Assignment: Bring some drinks and snacks!

Informal discussion of the one-week seminar, snacks, drinks.

We wrapped up the Lab week with an informal, relaxed, friendly event with the participants, with snacks and drinks. Based on the immediate reactions of the participants we clearly felt that the block seminar fostered indeed the creation of a creatively discursive community of engaged students. During the informal conversations, we specifically asked for the participants’ individual feedback and views on the Lab’s future: we wanted to know what improvements they would like to see, what changes they would make, and what they would eventually prefer to keep from the all over experience of the seminar.

Several days after the seminar we have also compiled an evaluation questionnaire, and shared it with the participants. 

Below are the questions and answers of the follow up questionnaire:

  1. Please elaborate in a few sentences, to what extent did you find useful the seminar from the perspective of the development or eventual dead ends of your own research? 
  • It was useful as an undergraduate student to talk to PhD students who are doing larger scale research, so they could give me tips and it was also useful in research methodology.
  • The alternative approaches to research as observation in the seminar and the discussions were all a positive boost.
  • I feel that the block seminar brought out the best in me by the end of the week. I have learned a lot about the methodologies others use to conduct research, and I have started to apply some of these to my own research.
  • Artistic research is forced to navigate in difficult circumstances: knowledge production , publication constraints, difficult to adapt to the expectations of academic discourse. But why, in fact, should it have to be fully aligned? The block seminar provided a new and useful answer to this question: to know and apply the ways of communicating knowledge and academic discourse(s), but not in a misguided way, playing a false role, but to do and pursue research free of concerns, based on artistic practice and experience.
  • I have found it useful, mainly from a therapeutic point of view, not from the point of view of advancing my research. It was good to work in this small group of about ten people, I think you managed to create a quite free, discursive space where we could talk to each other not only about our research but also about the difficulties of being institutional. Unfortunately, the very few seminars that we used to have (e.g. Visualization of Advanced Research) have disappeared from the Doctoral School.
  • This was one of the most useful courses during the doctoral school. I liked that it was experimental, open, playful. Finally, we were not working in a frontal, “compartmentalized” way, but freely in small groups – we could interact more freely. (Although there are changes now…) The pilot and this one-week block also helped me to see and understand more clearly what I was doing.
  1. From the different types of assignments which ones did you find more useful and inspiring, and which ones less successful or less revealing (Observation, Speed Dating, Taboo – Q&A, Hypnagogic close reading, Fine Art Dining, Format/Re-format, Alliance systems – (unconditional mutual interests)
  • Fine Art Dining was a top for me, it was very interesting and inspiring to approach my own research in such a different way and to formulate and map my ideas through food. Hypnoid Close Reading was also very enjoyable, besides relaxing, it embedded a phrase or thought in my head. I also received relevant feedback or tips on speed dating, which were useful and I could incorporate into my research. All of these exercises were thought-provoking and I took something away from them, but the ones I mentioned caught me the most.
  • I would approach the answer (because, overall, it’s a completely positive one) in the way that there would have been more opportunities and positive returns in the Taboo and Alliance Systems block if more time had been available.
  • I would consider the Observation and Alliance Systems task types to be the most successful and useful
  • Hypnoid Close Reading, sensitively counterpointed the intoxication of skimming and speed reading of the technical texts. Through the reading and the reader’s interpretation, subtle layers were unraveled over which, as a solitary reader, one might only sometimes detect.
  • Fine Art Dining was definitely another highlight – I would make it a must for all academic field and graduate students at the end of each spring semester, the experience of finding translation would save the scene from many unpleasant, silting up life’s work. In the case of the ALLIANCE SYSTEMS programme, it would be useful to crack open the shell in which a participant spends most of his time, and I am a little sorry that I was partly responsible for the hectic way in which it was run. In the taboo question and answer exercise, I got the impression that the participants were stirred up by the culture of complaint typical of the Hungarian mentality and, more narrowly, of the medium. Bringing tensions to the surface and discussing them in a small group is of course important and helps to overcome them, but here too I found, as I have done so many times before, that everyone mostly ends up narrating their own experiences, and not so much with suggestions that can be drawn from them and put into practice. In the format/re-format I felt a slight dislocation, obviously a lot depends on the current schedule, listening to the other teams, it seemed that the common thinking was “stuck” in the exhibition and the artwork making in the strictest sense.
  • I didn’t think the Format/Re-Format exercise worked, I found it forced, it made everyone in my group tense (I was in a group of three). Hypnoid Close Reading was cool, I would just improve the technical aspects of it (I couldn’t always hear your reading). Speed Dating was good, but I might not do it on the first day, I would leave a bit more time for participants to get to know each other and acclimatise. The Observation was great. And the Taboo question and answer programme was very promising and I was very sorry that we left it halfway through: I think it had a lot of potential.
  • Some of the tasks are still a bit ‘hanging in the air’ for me/Observing/, it was more form than substance – but at the same time I really liked the open, experimental attitude that came from it.

