The ideas of collaboration, exchange and collective action in art are not new. In 1971 Joseph Beuys' set up the Organization for Direct Democracy through Referendum and even before this Dada, Fluxus and the Situationist International had thoroughly explored collaboration and collective action in art as a means to challenge the hegemony of the solitary artist-hero and the (commercial) status and (monetary) value of the art work. But with the rise of the internet, digital media and telecommunications technologies the questions of ownership, authorship and individualism are brought to the fore by the mass exchange of information and the emergent trend towards reappropriation, reproduction and redistribution.
With the rise of the internet and the emergence of free and open source software, this democratization of technology has been enfolded into digital art production and collaborative action whether political (such as the Orsay Commons campaign to allow photography in publicly funded Museums and Art Galleries), social (like the Zero Dollar Laptop Project recycling and building laptops for underprivileged communities) or simply as a means to realise more ambitious projects than can be achieved by any one individual (the rise of the Flash Mob or Darren Solomon's In B Flat piece).
I believe there is enough evidence to suggest that the demand for greater representation and to affect ones own social and cultural conditions comes to the fore at times of political and economic hardship and, as such, I also believe our current context is a potent one for examining the current trends in collaboration, exchange and collective action in art.
Prior to this time I have tended to treat my practice as being a thing of two halves; my personal practice and the collaborative work/ facilitation I do with others (through CANNED Magazine,The Library of Ideas and writing projects like Chance Finds Us). However, during the AA2A I have found this shifting; virtually all the work I'm doing is of this direct means of action and collaboration (there has been very little painting on my own in the studio). And whilst I do bemoan not having the time to draw or paint, there is something really exciting happening as my practice opens into something which is more publically and politically engaged. I have chosen the next issue of CANNED to be based around this theme of Collaboration, Exchange and Collective Action, the show SUPERCONDUCTOR that I'm curating at The NewBridge Space is taking flight with all kinds of events and open panel discussions (from "What is the Role of the Artist in Contemporary Society?" to talks by the Occupy Newcastle Group and workshops with students from Northumbria University).
I'm excited and nervous about these developments and whilst I hope they don't mean abandoning my visual practice (I still intend to use the print studio to do some lithography - to make artists books which can themselves be a potent site for collaboration and networking of ideas around a single theme) I am more confident to pursue them without worrying too much about 'what's happening to my visual art in the mean time'.
Thanks for reading.
On being accepted on the AA2A scheme, I went down to scope out the college, meet the technicians and spend some time with Hannah, my collaborator on the project.
It was all going on that weekend! The British Art Show was in town, so there was tonnes of stuff to see over 5 art venues, plus gaming conference Extended Play, and gig/audiovisual event EatMusic, where Hannah was VJing. We went to debates seminars and workshops, and a particularly good performance/site specific event at the Duke of Cornwall, organised and curated by Platform P.
I even bumped into some artist friends who were participating in the event, Anna Francis and Glen Stoker from the excellent Airspace Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, who we'd met this autumn for a particularly successful collaboration Stick-Up, with my shared studio Manifold in London.
Lots of interesting conversations and getting excited about things. It was particularly good to meet the people at Hannah's Transtechnology research group. Lots of common ground.
We are looking into the possibility of making some work for the Immersive Vision Theatre at the university. The IVT is a 180 degree dome with a fisheye projector in it and surround sound. It has seating for just over 40 people.
This blog will be a document of the making and experimenting i'm doing while resident at Plymouth College of Art.
This work is generated in collaboration with Hannah Drayson, artist and Transtechnology researcher at Plymouth University, the project in its entirety is documented here:
To temper something is to mix it, to modify and control, but tempers might also refer to the bodily humors of Greek and Medieval medicine.
This blog will be home not only to our writings and ongoing research on these subjects as well as a catalog of inspirations and experiments.
Here goes... a 5 point guide to replacing your webpage 'grey head'
First find an image (preferably a JPG) you want to use then Sign in with your username and password (username is the last bit of the web address for your page and is usually based on your first name. You can also get a new password sent to your email if you've forgotten it)
1. Click on 'MY PROFILE' (to the right of Twitter, Facebook logos)
2. Click on 'EDIT PROFILE' (to the right of your name)
3. Click on 'EDIT PROFILE ICON' (on the left in blue)
4. Click on 'CHOOSE FILE', find your file/image in the menu & click 'Choose'
5. Click 'UPLOAD'
The rest is optional (eg. dragging a square across the image to make the small icon how you want it)
GOOD LUCK and thankyou for uploading Dotbiz!
a day of unexpectations.
i didn't expect to wake up to water on the kitchen floor from a leaky tap in the bathroom.
i didn't expect to hear midge ure's music touring documentary on radio four. it was lovely to hear as it resonated with personal experience.
i did expect to want to edit my aa2a profile as today is the academic semester end at ntu, and i using this as a punctunation mark at the end of a very busy year for me.
i had planned to write a response on a moany blog entry from a fellow aa2a artist. i have decided not to as i decided i didn;t want to get drawn into a storm in a tea cup that is no concern of mine.
the water got mopped up. ure made me smile.
editting my profile has been enjoyable. what i didn't mention in the edit was the on going use of the library and the progress within my interdisciplinary collaboration.
i have things i need to do of a personal nature so for the next few weeks my practice will be on tick over while i address some burning issues that i've been putting off while focussing on progressing my practice.
despite the puddle, things do feel good.
