04 – 07
Foreword Anne Gaines and Frank Millward
08 – 09
Introduction Sean Lowry and Simone Douglas
10 – 13
Has the World Already Been Made? Haseeb Ahmed and Daniel G. Baird
14 – 17
Whatever: A Philisophical Foundation for Projects Anywhere Bruce Barber
8 – 21
Listening for Narrative: Art, Intimacy, and Interconnected Stories Erin Bosenberg
22 – 25
Sculpting with Light Ella Condon
26 – 29
City Drawings: Where Topography Meets Typography Irina Danilovah
30 – 33
Intensive Paddling: Trust Can Be Taut Department of Biological Flow
34 – 37
Ice Boat Simone Douglas
38 – 41
Towards an Office of Institutional Aesthetics: Part Two Steve Dutton
42 – 45
The Deconsumptionists Art as Archive (2006-Present) Eidia House
46 – 49
Placeholders in Situ: Exploring Sites-In-Transition Ronit Eisenbach & Sharon Mansur
50 – 53
Liminal Dome Gabriel Hensche, Bjorn Kuhn and Anna Romanenko
54 – 57
FormLAB As A Nomadic Studio Les Joynes
58 – 61
The Polliniferous Project Hans Kalliwoda
62 – 65
Creating A New Media... United Video-Artists of the Earth Marcus Kreiss
66 – 69
Shared Horizons Beyond the Outermost Limits of an Art School Gallery Maria Kunda and Fiona Lee
70 – 71
All Known Space Outside This Page (Not Including That Which Is Imagined) Sean Lowry
72 – 75
The Urban Bodegon John R Neeson
76 – 81
Nuclei: Exploring the Elasticity of Shared Practice Fernando Do Campo, Laura Hindmarsh, Claire Krouzecky, and Alex Nielsen
82 – 85
Art: Science, Cognition, and Aesthetics Carrie Patterson
86 – 87
Listening in the Vast Expanse of the Enclosure Kamau Amu Patton
88 – 91
Reflections on Critique and Critical Judgment in Art Gary Pearson
92 – 95
Mindful Encounters 2013-2015 Honi Ryan
96 – 99
A Short Amount of Time in a Not So Distant Place John Ryan
100 – 103
The Dreary Coast Jeff Stark
104 – 107
Do It (Perimeter Vibe) 2015 Mark John Smith
108 – 111
Instituting Art at the Outermost Andy Weir
112 – 115
Music for Anywhere: Introduction & Requiem Leanne Zacharias
Appendix Artist Biographies, Artwork Info, and Acknowledgments
The conference Art and Research at the Outermost Limits of Location-Specificity transpired at Parsons School of Design in the fall of 2014. The location of the event at Parsons was significant as the conference embodied the school core values of creativity, innovation and social engagement. During the two day, immersive experience there were a selection of invited presentations given alongside eleven projects that had successfully navigated the highly competitive blind peer evaluation process from Project Anywhere’s 2013 and 2014 International Exhibition program. This first volume of Anywhere complements and is the companion to this unprecedented event and extends and evolves the potent global discourse that the conference experience and this material spark. Today there is growing recognition that the world’s concerns are seeking a greater level of creativity in order to address societal needs and challenges while innovation demands new routes of inquiry and revelation. Anywhere provides an openness and agency for this forward movement through the support of profound discovery unhindered by location-specificity. This publication creates collective reflection and recognition and is cognizant of the limits of what came before. Anywhere engages a global community in shaping cultural progress at this timely moment through critical dialogue and building new directions for supporting scholarly achievements. Through this biennial celebration of art at the outermost limits of location-specificity, traverse the complexities of society, encounter new boundaries and find an investment in the future of art research and practice.
— Anne Gaines, Dean School of Art, Media, and Technology Parsons School of Design
The School of Creative Arts at the University of Newcastle, Australia is proud to be a part of this collaboration with Parsons The New School for Design. This publication has emerged in part from the conference event Art and Research at the Outermost Limits of Location-Specificity held at The New School in New York City in 2014. Together with a selection of invited presentations, this unprecedented event featured eleven projects that had successfully navigated blind peer evaluation within Project Anywhere’s 2013 and 2014 international exhibition program. The work presented here is however not a representation of conference proceedings but rather an extension of the artistic practices of participants. The artists featured in this publication come from disparate corners of the globe. Some are established artists. Some are still emerging. They are however all working at the outer limits of how we experience art. It is in this realm that we encounter new perspectives on art and artistic research. — Frank Millward, Professor Head of the School of Creative Arts Faculty of Education & Arts University of Newcastle NSW 2380 Australia
WELCOME TO ANYWHERE V.1
— a biennial exploration of art at the outermost limits of specificity. We see this publication as a modest vehicle for pointing toward art located elsewhere in space and time. In the interests of deferring categorization, we have organized all contributions alphabetically. Editing has been kept to a minimum. This is part of our motley global community of peers. Our affections are embedded in these pages. In part, this publication emerged from the 2014 conference Art and Research at the Outermost Limits of Location-Specificity at Parsons The New School for Design. Together with a selection of invited presentations, this event featured projects that had successfully navigated blind peer evaluation to feature in Project Anywhere’s global exhibition program. Together with the challenge of exhibiting art outside traditional circuits, this event also touched upon the value of sharing and bearing witness. We had expected to simply bring scholarship to art. Instead we found ourselves sharing experiences through the medium of community. The omnivorous disciplinary appetite of much of the art presented reminds us of the challenge of finding appropriate language and evaluative criteria for projects that straddle art and other realms of knowledge. Although far from novel to note that art is now experienced in spaces, places and times beyond the limits of traditional exhibition circuits, given that much of this activity is concerned with events, actions or processes rather than discrete objects, supplementary texts play an important role in helping artistic projects such as this exceed arbitrariness in the noise of our present. Apprehending art elsewhere in space and time can require work. At the very least it requires some kind of perceptual vehicle to make it accessible beyond direct sense experience. Dynamic exhibition formats and multiple destinations should not present a barrier to value. We believe that art should be valued as a valid as an independent form of knowledge without being subservient to externally imposed criteria. It should not simply serve or illustrate other fields. We celebrate art’s ability to traverse diverse forms, spaces and places and to evoke insights potentially elusive in theoretical, scientific or philosophical propositions alone. Yet such points of difference can quickly dissolve wherever art lends itself to didacticism, forgets that it can be political, or simply indulges without reflecting upon its surroundings. Art’s discursive and omnivorous nature can also mean that the challenge of translating knowledge that emanates from art into recognizable formats under stable conditions for critical reflection is bound to be a mixed enterprise. Art is a culturally constructed and therefore fictional activity that enables us to reflect upon other fictions. These qualities are not easily put into words. Although a vestige of provisional belief is necessary to maintain these slippery delusions, artists characteristically maintain a deep ambivalence towards certainty. At best, ideas experienced through the lens of art can offer insights beyond theoretical propositions alone. Yet these insights can quickly escape as we attempt to pin them down. Supplementary texts cannot wholly explain or account for works of art. Something is always lost (and potentially) gained in translation. We hope that you enjoy Anywhere as much as we enjoyed working with the artists featured in these pages. Onward… as if… — Sean Lowry and Simone Douglas
HAS THE WORLD ALREADY BEEN MADE?
HASEEB AHMED AND DANIEL G. BAIRD
In 2011, Haseeb Ahmed and Daniel G. Baird initiated a collaborative project at the Jan van Eyck Academie in Maastricht, Netherlands. Since its inception three years ago, six versions have been created, with each iteration building upon the former in breadth and scope. The project is titled Has the World Already Been Made? and is intended to be both provocative and inquisitive. The scale of this collaborative project is global and trans-historical. At its root, the project consists of creating sculptural objects and installations using a collection of disparate casts of fragments from around the world paired with found objects to generate a form of ‘world-making.’ In using these fragments that are extracted from a place and time, like a photograph, the project can be likened to a form of reverse site-specificity. The architectural and natural fragments utilized are acquired on site through a mold-making technique that is familiar to architectural conservators in order to study and preserve damaged elements of buildings and historical structures. Using a silicone mixture and catalyst, the material is applied directly to the surface of the site by hand, capturing precise details when hardened fifteen minutes later. These molds then function as an inventory of a location, with the ability to cast replicas of the impression in a variety of different materials at any time. The pursuit of creating these molds at different locations around the world is an integral part of the process for Ahmed and Baird. Each mold is replicated for the other, creating a shared archive of places extracted from time. The selection process for what is captured varies in its scope — from the specific to the generic. An exterior architectural detail from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City holds a very specific cultural association as a fragment. Whereas a fragment of the dry cracked earth in northern Utah carries with it a different arbitrary weight. What is important is the process of capturing these locations, and generating an inventory of elements from around the world. This inventory of molds then functions as a repository of ‘locations’; aside from the cast elements replicated from the molds, the
‘location’ held within each mold can be considered as a material in itself. The fragment can be a very powerful object. Tethered to history, it can convey a symbolic importance that establishes a distinct value system in relation to other objects in the world, both personal and cultural. It is defined by what it is not: the seashell on the dresser, acquired from a walk years ago, in a personal way holds the beach from whence it came, yet to anyone else it remains just a seashell. A fragment from the Berlin Wall functions similarly. It is both concrete composite rock and Cold War time capsule. Both share an affinity with the function of a souvenir. Capturing locations through the process of mold making can be considered a physical photography. Extracted from time physically, the mold preserves the structure at the moment it was generated. It is a ‘negative’ physically holding the location it was extracted from, like a memory. The indexical capacity of the mold relates 1:1 with an object in space, unlike a photograph that captures an index of a space-in-time as an image. It can then be activated at anytime to generate a potential artifact through the process of casting. The dirt of the desert floor will shift and change with the seasons just as the brick of the Met will chip and lessen in time; yet the molds of these locations will forever hold the moment they were generated. These three-dimensional records of places become materials in our collective sculptural vocabulary. The world is composed of an accumulation of objects created at a prior time and existing simultaneously in the present. As objects generated, these molds are linked in this collective association of material accumulation — there is uniqueness to the negative space of each. The molds that are created can be seen as invisible containers of the past, infinitely extending outwards, establishing the world from when and where it was sourced, wherever that may be. Contained within each mold fragment is a ghostly presence of the past. Equalization occurs in the process of bringing these elements together in sculptural objects and installations. Sharing a common material make-up
(cast plastic elements/silicone molds/tinted plasters) and a collective gathering under the rubric of a larger entity (the project itself), the fragments lose specific hierarchical determinants. In their close physical (proximal) and material connections, the disparate elements collapse into one another and the significance of each source location is diminished, if not removed altogether. In HWBMx5, presented at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York City in 2014, a physical and metaphorical bridge was erected, alluding to the collaborative process between Ahmed and Baird who live on opposite sides of the world to each other. Narrow 25 inch tinted plaster roads bisected the room, appearing as if carried by cast plaster tortoises that were placed at the foot of each cross section. Colorful tinted plastic casts of fragments were suspended underneath a central elevated platform. Peppering this narrow central landscape were a series of silicone molds held high above the landscape like totem poles. In this installation the use of the molds themselves became the central focus, rather than the multiple casts that could be generated from them as prior versions of the project. This interest in the authenticity of the mold itself has become a primal interest in their recent research. The potential for these objects to be activated at any time by Ahmed and Baird is a distinctly digital process and is being further explored through the digitization of the casts themselves through 3D scanning. In bringing these physical fragments into the virtual world, infinite replication is possible and the authenticity of original mold itself is further amplified.
WHATEVER A PHILOSOPHICAL FOUNDATION FOR PROJECTS ANYWHERE
Preamble: Although this paper has a somewhat serious title, I intend it less as a directive than a proposal or proposition. Agamben’s illusive term ‘whatever’ comes to mind when I confront Jean Luc Nancy’s conflation of the singular/plural; this term signals the possibility for being in the world without the benefit of a singular (differential), gendered and linguistically subordinated sovereign consciousness.1 In other words, and less provocative in this context perhaps, the predicative (subjective performance) is privileged in the singular/plural conflation over the nominal (object). I will propose here that the singular/plural is the hinge with which many of the Projects Anywhere function at the “outermost limits of location specificity.” To this I would add subjectivity, thus opening up spaces for corporeal subjectivity and gendered identity evident in several of the innovative socially engaged works being discussed at the Project Anywhere two-day symposium (NYC, 2014). In many projects anywhere — I use the plural ‘s’ purposefully here to dispel the notion of a singular generic typology — there is a radical difference grounded in that which is presented.2 As Alain Badiou proposes: A philosophy (not philosophy in general), sets out to construct a space of thought in which the different subjective types, expressed by the singular truths of its time, co-exist […] But this co-existence is not a unification — that is why it is impossible to speak of one ethics.3 If the body is also central to this proposed Project Anywhere philosophy, then race, class, gender and sexual difference must be taken into account. I agree with such a proposition, and this necessarily raises the question of whether this ‘absorptive’ process is one of transgression, subversion or ultimately a reinforcement of difference. Where precisely is the (Derridean) limit — or is this a ‘whatever’ in the Agambenian sense, perhaps a transgendered cross-dressing potentiality? 4 I believe it is, and it is this potential for philosophical radicality (a
Scrivenerian philosophy), that ultimately provides us with the terms for critical appreciation of many art projects anywhere, of the kind both with or without direct aesthetic and/or social political efficacy. 5 The singular/plural also invokes the old metaphysical quest (shibboleth?) for comprehending the distinction between essence and existence, the quid est, and the quod est, with which we are familiar; the dasein and the wasein representation; presence, or a (Heideggerian) presentness-as-such. Beyond a post-gender(ed) thesis, the conflation of the singular/plural engages the old problem of difference/ differentiation for which Nancy provides an elegant explanation/exposition in his lecture on the occasion of an exhibit in 1995 of the work of the late Japanese American artist On Kawara. The collapse of difference engaged by the singular/plural, which I am proposing is the whatever of Project Anywhere, is thus a philosophical exposition about time and space, which Jean-Luc Nancy termed the “technique of the present.” Of interest for our purpose here is that Nancy delivered his 1995 lecture in an itinerant fashion, moving with his audience through the galleries of the Nouveau Musée to view each of Kawara’s works in situ. Nancy’s lecture, subsequently translated and published in English, affirmed the proposition for returning/collapsing the differences between techne to poeitike (productive technique).6 “This technique” he writes: […] this art, this calculated operation, this procedure, this artifice produces no thing with a view to another thing or a use, but with a view to its very production, that is its exposition. The production of the thing puts the thing forward, presents and exposes it. And “to expose” he continues, “is to depart from a simple position, which is always a deposition, a relinquishing of the contingence of a passing moment.” 7 Does this also explicate projects wherever, affirming their avant-garde status? Perhaps… For Nancy,
poiesis/praxis for ‘wherever’ artists by ‘whatever’ means. I will conclude this brief discussion of a philosophical foundation for Projects Anywhere by drawing the reader’s attention to a public intervention by the activist group Liberate Tate undertaken in association with Platform, the London and UK based art and activist art group. Since 1983 Platform has been producing work for environmental and social justice in collaboration with various groups under various pretexts and titles with a high degree of political agency.1 1 As represented on their website, the critical work — arts, activism, education, research — that members and associates of Platform have undertaken for the past several years has evolved to become a sophisticated set of creative strategies for challenging and undermining ‘Big Oil’s’ corporate support for art institutions in the pursuit of mitigating climate change, thus providing an excellent example of Projects Anywhere subsumed by a “whatever” philosophy, as I have attempted to articulate above.1 2 In July 2012, Liberate Tate gathered together over one hundred artists and environmental activists to deliver a huge wind power propeller blade weighing over one and half tons to the Tate’s Turbine Gallery.1 3 The wind propeller was described in the group’s communiqué as a pro bono publico ‘gift’ to the collection, which is permissible under the terms and conditions of the Museums and Galleries Act. Assuming the efficacious condition of the ‘poison that cures’ as described in Jacques Derrida’s reading of Plato’s Pharmacy, Liberate Tate’s ‘Gift’ is a searing critique of the continuing economic support that energy giant British Petroleum (BP) has provided to the gallery — and culture more generally. The activists argued that this brand association was in effect a salve or ‘art wash’ designed to cover up the destructive effects of climate change that B.P., Shell and other world energy giants are accelerating by maintaining our global dependency on the fossil fuel industry.14 Their letter of petition to Tate Gallery Director and Trustees goes on to state:
“presence is not a singular property of the thing,” (it) is the act by which the thing, object or artifact is presented, that is “praeest” which is also, I would argue here, a “whatever potentiality” in Agamben’s sense. Nancy’s advancement of the present — is an absence; “the present in time is nothing: it is pure time, the pure present of time and thus its pure presence, that is the negativity of passing.” 8 On Kawara’s Location is arguably a ‘template’ for project(s) anywhere, which incidentally provides a model for Nancy’s discussion. This painting signifies the coordinates of a place which Nancy describes in a singular/plurality thus: Latitude is a given measured in relation to the equator, which is the greatest length of land along the axis which does not connect the poles. Longitude is a given measured in relation to an arbitrarily selected meridian (at least according to an arbitrarily choice of making localization occidental and in the occident: English the Imperial place of geography). Meridian means the “partitioning of the day:” it is the line along which time (the hour) is the same from one of the earth’s poles to the other. Place is the intersection of the two measurements, according to space and according to time, the point where the one and the other prove to have no dimension, merely the crossing of two lines. 9
And given Nancy’s penchant for ironic dedoublement within ontological speculation he follows this with his philosophical point de capiton, with due respect to Leibniz and Lacan: Nothing subsists in a point, except for the exteriority of points in relation to each other. A point consists of nothing (it has no “inside”) it is merely relation to other points. There is (therefore), no point of space, nor point of time (as if it were a particle of the one or the other), but space and time are the one outside the other of punctuality itself. This punctiform space immediately opens time that goes from one point to the other — a time opens space as the truth of its trajectory (the point which is already not the one and yet the other). The encounter of space and time: here and now. 10
Through your relationship with sponsor BP, Tate is forcing climate-conscious gallery-goers into an uncomfortable position of complicity with the oil company, one of the most environment-destroying corporations on the planet.1 5
This mathematical revelation is the absolute locus of the phenomenological hermeneutic differ(end), one which in order to provide some function or use value must be conflated, becoming thus an emblematic securing of the heterogeneous, and a multi-layered stimulant for both phenomenological affirmation and interpretative fecundity. And this perhaps only requires a conclusion in political terms; where a Project Anywhere philosophy becomes the symptomatic expression of politics (by) whatever means and art it’s potential [whatever] vehicle(s) of delivery. Multiplicity here assumes radicality and here Giorgio Agamben provides a suitable, nongendered, raced, classed bridge toward a grounded
The passage of The Gift propeller from Ireland through Wales to the Tate was documented on video. The Tate Trustees declined The Gift at a September meeting of that year, citing executive privilege; however, this has not deterred Liberate Tate and Platform’s from continuing to expose corporate sponsorship of the arts and what they call the “Carbon Web of institutions that support the international fossil fuel industry.” 1 6
Giorgio Agamben, Means Without End: Notes on Politics, trans. and ed. Vincenzo Binetti and Cesare Casarino (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000).
The Heideggerian das (s)ein, and represented, (c.w. was/ (s)ein)
3 Alain Badiou, Ethics: An Essay on the Understanding of Evil (New York: Verso Books, 2001), 28. 4
Jacques Derrida, The Truth in Painting, (Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1987).
Giorgio Agamben, Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy, trans. and ed. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press. 2000).
Jean Luc Nancy, “The Technique of the Present” lecture given in January 1997 at the Nouveau Musée during On Kawara’s exhibition Whole and Parts 1964-1995; originally published in French as Technique du présent and in Poiesis VII as “A Tribute to Jacques Derrida” (Toronto: 2002).
The author first became aware of Platform’s projects during the first Littoral Art Conference New Zones for Critical Art practice that took place at the University of Salford University College Manchester U.K. in 1994. At this conference Platform artists described their 1992 project of mapping and restoring the historic Effra River that had been covered over by the streets of London. See Barber, Bruce Littoral Art and Communicative Action Art in Society Series Common Ground Publications Illinois and http://www.littoral.org.uk/ programme_littoral.htm
http://platformlondon.org see http://platformlondon.org/ values-statement
13 According to the Liberate Tate Blogsite “The network was founded during a workshop in January 2010 on art and activism, commissioned by Tate. When Tate curators tried to censor the workshop from making interventions against Tate sponsors, even though none had been planned, the incensed participants decided to continue their work together beyond the workshop and set up Liberate Tate.” https://liberatetate.wordpress.com 14
Derrida, Jacques, Disseminations trans. with a forward and notes by Barbara Johnson The University Press of Chicago 1981
Liberate Tate Petition Letter https://liberatetate.wordpress. com
LISTENING FOR NARRATIVE ART, INTIMACY, AND INTERCONNECTED STORIES
As another artist attempting to navigate the social landscapes of the art world, I have become particularly interested in how communication operates within public art spaces. Consequently, my work focuses upon the public space of the “artist walkabout” in Johannesburg, South Africa (often referred to elsewhere as the artist talk). This is the time during an exhibition in which the public is invited to speak with the artists about their work. I explore the artist walkabout as a site for intimate exchange within which to expand narratives generated by both artists and artworks. Intimacy in any space, public or private, allows for an exchange of knowledge that invites vulnerability and often includes reference to personal lived experience. It asks the following questions: What other stories emerging from this space could influence and complicate depictions of both the artist and artwork? Who is able to express their own life stories within this space, disrupting and complicating others? The educative space of the artist walkabout also has the potential to delegitimize essentializing projections of what art is and what art means. I approached this research with a focused reconsideration of the act of ‘listening’ as central to communication and knowledge production.1 I see the act of listening as central to attending an artist walkabout. Through our intention to ‘listen,’ we invariably ‘see’ and create unfolding stories that emerge from the site of the walkabout — in turn acting as inspiration for new ideas and ‘imaginings.’ It is through our intention to make sense of the artist’s words and stories that we begin our own kind of invention in concert with the artist’s. These points of connection are also where we might make decisions and assume an agency about both the way we listen and what it means to listen. In the South African context, Kerry Bystrom and Sarah Nuttall question whether public forms of intimacy could be used to desegregate historically fragmented publics.2 In a society still largely entrenched with historical divisions, perpetuated through an obsession with security, the formation of a public-private realm with multiple voices possesses the potential as a site for connectivity and the intersection of different voices.3 I am particularly interested in the presence and function of sincerity within each interaction.
