LESS IS NOT NECESSARILY MORE

The problem that I seek to address as a faculty within the media arts area is how does a faculty member within the arts and humanities assess affective learning. Affective learning is growth in feelings and emotional areas such as attitudes. In the arts it would be valuing the worth or value a person attaches to a particular object, idea or approach to an aesthetic or beauty. How does one build a meaningful rubric and take into account both the students’ and instructors’ cultural and aesthetic bias?

This problem arises because we live in a post-modernistic era that is characterized by a rejection, in large part, of formal aesthetic theories and favors spontaneity and discovery in creation (Klages ).

Milton Glaser, an artist, illustrator and designer characterizes this schism well in the following statement from an article titled “Ten Things I Have Learned”. The article was composed from a lecture he gave in London as part of an AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) presentation. Here he creates a juxtaposition between the aesthetics of modernism and the post-modern movements. “LESS IS NOT NECESSARILY MORE”. Being a child of modernism I have heard this mantra all my life. Less is more. One morning upon awakening I realized that it was total nonsense, it is an absurd proposition and also fairly meaningless. But it sounds great because it contains within it a paradox that is resistant to understanding. But it simply does not obtain when you think about the visual of the history of the world. If you look at a Persian rug, you cannot say that less is more because you realize that every part of that rug, every change of color, every shift in form is absolutely essential for its aesthetic success. You cannot prove to me that a solid blue rug is in any way superior. That also goes for the work of Gaudi, Persian miniatures, art nouveau and everything else. However, I have an alternative to the proposition that I believe is more appropriate. “Just enough is more”. The funding would allow me to research and assemble processes that faculty within the arts might use to provide objective assessments of the affective aspects of creating compositions, art, photography, furniture making, architecture and design. I will, also, focus on discovering or developing a process/tool that would allow faculty to recognize and disclose their cultural bias and, at the same time, discover the students’ cultural influences. Then with both the faculties and students biases unveiled perhaps a meaningful rubric might be established, thus giving us an opportunity to effectively assess affective attitudes in a meaningful manner.

My findings will be presented as an article I hope to publish in an art education journal. I also would like to present this research and my findings at one of the conferences offered in the fall or spring. Such as: ITeach or Realizing Student Potential 2007. With this research in hand I would be comfortable enough to organize a teaching circle in the Fall, 2006. The teaching circle would allow our community to examine the processes and provide feedback to some of the conclusions I reached. The faculty could then implement or create their own assessments based on the research.