Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Improbable Connections- opportunity for future

The concept 

Improbable Connections is a community of collaborative and co-creative research initiatives aimed at innovation and social responsibility. It is based on the paradigms of open innovation and the principles of interrelated fields, disciplines and individuals.

It therefore relates the arts, philosophy, science, business and governance in search of new questions and answers that respond to the needs of all manner of organisations. The connections are supposedly improbable, but possible.

Improbable Connections fosters an environment that is able to promote transformation from the hybridisation of differences. Slow, deeper and more radical innovation backed by joint research and experimentation, as well as by values and people.
Fish + sword = swordfish, 'hibridise to innovate' postcard. The drawing shows that an unlikely connection between two incompatible elements (a fish and a sword) can lead to a result that adds value.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

New skill

Change position I premiere I k we there was a way and here it is :)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Progress on the show

> So she is really getting there now, this is an image from Saturday, I go the hooks up into shelf and got some of the mugs on. I have chosen to offset them for a more aesthetic look. The big hot water flasks with be going in shortly, and ye orange one will be for milk, just have to plan for the waste, and being the sugar pots in and I'll be nearly there.

Sorting the videos an carpet this week and hanging the photo collages if they are approved of, I sense they may be too big, but we will see.

Lots left to do in very little time eep

danto by sarah boxer


August 6, 2000 Non-Art for Non-Art's Sake

Arthur Danto, art critic, never strays far from Arthur Danto, philosopher.

 At the Stable Gallery in New York he beheld Andy Warhol's Brillo boxes, a pile of plywood boxes silk-screened to look like real cardboard Brillo boxes. Danto was dazzled. In a famous essay in The Journal of Philosophy titled ''The Artworld,'' Danto gave voice to his epiphany. He asked, ''Has the whole distinction between art and reality broken down?'' Are all things ''latent artworks waiting, like the bread and wine of reality, to be transfigured, through some dark mystery, into the indiscernible flesh and blood of the sacrament?''

Danto's epiphany had a corollary: it is not up to the eye to decide that the facsimile Brillo boxes are art and the real Brillo boxes are not. ''It is the role of artistic theories, these days as always, to make the artworld, and art, possible.'' To the eye, the two kinds of boxes, he suggested, are pretty much the same, or, as philosophers would say, indiscernible. Danto had found his grand obsession: ''Given two things that resemble one another to any chosen degree, but one of them a work of art and the other an ordinary object, what accounts for this difference in status?'' Why is a urinal that is exhibited by Marcel Duchamp or a pile of dirt exhibited by Robert Morris a work of art, when there are plenty of potties and piles of dirt that aren't art?

In his 1981 book, ''The Transfiguration of the Commonplace,'' Danto pondered the problem of indiscernibles some more and produced a thought experiment. Imagine a bunch of identical canvas squares painted red, each of which has a different meaning, history and name. One is a historical painting of the Red Sea. Another is ''Red Square,'' a punning Communist tribute painted in the manner of Malevich. A third is ''Red Tablecloth,'' by a sour disciple of Matisse. Another is a canvas primed red by Giorgione. They all look alike, but some are art and others are not.

In 1984, still under the sway of his obsession, Danto, the Johnsonian professor of philosophy emeritus at Columbia University, became the art critic for The Nation. ''The Madonna of the Future: Essays in a Pluralistic Art World'' is his most recent collection of reviews and essays, covering the years 1993 to 1999.

Like him or not, Danto is the critic we deserve now, much as Clement Greenberg, the art critic for The Nation from 1941 to 1949, was the critic we deserved then. Greenberg, like Danto, had a grand obsession. He believed that paintings should be about their materials -- canvas and paint -- and he championed the artists he thought achieved it, starting with the Abstract Expressionists, who reveled in what Danto calls the ''viscous, fluid, gummy, dripping, unctuous, slathery, ropy, brushy, pasty, opaque and splattering'' stuff that is paint.

Danto is an ideal critic for those who do not revel in mere paint. He declares we have reached ''the end of art,'' a time when the line between art objects and ordinary objects is invisible. The ''post-historical'' era demands something other than eyes. What the world needs now are philosophers. In ''an age of pluralism in art,'' when anything might be a work of art (but not everything is), we need a pluralistic critic, willing to see anything as art.

