I am currently studying a ‘Multimedia’ M.A. by registered project.

I have a rather vague definition of ‘Multimedia’ to work to that so vague that it practically useless…

  • Explores, questions and promotes the design and application of digital technology, its increasingly radical interface with commercial, educational, industrial, leisure and media contexts, and the scope for further innovations.
  • The negotiated programme will be a personalised, developmental study with an industrial, creative or academic application, and proposals should, therefore, identify the links between the project or thesis and current work in the relevant field.
  • {Note this is not ‘Interaction Design’ which a firm area of in my opinion ‘modern graphic design’.}

Having had my first supervisory session I clearer than before that the containers provided by the institutional framework and the categorisation into neat ‘silos’ are fundamentally flawed in my case. I have been trying to shoe-horn my ‘practices’ (plural -praxi? ) into the rigid target-driven boxes academia favours and this has added not subtracted from my problems re academia in general. I have found a convenient ‘practice’ framework in ‘Deep-mapping’ which really more a practical than a theoretical model at this stage but it seems to encompass the range or ‘eclecticism’ of my approach i.e. Being a dead country singer one moment, a poet the next, a painter and so on….even a beginner photographer…although ‘proper’ photographers would argue with that.

I have only just come across the ‘Metamodernism’ theoretical framework and at first sight (especially in its discussion of eclecticism in reference to David Lynch (HERE)  it does seem to offer a conceptual framework for my approach over many years and an explanation of my own deep-seated allegiance to modernism and disatisfaction with POMO. I have never considered myself a ‘postmodernist’ even when superficially (like Lynch) I could be tarred with that brush. When I have operated in a genre..painting, poetry, music….I have done it a resolutely modernist and conventional sometimes traditional way. I am not interested in irony, liminal, frivolous, citation based work per se and find much contemporary art to be frankly shallow and ridiculous.

What confuses people and upsets the academic cart is this insistence on traditional media but in a new configuration. I have been told to focus…focus on what? My focus has been intense in roughly a decade at a time on one or other medium. First painting (1980-1990) then poetry (1990-2000) and most recently songwriting (2000-2010). None of these ‘praxi’ were in any way postmodern or ironic. I achieved some success and recognition in all three fields. Exhibitions of paintings in London, published book of poetry and a collaborative CD (Moon over the Downs) which received good reviews.

 

                     

My interest from an early stage (1996) in the internet was not as a medium at all but rather as a democratic and self-published container for these works which existed outside the parameters of the traditional, music and poetry worlds. A kind of online outsider art. It still is and this extends to current fad for apps (a small pre-packaged  commodity driven internet basically). Because I became skilful in creating websites for other artists I then became a freelance web designer and then an ‘interactive media’ lecturer. ‘Interactive media’ is a modern form of graphic design and is focussed on entirely different outcomes to ‘Interactive arts’. My creative practice has never been any form of ‘interactive art’. My problem throughout this M.A. has been trying to make it so. I have now given up shoe-horning disparate practice into an ‘interactive art’ container.

Surprisingly of my three practice areas – Painting/Poetry/Music – the one I think most affected by the web is in fact Painting/Contemporary Art/Photography/Film simply for the reason that, as Alfredo Camerotti has noted, the majority of contemporary art practice shown now draws on a journalistic basis and networking both of which facilitated by the internet and hardware/ digital advances in photography and film especially. This facility has led in my opinion to a weakening of current practice and a rise of the dilletante art worker. Rob Pruitt may use an iphone and take multiple pictures of his life but so could anybody else..it is simply self- regarding and vacuous work.He is not alone. The web has twisted the focus away from more content rich and worthy work but that is the nature of a celebrity driven culture not just in the arts world.

Metamodernism does at first sight seem to offer a way forward which isn’t as full of holes as Bourriard’s Altermodernism which was really (and I have commented on this before) the last gasp of POMO not a new theoretical framework. If I have read the introduction correctly I see what I do as very much a ‘Metamodernist’ practice. It is eclectic but draws on modernism and seeks to create a ‘new space’ or ‘spaces’ in the interaction of a variety of mediums all treated as equals. Deep Mapping also attempts this although there so little solid theory to it it difficult to make a substantial analysis.

Coming back to the definition above of what a ‘Multimedia’ M.A. consists of I am drawn to the definitions…

  • industrial, creative or academic application

I am not involved in an industrial application. I started firmly focussed on a ‘Creative’ application ( from an Interactive Art perspective) and as my research progressed I became enmeshed in defining both the theoretical area in general (M.A. to PHD) and the huge amount of contemporary theory washing around anything to do with place, GPS and context provision. One could write a book just analysing how many weak academic projects and theories have been tagged to these concepts and still are….if I hear of another place-based convention involving perambulation I will probably reach for my academic gun. It has been a chreap and trendy bandwagon which has produced some things of worth and much posturing, immature twaddle disguised as cultural geography or fine art usually.

This tension between creative and academic purpose almost sank my good intentions. I became lost in a sea of theory and lost sight of my original purpose.

The M.A. is in my opinion a chance to produce good creative work in whatever medium I choose (possibly including an internet delivery but not necessarily). This links with my Postgrad Diploma from Derby in that a creative outcome was my first intention (this may be informed by deep theoretical reading  but this does not at this level require a paper or extended thesis as an outcome). That the outcomes for Derby were hiden because of their political nature is immaterial as it provided two separate ‘shows’…one customer friendly one not.

Having disentangled my theoretical journey from my practice I can see after a year a fairly thin amount of practice. All I have is a couple of sets of photos and a voice-over filmic walk along the ‘Track’. Separate to this there is a new set of paintings created in my painting studio. (http://www.shaunbelcher.com/canvas/)

For the photos I bought a Nikon D3100 as it all I could reasonably afford and there is access to Canon D7’s should I need one. The facility of these new DLSR’s is useful but again I am more interested in the content they produce than just using technology for technology’s sake which these items are now spawning. I have also played with a Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini Pro phone for taking photographs and small films (some displayed on this blog).

I have collected a lot of art historical, folklore and local history material as an ongoing part of my poetry research.
I have so far written one poem related to the Track themes. (http://www.shaunbelcher.com/writing/?p=258).

So a year in I have some beginner photographs, a bit of phone footage, four or five paintings and a poem…not so good.

In agreement with my supervisors I now hope to deliniate a range of outcomes. Maybe four in number that provide specific expositionary or published outcomes for my research around this topic. What they are at the moment I am being very open-ended about. One or more may be digital or all may be anologue..who knows….I do feel a little freer and optimistic having shaken off the nets of categorisation and theory overload….

Maybe the future is bright maybe it’s metamodern after all…..