Knowledge Kitchen

Contributed by Patricia Kovic and Blanka Deroko

Thursday, 10 December, 2020
Knowledge Kitchen

Patricia Kovic and Blanka Deroko

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A New Model for Art and Design Education And Self-Organization of Syncretic Practice

A New Paradigm of Teaching, Grounded in Modularity

The Covid-19 global pandemic has placed unusual demands on human connectivity, forcing us to reimagine our practices. Specifically, the art and design education and practice are uniquely affected, since they rely heavily on the physicality of the material world and immediacy of human connections. Additionally, the battle for our attention in our rapidly changing world has never ceased, and in fact, has only amplified. Finding the mental space to do the work necessary for teaching, learning, reimagining and designing new solutions, has become even a greater challenge.

However, designers and artists are in a unique position to reinvent the old educational practices. Currently, we are still working within the approach initiated by the Bauhaus, which in the beginning of the twentieth century revolutionized the traditional fine art academy. Today, it is imperative to take steps towards an equally radical break with the systems that no longer serve us. Knowledge Kitchen is a scalable approach to art and design education that leads the way towards a new paradigm of teaching, grounded in modularity, self-organization and accessibility.

A Well-Stocked Digital Pantry

Every designer as well as educator knows that in order to create an engaging experience one needs a variety of fresh ingredients, in correct proportions, cooked up together into a delicious and nurturing dish/design/class. Anyone who has ever cooked a meal can appreciate the availability of quality ingredients and the value of a well-stocked pantry. In our vision of art and design education, knowledge is our food for thought and modularity increases accessibility. In other words, we first prepare knowledge as small thematically organized modules, arrange them in a well-stocked digital pantry and we serve them in small bites that build up to large and delicious results. This system of collecting and serving knowledge enables us to collaborate with diverse content producers that deliver simple and super-focused modules of information that can be orchestrated into a larger dish, serving up complex knowledge. Because the bursts of information are so small, for example a fifteen-second video or five-image slide show, production time is minimal and allows for playful and creative communication.

The educator becomes the chef, using their expertise in the subject to mix up an informative, engaging and customizable educational experience. This approach also works in reverse, where the students can use the ingredients as part of the research and building blocks of their projects. Another strength of this approach is its scalability and applicability across disciplines. The easily accessible informational bites presented in one space, encourages a syncretic approach to synthesizing knowledge. Disciplines mix and epiphanies happen on the intersections and in the in-between spaces.

What’s Cooking this Fall

We are currently running two pilot projects at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. Loyola Village Elementary School and SMASH (Santa Monica Alternative School House) are in different stages of preparation and realization. At Otis, in a course scheduled to run this fall semester, with the help of specialists across different disciplines, we are building a pantry of informational blocks to be used by the students in their design projects.

The scheduled participating practitioners span the areas from dance and movement through architecture to science and aerospace design. The elementary school students will engage as well, accessing “snack-sized” modules, designed for their level of learning. As proven by previous experience, we are poised to see highly imaginative and unorthodox approaches to subjects that we often take for granted. From this convergence of resources, we are creating both a pantry of delicious knowledge bursts as well as real solutions created by our design students. We expect the unexpected.

Bon Appétit

In a world that is short on attention, that changes on a daily basis and expects extreme flexibility, Knowledge Kitchen delivers a nimble and modular approach that draws resources from expertise, across varied fields that are available in the moment. In addition to being an educational platform, Knowledge Kitchen serves as an example of a new way to organize human resources and create value on a moment’s notice. It’s like whipping up a delicious meal for your friends, who just showed up on your doorstep. The bite sizes vary depending on your appetite, or what ingredients you happen to have around, but you are guaranteed to connect with others and acquire all that you need on your journey, whatever the journey may go.

Patricia Kovic is part of the creative team at Facility, a brand and design consultancy in Los Angeles, as well as a Professor at Otis College of Art and Design, where she focuses on a successful interdisciplinary teaching practice through the Product Design, Artist Community and Teaching and Creative Action programs. She is lead faculty for the Creative Action course NEIGHBORGAPBRIDGE, which received the Design Ignites Change Award, given to designers and architects who want to make a difference. Kovic was awarded the Teaching Artist in Residence at the Skirball Cultural Center, in conjunction with the Library of Congress exhibition “Creating the United States.”

patriciakovic.com

Blanka Deroko is an artist, writer and educator based in LA. Her practice-based research oscillates around issues concerning the role of self vis-à-vis technology, liminality in electronic culture and human agency. Blanka has written articles and delivered presentations on subjects revolving around digital humanities, film, art history, cultural theory and philosophy. Her installations, short films and web art have been exhibited internationally.

http://liminalatelier.com/

 

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