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International academic collaboration for art students. Enhancing experiences and learning outcomes.

Andrzej Bednerczyk is an artist inspired by the combination of art and science. As Head of the Painting Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Krakow, the oldest university of the arts in Poland, he teaches, manages the department and is also Head of the Doctorate Department. However, as a artist, his real passion is painting and he describes his works as “Transmedial”, combining and connecting different media through his works.

This week Andrzej has been in Switzerland as part of the international collaboration between EPAC, Academy of Contemporary Arts and his university in Krakow. This partnership goes back so long that he doesn’t remember when it started but he does remember that it was initiated to explore how each school could learn from the different teaching styles and swiftly moved to a formal joint program and faculty and student exchange programs.

The Swiss school of art, with a small, close-knit student body and focusing on comic strip, game art and other narrative arts differs from the more traditional art school in Krakow which offers a wider range of arts and has over 1’500 students. These differences have been beneficial to the student experience and the exchanges have been productive with students gaining new skills during the exchange program at either campus or through joint art projects.

One such project was the “Field of Narcissi” in 2016 which involved EPAC, Swiss art school, the Academy of Fine Arts (ASP) in Krakow and National Taiwan University of the Arts in Taipei. Others collaborations include animation festivals and Image Landscape Competition with presentations in Poland, Taiwan and Switzerland, providing valuable exposure to students including gallery exhibitions and press coverage.

Andrzej’s latest project is the Copernicus Festival in Krakow on May 21, a science and art exhibition on the subject of “language”. This will be the first time that the science event has invited the art world to participate and Andrzej has invited twelve artists and two scientists to present their essays and art to the public. These lectures will then be published in a book to mark the occasion and will include Andrzej’s own lecture on what he calls “the cry of unread words”. Here he will be treating the breakdown in language, culture and communication caused by the pollution of modern culture through information overload caused by technology.

To highlight this he has devised a simple but effective experiment to show how we perceive a small amount from the masses of information that we constantly receive. His presentation shows eighty images of faces every second and participants will be asked to take one photo on their telephone of these faces flashing by on the screen. At the end of the short presentation, would they be able to recognise the photo they have taken from the presentation or will it be one more lost piece of information?

As the week draws to a close, the EPAC students who have been working with Andrzej this week have agreed that his academic approach and new perspective on their work has helped them to refine their proposals. It has been a great advantage to them, so close to the end of their Bachelor of Fine Art Degree, that international academic collaborations has been developed and nurtured for so long at EPAC.

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