But Danto is not really as free and easy as all that. Pure formal beauty does not move him. He cares only for art that reflects on itself, which he calls the ''postmodernist birthright.'' He thinks Andy Warhol is a genius and says that ''before Duchamp, no one knew what the real questions were.'' That is pretty tough stuff coming from a pluralist.

Still, he's unbeatable at what he does. There is no one like Danto for making sense of a wad of pink clay that looks like chewed bubble gum. There is no one else who can confidently say that Damien Hirst's dead lamb is better than his dead pig. There is no one else who would think to call Jasper Johns's flags reverse ready-mades -- works of art that are used as ordinary objects. There is no one who communicates the regressive appeal of Warhol's Jackies, Marilyns and Howdy Doodys the way he does. And who can deal better with the question of why a place like Las Vegas, with its false Manhattan and false Venice, needs real paintings by Degas, Cezanne, Manet and Warhol?

Danto adores postmodern pranks, but he reviews artists of all ages, artists on the cusp between modern and contemporary art (Cy Twombly, Robert Ryman, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg), as well as modern artists (John Heartfield, Salvador Dali, Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline, Florine Stettheimer, Constantin Brancusi, Pablo Picasso, Richard Diebenkorn, Fernand Léger, Chaim Soutine, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock) and a few older ones (Vermeer, Tiepolo, Delacroix, Sofonisba Anguissola).

But how does a critic who thinks that eyes no longer matter look at art that was made when eyes did matter? He learns to look beyond the paint. Danto is a content hunter. In that he is quite old-fashioned -- not so much postmodern as premodern. He searches for the philosophical meaning in paintings the way children look for Waldos in a ''Where's Waldo?'' book.

This will frustrate those who believe in visual experience for its own sake, but for those who are more skeptical or simply less visual, Danto offers a kind of access to art that few other critics do.

His favorite method is to compare art and non-art. In an essay about Rothko, Danto looks for the meaning in a real Rothko painting by comparing it with ''a ready-made Rothko,'' a sunset he sees while flying 33,000 feet over Iceland -- a heavy purple at the bottom, separated from the upper band of light blue by a band of rose and orange.'' What distinguishes the ready-made Rothko from a real Rothko? There must be ''crucial differences that do not meet the eye.'' But ultimately Danto is disappointed. He decides that Rothko's paintings are all surface, just about beauty. One of them ''shows what materiality comes to when it does not evoke something deeper than itself.''

Danto is so blasé about what the eyes alone can see that he makes a few visual boo-boos. For example, he says that the paintings at the Rothko chapel in Houston ''were originally red -- indeed, red on red -- and hopeful rather than tragic,'' but have since turned black, inspiring dire interpretations. Actually, the paintings have always been dominated by gloomy black rectangles floating on a maroon ground. At another point, Danto says that Mondrian used diagonal lines in his late work when in fact he never used them in his abstract work at all, although he did paint on diamond-shaped canvases -- for decades. Well, no matter. If art is just embodied philosophy, do the features of the body really count?

Sometimes Danto's obsession with indiscernibles evolves into a more ordinary game: why is one thing different from another? Although he often appears distracted when dealing with just one artist, he never tires of pairs. What distinguishes nakedness from nudity, television from video, Warhol from James Coleman, Warhol from Rodchenko, Warhol from Robert Morris? Some comparisons are fruitful and others fizzle. An ambitious comparison between Picasso and Bertrand Russell yields only this: ''I cannot imagine what a portrait by Picasso of Bertrand Russell would look like.''

In the game of compare and contrast, the figures who are called into action time and again are Ludwig Wittgenstein, John Cage, Bertrand Russell and Marcel Duchamp. And of course Warhol. Danto gives a grand description of Tiepolo's ''delicious drawing at the Morgan of a group of 17 (by my count) Punchinellos preparing a meal of gnocchi and parmesan cheese for a hungry Punchinello sitting disconsolately on his hat, looking as if dinner will never come.'' What does it remind Danto of? Warhol, of course! Tiepolo has multiplied the figure of Punchinello ''with the wit with which Warhol iterates 'Mona Lisas' in his 'Thirty Are Better Than One.' ''You have to admit, that comparison takes guts, or something indiscernible from it.

Danto's title, ''The Madonna of the Future,'' comes from a Henry James story about a failed artist named Theobald who sees a beautiful woman and is inspired to paint her as a Madonna. He studies Raphael's ''Madonna della Seggiola'' for so long that his own model, as Danto writes, grows ''coarse and stout and sexual.'' Theobald dies, leaving behind a blank canvas.

