241 Things

1000 Things is a subjective encyclopedia of inspirational ideas, things, people, and events.

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Studium Generale 1000things lectures, The Hague

241 Things

‘Who can does, who can not teaches!’ wrote Shaw. By this, he meant that if you were truly good at your trade, you’d rather practice that trade as a researcher rather than a teacher.

Many subjects are taught by professors who teach without any true engagement, who themselves have also been schooled by the very same sort of tutor. It might sound disrespectful, but it’s an undeniable phenomenon.

Most researchers have trained themselves with the guidance of another researcher.

How do you prevent the rift between researchers and teachers growing even wider? Firstly, by employing as many teachers as possible that have been successful researchers.

But also by writing textbooks, readers, and practical manuals in such a way that they show how research is truly done in a practical sense.

Most schoolbooks are written with present day knowledge as their foundation. They follow the history of their subject and its related disciplines from beginning to end. In textbooks, you won’t find many detours or examples of dead-end developments. And if that happens, you’ll know beforehand that it was a mistake. In practical manuals you won’t find experiments that explain a dead branch or root in history that helps understand the subject. Because of this, it seems like the subject developed through a succession of ready-made questions that lead to easily found answers. Knowledge and insight are taught on the basis of their justification.

But shouldn’t it also be possible to approach a subject through the history of its development? By not only looking at the grand scheme, but also at the crucial turning points? As a repetitive process of guessing, missing, and hitting. In the process of doing so, you’d be raising future researchers. And you’d be telling future teachers how researchers work.

Tip 1
Make a work for one person, someone you admire, someone whose opinion and insight are of value to you. This doesn’t necessarily have to be someone you know, but it helps. A good friend, a family member, a fellow artist. Limit your audience to one person. Audiences are often abstract and invisible. And sometimes, it turns out that the audience is only you, which can be deadly. By focusing on one person, your message will be personal and you’ll be able to communicate specifically.

Tip 2
Take a step. Ask yourself: what was I really aiming for? What do I want to tell? Often it turns out you’ve gotten caught in something: in the material, the medium, or the wrong storyline. With another medium or thought you might just hit the bull’s-eye.

Tip 3
To totally contradict the last tip: forget the story. Forget the why. Change the question of ‘why’ and ‘where does it come from’ to: ‘where do I want to go’ or, ‘what would I like to bring into being?’ Move forward instead of staying in the past!

Tip 4
Accept that, as an artist, you live in a world of paradox. You don’t have to be in control of every thought or action to make a good artwork. It might even occur that you’ll make something amazing without knowing how you got there. Imperfections and impairments can be the most fruitful elements in a work process or in an artwork. The most beautiful artworks are never completely waterproof.

Tip 5
Start something concrete.
Invite three artists to join in collaboration. Send something personal (a drawing, found photo, an object) to the other, asking them to deliver a visual response, a visual commentary. That person sends it on to the next, who in turn reacts to your contribution. In the meanwhile, the fellow artist has also sent you something that you’ll have to respond to. In the end, four artworks will be circulating within the group, one of which you’ll have initiated and three of which will be your response to what the other has sent you. This will help to divert your attention, to react on something you haven’t asked for but want to give, as it often goes in art.

Tip 6
If the above tips are ineffective, go on a journey. Go see something special. Of course, that doesn’t always have to be art.

John Baldessari, No more boring art

RULE ONE: Find a place you trust, and then try trusting it for awhile.

RULE TWO: General duties of a student - pull everything out of your teacher; pull everything out of your fellow students.

RULE THREE: General duties of a teacher - pull everything out of your students.

RULE FOUR: Consider everything an experiment.

RULE FIVE: be self-disciplined - this means finding someone wise or smart and choosing to follow them. To be disciplined is to follow in a good way. To be self-disciplined is to follow in a better way.

RULE SIX: Nothing is a mistake. There's no win and no fail, there's only make.

RULE SEVEN: The only rule is work. If you work it will lead to something. It's the people who do all of the work all of the time who eventually catch on to things.

RULE EIGHT: Don't try to create and analyze at the same time. They're different processes.

RULE NINE: Be happy whenever you can manage it. Enjoy yourself. It's lighter than you think.

RULE TEN: "We're breaking all the rules. Even our own rules. And how do we do that? By leaving plenty of room for X quantities." (John Cage)

HINTS: Always be around. Come or go to everything. Always go to classes. Read anything you can get your hands on. Look at movies carefully, often. Save everything - it might come in handy later.