the embodiment of positive non-conformity
It's not playing by the rules. It's fighting against a hyperreal media & consumer society.
It's being an all-rounder in an age of specialisation. It's working beyond the grades & the certificates.
It's doing what you truly love. It's being real.
The anti-logo symbolises my reluctance to conform to a society that I believe is heading in the wrong direction.
The anti-logo is based on a grainy, black & white image of myself practicing a yoga headstand with outstretched legs, in between a switched off television and a sofa whilst in my student accommodation. The image is used for 'Scene 1: Defiance' in the "perfomance / process triptych" of my conceptual artwork, My University Course (2002 - 2006) - my parodical and polemical response to a ridiculous, status symbol degree from an academically elitist, brand name institution (Cocksford™ & Samebridge™, The Royal College of Arseholes™, Central St. Morons™, etc.). The piece interrogates contemporary representations of success within the educational establishment and provides an alternative to what the system regards as an ideal student. The V-sign created by the posture symbolises a "F*CK OFF!" to, and a VICTORY over, the absurd, postmodern media and consumer society, the stuck up leisure class, and the anti-education, Western educational system - the 3 things I comment about in my conceptual Art and hope to bring about change in.
It's about making a stand, quite literally, against all the negative ideologies around us.
Anti educational system / Pro education
Anti media & consumer society / Pro authentic society
Anti hyperreality / Pro reality
Anti specialisation / Pro polymathy
Anti snobbery / Pro groundedness
Anti extrinsic motivation / Pro intrinsic motivation
Anti conspicuous leisure / Pro genuine enjoyment
Anti didactism / Pro autodidactism
Anti following the herd / Pro individuality
Anti establishment / Pro grassroots
Anti rote learning / Pro innovative thinking
Anti competitive learning / Pro helping eachother learn
Anti arrogance / Pro modesty
Anti conformity / Pro non-conformity
Open, bold or hostile refusal to obey or conform
Freedom from dependence on or control by another person, organisation or state
Firmness of mind or purpose
-- Definitions taken from The Bognor Regis English Dictionary --
The 6 Pillars of my Educational Ideology
The anti-logo embodies all 6 of my activist goals which, in turn, represent the 6 pillars of my educational ideology:
01/ To promote polymathy and catalyze a 2nd Renaissance
The gifted people of the Renaissance sought to develop skills in all areas of knowledge, in physical development, in social accomplishments, and in the Arts. Being a well-rounded individual was held in high esteem, and it gave birth to some of the most creative and versatile people of all time. Today, times have changed. We currently live in an Age of hyperspecialisation in which we are expected to focus on one field or discipline at the expense of all else - to master just one area of expertise in order to fit in as a cog in the industrial machine. The educational system is built around this nonsensical concept, designed, as it is, to churn out a co-operative, narrowly focussed working force that has little time for polymathy. I rebelled against this phenomenon by producing work across a multitude of disparate domains. The image displays a variety of my qualities: comedic prowess, athleticism, social observance, anarchic personality, etc.
02/ To abolish the competitive grading system, along with other extrinsic rewards, in mainstream education
I reached my peak of physical health partly in order to relieve the stress of grades - so that I could concentrate on REAL learning - and I studied the negative effects that grades have on less-abled students and also on students that get the highest grades. By producing a series of deliberately poor pieces of work whilst simultaneously developing a wide variety of interests and skills, despite the system's attempts to make me specialise in one particular discipline, I stood out as an INTRINSICALLY motivated student who wanted to actually learn, rather than to mindlessly pursue a particular number on a piece of paper. It gave me the opportunity to explore, to experiment, to think, and to learn, all in my own time and at my own NATURAL pace.
03/ To make Unschooling the norm rather than the exception
I'm an autodidactic (self-taught) yogi, comedian and theorist.
04/ To integrate fitness into people's homes and lifestyles
I used the space and the furniture around me in order to get fit, which led to the idea to create Fitness Furniture.
05/ To transform the typical living-room setup of a sofa and television, and to fight against the onslaught of other media technologies
Obviously, in the photo, I'm in between a switched-off TV and a sofa. From my experience with students at 'top' institutions, I've noticed how they not only conform to the educational system but also to the ideologies implicit within the films and TV programmes they consume. They seem to be caught up in a delusional, media-induced fantasy over their institution, their subject, and their chosen occupation. One arrogant student I studied, who was into graphic design, was deluded by the fancy productons that come out of graphic design, rather than engaged in the reality that it involves sitting behind a computer, nudging pixels. After watching the film Top Gun, he decided he wanted to be a fighter pilot, failed, then, after watching James Bond, decided he wanted to be an Mi6 agent, failed again and then eventually had to settle on becoming a policeman, presumably to become Bruce Willis out of Die Hard. Another student I read about online actually admitted that she went to Harvard in order to fulfil her Dawson's Creek fantasies of going to an American university.
06/ To encourage gifted students to get a REAL education from a smaller university, rather than to pursue a status symbol degree from an academically elitist, brand name establishment
In a postmodern media and consumer society, the brand name of the institution you go to takes precedence over the actual work that's produced. The 'finest' students at the 'top' institutions are unnaturally motivated by a desire to increase their class status, rather than by a natural desire to simply learn. Meaningless consumer objects with high sign exchange value that denote social status, such as graduation robes and mortar boards, along with the aforementioned extrinsic rewards, become the main factors and driving force behind such students 'educational' careers, and can be seen as significant evidence of Jean Baudrillard's theory of hyperreality and the hyperreal condition. It's one thing making your parents proud, but it's another thing becoming an ornament and a fashion accessory to your family and your nation. I rellished the challenge of being at the smallest and least prestigious university in the country - with worse facilities and teaching - and I was based in the run-of-the-mill town of Bognor Regis for most of my course. And, as depicted in 'Scene 3', there's no conspicuous leisure or media influence here. I'm just a perfect, little sweetie who always stays down to earth and who enjoys everything he does for the intrinsic value.
The Authentic Polymaths of the Past
These three men are all polymaths / Renaissance men of the past whose work spanned a number of different fields:
(1945 - 1976)
Sportsman, Politician, Diplomat, Academic, Teacher, Writer, Editor, Publisher
A prolific sportsman, Fry played cricket and football for England and equalled the then world long-jump record. He also reputedly turned down the throne of Albania. John Arlott said of Fry, "he was probably the most variously gifted Englishman of any age."
Leonardo da Vinci
(1438 - 1520)
Artist, Inventor, Anatomist, Architect, Musician, Writer, Cartogropher
The quintessential polymath, the extreme range da Vinci spanned still inspires awe today. Among his most famous works are The Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and The Vitruvian Man - a piece which encapsulated his essence of converging Art and science. Da Vinci is often regarded as the most variously gifted person ever.
(1945 - 1976)
Statesman, Inventor, Scientist, Printer, Writer, Musician, Politician, Academic
Pragmatic and hardworking, Franklin is not only noted for his role in the American Revolution, but also for Poor Richard's Almanac, the lightning rod, and for founding the University of Pennsylvania.
My Self-ascribed Nicknames
The Perfect Polymath
I always strive to do what I believe is right and virtuous, even though it may go against what most people in society regard as right.
The Real Deal
I regard myself as genuine and authentic. In today's world of artificiality, celebrity, and mass media, I always remain natural with my feet firmly planted on the ground. I fight against a 'hyperreal' media and consumer society and make sure that the work I produce is done with real love, instead of because I think it's trendy, classy, or cool.
are you for real?
Copyright 2005 - 2018