To what extent does sincerity motivate this type of connection? For me, sincerity implicates a contemplation of whether or not, within any moment of expression, we are considering our position, our past and the context, whilst at the same time attempting to imagine that of the person we are interacting with. Although not necessarily always enacted, this is encouraged in a walkabout — that is, allowing stories beyond one’s own influence to engage and trigger conversation. I have produced several public installations and interventions inspired by the ten interviews that I have conducted with walkabout attendees and artists.4 I am interested in thinking about and employing translation as a process. Each element within the works becomes a series of translations, carrying the words and ideas from the original interview and manipulating them into another creative form. Rather than being an explicit mode of ‘re-writing’ an original, this process carries a ‘feeling’ for the original.5 When listening to the radio, for example, the process of taking in information via a news broadcast or a radio drama is of course a process of translation. This does not necessarily mean that we are censoring information that challenges our worldview, but rather, while our own perspective changes and shifts with new knowledge, we embody a ‘feeling’ for the soundscape perceived though our ears. Through the act of listening, either in a gallery space or to radio signals, it becomes necessary that we ‘carry ourselves’ in some way. This is one example that indicates that the process of translation is not only enacted within the making of art, but also within all public spaces where communication is central to the congregation of bodies in space. The most important body of work, which formed two of the three interventions, was a series of soundscapes using my research interviews as primary source material, integrated with other ‘found’ sound material. I wanted the works to reflect the value and strength of each interviewee’s statements about the art world and its various contexts, whilst also pointing to the power of divergent individual storylines that complicate and re-imagine other possible interpretations of the interviewee’s words. The appropriated audio reflected the interviewee’s words but also carried the conversation into tangential textural sonic ‘explorations.’ Each piece was
quite extensive; the shortest being 26 minutes long and the longest extending just over an hour in length. I hoped that the expanded nature of the sound pieces might invite the listener’s imagination to experience a sense of limitlessness — together with a potential for disrupting personal understandings or positions towards the subject matter of art world and art world publics. I went to malls in Johannesburg to share these soundscapes. I encountered a diverse array of people within the malls, as mall culture is well established within the city. In many instances, malls are active social hubs. One particular body of work was titled Speeches From A White Cube, where the sound pieces became part of a sidewalk installation, emerging from a small mobile speaker surrounded by a sculpture shaped like an abstracted horn or funnel, which was placed atop a handmade plinth built from printed manuscripts. The manuscripts contained poems inspired by the research interviews. Copies of the manuscript were given out as visitors came and went. Another installation, Conversations From a White Cube, was installed in the middle of an exhibition at the Wits Art Museum. During the exhibition, I staged an imaginary radio show, interviewing museum visitors about the work on display. The installation like all of the public interventions is mobile in intention and so adaptable to any gallery context, the radio show then also adapting its content to relate back to the gallery space and the exhibition within the space — an audio focused walkabout of sorts. All three of these interventions shift the focus from a visual one to an auditory one. Art as a practice of engaging ideas, with emphasis placed on self-reflection, becomes more apparent with this sensorial transition. Segues created by a focused and intentionally communicative auditory engagement make room for audience reflection and reaction. The fluctuation in understanding what we are listening to, places us in a continual relational connection with both context and self. Focused listening lets us see meaning and comprehension as never complete but as individual and fantastically expansive in relation to narrative. Salome Voegelin’s “aesthetic and philosophy of sound art” understands listening as an engagement that avoids complete collective understanding, and which is always contingent on individual subjectivities.6 My interviews have revealed that the most obvious obstacles to the fluidity and accessibility of the walkabout are often found in static and contrived contexts marked by expectations — both physically and in terms of the academic knowledge required to understand the art and the artist. This also reveals a lack of spontaneity implicit in the formulaic conditions of art’s production and reception. This naturally affects our experience of a walkabout. Do we then physically embody qualities that we imagine the gallery context possesses? Do
we silence ourselves to the authority of the space and the authority of the artist? Do we thwart our own agency as audience members in the face of the institutional production of new ideas by both the artist and the gallery? Some of the artists and gallery attendees I interviewed cited the physical presentation of the gallery space as a source of intimidation when it came to engaging an audience. One interviewee also cited the ‘body language’ and communication of the gallerist as problematic. The way in which artists and curators choose to speak to an audience — their awareness of their own use of language in relation to the attending audience and its access — was also pointed out as problematic. When interactive conversation does take hold during the walkabout, the rehearsed authority of art is momentarily interrupted or reshaped. Intimacy is given a pathway, and for a moment, multiple narratives have the potential to relate to one another. The Colonial Imagination The colonial imagination and its hegemonic narratives still define the past and restrict possible narratives. This also created problems during the artist walkabout. Olu Oguibe has pointed out the continual problem that arises when European theorists, physically disconnected from the various realities of ‘African Cultures’ attempt to redress past colonial assertions and distortions of African narratives in relation to its archives and artifacts.7 As evidenced by an almost obsessive impulse to define and implant ‘knowledge,’ museums forget how culture as a series of connected ideas move, transition, or even forgets itself as it continuously relocates through the human sphere.8 This attempt to redress past colonial narratives of museum artifacts has posited a new story, or a more elaborate narrative, and in turn becomes another exercise in asserting distance or detachment between the visitor’s humanity, and that of the ‘culture’ on display. This distancing can of course create an artificial sense of intimacy as the audience is then positioned to project their own romantic gestures. It is then often via vicarious romance or imagined nostalgia that one can inadvertently claim someone else’s story, and in doing so particularize and limit its autonomy. Romance provides permission to project this limited frame, allowing particular characteristics to become symbolic identifiers that supersede all other qualities of the individual or artifact. Narrative South African scholar and poet Gabeba Baderoon’s poem, The Flats, traces a physical journey from one home past another, and past the home her parents were forcibly removed from during Apartheid.9 She carries the feeling of intimate experience through a public space. Towards the end of the poem her metaphor insists on hope for a new and evolving sense of home. This poem powerfully pronounces the value of interrupting public space
In her book Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age (Cambridge: Polity, 2013) Kate Lacey reconsiders the role of listening to call attention to its centrality within communicative public life.
and what is perceived to be the normalcy of everyday life. It insists on the power of one story. Making art is a personal process. When an encounter is intimate and of a personal nature, it becomes a compelling lens through which to form new histories. Making art should be an encounter that gives agency to choose a story. My work aims to generate platforms for engagement — either in the gallery, or on the sidewalk, or in the mall. Through continual movement and interruption, each engagement and construction disrupts audience expectation and in turn challenged the projected boundaries of public and private space. This work resonates with Michael Warner’s idea of the counter-public — that is, a space in which public disclosure of private matters might invite a conversation to progress beyond societal expectations, and instead in accordance with a participant’s agency.10 This work therefore proposes a model premised on continual and mutual invention within public space. Some of our most private stories yearn to make themselves public; this is an impulse for defining identity and exchanging narrative and learning from one other. It is also an imperative for justice that promotes empathy and understanding. A walkabout that evolves into an exciting and engaged space is one where something unexpected has somehow occurred and a generative impulse has been triggered. Access is however typically limited to a specialized elite and re-invention is rarely experienced beyond that context. Perhaps, to take a public event more seriously, also requires considering whether or not broader education around the ideas about art is important. Knowledge in the public sphere is often knowledge that is given greater credence. By contrast, intimate knowledge is considered ‘private’ and emerging from a daily continuum of domestic existence, and is often encouraged to confine itself to that space. As a site of and vehicle for education, the walkabout deserves more attention. It possesses an oft-unrealized potential for transformation: from being a site of rehearsal to a space of confrontation, learning and agency. This is also a seminal moment in which an artwork emerges into a public space. Encouraging a space in which both confrontation and intimacy might flourish is necessary for the production of new knowledge. Remaining alive to what knowledge means, how it operates, how it translates power, and the manner in which it is exchanged is a vital function of the kinds of spaces, which can at their most effective, foster profound conceptual shifts between public and private realms.
Kerry Bystrom & Sarah Nuttall, “Introduction: Private lives and Public Cultures in South Africa” in Cultural Studies (27, 3: 2013), 307 332.
For links to artwork documentation and audio visit please see https://thiscityspace. wordpress.com/category/2013-2014-art-publics-interruption 5
Walter Benjamin, “Chapter 2: The Task of the Translator: An Introduction to the Translation of Baudelaire’s Tableaux Parisiens” in Illuminations (New York: Schoken Books, 1969), 69 82.
Salome Voegelin, Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards A Philosophy of Sound Art (New York: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2011), 4 5.
Olu Oguibe, The Culture Game (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004).
Gabeda Baderoon, “Gabeba Baderoon: Poems” Cultural Studies (27.3, 2013), 482 486.
Michael Warner, Publics and Counterpublics (New York: Zone Books, 2002), 32 62.
SCULPTING WITH LIGHT
ELL A CONDON
ENERGY IN TRANSFORMATION
There is a universal shared need to understand light, and to attempt to find a language to connect with it. Light is not fixed or constant; it is continually in a process of transformation, absorbing and refracting into other forms of energy. As light forms, it transfers into different frequencies across a spectrum, of which only a small portion is visible to the human eye. Photography has the ability to record this light, both perceptible and imperceptible to the human eye through absorbing, refracting and recording light through the apparatus of the camera. Light is refracted when it enters and exits the camera prism, the lens, leaving only its trace. Photographyâ€™s relationship to time is both complex and paradoxical; seemingly â€˜limitlessâ€™ matter is given permanence; the imperceptible becomes visible in some capacity. We reflect on light, space and matter, rethinking boundaries and altering perceptions. Sculpting with Light is an attempt to grapple with larger elements within the photographic process; matter that is unbounded, light that is in formation and continual evolution, energy that is in transformation. This work reflects upon photography as a form of expanded thinking on time and space. Centering upon notions of energy and its formation, and considering light as something perpetually transforming, forming, degrading and reforming, it considers ways in which ancient light, distant matter becomes visible to us. Expanded thinking on energy, the visible and invisible, form and formless, enables reconsideration of the boundaries within the photographic. This body of work engages with notions of energy, perception, and temporality. Audible in the video installation The Light Loop are radio waves and distant matter falling to the ground. The sound piece created in collaboration with sound artist Paul Greedy is a mix of recordings, the crushing of sandstone to dust recorded in the studio mixed with distant electromagnetic pulses caused by lightning and detected by radio waves sourced from a sound share website. The photographic enables us to see matter beyond our physical limits, rendering the deep dark depths of space visible. It can act as an extension, a magnifier of our senses, providing us with new insights. It has the ability to both reveal and conceal, enabling us to reimagine the boundaries of time and space. We come to know photography as an expanded field of practice, one that encompasses a broader spectrum. This shifting medium challenges our belief in the reliability of sight. We see light shifting and transforming in continual formation.
CITY DRAWINGS WHERE TOPOGRAPHY MEETS TYPOGRAPHY
City Drawings is a multi-year project series that transforms cities into canvases by driving a car with a tracking device whilst using a free online tracking system. It is about the traces we leave, the routes that we take, and the possibilities and limitations of superimposing new media upon an urban realm. It is also an alternative way of revealing the structures of cities and the visual character of its infrastructure. Project City Drawings began in New York City in 2009. Its aim is to complete drawings in 59 cities around the world. City Drawings is also a comparative research project in urban topology and an investigation of historical geo-social town planning, building, and transportation. The trajectory of each drawing follows a city’s connectivity through traffic patterns, following the structure and shape of its streets. By delineating the same number with lines of equal lengths, the project invites comparison between cities. The shapes of the two digits, five and nine, contain curves and angles that facilitate a systematically visual investigation of different city models: i.e. grid, ring, or sector. The first drawing was made as a media art interactive performance as part of Interrupted Corre-spondence, which was organized by Five Years Art Collective in London. Participants were invited to follow the live tracking online during the drawing of the digit ‘5’ in Manhattan. Once the London event was complete, we relocated to Brooklyn, and continued drawing number ‘9.’ Making use of the difference in transatlantic time, the drawing began at Greenwich Street and completed the number ‘5’ along 59th street in Manhattan, consequently implicating a correspondence that was interrupted. Driving in the city and countryside are very different experiences — density of space versus openness of space. Being at different places at almost the same time, crossing different neighborhoods, and witnessing parallel incidental ‘happenstance,’ is a unique way of communicating with that city in time and space — especially when driving/drawing in an unknown city. Following the original New York performance, I was intrigued to see what shape the number ‘59’ would assume in other cities. Several ‘drawings’ were completed in various trips, including a performance in Miami at the time of the Art Basel Miami (although moving through the traffic and crowds of the event, there was no other interaction with Art Basel Miami). These first drawings constituted the core meaning of this comparative visual research project. The drawing in Los Angeles added an important element: after driving 72 miles around the city, the driver suggested not to exceed 59 miles in our future drawings. From that point, onward the project went into full throttle!
CITY DR AWINGS AS COMPAR ATIVE VISUAL RESEARCH Relations between art and science can be divided into three groups: 1. Art of Science Scientists produce visual works: graphs, images, schemes, etc. 2. Art and Science Art working closely with science. This recently popular and innovative part of contemporary art can be further broken down into three streams: a. The development of innovation and ideas where experimental art practices play an active role in scientific investigations. b. The translation, interpretation and adaptation of scientific ideas as material for visual art practice. c. The use and appropriation of new technologies for the creation of art works.
3. Science of Art Artworks that do not relate to any science, but may use scientific methodologies and the techniques of visual art and culture to create new knowledge about life/nature/environment. As in chemistry when a reagent is added to different substances to reveal the compounds reacting, City Drawings grafts the same symbol of the same dimensions onto the structures of different cities, revealing the unforeseen characteristics, generated by the city’s urban infrastructure.
KEY ELEMENTS AT PL AY IN CITY DR AWINGS INCLUDE 1. Driving around the city in the shape of number ‘59.’ 2. Best possible comparative size and shape of the digits ‘5’ and ‘9.’ 3. Equal length of trajectory (59 miles in US, 59 km elsewhere). Optional: (a) trying not to cross with the line of the drawing the name of the city on the map and (b) to include numbers ‘59’ (street numbers, some houses) into the drawing trajectory. In applying the above conditions, there are not many variations available for drawing the number ‘59’ in cities. City Drawings does not determine any specific style of art or technique; it works with the template of each city and the creation of its own character, which is of course open to interpretation. The image of number ‘59’ in Detroit looks like part of a gear wheel, while the shape of the drawing in Boston is reminiscent of the coastal line of the banks of the city’s river. Tulsa, the city of the 1921 race riots, strangely resembles a gallows with rope. The smoky line of Atlanta recalls the burning city in the civil war. The line is flat, deserted and strait in Phoenix. The drawing in Beijing is reminiscent of the shape of a Chinese hieroglyph. The drawing in Milan contains Romanesque styling, whereas in Zurich it looks like a Gothic scripture. Munich reveals the character of a burger. Vienna is neat and reserved. At the end of each year, a comparative map of all the realized drawings is compiled. This results in a project based map of the world — a personal cartography representing a heavily urbanized utopian world. The 2014 map was comprised of fifty-one drawings in different cities around the world.
INTENSIVE PADDLING TRUST CAN BE TAUT
DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL FLOW
An open platform for arts-based research that will unfold during a 200km journey paddling from Kingston to Ottawa along Canada’s Rideau Canal. Research-creation is an open proposition. And so how are we to write the research-creation event prior to the happening-of-its-happening? This question comes more often from the archive, as an after-the-fact. We forget the how, as our techniques of generation put in motion the who, what, where, when, why . . . Activities of co-creation and mutual learning will emerge... accordingly, the canal will metaphorically assume the role of information channel. Are we in the channel? Writing the event is a longitudinal study — before or within the unfolding called an event. We are folding up, pulling-in; collecting the collective to advance. When did our writing start? We suggest it was in your reading. How might it finish? Will you author us? Become-we. Prevent-me. Paddle. Glide. Paddle. Glide. Synchronize. Envisioning begets action. Action begets sensation. Sensation begets knowledge. Paddle. The abstract — whoa we submitted an abstract! Let’s digress: Abstract acceptance is encouraging for artful play. (And as concerns artful play, an aside: this *hat tip* to all Anywhere Projectors and Projectionists!). An Abstract of the event to come is just that: Abstraction. Abstracting: a towarding for the event. To write ahead of (y)ourselves in Timespace. Call it pre-documentation, or an attempt toward a relation with an unknown collective subject to come . . . (all-ways feeling the Archive’s gravitational pull) . . .
Knowledge. Know-ledge. Know the ledge. Now you’re the edge. The Abstract is not Intractable. It shifts and moves even while it remains circumscribed by prefigured channels of Insemination and Dissemination. The Abstract, data compression of the Intelligentsia writ large, is not a Contract nor a Subtraction nor an Absolute. It is rather here like an Abacus-Contraption — a contractile Calculating Machine for the touching or manipulation. But what, precisely, is being Counted — or counted upon? One might suggest that an Answer is that which is produced by the Machine, which is the Question. But this fails to recognize the role of the Machine that produces the Question proper. What is the Question? Considered this way, it is but the output of a particularly crafted Questioning Machine. Does the Abstract beget Questioning Machines? Did the Machine build our Abstraction? Channel Surf is proposed as precisely such a Machine for generating Questions — a Generator, or better, a Generatus — the Question itself exists between us, a Singularity that we circle around, circuitously, of tangents and touchings, approaching and approximating, circulating non-Ideas to come. How do data packets move through an Information Channel? How do we understand the tension between Autonomy and Collectivity when the bits share a similar addressing but traverse unique lines towards the Arrival? How do ‘We’ (a collective-We) even determine an Arrival to begin with, and how might we forestall its Gravitational Tendencies? Writing the event is a longitudinal study. Though we are Out of Time, we are always Just in Time for Fabulation. Time is the tension, the taut rope walking us along, weaving movement’s joys called Moments in Identifying. Oh, such specificity! Perhaps it is better to simply embrace Embodied Abstractions. These lines free you as inflective impulses, the i’mpulsive involution. Mission I’mpossible: Techniques for survival at the limits of location specificity. Timing is our locational specificity. Extensive: June 2015, 12 days. Intensive: Think, move, make. Paddle. Are you questioning us yet? Trust. We have been journeying a line of flight or several since 2007. The aim is to discover trajects, not follow pathways. Extrapolating bodies, movements, machines, and techniques from a folding of experience that invites and calls the You whose eyes move already through this line, here and now. You’ve entered right now.
“How” is the event? Trust can be taut, trust can be taught. Arrivals and departures over-code the tensions of timelines and timeliness, but it is the singular attuning of the tensions within a temporal traject that beget the imminent incipience of Questioning Machines. Immanent. What is the tension between the orange flame of the flickering campfire and the tiny blue flame of the electrified conduit? What sort of energetics and capacities for exhaustion does each summon, and how do data packets paddling a message-without-content make of these a topological movement? Movement here is not simply the muscles leveraging signs and vehicular potentials along a durational channel, but also the musical movements of a simple and improvisational symphony, ambient and ‘ill-bient’ — a thousand possible harmonics rubbing gentle frictions together in an ambulant atelier. Shooting subtle sparks, orange flames to blue . . . questionings. How to write the event before the event has taken place, is a propositional affair, but also a compositional one — a co-compositional one, already decentralizing from the preformed score and strict conduction. Questioning Machines are fuzzy aggregates, and the singularities around which they attempt to turn do not cling meekly to an author or authority, but rather to co-composers and improvisers — in short, to those willing to gently deprogram. You thought questions were designed to produce answers, but you had no idea that Questioning Machines could possibly generate trust protocols and erasures. Change the channel. Won’t you come write with us? Paddle, Paddle, Glide . . . . . . . . .
Attempted as a performative gesture adequate to the event proper: an intensive 45-minute writing exercise from scratch in Google docs, which surfs our respective channels together and dwells in the interferences. As with paddling, we draft, we draft.........
ICE BOAT: 31°57’24”S 141°28’04”E BROKEN HILL, AUSTRALIA
SIMONE DOUGL AS
The idea for the Ice Boat came into being over time. It begun in a shimmering black sea of light on the gibber plains of Sturt National Park. Then, in the ebb and flow of a long late light to dawn discussion with artist Chris Bucklow, I knew what I wanted to do — to build a giant boat made of ice in the ancient sea bed of the remote desert and film it melting and returning. This would be a month long performance of ice against the impossibility of the desert. A connection drawn between land and sky. The glacier would return. In July 2013, I proposed to Broken Hill that I would build a ephemeral public sculpture, a boat made of ice that would take a month to melt back into the desert, the ancient bed of a prehistoric ocean, leaving in its wake a flowering of wildflowers. The melt would be streamed into locations around the world. They said yes. The journey began. Like storm clouds racing across the desert sky, this journey became one of shifting potentials and possibilities. Conversations with the people of the exceptional community of Broken Hill: the traditional land owners; park rangers; glaciologists born in the desert; meteorologists who had tracked the desert weather for three decades; NASA scientists; ice makers; solar energy experts; maritime scholars — all informed and ‘made’ the boat. Over time it became apparent that the boat could be the holder of many things — cultural histories, futures, environmental issues — mythology and desire in the Australian landscape. In phase one of what was to become three years of R&D, my first cast of the boat fit within the palm of my hand. Over time and numerous visits to the desert, the boat grew, drawing its ice line outwards across the desert. From sunrise to sunset, I observed how the ice held the sun. It struck me that the Ice Boat was a lens of sorts. As the Ice Boat melts across a month, with the melt following the arc of the sun, it will leave a ‘sea’ of water in its wake, and in turn give rise to a footprint of brilliant native floral bloom. Here, our point of departure is the story of Charles Sturt’s journey into the Australian desert during a flood, sailing a whaling vessel into the desert in search of what he believed to be an inland sea. The vessel that came to ground in the sea of light as the floodwaters receded
Tomorrow we start for the ranges, and then for the waters — the strange waters on which boat never swam… — Sturt’s Letters, 14 October, 1844
… a photograph is an event transformed into an object. Rather than being a record of things, as we often suppose, it is the fixing of light in space over time. — Talbot, William Fox Henry, 1844–46, The Pencil of Nature, Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans, London, Unpaginated.
forms the metaphorical blueprint for the Ice Boat. This is a story of improbabilities now reflected in the materiality of the work itself. The Ice Boat integrates colonial and Indigenous histories with contemporary technological and ecological research — all woven into the social and cultural fabric of the communities who live in an around the locality outside Broken Hill. It draws together the knowledge, stories and collaborative support of local Indigenous communities, together with the wider outback community, park rangers, custodians of the land, and Broken Hill City Council. The site for the Ice Boat has changed three times. The location was carefully chosen in consultation with the park rangers, a custodian of the land, and the traditional landowners. In utilizing contemporary technologies, ecological research, and community outreach to engage and reflect the stories of the inhabitants of the heartland of Australia, the construction of the Ice Boat seeks to serve as a poetic symbol of reparation. It references shifting landscape in relation to environmental and climate change concerns. The return of the boat to the land also acknowledges the failure of early settlers to ‘see’ the landscape. It also underscores the values of recycling and regeneration of land. What started as a solo journey tracing inland waterways and the ancient desert seabed now involves a deeply committed team of experts that exemplify the rich potentials of shared knowledge. At the core of this team is architect Bel Koopman, structural engineer Richard Matheson, and cinematographer Murray Fredericks. What began to emerge — and eventually become a key thread in the work — was the potential for this project to bring international attention to both ground breaking research in sustainable energy and the issue of climate change. Significantly, the Ice Boat is being developed using sustainable strategies. All refrigeration units will be powered using sustainable energy. Meltwater will be reticulated for animals to drink. The local community will later repurpose materials used in the build. The journey of the Ice Boat has been one of impossibilities and possibilities, wherein each step relied on the outcome of the previous. The process is one of constant reconsideration, rethinking, analysis, trail, occlusion and advancement.
. . . it is night . . . . the scientist sits at a desk by a window that looks out to sea … traces patterns over a reproduction of the tychonic system of the world, a pattern of emanating circles and symbols that seems to both simplify and occlude understanding. . . . . . . . . . . starts to cry, holding still for a while . . . folds away the writings, charts and diagrams and goes to bed. In sleep, dreams of great light, an exploding pattern that grows, shifts, swallowing stars whilst changing and waking into life. — Wood, Graham, 2001, Tycho’s nova, A tomato project, Tomato, distributed by Ginko Press, UK.
TOWARDS AN OFFICE OF INSTITUTIONAL AESTHETICS PART TWO
STEVE DUT TON
faciendum maius, quam facitis There is a sign on my office door. A simple piece of paper no less, but its flimsiness announces itself in clear rhetorical terms. It is handmade and hanging by a piece of masking tape. On the sign are the hand written words, The Office of Institutional Aesthetics. It is an office, and yet not ‘an office,’ it is merely a sign of an office. Indeed, its flimsiness announces itself as a sign of not-a-proper-office. The first task of the Office of Institutional Aesthetics is to announce itself as a work of something it both is and isn’t, something which sits in a ‘flickering perceptual state’ to borrow Julian Stallabrass’ term when referring to Liam Gillick. 1 By accepting and announcing itself as an aesthetic entity, it accepts and declares its impossibility to function still as an Office. The ‘flickering perceptual state’ of the office, between its ‘paper-ness’ and its ‘office-ness’ is its essential characteristic. This simple piece of paper sits on a door at the top of a flight of stairs along which many staff and students have to pass to get the institutional office proper (with its proper sign). The characteristics of the Office are aligned with those of an art practice. Let me be clear, when I say an art practice, I mean, if course, my art practice. As an artist and academic, what else can I offer my institution other than that which is the best of me? Of the characteristics of The Office of Institutional Aesthetics (O.I.A.), one includes an awareness and prioritization of a becoming (a flowering perhaps) over the fetish of progression. The O.I.A. recognizes the model of Paul Virilio’s expanding sphere of knowledge wherein the more that is ‘known,’ the more the surface area between the known and the unknown becomes larger rather than smaller. This is why the light is not always on at the O.I.A. Emanations and ripples coming out of the O.I.A. might include processes of collage, gentle reversals, disruptions, folding, specificity, experimentations, flickering ontologies, contemplative analysis, pleasure, emotional affect, dialogue, cluelessness, horizontality, anti-progress, the making of meaning or any such method which takes place in the sphere of (my) art making.
1. Specifics Every pencil mark on the grain of the canvas is specific to a time, to a material, to subjective agencies,to culture, to history and ontologies. As every work of art is specific, then every object of knowledge emerging from a process of artistic research demands its own methods, time and time again. Is it possible that our institutions could acknowledge their own specifics in these terms? Thinking about the educational institutions I know best, it’s hard to imagine them as anything other than administrative machines that do, but don’t make (see my point 10). 2. Boundaries (can be events as well as things) Dividing lines can be seen as the edges of canvases of course, the edges of frames but also as philosophical, political, linguistic, gendered, boundaries. Where the dividing lines collapse, they collapse within and into other frames. The point at which the dividing lines collapse constitutes an ‘event’ collapsing into, or onto, the infinite number of other events, fragments and performances of the world. The O.I.A.’s methodology encompasses the collapses as punctuation marks in the process, failures certainly, but failures that succeed in remaking the whole. The O.I.A. then prioritizes the ‘event’ as a key methodology, and in the context of the research/education institution, the ‘epistemic event.’ 2 In respect of the ‘event,’ the O.I.A. is more like a score, which is performed slightly differently each time it is played. This following text by Adorno is on a scrappy piece of paper on the wall of the O.I.A. Properly worked texts are like spiderwebs: hermetic, concentric, transparent, well-joined and fastened. They draw everything into themselves, whatever crawls and flies. Metaphors, which fleetingly dart through them, become their nourishing prey. Materials come flying to them. The binding stringency [Stichhaltigkeit] of a conception is to be judged by whether its citations evoke other citations. Wherever the thought opens up a cell of reality, it must push into the next chamber, without an act of violence by the subject. It vouchsafes its relationship
5. The Tender Spot Blake Stimson sees institutions as a check if they focus on what he describes as the ‘tender spot’ and it this tender spot which is the focus of the O.I.A. Stimson describes the tender spot as “space that can open up between a regime of truth and a regime of truth proper, the space in which meaningfulness might still be found in any folder or object.” 8 The tender spot is the point at which languages conflate into a zone of possibilities. 6. Work in the Dark Think of Peter Sloterdijk: a coalescing of insight, a turn of phrase, inwards and outwards — a product of explorations in the dark. Should this be shameful? Is it shameful to speak? In thinking about this inhabitation of the problem of being in darkness, I’m drawn to Silke OttoKnappe’s gloomy, opalescent paintings of the woods and forests in which Emile Nolde stayed at the lowest point in his depression. The gloom referred to (and sanctioned by) is the ‘quotation’ of Nolde’s depression. Otto-Knappe inhabits her own soul (and mine) via Nolde’s exploration of his own darkness. If we could afford one, the O.I.A. would have one of these paintings on its walls.
to the object, as soon as other objects crystallize around it. In the light that it sheds on its determinate object, others begin to gleam.3 3. A Change in Register The art school might be an ever-changing testament to the mutability of language. The challenge is to encourage researchers in the arts to engage with (these) questions without simple recourse to an epistemic lexicon derived from philosophy, sociology or cultural studies.4 Dialogue is key, as is the steady growth of the artistic research, in which the work can react to its own discoveries and realities. The criteria for assessment lie within the enfolding dialogue, between supervisor and candidate, between material practice and formal assessment. Criteria, could and perhaps should, always be ‘in becoming,’ emerging, as in the work of art, out of a tension between the internal logic of the work itself and external standards or judgements.5 4. Thinking Horizontally Let us consider in this instance a work of art as horizontal and flat. Horizontality is not an instrument for making everyone present the same, but rather an instrument for creating a social space in which everyone feels empowered to speak and to take part of common challenges as a different and similar singularity. 6 Horizontality is a processual practice that takes time and patience. 7 If, according to Pascal Gelien, institutions are ‘verticality’ machines, then think of the O.I.A. as a lateral horizontality machine, whereby the shape is more like a net — or Adorno’s textual cobweb, or Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s description of ‘experimental’ systems as a means of ‘catching something unexpected.’ Some strategies, tactics and performances, which take place within art practice, do not care for verticality. Indeed, such practices could be said to increase the potential for horizontality. Oddly, in the general construction and organizations of our art institutions there is often a tendency to ignore the sensibilities of practice. Our institutions house practice rather than are inhabited or housed by it. This is problematic on several counts: firstly the schizoid behaviors of the artist academic are simply exhausting. Constant conflict is often internalized in nervous exhaustion and depression. Secondly, artist-managers may have a tendency to increase levels of bureaucracy rather than decrease in order to attempt to safeguard ‘practice’ from the perception of the infectious and noxious effects of the very institution they (don’t fully) occupy. In short, there is often a preference to maintain the illusion that the institution is a form of machine, which remains unadulterated and clean of the problematic and irritating spawn of its productions (and vice versa).