Danto, a lover of hypotheticals, imagines the story a little further. A curator from the future looks at Theobald's blank canvas and declares it ''a masterpiece.'' He tells Theobald that ''the history of the all-white painting, which includes Rodchenko, Malevich, Rauschenberg and Ryman, begins with him.'' What would Theobald think? He would probably still see himself as a failure, but if he's smart, Danto suggests, he might also glimpse the beginning of the end of art, the glorious time when the failures of today are transfigured into the successes of tomorrow and everything is potential art.

Sarah Boxer is a reporter for the Arts & Ideas pages of The Times.

healing arts?


Does Art Heal?By Meera Lee Sethi | Winter 2009 | 3 comments

At Shands HealthCare in Florida, artists and physicians have been partners for 18 years, reports Meera Lee Sethi. Their program is helping to prove the clinical benefits of creativity.

Seven-year-old Catriona Chennell’s room is filled with samples of her artwork: strings of differently-shaped beads, a painting of a rainbow blazing across a blue sky. For her most ambitious—and painstaking—piece so far, she glued small red and glass tiles onto a piece of ceramic about the length of her arm, shaped like a heart with wings.

The image is apt. Cat (as everyone calls her) has primary pulmonary hypertension (PPH), a rare and potentially life-threatening disorder characterized by abnormally high pressure in the artery carrying blood from the heart to the lungs. Like others with PPH, Cat’s heart is slowly enlarging from the stress of pumping hard enough to overcome the increased pressure. She experiences fatigue, pain, dizziness, and shortness of breath. “I also have a chest port,” she says, “so it doesn’t really feel comfortable.” This device, implanted beneath Cat’s skin, delivers a medication that dilates her blood vessels. “We’re talking about a seriously fragile kid,” says her grandmother, Lila Johnston.
Courtesy of Shands Arts in Medicine

Cat’s art decorates her room in the pediatric intensive care unit at Shands at the University of Florida, the hospital in Gainesville where she has spent six months waiting for a heart-lung transplant that may one day enable her to play soccer—her second favorite hobby.

But Cat is too busy to dwell on her discomfort. Instead of spending time only with “my boring parents,” she is regularly visited by artists offering materials, project ideas, and instruction—part of a unique therapeutic program at
Shands known as Arts in Medicine (AIM). Cat has been at two other hospitals in Florida, but only here has she been given the opportunity to create art. “What a tremendous difference,” says her grandmother. “It really gets her mind off things.” For Cat, the point is simple. “I feel really good when I do art,” she says.

Cat is just one of thousands of patients to have been reached by AIM through Shands HealthCare, a network of hospitals and outpatient services affiliated with the University of Florida. Through the AIM program, paid artists-in-residence and volunteers involve patients in creative activities like painting, writing, and singing. While the occasional hospital clown or musician is not uncommon elsewhere, Shands is the first institution of its kind to fully integrate the arts into its medical model. The AIM program doesn’t just operate once a month or week; it’s part of the care that patients receive every day, and AIM artists are in constant contact with physicians and nurses.

For years, AIM has been making hospital experiences less stressful. Staff and patients believe it has also done something more remarkable: improve patients’ health. Now, research documenting the therapeutic benefits of the arts is helping to explain why that might be the case. Together with stories from AIM, science is raising the provocative question: Does art heal?

My patient needs an artist
Courtesy of Shands Arts in Medicine

In 1990, John Graham-Pole was a pediatric oncologist at Shands with 25 years of medical experience. He was also a poet. Frustrated that “the art of medicine was getting lost under the weight of medical technology,” Graham-Pole began writing poems about the hospital. Poetry helped him come to terms with the reality of death, and he found solace in examining difficult experiences through the lens of art.

Wanting to share this experience, Graham-Pole and a fellow artist began holding their own informal arts workshops in a single hospital unit. He says their goal was never “curing disease.” Instead, they hoped to help both patients and staff “cope better with whatever was happening to them” through writing and painting. At first, Graham-Pole recalls, most doctors “couldn’t quite understand what this was about. But we became more and more bold with our presence in and around wards.”

