On February 17-18, Professor Norman Cornett, a specialist in theology and culture and the creator of the ‘dialogic’ philosophy of teaching, hosted one of his signature ‘Dialogic Workshops’ at the Mai- son de la Culture Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, featuring Montreal-born multimedia artist Stefan Nitoslawski’s Light Flaps 2.
“The whole dialogic concept is based off of Socrates’ ‘the life unreflected is not worth living’, so we reflect on art,” says Professor Cornett.
Professor Cornett’s Dialogic Workshops are organized discussions to which the public is invited to come and share unfiltered thoughts and ideas regarding specific work. Attendees focus on a specific piece and are then immediately asked to free-write their reaction to the piece through seven reactionary categories. Professor Cornett entitles these as such: “‘I observe’, ‘I think,’ ‘I feel,’ ‘Stream of Conscious,’ ‘Synesthesia,’ ‘I name,’ and ‘How long did it last?’” These written reactions are collected by Professor Cornett to be anonymously shared, driving the ensuing discussion about the work.
Professor Cornett believes this exchange of ideas is the greatest beneficiary of his workshops: “What is the common denominator between art and education? Communicating ideas in both instances. If you can’t communicate, you can’t educate.”He goes further, saying that the greatest gift he can offer to the viewers, as a professor, is their own voice so they are not passive.
Stefan Nitoslawski is the multimedia artist whose work was featured during the ‘Dialogic Workshop’. He used a combination of photography, videography, and sound, together forming a wonderful installation.
Nitoslawski says, “I don’t tie myself down to any particular medium. I am uncomfortable with all of them, so it’s not really the medium that I use that’s important, it’s the ideas, the expression behind the medium.”
Discussing the creation of Light Flaps 2, Nitoslawski says, “I was interested in what happens when a piece of glass splits light. I found this duality within a unity interesting.”
Nitoslawski went to a beach in the Bahamas to create his gallery; a series of photographs capturing an overhead view of mirrors in the sand altering the sunlight in various ways. Alongside his photography were also some montages capturing the sunlight’s movement reflecting onto the sand. Although both of these elements were carefully positioned and organized in the making of this installation, the accompanying audio is independent.
“Particularly with the audio I’m interested in this process where there’s a sense of discontinuity of time. The fact that the video and sound are not synched together is important to me because each time the sound passes it offers a new perspective on the image”, says Nitoslawski.
Although this is not the first collaboration between both men, it was the first time they had held a ‘Dialogic Workshop’ over a two day period. On the first day, Nitoslawski was purposely absent, only making an appearance on the second day. To explain this decision, Professor Cornett says, “If the Prime Minister is in the room, who in the world would say what they really think? I purposefully create a no fear zone. When you don’t fear, and you’re not afraid to think/speak for yourself, then you open up.”
Looking back, Nitoslawski is very happy with the conversation he shared with Professor Cornett and the workshops attendees, saying that he was proud to see his ideas resonate with the viewers. The Dialogic Workshops allowed him to confirm that people understood the fundamental concepts behind his work, instead of just praising him for a “pretty image.”
To discover Professor Cornett’s work further, those interested should visit his website, Center for Dialogic Education.
For more information about Stefan Nitoslawski’s artwork, those interested should visit his website, Stefan Nitoslawski – Media Artist.