Art students are most familiar with face-to-face interaction. The idea of asynchronous online dialogue is definitely outside the sphere of the normal, particularly as it relates to the network of social relations within the art school experience. On that note, OSS is clearly pushing the boundaries of the normal. What to do? It needs to be relevant to the studio practice. Whatever form learning takes, it needs to fold back into the practice itself, it needs to enrich the practice, expand it, push it in new directions.
Of course there is the added value of OSS itself, as a knowledge repository and database. A place to tag and store ideas and then go back and retrieve them. That is clearly the power of the medium. But of course it can’t just be about filling up a database with information. It has to relate. I think if the practice remains center stage, then the discourse, even asynchronous will be relevant. You have to want to return again and again to the well, otherwise it becomes tedious work. I think what is crucial is that there is a sense that the collective process of testing ideas has value. In other words, taking one’s ideas out into the collective space for reaction is deeply valuable. Where those ideas begin to overlap, the value is amplified. But you don’t know where the ideas overlap unless you test the waters.
So there is an element of faith in the process, faith in engaging your colleagues, faith in the value of discourse as relevant to one’s own artistic process. This has an age-old tradition in the studio visit. Drop in and let the conversation go where it may. That is what OSS brings to the process, and it makes it even easier, because you don’t need to be physically present to engage. So that’s where the asynchronous becomes so powerful, the ease with which you can make a studio visit without an appointment.