As an artist and scholar, Alec MacLeod’s work is interdisciplinary and falls within the realms of Cultural Studies. His subject matter is the familiar, the everyday, whether it is the everyday speech referring to dogs, or everyday visual experiences that fill our lives such as the browser that “takes” us to web sites or the visual signifiers of race. While the work comes in various forms—guerilla installation and performance, new media artwork, or creative non-fiction—the objectives are similar. He seeks to challenge his viewer and reader to see these phenomena anew. He brings attention to experiences that are so familiar as to be rendered invisible and make them strange and unfamiliar by exposing something about them that causes the audience to reconsider their significance. It is this reconsideration that offers the possibility for new and creative solutions, or perhaps more fundamentally that creates the conditions for constructive change. With this as the end in sight, he prefers participatory and interactive forms such as dynamic interactive web sites that engage his audience personally.

MacLeod’s most recent major work is the web site The Canine in Conversation: Dogs in Metaphor and Idiom, Illustrated (www.metaphordogs.org). The work is both verbal and visual, exploring the ways in which references to dogs are used in vernacular English, especially as they reveal social dynamics in the contemporary United States. Terms, metaphors, and cultural references that evoke dogs are discussed individually, including history, usage, and significance. Illustrations provide visual analogies to the references, depictions of the applications of terms, visual representations of things described or referred to in the written texts, and commentary on usage and definition.

As an educator, MacLeod is guided by a similar sensibility. Fundamental to his practice is a commitment to assisting students to develop the skills of examining hidden assumptions, whether their own or those contained in art work or images of any kind and purpose. Interactive practices are central to his classroom teaching and his dialogic response to student work. His purpose is to empower students as the agents of their own learning and making practices.

MacLeod was educated at Hampshire College and received his Master of Fine Arts from Stanford University. He is Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco.

Oakland, California

January 26, 2010

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