Making Unnatural Connections

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Cleveland, Paul
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Kathleen Connellan


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Australian School of Art, University of


At the opening of the Griffith Film School, George Miller made the observation that the placement of a film school in the midst of an arts precinct was one of the wisest decisions a university could make. His own tertiary educational experience was in medicine but he took one elective in film which was powerful enough to change his professional direction. The lesson here is that interdisciplinary options can lead to innovative connections which expand the horizons of visual and performing art. However, this is always a two way street with conflicting arguments on the benefits of such a practice. The revision of the structure of programs within the Queensland College of Art has opened the door to what was a siloed curriculum that for a large part provided cloned graduates. By providing a structure which incorporated the option for two distinct majors, students are choosing to form combinations outside the College which are both natural and unnatural; photojournalists are choosing Spanish, fine artists theatre, and designers marketing. The push is now on for conservatorium (music) students to combine with visual artists to create a hybrid skill mixture. On the other side are the academic traditionalists who see any "watering down" of the curriculum as detrimental to the industry readiness of their graduates. These are not the students we need for postgraduate study. What we need are the original thinkers who are willing to take risks. The fostering of innovation and originality has more to do with combining the unexpected than with the expected, as was shown recently when a research proposal was put forward combining photography with plumbing. This paper discusses the restructure of an undergraduate art and design curriculum which erodes the previous structural boundaries. Not only does this give students choice it also attempts to change the student's mind set to problem identification rather than just problem solution.

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Publication of the Conference Papers ACUADS 2008

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© The Author(s) 2008. For information about this conference please refer to the publisher’s website or contact the author.

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Creative Arts, Media and Communication Curriculum and Pedagogy

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