Profile: Dr Andrew R. Wollock – Associate Director of Programmes (Dalian)

smallr0018003As an experienced international educator, Dr Andrew R. Wollock has a passion for exploring the proclivity of visual arts for secondary purposes. He has joined WSA as the Associate Director of Programmes for our Chinese Campus in Dalian. We asked him to tell us a little more about himself and his work.

Calum Kerr: Can you share with us some of your influences and some of your thoughts about art and art education?

Andrew R. Wollock: I draw a lot of inspiration from postmodern thinkers such as Barthes, Baudrillard, Jameson, and Lyotard. From this essentially epistemological standpoint my interest in arts has been influenced and I have developed interests in asymmetry, playfulness, the use of minimal cues and counterspace to suggest rather than tell. In that regard it was philosophy before art for me.  I think of all design like an early Cindy Sherman photograph; a still-frame from a moment in time; a moment in time which alludes to a point beyond the surface, to something greater than the sum of the parts. I think it is important that any art, design or fashion not only comes from a place beyond the immediately visible, but also leads the viewer towards a destination beyond, and that is why developing higher-order skills and being able to rationalise one’s process is, I believe, as important as any product. I see design as part of a dialogue with the output acting as interlocutor with the viewer, and it is in that writerly space where the viewer/reader also brings with them something of their self to personalise what they see.  For me art education is no different from other subject areas within the wider arts & humanities insofar as I am looking to see the existence of higher order skills such as deconstruction, analysis, synthesis, research, criticality, and discourse.

Some of my strongest influences would be (in no particular order) Mark Rothko, Bernard Buffet, Jackson Pollock, Saul Bass, William Scott, Jeff Koons, and Josef Albers. I am also very much influenced by brutalist architecture especially Soviet architecture, and after spending so long in Japan I am naturally influenced by the Japanese aesthetic and the Japanese colour palate, especially the traditional Japanese tattoo (Japanese wa-bori [和彫]). In additional to the visual mentioned above I also draw influences and ideas from literature and would count amongst my strongest influences: J.G. Ballard, Raymond Carver, Murakami Haruki, Tim O’Brien, and Brett Easton Ellis.

CK: You are also a practising artist. Tell us about your work.

AW: I’m quite eclectic in my work and try hard to push the demarcation lines between disciplines. I’m not especially product driven and tend to focus much more on the process, the act of making, of engagement with material, subject, and self as a way to better understand oneself, and in amongst that perhaps produce something which conveys that ethos to the viewer. I believe that if creative output starts from a particular point of inception, be it political, axiological, pedagogical or epistemological it doesn’t matter what mode or method of expression you choose; again I think it is important to recognise the process of art making and not become solely focused on the products, so my work tends to be very process-driven. In terms of disciplines, I originally I studied graphic design and then moved towards photography; I now work mostly with illustration and graphic arts in quite a traditional arts and crafts, or manual way which plays a lot with surface and layer.

Some examples of my work can be seen here:
https://view.publitas.com/p222-8263/portfolio_arwoollock/page/1
https://www.flickr.com/photos/arwoollock/albums

CK: You spent a long time working in Japan. How did that come about, and what was the work?

AW: Whilst studying photography (BA hons) I became interested in the correlation between photography and Zen – not so much in the way Cartier-Bresson appropriated it, but more so in respect of the traditional Zen Arts of Japan, and in particular returning to the origins of no mind (Japanese: mu shin [無心]). This state of clarity has historically been the point of departure for not only the brush arts of Japan, but also the martial arts too, and I became interested in engaging with this concept to explore the interaction between subject and photographer in the process of taking photos. Following that I was fortunate to be awarded a scholarship to study for an MA in photography at NTU, and it was that which first took me to Japan. My research at that time was a critical examination of the Japanese visual identity which explored the sociological function and psychological role of imagery in the shaping and maintaining the quasi-mythical Japanese national identity. Whilst in Osaka, in an attempt to move away from the stereotypical and quite contrived notions of Japaneseness, I photographed and engaged a lot with what might be called the ‘dark’ side of Japan (Japanese: ura [裏])  – the side of Japan which is seldom shown in the national advertising. Through this interaction I shot a lot of fashion, music, tattoo, and street photography and from there began showing the work in galleries and working as a freelance photographer/graphic artist, I was also involved in the Japanese tattoo world. In tandem to this I was asked to teach photography and it was this which first brought me into higher education. In addition to teaching photography I also began working with Arts-based Educational Research (ABER) as a way to engage learners with secondary subjects. This was inspired by the innate proclivity of the Japanese for using ABER methods, a propensity which derived from their use of Sino-Japanese pictograms (Japanese: kan-ji [漢字]). Little-by-little I became more interested in the visual and visual methods for secondary purpose, and it was really an extension of this interest which I researched for my doctorate.

