Experimental Post-grad:

Towards a Broad Based Curriculum:

Putting together the possible inclusion of bio-tech under "new-media" (which of course 'Ars Electronica' already did several years ago with Edwardo Kak's (perhaps dubious) project) -plus the idea of a (one year) 'experimantal post-graduatate course' -seems to suggest that it might be a good idea to concider the possibility of setting up a multi-disciplinary experiment, which could bring together students from a range of scientific, artistic and social disciplines.

Towards a Broad Based Support System:

As long as participating organisations could find a way of minimising beurocracy -then presumably the more organisations and institutions involved, the greater the chance of not only developing a fruitful cross fertilisation but also finding fertile ground in which the project could develop further.

So in this context, it might be worth thinking not only in terms of "art" but in terms of a system that could generally develop the intellectual skills involved in integrating complex knowledge systems into practical applications in any field: Including technology, "hard and "soft" science, economy, philosophy and art, etc.

Participants, drawn from a wide, range of scientific and artistic disciplines could then be offered the chance to construct their own "media-lab" -within which, for a time, they could expand and follow their own interests and fascinations (with no pre-defined result in mind) inside a multi-disciplinary context.

I guess one could view this as an attempt to revive the "fine art of dilletantism" -or to revive the period of the "amateur" artist and scientist (a person who does their work out of love and not professionally for money). However, this apparent idealistic basis might also prove to be a good practical foundation for developing economically useful individuals -capable of finding innovative answers to complex contemporary problems.

Towards a Practical Evolution:

  Presumably, such a scheme could involve the following phases:

-Recruitment of participants (students and mentors):
Most institutions would, presumably, already have material and human resouces that could be used by all the proposed project members. So this would cut down on additional staffing and material needs -although it might imply some extra work for the existing institutions. The basic requirement for participating students would be a proven ability to think constructively outside the normal limits -plus a willingness to cooperate with others from different backgrounds. In some cases, the reputation of "being a trouble maker" might be an advantage. Certainly, a lack of institutional backing should not cause a student to be excluded from the project -although of course, institutional support would be an asset (presumably for all concerned).
-Mutual exploration of the Participating Spaces:

This phase would involve regular meetings of the main participants to report and discuss their respective (potential) aims, intentions and possible progress. In practice, these meetings should continue throughout the different phases -with the content, if not the structure, changing as required.

-Defining group Divergences and Convergences:
Basically, this phase would involve the development of some kind of Meta-language that could relate the various problems and interests within the group in ways that would encourage rather than discourage dialogue between the various disciplines.

  -Individual Positioning:
This phase would enable individual participants to define and develop their own individual position within the complex of ideas (and strategies) being developed by the other (main) participants. At this stage, the impact of the group interactions on the individual members should start to become clear -so members should be encouraged to develop these insights independantly as they see fit (while remaining within the group dialogue). Although described as a separate phase, presumably in practice, this would develop naturally out of the previous phases (although perhaps at different speeds for different individuals).
-Final Presentation and Evaluation:

Basically, this is a widening of the main group dialogue to include 'patrons', participating organisations and institutions -plus the public. This would not only consist of a presentation (exhibition/report) demonstrating the results of the experiment (and hopefully justifying it) -but would also include an evaluation as to if and how the project might be continued. Presumably, the initial group of direct participants could form some kind of advisory knowlege base for developing the project further (through education and research) should this prove desirable.

Defining "Participant":

In the above notes, the term "participant" is perhaps somewhat ambiguous as the term covers a range of possible participants on various levels.

Individual mentors and students would form the inner core -but of course, participating organisations and institutions would also have both an active and a passive role to play. Hopefully, both in the above notes and in practice, the context determines the most relevant definition.

Trevor Batten
Manila, March 2006