Re-Presentation

I used this title for a unit I once designed on hybrid learning. We (as instructors/artists/writers) gather information, and knowledge, and patterns, and meta information about how we validate the information, and knowledge, and patterns. Then we turn it back out into the world, re-presenting (representing. Or if you’re all post-structural, (re)presenting.) “This is the world as I see it.”

In academia I learned to work with portrayals that look a lot like this:

Picasso's painting, Guernica

Guernica – Pablo Picasso 1937

They are complex, and messy. We’re expected to hold contradictions in tension, maintaining both/and while we consider further.

Now I am (technically) in business school, that has come with learning different ways to (re)present the world.

When I go out to pitch a project to a new audience, I have to make choices. The world I see has a lot of spiky bits. And blobby bits. And blurry bits. Bits with “Here There be Dragons” written over them in heavy black marker. But a “pitch” has to be clear, precise, simple… to communicate not “this is the world as I see it, and there’s some extremely fuzzy bits over here, and these spiky parts we probably want to avoid, unless you’ve got a better idea” but in some sense declare, “This is the world as it is.”

As you might suspect, this leaves me uncomfortable.

The more I’ve thought about it, though, and the more I’ve worked on actually doing, the more I have come to appreciate the difference in what we are doing. It is more like presenting a line drawing, a thing distilled to its essence.

Picasso's painting Don Quixote

Don Quixote – Pablo Picasso, 1955

 

(I note in my musings that this is late work by the artist. I leave that for consideration by the reader.)

And so, I refer to the recipe (15 seconds on this, 25 seconds on this, leave this out completely, always finish with this), count the words (130 words per minute), practice and trim, practice and trim, and then rehearse it so that I don’t sound like I’m reading. I have 17  practice recordings of my last three-minute presentation.

This, from a woman who used to teach a three hour class from a single page of notes.

 

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