Learning Innovatively!

So, this week is Innovative Learning Week and University of Edinburgh, which has been great, I’ve been busy, and felt like I’ve been productive in the studio, so win all around. It’ sort of like reading week at other universities, in that there is no teaching, but there are a ton of interesting events going on to help students to think outside of their discipline, or try something new. I started this week with a seminar called “The Reverse is True: Drawing Towards Print,” which was very interesting, it focused on the relationship between the original drawings, the plate used to make a print and the final print itself, and explored issues of meaning, truth and authenticity with regard to those issues.

In the afternoon Juli and I went to a Japanese Tea Ceremony demonstration at the National Museum of Scotland. It was lovely, and I’ve never before seen or heard a Shamisen played, so that was interesting. It made me think about how objects relate to ritual and tradition, and how importance repitition and habit are in that as well. Also made me want to make things with gold leaf, which has been something I’ve been playing with the idea of for a while, I guess since I started playing with the reactive glass and silver, so that’s interesting. I really like the way the silver paint I found in Germany reacts around the outer edges, but remains looking like silver where it is thick after firing.

This morning I went to a talk called “Does the Middle East Exist?: Maps and What They Reveal.” It was a look at maps of the Middle East produced since the mid 19th century. What does the term “the Middle East” mean to you? Does it include Libya? Turkey? Greece? Singapore? What does how you or anyone else define the term say about their perspective and goals? Does the term “The Middle East” even make sense? If the middle of the east starts at Istanbul, where is the near east? How do geographers define it? Politicians? Naval Officers? Would there be better ways of describing the region that would be more coherent, and not so subjective?
The most interesting thing about the lecture for me was that at the end someone asked why we hadn’t seen any maps produced by a “middle eastern” country, organization or person. The presenter said that that was because there wasn’t generally a equivalent idea in those countries, that they wouldn’t group themselves together, they would be more likely show the world in terms of “the Arab World.” I thought it was very interesting that this concept of grouping the countries around the eastern Mediterranean together is seemingly exclusively an outsider concept.
I’m sad to say that I missed Sandra Alfoldy’s talk at ECA “Mancraft.” I got into engraving, and the next time I looked up the talk was over. Weird how that can happen. I need to learn to set an alarm.

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