Saturday, December 19, 2020
Sunday, November 29, 2020
The exhibition ‘Weaving Experience Into Memory’ opened on 16th November at L’Usine, District 7, Ho Chi Minh City following months of work and preparation. The event formed part of the annual Vietnam Festival of Creativity and Design, the annual showcase of creativity within the artistic, design and cultural fields in Vietnam.
This year the festival spanned three cities: Hanoi, Hue and Ho Chi Minh City during two weeks of events.
At L’Usine a collection of artworks and fashion exhibits were presented along with ‘information hangers’ and edited videos that attempted to explain the process behind the finished artefacts. The exhibition project served three functions: a) To investigate the intersection of art and design, b) To investigate a selection of industry resources and traditional hand-craftsmanship available within Vietnam, and c) To present this information in a format that could serve as a case study for students at RMIT Vietnam.
A detailed description can be found in the exhibition catalogue.
This sharing of information and experience with our students was high on the list of priorities as the various elements in the exhibition were drawn together. It was even possible to propose the exhibition opening reception as a subject for photography students to target in support of their ‘event photography’ work. The MC for the event was also an RMIT Vietnam business student who was undergoing training as an MC.
Tuesday, September 29, 2020
For the second year running I submitted a proposal to participate in the 4th World Congress of Psychogeography, which is usually held at a number of venues in West Yorkshire centered around Huddersfield University.
This year, due to the situation resulting from the COVID-19 epidemic, a version of the congress was organized in which the majority of events would be conducted and participated in online. A map of a virtual town centre was created with each location linking to the various content.
My accepted proposal was to broadcast a recording of my performance ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Back’ which had been recorded on the Hickson Steps, Sydney, Australia. My work was found by clicking on the town University icon and the details were listed towards the bottom of the page along with a note to say that the performance was accessible at any time during the conference.
Unfortunately, however, my contribution was not listed on the main congress programme which made me worry that this would greatly limit the number of visitors to my linked performance. In fact the viewings recorded in the analytics of my Youtube Channel were disappointingly low.
I later responded to a call to participate in a post-conference interview via Zoom and spent around 30 minutes discussing the conference and the story behind my own work.
As many of the conference events were online this year, I was fortunate to be able to see much more of the content than I had last year. The range of events and activities, from recorded performances, films, live-stream discussions was impressive and especially so given the difficulty of arranging the conference under the current circumstances. The organisers did a magnificent job.
As I shared during the interview, it is my wish that in the future I will be able to make the journey across from Asia in future years to attend the conference in person.
The Congress website can be found here.
A recording of the live-stream performance can be viewed here on my YouTube Channel.
A playlist of ‘One Step Forward, Two Steps Back’ performances can be viewed here.
Hickson Steps, Sydney, Australia.
Saturday, August 29, 2020
As is stated on the Deveron Projects website (https://www.deveron-projects.com/about/slow-marathon/), the Slow Marathon is "Deveron Projects' annual 42km/26 miles themed walking event, composed of a conceptually led walk, expanding upon a theme or an idea related to our curated programme, in effect taking it for a walk. It is followed by a day of talks, films, food and discussion, in relation to the chosen project. Celebrating the human pace, it is both an endurance event as well as a poetic act that brings together friendship, physical activity and the appreciation of our landscapes in their geo-political settings.
Slow Marathon began in 2012 in collaboration with Ethiopian artist Mihret Kebede who attempted to walk from her home in Addis/Ethiopia to Huntly. The Addis to Huntly and back walk, was abandoned as visa restrictions, border controls and deserts got in the way. Instead, Mihret decided to walk the total 5,850 miles distance with many people to reach the distance metaphorically".
In 2020 I decided to participate in the annual event and registered to log my walks for the duration of the project. The project has now reached completion with 319 walkers registering 40544.94 kilometres in total. I personally walked 206km, which equates to 4.9 marathons.
I walked mostly in the morning though I also went out for several evening walks, all of which I enjoyed enormously, revelling in the opportunity to walk unhindered through the local neighbourhood meeting lizards, birds, bats, dogs, cats, chickens and a duck along the way.
For anyone who combines walking within their work, whether it forms the artwork itself or as an arena in which to generate work or even as an opportunity to formulate or clarify ideas, I would recommend becoming involved in future Slow Marathon events.
As the walk progressed, Glasgow based artist Man Tajik conducted a related project: 'Under One Sky', https://www.deveron-projects.com/under-one-sky/.
Iman intends on amassing a collection of sky photographs that were taken while out walking. Considering the many walkers participating in the Slow Marathon project around the world, the cumulative assembly of sky photographs would assist in constructing a global artwork representing the same sky that we all live under regardless of where we live in the world.
In support of Iran's project I took 20 photographs of the sky during my walks and uploaded them to his project dropbox. Below are the sky photographs I took:
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Tuesday, July 14, 2020
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Friday, June 19, 2020
For this stage I was responding to drawings initiated by Skye Williams in the UK and subsequently worked on by Andrea Thoma. As the third partner of this project it was my role to find a way to respond to what was happening within the drawings and to provide some kind of resolution as I would be the last artist to work on them.