I would take more time for Szabolcs’ examples of ‘Artistic Research’ next time if I were you- and instead of the task where we had to come to a common denominator with our small groups/pairs and design a joint artwork, I would certainly look for an exhibition/installation for my own PhD research/other research… I was interested in how who could visualize their research after all this. And we could have discussed this together. Who would cast their research in what form, how would they ‘visualise’ it, what would be the emphases, what would it mean… It would have made a lot more sense to me.

The ‘dating’ exercise was very useful, as well as recording our research in a few sentences. That block was really useful!!!

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Hypnoid Reading since then, how much sense it made…great for a siesta, but what was really left of it. I’ll write more about that later.

The food exercise was the most abstract for me. I really liked how everyone ‘visualized’ their research according to their own logic/thought and taste!!!

For me, this and the last map exercise really inspired me and helped me in my later work.

While preparing for the complex exam, this was a fantastic opportunity! I suddenly got out of it and started looking at my research/work from other angles.

I am grateful to all of you for this week!!!!

  1. In case the program continues would you have any suggestions on what should we pay more attention to, and eventually what new elements should we include in the LAB seminar?  
  • For me it was a bit long in days and hours with everything else I had to do, it was stressful to be out for so long, so in terms of length I think it would be more productive to either do it in half days or a couple of 2-3 days (but that’s for me because I have classes and work and should be doing research, but maybe for PhD students it’s different)
  • If there was a build on it, further unpacking of the open questions, I would like that.
  • Personally, I have told many people about this block seminar, and even gave a short talk about it at the university. If there is a possibility of continuing this seminar in the future, I think that this particular cow should somehow be brought to the Intermedia courtyard at least once.
  • I was very sorry that the Bibliography match was cancelled, if there is a possibility to continue it, it would be better to plan the seminar 2-3 days longer with the same programme.
  • I think the pace of the seminar was too fast, you wanted to try too many things with us (on us:). I would rethink this, and when and why it is worth interrupting a programme.
  • The seminar was advertised in English, with a fixed number of participants, with foreigners present. When it turned out that we weren’t even doing it in English, it might have been worth telling those who didn’t register because of the English language- my former partner, for example, would have come then- (but since I heard how much trouble there was..I understand if you didn’t think of that.) I certainly wouldn’t have let people link in and out. If it was important to have a more intimate atmosphere or to experience the week together, I would have insisted that we keep to that framework. For me, the disqualifying factor was that there were those who ticked/shocked/if this could have been communicated in a fair way to those of us who were-either coming or not..(when they were available – which day they weren’t coming – whether they were coming back in the afternoon -). It’s not fair to those who actually made the time/ made themselves available…etc.

Obviously it would have been great to have our guides with us all the time, but the fact is that it is unnecessary to have 3 people for every task… It would be worthwhile to organize this thing in Tihany or an external location, in my opinion.

I had a lot of rest between tasks sometimes, but I’m a more intense person and it might be unnecessary to cram the whole week.

  1. Please share your opinion with supporting arguments about which structure do you find more suitable for a training addressing the artistic research methodology: a weekly seminar throughout the semester or a block seminar? 
  • I think both can be purposeful, but the same programme wouldn’t work broken up because it had a more intimate, camp atmosphere than an average course.
  • It’s hard to make it work to attend every day, every program, maybe a less fragmented system could help with that. Fitting a block seminar into a dance schedule is, as far as I can see, still easier than a fixed programme once a week.
  • I think a block seminar and a regular seminar throughout the semester would be an appropriate format.
  • The time spent together has made it clear that the second (block course) is the more viable and useful format for this kind of training. It is difficult to adapt the research to a 40-hour-per-week job or to the form of teaching that we know and that is common practice at the university. At the moment, I see the institution’s sluggish bureaucratic procedures as one of the main objections.
  • I think a good format might be one per week suitable for a whole semester. The time between sessions would be good, the events can mature in the participants. For me, this one-week format was a bit crowded, but I think it worked well, I’m glad I participated.
  • One week is more intense, you can listen to each other better, tune into each other. But a lot of people can’t do that with a job.