Some examples of my classroom ABER can be seen here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/artsbasedresearch/albums

CK: Your PhD was completed in Belfast. Can you (briefly) explain what you studies were?

AW: Yes, it was essentially a largely qualitative ABER undertaking based on the theoretical frame of Paulo Freire’s ‘Critical Pedagogy’ and Donna Mertens’ ‘Transformative Paradigm’ which used mark-making for a secondary purpose, namely as a means to explore hope in a deprived working class area of Belfast called the Donegal Pass. I conducted a longitudinal study which saw me embedded in the community as an insider-researcher. The actual research was centred on transposing a Japanese wooden prayer called e-ma [絵馬] (pronounced like the girl’s name ’emma’), as a means to get participants from ‘The Pass’ to engage with and record their hopes in visual forms. The resulting tablets were then displayed, unfettered, in a local park as a collectivist dialogical artwork/installation which allowed viewers to directly engage with it; to touch the tablets, re-order them, and move them about. As a votive tablet e-ma were not randomly transposed, rather, they were used because as an areligious animistic belief system shin-tou is a was a very appropriate vehicle for exploring hope in a post-ceasefire context like Belfast which has seen three decades of sectarian civil war. The outcomes of the research were that e-ma generated oral and visual data of both a qualitative and quantitate nature, and these data could be quite clearly identified and categorised. The upshot of this is that my research gives weight to using e-ma as a legitimate and robust vehicle for gathering data in a number of different circumstances. Furthermore, because of the flexibility of the process, it allows the researcher to elect how they use the artefact in order to critically approach a given research aim. My hope is that through this and other robust visual research we can help ABER methods stand their ground and be more respected as legitimate methods in the current output-driven quantitative-leaning epoch. My doctoral website can be seen here:
http://www.projecte-ma.org/
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKtJk6Z28uVD8Exe-oCJ2Hw
https://view.publitas.com/p222-8263/project-e-ma/page/1

CK: Do you have any current plans for research/artworks?

AW: I spent the last two years working on a series of seventy three illustrations which are part of my ‘Third-world Architecture’ project. The project plays with the notion of what is meant by the term ‘third world’ and was inspired by the incredibly innovative ways in which I saw building construction taking place on my travels in Thailand, India, Vietnam and Japan. I am currently in the process of making bespoke frames for the works which reflect the content of the images. These works deriving from representation of place have also been the stepping off point for more personal painterly work completed whilst in Belfast. Much of this work was my visual response/outworking from the extensive oral narratives I collected during my tenure there. I feel very strongly that visual outworkings have a very prominent role to play in facilitating our deeper understanding of a secondary data source, be it place or narratives.

Another on-going project is a series of typographic artworks which interpret traditional Japanese hanging scrolls (Japanese: kake-jiku [掛軸]). In this work I aim to render the content and meaning of the calligraphy in a graphic/typographic form – to use modern means of production which is then incorporated into a traditionally made scroll and displayed in historical locations such as temples and tea ceremony rooms.

In terms of text-based research I have a lot of leftover data from my Ph.D. which I am slowly sifting through. In addition to this I am also planning to conduct an extension of my doctoral research in Dalian.

CK: What do you hope for the future at Dalian?

AW: I hope that we can achieve more symmetry between the WSA campus and the Dalian campus, I think everyone agrees that it would be great to get more connectivity between the two campuses so that it is not seen as a far off ‘outpost,’ rather, an extension of the Winchester Campus. I hope that once things settle, that I can work with the staff to oversee their professional development and improve the research profile of the Campus. It is not just because as a member of the Russell Group, we need to support the wider aims and ambitions of research, but I also think that there is likely a lot of good research happening there which either isn’t necessarily considered ‘research’ by the practitioners or isn’t being fully developed. I’d really like to see Dalian generating much more research output which is authentically Chinese-facing and which can contribute to not only academia in the wider sphere, but also to the direction of flow for research. I think there is much to learn from China, Chinese culture, and the Chinese aesthetic  which can help us improve our overall research profile and stimulate new conversations.

CK: Thanks for your time, Andrew, and best of luck in your new role. 

