Looking beyond the visual: considering multi-sensory experience and education with video art in installation

Spont, Marya Helen
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This study problematizes how the history, theory, and practice of art education (as documented) have predominantly focused on visually-based artworks and on visual aspects of other, multi-sensory artworks. I posit that existing pedagogical approaches become particularly limiting when addressing contemporary artworks that engage multiple senses and question how art educators might adapt such paradigms to consider individual learners’ multi-sensory experiences—particularly, aural, bodily, and spatial, as well as visual, experiences—as they operate in relation to video art in installation. To offer a point of reference for subsequent discussion, I narrate and interpret my own multi-sensory experience of Krzysztof Wodiczko’s "...OUT OF HERE: The Veterans Project" (2009), and then situate both visual and non-visual aspects of my experience in relation to various possible experiences of time, still and changing images, sound, the static or mobile body, other bodies, and space. By synthesizing and building upon recent scholarly literature pertaining to interpretation, multi-sensory and bodily experience, and learner-centered pedagogy, I consider theoretical and practical implications for teaching and learning with video art in installation, and recommend art educators’ mediation through creating communities of questioning, listening, and “speaking with,” in addition to looking. Throughout this study, I argue that encouraging learners to interpret their individual bodily and sensory experiences of artworks should be considered an essential part of the process of making meaning of those artworks in art education environments and, more importantly, of the process of helping learners to become more critically aware of their own sensory experiences in the world.