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The Journal of Aesthetic Education 37.4 (2003) 41-50
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Encounter Between Hyper-Media and Art Education:
A Retrospection of Jean-Jacques Rousseau or Memories of Art and Education
Today both art and education are experiencing profound change as a result of emerging technologies. This essay attempts to redefine art education by considering the latest media art as the culmination of change in art. Statements about art education are only viable in the meta-context of art, as art education must start with the work to objectify, as well as structure, "art." Atthe same time, these meta-statements can cast light on the "foundation" of art.Attempts to view the totality of art up to the present time from the "end" of history (meta) and questioning of the "beginning" of art and mankind (foundation) are two sides of the same phenomenon.
Media art is an example of this phenomenon which reflects both the meta-context and foundation of art. For example, the work of Jean-Louis Boissier boasts both a radical as well as refined image. 1 His exhibition, "Salle Rousseau" further extends the scale of his conventional work based on the texts of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. 2 This essay revises the text written for the catalogue for the exhibition and aims at analyzing the close relationship between media art and art education, sketching the phases of [End Page 41] meta-statements and foundations which emerge as a result of the interaction of art, media, and education.
A Place for Retrospection
Boissier's work is well-known for its references to Rousseau. Having been involved in art education, it was natural for me to develop a strong interest in Rousseau, whom I consider to be a founder of modern art and education. The fact that the Boissier's exhibition was held at the "Kyoto Art Centre" in Muromachi, Kyoto supports this belief. Kyoto was the first place in Japan where primary schools based on the school district system were introduced. The Kyoto Art Centre is located at the former Meirin Primary School which was founded at the dawn of modern Japanese education. In its turn, Meirin Primary School succeeded Shingaku-juku. 3 Thus, the location for the BoissierExhibition, dating back to the very beginning of education in Japan, is a place that encourages reflection on the past.
While Boissier recollects Rousseau with his unique interactive texts, Rousseau recollects his own past. We, the spectators, are immersed in multiple layers of memories and recollections. Sometimes, however, Rousseau's recollections break through the intricacy and multiple layers and appear to achieve a rapport with the people and flowers which once existed. I have long been attracted by the fresh literal expressions particularly evident in "The Confessions" and other works. The beauty of such expressions must have been born from his affectionate view of nature as illustrated by his hobby of plant collection.
View of Nature
I cannot help recalling Rousseau whenever I think about the relationship between nature and mankind. Rousseau was a person who could talk beautifully about the direct relationship between nature and mankind. In his writings of "Les riveries du promeneur solitaire" and "Quoted Passage," Rousseau recollects his peaceful life on St. Pierre Island in Lake Bieler in Switzerland where he spent nearly one and a half months after being deported from France as well as his hometown, Geneva because of problems caused by the publication of The Social Contract and Emile. For me, this text is inseparable from the looped image of shallow water which forms the background of the work entitled Flora petrinsularis (1993 and 1994) by Boissier.
The beautiful text by Rousseau captivates us without any external help and, at the same time, shows what nature meant to him. The relationship with nature described here is the food as well as foundation of his life. This attitude of accepting nature in the deepest part of his mind is pure agreement with nature as pointed out by Jean Starobinski and represents an experience of fusion...