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Bill Platz on Visual Research

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Had the good fortune to attend a talk today by Dr William Platz.

Bill Platz is an artist and writer whose research, teaching and practice concern life drawing, portraiture and pedagogies of drawing, with an underlying focus on the studio transactions that occur between artists and models. This research brings theatrical and performative frameworks into alignment with conventional frameworks of skilfulness, material processes and drawing artefacts. Methods that include model collaboration, performance drawing, documentation and academic pretence interrogate, reform and expand the understanding and teaching of drawing.

Text source 

I have seen Bill present only a couple of times and have seen his name pop up more than once in relation to receiving awards for teaching. And I’m not surprised. Bill brings a mix of fevered enthusiasm and cool intensity to his teaching. He speaks fast, with precision, giving detailed examples, without script, to any of his points. He stops, checks that people listening are keeping up. Bill really knows, and loves, the territory of his artistic practice. And well beyond, I would imagine.

If you ever get the chance to see Dr Platz speak, on anything, GO.

taken from http://www.williamplatz.com/about/

NOTES FROM BILL’S LECTURE- my additions/emphasis in bold

To begin with- the deep dive

Case study of Claude Cahun

Feminist photographer from the 20s and 30s

With deep analysis, I can find out what are these types of connections in my field

Visual analysis- what are the major works that I will reference as the context for my work?

More important than my bibliography, who is writing about these artists?

We have to penetrate the visual arts and delve into the visual art ourselves, spending more time Looking than reading.

Going to exhibitions and looking at art/work in my field note: reading comics is not enough. Looking across disciplines for connections, influences, seminal movements 

Collecting images as much as reading texts, buying obscure work

  • Creating maps of images relevant to my own work. Inspirational, related, drawing connections- collecting constantly. Start now
  • Going beyond the conventional wisdom on this- not just Scott Mccloud’s work, for example.

Doing two sides of research- research/reading of texts AND the visual arts connected to those themes/field of practice.

And then asking, how does my work fit into all this?

Creating a map of all my literature review, delving deeper, and extrapolating on how I’m feeding into this and where it will continue. Showing where the field has been, where i fit into the dialogue, and where it and I are going.

THREE LEVELS OF REVIEW

1- The broad arena and relevant lit/practice/case studies. What are the big iconic works?

  • 2- The specific key texts that focus the scope. Drilling down, specific to my area of interest, specific practitioners and works.

3- Precise analyses of aspects of those key texts in relotion to your precise question. An image, a panel, a page, a sequence. Bringing back to how it relates to what I’m doing. Not parroting the conventional wisdom. Doing something by myself, relating specifically to my question, and my analysis.

WHAT A READER/SUPERVISOR/EXAMINER WILL LOOK FOR

  • – A clear theoretical framework.
  • – Demonstrated knowledge of the history and contemporary concerns pertinent to my topic; that I understand the precedents, and also how they are relevant in the current day. What’s happening from x to now.
  • – Clear in depth engagement with key terms.
  • – Narrow, focused approach to the problem or topic.
  • – A clear connection to my art/design practice. That the literature review is directly related to my own work. Being interdisciplinary, and being thoughtful as to why. Back up my claims and making sure I don’t miss anyone.

FIND DISSENTING VOICES- THE COUNTER ARGUMENT

  • Finding the people who directly oppose me as it will help my own argument by having a rounded view on the topic, and not cherry picking. Having a dissenting voice shows the complexity and contestation of the topic. The thesis should demonstrate the COMPLEXITY- not everything should be in support of my own claims.
  • Art is about pushing and pulling, debating, opposing.
  • Looking for the flaws in other things as well as ways they support my work.

CASE STUDIES

  • Not writing a description, rather an analysis.
  • Deconstruction relates to taking things apart and showing the meaninglessness of them.

Analysis takes things apart in order to synthesise new meaning

Not at all talking about what is in there, what it is, what you can see- this signals weakness!

Rather- the ways in which things give meaning- the deeper dive.

  • Exegesis puts forward an argument
  • – Works I choose are evidence for the argument- my evidence is art, communication, texts.
  • – Always using the present tense i.e ‘art IS” and not “art WAS”. Artwork is always present, unless it was lost, destroyed or ephemeral.
  • – “The intentional fallacy”. NEVER assume you know what the artist was intending. The work speaks for itself.  Always refer to the art or their practice, not to the artist’s intention or what they wanted from their work. You can refer to an interview where they make claims to meaning and critique that or uphold it if you think it is relevant.

CONTEXT: art history and social history (The New Art History)

What was happening socially at the time of art creation – schools, periods, eras, movements, classifications, organisational systems, categorisations, genre. Looking at what was happening over time, before and after. Knowing the entirety of works over time. Creating a time map of works that feeds into social history.

FORM: (technical and material aspects)

The hands on aspect to the work. How it’s made. How it works. How ink flows, what paper has what effect, the process, how we create the effects we want. How we manipulate the tools and how we make the work. These are things that I can analyse, as an artist, and know what has been done to create it. Knowing what’s been done, how long it might have taken, how things were created. Knowing the limits of the medium and what was required to create such things.

CONTENT: (semiotics/iconography)

The things within the work. Motifs.

Colour theory, symbols, post structural, analytical, iconographical anaylsis.

RELEVANCE: YOUR RESEARCH- STUDIO PRACTICE AND CONCEPTUAL/THEORETICAL/CRITICAL CONCERNS

Relevance of art/texts to my own work.

OR find an artist that has a completely different approach, perhaps you don’t agree wiht the work, but pulling out relevant things as processes, technique etc.

EXBHIBITION AND PUBLICATION PRECEDENTS

How has the work circulated? Why was work chosen? Not referencing works in a vacuum. Who else references these works, what are the connections? Particularly what this means in terms of how the world/context is moving.

CHAPTER ONE- Having a select number of works and using them to situate your theory chapter- where you are making your argument and using the work to ping back to. A small number of works that are referenced in depth.

A series of visual analyses at 500 words each- vignettes that reinforce an argument being made elsewhere in the exegesis. Becomes a curated catalogue, reinforcing,.

Using ENDNOTE to collect these vignettes- research notes feature of endnote

PREZI – image collection

how the visual analyses supports the argument you are making.

Designing the exegesis in the way that services your argument best.

Thanks Bill!