To what extent is the internet an appropriate medium for learning through and about contemporary visual art? A case study of the digital art resource for education (DARE) project.

Sinker, Rebecca (2006) To what extent is the internet an appropriate medium for learning through and about contemporary visual art? A case study of the digital art resource for education (DARE) project. PhD thesis, Middlesex University. [Thesis]

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This research looks at the Internet in relation to art, where art is examined broadly as a cultural, social and economic activity and body of knowledge, and specifically as it features within art and design education at secondary school. It considers the way digital technology features in learning, particularly in the art and design context, examining if and how this relates to the uses made of digital technology - particularly the Internet - by contemporary art practitioners. Recognising a gap here, a web-based art resource ( has been devised, created and evaluated trying in some way to bridge this gap, both through its practical usage and - by raising questions in the mind of the user - manifested in the language of its construction. The problems and possibilities of access, communication, collaboration and diversity offered by the use of web-based technologies as demonstrated by a number of artists, set against a generally utilitarian and apparently uncritical view of these technologies offered by statutory education materials, frame this research.

The overarching research question, “To what extent is the Internet an appropriate medium for learning through and about contemporary visual art?” was in large part prompted by a consideration of these different perceptions and applications. If artists are using the hybrid and collaborative aspects of digital technology to critique conventional modes of production and exhibition, engaging with issues of identity, authorship and audience, why is most art and technology practice in education focussed solely on the acquisition of skills? In addition, with the Internet being used primarily as a research medium in formal learning, to what extent could an interactive Web resource also be a critical and creative space? These considerations have led to the development of the evaluative questions used to inform the key research question in this study.

The development and use of DARE forms a case study, examined by both ethnographic educational research methods and an art practice-based methodology. In combining qualitative research techniques, such as the semi-structured interview and observation, with art-practice-based methods such as the creative reflective journal, the researcher/maker employs a unique hybrid method to reflect on the creation of DARE, its evolution and use and its relationship to other applications of Web-based technology. Having developed, trialled and revised the resource, with the help of secondary school pupils, teachers and PGCE student teachers, conclusions relating to the design and use of DARE are drawn, including recognition of the successes and failures of the aims of the initial project.

Key issues and questions are identified to consider how the research question relates to secondary education. The key research findings suggest a number of recommendations, which the evaluation of DARE suggests are in fact interdependent, including the need for young people’s creative visual and interpretive responses to be published diversifying the voices (authorship) for the Web’s various audiences, highlighting the essential value of dialogue in relation to the form and uses of Webbased (and other) digital media, forming a key element in developing critical digital literacy. This should extend to an examination of the relationship between the digital and other forms of cultural production. Finally, the need for producers of Web-based art educational media to take account of and employ a range of design conventions and devices, as practiced by those net artists who are specifically interrogating the nature of the media and the ideas it can address or convey.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords (uncontrolled): art, internet, education
Research Areas: B. > Theses
A. > School of Art and Design
Item ID: 4965
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Dr Stephen Boyd Davis
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2010 14:19
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2021 16:43

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