Today, 18 years after its humble beginning, AIM runs on an annual budget of more than $350,000, operates in five different hospitals, and recruits 150 volunteers per year to support more than a dozen paid artists-in-residence. The artists each spend 10 to 20 hours a week in the hospital, using their professional expertise to organize a dizzying array of activities. On a typical day, one might hear a banjo player and a transplant patient singing together, see a dancer and a bed-ridden patient moving their arms in slow, undulating waves, or encounter a theatrical performance in a hospital atrium. And AIM programs reach beyond patients: Medical students participate in reflective writing exercises, there are weekly meditation classes for nurses and doctors, and visiting family members are often drawn into AIM sessions. Shands also installs fine art and patient art—like Cat’s heart with wings—on hospital walls.

AIM artists are overseen by a small group of administrative staff, who hold weekly conferences and receive patient referrals. Tina Mullen, AIM’s director, explains that clinicians at Shands don’t see art as a frill at the hospital; they’re convinced it provides real health benefits. That’s why they take the time to make referrals. “The nursing staff and medical staff are making judgments about when to use art as one of the therapies at their disposal,” says Mullen. “They’re saying, ‘My patient needs to see an artist today.’”
Courtesy of Shands Arts in Medicine

Research suggests that such judgments are grounded in scientific evidence. A study at the State University of New York, Buffalo, in 2001, for example, found that patients who listened to their choice of music before, during, and after eye surgery experienced lower blood pressure and heart rates, and less perceived stress. In another study, published in the February 2006 issue of theJournal of Pain and Symptom Management, cancer patients who participated in a visual art session reported feeling less pain, tiredness, drowsiness, and breathlessness afterwards.

Indeed, scientists have documented health benefits from exposure to art at all stages of life. Lullabies have been shown to promote neurological development and weight gain in premature infants, while dance appears to help elderly
patients with dementia retain greater intellectual, emotional, and motor functions.

To Lauren Arce, a transplant nurse at Shands and a dancer-in-residence, AIM brings these kinds of results to life. In her decade with the program, she says she’s seen the arts bring a host of improvements to patients’ health, from reduced anxiety and shorter hospital stays to diminished feelings of pain and lower blood pressure.

Arce recalls a 12-year-old girl with cystic fibrosis, struggling with the final stages of her disease. Two AIM artists, a painter and a musician, visited her room bearing rocks for a medicine wheel, a traditional Native American artifact associated with healing. The girl had an elevated heart rate and low blood saturation—low levels of oxygen in her bloodstream—and was too weak and uncomfortable to paint a rock herself. But she picked out several for her family and instructed the artist to paint specific images on each of them. She also requested a song from the musician: “Amazing Grace.” As the song played, says Arce, the adults in the room were in tears, but the girl seemed to become more comfortable. “You could see her muscles relaxing, her blood pressure lowering, her heart rate going down, her blood saturation levels going up,” she says.

This would not surprise Graham-Pole, who tells of a Shands patient with a particularly painful case of sickle-cell disease. Movement sessions with dancer-in-residence Jill Sonke-Henderson brought her so much relief that her doctors soon became used to an unusual cry: “Don’t give me morphine, just bring the dancer!”

Other effects are more subtle. Sonke-Henderson notes that positive experiences with movement can be therapeutic for people who feel disconnected from, or “let down” by, their bodies. She describes going through an exercise with a bone marrow transplant patient who said the beach was her favorite place. They closed their eyes, stretched their arms toward the horizon, and reached down as if to scoop up water. Then, Sonke-Henderson recalls, the patient “took a deep breath and said, ‘Now I know I’m going to be all right; the seashells all turned to jewels.’”

The image is startlingly ethereal, but seeing those jewels may have had a concrete physiological impact. A 2007 study from the Journal of Psychosocial Oncology, for instance, found that pre-surgery optimism in bone marrow transplant patients is associated with better survival rates in the first year after surgery.

More than a diagnosis

Why might the arts provide such benefits? Artists at Shands have some ideas. They say artistic processes restore a sense of identity and agency that hospitalization takes away. Barb Esrig, once attended by AIM artists after a car wreck broke 164 bones in her body, now interviews Shands patients for oral histories. She says AIM “reminds people they’re a whole lot more than just a disease process or a diagnosis. We find out who they are outside of the hospital gown.”

Paula Patterson agrees. She leads a theater troupe whose members listen to patients speak about their lives, then “play back” the patients’ stories by transforming them into theater pieces. Patterson remembers a patient who, enthralled by seeing her life turned into drama, decided to join the group herself. The woman had an IV pole by her side, so she draped it in black cloth and gamely dubbed it “Ivy.”

“She learned that her story was worthy of being art,” says Patterson. “And when she became a performer, rather than being the person who always received help, she could be giving help to others.”