7. Embrace Contradictions Adorno again. A successful work is not one that resolves objective contradictions in a spurious harmony, but one that expresses the idea of harmony negatively by embodying the contradictions, pure and uncompromised, in its innermost structure.9 Its important that the O.I.A does not hide its weaknesses and mistakes — this is critical in a horizontal world. Transparent mistakes and endless contradictions are apparent potentials; opaque mistakes are closures and dead ends. Claire Bishop on Jacques Rancière. The Aesthetic for Ranciere signals an ability to think contradiction: the productive contradiction of art’s relationship to social change, which is characterised by the paradox of the belief in art’s autonomy and in it being inextricably bound to the promise of a better world to come.10 In the words of the RAQS Media Collective: The tree of life, and therefore of art, would be barren were it not for the fruit of occasional misunderstandings.1 1
8. Relax Franz West once quipped: “The best way to exercise the mind is to relax.” The O.I.A contains a number of beds and sofas. Sometimes, nothing really happens in the Office of Institutional Aesthetics. Co-opted by capital the institutions are generally entirely caught up in the process of ‘production’ — the production of students, employable and polyvalent. To do so, institutions work on yearly cycles, rhythmic production line models, repetition in structure and delivery and ever increasing targets. It’s difficult to dwell in such a fast moving yet
Julian Stallabrass, Art Incorporated (Oxford: University Press, 2004).
repetitive cycle. Robin Helmey defines being human not as knowledge of mortality or as the ability to laugh but as the capacity to break out of your routine.1 2 The power of the contemporary art education institution is in its speed, but this power and super fast turn over makes a mockery of effectiveness. It’s a laugh a minute in the O.I.A.
Neal White, “Epistemic Events” in Experimental Systems Future Knowledge in Artistic Research. ed. Michael Schwab (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2013), 192-193.
Theodor Adorno. Minima Moralia Aphorism No. 51. This translation created by Dennis Redmond in 2005, and reproduced solely for non-commercial, educational purposes. http://members.efn.org/~dredmond/MM2.html. Original German text is available from Suhrkamp Verlag: Theodor W. Adorno. Collected Works. Suhrkamp Verlag,Volume 4.
10. Do More Then You Do The O.I.A. prioritizes making over doing. Doing, without the enriching component of making, is largely utilitarian, often repetitious and frequently banal; making, on the contrary, is engrossing, dynamic and often its own reward, whatever usefulness its products may possess. In making we move from nothing to something; from the speculative to the determined; from the unknown (or only partially known) to the known.1 3 When searching for an appropriate Latin inscription for the O.I.A using freely available and probably imprecise online translation software one might find that the Latin verb for ‘to make’ is facere as is the verb for ‘to do.’ Thus, the statement “making is more important than doing” translates into the deeply ambiguous and thus highly appropriate, “faciendum maius, quam facitis” which re-translates as “do more than you do.” Need I say more? It goes without saying.
Andris Teiikmanis. SHARE. Handbook of Artistic Research eds. Mick Wilson and Schelte van Ruiten. (Amsterdam, Dublin, Gothenburg: 2013), 168.
Ibid., 237. In an email exchange with Henk Borgdorff I wrote this which then became written up in the conclusion.
Isabell Lorey, “On Democracy and Occupation,” in Institutional Attitudes: Instituting Art in a Flat World, ed. Pascal Gielen Valiz, (Amsterdam: 2013), 84.
Theodor Adorno, Prisms (London: Neville Spearman, 1967), 32. 10 Claire Bishop. Artificial Hells (London: Verso, 2012), 29. 11
RAQS Media Collective. “Stammer, Mumble, Sweat, Scrawl, and Tic” in E flux journal no 59. (11/2104). http://www.e-flux.com/journal/stammermumble-sweat-scrawl-and-tic
12 David Sheilds, How Literature Saved My Life, (London: Notting Hill Editions, 2013), 65. 13
Jeremy Cox, “Preface” to The Artistic Turn: A Manifesto, eds. Kathleen Coessens, Darla Crispin, Anne Douglas (Leuven: The University of Leuven Press, 2009), 7-8.
THE DECONSUMPTIONISTS ART AS ARCHIVE (2006-PRESENT)
Nothing is more troubled and troubling today than the concept archived in this word ‘archive.’ 1 Suppose everyone has a box with something in it: we call it a “beetle.” No one can look into anyone else’s box, and everyone says he knows what a beetle is only by looking at his beetle. Here it would be quite possible for everyone to have something different in his box . . . The thing in the box has no place in the language game at all.2 Through the creation of The Deconsumptionists, Art as Archive, the collaborative group EIDIA (Melissa P. Wolf and Paul Lamarre) has constructed a new version of ‘archive’ as aesthetic action. In this age of immediately editable digital content, how can artists control the reading and ultimate use of their collective output? The main consideration of this research is to address the question: should the artist consider the possibility of ‘purging’ their complete oeuvre as a definitive art statement or alternatively, organize a redistribution of the archive with a strategic modus operandi? EIDIA considers the reinvention of ‘archive’ as the artist’s prerogative — as opposed to the marketplace or historically established practices. The Deconsumptionists, Art As Archive, has been realized in a 48 x 13ft semi-trailer with a duo solar panel array roof. This ‘nomadic hybrid’ functions variously as an archive, exhibition space, site for public engagement/interaction — a curatorial outpost propagating sustainable art practice. Once you are inside this massive box on wheels (3,184 cubic feet), what is further made aesthetically engaging, are the 171 boxes, each wrapped in ‘caution orange’ plastic bags (with royal blue number tags) containing previously created works by EIDIA during their 24-year practice. To document the archive’s holdings, and to have the Giclée print editions available to fund the project, Wolf and Lamarre have masterfully photographed each box and its content. EIDIA’s practice posits the modality of reassembling, repositioning, and reshaping the found object
as well as previously created artworks to provoke a differing (counter) conversation about production and consumption. EIDIA investigates the responsibility of ‘cultural producers,’ by examining the struggles and contradictions inherent in the production of art within the capitalist economic model — with a particular focus on the sociopolitical and environment. Using the physicality of the trailer itself along with the use of photography, text, and single channel video The Deconsumptionists, Art as Archive offers a compelling point of focus for EIDIA’s ‘aesthetic research.’ Their intent is to continue to sojourn the mobile installation and art space to various locations. At each stop local artists, galleries, performers, and architects will be asked to create exhibitions, public programs, and events. The trailer’s solar power roof provides 1500w of power — enough to run interior lighting, a large monitor, and two computers. The Deconsumptionists, Art As Archive originated in Philadelphia (2009) then traveled to Brooklyn, New York (2012). During its stay in situ, parked in a trailer and shipping container truck yard, three artists’ exhibitions were presented and participated in the Bushwick Open Studios two years running. It then continued on to Detroit for a month long residency at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (June 6–29, 2014) where three hundred visitors engaged with the work. EIDIA incorporated collaborative exhibitions and panels with invited participants, local artists, galleries, performers, and architects to create a variety of exhibitions, public programs and performances with an emphasis on the practice of artist run spaces as well as progressive architecture, design and creative dwellings in Detroit. The trailer is now parked at an artist run space, in Toledo, Ohio where, in September 2014 EIDIA collaborated with The Toledo Museum of Art for a museum community outreach event centered on a burgeoning scene of community gardens across Toledo.
Jacques Derrida, Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression (Chicago and London: University of Chicago, 1996), 90.
As a comment on cultural production, and as a result of the influence of The Deconsumptionists, Art As Archive, EIDIA is now committed to creating less ‘stuff.’ For example in the evenings they cook instead, to lessen their art production — EIDIA creates food and consumes it. The realized effect is both a potent and poetic ‘deconsumption.’ For EIDIA, this paradoxical statement is an honest and compelling evolving of artistic actuality in their practice. In turn EIDIA have started to document the food preparations and creations via cell phone photography and photomontage of such things as: pizzas, pasta, breads, crackers, mustards, hot sauces, etc. All of these cooking exploits are done with a referential nod to the archive of EIDIA’s book and video series: FOOD SEX ART the Starving Artists’ Cookbook, which consists of recordings of 200 artists cooking, originally captured on videotape, with written recipes and artworks as performed in the late 80’s in New York City the East Village and across Europe, even in Russia.
Ludwig Wittgenstein (18891951), Philosophical Investigations, Part I, (1953), 293.
PLACEHOLDERS IN SITU EXPLORING SITES-IN-TRANSITION
RONIT EISENBACH AND SHARON MANSUR
Place: (n) a location with a purpose; (v) to set something in a particular spot.
Sites-in-flux can peel away illusions of permanence, revealing places of potential in which the built environment, and the community that inhabits it, are undergoing transformation. Activation of these liminal places and moments via ephemeral performance and installation can enhance and catalyze this in-between condition, underscore the sense of possibility, sparking imagination and public discourse. Placeholders, aimed to activate the spatial and expressive potential of Long Branch, Maryland, a first ring suburb of Washington, DC grappling with current and anticipated physical, social and economic change.1 By illuminating inevitable loss, and framing potential opportunities of a community and site-in-flux, this work, and others seeks to amplify and reflect upon the daily changes that we grapple with. As architect/artist and dance artist, we combine movement, architectural and paratextual elements to both extend our artistic/design practice and to engage ourselves and others in the act of ‘attending to place.’ Our participatory and site-specific performance/installations explore inherent tensions between flux and stability and seek to understand what it means to seek, shape and preserve ‘place’ in the face of individual and shared ‘place-shifting.’ Long Branch has become a primary destination for immigrant families seeking affordable housing in Montgomery County. In the last two years, the Long Branch Business League working with University of Maryland Faculty and Students in architecture, art and dance, IMPACT Silver Spring, a communitybuilding organization, and Montgomery Housing Partnership, 2 a non-profit owner and advocate for affordable housing and local businesses, have worked together to strengthen the community and transform the commercial district. Discover Long Branch public events, recent façade improvements and new murals add color, character and highlight the international richness of the area. Adjacent to a middle and working class suburban residential neighborhood, Long Branch’s once—healthy commercial area is currently surrounded by parking lots, fast moving traffic, and set within a fragmented suburban fabric. However, this may change. Plans for a light rail stop are creating new tensions; although investment in this underserved area is both desirable and necessary there is concern that new development sponsored by this rail line will result in gentrification forcing
The Place: (n) in Placeholders is the Long Branch neighborhood of Silver Spring, MD. Placeholders aims to place (v) a new context for viewing the neighborhood. Hold: (v) to contain; to grip; to own; to maintain; to occupy complete attention. Placeholders ask viewers, residents, and neighbors to pay attention to what Long Branch has been, what it is now, and may become in the future. Placeholder: (n) a temporary stand-in; a marker for an important site or idea; Placeholders seek to offer a transient glimpse at the Long Branch environment, which invites awareness of the Place, and hopes to inspire participation in upcoming changes to the neighborhood.
on-site audio recordings with composer, Aleksandra Vrebalov’s audio postcards carrying sounds from places far from Maryland contributed additional layers of time and place. At the parking lot, a horizontal mural composed of white lines, arrows and circles placed on the surface redefined territory and offered alternative directions for motion; viewed from the raked parking lot’s edge, performers illuminated a sense of distance, scale and horizon; drawing tool, marker, walking stick — the wooden staffs’ meanings shifted with their placement and use; and the intimacy of the performers’ and objects placed in the park served as an invitation for participants to join in, slow down, and enjoy the surroundings. A ‘placeholder’ can be a way of marking one’s place and affirming, “I belong here. This is my place.” The American Flag placed on the moon by Neil Armstrong, or the new murals created by the Long Branch community to affirm their identity can be seen to have this meaning. We move and change and the places around us change, too. A ‘placeholder’ can also be a meaningful image or object that we save because it stands in for something else, perhaps another place, event, or an important person in our lives. Or a ‘placeholder’ object can be unimportant in and of itself, like a bag left on a chair that stands in for something more important, perhaps the person we are waiting for. The performance and objects we temporarily added to Long Branch were developed and located to explore these ideas, stimulate dialogue and frame efforts to ‘make place’ here. The work invited others to join us and consider ‘place as a work in progress’ and the roles we can play in establishing community identity and creating meaningful places as we live through change. Placeholders sought to affirm what is essential to one’s sense of place in the present moment and reflect upon what it means to “hold one’s place” in anticipation of change.
out current businesses and residents. Current efforts to strengthen the businesses by attracting new patrons, instilling local pride, building a more cohesive community voice and reestablishing a sense of place are occurring at this time in anticipation of the displacement pressures expected because of new public investment. Throughout the two years of research and relationship building with the people and spaces of this community, we employed ephemeral art, dance, and design to celebrate Long Branch today and influence its future. We developed working methods for joining temporary architecture installations and exploratory performances as a means to understand a site-in-flux, stimulate public dialogue and build community. We embarked upon an effort to create a professional installation and performance that would embrace this landscape of flux, place and identity through movement, sound and architecture. The resulting work, Placeholders was presented to the community on a Saturday, September 13th, 2014 in conjunction with the Business League’s fall Discover Long Branch event that celebrated the completion of two new murals. Placeholders unfolded in a sequence of three sections, each in a distinct yet related setting within one long block in Long Branch. A quartet of performers invited audience members to stroll through three separate spaces within one block — a stretch of sidewalk adjacent to the storefronts along Flower Avenue; a parking lot at the corner of Flower and Arliss awaiting development; and the mid-block Flower Avenue Park and Playground. As observed by Laban Movement Analyst, Esther Geiger, “The journey through the three [spaces] seems to have [had] a developmental arc, progressively involving and empowering the viewer.” 3 Each of the three sections had a unique and archetypal character and approached the question of the interrelationships between space, movers, installation pieces and audience differently. Each section asks something particular of the viewers. From Geiger’s perspective, the Street was about “Seeing: this is what it is. Notice;” the Parking Lot, “Thinking: Here’s a different way to see. Expand your imagination;” And the Playground, “Being: you can enter into it. Get in the middle.” These environments were altered by inserting movements, sounds and objects that reframed and refocused perception and experience: Along the street, yellow bamboo ladders leaning against light posts invited an upward gaze towards newly installed flower boxes; performers reflected quotidian gestures observed in the local barber shop, laundromats, beauty parlor, and restaurants; kitchen chairs and folding tables were utilized in surprising ways, their typical uses shifted and their forms abstracted in this public arena; and sidewalks, traffic meridians and cross-walks were animated and occupied with a sense of play and whimsy. Via portable sound boxes and stereos in parked cars, an evocative music score by composer Curt Seiss integrated
Placeholders was performed by Meredith Bove, Jessie Laurita-Spanglet, Sarah Oppenheim, and Lynne Price. The work was generously supported by a University of Maryland Advance Institute Interdisciplinary and Engaged Research SEED Grant; the UMD School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation; and the UMD School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies as well as many other local organizations and individuals. For a complete list of partners go to: http://artinplace.wix. com/long-branch
2 For more information about these prohects please consult the following websites: Discover Long Branch http://www. discoverlongbranch.com; Impact Silver Spring https:// impactsilverspring.org; Housing http://mhpartners.org. For information on additional Long Branch projects by the authors and other UMD partners, as well as more Placeholders images, please see http://artinplace.wix. com/long-branch 3
Esther Geiger is on the faculty of the Maryland Ceritification Program in Laban Movement Analysis, affiliated with the Laban/Bartenieff Institute of Movement Studies. She is a certified Laban Movement Analyst who observed and analyzed the work through the lens of LMA. We are grateful for her reflection and insights. See http://www.limsonline.org for more information on LMA.
GABRIEL HENSCHE, BJORN KUHN, AND ANNA ROMANENKO
There are many reasons why one would want to go to the outermost limits, or beyond those, why one would want to leave, to disintegrate, to dissimulate, to change for the other, to escape. In April 2014, we took our turn. We would go under. The most flexible part about an escape is its destination. The very fact that a destination is constructed in the medium of imagination makes it shape-shift constantly — which does not preclude it from being very specific. Emerging from being simply ‘not here,’ the place of desire continuously feeds on the escapee´s fantasies to finally develop into its most unlikely form. Once fully constructed, the place of escape gains a force that draws the subject’s resources towards it and occupies a dominant position in psyche, actions and agenda — an inversion of time and space occurs. The subject is literally taken by the place; thus maybe it is not so much one who finds and invents one’s place of desire, but rather it is the place, which in its turn produces its potential inhabitant. Our escape would go into the sea and our transgression was the idea of ingression — of land-life into marine being and beings. As always the construction of the place to escape to is at the same time the construction of the journey — its detours and little breakthroughs. Fueled by desire, we fear we’re not able to get there. Yet secretly we fear most that everything might in fact work out.
state of partial oblivion creates a new vessel for reflection. There is grace to that — and horror. The hallucinating mind is a diving one. It boldly aims for a different mode of existence. Conjuring up shape shifting units and entities of pure semblance, it is setting up a new environment for no one to visit. May 10th. The plants die. May 12th. Second detour. We scale up a bit and build a mobile underwater device: The Bishopsfish. Needs two people to operate. One person is enabled to walk on the ocean floor while the other person is pumping air from above. One can go quite deep, if one has enough trust in the pumper above. [...] May 22nd. For four days now we have been moving sand from the shore into buckets, into the boat and through a big pipe into the sandbags on the ocean floor. It should be four tons by now. The weight is supposed to fix the dome’s position. May 23rd. The structure still floats. It’s just not heavy enough. Slowly it bypasses the nude beach area and approaches the Russian border. May 27th. To reveal something is to hide it in the most proper way — a way that would put its existence into question. In a way that you would fear if you removed the camouflaged elements, there would be nothing there. And yet there is something. That is the basic function of doors and of images. There is something behind them and there is nothing behind them. Putting that something into place, no matter how proper and well suited that place might seem, is killing its potentiality. There’s no door to the Liminal Dome. In constructing it we were hoping to create a genuine hiding space, which through its capacity for concealment, by its masking quality, would reveal a hidden purpose.
[...] May 3rd. First detour. We don’t have a boat and are afraid of taking the thing out again; it almost swam out into the waters last time. Secretly we regret it didn’t. A poetic failure is something that we (and the project) could have lived with. We decide to build smaller domes for the plants. Perhaps they can take our place. May 7th. There is hope for the partial oblivion your body and mind is subjected to during the physical dive. It enforces a condition wherein you are thrown back to your body in a specific way; a state where it is perceived in a way that more typically belongs to the perspective of the outer world. The weight is vanishing, giving way to the perception of volume. Sound transforms, movement slows down and the light breaks. The senses are reflected onto your surface; like prey, you float. This narcissistic
May 29th. Entering Liminal Dome, diving, like through a rabbit hole, had a scent of a smile. The world as we knew it got twisted into a partial space that felt dangerous but at the same time kept smiling. Losing the sense of up and down, of the direction of the shore, of the source of light made us reorient towards its ‘given-ness.’ It got hidden.
FORMLAB AS NOMADIC STUDIO
lining the space were surfboards, mannequins, chairs, blob-faced gnomes, old books, wooden boxes, and bones. At that time I often went on weekend explorations to the Isle of Dogs in London — then a massive set of derelict warehouse sites. Many single story buildings had collapsed roofs, and trees grew in the pockets of sunlight in the middle. Some of the granary warehouses had not been touched in decades; I came across entire rooms unseen since the 1980s. In one building there was a workers’ canteen that still had the daily lunch special written in chalk on a blackboard. Time was frozen. I now often visit the Pitt Rivers Museum, an ethnographic, natural historical collection established by General A.G.L.F. Pitt River (1927–1900) in 1884 at Oxford. The Pitt Rivers is inspired by the Enlightenment era Wunderkammern. This compulsion to collect the unusual, it is in many ways a precursor to the modern museum.2 Its collection of amassed objects from hundreds of cultures and sites presents the spectator with ‘utterances’ of these cultures rather than an interpretation. For me, the museum is a massive installation sculpture — inside the vitrines — some of which are relatively new but made to look old are objects collected that reveal the 18th and 19th century compulsion to create an ever expanding encyclopedia of objects from representing nature and cultures around the world. Whereas contemporary museums may place an emphasis on how artwork is presented as a curatorial interpretation the Pitt Rivers presents itself as a time capsule in which we do not have more than cursory captions often handwritten in ink and all but unreadable in the dim light. It is the same experience I have when I visit flea markets; there is a sense that each object on a cardtable has its own language — a kind of glossolalia. FormLAB seeks out moments of exception that show another facet of art — not just as finished artifact but also as process. Alain Badiou speaks of
The advances of globalization, communication and cultural exchange have prompted artists to search for new ways to make art that create communities and initiate cultural dialogue. FormLAB entreats museum audiences to experience art-making as a constantly evolving process. The mutating and radical nature of intercultural collaborative process leads to unexpected discoveries and brings new meaning to the notion of local and global art communities and transforms the artist studio into an observation space for creation. Les Joynes conceived FormLAB in 1997 at Goldsmiths, London. FormLAB evolved into a geographically dispersed and nomadic creative space for experimentation and exhibition, showing in museums in a series that re-activates how the spectator views artworks not only as finished objects but also as process and event. FormLAB has exhibited at the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture, São Paulo; Seoul Foundation for Art and Culture, Korea; Treignac Projet, France and Chashama, New York. As a US Department of State sponsored project FormLAB exhibited Habitat/ Nomad at the Zanabazar Museum of Fine Art, Mongolia in 2014. Works from the LAB will exhibit in 2015 at the Museu de Arte Brasileira, São Paulo. How did FormLAB develop as part of your creative practice? Collecting has always been important to my practice. Walter Benjamin speaks of the impulse or Sammeltrieb — urge to collect where collecting is connected to human memory1 the idea of the chaos of the objects one may discover/excavate and collect are perhaps placeholders for the way we assemble memories. Since the late 1970s I collected and photographed found-objects from garage sales in suburbia, eroded posters on crumbling walls, washed-up beach detritus, and ‘found spaces’ in vacated offices captured with my camera pressed against windows, often unsure of what I would capture. I conceived of the LAB at Goldsmiths in 1997 whilst creating sculptures from poured industrial-grade polyurethane and found objects. I excavated objects from all around London — from skips, abandoned buildings and car boot sales and flea markets. In 1996 my studio looked like a hoarder lived there;
“... the possibility to show new creative process without the necessity of closing the process as a work of art ... it’s more the artistic process than the work of art. The role of art today is to find exception inside the structure — therefore the subject of art must be the discovery of exception.” 3
Like Maurice Blanchot’s concept of writing as a simultaneous enactment and interrogation of itself, 4 FormLAB seeks out its own forms and structures through its enactments of itself, with its makers and its environments. Rather than proposing answers it poses questions within gaps in language — often in hesitant pauses.
even millions of years. Objects and sites come and go and eventually disappear. Site-specificity shifts and is equally ephemeral. Perhaps it is not only where one can find site-specificity — but also when.6 And put us in a dramatically new environment, for example, experiencing a new site for the first time, all our senses can peak; in an alien environment we may not know how the hierarchies or contexts impose an order. And this is a very interesting space.
How does FormLAB engage notions of site-specificity for its research and exhibitions? FormLAB has evolved as a traveling art-making system, an installation series in museums and a platform for shared experience. It is also a space for artists to interact with each other across cultural boundaries. When one speaks of site-specificity one often thinks of physical locations. We can also think of site-specificity as an estrangement from the familiar. The mobile studio facilitates exploration, which then challenges the practice. Artists thrive on challenge — challenging perceptions, skills, techniques, comfort zones, and expectations. With FormLAB I am challenging the notion of what site-specific means. For me the word studio has many meanings — a place of protected reflection, experimentation and production. When reiterated in different sites it can also be a lens through which I can create unique dialogues with places I visit. In this way the studio can become mobile, not only as a site for art creation but also as a conceptual space.
To what extent does a potential location need to be unfamiliar to you to precipitate inclusion in FormLAB’s “nomadic structure”? To be included in FormLAB’s nomadic structure it is important that a site has some degree of unfamiliarity. That unfamiliarity for FormLAB can challenge the notion of art-making. This unfamiliar prompts FormLAB to explore the unknown in new geographical locations. But it is not just about site. FormLAB also challenges itself through the limits of medium-specificity and process-specificity and negotiating expectation. While novelty of site can evoke a multi-sensorial immersion in the unfamiliar, also working with new materials, new forms of expression and new combinations of process can evoke a sense of destabilization, which can be a useful platform for learning. What is a nomadic context? For FormLAB, nomadic context signals intent to move to new locations or lieux — as a way of adapting 7 and sustaining a structure. FormLAB grew out of this as a replicable structure that would facilitate my art-making and dialogues as I transition from site to site. Contemporary artists can shift across numerous geographical locations for education, residencies, exhibitions and commissions. With the onset of international art fairs, biennials, and exhibitions, artists are increasingly on the road between New York, London, Venice, Miami, Basel, Paris, São Paulo, Hong Kong, Madrid and other cities. Since the 1980s I have lived in or conducted longterm projects in about thirteen countries. It started when I was in university. For me as an artist, this was a natural extension of my own studio practice, which fits my growing compulsion to explore. At the same time, while I am interested in learning about new cultures, there are also so many things to learn at deeper levels within the cultures I now visit regularly.