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
I actually enrolled onto these courses to learn how such courses are organised, administered and what kind of experience learners may receive.
On reflection, the experience was mixed to say the least. Some of the courses were ridiculously easy and yet others demanded a number of hours of dedicated study in order to complete. When I first began my investigation the courses were free and I automatically received a digital certificate stating that I had successfully completed the course along with a type of transcript which stated the exact % of my overall 'grade', a kind of GPA I guess. Later, these statements were removed unless a fee was paid. However, it was still possible to audit the course for free, but no certificate was provided for this.
Apart from the huge fluctuation in the level of difficulty in the courses I took, the most annoying aspect was the peer assessment (the only assessment). I assume it was possible to partake in the assignments for free as many participants did not take the assignments seriously and submitted silly pieces of work as their submission. I did smile when I opened an assignment that had been designated for me to grade, only to find a single sentence that called into question President Trump's sanity, but I wondered how much attention my own assignment was receiving, considering I had spent two evenings putting it together.
I came away from this 'fieldwork' with a mixed opinion of online learning.
I didn't expect that, as we moved into 2020, I myself would become caught up in online teaching in a much more involved way. The COVID 19 virus spread around the globe and eventually caught up with me here in Vietnam.
As we began our usual 12 week semester, I only met the students once face-to-face in the classroom before the government announced the closure of schools and universities country-wide as part of the lockdown that was ultimately successful in its attempt to prevent the spread of the virus.
In contrast I had to watch as my home country, the UK, dithered and procrastinated while the virus spread about the population. At one stage the UK Prime Minister considered doing nothing, allowing the virus to 'move through' the population, as though if everyone stayed still and quiet the virus would slip through without noticing the people around it, and without infecting them. Later this was changed to 'of course, many of our loved ones may die', and eventually to the knowledge that if nothing was done there was a strong possibility of a terrifying death toll. The result of this lack of action means the UK now has the highest death toll in Europe while Vietnam, early adopters of the lock-down approach, have none.
The move to online teaching was not easy or without problems. This is to be expected. Entire courses that had been designed specifically for face-to-face delivery now had to be adapted instantly to online/virtual mode. Some courses could not adapt. Courses that required specialist equipment based on campus were impossible to run virtually. However, most courses found a way to move forward and most of them thrived. This success was down to the energy and education of the teaching staff. The ingenuity, imagination and resourcefulness of my colleagues has been astonishing.
For my part, I was teaching an art/design history based course relating developments in art & design to developments in materials and technology and also the changing attitudes of society set against developments in history. This means looking at a lot of case-studies and getting through a lot of material in class. Usually this has been achieved successfully via class discussion. As each topic was opened out a discussion was provoked that explored the various aspects relevant in each case without it being presented in a boring list-type format. The most difficult part of this process to replicate online was the spontaneity of the discussions and the most enjoyable aspect for me as a teacher was the unpredictable direction of the discussions. There was no script to follow so I would tend to analyze and deconstruct each issue as they arose, quite exciting. Hopefully this helped to demonstrate to the students that these issues are not pre-scripted and it is essential for them to look at each case carefully and respectfully before constructing a personal opinion, later backed up and supported by evidence.
The main platform I I had to us for my online teaching was 'Collaborate Ultra' and I had up to 25 students online at the same time during my sessions. I would upload a prepared lecture for the students to read through beforehand. This would give them time to become familiar with the proposed topics, names, dates, terms and would allow them the opportunity to conduct some research prior to the session (an approach adopted from flipped learning).
During the actual session I would begin by reviewing the previous session in order to set the scene for the current one. Then I would choose some of the slides to discuss in more detail, encouraging the students to comment on certain aspects. In the beginning I had one or two students using the microphone to speak but it quickly changed to typed comments and questions in the chat box. One reason for this was the bandwidth. Although the students could be hosted together, if all our videos were active, people speaking and slides being shared at the same time, the system stuttered a little. I did initially try to break the students into groups but the task of duplicating the session and repeating everything several times was ridiculous. This meant the spontaneity that had been so successful in class was almost impossible. However, it was possible to work through the sessions, clarify issues, answer questions and check that the topics had been understood. I was flexible with the time, prolonging the session until I felt everyone was satisfied and confident to move on with the assignment.
Following the online session I uploaded more background information to the topics covered online and posted a couple of videos along with provocative questions that acted as a catalyst for a more leisurely conversation in the discussion board.
Besides the extra time needed to cover these approaches, I also received almost double the usual number of emails from students. At first I feared these emails may have been written due to something lacking from my delivery of information online but it turned out that the majority were seeking reviews of their assignment drafts. If students are actively seeking to improve the depth and refinement of their assignments then I consider this as a positive sign.