Some scientists believe that such feelings of control and mastery trigger an increase in the production of disease-fighting cells. A 2004 study found that HIV-positive patients who engaged in expressive writing, or writing exercises specifically designed to help them process traumatic events, had higher levels of a particular group of white blood cells known as CD4 lymphocytes.

Other research reveals different mechanisms by which art may improve health. A 2006 study tested the saliva of college-aged singers before and after rehearsals. Singing appeared to raise their levels of salivary immunoglobulin, a substance that defends the respiratory tract against pathogens. And singers who were pleased with their performances had lower levels of cortisol, a hormone that is a marker for stress, in their saliva. In other words, artistic engagement doesn’t just make people feel better in the moment—it may protect their future health by boosting their immune systems.

The arts can play a role in medicine in more basic ways. When a physician at Shands studied the health of patients at an outpatient hemodialysis unit, he found that AIM patients not only gained less weight (a good thing for many of those on dialysis therapy), lowered blood pressure, and improved mood, they were also more likely to take their medication consistently after they left the clinic, reducing their risk of complications. Findings like this, Mullen explains, are why “more and more institutions are coming to Shands and saying, ‘We’d like to learn about this!’”

Graham-Pole, now retired, envisions a world in which art is an integral part of every health care system. He says a model of medicine that embraces the arts is extremely cost-effective when one considers the impact of the AIM program and its “tiny” budget, relative to the overall cost of running a hospital.

“Art is a social determinant of our health,” he says. “It doesn’t cure a particular disease, but benefits whatever ails you.”

keith oatley short


Art vs. Non-ArtBy Keith Oatley | Winter 2009 |

My research with Maja Djikic and Raymond Mar suggests that reading fiction improves empathy and social intelligence. But do films, TV, and video games bring the same benefits? The answer is yes, they can, but it depends on the subject matter of each work and the intention behind it.

When we talk about intention, we must make a distinction between art and non-art. In our view, non-artistic communication tries to produce some specific emotional response. In a thriller, for instance, the intention is to produce anxiety, which will later be relieved. But in art, the intention is to give people material to create their own thoughts and emotions.

No sharp boundary can be drawn: Fine art can have political implications; advertisements can have artistic aspects. Many fiction films share properties with short stories and novels. Just as in reading, film viewers must create simulated worlds. The camera is in places a person could never be. But there are differences between writing and film: Literary fiction can more easily prompt inner reflection, whereas films juxtapose verbal and visual elements in ways that can be more literal and manipulative.

The second consideration is subject matter. My colleagues and I argue that literary fiction tends to be about problems of understanding selves and others in the social world. But some movies and video games actually seek to obstruct that understanding, particularly in the use of violence. Most violent television programs and games offer experiences of angry vengefulness, but little in the way of suffering or consequences.

In these cases, violent, non-artistic media have the opposite effect of a short story by Anton Chekhov or a novel by Jane Austen. Instead of encouraging understanding of ourselves and others, they limit empathy and social intelligence.

non/art binaries


just about wrapping ym head around this, i;; come back with edits and note once fully digested

The Art/Non-Art Binaries:
The Logic of the Artworld and the Art Market

Art/Not-Art: The Artworld at Work
  • The political economy of the artworld depends on the ability to maintain "art" as a cultural category and to differentiate it from non-art.
  • A primary social function of the artworld is thus producing the consent of the wider society and of economic actors outside the artworld for the authority to construct the category of art and to be the guardian of the art/non-art differentiation for the rest of society.
  • The artworld and all its institutions depend on the ability to reconfigure or reinstall the art/non-art differentiation at any given moment in the production and reception of art.
  • Since the artworld and all its institutions are configured around a largely unquestioned belief or acceptance of "art" as a category to which the institutions refer, there must be a set of strategies for determining the institution's objects and activities while differentiating these objects and activities from everything else.
  • The artworld elicits and requires everyone's participation--the tacit cooperation of the various agents or "actors" in all the interdependent institutions--to be able (at any level of awareness or sophistication) to circulate the artworld discourses that constitute art as a category in the art/non-art binary.
  • Like all cultural binary oppositions, the artworld binary constitutes a structure of mutual entailment, one term deriving meaning and existence from the opposite term. This structure forecloses any appeal to an extra-institutional, permanent, or transcendental ground for art as a name for something with essential trans-historical properties.
    • That is, there is no possibility of art as a cultural category or of individual art objects to appear as such, outside the institutional network in which the art/non-art opposition exists.
  • But the binary model has severe limits in describing the full operations of the artworld and the micro-cultures of reception and production within the artworld.
    • In a complexity system of contingent relations and binary oppositions of mutual entailment, there is no "there-there," no independent space outside the meaning and value constructed in the network of differentiations (see the network complexity modelfor completion of the binary structure).
  • The construction of "art" at any given moment within discourse is a network activity--cf. Foucault's "discursive practices," Bourdieu's "fields"--not a simple binary, even though the results may be a reinstallment of the art/non-art binary.