Do any places lack site-specificity for you? I like being a stranger and seeing a place for the first time.5 There is a wonder in the approach to the newness of a site. Once we become more and more familiar with a site we organize it into hierarchies — some things will be more relevant than others — some things may submerge into a sub-visible hazy sensorial static. And this is where we stop actively seeing things. This is one of the reasons I am so interested in found-objects — remnants, castaways, detritus, curiosities, captured images, videos — by excavating objects from this hazy space I hope to engage the objects’ hierarchy in relation to their histories, where they are discovered in-situ, and where they are re-combined into sculpture and re-sited within the LAB. And indeed some spaces for me lack site-specificity; something is nomadic and constantly moving and may not be connected to any one particular place, but at the same time it is connected to a context. The Internet is a context that may have no singular site, it may be shared in servers in different parts of the world — but it is still specified within the Internet, and with all the history of the Internet with which it is summoned. And then there are spaces that can be one thing at one time and become something different at another time. Think of Robert Smithson’s concept of geological time — if we look at places, objects, monuments in the context of geological time over thousands or
Can you conceive of FormLAB in a repeated location at different times? Yes. Every site presents different contexts that can be explored in multiple visits at different times. For FormLAB, the word ‘nomad’ signifies FormLAB’s intention to conceive of itself — and the forms of its processes — within new contexts. These contexts can be iterated in cities, where for example the LAB has already exhibited. Each site can present multiple strata: subcultures, histories, and contexts to explore.
Can you talk about FormLAB’s notions of shared processes? Shared process can destabilize the way a work of art is determined. Like in Breton’s Cadavre Exquis 8 shared processes can create unexpected results. The mere fact that we cannot read the minds of the other player or artist means that we don’t know how the work of art will evolve. There is a risk that it will fail. For me it counters the compulsion to recreate predetermined form. Working with other artists and non-artists (for example, a Brazilian shaman) in a site can foster unexpected and rich results. It becomes for me a lens into other people’s thinking. Using shared processes created with local inhabitants can build unique perspectives between the participants as well as the spectators who observe art making through new intercultural or interdisciplinary lenses.
1 Walter Benjamin, The Arcades Project (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press., 1999, p211).
be put under a microscope; the plethora of slices then creates and accumulation of different times — a museum of times.
2 James Putnam, Art and Artifact: The Museum as Medium (London: Thames and Hudson, 2001, p8).
7 In the case of Mongolian nomadic herding communities, nomadism is an essential dialogue between human, animal and environment. To survive one must adapt. Sometimes this means moving winter encampments to summer encampments, moving animals — horses, yaks, goats, reindeer, sheep — to find shelter, grass and water. One must adapt to often challenging physical environments in order to survive.
Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York February 7, 2015.
4 Maurice Blanchot, L’Ecriture du desastre (1980), ‘Literature and the Right to Death’ in The Work of Fire. trans C. Mandel. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1993). 5
Thomas Traherne, a 17th century English mystic who wrote of an (interplanetary) celestial traveler coming upon Earth for the first time: “Such strange kinds of creatures,” the visitor exclaims, “Such mysteries and varieties, such never-heard-ofcolours, such odoriferous and fragrant Flowers... Verily, this star is a nest of angels - this little star, so wide and so full of mysteries.” (Ezard, Mystic’s 350-year-old treatise to be published. The Guardian [Internet], 15 October. Available from: http://www.guardian.co.uk. [Accessed 12 April, 2015]
In the 1990s I was inspired by artists like Robert Smithson with his Partially Buried Woodshed (1970) and Asphalt Rundown (1969). Partially Buried Woodshed explored the space between structure and the (de-structured) formless. Smithson speaks of works being not only part of space — but also time — and that there are many different times. (Smithson, R. in Flam, J., ed. Robert Smithson: The Collected Writings (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1996, p.11). Form Laboratory examines slices of time - like laboratory slides to
Andre Breton, Le Cadavre Exquis: Son Exaltation [exhibition catalogue]. La Dragonne, October 7-30, 1948, Paris, Galerie Nina Dausset.
THE POLLINIFEROUS PROJECT
Polliniferous [poliniferus] adj., derives from the biological sciences, meaning bearing or yielding of pollen and adapted for carrying pollen. It is here that we find a metaphor for the artist as an agent for the dissemination of ideas between separate cultural and specialist foci. Just as the survival of the organic ecosystem is predicated on the spread of pollen, so too is human civilization dependent on cross-pollination between the conceptions and practices of Indigenous cultures and industrialized, urban-centric culture. Both of these cultures are in a state of collapse, the former at the hands of the latter, and the latter from apparent unsustainability. The Polliniferous Project is instigating situations and encounters where ‘intercultural swap-shopping’ and horizontal meme-transfer can be established and take its course. It aims to create new ways to change their direct environments or change their means of expressing themselves in their environment by creating a more heterogeneous behavior, thus helping them survive. The Polliniferous Project is an investigation into what constitutes the essential building blocks for a sustainable ‘lifestyle’ in the 21st century. It considers diverse sources and fields of knowledge, and questions how these findings might be compiled and enacted in order to effectively engage in discourses surrounding imminent global, ecological and systemic crises. One potential way to respond to these challenges is by actively researching two related phenomena among human populations and in nature that both exemplify non-sustainability and self-destruction through monoculture: the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) within honeybee populations; and a recorded epidemic of suicide within indigenous groups like the San and Inuit, whose languages lack the term ‘suicide.’ 1 The underlying reason compelling a comparative analysis of these two phenomena is their shared value as examples of sustainable systems for living. In both cases, this can be demonstrated in historical terms by considering examples of populations that have come under severe pressure from advancing monocultures. In the context of human culture and non-human biological history, both the San and the bees are examples of adaptation and resilience. Despite this, following approximately 130 million
years of evolution, they are now both nonetheless facing environmental conditions that may lead to their eventual extinction. Stanford scientists have conclusively determined using DNA analysis that the human family tree is rooted with the Bushman or San as our genetic ancestors. 2 Obviously their intuitive, finely honed and profound tacit knowledge has brought them a long way, outliving an extensive list of supposedly ‘superior’ cultures. A simultaneous engagement with these two very diverse worlds, whilst mindful of the phenomenon of unsustainability, is both challenging and fascinating. Moreover, it provides a new perspective on the effects of decreasing diversity, the essence of sustainability, and the very survival of the human species. It also draws together two scientific disciplines: physical science (bees) and sociological science (human) to raise many questions, which cannot be explained as isolated disciplines with respective specializations. Consequently it is perhaps more suited as a subject of philosophical enquiry. My artistic intervention is framed within social and ecological design, ethics and aesthetics. My work is about constructing experimental circumstances in which a diversity of knowledge pools might merge with an intention to form hybrid offspring. Within this framework, boundaries and the conditions for thought are exposed, potentially leading towards new possibilities in terms of the interrelation between the rational and the imagined. The Polliniferous Project consists of interventions composed of both intercultural ‘swap-shops’ with the Bushmen in the Kalahari Desert and the establishment of a biotope especially designated for pollinators in an inner city neighborhood. To accomplish this, I create scenarios with utopian outlines which, on the one hand, critique existing paradigms, and on the other, introduce methods for social transformation — ideally with such an impact that it alters and possibly transforms future possibilities for human behavior. Given that my intervention/s deal(s) with contemporary social discourse on sustainability, I clearly aim to provoke and raise questions. Some might regard these actions as subversive, but by the middle of the 18th century, Jean-Jacques Rousseau
in his Discourse on the Sciences and Arts already perceived that “knowledge and understanding needs in addition the empowerment factor to be of any use at all.” 3 The biologist and environmental historian Jared Diamond in his book Gun’s, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies concluded that humanity’s greatest mistake was settling into agrarian/ animal-domesticating (then industrial) societies. 4 Diamond implies that the consequences of these unsustainable practices are ecosystem collapse, misallocation and scarcity of resources, violence and genocide, starvation and disease, mental illness, lack of social cohesion, etc. Of particular relevance to my project is the provisional emergence of what is being scientifically referred to as a new geological time period called the anthropocene, characterized by, among other changes to the earth’s climate, by the extensive promulgation of monocultures.5 If one looks at the core sustainability of life, my hypothesis is that the occurrence of suicide by non-humans and humans alike might be taken as an indication of unsustainability. At any rate, an absence of biodiversity reduces complexity and robustness and therefore creates a simpler and therefore more vulnerable environment. Subsequent changes in dietary patterns might even undermine deeply embedded social constructs or behaviors, such as are expressed for instance in dances. For me, dance presents a particularly interesting example of the expression of deep knowledge encoded in the brain. The bee dance, also called the ‘waggle dance’ in ethological terms, performs a similar social function to that in human populations (such as the dances performed by the San which create health, bond and coherence).6 A reduction in the complexity of the environment of both Bees and San might lead to simpler behaviors, which can be potentially observed in the dances. 7 In both contexts, a dance is a particular language that can be observed in the making, and which can be recorded and analyzed. Dances are significant as a vehicle for telling stories or giving directions. They also form an integral part of community or colony wellbeing in addition to the development of the individual. A decline in the occurrence of performing dances naturally leads to a decline in quality and complexity of these performances. Analogous to this decline is the extinction of languages more generally; which by definition are languages of which there are no longer any speakers. Over the last decade a number of studies on suicide amongst indigenous people has been conducted, especially within Australia, New Zealand and the Arctic. A publication and subsequent call for action by the World Health Organization in 2006 was manifestly unsuccessful — especially if one considers the current rate of suicide by the Inuit in Canada in 2013.8 Suicide numbers in more remote locations such as the San in the Kalahari Desert in southern
Africa are of difficult to ascertain. Yet one case study on the San in Botswana in 2009 found that forced settling, and the prevention of hunting and gathering on traditional lands may be the cause of the rise of suicide amongst the San. 9 In regard to collective suicide rates amongst bees, scientists are not yet able to definitively point to the CCD phenomena as ‘collective suicide’ because negative feedback signals by super-organisms remain poorly understood by the scientific community. Many scientists are nonetheless pointing towards a diverse range of causes. This knowledge gap is perhaps partly due to academic research being financed by industries whose business agendas and interests might demand alternative explanations. Such conclusions would naturally have grave repercussions when viewed as a reliable source for policymaking. 10 In addition, ongoing scientific controversy regarding the definition of ‘Colony Collapse’ has significant financial consequences. The academic community has been, for one or the other reason, unable to find a solution to this question. Nevertheless, one consensus established amongst researchers is that urban areas have the potential to be important pollinator reservoirs when compared to suburbia and the countryside. 1 1 According to some biologists the term CCD (Colony Collapse Disorder) should be replaced with the term ‘Depopulation Syndrome,’ since the term has been hijacked by the agrochemical industries. In the case of practically enhancing a biotope in an inner city neighborhood one can presume that the exposed working methods to reach this goal are desirable for a wide variety of knowledge fields as well as to activists and policy makers. Hopefully this project will stimulate new models of engagement on finding remedies to counter the ‘Depopulation Syndrome’ and promote consideration of the causes of this phenomenon. As a constructive institutional critic, I hope that the methods and intuitions within which I work as an artist offer a contribution to knowledge production and also function as disruptor of the established academic and scientific ethos that is falling short of meaningfully responding to the global, ecological and systemic crises outlined in the Club of Rome report “Limits to Growth.” 1 2 My interventions contain both physical and discursive aspects which together aim to shift the attitudes and reverse self-destructive processes. By examining and intervening within both phenomena simultaneously, I hope to reveal the potential of considering radically hybrid approaches. For the bees and within the BeeCare Amsterdam project I hope that my interventions might address the possibility for bees to survive successfully and even flourish in inner-city environments. Acting as an agent (or pollinator) I aim to facilitate collaborations between politicians, biological and behavioral scientists, educators and local residents. As a
1 According to a survey of some twenty sources dealing with Bushmen and Hottentots of southern Africa in the 1940’s by Robert E. L. Faris has revealed no reference to suicide among the people. With bees one can’t yet directly define the CCD phenomena as ‘collective suicide,’ however negative feedback signals by super-organisms is to this point in time still poorly understood by the scientific community; see also James C. Nieh, A Negative Feedback Signal That Is Triggered by Peril Curbs Honey Bee Recruitment (University of California San Diego, Division of Biological Sciences, Section of Ecology, Behaviour, and Evolution (Current Biology 20, 310-315, February 23, 2010 Elsevier Ltd, 2010) For additional sources please refer to: Kenneth M. Warcol and Richard A. Callahan, “Sub-lethal exposure to neonicotinoids impaired honey bees winterization before proceeding to colony collapse disorder” in Bulletin of Insectology, 67, Harvard School of Public Health, (Boston: 2013, December); Marshall Clinard and Robert Meier, Sociology of Deviant Behavior (Belmont: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2011), 317.
pilot-project, it is hoped that this strategy might stimulate additional ecological hotspots in other Dutch and European inner-city neighborhoods. For the San I hope that my intervention might get us closer to an understanding of what causes behavioral shifts toward self-destruction. My proposed series of intercultural ‘swap-shop’ situations, While the Gods are Absent, is intended to become a vehicle for revealing the conditions that have altered the underlying cohesion of their social fabric that drives suicide, and to aid in the introspection, crafting and disseminating of their stories using digital technologies (in the form of a fictional film made by the San about the San to counter the popular production The Gods must be Crazy) which misrepresented core values of the San to a global audience. 1 3 A separate film will document the experience to form a visual diary seen from both the perspectives of visitor and visited. In working toward this intervention, I have devoted the last decade to pioneering and developing the World in a Shell (WiaS) as a practical vehicle for ‘swap-shop’ activities. 14 Reflecting Indigenous people’s core operating principles, it is nomadic, adaptive, and off the grid. It provides infrastructure for cultural exchange via workshops, film screenings, theatre and filmmaking, and in turn draws upon renewable natural energy to power its infrastructure. In testing these approaches, I hope to speculate upon new ways of conserving the cultures and languages of Indigenous cultures. The WiaS serves as a vehicle that to both collect and distribute. It functions as an exhibition-ready low-threshold walk-in-sculpture to promote integrated experience — my preferred approach for disseminating results. Hopefully, this pollination effect will combine elements from a variety of knowledge bases. In finally implementing these proposed interventions, the BeeCare Amsterdam Project and the intercultural ‘swap-shop’ with the San, might both expose and connect that which is otherwise hidden and possibly lost.
Karl von Frisch, The Dance Language and Orientation of Bees (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1967), a translation of “Tanzsprache und Orientierung der Bienen,” Springer Verlag.
7 For more information please see James C. Nieh, The Honey Bee Shaking Signal: function and design of a modulatory communication signal. (Behav Ecol Sociobiol: Springer-Verlag, p.11. Retrieved from http://labs. biology.ucsd.edu/nieh/papers/ Nieh1998shakingsignal.pdf, 1998); see also Margrethe Haug, Indigenous People, Tourism and Development, The San People’s Involvement in Community-Based Tourism (University of Tromso, 73, 2007). Retrieved from http://munin.uit.no/ bitstream/handle/10037/1171/ thesis.pdf.txt?sequence=4 ). 8
Antoon A. Leenaars, Suicide Among Indigenous Peoples: Introduction and Call to Action (Windsor: Routledge, 2006), 103-115.
Marcus Feldman, Modern Humans Originated in Southern Africa, (Stanford: 2011) Report. Retrieved from http://news. stanford.edu/news/2011/ march/feldman-africa-genetics-030411.html.
Noam Schimmel, “The Abuse of ‘Development’ and its Consequences for Indigenous People: A case study of Botswana’s Bushman community Development,” in Society for International Developments (The Netherlands: Palgrave Journals, 2009), 514-518.
“But so long as power alone is on one side, and knowledge and understanding alone on the other, the learned will seldom make great objects their study, princes will still more rarely do great actions, and the peoples will continue to be, as they are, mean, corrupt and miserable.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau, The Discourse on the Arts and the Sciences (Discours sur les sciences et les arts), Geneva, Barillot & fils [i.e. Paris, NoëlJacques Pissot], 1750, published in English, London, W. Owen, 1751.
Jared Diamond, “The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race” in Germs, Guns and Steel (USA: W. W. Norton, 1997), 64-66. See also http:// www.ditext.com/diamond/ mistake.html. 5
For more on the Anthropocene see Laura Ogden, et al “Global assemblages, resiliance, and Earth Stewardship in the Anthropocene” in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 2013: 11 (7, 341-347; Sabine Noellgen “Veränderte Umwelt: Neue Leseweisen im Anthropozän:
Altered Environments: New Readings in the Anthropocene,” (Washington: University of Washington, 2014).
Vara, Murder of the Honeybee (Dutch Television, 2013), 16:00 min.
Désirée Tommasi, Alice Miro, Heather A. Higo and Mark L. Winston, “Bee Diversity and Abundance in an Urban Setting” in The Canadian Entomologist, (136), 851-869.
12 The Club of Rome, “Global Limits, a Systemic Crisis and its Root Causes,” (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.clubofrome. org/?p=2110. 13
Laurens van der Post, The Lost World of the Kalahari, (London: The Hogarth Press, 1958); Jamie Uys. The Gods Must Be Crazy, (Botswana: 1980).
14 Hans Kalliwoda, World in a Shell-The Polliniferous Project (Amsterdam: Blindpainters Foundation 2010).
CREATING A NEW MEDIA... UNITED VIDEO-ARTISTS OF THE EARTH
TELEVISION HAS BEEN ATTACKING US ALL OUR LIVES, NOW WE CAN ATTACK IT BACK, NOW WE MAKE OUR OWN TV.
NAM JUN PAIK
Television has been attacking us all our lives, now we can attack it back, now we make our own TV — this 1965 quote from Nam June Paik encapsulates what Souvenirs From Earth is doing today — a linear cable TV channel bringing an immersive experience-based on video art and related content to around 50,000 viewers a day. Today, Souvenirs From Earth has put art into the space of commercial television. A pioneering force in the art world Souvenirs From Earth is a much needed platform for the distribution of digital media arts to a large public. Souvenirs From Earth was founded in 2006, and has quickly evolved into a larger structure supported mostly by other artists. After initially broadcasting on two German major cable networks, the channel was then integrated into much of the French cable TV networks. It is now well established in France, with partnerships with institutions such as Palais de Tokyo, Centre Pompidou, Jeu de Paume, the Cologne Art Fair, and a number of different art schools in place. The channel is also available internationally over the Internet and will soon be marketed in the US as a tablet app. Most of all, Souvenirs From Earth is a place for exchange and inspiration. We recognize that artists need to see the work of other artists in order to evolve. Our ‘low key’ approach of diverse linear programming enables artistic content to be part of the everyday lives and artists, creative professionals and students from around the world.
We are now looking to establish a network of art schools around the world in order to establish an international dialogue about what artists can put onto a screen on the wall without necessarily needing to tell a story. Souvenirs From Earth is an expansive space for experimentation, is open to new ideas on formats, films, and series to share with our growing community. We also welcome artists interested in engaging with content management. Why should we create such a channel in an often art-hostile, mass media dominated world? Because we want to prove that when artists unite they can make a difference; that a well-structured organization can resist the overwhelming power of global standardization. The channel provides a context for time based art works that no museum, art space, or art gallery can currently offer. Unlike the traditional art world, with an economy based on scarcity, the seven day twentyfour hour space of the channel can provide access to rarely seen videos from around the world. The channel also provides an opportunity for artists to be visible outside the art world, to face a much larger public, and to contribute to social consciousness and change. Presented as a work in itself, Souvenirs From Earth is made up of more than 3,000 individual video contributions. By creating its own network, this linear TV channel provides a solution for the challenge of disseminating video art.
SHARED HORIZONS BEYOND THE OUTERMOST LIMITS OF AN ART SCHOOL GALLERY
MARIA KUNDA AND FIONA LEE
The Plimsoll Inquiry (PI) was held in and around the Plimsoll Gallery, at the Tasmanian College of the Arts in Hobart, Tasmania’s capital. The first seven-week phase took place from September to November 2013; the second phase is still underway at the time of writing, and will conclude with an e-publication planned for the end of 2015. The Inquiry comprises two seasons of multiartform activities. For Phase One, around forty local and national artists and thinkers staged a sevenweek succession of activated events using the gallery as a laboratory. It elicited a mix of invited contributions and pop-up happenings, some of which had an exhibition component, while others were purely dialogical or performative. Jean-Paul Martinon makes a distinction between ‘the curated’ — what we understand as directed, outcome-driven projects — and ‘the curatorial’ — devised, organic developments that are allowed to take form, according to principles of shared responsibility for improvisation.1 As it developed, the PI conformed to the speculative, informe, and ludic modalities of Martinon’s latter designation of ‘the curatorial.’ By dubbing it an inquiry, we signaled our inquisitorial and communal ‘curatorial’ approach, as distinct from a categorical ‘curated’ project. We launched the PI to mark the withering of the Plimsoll Gallery program. At that point the Plimsoll had operated for 27 years and for decades it had been vital force within the local arts community and nationally, occupying a firm place as an experimental space. Once we opened the Inquiry we found that even long-term stalwarts readily conceded the diminished vitality of the space, acknowledging that it could only be partly attributed to financial contraction. Whilst a cessation of public funding had befallen the Plimsoll, along with other local arts organizations, a deeper loss of confidence and agency was broadly recognized. We saw this waning as emblematic of broader concerns and crises. Collectively, we acknowledged a crisis of relevance, direction and will. While this perpetuated a sense of urgency, the PI signaled an interregnum in policy and programming for the Gallery. There was a mood to change the ground, to test formerly prescribed limits, and to destabilize the assumptions adhering to the Gallery,
but not to preempt the future with a fixed set of strategic goals. We wanted to listen and learn something. The PI necessarily means different things to different participants. Speaking as the co-authors of this paper rather than on behalf of the community of inquiry that formed the PI, from our respective research interests we each had particular lines of curiosity or agendas. Our personal reasons for mounting the experiment were aligned, but not identical. For Fiona Lee’s PhD research, the PI was an experiment in promoting dialogical art within a teaching institution that she viewed as formulaic and outmoded in its adherence to studio-bound, materially-based practices.2 As a case study for her PhD, the PI was an opportunity to insert dialogical and social practice into a school that did not include them in its teaching program, in a bid to provoke institutional change. Maria Kunda’s motivation was pedagogical and instrumental. She had recently taken on the directorship of the Gallery under very straitened circumstances. Within a diminished funding framework and a reconfigured University faculty structure, it was clear that a new case had to be made for the Gallery’s viability. Rather than applying a managerial template for change management and policy development as a first step, we set out as artists, to enlist artistic means in order to elicit imagined possible futures through creative practices. The impetus to envisage a future for our gallery, it seemed to us, could not be imposed by edict. Rather, there needed to be revitalization of creative purpose at ground level. From a sociological perspective, our reasoning was that such energy cannot be invoked by the top-down imposition of power; rather, it needs to be brokered through influential leadership that might disclose hitherto unprofessed norms and values and galvanize loyalties, desires and creative ideals. A motivation for many participants was to break with the tradition of the white cube; several took the challenge of testing the limits of what could be undertaken in the institutional setting; many stepped out of their established practices to engage in different working methods. Notwithstanding these excursions, the PI became neither strictly anti-formalist nor strictly anti-managerial. Our aim
Dr. Yvette Watt, a colleague and artist who is an animal rights activist conducted a life drawing class: the models were a pig, some sheep, two hens, two turkeys and a calf. The quality and engagement of contributions varied remarkably. Some activities and ideas failed to eventuate, yet there were some wondrous moments that could easily have been transported to major contemporary art spaces. All the space was utilized: the Gallery proper, and, for the very first time, the auxiliary spaces — the storeroom, goods lift, and loading bay — were exploited. Matt Warren first colonized the goods lift and loading bay with a one-hour live sound performance, set to the silent film, The Student Of Prague (1913). Others followed suit in using this as a venue. The loading bay offered a ‘stage’ area and we discovered it had good acoustics; it also made a reasonable barnyard! Spontaneous evening events took place weekly at the Wednesday Night Fiascos. Our colleague Lucy Bleach sparked and facilitated these. She put out an open invitation to artists, academic staff, students and members of the public to enact or produce works, or explore the presentation of art, and participants took up the opportunity with alacrity, to produce bursts of creative expression. Alumni Rebecca Stevens and Amanda Shone took the physical deficiencies of the Gallery as the cornerstones of a set of sculptural interventions. They brought in the architect responsible for the design of the building, Garry Forward, and a Feng Shui practitioner, Vicki Sauvage. Together, the four engaged in a review of the original design and the entrenched habitus and problems that had accrued over nearly three decades. Theirs was a playfully concrete, conceptual and dialogical approach, in which sculptural tactics addressed architecture via Feng Shui. Painter and PhD candidate Meg Walch invited Philosopher Professor Wayne Hudson to engage in a public dialogue with her. Playing the role of compere, the painter was articulate in her interrogation of the philosopher; her curiosity was authentic, as she sought answers to problems arising from her own painting practice. Relating philosophical ideas about plasticity to the para-surrealist idea of the informe, painter and philosopher accommodated and indulged each other in a sustained moment of mutual interrogation, and people flocked in response to their energy that built over two days. Phase One included two master classes and a symposium convened by two esteemed guest academics, professors Ross Gibson and Nikos Papastergiardis. Members of the wider community were invited to join and extend the Inquiry’s participant base. The second phase, a reflective and analytic stage, is ongoing. We are engaged in a collaborative writing project, drawing on the large bank of images we generated as documentation of phase one. About thirty participants are describing and interpreting these. As Phase Two of the PI,
was not simply to cause disciplinary breeches for the sake of it, nor to force a break with the Gallery’s history and declare a new structure of governance. Rather, as reflexive practitioners, we sought to understand and evaluate past accomplishments and respond to them through artistic means and by facilitating orderly communication. At times however, compliance issues were dealt with as a game, and not all communication was orderly, however much of was structured by way of regular bulletins.3 To address Gallery’s history and to evaluate how it had contributed to creating a culture of learning, teaching and research in a university art school, we set out to collate the annals in the hope that those participants who were invested in its glory days would involve themselves in the systemization of an archive. Initial progress was made on this front. To examine the Gallery’s niche within the ecology of the arts scene in a small capital city, a participant, Lucy Hawthorne sent an open invitation to peers and stakeholders to attend a public meeting in the Gallery. We were intent on creating the stage upon which different perspectives could be thrashed out in muscular discussion and with impunity. This event drew a large crowd and precipitated much online discussion. By taking academic and institutional frictions as an aspect of content of the Inquiry our exploits approximated what Charles Esche has referred to as a ‘forum of empathy.’ 4 Esche writes of “understanding the difficulties that social transitions generate” and the need to respond by “creating a place where antagonistic positions can struggle with each other over the right to determine the shape of a shared symbolic field.” 5 We were successful to an extent, though some parties were conspicuous in their absence. The PI addressed unrecognized potentiality. In the aftermath of the first phase of the PI it was recently remarked that when it comes to succession or generational change, art schools commonly exhibit an Oedipal “killing-of-the-father” dynamic. Our conscious aim was neither to exclude the old guard nor to reject the Gallery’s past, but to re-stage past history. We sought to elicit the views and energy of an incoming generation of younger academics and artists, including alumni, whose insights into contemporary practice and theory have yet to be incorporated into the pedagogy and institutional vision of our school. The Gallery and its auxiliary spaces framed a fluid mise-en-scène that accommodated a broader and looser range of activities than the Plimsoll had hitherto supported. Participants’ involvement was promissory, the unpredictability, at times provoked anxiety for us as organizers, but we counseled each other that tension was what we sought out. Participants organized their own events, which included performances, round table discussions, art works, symposia, barbeques, potluck dinners, debates, and also some out of the ordinary classes.