Other teachers found alternative ways of adapting to online teaching, depending on the nature of their course and their personal teaching style. I feel it is important for teachers to be individuals, for students to feel a noticeable change in the rhythm and character of the classroom when they enter a different class. This is a reminder that each teacher has different experiences, background, often comes from a different culture. All of these differences help to enrich the students' learning and that, I feel, is our goal.
It was a new and rewarding experience but I have to say, hand on heart, I look forward to meeting students face-to-face in future.
Wednesday, April 15, 2020
Garry and his work has been a profound influence on me and my work since the 1970s when I first met him at Jacob Kramer College of Art (later to become Leeds Arts University). Garry uses drawing to create narratives about the world that exists around us and simultaneously through his work he creates multiple other worlds.
For Garry's drawing blog I wrote a piece about a drawing project I had been engaged in for a while. As I was about to progress to the next stage in the project it seemed an opportune moment to reflect on what I had done so far before moving on.
My post is now live and can be found here:
Patrick S. Ford: A Dialogue with the Landscape.
While you are there spend time to read through Garry's previous posts, I promise you it will be worth it.
Garry also has another blog devoted to the pedagogy of teaching art. This is also incredibly informative and can be found here:
Art and Pedagogy.
Monday, March 23, 2020
For the 2020 edition I submitted details of my performance series 'The Path To Enlightenment', with the accompanying photograph that was taken when the work was first performed on the island of Cheung Chau, Hong Kong.
Once again it was great to receive the e-version of the almanac and see the work listed among the other engaging work performed by performers / performance artists from around the world.
Friday, February 28, 2020
On the morning of Sunday 23rd February, I once more travelled to District 1 of Saigon accompanied by Nina, Yiu Lai Lei to mark the occasion of the Terminalia Festival 2020.
This one-day Festival of Psychogeography has been held every year on the 23rd of February since 2011 and brings together individuals and groups who mark the Festival of Terminus, the Roman god of boundaries and landmarks.
To participate in the festival this year Nina and I chose to follow the previous routes of two canals in the city. Most of the city's canals have been since filled in and transformed into streets and boulevards.
The main route follows the edge of a canal that used to carry trade right up to the walls of the old citadel, which was the focus of last year's Terminalia walk. This canal, now transformed into a 'Walking Street' called Nguyen Hue (named after the historical figure), ends at the main road running along the bank of the Saigon River.
Along Thi Sach we found the inescapable Hollywood reference to Vietnam. Such an apocalyptic welcome, combined with a dark interior did not tempt us inside on this lovely, bright day. Above the entrance I noticed the familiar Taoist symbol attached, similar to the Pak Kua mirrors that can assist in reflecting bad energy away. However, this symbol appears to have been placed upside down when compared to the usual configuration. A fitting symbol to accompany an apocalypse?
Saturday, February 15, 2020
To do this I created a personal Google Map onto which I then plotted the locations of each recorded activity. When each location pin is clicked, a pop-up box presents the title, exact location along with a link to a video recording of the event hosted on my YouTube channel.
Some locations have multiple activities posted and these can only be differentiated by zooming gin on the map. Alternatively, a table of activities can be toggled on the left and from this table each activity can be selected individually.
In my notebooks I have a long list of potential locations that appear to present suitable environments along with the type of activity that could be appropriate and when the opportunity arises I grasp the opportunity on each occasion to realise the concept. Consequently, I plan to update the map as more activities are realised.
The map only displays events and performances that employed video recording. Other events that were recorded photographically are not shown at the moment.
The map can be found here.
Wednesday, January 22, 2020
As the festival website states, it is 'a one day festival of walking, space, place and psychogeography' named after 'Terminalia...the festival of Terminus, Roman god of boundaries'.
Many events are group walks and encourage participation but there are also 'private, solitary walks' that are also listed on the main festival website.
I had again been reading about the history of the city and I was interested to learn about the canals that were once a feature of the city. Most of them have long since disappeared, some of them were filled in and became streets or boulevards such as Nguyen Hue 'Walking Street' in District 1.
Thinking back to last year's walk I decided to target the period during which the large old citadel had been constructed and so I concentrated my planning on the canals that were originally built to provide water access to the citadel's main South Gate.
During the 1790s two canals were dug from the Saigon river up to the walls of the citadel. One was along the course of what became Nguyen Hue (known to the French as the Grand Canal) and a second one further up the Saigon River. After consulting the maps I assembled when I was planning the Citadel walk, I estimated that this canal would have been somewhere in the area of Thái Văn Lung. However, as this street appeared to have been blocked off mid-way along I decided to adopt the nearby Thi Sách as the road to follow.
Once again, in the time I had available to plan the walk I managed to locate the area to be circumnavigated.
To commemorate this year's Terminalia festival, I will begin on Le Than Ton (which marked the old citadel wall), progress South East along Nguyen Hue, turn left along Ton Due Thang and then left again along the North Eastern side of Thi Sách. When I again reached Le Than Ton, I would then return to my starting point near to the People's Committee hall.