The Traditional Model of the "Semiotic Square" or Structure of Differentiation and Mutual Entailment
Logical structure of the semiotic square:
mutual entailment and structure of contraries and contradictories

Example of cultural binaries

Artworld binaries (fill in terms)

Some Examples of Dialogic Interplay Among Categories
(Positioned against Not-Art)
(Sometimes looks like Art)
Ironization, subversion, hybridization, or deconstruction?
Non-decorative, non-functional (non-service, non-entertainment, non-visual enjoyment [Kosuth])Decorative art, mass media imagesYes: Warhol, SalleKoons, street art
Intentionally non-mass media, difficult, requires insider codingAdvertising, pop media art, popular codesYes: pop art, Warhol
Unique objects, carrying signs of artist's work, intervention of hand (view of Frank Stella); marks of activity of artists as artworld functionaries barring outsidersMass-produced (decoration, imitation high design, "Ikea," posters, shopping mall galleries, commodities, poster reproductions)Sometimes: ironic use of consumer objects and images
Avoids beauty and aesthetics (as kidnapped by mass culture). Strategies used: intentions and interventions often unfinished, coarse, rough, inelegant, primitive, outside the perfection of mass produced commoditiesMass culture, middle class notions of beauty, design, and "aesthetics," arty look and materialsSometimes; seduction of the image, pleasure of the visual
Non-sentimental, against mass culture emotions. Subversion of nostalgia and received ideologies.Kitsch (easy and easily reproducible visual clutter, often sentimental or politically correct). Visual Muzak.Yes: Koons

Working with Case Studies: Encoding of Material Medium
  • All art media is subject to the already-encoded value system from traditional high-art media (oil paint, marble, etc.) through modern materials (acrylic paint, steel/metals, plastics, lighting, film, video, etc.) to outside and newly introduced materials (organic, industrial, found, biological, excrement, food, digital processes).
  • All are constantly being repositioned in a network of systemic relations (mediology).

Andy Warhol
  • The Piss Paintings (Oxidation Paintings): acrylic ground, metallic paint, urine on canvas panels.
  • Especially the Oxidation Painting of 1978 with diamond dust: a Warhol tour de force.
    • Merging of high/low, sacred/profane, ideal/excrement, diamonds/urine
  • Warhol's revenge on abstract expressionism? Piss and cocks as painting tools, humiliation of action painting and macho swagger of Pollock and company.
  • In the process, created amazing abstract works with metallic and chemical oxidation.
  • Commentary on the "piss works" tradition in painting.

Next: a "network complexity model" for interpreting art in the artworld context.

Martin Irvine
© 2004-2009
All educational uses permitted with attribution and link to this page.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

skull tea pot


Trevor Jackson - Skull Teapot in White


Trevor Jackson is a Seattle artist who creates in the media of graphic design, fine arts, ceramics, apparel design, performance/video arts and poetry. His ceramic work is presently created under the moniker of “Agitdelft” (from Agitation Delft akin to Agitation Propaganda) The work created is often presented as cultural observation through the devises of slip-casting with earthenware and “traditional” Delft painting techniques, as well as transfer-ware applications. He has a reverence for the traditions from which he draws, but will often retool those same traditional images and apply them in unconventional contexts. In addition to his work on our website Trevor also runs operates Universal Embassy an MMA clothing company.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Participation in Contemporary Art

from  http://shamurai.com/sites/creativity/papers/7.roux.pdf

Participation in Contemporary Art


This presentation aims at providing a better understanding of the role, origin and evolution of participation in contemporary art with a specific focus on technology and participation. It will also provide an overview of participative art models developed in the last decade and the trend they created.


Participation, participative art, collaborative art, relational aesthetics, creativity, creative, process, models.

ACM Classification Keywords J4. Computer applications: Social and behavioral sciences.