Paul Martinion, “Introduction,” in Jean-Paul Martinion and Irit Rogoff (eds) The Curatorial: The Philosophy of Curating (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 4.
we have enlisted more creative practitioners to join this reflective phase. We invited three artists to undertake week long residences, to play in the Gallery space and to team up with us in ongoing speculative conversations about expanded possibilities for exhibition, publication, learning, teaching, research and audience engagement. The evaluation being done in Phase Two is intended to construct an ongoing discourse towards formulating a mode of critique and expanded aesthetic judgment. While initially we conceived the PI as a series of dialogical, conceptual and ephemeral events, along the way it was abundantly clear that material thinking and an extended formal aestheticism were potent in the participants’ re-imagining and re-conception of the space as a site with expanded real and virtual limits. We surmise that activities such as the PI may be judged for aesthetic integrity through a broadened (still emergent) conception of aesthetics; one that posits a range of cognitive capacities not confined to visual perception, expression of emotion, or normative judgments of formal integrity. At the very least, such an aesthetic register would include interpretive practices attendant to the nuances of complex experiences, situations and challenges. At most, it would also be able to articulate difference. The Plimsoll Inquiry so far has operated at the outermost limits of formalism and bureaucratic authority. It has been inquisitorial and therapeutic. It has gone some way towards creating a narrative of a collective past, and demonstrated that this sort of inquiry can make a discernible shift in an ideological space. We have observed the way that open, iterative processes have productively lead to more tightly driven curated projects with definable aims. Although it is too soon to say, it also seems as though the Inquiry will be significant for determining the agenda for future planning and programming for the Plimsoll. It remains to be seen the extent to which the Inquiry ultimately contributes to the physical shaping of new architectural and virtual spaces, and pedagogical horizons, for the Plimsoll Gallery and the Tasmanian College of the Arts.
2 Fiona Lee, Rogue Academy: Conversational Art Events As A Means Of Institutional Critique, PhD exegesis University of Tasmania, forthcoming. 3
The Plimsoll Inquiry Bulletin can be found at http://pibulletin.blogspot.com.au
4 Charles Esche, “Thinking Users, Thoughtless Institutions: A Prelude About the Present.” https://www.academia. edu/10150943/Thinking_Users_Thoughtless_Institution, accessed January 14, 2015. 5
ALL KNOWN SPACE OUTSIDE THIS PAGE (NOT INCLUDING THAT WHICH IS IMAGINED)
THE URBAN BODEGON
JOHN R. NEESON
My practice is bipartite and characterized by venue specific, referential installations that interrogate the Still Life and operate outside the conventions of the hermetic ‘White Box.’ 1 The Urban Bodegón project is a conflation of these two aspects of my practice. Initially I removed replicas of iconic still life subject matter from the studio and relocated them onto ledges in the streets of the inner Melbourne suburbs of Fitzroy and Collingwood. In this increasingly gentrified neighborhood, some property owners have commissioned street artists to work on the walls of buildings in order to avoid illegal painting, tagging or stenciling. Consequently the subject matter of these still life interventions was in complete contrast to the pervading street art aesthetic of each location. Daily immersion in this environment prompted me to consider the egalitarian (somewhat Marxist) motivation of street artists, and the location and public accessibility to the artist’s work in general. As a result I ceased interventions altogether and in an attitude related to the dérive and the flaneur, began to photograph, using an android phone, the anonymous random arrangements of objects, left in streets and laneways. I gave myself the rule of not intervening in any way with these casual compositions, identifying them as ‘ready-made’ Still Life. These images are classified as Urban Bodegóns because the objects photographed occupy relatively shallow pictorial space, similar to the subject matter of 17th century Spanish still life paintings (Bodegón). However, there is also an affinity between my recording of these chance anonymous arrangements of objects — evidence of a consumer driven society — and Nouveau Réalisme. The practices of the artists associated with this movement involved selecting and removing objects and materials from a vernacular context and relocating them as a work of art in a conventional gallery, which immediately aestheticized the found material. Pierre Restany the spokesperson for the group referred to this as the “poetic recycling of urban, industrial and advertising reality.” 2 Similarly, photographing the ‘ready-made’ Still Life begins the process of aesthetisisation. Susan Sontag, who considered the photographer a contemporary flaneur, wrote “…photographs are evidence
not only of what’s there but of what an individual sees, not just a record but an evaluation of the world.” 3 In this case selecting an Urban Bodegón involves evaluating and determining which abandoned signifiers of consumption to record in their original location for future relocation. Immediately as the potential ready-made Urban Bodegón is seen in the rectangle of the view-finder, aesthetic choices are made. These include how much of the street location and the ledge supporting the objects to include in the image as well as an evaluation of the depth of pictorial space, an essential convention of the classification. I introduced the ready-made Urban Bodegón images into the canon of the Still Life through an exhibition at AC Institute, New York in October 2014. 4 This was not a one-person show in the usual sense, but an installation of images from an on-going collection that straddles my dual practices of artist and curator. The installation was also one of a number of curatorial projects premised on Still Life that began with a museum exhibition in 1993 5 and includes a previous project at AC Institute. 6 The conventions of the single line gallery hang (and the Spanish Bodegón) would have the eye line of the observer coincide with the height of the shelf supporting objects. However, in this case in order to include an aspect of their original location into the installation, the images were hung according to the eye level of the photographer. This takes the notion of representation out of illusion and into the experiential, which is not usual for presentations in a ‘White Box.’ This arrangement also references the implication of the observer’s location in actual space into the illusion of architectural perspective, which can be traced back to the painted walls of rooms in Roman villas.7 The inclusion of the observer’s physical location in relation to illusion, is also the modus operandi through which my venue specific and referential installations function. In January 2015, a second Urban Bodegón project took place in Berlin at the Institut für Alles Mögliche.8 This is a shop front studio/exhibition venue that the Institut stipulates is used by the artist-in-residence for the exploration of practices that are outside established parameters
This site was an opportunity to duplicate the physical circumstances and context of the original location at a second and equally egalitarian ‘relocation.’ Over two weeks a succession of the Fitzroy/ Collingwood Bodegón images was attached directly onto the store window facing the busy commercial thoroughfare. In this case the eye level of the shelf in the images coincided with the average height of pedestrians passing the window. In the Neukölln project, images collected from the streets of one urban location were returned to the streets of a second into which they seamlessly blended. As a result this project has become the prototype for future re-located presentations of the Urban Bodegón project. There are now additions to the Fitzroy/Collingwood image archive collected from locations in Berlin/Neukölln and Williamsburg/Brooklyn. Analysis of these works supports my hypothesis that Urban Bodegóns are ‘ready-made’ miscellany of consumption abandoned at specific locations that can be read as socio-political documentations.
http://mediation.centrepompidou.fr/education/ressources/ ENS-newrea-EN/ENS-newrea-EN.htm (60/90. Trente ans de Nouveau RĂŠalisme, La DiffĂŠrence, 1990, p 76). 3
Sontag Susan, On Photography. (London: Penguin Classics, 1977), 88.
4 http://acinstitute.org/the-urban-bodegojohn-r-neesonoctober-16-november-8-2014. 5
John R. Neeson, Arrangement, Australian Still life 1973 - 1993, (Melbourne: Museum of Modern Art, 1993).
John R. Neeson, Imaging the Apple, (New York: AC Institute, 2010)
7 Fresco wall painting from the Villa of P. Fannius Synistor at Boscoreale, ca. 40-30 B.C. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York 8
NUCLEI EXPLORING THE ELASTICITY OF SHARED PRACTICE
FERNANDO DO CAMPO, LAURA HINMARSH, CLAIRE KROUZECHY, AND ALEX NIELSEN
Nuclei, Skype Conversation, 19 February, 2015
maybe a recorded conversation could be a way of her kind of introducing us into it. This had to do with an overall Nuclei conversation that we always seem to have… I was saying that I have no problem in calling it — and seeing how the two of you feel — that maybe it’s time to say that Nuclei Group II is not going to work. And I think there’s actually maybe a really interesting work or text or something about why that would be. L: Yeah, well that’s kind of what I was getting at in my email as well is that the conversations we have now via email or in person are kind of more Nuclei than the idea of trying to pass it on to someone else. F: Yeah, we’re still super excited but also the reality is that we can’t even find time. But we’re committed to it because we know how much it gives us, we know how fruitful it is for us. So for four new people to take it on, and be just as excited — you know they’re curious and I think they’re genuinely interested — but that’s very different to them taking it on. It’s actually a lot of work to undertake that process, with the cycles and the four new people. And now there’s the potential for the three of us to go “ok so this model’s actually about the three of us continuing with this peer support structure and how to support each other,”… into Nuclei we can introduce different things. And I became quite interested in how all of a sudden it functions like a publishing house. Or it’s a curatorial platform, or it’s… L: It’s a collective writing practice. F: Yeah, collective writing practice, or something is curated by Nuclei. I mean that’s the way the three of us work with each other anyway as practitioners. Like, Nuclei… C: It’s just a way of framing it. F: Yeah, Nuclei is us. It has always been. C: Yeah but guys I also think, just listening to you talk about that now Fernando — I don’t know if it’s that much of a radical shift from where we’ve
Claire & Fernando: 9:45, New York. Laura: 14:45, London. Alex: Absent, Last Seen in Hobart. — C: By the way I’m recording. F: Already? C: Yeah. So actually maybe — oh it would probably be good just to have a back up. Should I just double-check that it’s actually recording? Nah I don’t want to touch it. F & L: Yep. C: Alright, ok, so… um what. Ok. F: Well we had lots of little chats — we had dinner the other night… C: And we talked about the diagram that I drew. L: Which I didn’t realise was so Nuclei-orientated before, when you were describing it to me. I mean the drawing is great Claire — mapping collaboration, location and networks. But I thought it would be more your personal sort of journey. C: Well, it was. Though that was… it was actually a two-part drawing. At first it was kind of half Nuclei and half Fieldwork. And then once I talked with you about it I built out on it and tried to include Project Anywhere stuff. But then I just got — I was limited by the size of the page really. And I thought I should just stop! F: I was saying to Claire, because I’ve heard about these drawings before when she was doing them for her own projects and practice, but they make such perfect sense for this publication and for Nuclei. But because she’s already working among them I didn’t want it to just become a Nuclei thing. So I thought
we work. C: Yeah, or just the idea of the function — what is the function of Nuclei? I think it’s a useful question to ask ourselves. F: Regularly. C: And how that function can shift L: Well it’s looking at how Nuclei can fit us now. C: Exactly. L: Yeah, I feel better about it when I kind of forget about the audience of it and think about it just as being a model, or some sort of shared practice, like a process thing, then I feel like it is really productive for us. And the conversations we have and the way it allows us to think about process is really freeing. When we went on the road trip to generate Volume 1 we all found it refreshing to be removed from our lives in order to focus on what is at the heart of our interests and our decision to locate it in Tasmania or elsewhere. This was particularly apparent with Alex given the lack of time for criticality in architecture, well after architecture school anyway. And is maybe the reason for his absence now. C: Mmm. it’s the way it allows us to frame our individual practices as well as our collective endeavours. And for me that’s what this drawing was useful for. It shows this expansion and contraction of multiple relationships all at once — it’s like thinking about my practice but then thinking about how that relates to, you know, my peers’ practices, but then mentors and then suddenly how they’re actually all very interconnected. And that they can shift or that they’re mobile. So it’s sort of like a micro and a macro perspective at the same time. I feel like that’s what Nuclei gives me. Is the ability to be an individual practitioner at the same time as building something collectively that has an unknown outcome. And has no audience. I think there’s no pressure for it to be one thing or another. Or to try and fit one thing into it and not something else. It’s because it has that elastic model, it’s continually able to morph into whatever we need it to be. L: Yeah. C: I actually feel good about Nuclei now. All of this has helped us to kind of move into a new area. L: Well it’s just an opportunity to assess how it’s relevant to us now. That’s the way I got excited about it and felt like I could give it more time. When I realised that this publication doesn’t have to be just a reflection. F: I mean we were going through a lot of that when we were writing that thing for the conference. And it looked like you got the same out of it Laura in your notes that you sent about what we wrote. Like the peer-to-peer relationship thing and.. C: Yeah your notes were really good Laura. F: Yeah! They were really good. It was really nice to see you then engage with that text post-making… L: Sorry they’re about five months too late! C: No but that’s also what I enjoy about Nuclei is that it seems as though it doesn’t really, like, it’s not
already been thinking. It’s just that it’s about recalibrating how we understand and present ourselves as part of Nuclei. I mean, who knows what’s going to happen with those guys — we planted the seed there, and maybe we’ll just observe that now and see what happens. But based on our previous discussions about still maintaining the connection between us as the core, and then you know it kind of having multiple other lives, I don’t know if we need to disqualify anything or say… F: I don’t think there’s much of a difference in the way we’re thinking about it or in the way we work together. But I think there’s a difference in the way that we try to split our energy and thinking — we always talk about it as being non-hierarchical, but it’s like, pushing energy — this rhizomic thing where we’re pushing energy here, seeing what happens, pushing energy here — and it’s still this maintaining of threads, rather than actually bringing people in. So if the three of us are a ‘nucleus,’ or a think-tank, or whatever, powerhouse, then people can enter that. I’m not anti other people entering at all — the opposite. But it should be by invitation, project-specific, conversation-specific, which was kind of what we tried, but I think we’re asking a lot in terms of idea-generation. Or just, the generative aspect of a new group taking it on… C: Maybe they need more direction. F: Well… yeah C: That we need to kind of figure out… L: Maybe they need a project in the same way that we had in responding to FELTspace’s project. F: Yeah and maybe we leave it with them, we just wait. And we can touch base with them. But I think there’s nothing wrong with giving them the option to let it go. We’re happy to absorb it. C: Yeah, and bringing it back to the core nucleus — trying to work out what our overall thrust is. Like, reminding ourselves we are driving this and that we need to take that, I suppose, leadership role. F: Yeah, and then we can use it for us, you know we’re so… the three of us are so busy, but we also have lots of things going on that are really exciting, and I think often it’s difficult to find, well for me anyway, I’ll speak for myself: it’s often difficult to find the right kind of dust-jacket for some things. You know, it’s like ok what is this? What am I thinking about? Does it fit in to a writing thing? Is it based in the studio? Is it just pedagogical exercise? And often the collective dialogue helps resolve that. It can be its death, where it ends, or it can be where it becomes a project, or it can be… I don’t know. So with that thinking cap in mind, rather than generate these drawings I thought it’d be interesting for Claire to introduce the two of us to her drawing and talk us through how she makes them. Because of — which you Claire can talk much more about — the kind of networks I see in them which relates to an individual practice and to Nuclei and to mentor relationships, and all these things, which are so much about how
guess we are a part of the Plimsoll Inquiry actually! But I guess we where using it to trying to open up Nuclei… F: Yeah but even before Plimsoll Inquiry we were so adamant that Nuclei was about creating critical writing in a site where there was no critical writing, and outside of Launceston and Hobart. Now it’s so much more about us, but its trigger was — one of its many triggers — a commitment to writing, which we were so happy happened because of the collaborative writing that we now do. And that triggered a commitment to Tasmania, which none of us are in right now (laughs) — except for Alex. So… those kinds of things, I mean, I think it’s worth thinking more — not now — but spending time working out how we present the documentation of the history of our ideas. C: We talked about an archive in our presentation, remember? F: We talked about an ongoing, modular form of an archive. L: What do you mean by archive? In that it’s only accessible post-project, in a sort of documentation? F: Well, how we develop it because of the pressures to resolve a work or image. Thinking about what to do with the Polaroids, what to do with the disposable photos, or the recordings — but also how other things get added to that archive or collection of things without having to be a Polaroid or a photograph. And it could be a drawing or another conversation that happens, and… what does it look like as a whole? C: To me there’s something really interesting and I can’t quite, I mean I haven’t really reflected on it properly to know exactly what to say about it, but the fact that the project started as a response to living in Tasmania — and then the difference now in terms of the shift that has occurred since we’ve all moved — you know since there’s now this vast distance between us well, not really you and me Fernando, but still sometimes! L: Across the table! (laugh) C: But it’s… I don’t know, I think it’s worth investigating that a little bit more. I think is what I’m trying to say… F: What, distance? C: Like, that shift that’s happened in the project. And maybe how we feel about the project now. F:But it’s not just a shift in the project, it’s a shift in us. And it’s a shift, it’s not just how we feel about the project, but it’s how we feel about Tasmania. Like there’s all these things that I think are relational… the significance of us processing our love and frustration and all the things that were generated by being in Tasmania and being part of that scene are no longer as significant, but other things are. And also our group dynamic hadn’t been established, but now it has. You know what I mean, there is a huge shift. But you want to focus on the geographic shift? C: No, not specifically. I’m just interested in
time-specific you know? L: It takes it’s own pace doesn’t it? You can’t really control it. C: Yeah, and I enjoy thinking about it as a really, really, long term project as well, one that’s going to be ours now for, I don’t know, an indefinite period of time. F: Yep yep yep. It’s really sustaining. L: Yeah. Well it takes opportunities as they come rather than necessarily seeking to find each project, and it’s responsive and it’s seeming that it can also be long-distance. I guess it’s just giving it more sort of… I don’t know, do you feel like it needs to be… I mean the publication is good for this because it is a kind of sharing it. We haven’t got the website going, we haven’t got Volume 1 out really anymore, so do you think it... needs to be more exposed? How do we keep that energy and communicate it to others? F: But I, I think it could be more exposed by really paring it back. I still think that it’s just something that should be continually revisited. You know maybe the website in terms of design could respond to something like that, where it’s actually… C: Like the drawing? F: Like the drawing, exactly. C: I’ve always thought about that — if we do go down the website path it needs to be something that actually manifests Nuclei visually or as an Internet experience. F: Well, the drawings are so telling, but I like the idea of having a conversation that contextualises them — but it’s not even just that, it’s just a conversation where the three of us are actually just talking together. Because it’s so… C: It’s rare! F: How often does it happen?! L: Yeah! F: So you know, it’s so fruitful every time. C: Yep. And yeah I think in answer to your question Laura, it is about finding platforms that we can use to Nuclei’s advantage. Which is not about making it necessarily a public display or anything like that, but just about using those platforms for our benefit, in order to reconnect. F: And actually that became really apparent at the conference, that we could potentially work with other people, as Nuclei. L: Or as you said, we can respond to things. Our content is us as individuals and our collective conversations in response to new situations. In quite an honest and non-academic way. C: Yeah that also became apparent at the conference — that we operated outside of the university system, or that we were an alternative… F: Not just outside of it but a rejection of it. L: Yeah it was very intentional aim with us, even back when we were starting, and thinking about it as a critical writing platform for Tasmania, retaliating against the kind of small academic circle that exists in a place where you only have one university. Well I
C: I know we didn’t realise it but we did! F: And we also had big questions about what it meant to be there practicing outside of an institution — outside of an ARI, outside of a studio. C: And what a community meant. What a peer group meant to us. L: Yep. F: Should we talk about the drawing? C: Ah, I sort of feel like we have. Like, I mean unless there’s something else you want to say I kind of feel like this whole conversation has been the drawing. Right? I mean… F: Right, ok. Should I make some coffee? C: Yeah! We should probably go, it’s 10:25. Is there anything else we should talk about? I mean I just want to say that the drawing — I don’t necessarily think of the drawing as really — I don’t want to claim it as my thing. Laura’s been making drawings and you’ve mentioned that you’ve done them before… F: But starting to call them a drawing is really — I really enjoyed that. That statement of a gesture. But I also… they make so much sense for Nuclei. L: Yeah C: Mm well. They kind of are. F: Yeah, they are Nucleises. But I don’t want to just absorb them like that into a collective dialogue when you’re introducing them. I mean, which is what this conversation is. C: Yeah, well that’s good, that’s good. Acknowledgement is good. Um, did you say that you made a drawing recently Laura? Or were you going to? L: Um, no I haven’t. C: Why not?! (laughs) L: But I’ve been doing this project which is based on influence and charting how my practice has been informed by other people for a layered, accumulative work, so like doing something that sort of responds to someone’s work, and then projecting that back and interacting again — I was thinking of building a video performance work based on that. Which feels really relevant to this conversation. And also I’ve been working with acknowledging my influences, like working with a mentor back home who is a dancer and creating a work that is about the transmission of knowledge and support in a sort of non-educative way. So I mean they all just feel like, everything I’m working on at the moment just feels like it’s like this conversation. Like it’s a real sort of like hall of mirrors I suppose, but in a really important way at this point, particularly because I’ve just moved to another country I think. Like, locating yourself. I still kind of do feel isolated and remote, even though I’m in a big city. C: Oh yeah, me too! F: Mm totally. But also those forms of mapping your influence are kind of a form of grounding. Because some of those influences you carry with you, and some of them are totally new. C: Yeah. Charting them helps. And allowing them
reflecting on that a little bit more. In terms of how we feel about Nuclei. Because we talk about that a lot, how we feel about the future of Nuclei, how we see it or what we want it to be. And I think at this moment there’s been a shift, recently, and we’ve now decided to like own it a bit more, whereas before we felt quite self-conscious about that. F: That Tasmania owned it. C: Yeah. F: Well the chit-chat about whether or not the next group should be Tasmanian-based practitioners, we just kept going and going about that. And while we were doing that we were also continuously re-questioning that handing over of the baton and how those groups would work. And then realising they don’t work, or realising that it works better if we generate things and then we invite people into it. I think sometimes through our conversations we allow ourselves to make decisions which we arrive at collectively, you know it’s like the process of us potentially saying the project’s now becoming about the three of us and it doesn’t need to be tied to Tasmania anymore has been in the making for like over a year, or two years. C: Yeah, yeah but we’ve finally acknowledged it. We’re giving ourselves permission now. F: Yeah, like I’m comfortably saying like, I honestly am going to come out and say (laughing) that I’m comfortable with the project not being in Tasmania!!! (laughing) C: What?! (laughing) L: Ohh man! (laughing) F: And us doing it. L: Do you not identify as a Tasmanian anymore? F: Um, I do, of course I do. But that doesn’t mean that everything that I do is Tasmanian-based and Tasmanian-focused. Some things I do are much more Tasmanian-focused now. Like I was saying to Claire that I am currently really excited to make landscape paintings, and it’s like the second you leave Tasmania you can comfortably talk about landscape because no-one here is talking about landscape properly, but if you’re over there you’re like, “ohhh the L word! Don’t use the L word!!!” But you leave Tasmania with a really amazing understanding of landscape and the kind of spatial and social relationships to location. C: And it’s interesting just kind of having that distance and removal from it makes you understand what you did take from it. I mean I recognise that in my practice too, as I’m sure you do as well Laura. F: I think it is also worth questioning more because I don’t think that a project like Nuclei by three early career practitioners could’ve been triggered if we were based in London or New York, or even in Melbourne or Sydney. You know it was a response to the situation that we were in and the location that we were in and… the kind of time that we had. We had time! Although it didn’t feel like it then…
then also to circle each other, you know there’s something really interesting to me, like how they kind of — well, the confluences but then the separations… F: A few of us at school have been talking about this because of the show at MoMA, the Atemporal Painting show that claims that there is now a time where we can pull from history wherever we want and like. We’re meant to be in an atemporal time specifically for painting. C: I haven’t seen it. F: Oh it’s terrible. C: You tell me that about every show! I just don’t see anything now! F: I don’t say that about every show! L: The Marlene Dumas here is really good, by the way. Is it coming to you? F: Really? Where’s that at? L: It’s at the Tate. C: Oh. I’d love to see it. F: That’d be nice. Ah. I don’t know if it’s coming, maybe. But anyway so we’ve been talking about this a lot for a show that we’re developing at school: how you deal with the histories of art as ghosts, like whether you carry it with you or not. And my response to the Atemporal show is that yeah you can pull from history and location today, wherever you want — future and past. But it’s not just that you can — you can make whatever you want — but it’s that you have to. Dealing with your influences is crucial to making work. Because it’s grounding as a practitioner. Not just location-grounding. It’s like, “where do I exist”? C: Yeah, it’s like, “defining the field.” F: Yeah, defining the field! And that’s exactly what the drawings are about! C: Yeah. F: You know they push out all that stuff, and the stuff in between. You draw a line between two bubbles and then what appears in the middle, there’s a space for someone else. Or what got you there, or got you back? C: Maybe that’s a nice place to leave it. Yeah. Ok so what do you think we should actually submit to the publication? A collective drawing maybe? I don’t know, do we need it? F: I quite like the drawing with the four of us in the middle that you did. L:. Mm. F: Laura do you want to do a drawing? L: Mm I might just do one anyway. And then maybe, I don’t know… This conversation could just be enough. And maybe our manifesto. Don’t you think just a page with our manifesto? C: Yeah we talked about that. F: But see we talked about that, and then we talked about how from the conference to now that’s totally shifted. L: It’s still relevant though, when you read it. C: Yeah, I mean, we should look at it. I can’t even remember what it says.
