’s Echo in the Dark In this section, we’ll consider how artists are using sensory approaches to encourage different ways of relating to nature and each other in the context of climate breakdown.  In particular, we’ll focus on Echo in the Dark (2022), a recent work by the artist Hanna Tuulikki that explores interconnections of raving and bat echolocation as a model for ecological coexistence. Echo in the Dark explores interconnections of raving and bat echolocation as a model for ecological coexistence. The work centres around a set of electronic dance music tracks made entirely from bat echolocation calls blended with the human voice and in 2022 was realised as a series of silent ‘bat raves’ in Hospitalfield’s grounds augmented by choreography, animation, lights, and lasers.
 
Suggested reading: 
 
11:30 – 12:00 | Plan your Session 3 Field Trip In your Basho: 
  • decide when you will visit Calton Hill and Collective;
  • think about how you might document your field trip using non-visual (or more-than-visual) methods;
  • consider if there is anything you might need to take to help you do this.
 

Pre-fieldtrip research

Calton Hill, the location of Session 3’s Field Trip is an interesting location from which to consider the more-than-visual as its own history is intertwined with observation – indeed, Collective, the gallery you’ll visit,  is based in the City Observatory, a site formerly used for observing astronomical objects in the spirit of scientific discovery. The painter Robert Barker also coined the term panorama to refer to his painting a View of Edinburgh, a 360 painting of the view of Edinburgh from Calton Hill. Collective have also, to some extent, drawn on this history and relationship to observation, positioning themselves as a new city observatory. 
 
Before you visit, it will be helpful to understand more about the past and present of the Hill. 
 
Viewings/readings: 
To find out more about the past and present of the site you should watch and read the following: 
 
Video: Williams, L. “Sugar, ships and science: The City Observatory and Caribbean Commerce” (2020). [Online} Collective. https://www.collective-edinburgh.art/programme/collective-observations-lisa-williams
 
Essay: Sheikh, S. “A Contemporary Observatory for the City” in Towards A City Observatory: Constellations of art, collaboration and locality (2017) Collective, pp.12-18. The full book is available to download free from Collective’s website: ​​https://www.collective-edinburgh.art/news/new-publication-towards-a-city-observatory

Day 3 – Calton Hill Field Trip

Please note, as Collective is not open on Mondays, each Basho group should arrange a time that they will meet together to visit Calton Hill. You should undertake this visit after our second session but before our final session.  For this session, you will meet off campus, on Calton Hill to engage with two projects produced by the contemporary arts organisation, Collective. 

Basho Group Assignment

In your Basho:
  • Visit The Seeing Hands, an exhibition at Collective by the artist Katie Schwab that encourages tactile engagement;
  • Complete the Observers’ Walk The Sightseers made by James N Hutchinson & the Lothian Blind Ramblers. 
Your Basho should work together to create a record of your visit. The form of this is up to your group but you should be able to present this to your peers in our final session of the sprint in a 10-minute presentation. 
 
Your record should seek to document the different sensory experiences from your field trip. How could you record the atmosphere of the gallery space? The textures of the artworks? The feel of walking uphill? The sound of the weather? And so on!
 
You should also consider how you can use approaches other than (or in addition to) visual to do this eg. how might you use sound, touch, smell to create a multi-sensory record of your visit.   

Day 4 ‘Beyond the Visual’ Assignment | Due Friday 4th November 5pm

10:00-11:45 Wednesday 2nd November | Frances Davis | Room 1.02, 7-8 Chambers Street, Central Campus  
 
In today’s session, you’ll work with your Basho to finalise your multi-sensory record of your visit to Calton Hill and then share this with your peers. 
 
10:00 – 10:30 Work in your Basho to finalise your presentation
10:30 – 11:10 Presentations
11:10 – 11:30 Discussion
11:30 – 11:45 Q + A on blog assignment

Sprint 3 ‘Beyond the Visual’ Assignment | Due Friday 4th November 5pm

 
At the end of this sprint, you should return to the Problem Scenario and write a reflective post of 1,000 words that critically responds to this and the ideas within it.
 
“Embodied knowledge, while often denigrated and disavowed within the modern colonial episteme, confirms that Western scientistic validity comprises only one kind of knowing. Manifest through poetics, aesthetics, and other bodily attunements, sensuous knowledges open to alternative modes of relation. […] A sensory, embodied, affective, and imaginative relation to the world opens to a different kind of ethics and politics.
You can draw on any of the work you have done so far either on your own, or in your Tutorial Group (Basho) as well as your wider reading around the topic. 
 
In your blog post, you may wish to respond to one or more of the following questions:

 

  • Do you agree with Neimanis that “sensuous knowledges open to alternative modes of relation”? 
  • Do artworks focused on senses other than sight negate the visual completely or do they still have a visual aesthetic? Can you give examples to support your answer?
  • Should galleries consider the multi-sensory? Why / why not?

 

  These questions may help you to structure your response, but you do not need to answer all of them.

Checklist

Essential Class Assignments:

 
☑️ Did you complete the written response to Derek Jarman’s Blue and post this to your Portfolio?
☑️ Did you watch “Listening as Relation, an Invocation” before Session 2?
☑️ Did you complete the pre-fieldtrip research?
☑️Did you visit Calton Hill with your Basho and collectively document this experience using multi-sensory approaches?
☑️ Have you completed the Sprint 3 Assignment: Write a 1,000 word blogpost in response to the Beyond the Visual Problem Scenario and post it in your portfolio?

Additional Work:

☑️ Did you complete the Day 1 suggested reading? If you did, you may wish to make a post on this in your Portfolio.
☑️ Did you complete the Day 2 suggested reading? If you did, you may wish to make a post on this in your Portfolio.
☑️ Did you complete the Day 3 suggested viewing and reading? If you did, you may wish to make a post on this in your Portfolio.

 
 
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