Definitions Participation: All forms of arts require participation to some extend. After all, experiencing art (observing,  listening, watching etc..) is also a kind of participation.

Artworks have very rarely been created not to be experienced by a public (ie, Antique Greek representation of Gods). During the second half of the 20th century the relation between artists and the public has profoundly changed. The public has become a component of the creative

Copyright is held by Xavier Roux.

Presented at: Supporting creative acts beyond dissemination. Creativity & Cognition 2007, June 13, 2007.
Washington DC, USA. Xavier Roux Redseeds Art Studio 244 West 22nd Street New York, NY 10011

process and participation has become a new territory to explore.

Participative art: It is important to distinguish between the concepts of participative art and participatory art projects. The latter describes artworks in which the artist uses participation as a component of art making. In participative art projects however, participation IS the project and the artist creates the framework allowing for participation with no preconceived ideas of the outcome. As in participative democracy or participative management it is not so much the fact that people participate that matters but rather the fact that participation is the main principle governing human interactions in such models.

Historical Context

To better understand the meaning, purpose and evolution of participative art models it is useful to replace them in the historical context of art creation. For a large part before the Quattro-Cento, art was dealing with the relation to God. The Renaissance created a new focus on the relation to the physical word – in other words to the Object. During the 20th century the focus of art has shifted and a new paradigm has emerged placing inter-human relations at the center of contemporary art creation (post-modern art) thus creating a fertile ground for participative art to blossom.

The Origins of Participation in Contemporary Art During the 60s, Conceptual Art has shown the way in freeing art from the object: “in conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work… all planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes the machine that makes art.” (Sol LeWitt).

As a result artists have focused on the modus operandi of artwork creation and invited non-artists to be part of the art making process. In that context participation has become as a new tool to give a form to the concept created by the artist. Some artists have explored participation further creating conceptual scripts as artwork. Spencer Tunick works can be included in such scripts – as well as “Dreams & possibilities” by the Praxis studio and many other works. The participants are asked to follow some guidelines resulting in the creation of the work. The artist acts as the director of the work process.

  In the 80’s and 90’s artists such as Rirkrit Tiravanija have developed art projects using participation as medium. In that perspective the artist creates the conditions for the gathering of participants and documents the meeting or event as it unfold, often being a participant himself. 

That latter form of participative art projects brings a new dimension to participative art through the blurring of the line between the participants and the artist. The artist is also a participant.

Participation and Technology
As defined by Nicolas Bourriaud, relational aesthetics refers to the 90’s art movement that focused on
creating projects based on inter-human relations. Because of the very nature of the Internet technology
rapidly grew as a new field of exploration for artists – 3 such as Net artists – to create projects based on virtual connections and adventuring in this new form of anonymous relation between humans.

Philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari have elaborated a complex analysis of rhizomic connections and multiple entry levels concepts which offers new ground to a better understanding of the rapport between technology and inter-human relations.

Typology of Contemporary Participative Models As often contemporary art trends are elusive and in order to better understand the models of participation in art creation used today by artists it is useful to study some examples of recent works. Using Nicolas Bourriaud’s work on relational aesthetics, it is possible to identify three main categories of participative models.

Connection and Networking Traditionally artworks last and can be seen or experienced at any time. Contemporary artists have explored time sensitive artworks that can only be experienced under specific conditions or at a specific date and time.

Robert Barry - Sent a message to let the public know that “This morning half a cubic meter of helium was released in the atmosphere”. The artwork only exists through that message and the connection it created. Christian Boltanski - Mail-art. Sent a vague and alarming letter to his friends and acquaintances and documented their reactions.

On Kawara - Sent numerous telegrams to inform his public that “he is still alive”. Liam Gillick - Designed a conference room in 1999 with geometric furniture and specific walls configuration. A real symposium was held in the room as part of the installation.

Karen Kilimnik - Created a series of drawings are based on her address book thus creating connections between people on many levels.

Meetings and Conviviality Artworks can also work as machines generating encounters or meetings of all kinds. Here are a few examples:

Braco Dimitrijevic - “Casual Passer-by” a series of giant advertising posters based on photos of anonymous
passer-by and giving the status of celebrity to unknown and unaware individuals.

Sophie Calle - Most of her work is based on meeting with people she doesn’t know: followed passer-by,
hired as a maid in a hotel she searched hotel rooms etc..