F: Oh yeah, Laura, you would know more than us because you’ve looked at it recently and we… But to re-work the manifesto now is like a 4 hour Skype session. L: Yeah but I don’t even think it needs re-working. I was like, “yeah, that’s still what it is” C: Maybe just as context? F: I don’t want to use it. C: But maybe it’s interesting as a counterpoint? Maybe we can date the manifesto? F: Yeah that could be good, and that might just be the simplest line underneath: “this was our manifesto at the point of the conference” C: And then we can date this conversation. F: “This was the drawing introducing to the group, this was the transcription from last week.” C: Mm hm. F: Maybe that’s a really good point. C: Yeah I mean showing a kind of chronology is nice. F: Yeah. Ok, that’s a good point. C: Alright.
ART SCIENCE, COGNITION, AND AESTHETICS
CARRIE PAT TERSON
My recent work is the result of research into cosmology, chemistry, the history of science and its reflections on culture, as well as astronautics. At the core of my projects is a desire to model paradigm shifts through demonstration objects, commonly located within my visual arts practice, but which also manifest through my activities as a writer and presenter. Throughout the last decade I have worked with technicians, scientists, engineers, and architects to create models; I now hold US utility Patent No. 8,499,960 B2 with scientific glassblower Bob Maiden for an integral storage container comprised of multiple, concentric, but independent glass spheres. It is through this object that I will attempt to unfold greater conclusions about a cognitive alliance of art-science within this brief essay. I have called upon both historical and scientific visual references to investigate supposed delimiting factors between art, science and technology. One area of collaboration between the fields exists within representations of outer space and planets, both intra- and extra-solar, such as the inventive maps of the heavens made during Enlightenment in Western Europe. At stake in these representations is an understanding of humanity within its celestial context. Is the Earth the center of the solar system as Ptolemy and Aristotle argued? Or is it the sun? The revolutionary Copernican model demonstrating the six known planets orbiting the Sun laid the groundwork for the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century and prompted disputes with the Roman Papacy, who still endorsed an Earth-centered system and considered Copernicus and his advocates heretical. However, I argue both models are valid. Earlier astronomers had proposed sun-centered planetary systems, such as Aristarchus (270 BCE), the Indian mathematician-astronomer Aryabhata (476–550AD), and the 9th century astronomer and Islamic philosopher Abu Ma’shar. But it was the 11th century Persian Muslim historian and polymath Abu Rayhan al Biruni who resuscitated ancient theories to discuss heliocentrism versus geocentrism as a philosophical problem. We see this reflected during the late 16th century in Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe’s hybrid concept, also called Tycho’s orrery, which combined Ptolemy’s Earth-centered system with the Copernican model. The Papacy endorsed
Tycho’s replacement for a Ptolemaic/Aristotelian conception of the world, which had been recently rendered obsolete by new observations of the phases of Venus. In Tycho’s schema the Earth is still at the center, orbited by the Sun and Moon, with all other planets orbiting the Sun. His plan harkens back to the Aristotelian version of the skies but had evolved to include a strange contradiction: two independent centers whose influences overlapped but operated in harmony. In effect, what Tycho succeeded in modeling was Europe in transition, with two cooperative centers of power — one Papal, one scientific. He proclaimed, “Heaven is full of certain real orbs carrying the stars” but as evidence made the Greek hard-sphere celestial model impossible to uphold, Tycho prevaricated: “The celestial machine is not a hard and impenetrable body as many people think […] it lies open everywhere.” 1 The simultaneous transparency of the “certain” spheres and their ‘openness’ lies at the heart of Tycho’s un-resolvable conundrum. In the pursuit of an objective pure science, can ambiguities and contradictions be revealed through the process of modeling concepts in physical form? Can multiple associations be created within an object that goes beyond any specific illustrative intent but captures other truths — cultural, socio-political, emotional and aesthetic among them? Looking at the history of scientific illustration and modeling, one sees that while these visualizations seem to present solutions, they can also mean in excess of their representation. As science philosopher Evelyn Fox Keller notes, “Models in the physical sciences are fictions by definition: they are analogical rather than literal, corresponding to an actually occurring phenomenon in some respects but not in others.” 2 Like language, visual explanations and models contain Derridian remainders, traces of other concepts that demonstrate cultural specificity, challenge definitions, and create curiosity and pleasure. They offer alternate reads, subtexts and syntheses. They capture no ‘Truth’ — only imaginations. The first mental images for the models that follow appeared to me with a spontaneous, poetic certainty. But instead of being simulations of concepts,
a chaotic (fractal) structure. A dynamical system can be observed in the Lorenz Attractor (right), a mathematical model created by Edward Lorenz in 1963 derived from convection patterns in the atmosphere. For my purposes, what is interesting about the Lorenz Attractor is its orthogonal structure: the way it establishes two interdependent poles, each in a different dimension. To me, this image of duality represents evolution of thought rather than binary opposition. As such, dynamical cognition could be said to be transformational, moving outside of one paradigm to open upon another, which continually reflects on current suppositions but that changes elements of discourse over time and shifts perception. In another way, the visualization of the Lorenz Attractor can be thought of as two complimentary poles of inquiry into the material states from which consciousness, being, and all things emerge. These disciplines go by the monikers of ‘art and science.’ While these words are bandied about within the visual arts as a ‘brand’ for certain kinds of artworks, I mean to forward art-science as the mutual examination and deployment of two methodologies concurrently: one, science, which uses a set of formal, testable processes to prove a theory, and another, art, where hypotheses create various iterations of object-experiences and expressions through processes. Art-science practices reverse-engineer a testable theory, creating knowledge by exposing previously unconsidered questions; these questions can later become the basis of other processes, or artistic-scientific inquiries, without end. Art-science is a conceptual process of art that leaves visual remainders in prototypes, drawings, demonstrations, presentations and written materials. I propose that people who visualize scientific theories or phenomena can also practice art-science. Take, for example, the Chemical Galaxy by Edgar Longman (1951), which uses a spiral model analogous to the form of a galaxy to substitute for the vertical groupings of the Mendeleev table. There are several remarkable aspects to Longman’s table. First, he suggests a harmony within creation not unlike Tycho’s mechanistic ‘clockwork’ orrery, but uses a more appropriate metaphor for his time — in the early 1950s radio telescopes made galaxies observable in great detail. Secondly, Longman’s art-science work shows how heavier elements took longer to evolve by presenting them logically to be on the ‘outside’ of the spiral. However, Longman is in fact taking great liberties to reverse the flow of time and gravity: whereas in our universe, bodies in a galaxy are pulled toward a central black hole, in Longman’s, they fly out. Thus, Longman’s ‘black hole’ can be interpreted as the aporia in our knowledge and scientific language, a guessing point upon which an artist-scientist must build. Also, as galaxies are themselves dynamic systems, made up of light, observable through these wavelengths that arrive at our telescopes,
as I initially presumed, they were in fact about dissimulation — magical, even alchemical, vessels that would alter the way I thought about myself as a ‘being in the world,’ to twist Heidegger’s notion of seamlessness between consciousness and material reality. I intended to describe the ‘celestial spheres’ as repositories of meaning larger than the terms set out by the apparent isolation of the planets, by attempting to place past and current representations alongside each other in a whole, supra-conscious object. The result: space-age perfume bottles that referenced micro and macro structures — gravity, atoms, the circulation of the planets, and their atmospheres — but as I also later discovered, a kind of map of human cognition and a key. In “Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought,” George Lakoff and Mark Johnson’s 1999 groundbreaking work of cognitive science, the two argue that boundary demarcation is an essential component of the human mind’s ability to understand and to reason. This logic, they suggest, comes from our comprehension of our own bodies/skin and in fact emanates from the way we think about our minds within ourselves within our bodies, within spaces, within areas, within a perceived world, and within an outside-of-this-world. Rather than erase differences between people, the ‘essentialism’ proposed by Lakoff and Johnson’s gestalt structure provides a way to model how embodiment affects the development of cultures and civilizations without reducing histories, perceptions or world-views to sameness. Each ‘inside’ is its own interior, and an infinite number of these are possible; every center interprets meaning and projects exteriorities. When Tycho Brahe recanted the Aristotelian idea of hard celestial spheres nested within each other, maneuvering the planets around our Earth, did he dismiss a core model of the embodied human mind in its terrestrial environment reflecting itself outward into the heavens? Or are the contradictions inherent in Tycho’s orrery a visual diagram of human thought in a particular time of crisis, when rationalism was interrupting the centricity of Papal authority and thus altering belief systems about such fundamentals as the very make-up of ‘the heavens’? What lay beyond the planets, ‘Heaven,’ or in the terms of Aryabhata, “the absolute Brahaman” — in other words, the unobservable — remains the stuff of mystic inquiry and faith.3 Tycho’s scheme presents the idea that the ‘center’ is actually a multivalent notion that is itself ontologically fractured, and thus any exterior must be unique, not unitary. A parallel idea, but in three dimensions, would be what I am calling the dynamical model of cognition. Dynamical systems are non-linear and complex, evolving in space and time without ever duplicating themselves — examples such as lightning bolts, clouds, coastlines and snowflakes have
Brahe quoted in Edward Rosen, “Dissolution of the Solid Celestial Spheres.” Journal of the History of Ideas, (46, 1: 22).
Longman’s table — perhaps unintentionally — visually introduces the idea of wavelengths to chemistry, the wave-particle duality of electrons orbiting an atomic mass being a key concept of modern physical chemistry and quantum mechanics. He is, in fact, illustrating the unknown as much as the known. Taking Longman’s proposal into another metaphor is computer programmer Melinda Green in her 1995 Periodic Fractal of the Elements wherein she proposes a mathematical solution to atomic weights, which correspond to the numbers of electrons orbiting a nucleic mass. 4 Continuing the pattern of Green’s diagram, new, undiscovered atomic elements might be extrapolated, along with their properties; for example, element #118 Ununoctium (Uuo). With eight electrons in its outer valence shell, Ununoctium would have the non-reactive properties of a noble gas (Helium through Radon). The element has been observed but is not yet officially recognized by the IUPAC at the time of this writing.5 Reiterating quantum reality and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, an electron’s location in space can be determined, but only to a certain degree. All matter, then, is only more or less locatable in time in space; yet conceptually, our certainties seem as fixed as our outmoded atomic diagrams and the planets orbiting the early Greeks’ hard crystalline spheres. Nevertheless, by refuting the reductionism of Cartesian logic, where a whole can be reduced to its parts, or — we might extend — a poetic phrase to its individual words, we find the possibility for an embodied perception, a poiesis that interprets and remakes the world. By using art-science logic we see multivalent systems of relations emerge.6
Evelyn Fox Keller, Making Sense of Life: Explaining Biological Development with Models, Metaphors, and Machines (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003), 97.
3 K.V. Sarma “ryabhata: His name, time and provenance,” Indian Journal of History of Science (2001), 36 (4), 105-115. 4 Melinda Green, “Superliminal Software.” Superliminal.com/ pfractal.htm. Accessed February 6, 2015. 5
Robert C Barber, et al. Pure and Applied Chemistry, (Volume 83, Issue 7), 1485-1498
Concepts in this essay have been elaborated from Strange Attractor, a manifesto that I wrote in 2008 for the first appearance of the multi-spheres in the exhibition Time, Space and Alchemy at Carl Berg Gallery in Los Angeles, California.
LISTENING IN THE VAST EXPANSE OF THE ENCLOSURE
KAMAU AMU PAT TON
The landscape is an archive, an open document. It is a conversation, a dialogic construct. It is a thought space and as such is always becoming — as a continuing sculptural gesture — undergoing transformation. The work resides in the accumulation of positions, materials, and records through time. The process of recording over time is used as a conceptual structure towards an alternative historical model, using temporary positions to construct a non-linear historical record. The landscape is a vast windowless room with a horizon, a sonorous actual field within space-time. A perspective placed into context thus, is at each moment an approximation of form, an elaborately constructed capture. Human ecology as sound atmosphere — as transmission radius within an affective environment — as circumstance, object, or condition by which one is surrounded. The landscape invites a deep looking and listening. Extend the ear, extend the eye. Extend the distance of the gaze. A fault line or a fracture, considered as a sound or combination of sounds in time. A sonic form which arises from an environment of sounds i.e. the sounds of weather, animal sounds, sounds created by human beings, musical compositions, conversation, sounds of mechanical origin, electronic sounds.
The landscape is a hybrid technology, an augmented environment, an actual virtual space of abstract constructions, phenomenological sound formations and fundamental tones through which aspects of the environment modulate. Each action in the land, a gesture in search of self-contained particles of sound, is achieved through the use of sensor arrays to convert aspects of the environment into sound and omni-directional microphones to capture a stream of environmental sounds. The capture composed in real-time is processed as secondary soundscape then broadcast back into the environment as a surround. Projected as a trace of what was. In principle, an experience of spatio-temporal sonic schemata abstracted. Perceived as a discrete dynamical system — a process in state space. Unique at each point, each body is its own perspective in state space. An abstract set, finite, consisting of just a few points or finite-dimensional, consisting of an infinite number of points. A radial form in which all the possible states of the system are represented, with each possible state corresponding to one unique point over time, a trajectory or an orbit combined to form an omni-directional image, a power radiated uniformly in all directions, a sculptural form.
REFLECTIONS ON CRITIQUE AND CRITICAL JUDGMENT IN ART
In a recent New York Times review of Marina Abramovićs’ Generator, at Sean Kelly Gallery in New York (Oct. 24–Dec. 6, 2014), Ken Johnson writes, “Is Generator a good work of art? Is Ms. Abramović a good artist? It’s debatable whether these questions apply any longer.” 1 Generator was a participatory project and exhibition that required gallery visitors be blindfolded, and wear noise-cancelling headphones and in this partial sensory-deprived state grope their way around the gallery space, touching bare walls, posts, and each other. In so doing they were scripted into and contributed to the script writing of this artistic consciousness-raising exercise. If this script sounds familiar it’s probably because it is. Is experience an adequate replacement for aesthetics? Is Generator a good work of art? Ken Johnson’s questions, although specific to Abramović and her exhibition, are similar to questions art audiences and educators everywhere might ask in the context of much judgment and critique in contemporary art today. It seems as if we have arrived at an historical moment that is partially defined by the absence of connoisseurship. Is the role of critical judgment in art over, or is there a 21st century version of the connoisseur? At the end of his review he says that
A connoisseur might be described as someone who is competent to pass critical judgments in art independent of personal taste, and who understands the context, content, techniques, and other particular conventions and cultural implications of an art form, and is therefore capable of engaging in a meaningful and relevant critique. In an interview excerpt with Rupert White at Falmouth University College on May 22nd, 2010, American critic and author Lucy Lippard replied to the following questions: RW: Conceptual art relates to Greenberg’s modernism: as a reaction, in a way that doesn’t apply to Fluxus...? LL: Fluxus was much messier too. But yes I was part of the reaction thing. Greenberg: he was a vicious son of a bitch and I didn’t like him and I didn’t like the way he dictated stuff to artists, and I finally stood up against him in public, which was a really good thing for me. And he thought I was a silly little girl. RW: Did you do that in writing? LL: No, in a lecture. I just asked him to define ‘quality.’ He was always on about quality: what he liked was quality and what I liked wasn’t. And I went up to him and he said ‘if you don’t know what quality is I can’t tell you. If you can’t tell the difference between red and green...’ or something really snotty. And I said ‘you mean Greenberg and Rosenberg?’ Because they were rivals — and everybody laughed. RW: It wasn’t that important, but he didn’t like it. LL: And I went up and introduced myself afterwards and he said: ‘Oh you’re Lucy Lippard. I thought you were a schoolteacher from the Bronx.’ 3
“[…] whatever you may think of Ms. Abramović, one thing’s for sure: an artwork by her without her electric personal presence is like coffee without caffeine.” 2
Ken Johnson’s closing remark, framed as a critique and methodology for critique, points to a specific component of the artist’s work — the presence of the artist herself. One could interpret this to mean that a familiarity with this artists “electric personal presence” is a deciding factor in establishing a critical judgment; it implies that not having that background puts an informed critique at risk. It is a strong argument. A first-hand experience of the contribution of her personal appearance in a work such as The House with the Ocean View (2002) or 512 Hours (2014), as Johnson would argue, is necessary to establish a context for the critical judgment of her work. It’s probably no coincidence that Abramović titled her 2010 MoMA retrospective The Artist is Present.
Clement Greenberg is widely considered to be at the end of a long line of influential UK/Euro/ American art connoisseurs for whom the importance of art and aesthetics trumped that of philosophy and the role of experience in the practice and discourse/ reception of visual art. Not that he and others were not versed in philosophy — they were — but philosophy was often harnessed in support of a specific critical paradigm that while defined by insight and expertise, was also prone to fixed opinions and
prescriptive methodologies for judgment, and, as proved frustrating and/or encouraging for artists, frequently inviolable when exercised in critique. In this manner critical judgment in art was often dependent on personal taste, a characteristic associated with the classic definition of the connoisseur, and one that ultimately brought about its demise. In an essay of a few years ago Arthur C. Danto says that Greenberg “once boasted that though he knew little about African art, he would almost unfailingly be able to pick out the two or three best pieces in a group.” 4 While this may appear arrogant or far-fetched, one must remember that Greenberg’s grounds for value judgment would have been reduced to a self-referential formalist analysis, in which the artwork points to its form alone; a method of critique that is almost exclusively addressed to the formal elements of the work. That is to say, an analysis of the assembly of its forms: the part-to-part relationship of formal elements that comprise the whole (composition) and contribute to what is considered its style. Greenberg was inclined to underplay, even ignore personal and cultural influences on stylistic formations, in favor of a measurable formal criteria easily transported from individual to individual, region to region, era to era, culture to culture. Meyer Shapiro has said that:
who engaged participatory/collaborative projects such as Alan Kaprow, who coined the term ‘happenings’ in an essay published in 1958; or Jim Dine’s ‘Car Crash,’ 1960; or Carolee Schneemann’s ‘Meat Joy’ of 1964. In fact Modernism’s many variations opened the field beyond ‘forms’ tied to art as such, to more dispersed aesthetic modalities for which the term ‘formations’ was a more apt descriptor — think of the Cabaret Voltaire, in Zurich, in 1916, or even late 19th century art-theatre soirées in Paris, Berlin, or Oslo, some of which, in each of these cities, included the legendary Norwegian muse and proto-performance artist Dagny Juel.8 Meyer Shapiro’s assertion that style represents a common ground “against which innovations may be measured” is to argue for the importance of contextualization in critical judgment. An informed opinion would require an understanding of the context, content, techniques, and other particular conventions, background, and cultural implications of an art form. However, the common refrain among many young artists/art students today is that “it’s all been done before,” “it’s frustrating to come up with new ideas,” “one of our generations concerns is originality…”: all of which sounds very discouraging and hopeless, but, in the affirmative it also sounds challenging. If art is “anything you can get away with” the sky’s the limit, the options are endless; but what if this open field is accompanied by a lack of critical rigor, of indifference to critical judgment, of the absence of questions about quality? 9 Jean Baudrillaud once said something to the effect, and I respectively paraphrase: “that one no longer believes in art, only in the idea of art.” The common ground that Shapiro identified in 1953 has unquestionably changed, and now must accommodate the hyperreal, the society of the simulacra, and the grammar of appropriation in our languages and culture of communication. Thus Rosalind Krauss’ Expanded Field (1978) continues to expand into the 21st century, forging yet new forms and formations that range far from classic art-centric common grounds and artistic canons by co-implicating social and visual culture, technology, science, ecology, economy, and a myriad of topics such as endangered species, terrorism, disease, and climate change. This hybrid environment may present new contexts for innovation and may even yield new models of artistic practice that continue to orient interpretation toward non-art sites, toward non-aesthetic modalities. Under these circumstances research of the field/s still remains a prerequisite for a learned response to interpretation of the form or formation. Even in this environment, origination is a long shot; more realistic is evidence of original thinking, and to recognize original thinking requires knowledge of the field. Boris Groys says “Contemporary ‘contemporary art’ privileges the present with respect to the future and the past.” 10 A 21st century version of the
[...] style is, above all, a system of forms with a quality and a meaningful expression through which the personality of the artist and the broad outlook of a group are visible. It is also the vehicle of expression within the group, communicating and fixing certain values of religious, social, and moral life through the emotional suggestiveness of forms. It is, besides, a common ground against which innovations and the individuality of particular works may be measured.5 Shapiro goes on to say that “The critic, like the artist, tends to conceive of style as a value term; style as such is a quality and the critic can say of the painter that he has ‘style’ or of a writer that he is a ‘stylist.’” 6 Shapiro’s essay “style” was published in 1953, and while it would be hard to overstate the art and cultural changes that have occurred since then, his observation that style presents “[…] a common ground against which innovations and the individuality of particular works may be measured” still carries a lot of weight if the critical process values artistic and historical context as measurement of an original contribution to the field. That said, a Kantian-Greenberg vision of aesthetics effectively ended in the 1960s and was to be replaced by what Danto calls a “pluralism of aesthetic modalities.” 7 Danto points to the ‘Grunge’ aesthetic of Robert Rauschenberg as evidence of the replacement of a Kantian aesthetic regime for an aesthetic of ‘disorder.’ One would also be obliged to cite artists
Johnson, Ken, “A Gallery Show, Site Unseen,” The New York Times, (November 7, 2014), C23, C31
contemporary art connoisseur would be understood to have an adaptive body of knowledge grounded in an artistic practice or field and its theoretical/ historical stream, complemented by a general conservancy with art and cultural expressions outside the stream proper. Critical judgment and determination of quality would be based on evidence of original thinking or the lack thereof, in concert with variables attached to production, context, and cultural histories and expressions. The presence of original thinking being far from commonplace should be seen as the difference maker in critical judgment. Moreover, an artist’s articulated reference to fields of art and culture or outside fields, would certainly for the art insider and a general audience, deepen the context for interpretation and meaning. The ability for and evidence of original thought as it is realized in art, is the one criterion that both reinforces the importance of critical judgment and provides indices for determining quality. In closing, and to return to Marina Abramovićs’ Generator — does/did it evidence original thinking? If the artists “electric personal presence” were physically part of this piece would the terms for critical judgment be different? In this particular case, in the realm of critical judgment and questions about quality, a strong argument could be made that experience hasn’t entirely replaced aesthetics.
4 Arthur C. Danto, “Embodied Meanings, Isotypes, and Aesthetical Ideas” in Global Theories of the Arts and Aesthetics, (Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2007), 124. 5
Meyer Shapiro, “Style” in Theory and Philosophy of Art: Style, Artist, and Society, (New York: George Braziller, Inc, 1994), 51.
Ibid., Arthur C. Danto, 123.
Sue Prideaux, “God is Dead, Berlin” in Edvard Munch, Behind The Scream (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2012), 143.
Pearson, Gary, “Two Short Case Studies & a Memoir: Good Art and/or Good Research?” in eds. Ricardo Marín Viadel’ Joaquín Roldán, Xabier Molinet Foundations, criteria and contexts in Arts Based Research and Artistic Research (Medina: University of Granada Press, 2014), 121-133, More information see: http://hdl.handle. net/10481/34212. Pearson says “[...] perhaps sketching the boundaries, talking around the subject/object is a legitimate methodology of critique, critical judgment, that is here to stay and we should learn to accept it. In fact it might be quite liberating to expunge the word “good” from our critical vocabulary, and if the word “bad” had to be retained it would be paired with “not,” as in not bad. If the prevailing climate of critique is fundamentally non-committal, non-judgmental, the need and ability to read, or indeed “tease out” contextual meanings will continue to be severely tested in the role of the serious art critic or educator.” (123)
10 Boris Groys, “The Topology of Contemporary Art,” in eds. Terry Smith, Okwui Enwezor, and Nancy Condee, Antinomies of Art and Culture (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008), 71.
MINDFUL ENCOUNTERS 2013-2015
Some field notes for bringing mindful practice into the space between people.
and the shared decision to take your time unifies you with the other, setting you both aside from the slipstream around you. People move distractedly by and the objects linger for longer in your vision. Look sideways and smirk, we are still here. As we meandered through the streets of London’s Soho, Oliver had said that it was like being a tourist in his own city. Liberty jumped up and down on the spot on the main street of her village saying impatiently: “What am I supposed to be learning right now, I don’t feel like I am learning anything!” Caara’s eye found beauty in the textures and details of the banality surrounding us at the airport and George felt parts of his body he was not normally aware of respond to the change in his regular city pace. Walking slowly sparks curiosity and makes you pay deeper attention. The awareness it raises can be, as Oliver offered, like the lens one brings to a new place. While navigating through unfamiliarity with senses wide open, we stumble across things we did not even know we were looking for. Changing the pace of your footsteps can help maintain that magic or rekindle it over time.
Mindful Encounters is a project based on the alternative economic model of time-exchange. I offer people eight hours of my time to do whatever they want, need, or would like to see more of, in the world. In return I ask for eight hours of their time to engage with me in mindful activities. The eight-hour structure emerged in reflection of the eight-hour working day, and here I have considered it against the Buddhist notion of the eight fold noble path, which suggests eight areas of your life that can be activated in the ‘right’ way — right being however you define it for yourself. 1. Listen to each other’s heartbeats — concentration. Liberty had no shortage of ideas for how to spend time. Each completed task generated at least one more. Liberty and I connected through a double headset stethoscope as we sat on the swings in a park in falling afternoon light. Balancing the disparity in our body mass, and the different tempo of our heartbeats with the vertical length of the chain and the distance of the tubes horizontally connecting us, we found rhythm. Oliver found the stethoscope beautiful, its slender lines of round rubber and shiny steel all the more elegant because it performs a function close to the body. For George it was an anomaly, a social concern in the middle of grand central station, where he discovered, we were surrounded by people who could not care less. For Caara the device was most challenging at first; but once we had worked with it, it lost its edge and became a reason for us to stop over and over again, get out of the car and take a moment in the landscape, with our interior landscape in our ears.
3. Share a meal with me in silence — view. Oliver wanted to spend more time in the creative process, and further empathize with what it was he made spaces for. Oliver does not like silence so we ate in the dark instead, at a restaurant made for that experience. From the moment I lost my sense of sight, the noise folded in around me and voices interrupted me from every angle. A year later I went with my lover to a similar restaurant in France. There, the noise only drifted past me. In the pitch-blackness the dulcet tones of a language I did not understand washed over me. Caara’s husband joined us for the silent meal. Sometimes to collaborate with one is to collaborate with a few dear ones. He said later that he felt satisfied from much less food than normal. Liberty and I never got around to it — perhaps we will one day, when we are different people. George watched intently as other people in the cafe noticed us not talk. The waiter, of his own accord, joined us in mime. To finish, we shared a delicious lemon tart that left a bittersweet aftertaste like a trusted companion who simply has to leave.
