Back To School


LA-based arts organization TELIC has been a key player in the West Coast new media scene for over half a decade, mounting significant exhibitions and public programs including both recognized mid-career artists and emerging risk-takers. Now they've taken their own risk of sorts, particularly in what is so turbulent a funding climate for nonprofit arts organizations, by going back to the drawing board to redefine the mandate of presenting media art. Their new "Public School" initiative draws on internet culture's ideals about non-hierarchical (or shall we say "rhizomatic"?) collaborative structures and open source input models to offer an offline transmission of ideas in the form of classes. There are no pop quizzes, report cards, or dress codes in this school, just student-defined curricula in which the public can get together to make art or talk about cultural issues. So far topics have ranged from 8-bit workshops to a Public Service Announcement-making social studies class enticingly titled, "Yo, Dick... Ad Feminem: When Ads Attack." In a true nod to the awesomely collaborative nature of the LA alternative art community, the Public School was recently invited by local allies Machine Project to hold classes at LACMA during their recent intervention-like funfest of public events. After putting out a call for classes to be taught inside a Richard Serra sculpture on the museum grounds, blog readers could vote on course proposals--as is the model for all of their offerings--that included a thoughtfully recursive workshop entitled, "For RICHARD SERRA: me, you and some other creative people in a small but open space learning from each other." You'd never know it from the title, but the class would involve Miranda July (the artist who co-created the arguably pedagogical participatory web project Learning to Love You More with Harrell Fletcher) teaching "a workshop about being creative in small and unusual spaces." Clever! The ethos of the overall project, whose first full-fledged semester opens this month, was actually established by TELIC-founders Sean Dockray and Fiona Whitton four years ago when they added the subtitle "Arts Exchange" to the organization's name. Fortunately, the idea of throwing up a new media show in a white cube is becoming less of a rarity, but Dockray and Whitton have pushed the field forward in recognizing the importance of bringing an online attitude to live public events in which people can actually talk and exercise some hands-on learning in a homework-free environment. - Marisa Olson

Link »