BA Games Design & Art 2017

BA Games Design & Art have a host of events in 2017 and the most exciting this year is we have our first graduating cohort. You can read a little about how their year and project proposals are going at the end of this post.

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Following is a list of events across the year from Games Design & Art, so please save the dates, all welcome and please do bring friends too.  Our events are all about the player and many are user testing sessions, dressed up like a party! We try and include nibbles and drinks to help illicit feedback.

Arcade 1.0
16:00 – 18:00 Friday 13th Jan
Winchester School of Art
South Building
Studio 32

Year 1 – A series of playable prototypes based on themes and mechanics using the following Hitchcock films as starting points. (The Birds / North by North West / Rear Window)

Arcade 3.0
16:00 – 18:00 Friday 27th Jan
Winchester School of Art
South Building
Studio 16 / iLab

Year 2 – Exhibtion of Game Design Documentation. Starting points for the games design documents and associated materials from a list of short stories. (The Metamorphosis / The Gernsback Continuum / Animal Farm / The Variable Man / Peter Pan / The Pit and the Pendulum / A Sound of Thunder / James and the Giant Peach / The Outsider / The Murdered Cousin.)

BOARD!
17:00 – 19:00 Friday 10th Feb
Winchester School of Art
South Building
Studio 32

Year 1 – Board games themed on Failure / Chance / Co-operation / Memory

BradBeer
14:00 – 18:00 Friday 3rd March
Winchester School of Art
WSA Student Union / Outside student union

Year 1 – Physical/Digital. A Crazy Golf course both physical and digital.

Arcade 2.0 & Arcade 4.0
13-00 – 17:00 Friday 2nd June
The Cube Southampton (TBC)

Year 1 – Go Ask Alice prototypes
Year 2 – E3 style Expo of Self initiated Projects

Winchester BA Show
18:00 Private View Thursday 15th June (open for a week) Winchester School of Art Year 3 – Self Initiated Game Projects alongside all final year BA UG work from across the School.

London Megacade
18:00 Private View Thursday 29th June
Hoxton Arches

Year 3 – Self Initiated Game Projects along side BA Graphic Arts final year work.

 

We hope you are able to make some of our events in 2017.  More specific advertising will precede each event so look out for future reminders.

If you would like to know more about the course please take a look at our course film and course page. http://www.southampton.ac.uk/gamesdesign

If you have any projects that you think gamification and game design could impact or connect with please do not hesitate to contact us. adam.procter@soton.ac.uk

3rd year projects blog post. https://medium.com/@gamesdesignart/the-first-third-year-329c2803c61d#.30wgmvi6s

Final Destination – British Art Show 8 Student Symposium

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Image: Benedict Drew, Sequencer, 2015.

As British Art Show 8 comes to a close in its final destination, students and graduates were asked to reflect on their experience of working with or simply visiting British Art Show 8.

Students from all British Art Show 8 cities (Leeds, Edimburgh, Norwich and Southampton) were invited to submit a written presentation (paper) shortlisted by a professional panel. This symposium, being held on Wed 11 January 2017 between 11:00 – 17:00 is the enthralling result.

Timings & Venues:

11am-1pm in Building 58, room 1023

1-2pm at Hansard Gallery

2-3.30pm in Building 58, room 1023

3.30-5pm at Hansard Gallery

 

A Full Programme and further details on how to book can be found on the Eventrbrite listing. 

Throwback Thursday – Derek Yates and Soul II Soul

A recent BBC documentary has looked at the culture of the 1980s and, specifically, the genesis of the band Soul II Soul.

WSA’s Graphic Arts Programme Leader, Derek Yates, features in the programme, talking about how he came to be their designer for their burgeoning look.

dolesoulYou can still watch the documentary at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b084flz4/jazzie-bs-1980s-from-dole-to-soul, and if you want to see Derek in particular (including a photo of him aged only 17!) he’s on from about the 36 minute mark.

Illustration Workshop – Sarah Langford

Winchester School of Art’s Sarah Langford, the Illustration Pathway Coordinator for the BA in Graphic Arts will be delivering a workshop at the Seventh Illustration Research Symposium which runs from the 10th-13th of November. This year’s conference entitled ‘Shaping the View, Understanding landscapes through Illustration’ will take place at Edinburgh School of Art with a symposium theme focussed on mapping.

