Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The art of knowing - Problem solving in Post new media

Problem solving in new post new media is more about experimental problem solving that at any time.

I once posed a delectable exercise for a student of mine.
I gave her this Rubik cube and asked her to solve it. She did in around a minute and a half. Not bad!

I then gave her a second cube below and told her this was in its correct state,  but how did I get there?
Presumably the way she did it, she replied but she looked confused. I don't understand the question, she replied.

I reiterated. I bought this one below in a shop, but don't want to undo it for fear I may not be able to put it together, but how did the manufacture, the machine get it into this state of correctness. I mean it had to be a machine as you couldn't employ someone to fix them all like you did? Can you?

I don't know, she replied

The lesson highlighted a number of things. The first is learning by doing. Her attempt to align the cube yielded a methodology. If she were to do it again, she'd have had to rethink the procedure, but an underlying methodology exist in keep trying and not giving up, because it's solvable.

The second attempt seems baffling because she has no knowledge of how the company did it, and she's probably smirking inside at my feeble excuse that I don't want to do it because I'm not sure I can put it together again.

I often come across students in the second example, who either want the results as they should be or a list. Their position is to not unconstruct the form for fear they can't put it together, not realising even when you make it obvious that that's my role as educator.

Has it got something to do with the way we're taught as undergrads?

In other words I won't give you the answer, you must find it as the first example showed, but I firmly believe in the philosophy of providing the 'safe' environment to explore.  By searching, getting it wrong, experimenting to get it right, we build up methodologies.

Maths students executing differentiation using first principles know these as showing the logical steps at how you reached a given solution.

The use of direct knowledge e.g dates, exact times, what makes a good film, are desirable, even for some areas necessary, but in the field of the creative arts, nothing is sacred, even the so called rules we've come to worship e.g. as rule of thirds.

The question is why rule of thirds works, not that it blithely does.  All knowledge is susceptible to change, which is the job of practitioners and higher learning challenging forms.  Some things work because of reworked schemas that have become conventions.

For instance, when shooting, we're told, don't shoot into light as you get a silhouette, yet that very shot could win you photographer of the year with its abundance in chiaroscuro.

Ideas supposedly fixed, require more interrogation now than we credit them. After all having we gone past media and even new media?