2. Meet me in a busy place. Walk with me slowly for 15 minutes, turn and retrace our steps, turn and retrace our steps again — diligence. George wanted to have an argument. This was the first action I did with George, and the last one I did with Caara. It can be incredibly bonding. Walking slowly creates space to communicate
7. Blank — livelihood.
4. Decide on something you are good at doing and teach me how to do it — thinking.
0:00 Oliver and I found time wherever a busy person locates it. Time for time. Who has got time? I’m not sure where all the time went. Hours can be hard to find, and then time goes by unnoticed. Regardless, it is one quantifiable thing we have in common, and that makes it fair trade. If every dollar is a vote, and time is our new currency, we can build the world with the minutes we spend, how we in turn inhabit our minds and the affect that has on those around us. What is it you support with your presence and participation? What do you want to see more of? Spend your time doing that.
Caara wanted to inspire the Californian people to reduce their domestic use of water during drought. What are you good at? What in your life can others benefit from knowing? How can you contribute to this place, this world, this mess we have made. How can we share it? 5. I will decide on something I am good at doing, and teach you how to do it — action. 14:00 - 16:00 Sundays, for six months was when I worked with Liberty. Liberty taught me to teach, and the days were never long enough. I decided to show George how to read any object as a work of art. Like kids playing commando we ran into a department store armed with cultural theory texts by Boris Groys and Jorge Luis Borges. Randomly, we chose an object or display, flicked the book open and read a chance passage. George later wrote “The texts have the surprising ability to be relevant to the chosen object just about every time.”
8. Sit opposite each other holding a glass vessel. 9. Pour water from one vessel to the other — mindfulness. 08:00 - 23:00 Waking hours for a week I spent with Caara. Caara and I performed an eco-pilgrimage called ‘The Passage of Water’ where we collected water at Life Spring in the Eastern Sierra mountains and took it on the path water travels in ducts to service Los Angeles, past dying lakes and into urban gardens. She reminded me “I am not just 70% water, my body and spirit is enthralled with water.” When pouring water from vessel to vessel, the transferal silently honors the equal exchange two people undertake in these collaborations, with calm fulfilling resolve.
6. Meet me in a quiet place. Walk with me in silence. Every 5 minutes an alarm will sound, prompting us to speak, uninterrupted — speech. 09:00 - 17:00 Fridays, for two weeks was when I met with George.
Communist Architecture dressed youth in a Green Sweater while the tart toxicity of Apples in Autumn might breed Seasonal behaviour that sends us Range Roving back to Narnia through the nostalgic clarity of Misty Minds. Omnipresence of Construction turns buildings on their heads to host the ground swell giving Life to the Tops of Trees. while the underside seems to die, in need of a Trim. Lego leads to Nothing while Rice Sculptures cascade across the land in Japanese Design that bows humbly to the earth. unlike Mini’s House which like the west reaches to the sky with Dreaded Skins framed in Grey. Boat People in Abundance retaliate Siege Mentality that to the water afloat is Offering Pollution. The ripples of discontented tide, over time subtly provoke a Demise in Couples who, as an audience for each other’s misery support Estates for Agents. After this I’ll resist Restriction Anxiety and enjoy Silhouettes Framed in Windows sending signs from the past like Cinematic Circles that ask us To End Where We Began.
A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME IN A NOT SO DISTANT PLACE
Experiences means knowledge. But how can you tell if you’ve the right knowledge. Maybe you’ve got the wrong knowledge. Maybe you’re experienced in a bad way. That’s the problem with experience, you never quite know whether it’s valid or not. So there’s a big issue here. There’s a kind of dance going on between certainty and uncertainty. 1 Since November of 2011, I’ve been involved in the production of a series of off-site projects with a group of colleagues and friends. We use non-gallery spaces as sites for making art. To date we’ve used a warehouse, a cliff side and beach, and a bothy in the Scottish highlands. To summarise what the projects are (or what they do) is that they are artist-led spaces without a fixed space. But other than being an artist led space that doesn’t have a space, what else is at stake in the projects? Firstly, not having a fixed home and using specific environments causes us to adjust our thinking and making to a new place each time we take on a new project, which has been once a year for the last four years. Once a place is decided on we think about what themes correlate with the space — what ideas make the space a place. So the project becomes a kind of middle ground between practice and theory; a place where thinking, discussion, observation, making and performing all amalgamate in an event which usually ends with an exhibition of some sort. The production of the first project began in October 2011, but the idea first emerged from a casual conversation a few months earlier. Some friends were using an old warehouse, left vacant because of economic recession, as a studio and gallery space. Trenches of muck over a meter wide ran parallel to each of the supporting walls on the inside of the building. One of us suggested we should make an exhibition of work made only using the trenches and call the show ‘underground.’ It was originally said as a joke but after the idea sunk in, we realised how interesting the outcomes might be. Taking advantage of such an unusual space to be granted, particularly as it was so unique to a city and we were so young, in October we started playing with the ground in the trenches. We had shovels and were uncovering earthly treasures buried in the soil: pieces of metal in random shapes, various animal bones and detritus of different inorganic kinds. As the art-
works we were making evolved, and discussions were being had, different themes began to emerge, as though they were rising up from the soil. ‘Labor’ was one of the first things we thought about, and then ‘value.’ This was concluded in the show in one work where an artist had dug a tunnel and deep inside found pieces of metal embedded in the ground. The artist treated the pieces of metal using a DIY silvering process, which made them appear shinier, a semblance of more value tallying with the physical labour they had used to dig the hole that displayed the objects. The work I made for the show was a hole large in length dug deep and filled with smaller holes. Each of these holes was filled to the brim with shampoo, a different color for each hole. Ninety-eight bottles of shampoo were used in total to fill about eighteen holes. Beside the hole was the pile of excavated earth and piled on top of this were the empty plastic shampoo bottles. The artwork gave viewers an encounter with an inorganic material resting and seeping through the organic soil, to which it was alien. As well as the aesthetic experience of the colourful, viscous, pearlescent material laid on top of the dull brown soil, I was hoping the work could be a way of thinking time: the material is slowly sinking into the earth and becoming part of it, transforming it into something it has never been. I was thinking about how long it could take the earth to recover from this. In a similar way, Timothy Morton writes about hyperobjects, a term he coined to describe objects that are so massively distributed in time and space as to transcend spatiotemporal specificity. They are viscous, molten, nonlocal, phased and inter-objective — that is they are formed by relations between one or more objects. At the end of the show all of the holes were filled in and there was no evidence (on the surface) of the show having taken place. The show Underground is the first example of how we’ve used a site-specific spot as a base camp: after a place is chosen we set up site then work individually and collaboratively and use it as a site of thinking and making. Through this themes and ideas emerge. You could think of it as fieldwork for ontological thought. After the short-lived material surface of our last project we decided to use temporality as the
foundation for the next endeavour. It wasn’t long before we thought of what could be an interesting place to think and make about temporality. A beach. Beaches are public, meaning you’re allowed to be there at no cost. Also, they’re materially and atmospherically interesting: sand is malleable but brittle; it easy to make a mark in but it quickly disappears; and the tide is a always changing surface, and always coming in and going out, which we thought would tally with the theme temporality. The beach we chose to reside on was at the furthest point North in Ireland in a small, idyllic village named Portsalon. It has a long, narrow beach looking out into the Atlantic Ocean. We went there in May, about a month ahead of tourist season, and decided we would spend ten days there and end our stay in an event. At the start we weren’t sure if it would be an exhibition or some sort of discussion, as we really didn’t know what would happen; what we might make, do, or discover, or what we might not. Fifteen of us went in total and lived in a house. It was communal; we’d eat together and go to sleep around the same time, then we’d all go off and do things by ourselves during the days. The days passed and our minds adjusted to being there and everybody’s work fell into place. Near the house we were staying in there was a cliff-side that had a path that led down to the beach. We decided for the event to place works along the cliff and on the beach, so that viewers could experience a trail of artworks. One work was by two artists, Ruth Clinton and Niamh Moriarty. As you walked along the cliff you came a pile of stones with a radio on top. A female voice could be heard singing a lament through the radio; as you walked up and over the cliff two people sitting on rocks protruding from the cliff greeted you — one singing and the other making signals using flags. The work incorporated different and complex ways of communicating and had a strange relationship to time. The song being sung was about mythology while flag signals were made on the other side of the cliff, both of which suited the vastness of the ocean we were looking out onto. A lot of people came to see the event, so, because of the noise and excitement experienced we decided to use solitude or isolation as the foundation for the next project. This is how the projects have functioned so far: we use a result or finding from one project as a theme for the following project. As we are working independently of an institution or academy, we have the freedom but also the necessity of deciding on what idea will govern us temporarily. The idea acts as a kind of nucleus or as the organs for the project. As we had decided on isolation, to make a project without an audience, we figured what better place to do it other than a hut or a bothy in the mountains. One of us, Tom Watt, had visited a bothy in the Scottish Highlands so we decided this would be our site. We travelled in March 2013 and after a plane and train ride we were sitting in a bothy in the middle of what seemed to us like nowhere. During the day we
walked up mountains, exploring the environment and looking for other bothies to stay in and getting lost along the way. It was cold and harsh, and difficult to make or think about anything, almost as though anything a human could think or make (other than shelter) could in no way compete with the monstrous landscape, especially with rationed supplies. The Scottish Highlands are vast and sublime. We left after five days, a complete anticlimax accompanied by a feeling of defeat. But there wasn’t ‘nothing’ to be learned from this; we were all there together. So for our next project we decided to research doing nothing and discover what could be achieved from doing nothing. What would be at stake in a project where doing nothing is its foundation or at least its option? Alan Badiou in his “Fifteen Theses on Contemporary Art” writes, “it is better to do nothing than to contribute to the invention of formal ways of rendering visible that which empire already recognises as existent.” 2 Likewise, Timothy Morton says, “Refusing to fit in is a minimal form of political resistance.” 3 And moreover, in a recent BBC documentary on solitude, New York educator Diana Senechal said of Western culture, “if you are not participating people tend to think you are not part of the society, you are not part of the community. Participation can in many ways be being a solitary person. Being a thoughtful person can be a better way to participate.” 4 Following what we believed to be a failure, and with no material outcome, we decided to return to the mountains, this time with nothing in mind; a very difficult task. As we were embarking on this nothing together, we decided to use ‘friendship’ as a theme and to use a quote from Mary McCarthy to Hannah Arendt as the foundation or motto of the project; “It is not that we think so much alike but that we do this thinking business for and with each other.” 5 So aside from friendship, nothing was our theme. We returned to the mountains, this time to a different spot, which was lower in altitude and near a lake. Like all things new, at first it was alien, bewildering and interesting, then quickly our minds adapted and it became our world (which happened quicker this time as it was not as cold so there was less of a drive to get away from there). We spent a week there doing nothing. We played around by ourselves and together. We ate and slept together. Some of us took documentation using lens-based instruments, which wasn’t shared among the group members while on site. It really did feel like we were doing nothing, but not in a wasteful way. We were thinking about what it could mean to do nothing. After leaving the site and returning to the world we usually occupy, other than the lens based things some of us returned with, the project that had nothing as its theme could only really be mediated through words. To quote the artist Isabel Nolan, “different words make different worlds,” so to try to
“Are You Experienced” a lecture series by Timothy Morton, Romanticism, Spring 2009, https://itunes. apple.com/gb/itunes-u/ romanticism-spring-2009/ id399641699?mt=10
embellish the project could be counter productive; it would be using words to turn it into something greater than what it was. In conclusion, the projects I have described facilitate a space where artists can work together under a theme for a designated period of time. The space can be used to communicate ideas while in the process of trying to mediate them. Because the site contains a materiality that the artist is thinking about while making, it does not limit the idea to rational thought and the contingency of the material can effect whatever artwork may or may not be produced. And, at present, the projects are welcoming of but not dependent on funding. I’ll now end with a quote from Donna Haraway, which touches on themes within the projects that perhaps could be thought about during the production of future projects:
2 Alain Badiou, “15 These on Contemporary Art” Lacanian Ink 24 (2004) 3
“What is coexistence” a lecture series by Timothy Morton, Romanticism, Spring 2009, https://itunes. apple.com/gb/itunes-u/ romanticism-spring-2009/ id399641699?mt=10
4 “The Forum, Solitude” BBC Series, 21 Apr 2014, http:// www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/ p01xj6gk 5
Carol Brightman, ed., Between Friends, The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy, 1949-1975, (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1995)
I propose that it has become literally unthinkable to do good work in any interesting field with the premises of individualism and human exceptionalism. None of the most generative and intellectual work being done today any longer spends much time, except as a kind of footnote, doing creative work in the premises of individualism. To be a one at all you must be a many and it’s not a metaphor; it’s about the tissues of being anything at all and that those who are have been in relationality all the way down — there is no place that the layers of the onion come to rest on some kind of foundation.6
Donna Haraway, Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene: Staying with the Trouble, keynote on 5 Sept, 2014 for Aarhus University, Research on the Anthropocene Video can be accessed here: https://vimeo. com/97663518
THE DREARY COAST
In 2014, I organized 50 artists, 14 musicians, seven actors, and 75 volunteers for a performance on the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn. I admit to what William Butler Yeats called “the fascination of what’s difficult.” The piece was called The Dreary Coast, and it was ostensibly a play. There was a script, and actors, and costumes, and a lighting designer, and two audiences on most nights for three weeks. But this show was different every night. Not in that way that actors talk when they say every audience brings its own energy. I mean different. Like the time our house manager was handcuffed for trespassing. Or the time we got stuck in the mud for a half hour in the middle of a scene. Different. The show took place on a boat on the Gowanus Canal. And I want to argue that The Dreary Coast wasn’t really a show at all. Or, rather, that it was, but that primarily it was a site work, entirely dependent upon its environment. And moreover, I want to argue that the art of the work, if we were able to achieve any, came not as a result of the writing, or the acting, or the music, all of which were integral to the work — and sometimes beautifully realized — but as a result of a cumulative aesthetic intervention set in motion by our collaborative efforts and realized with the help of our audience. Was it theater? Yes. But theater in this case was simply the form. And I would hope that any evaluation or critique of or response to the piece should speak to the way that we the artists temporarily activated an over-polluted industrial canal, in this case to tell a story in the middle of the night; to challenge notions of private and public, temporary and eternal; to enlist architecture and the built environment in service of wonder, and loss, and impermanence. For me, the art was the work on that site, at that time, with those people. Not in the sense that you had to be there, but in the sense that Gordon MattaClark’s Conical Intersect would not work if it were cut
out of a cereal box. It would still be a cut, but a cut without everything that made it art. I’m thinking here of the American philosopher John Dewey, and especially of his Art as Experience, in which he argues that we should understand art not as an object, like a painting or a sculpture, but as an experience — and specifically the experience that we have looking at a painting or circling a sculpture. So Dewey is interested in what happens inside our heads, and not just artist heads but in viewer heads as well. In this he means the experience we have with a painting or a sculpture, not, say, the experience of riding a roller coaster. Of course riding a boat of dubious certification into the night is its own roller coaster. And it’s my hope that our show blurred the distinction between what Dewey considered raw and refined aesthetics, or to drag out the analogy — the distinction between art and everyday life. Because that’s the appeal of site works: They change the site and the art. Or, as Dewey might say, they change the experience of a site. So then, what was The Dreary Coast? Early in the show our boat glided toward a low bridge. Up in the distance, a small procession in robes and glowing masks moved two by two in a solemn column. The characters on the boat noticed the funeral cortege. Then, as the boat passed under the bridge, the audience would gaze upward, catching a glimpse of the procession through the perforated steel roadway. A song in four-part harmony echoed off the water. It was a beautiful moment, and one that would be impossible to choreograph in a theater. And as it passed, and one character turned to another, “That just happened. And it passed. It will never be the same.” And it would not. For the characters or the audience. It was a moment made richer in the way it unveiled the landscape, but also for the way it gently revealed the process of all the artists behind the show.
Painters use paint. Site-specific artists use sites. In one way, our show was about limitations — and perceived limitations. It was self-financed. We didn’t ask for permits or permissions. We did it without grants and without a single curator, director of cultural programs, or public relations manager. That means we got to make exactly the show we wanted. Except that didn’t happen. What we made was exactly the work that we could make in that place, at that time. Sites never give you a blank slate. That’s the point. So when we were thrown out of a private parking lot, we moved a scene onto another boat. After our house manager was handcuffed, we rerouted the play. And our audience could sense all of this, and mostly, with a few exceptions, gave us their goodwill. Every live performance is a tightrope act, but contemporary audiences have forgotten that an entire show can fall off that rope. Or you could sink. They’ve also forgotten their role in the ‘show’; their part in what Marcel Duchamp called ‘the creative act’ and the idea that every work of art requires an audience to become complete. A site work will always have an advantage here. In our piece, the audience members wore costumes, and for passersby, bridge workers, and police officers, they were the show, just as much as our lead actors. A cop doesn’t differentiate between one weirdo in a robe and another. By most accounts, The Dreary Coast was a success. We sold out in one hour. The New York Times reviewed our show. The Guardian made a video. No one went to jail. At the very least, it was an experience.
DO IT (PERIMETER VIBE) 2015
MARK JOHN SMITH
INSTITUTING ART AT THE OUTERMOST
One. Keep doing it until it seems inappropriate to start playing (the specificities of the format it inhabits).
time, however, the outermost cannot be constituted entirely from this inside, as it relies on a far edge, suggesting an excess of being that is not contained by the entity.
Mechanics of Powerpoint flick attention back and forth some folded and bent cable-tied Plexiglass and Formica soil-mantled Rill incision flat management implog stats for a while until it seems like perhaps this is it.
Draw a diagram.
I became involved in this project initially through presenting the work Deep Time Contagion made at deep geological repository sites for the long-term storage of nuclear waste.3 The work built partial models, or fictions, of the sites’ entwined diachronicity, thinking how their construction is based on predictions going beyond the extinction of humanity, and what effect this has on thought in the present.4 It collected multiple parallel methods, such as audio signaling, viral dispersion, simulation and oscillation detection, their affects, descriptions and dispersion, including parasiting the Project Anywhere web journal. Deep Time Contagion could be understood as a gathering of tools and technological augmentations to approach the outermost within — i.e. the extinction of the species within thought now. If this was location-specific, then it was in terms of being guided by the materiality of the Earth, as well as by its own materials, and using this to model deep futures in multiple ways, considering the impact of thinking non-anthropocentric ‘deep time’ on human knowledge and design processes now. To confront the outermost, in this sense, is to suggest a different trajectory than horizontal shuttle between local sites, proposing instead a navigation from within these local sites toward something that can’t be reduced to them, and it opens the potential for art practices to enact what Reza Negarestani and Robin Mackay have described as the ‘twist’ that could make this navigation non-trivial — a relation between local and universal, where one does not mirror or reduce to the other, nor jump from one to the other with no method.5 To do this is to be opened by a cosmic outside, or nonhuman Real, that we are immanent to, but don’t constitute, while still wedded to the possibilities of expanding human knowledge and understanding.
Two. What on Earth? Art at the outermost limits of location-specificity: What on Earth could this mean? This event sets out to address the “challenge of producing and disseminating art and research outside traditional contexts and circuits,” as well as the question of how such work could be validated “within institutional contexts.” 1 It sets up then an inside-outside movement; based on the premise that this inside and outside is intertwined, but not exchangeable terms. It starts from dissatisfaction, and from a stumbling block of incommensurability. Rather than looking to escape the institutional, or solely falling back into existing institutions, perhaps it is through this movement itself that we can institute anew. Thinking an ‘outside’ through location is difficult. Location-specificity today, at its worst, suggests a sense of moving more or less interchangeably from site to site, while actually not going anywhere. In an inverse of Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘stationary voyage,’ where real movement takes place without travel, location-specificity can play out a crisscross global movement where no change occurs, remaining subject to existing conditions.2 It says, in this sense, nothing very much about specificity, nor about location, but just gets increasingly tired the more it bounces around the Earth banging its head on distant walls. More positively, it is the focus on the ‘outermost’ that I find most interesting, and most difficult to comprehend. The outermost of an entity is not a detached ‘outside’ that can be described or imaged from a transcendent and separated position, but instead suggests a limit or threshold point of an inside, something we are immanent to. At the same
SIX REFLECTIONS FROM THIS WORK
1. Art can journey to the outermost and take a snapshot. It can, in other words, make an image, but in the snap of this shot, it both separates itself from the outside, and reduces it to the work’s own starting point, a decision in which the outside is made affordable to the inside in its existing terms.6 2. As a flipside of this, it can be opaque. Art can journey to the outermost and return with nothing other than unknowability. Work becomes a staging of its own failures, leaving us only with a vague romantic yearning, or wonder at powers greater than us. Both of these tendencies are inadequate, I would argue, as they leave us trapped within this inside-outside duality, oscillating between the poles with no potential of speculative knowledge at the outermost. 3. Art’s journey is also to its own outermost, where it faces its own contingency alongside other knowledges, leading to the forging of new connections and alliances, while continuing to draw critically on its own condition. 4. Working with materialities of outermost location, as data for example, the journey is also an abductive fiction. Drawing on C.S Peirce’s work on abductive reasoning, this can be understood in terms of making experimental explanatory hypotheses from this data, which is then subject to the collective modification of reworking and parallel hypotheses.7 5. Peirce describes how, “the abductive suggestion comes to us like a flash,” in terms of an aesthetic enjoyment (musement), mental and sensuous.8 Art’s journey toward the outermost also involves the energetic process of being abducted by the outside that feeds this event — the panic, force and power that drives and circulates these fictions like a lubed and lube-spewing motor. 6. Perhaps what we need here is not more images of the outside, nor claims to its ontology, but a platform for these fictions to develop both rational process and production of subjectivities oriented toward the outermost. A Project Anywhere, along these lines, could host and test multiple methods, while diagramming a collective desire, or intensity, toward the outermost, and importantly, focusing on what is produced through this movement as transformative of the inside it infects — a collective plotting and scattering of insider-exteriorities. Three. The Plureal Deal
Project website http://www. projectanywhere.net/conference
2 Giles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, trans. Brian Massumi (London: Continuum, 2004), 420. 3 Artist’s website http://andyweir.info/works.html#photos_id=9678483 4
The ‘dia-chronic statement’ refers to events “anterior or exterior to every terrestrial-relation-to-the-world,” Q Meillassoux After Finitude, (London: Continuum, 2008), 112.
See http://www.urbanomic. com/event-uf20-details.php
I am drawing here on Laruelle on the ‘flash’ of photography in F. Laruelle, The Concept of Non-Photography, (Falmouth: Urbanomic 2012), 12.
7 C.S. Pierce, Collected Papers, (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press, 1932), 270 8
MUSIC FOR ANYWHERE INTRODUCTION & REQUIEM
Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space (Boston: Beacon Press, 1969).
2 John Cage, Empty Words: Writings ‘73-‘78 (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1981). 3
Jill Dolan, Utopia in Performance: Finding Hope in the Theatre (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005).
Place implies a location and an integration of society, culture, and nature. The sense of place incorporates not only the concepts of location and pattern, but feelings of belonging, invasion, mystery, beauty, and fear.1
Music for Spaces is a performance project which crates intimate, unique listening situations thatrenegotiate relationships between musical works, listeners, performers, buildings, public spaces and the natural environment. It is audenceoriented and environmentally sensitive in that each installment is intentionally aware of its surroundings; for a certain place, for certain people. Conceived in 2005, the project situates musical works, new and old, in new contexts by cultivating the margins of performance; expanding the parameters, the contour and topography of live performance, by highlighting the way we travel through a piece of music; through a space; through time. Many composers have not a person but a place, environment, in mind. Music becomes something to visit. An environment to go through.2
I describe these as encounters, or constructed situations or living installations that play with experiences of time, duration, sound and offer access to moments that are typically inaccessible to anyone but the performers. They are impossible to fully document — and I don’t try. I prefer a direct line. Live performance…inspires moments in which audiences feel themselves allied with each other, and with a broader, more capacious sense of a public, in which social discourse articulates the possible, rather than the insurmountable obstacles to human potential.3
Music for Spaces all began as a re-reading; a deconstruction of traditional performance structures and practices by undoing established rituals and hierarchies associated with concert music. Re-imagining every element of a concert, exploring public spaces, designed spaces, acoustic spaces, the spaces between pieces, between collaborators, between disciplines and areas of thought, between composer/performer, between audience/performer, between people and architecture. I can remind you of John Cage’s words; that “by making musical situations which are analogies to desirable social circumstances which we do not yet have, we make music suggestive and relevant to the serious questions which face humankind.” But that won’t say it all.
Music for Stairs, 2005 A recital held on the platform of a grand marble staircase in the oldest building on the University of Texas campus. Moveable Feast, 2007 One scene in a 24-hr performance in which audience members traveled in silence in canoes past musicians playing from docks along the Colorado River. Museum Music, 2006 Solo cello situating ‘old music beneath the much-older fossil of a flying dinosaur the largest in the world to be discovered to date. Music for Tower, 2007 A duo featuring a cellist on ground level of a public square and a carill-onneur high above at the console of the carillon bells, on the 30th floor of Austin’s iconic bell tower. Listening Booth, 2012 Solo cello recitals for solo audience member. An installation in which I situated myself to perform for one person at a time. Music for the Burickson House, 2008 25 friends celebrating the housewarming of an architect’s newlybuilt home. Music for the Huras House, 2011 A recital in the oldest cabin in the town of Banff. Music for ARocha, 2010 30 people in the living room of a simple timber frame house perched on the edge of the Pembina Valley in Southern Manitoba. Music for a Houston Apartment, 2006 20 folks crammed cozily into the living room of an architect’s small apartment in Midtown Houston. Music for the Threshold, 2009 Birds of the West Texan desert chiming in at the open windows of a grand ecumenical retreat space. CityWide, 2014 53 cellists situated in public spaces around Winnipeg performing simultaneous free recitals as the kickoff to an international cello festival.
