Over two years ago I devised a unit idea that would look at several large issues concerning design and the music business. The first was the collapse of solid media, in other words, how CDs would become worthless and how music packaging would no longer be collectible for the popular market. The second was how to actually package new music, whether it be an image on an iTunes file or a free PDF booklet with a download, this was no easy task. I finally came to the conclusion that a USB stick would be a marvelous way of allowing people to buy an object, though reduce the cost and packaging, while containing media files and artwork.
I know what you’re thinking… CDs are still around and that they tried the USB stick idea and it wasn’t a big seller. You’re right, though now is not the time or the place to cement your thoughts. The music industry has been in a state of panic now for around 8 years and there is no working template for what will be the next consistent media format.
Just over one year ago Radiohead released their new album ‘In Rainbows‘ as a download for people to pay whatever they saw fit. Before this release the album was rumoured to be called ‘Beware of Monsters’. This unit idea was to foretell what that album would look like and to allow pupils the chance to design something that ‘hadn’t been’.
This idea would push pupils into several states of thought. Firstly, about the changing face of media and technology, then the concept of music packaging and the market and costs involved, environmental issues and then putting political ideas across visually. A lot of teachers would possibly avoid some of these big issues, thinking that they are too big. Having dealt with units similar to this, I believe that this must be the way all art teaching should move. It must encompass all culture, thought and ideas to allow pupils the chance to experience real Art & Design at a professional level, so that when they leave school, they will be better at handling briefs and commissions.
Pupils would explore music media, some of which, they will never have seen or heard before. I was shocked when I introduced Vinyl and Mini Discs to S2 pupils and they hadn’t heard of them before. Why would they though? Music media has moved so fast over the past decade that it isn’t really important what state the music is on, it’s more about what customers want and what they will pay.
After this, then pupils explore news and issues. Modern issues. Things that are happening right now. My image is a little out of date even after just two years, but I’m sure you’ll get the idea of how pupils find magazine or newspaper images and compose them together to make a strong collage.
So as you can see the Critical is embedded into the actual practical work. Pupils should see a connection between the critical work and artists they are studying with the work they are creating. This is more in line with research for higher, college and professional life. Artists study the people and topics they enjoy, to create their own work from it.
This unit idea was completed as a student, then slightly reworked to make it possible to produce three sheets for the intermediate unit. I haven’t had the chance to try the idea out yet, but I would really like to know what pupils and other teachers think of it. Comments would be appreciated.