Sarah’s workshop is part of a collaborative project with the Natural Environment Research Council’s National Oceanography Centre (NOCS) and the University of Southampton’s Ocean and Earth Science department. The workshop will aim to visualise data gathered from mapping exercises during field trips, and data collected using submarine canons. This will be the first time this data will be shared with educators, students, and illustrators.

cropped-the-sound-of-treesThe workshop will ask participants to undertake a series of tasks aimed to help enable sedimentology lecturers to understand how to better communicate information visually, whilst allowing illustrators to understand the complex issues surrounding collecting data from invisible oceanic landscapes.

Afterwards the workshop will support a new research paper focusing on the collaborative benefits of this activity alongside further research into the responsibility of an illustrator, and the benefits of collaboration.

Sarah will also be exhibiting her own work in the sculpture rooms at Edinburgh School of Art from the 10th-16th of November.

More information on the Seventh Illustration Research Symposium can be found here : www.ir7shapingtheview.wordpress.com

Winchester Gallery – Small Press: Independent Comics and Self Publishing event

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Artist: Lukasz Kowalczuk

Winchester Gallery will host an exciting five day event of exhibits, activities and talks about the ever inspiring world of Small Press and Independent comic publishing.

This event was conceived to align itself with the growing popularity of Independent comic book publishing and is a celebration of the diversity and breath of this subject. Highlights include an exhibition of the original lino prints and embroidered panels taken from “The Black Project” – an award winning graphic novel by Gareth Brookes, a symposium of women in comics by Laydeez Do Comics, an insights from the field with Dilraj Mann, a Kickstarter crowd sourcing talk by Gareth Hopkins, and an array of critically acclaimed creators tabling as part of the small press marketplace.

Curated by Tom Mortimer and Kieron Baroutchi as part of the PublisherHub and Winchester Gallery, Winchester School of Art

24th till the 28th October, 11am till 5pm

FREE to anyone to attend!

More information and programme updates can be found at http://wsasmallpresscomics.tumblr.com/

BA GA PL Derek Yates interviews Mat Heinl, CEO of Moving Brands

On the 8th Sept, Moving Brands CEO Mat Heinl, joined author and educator, Derek Yates to deliver a keynote presentation at the bi-annual conference of the Graphic Design Educators Network at Cardiff Metropolitan University in South Wales. The theme of the conference this year was ‘Exploring Territories’ and Derek and Mat were to expand on an interview featured in Derek’s book, ‘Communication Design Insights from the Creative Industries’ by discussing ‘the benefits of open ended, prototype driven, enquiry and why embracing failure could be the real key to survival for today’s creative graduates.’

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The presentation kicked off with a screening of ‘Play’ a short film that explores MBs approach the research, development and problem solving. After the film Derek asked Mat to describe how MB make space for such an expansive and exploratory approach outside of the ‘design friendly’ clients that occupy the cultural sector. This sparked a discussion around the importance of designers being able to articulate ideas ‘beyond the echo chamber.’ A case study film of MBs work with Hewlett Packard provided a perfect illustration here and allowed the discussion to move on to the importance of the iteration and how development processes with the contemporary communication industries have evolved beyond those necessitated by the limitations of print. Derek described how digital agencies talk about a ‘minimum viable product’ and seeking to perfect in the marketplace, but Mat was quick to point out that there is an honour in going for perfection and that MB want to get something absolutely right and are prepared to stay until it is.

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From here it was an easy jump to a discussion about the benefits of embracing failure as a key tool of learning in both education and in design practice. Derek pointed out that in contemporary Higher Education the need for accountability against league tables and performance matrices has created a grade obsessed achievement culture. In this context embracing failure seems counter intuitive and open-ended experimentation and risk taking became more difficult to promote. Mat stressed that at MB risk is deemed inherent to success and maybe focusing on the word ‘failure’ was not helpful. There needs to be a certainty that a project will be delivered, whatever the ambition. Experience has taught them not ‘to be framed by their capabilities’ and instead they see each task is an opportunity to extend these capabilities.

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Derek and Mat concluded their conversation by discussing the benefits of collaborative, cross disciplinary enquiry. Derek pointed out that within Higher Education, institutional pressures related to assessment and a need to differentiate courses against an employment aspiration can obstruct genuine exploration with students from other areas. Mat talked of the need to ‘disrupt the subject silo’ and how designers should not think of themselves a ‘swiss army knife’ of different services. He also stressed that MB differentiate between collaboration and cooperation, they do both and have an understanding when each is appropriate.

Derek concluded the presentation with a screening of ‘Type Here’ a project produced by one his recent graduates, Ed Hatfield, which illustrates really well some of the ideas that he and Mat had explored in their discussion.

This blog article was originally written for Moving Brands