HASEEB AHMED AND DANIEL G. BAIRD are the artists behind the collaborative project Has the World Already Been Made? The artists share a vocabulary of ornamental and geological molds collected from around the world. From these fragments they compose new universalized spaces as installations. There have been six iterations to date presented most recently at ParisTexas in Antwerp (BE), the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in NYC (US) and simultaneously at Hedah Gallery in Maastricht (NL), Roots and Culture and Andrew Rafacz Gallery both in Chicago (US). The artists work half a world apart. Haseeb Ahmed is a member of the Size Matters research group at the Zurich University of the Arts and currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Antwerp/Sint Lucas-Antwerpen. He holds an MSc from MIT and BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Daniel G. Baird holds an MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where the two artists first met in 2007. Daniel Baird Capturing a Mold of Louis Sullivan’s Gravestone, 2012. Photo Courtesy: Alex Chitty; Has the World Already Been Made? X 5: Bridge, 2014. Pigmented plaster, pigmented polyurethane, acrylic, aluminum, silicone, concrete, and rapid prototypes. Presented at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts. www.haseebahmed.com, www.danielgbaird.com
BRUCE BARBER is Professor of Media Arts, Historical and Critical Studies at NSCAD University, Halifax, Canada. He is the author of Trans/actions: Art, Film and Death (2005); Performance [Performance] & Performers (2007); editor of Essays on [Performance] and Cultural Politicization (1983) and Conceptual Art: the NSCAD Connection 1967-1973 (1992); co-editor, with Serge Guilbaut and John O’Brian, of Voices of Fire: Art Rage, Power, and the State (1996). His critical essays and reviews since 1972 have appeared in numerous book anthologies, journals, and magazines. Barber’s artwork is included in various private and public collections in New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Poland and the United States. Projected Performance for a Lake, 1973 (Realized 2008). Performers: Anna Scott, Grant Thomson, Jeremy Leatinuu www.brucebarber.ca
ERIN BOSENBERG is an artist and aspiring researcher and curator. Her work focuses on how intimacy informs the ‘walkabout’ as a site within which stories are potentially built around artists and their works. She is particularly interested in how the performance and presentation of art in public spaces operates as a tool with which to interconnect and expand narratives. Bosenberg completed her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and is currently completing her Masters at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she currently lives. Interrupting Publics, 2014. Site-specific Intervention & Performance. Photo: Erica Penfold.
ELL A CONDON is an Australian artist working with photography, video and installation. Her practice is engaged with light, extending notions of light and time within the photographic. Condonâ€™s meditative and experiential video works fragment the elements of the photographic medium in order to re-examine its essential qualities: light, time, and space. Condon recently undertook a Visiting Artist Residency at Parsons, The New School, New York. This project was funded by: Australia Council for the Arts through an ArtStart Grant, National Association of Visual Artistsâ€™ Freedman Foundation Travelling Scholarship and an American Australian Association Dame Joan Sutherland Grant. Ella Condon holds an MFA (Research) at University of Sydney and Parsons, The New School, New York, BVA 1st class Hons., Sydney University, BFA University of New South Wales. The Light Loop, 2013. Video 20:00 mins Projector, MDF board, and Perspex; Dark Water, 2013 Video 58:40 mins; Trace III, 2013. Duratran Print LED lightbox. 630x460mm. www.ellacondon.com
IRINA DANILOVAH Project City Drawings is part of Project 59 in which a random number is repeatedly used as a tool for artistic exploration. It was produced in collaboration with Hiram Levy and the following participants: David Ross, Trudy Levy, Mike Gutman, Ignat and Ruthie Ayzenberg, Lena Lidsky, Dubi Kaufmann, Aleksey Danilov, Sevryn, Orion and Watu Danilov, Renata Smenda, Darya Kostina, Polina Lapteva, Joshua Levy, Steve Liggett, Susan Dunlap Kasibhatla, Mandy Morrison, Olga Filatova, Keith Grekov, Sergey Mizun, Junfeng and Lianzhe Liu, Tomofey Tkachenko, Olga Terekhova, Svetlana Efanova, Valeria Mizun, Aleksander Malyshev, Tanja Muravslkaja, Jann Lipka, Asa Lipka Falck, Ulrika Cristell, Elena Roman, Raffaella Losapio, Christian Rupp, Rosina Ivanova, Igor Halin, Sarath Guttikunda, Rati, Suria, Naved, Ajidn, and Roberta Vassallo. InstaMapper, EveryTrail and ViewRanger provided the tracking software. Irina Danilovah with David Ross and Hiram Levy, New York City Drawing, October 30, 2009. Using Instamapper.com; Irina Danilovah with Olga Filatova and Keith Grekov, Phoenix City Drawing, December 27, 2011. Using Instamapper.com; Irina Danilovah with Hiram Levy, Vienna City Drawing, June 11, 2013. Using EveryTrail.com; Irina Danilovah with Hiram Levy, Detroit City Drawing, April 30, 2011. Using Instamapper.com; Irina Danilovah with Hiram Levy, Miami City Drawing, December 6, 2009. www.instamapper.com
THE DEPARTMENT OF BIOLOGICAL FLOW is an experimental dialogue of research-creation between Sean Smith and Barbara Fornssler. Their co-compositional and collaborative practice might be described as that of precarious insects working to develop an art philosophistry of movements, concepts and techniques for life in the control society. They move fluidly between performance, installation, text, image, video, poetry, motion capture, and curated event to engage themes of relation, energetics, hospitality, and ethics. Their work explores process itself as perhaps that most plastic of the arts called living. Sean Smith, Channel Surf, 2014.
SIMONE DOUGL AS is a NYC based artist. Her work takes place globally from the extreme landscapes of the Gobi Desert in Inner Mongolia to Australia. She is the Director of the MFA Fine Arts program at Parsons The New School for Design, NY. Her practice incorporates installation, photography, video, and more recently site-specific works. Out of a practice that engages with contemporary issues of the sublime, cultural, and environmental legacies have become rising issues in her work. Currently she is working on Promise a large-scale installation in the desert regions of Australia. The research that supports Promise encompasses indigenous and post colonial histories, environmental engineering, ecological impact, climate change, and community outreach. Douglas’ site-specific work is an extension of Exquisite Corpse (Site+Sight) A Visual Research Collaboration, a long-term, ongoing project. This collaborative project, initiated by Douglas, asks artists and designers from around the globe to respond to crucial issues concerning the environment while working with cultural differences and historical legacies. The project has so far taken place in China, USA, Germany, and Australia. This ongoing commitment to issues of environment, intercultural facilitation, and art as a medium that activates crucial issues of our time forms the backbone to larger agendas within Douglas’ practice. Her works have been exhibited at the Victoria & Albert Museum, The Photographers Gallery, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Australian Centre of Photography; the Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney; and the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. She was project director and curator Picture Sydney: Landmarks of A New Generation for the Getty Conservation Institute and the Australian Museum, and curator for the international exhibition Landmarks of a New Generation (Sydney, Mumbai, LA, Berlin, Cape Town). Douglas holds a MFA and a G.D.P.A.S from the University of NSW and a BVA from The University of Sydney. www.simonedouglas.com
Ice, Site Test 7, 2014; Ice, Site Test 4, 2014.
STEVE DUT TON is an artist and Professor in Contemporary Art Practice at the University of Lincoln in the U.K. He is currently producing a new body of solo work characterized by a play with image/text boundaries and rhetorical devices. Dutton is increasingly writing and delivering papers around the subject of ‘Artists’ institutes and the Institutes of Art,’ drawing on his own practice and the practice of a growing body of artists who seek to rethink the nature of the art educational institution as a process of unfolding ‘epistemic events’ rather than a sequence of ‘progressive’ tiers of knowledge. He also has curated a number of exhibitions, his most recent being a co-curated project with Brian Curtin entitled Possession (1) for the Bangkok Arts and Culture Centre.
EIDIA HOUSE Paul Lamarre (BFA 1979, Magna Cum Laude, University of Michigan) and Melissa P. Wolf (BFA 1980, Boston Museum School/Tufts University, MFA 1981-83, Pratt Institute Brooklyn, New York), are transdisciplinary artists from New York City collaborating under the name EIDIA. They are co-executive directors of EIDIA House, a meeting place and forum for artists, architects, scholars, poets, writers, and others interested in ‘idée force’ the arts as a instrument for positive social change. EIDIA House’s newest project: The Deconsumptionists, Art As Archive, (2006) is a 48-foot tractor-trailer containing 171 boxes of art production. This long-term project launched in 2011 with a Research Fellowship at the Sydney College of the Arts, University of Sydney. Wolf and Lamarre have since been appointed Research Affiliates of the University of Sydney. Semi-trailer, 2010. Photo Courtesy: Paul Lamarre and Melissa Wolf; Schemata, 2009. (Sketch in perspective view for interior plan of the semi-trailer prior to assembly) Artwork Courtesy: Anthony McCarty; Box #165, 2012 ; Box #101, 2012. All works from EIDIA’s The Deconsumptionists, Art as Archive, 2009 — Present.
RONIT EISENBACH is an architect, artist, and writer whose multi-disciplinary spatial practice explores how perceptions of subjective, invisible and ephemeral objects affects understanding and experience of place. Venues for her installations and exhibitions include: The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Cranbrook Art Museum, Oslo’s Galleri Rom, and Venice’s Palazzo Mocenigo. Articles and reviews of her work have recently appeared in the Journal of Architectural Education, the Public Art Review, The Washington Post, Washington Times, Sculpture Magazine, and Metropolis. An Associate Professor of Architecture and Curator of University of Maryland’s Kibel Gallery, she is a fellow of the Center for Creative Research, the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and SandBox. www.roniteisenbach.com
SHARON MANSUR is an experimental dance artist whose creative investigations integrate improvisation, somatic, interdisciplinary and collaborative practices with a particular focus on the intersection between the visual and visceral, as well as the dialogue between body and environment. Her projects have been presented throughout the United States as well as in the UK, Argentina, Mexico, and Ireland. She is currently an Associate Professor of Dance in the University of Maryland’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. Placeholders, September, 2014. Photo Courtesy: Zachary Z. Handler. (Using mimicry and gesture, the dancers playfully engaged each business, drawing attention to what currently exists); Placeholders, September, 2014. Photo Courtesy: Zachary Z. Handler. (Employing the staffs, trees, and folding tables, each dancer marked out their own world in the playground. While dancers were stationary and individual, the audience was in motion, unable to view all the dancer’s activity from any one vantage point. In this last section, the audience became participants sharing space with the dancers). www.mansurdance.com
LIMINAL DOME is a project by three artists: Gabriel Hensche, Björn Kühn, and Anna Romanenko. They studied visual arts, theater directing, architecture, and cultural sciences in Stuttgart, Hamburg, London and Alexandria. None of them actually has diving experience. Gabriel Hensche, Bjorn Kuhn and Anna Romanenko, Liminal Dome, 2014. Elastomeres, 500x 230x230cm. Photo: Natasha Paganelli; Bottles on Shore; Bishopsfish. www.liminaldome.com
LES JOYNES is a visual artist and founder of FormLAB, a nomadic art series exhibited in museums that explores cultures through interdisciplinary and collaborative artmaking. FormLAB has exhibited at Treignac Projet, France (2010); Brazilian Museum of Sculpture, São Paulo (2012), Seoul Foundation for Art and Culture, Korea (2012); Zanabazar Museum of Fine Art, Mongolia (2014) and Museu de Arte Brasileira, São Paulo (2015). FormLAB is a New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) ArtSpire project and is supported by CEC ArtsLink, United States Department of State, the Brazilian Ministry of Culture, and the Seoul Foundation for Art and Culture, Korea. Joynes is a graduate of Goldsmiths, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK and Musashino Art University, Tokyo. He is Research Fellow at The University of the Arts London (UAL) Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN) where he is leading a Masterclass for their PhD Fine Art program at Chelsea College of Art, London. In Brazil he is postdoctoral research scholar at the School of Communications and Arts, University of São Paulo. He has recently presented on art as performance and event at the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), Cambridge University. A Visiting Professor at Renmin University, Beijing he is a Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute, London and researches interdisciplinary art at the University of São Paulo, Brazil. He is Arts Editor for CulturalFormations. org published by the Center for Digital Research and Scholarship at Columbia University. His work has been featured in Sculpture Magazine, Commons & Sense, Japan; NHK Television, Japan; and Art Monthly, London and he is represented by Thomas Jaeckel Gallery, New York. Shapeshifter, 2014. Video Still. (In performance as reindeer in Khovsgol at border between Mongolia and Siberia. With music from Mohanik and Human Nature Love Freedom). www.formlaboratory.com, www.vimeo.com/51863255, www.transnational.org.uk
HANS KALLIWODA is a PhD Arts candidate and researcher at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. Since the 1980s, Kalliwoda’s work has focused on the integration of spectators into artworks, installations and interventions. His conceptual work has been exhibited in numerous galleries, musea and public spaces internationally. His latest project the World in a Shell — Polliniferous Project (WiaS) continues his decades-long tradition of travel and exchange. With this intervention project, Kalliwoda stimulated the Delft University for Technology with new paradigms and programs revealing that the thrill of exchange invites participation. Working within the framework of autonomy and mobility, Kalliwoda often plays guinea pig of his own experiments. New ambiguous ventures with the San (Bushmen) and BeeCare Amsterdam bring a new facet of his work to life. Kalliwoda conveys romanticism and utopia into the reality of the here and now. The Polliniferous Project, 2010. Diverse Materials. 17x10x10m. Photo Courtesy: Michi Meier/ Blindpainters Foundation.
MARCUS KREISS studied filmmaking in Rome and fine arts in Aix-en-Provence before creating art for urban spaces, working on large-scale oil-paintings, and VJing at international festivals. Looking for a third way to produce and distribute images between filmmaking and painting, Marcus Kreiss invented a new way to distribute video art: TV. In 2006, he began to build a television channel, starting on local cable TV networks in Germany under the name of Souvenirs From Earth. The channel that ‘transforms flat screens into works of art’ quickly established itself in France where it is today one of the first seven freely available high definition channels. In his personal video works, Kreiss explores the physical possibilities of the bi-dimensional space of the flat screen with hypnotic images, often of iconic value, and often working with professional actors or celebrities. Extreme slow motion and natural color fields are frequently used. Kreiss’ work is represented in major art collections including Deutsche Bank, Fnac, and the Yvon Lambert Collection in Avignon. Jean-Claude Ruggirello, Jardin Suspend; Jonathan Zimmerman, Suburbia; Iris Brosch, In Paradisum.
MARIA KUNDA is a lecturer in art and design history and theory and curatorial studies at the Tasmanian College of the Arts, UTAS. She holds a PhD from the University of Tasmania and teaches across all undergraduate levels and supervises research higher degree candidates. Maria is also the Director of the Plimsoll Gallery. Her research spans curatorial and writing practices. Current specialist areas of teaching relate to modernism, postmodernism, international avant-garde movements; contemporary Australian art, craft and design; professional art-writingas-creative practice, and printmaking. She was a longstanding board member and Chair of Contemporary Art Services Tasmania, and has worked in general management and as a designer for performing arts companies. Maria has contributed to numerous publications and curated exhibitions. Her doctoral thesis (completed in 2010) is entitled The Politics Of Imperfection: The Critical Legacy Of Surrealist Anti-Colonialism. It analyses the anti-colonial politics and poetics of the Surrealist movement from the 1920s until the 1960s, situating Surrealism’s legacy within contemporary practice.
FIONA LEE is an artist with an interest in social pedagogy and the working methodologies of conversation in art. She is currently completing her PhD, her research concerns two major projects as case studies: Our Day will Come, which was an alternative art school orchestrated and animated by Paul O’Neill (2011) for Contemporary Art Tasmania, and The Plimsoll Inquiry (2013-15) which is being staged at the University of Tasmania’s College of the Arts. Recently Fiona was awarded two Australia Council international residencies, an APA post-graduate scholarship and selected for the 2013 Banff Research in Culture Residency organized by the Liverpool Biennale, The University of Alberta and the Banff Centre, Canada. She also worked for the Australia Council at the 2009 Venice Biennale. Proposal for Plimsoll Garden Entry, 2013. Photo Courtesy: Fiona Lee.
SEAN LOWRY is a Sydney-based visual artist, musician and writer. Lowry holds a PhD in Visual Arts from The University of Sydney and is currently Convenor of Creative and Performing Arts in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. Lowry has exhibited, performed and presented extensively both nationally and internationally and his published writing appears in numerous international journals and edited volumes. His conceptually driven art practice employs strategies of concealed quotation, erasure, and subliminal appropriation in both traditional and expanded exhibition formats designed to operate at the outermost limits of recognition and specificity. Lowry is also the Founder and Executive Director of Project Anywhere: Art At The Outermost Limits Of LocationSpecificity. From September to December 2014, Lowry was Visiting Scholar/ Artist at the School of Art, Media, and Technology at Parsons The New School for Design in New York. www.seanlowry.com, www.projectanywhere.net
JOHN R. NEESON is a current PhD candidate at the University of Tasmania. Previous research includes PhD, Monash, 2002, Royal College of Art, London-Samstag Scholarship Program 1996/97. Venue specific projects include Conical, WestSpace, Techno Park Studios, Melbourne, blackartprojects, Melbourne & Milan, AC Institute NYC, Arthouse and GasWorks London, Ar.Co—Centro de Arte e Comunicação Visual, Lisbon. Curated exhibitions include Objectives (TechnoPark Studios), Imaging the Apple (AC Institute New York), Arrangement Australian Still Life 1973-1993 (Heide MoMA), and Projects One (VCA Gallery). Grants and awards include American Australian Association, Australia Council, and an Australian Post Graduate Research Award. Urban Bodegón (Collingwood), 2014. Digital Print; Fitzroy Still Life (Fitzroy), 2013. Digital Print; Urban Bodegón, (Williamsburg), 2014. Digital Print; and Urban Bodegón (Fitzroy), 2014. Digital Print.
NUCLEI Fernando Do Campo, Laura Hinmarsh, Claire Krouzechy and Alex Nielsen — is an experiment in peripheral working practices are a group of people working collectively outside of a ‘collective.’ It simultaneously exists and resists existence through multiple and undefined outcomes. Nuclei operate via a cyclical model that enables collective thought across disciplines, alignment of practice through conversation and the collaborative publishing and distribution of ideas. The Nuclei project was initiated by a team of four Tasmanian practitioners (architect/ writer/artist/curator) who sought to develop a new platform for sustainable critique within their creative community. At the outset it was envisaged that the model be passed on to other groups of Tasmanian-based practitioners. A group of four has since inherited Nuclei with an intention to hand over the project to a future group in due course, and so on. While on the one hand Nuclei are cyclical and group-specific, the group also has the capacity to be modular, shape shifting, and self-organizing in its working structure and outreach, as an ever-growing collective network. The attraction of a slow, continuous and expanding collaboration through Nuclei coupled with perceptions of the group locally and further afield, have triggered questions around definition, collaboration, peer reviewing, systems and structures and project versus praxis. These conversations manifest as the work itself, demonstrating the most fertile way to remain self-critical and open. Claire Krouzecky, Drawing, 6 & 16 February, 2015.
CARRIE PATERSON is a Los Angeles-based artist whose work focuses on the discourses of popular culture, science and technology of space exploration, and astronautics. Her multidisciplinary and occasionally collaborative practice emphasizes the fertile nexus between the disciplines of science, art, and engineering. She holds US utility Patent No. 8,499,960 B2 with scientific glassblower Bob Maiden for an integral storage container comprised of multiple, concentric, but independent glass spheres. Paterson is a professional writer and editor who taught in universities throughout Southern California from 2001-2013. In 2011, she founded an independent publishing company, DoppelHouse Press, specializing in art, design and architecture. Lorenz Attractor, in Julia Jewels: An Exploration of Julia Sets by Michael McGoodwin; The Periodic Table of the Elements by Edgar Longman (1951, Festival Britain), 2004; Making Strange Attractor, 2007. Photograph by Carrie Paterson; Artists Unknown. Maps of the Heavens, DVD. The Field Museum, Chicago. 2004.
GARY PEARSON is an artist and Associate Professor in the Department of Creative Studies at UBC Okanagan, in Kelowna, BC, Canada. His exhibition reviews have been published in Canadian Art, Border Crossings, and Sculpture magazine, among other publications. He has written numerous catalogue essays, and recently contributed a book chapter called “On The Outskirts of Town,” for the book Re-Thinking the Contemporary Art School, the Artist, the PhD, and the Academy, NSCAD University Press, 2009. Recent conference presentations are: 1st Conference on Arts-Based and Artistic Research, Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Barcelona, 2013; and 2nd Conference on Arts-Based and Artistic Research, the University of Granada, 2014. Sleeping Dogs, 2008.
HONI RYAN is an interdisciplinary artist based in the Blue Mountains, Australia, and in Berlin, Germany. Ryan’s social practice draws from many disciplines: performance, sculpture, sound, video, and installation. She is interested in socially engaged art for its capacity to reveal and explore alternative models for living. Her work has intercultural concerns and combines the contemporary body with digital media, a body that is both individual and collective, and connected to the single human organism. Ryan has exhibited and performed in 11 countries, received a BVA from the University of Sydney, where she was awarded the university medal, and is currently an MFA candidate at the Transart Institute, New York/Berlin. Honi Ryan and Oliver Vicars-Harris, Mindful Encounters, 2014. Transferral, social performance, Video Still; Honi Ryan and Caara Fritz-Hunter, Mindful Encounters - Heartbeat Conversation, social performance, photograph, California, 2014.
JOHN RYAN is an MFA candidate at The Glasgow School of Art and is currently participating in an exchange in The Stadelschule in Frankfurt studying under Professor Douglas Gordon. In 2012, he co-founded (with artist Tom Watt) the Resort Projects (a series of off site residences experimenting with new methods of art making, communal living and friendship in remote locations). He is featured in the publications Prismatic Ecology: EcoTheory Beyond Green (University of Minnesota Press, 2014) and Weaponising Speculation (New York: Punctum Books, 2014). Resort Projects, A Popular Destination, 2014. Event. Photo: Roisin Beirne.
JEFF STARK is the editor of Nonsense NYC, a weekly email list and discriminating resource for independent art, weird events, strange happenings, unique parties, and senseless culture in New York City. His events have been covered by The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, and National Public Radio, as well as by international media organizations like ARD Germany, the BBC, and Nikkan Gendai in Japan. In 2009, New York magazine singled him out as one of the ‘Influentials’ shaping life in the city. The Dreary Coast, Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn, 2014. Photo Courtesy: Tod Seelie. SiteResponsive Theater.
MARK JOHN SMITH is an artist based in Brooklyn, New York. He holds an MFA in Fine Arts from Parsons The New School for Design and BA Hons Degrees in Fine Art and Art History from The University for the Creative Arts, in the United Kingdom. Currently, works on view include: Motto at Parsons the New School for Design, NYC; Discover at The Beaney Museum, Canterbury; and Surface at UCA Gallery, Surrey. Mark’s work is in the permanent collections of Art Below, London: the Beaney Museum, Canterbury; the British Broadcasting Corporation, London; the British Library, London; the International Olympic Committee, Lausanne; and the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games, London. Google Maps UK. Digital image. Google Maps. Web. 20 Apr. 2015; Foil Space Blanket — Adult. Digital image. Qualsafe. Web. 20 Apr. 2015; Untitled 1967. Digital image. Wiki Art. Tate Gallery UK. Web. 20 Apr. 2015; IKEA Man Turned into Pop-Culture Characters. Digital image. FUBIZ.NET. Web. 20 Apr. 2015; Google Maps UK. Digital image. Google Maps. Web. 20 Apr. 2015; Spray Paint PNG. Digital image. Pixshark. Web. 20 Apr. 2015; Cloud Plain Silver Icon. Digital image. Soft Icons. Web. 20 Apr. 2015.
ANDY WEIR is an artist from London, UK. His work proposes strategies for collective knowledge in the context of the ungrounding panic of the geological Anthropocene. Recent exhibitions and publications include Out to Get You, Transmediale 2014 at HKW, Berlin; Thick Dia-chronic Crash in Realism Materialism Art (2014) and Geologies of Value and Vestige at Stanley Picker Gallery, London (2013). He is Senior Lecturer in Fine Art at Arts University Bournemouth and PhD Researcher at Goldsmiths, University of London. The Plureal Deal, 2015. Video Still.
LEANNE ZACHARIAS is a dynamic cellist, educator and interdisciplinary artist known for innovative collaborations with artists of all stripes. Her performance project Music for Spaces reimagines concert, public and natural space with sound, and recent work includes CityWide: simultaneous recitals by 50 cellists; Sonus Loci: a sound installation on ice, selected by Winnipegâ€™s 2013 Warming Huts Art & Architecture competition, a solo performance from a rowboat presented by Austin Museum of Art, release of Rand Steigerâ€™s Elusive Peace for drumset and cello on New World Records, and a Venice Biennale performance in support of artist Shary Boyle, presented by the National Gallery of Canada. Professor of Cello and Contemporary Performance Practice at Brandon University, she also leads the Correction Line Ensemble and performs across genres and the world. Music for Anywhere, 2014.
The editors would like to sincerely thank: Parsons Fine Arts, School of Art, Media and Technology, Parsons The New School for Design; The School of Creative Arts, The University of Newcastle; Anne Gaines (Dean of The School of Art, Media and Technology), Prof. Frank Millward (Head of School of Creative Arts, UoN), The Office of AMT and Fine Arts at Parsons. This publication would not have been possible without our forward thinking publisher, Conveyor Arts. This publication is funded by: The School of Creative Arts, University of Newcastle, Australia; Parsons Fine Arts, School of Art, Media and Technology; and Project Anywhere.
Editors Sean Lowry and Simone Douglas Copy Editor Rebecca Conroy Design Christina Labey Cover Image NASA Contact email@example.com ISBN 978-0-692-32297-0 Published by Project Anywhere and; Parsons Fine Arts, School of Art, Media and Technology, Parsons The New School for Design; and The School of Creative Arts, University of Newcastle, Australia All Included Images Â© 2015 Copyright the Artist Unless Otherwise Noted
978- 0 -692-32297- 0 1 30
Published on Jul 1, 2016
Welcome to Anywhere v.1 a biennial exploration of art at the outermost limits of specificity. We see this publication as a vehicle for givin...