Collaboration is increasingly becoming a primary mode of teaching, learning and research practice in the contemporary university. This turn towards collaboration both within and between disciplines resonates with emerging theoretical frameworks associated with posthumanism. In this paper, we look specifically at collaboration as a material-semiotic practice which can disrupt humanist models of visual arts education. To take a cross-section of the collaborative process in the making, we conducted a semester-long participatory study with twenty visual arts students as part of the larger doctoral project, States and Territories. The study included a guest lecture on posthumanist collaboration, and participatory fieldwork in which students used iPads to video their own material practices as they developed their collaborative projects. The data suggests that most students approached collaboration from an ‘interactive’’ humanist perspective, in which two or more humans worked in tandem to produce a material outcome. These students tended to retain authorial control over the artwork, and didn’t register significant changes to their habitual practices and thought processes. Several students, however, found themselves entangled in an ‘intra-active’ collaboration which resulted in a significant transformation of their existing practices. These students’ accounts and material practices are used to inform a series of curricular experimentations which deliberately rupture certain humanist assumptions of visual arts education, namely that art should be centred on the human, the visual and the conceptual. As such, we propose a series of enabling constraints on the collaboration brief which will force students to grapple with artistic practices that are nonhuman, nonvisual and nonconceptual.
Rousell, D & Fell, F 2015, 'Collectivities of practice: collaboration as posthumanist pedagogy in tertiary visual arts education', paper presented to the 2015 Scholarship of Teaching Symposium, Gold Coast, Australia, 22 September.Abstract available on Open Access