This study describes some of the key components of an art educational domain entitled ground, which is being developed specifically for three dimensional online builder’s worlds, also called the metaverse. This undertaking takes its trajectory from ‘the Groundcourse’, a revolutionary art educational strategy based on cybernetics, developed and implemented in England during the 1960’s, upon which the author proposes to develop an art educational strategy based upon self observation. Since this proposal strongly takes into account second order cybernetics, a brief survey into the field as well as an overview of Gordon Pask’s learning theories is provided. Approaches for adapting these founding theories, through a consideration of the potential novel affordances of a three dimensional online builder’s world, is described through two case studies based upon autonomous learning and self observation implemented through avatars.
The aim of the Groundcourse was to create an environment which would foster the rethinking of preconceptions, prejudices and fixations with regards to self, society, personal/social limitations, art and all the ensuing relationships brought about through a range of carefully thought out assignments that entailed behavioral modification and ultimately change. At the core of all learning activity was a concept of power, the will to shape and to change, this indeed being The Groundcourse's overriding educational goal. The core assignments were behavioral projects in which the learners were directly and personally engaged. One of the tasks was the acquisition of a totally new personality, which was largely the converse of what students would consider to be their normal “selves.” The students monitored their new personalities with calibrators which they designed to read off their responses to situations, materials, tools, and people within a completely new set of operant conditions. These responses were then used in the creation of mind maps which were utilized for understanding behavioral patterns dictated by changes in the limitations of space, substance, and state.
These “new” personalities were asked to form hexagonal groups which had the task of producing an ordered entity out of substances and space, embarked upon with severe limitations on individual behavior and ideas. Concluding the 6 week long assignment was the full visual documentation of a process which had demanded full engagement from its participants. Hence, throughout the behavioral exercise, a step-by-step second order cybernetic observational system was skillfully evoked and enacted, aiding the search for relationships and ideas unfamiliar to art, as well as reflecting and becoming aware “of the flexibility of their responses, their resourcefulness and ingenuity in the face of difficulties. What they assumed to be ingrained in their personalities they now tend to see as controllable. A sense of creative viability is being acquired” (Ascott, 2003).
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