The Digital and I Project
This dissertation presents a case study and methodology for an Artists in Schools Programme known as The Digital and I Project, which has been designed to integrate into Aotearoa’s mainstream educational system. The programme was trialed in a pilot project in April 2018 at Green Bay High School, in Auckland. Though the pilot was held at a secondary school, I am confident the project would work well in primary and intermediate schools, with differing outcomes from the workshop structure. The residency is structured around the creative arts and reveals itself through stages. The focus of the residency and its methodology is ‘How can we, through creative thinking, engage students and teachers in reflecting on and questioning our use of technology, with the aim of generating a discussion about technology as entangled relationships?’
This dissertation offers a contemporary vision of an Artists in Schools Programme, based on (multidisciplinary) installation art situated outside in the school grounds, which seeks to provoke, as well as invite students and teachers to take a fresh look at the school’s environment. During the pilot, I used my own artwork to test the programme’s efficacy; my art work is suited to the outdoors being made using old traffic signs as supports for paintings. For two days, an exhibition of twenty-eight signs entitled Digital Traffic was installed throughout the school grounds, creating a surprising and spontaneous catalyst for reflection and conversation in the school yard. By drawing an analogy between digital technology and traffic, viewers were invited to consider themselves and the school environment as part of the work. Ideas around traffic and people, and how they could apply to the digital realm, became starting points of conversations. Intersections of the real and virtual, speed of information/lines of gossip, relationships to people and memory of people ... these were some of the responses of students and teachers. In the second stage of the programme, students were invited to participate in installation-making workshops facilitated by the artist. The resulting work was titled Digital Baby, which can be viewed online at www.digitalandi.net
This proposal for an Artists in Schools Programme has been conceptualised in this dissertation as a methodology which introduces art into the school community as a way of generating ideas, creative expressions and fresh perspectives on technology. Morag Hutchinson, Principal of Green Bay High School, says:
Digitalisation and blended learning are continuing to bring challenges for staff and students to negotiate. We welcome and encourage student participation, engagement and discussion in an ongoing effort to best understand their needs and support their well-being and learning.
The methodology that I have developed to support this proposed Artist in Schools Programme is titled “Drops in the Water.” The name emphasises the power of each droplet to affect the body of knowledge and produce thought-provoking outcomes (ripples) which radiate outward, touching wider communities. The project emphasises that everyone can be creative, that it is shared and integral to our society’s social fabric. “I believe arts and creativity are integral and inseparable parts of what it is to be human” (Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister).
The case study outlined in this document highlights how members of the audience and the workshop participants were able to access new experiences and insights, how the programme fostered the making of new friendships, and how it raised critical conversations across the school about technology and our relationships with it. It is important to note that the Government of Aotearoa used to support an Artists in Schools Programme and, according to the current prime minister and popular public opinion, this programme should be reinstated. The following dissertation outlines a process and methodology that would enable this to occur.