When I first went to the Hayward to see this exhibition I was ready to cringe, to be disgusted and as a man; be held in utter contempt. I expected to see the works that to draw in the masses of young, angsty women and teaches them that all men are cruel, misogynistic, wife-beating rapists-in-waiting, and I fully expected to pay dearly for the experience. I walked in through the doors, was charged £9, and began to warm up the muscles in charge of making my eyes roll.
I walked through the big doors into an immensely long room; along the entire length of the closest wall was hung about 10-12 of the famous Tracey Emin blankets. I though that this was a good idea; ease people in with the easy stuff, the pieces that people can relate to because even if they don't understand the work, they can still read the text.
That was the last delusion that I had had about the work becoming some kind of gender-based demonisation. It began to become clear to me that Tracey Emin, despite her rough nature, and reputation for the strange and angry is actually quite a calm, lucid individual. Her work may be based in a child-hood so far removed from my own experiences that I was unable to relate directly, but I still was able to very much enjoy the experience.
I had originally surprised at the entry fee for the exhibition; reflecting back on all of the free galleries that I had been given access to back in Newcastle..My thinking therefore being that all that awaited me in there was a single white room with some small, unintelligible works on the walls and some miniature bottles of that cheap French beer lined up on a table. I had also not read the entire article about the exhibition before planning my trip; it wasn't an exhibition of her new work, it was to be everything that she had ever made.
I could not have imagined a more perfect was to introduce me to the world, work and mind of Tracey Emin; someone who has never seemed to have had a problem saying exactly what she thinks, expressing these thoughts in words or in the (highly-valued) art that she makes. I was to be shown everything, and because they were not displayed in chronological order it allowed me to see past her evolution and growth as an artist and appreciate the expressive nature of the works, as well as what they were telling me about Emin herself.
As with all artists in the public eye who will not restrict their content or materials to include that which is appropriate, she has been picked on by the red-tops, general conservatism and tabloid reporting until she has had this image built around her of someone who is some kind of overpaid degenerate or pervert who shows everyone her old, soiled tampons that she has been holding onto for a couple of years. Unfortunately the tabloid presses are still working under the premise that the world works like the playground back at school, and therefore who is or does something that is weird (or just if you don't like or understand it) should be pointed out, condemned and ostracised immediately, and unfortunately I never took the time to check my sources and had therefore been misled (and, technically ignorant by default).
The exhibition was a true eye-opener about the possibilities of art as a completely personal project, as well as a form of expression and of healing. Nearly all of the work drew me in, and made me think, whilst telling me the story of a skinny little girl from Margate, but due to the enormous amount of work on display I was unable to linger too long over any one piece and so was unable to get to grips with it all, although I did manage to spend a good few hours wandering around in there. Many thanks, Tracey; a thoroughly enjoyable (due to quality, not entertainment value) experience, and I am very sorry for misunderstanding you for so long.
We (the AA2A artists) are not getting paid in money but are getting paid in kind through use of facilities and studio space. So if your practice spans a range of techniques and you have a choice of projects to pursue; the sensible way to plan the remaining 5 months of this scheme is to work on that which utilises the resources that are not available to you outside of your residency.
Speaking generally, I reckon the piece of equipment that has been used as bait most often across this scheme is the deeply desirable laser cutter [Comment if the lure of a laser cutter was a deal-breaker, or at least a factor in your decision?]
In the past week I have realised that for me, the casting and fibreglassing facilities are the most precious tool at my disposal during my short time as Artist in residence at Plymouth University. For an artist these resources seem to be the most physically and financially demanding. Because I can animate and produce computer graphics from my desk in my flat, I can paint and manipulate wood in my garden (at least on sunny days) and I can outsource various printing needs to local companies at miner cost. But the one studio environment I cannot easily synthesise is casting. It requires bulk purchasing of materials and elaborate control of the environment. So therefore, I have made the decision to use this time to produce 4 new sculptures. [Comment if you have found your Universities/Colleges fascilities influencing your creative/logistical decisions]
i've learnt the importance of image today, i'll not bore with details here. i did have a bit of a strowp and having done that relaised that the opportunity was one i could utilise.
in the new image album are images what i have made behind the main practice and a lik to a sound file, one of the outcomes of my aa2a research time.
the aa2a research time is working towards another piece of work that transforms a piece of playground equipemt into something magical.
i spent time yesterday at my creative base working on the main project and i am pleased with the current form of that. it is beginning to resemble something like it would like it to be.
tomorrow sees us at the belper festival promoting the belper art trail 2012. we have the murmation project phase 2 to help us do that. i'm hoping for a brisk day and not too much rain.