The educational affordances of generative media in arts education
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Network Jamming systems provide real-time collaborative media performance experiences for novice or inexperienced users. In this paper we will outline the theoretical and developmental drivers for our Network Jamming software, called jam2jam. jam2jam employs generative algorithmic techniques with particular implications for accessibility and learning. We will describe how theories of engagement have directed the design and development of jam2jam and show how iterative testing cycles in numerous international sites have informed the evolution of the system and its educational potential. Generative media systems present an opportunity for users to leverage computational systems to make sense of complex media forms through interactive and collaborative experiences. Generative music and art are a relatively new phenomenon that use procedural invention as a creative technique to produce music and visual media. These kinds of systems present a range of affordances that can facilitate new kinds of relationships with music and media performance and production. Early systems have demonstrated the potential to provide access to collaborative ensemble experiences to users with little formal musical or artistic expertise.This presentation examines the educational affordances of these systems evidenced by field data drawn from the Network Jamming Project. These generative performance systems enable access to a unique kind of music/media' ensemble performance with very little musical/ media knowledge or skill and they further offer the possibility of unique interactive relationships with artists and creative knowledge through collaborative performance. Through the process of observing, documenting and analysing young people interacting with the generative media software jam2jam a theory of meaningful engagement has emerged from the need to describe and codify how users experience creative engagement with music/media performance and the locations of meaning. In this research we observed that the musical metaphors and practices of 'ensemble' or collaborative performance and improvisation as a creative process for experienced musicians can be made available to novice users. The relational meanings of these musical practices afford access to high level personal, social and cultural experiences. Within the creative process of collaborative improvisation lie a series of modes of creative engagement that move from appreciation through exploration, selection, direction toward embodiment. The expressive sounds and visions made in real-time by improvisers collaborating are immediate and compelling. Generative media systems let novices access these experiences with simple interfaces that allow them to make highly professional and expressive sonic and visual content simply by using gestures and being attentive and perceptive to their collaborators. These kinds of experiences present the potential for highly complex expressive interactions with sound and media as a performance. Evidence that has emerged from this research suggest that collaborative performance with generative media is transformative and meaningful. In this presentation we draw out these ideas around an emerging theory of meaningful engagement that has evolved from the development of network jamming software. Primarily we focus on demonstrating how these experiences might lead to understandings that may be of educational and social benefit.
International Technology Education and Development Conference Proceedings (INTED 2010)
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Musicology and Ethnomusicology