During presentation and
discussion of the prepared working notes,
students spontaneously expressed a wish to present their own
contributions for discussion. In fact, the working notes were
not completely covered but were copied and distributed as
material for the students.
The first paper presented was a statement regarding the fact
for many people a visit to a museum was more of a social ritual
a cultural experience. This lead to a discussion about:
�The individual and their
relation to the group.
�The need to conform and the need to differentiate.
�The need for leaders and the responsibility of leaders.
�Balancing the advantages and disadvantages of situations
and accepting the consequences of the choice.
�The role of free museums in encouraging "accidental contact"
with art (i.e. sheltering from the rain) as opposed to
conscious participation in the ritual of "cultural
The next presentation was concerned with the problem of personal
expression through the medium of the computer when one considers
that in principle all possible pictures are potentially defined
by the number of points on the screen and the number of colours
available. This lead to a discussion of:
�The possible similarity to
human language systems where a
large but still limited range of words seemingly allow
infinite expressions of meaning.
�The possible similarity with painting (where one is also
limited by canvas size, palette, art history etc..)
�The role of time in transcending the limitations
(i.e. the images may be limited but their behaviour
may be complex and varied)
�The difference between physical and conceptual actions
(i.e. the absence of a perceived physical action changing the
image forces one into more abstract modes of thought)
�The different (but equally valid) aesthetics of sterile,
accurate and controllable digital systems compared to messy,
inaccurate and relatively uncontrollable analogue systems.
The problem was considered interesting enough to be continued,
in the form of practical experiments, during my forthcoming
Media Art workshop.
The next session was devoted to an attempt to define different
types of information. The discussion did not come much further
than noting that there was a difference between information
received through "direct" experience and information which was
derived from some kind of (logical?) "processing". One
remark was that human beings apparently find it easier to
their external environment than their internal body functions.
lead to the idea that perhaps art was a way of manipulating the
environment in order to modify internal (mental) states. Some
students remarked that the criticisms of the group were
a painful confrontation for their egos, but that generally the
results were worth this.
The morning and afternoon sessions are getting dissolved into
each other. In the afternoon the "computer box" which originated
in the morning session was re-introduced. I was initially
to speak, so I left the students to play with their new toy. On
returning they had isolated a few wooden staffs as a basic
principle and were trying to build a machine from them
(i.e. computer = machine).
Also the students were wanting to define a machine,
-so we tried:
�machine = Tool
�machine = Simulation
�machine = Invention by/for lazy people
�machine = Collection of mechanical parts
�machine = Autonomous processing
�machine = Physical manifestation of system
This lead to a discussion about the possibility of considering a
pair of spectacles as being a machine or not. This lead to
the lenses did act like a machine on the light, but there were
moving parts although it was a seemingly autonomous process.
was discussed the possibility of a forest (ecology) being a
or not. We were reminded of an important characteristic,
until then, was the transformation of energy. A simple
was obviously impossible.
A session in which it was attempted to discuss an article about
the economic role of information, retrieved via the Internet was
not very successful. There was insufficient time for students to
and study the article, and everybody seemed rather tired.
In the last session, the afternoon again developed out of the
session. Due to the morning portraits, discussion developed
the differences male/female. A distinction was made between
(biological) sex and (emotional/behavioural) gender. These did
not need to be identical or rigid divisions, neither physically
psychologically. Biologically, (parthegenic) females were the
type and (hermaphrodite or specialized) males were a luxury to
increase diversity in genetic material. One could even make a
distinction between reproduction (which is essentially division)
and sexuality (which is essentially a striving for
Socially, there appears to be an inversion of roles. Men are
considered to be practical and women more social -in fact it is
often the opposite -women are often (forced to be) concerned
practical solutions while men are often more concerned with
social status. Due to the asymmetry in association of social
for the male, women could be considered more liberated than men
that they have achieved a position of choice to play either male
female social roles, while for men to adopt female roles is
less accepted or practiced. The semi-transvestite clothes
some kind of trousers or leggings) worn by most of the female
students present demonstrated this asymmetry -no male present
wearing a kilt or toga type of cloths. Although generally in the
(West?) Netherlands women generally appear (to me) to be more
suspicious than friendly towards men, the students (without
an awareness of dangers of the supposed advantage of the
strength of men) tended to deny differences between men and
Most students also tended to talk about emotional or social
interestingly, one woman mentioned different ways of thinking.
Unfortunately there was not enough time to pursue this further.