Philippe Parreno - Organized a party at the Consortium exhibition in Dijon France. His project aimed at using time rather that space during the art fair. The “party” generated meetings and conviviality.

Rirkrit Tiravanija - In one famous instance, in a Cologne gallery, Tiravanija re-created his East Village apartment, where he cooked and served food for 24 hours. In another instance he created a relaxation
space for artists during an art fair.

Contract and Collaboration Other contemporary artists have explored contractual relationship and collaborative art processes. Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster - “Welcome to what you believe you see” (1988) the artist documented his relationship with various gallery owners he worked with.

Noritoshi Hirakawa - Created forms based on chance encounter – for a show in Geneva (1994) he placed an ad in a newspaper seeking a travel companion to Greece. Documenting the travel was the material of his artwork.

Alix Lambert - Wedding piece (1992) – got married four times in six months as part of her exploring marriage relationships.

Maurizio Cattelan - Designed a costume of a rabbit for gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin who had to wear the costume in his gallery as part of the project.


[1] Bourriaud, N., Esthetique Relationnelle. Les Presses du Reel, Paris, France,1998.

[2] Brayer, M.A., Domaines Publics. Editions HYX, Orleans, France, 1999.

[3] Chipp, H. B., Theories of Modern Art. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA, USA, 1968.

[4] Danto, A.C., After the End of Art. Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, USA, 1997.

[5] Harrison, C., Wood, P., Art in Theory – 1900-1990. Blackwell Publishers Inc, Cambridge, MA, USA, 2002.

[6] Grosenick, U., Riemschnieder, B., Art Now. Taschen, New York, NY, USA, 2005.

[7] Marzona, D., Conceptual Art. Taschen, New York, NY, USA, 2005.

[8] Onfray, M., L’Archeologie du Present. Editions Grasset, Paris, France, 2003.

[9] Pradel, J.L., L’Art Comtemporain. Editions Larousse, Paris, France, 1999.

[10] Wallther, I.F, Art of the 20th Century. Taschen, New York, NY, USA, 2000.

[11] Wood, P., Conceptual Art. Delano Greenidge Editions, New York, NY, USA, 2002.

Forward from USE OR ORNAMENT? The social impact of participation in the arts


Evaluating the social impact of participating in the arts has long been a sort of terraincognita, a continent whose existence is known, but which remains unexplored. Travellers’ tales, where they existed, were full of mystery and menace, implying a land filled with dangers for the unwary. The sketchiness of the information encouraged some to argue that El Dorado lay there, while others asserted it was a desert, a wasteland best
avoided. Our research has sought to throw some light on this shadowy region by establishing a base for further exploration. We have cleared some ground and begun to open up routes to the interior, some of which may prove to be dead ends. If the flora and fauna are unfamiliar, we have at least encountered no monsters.

This report offers an account of the evidence we have found of social impacts arising from participation in the arts, and of some of the methods used in the research. It is the first large-scale attempt, in the UK at least, to come to grips with these issues, and our intention has not been to give definitive answers but, as Brian Eno put it in a similar context, to ask the questions more clearly (Eno 1996: 14). If others, and especially those who work in the field, are encouraged to take forward this general study into more specific areas, it will have succeeded in its purpose.

The study is primarily targeted at policy makers in the arts and social fields, though we hope that arts practitioners and the academic community will also find it useful. We have focused on areas of impact which relate to broad public policy objectives, and methods which are workable in everyday use. It was felt by members of the advisory group and by those involved in the arts projects that the outcomes of the study should include practical mechanisms through which the social impact of arts work could be assessed. We have therefore leaned towards simple evaluation models, and forms of evidence which provide acceptable guidance for public policy development and planning.

The study also reflects the perspectives and experiences of those involved: recognising the elusiveness of objectivity, it aspires to accuracy, balance and questioning. It has pursued understanding rather than ‘the truth’, and uncovered more questions for each one it has answered. Equally, each reader will bring his or her own values to bear on it: for one concerned for the integrity of the artist will be another who questions the
value of art in addressing social problems.

Use or Ornament? addresses the social impact of participation because it is to this area of the arts that social benefits are most commonly attributed in policy discussion. But participation is not a euphemism for community arts: the study interprets the word broadly, embracing work with many different values and motivations, but always with the active participation of non-professionals. The terms of engagement range from work controlled by arts professionals, such as the York Mystery Plays, to projects where there may be no professionals involved at all, as is the case with many fèis activities. This breadth of character is important not just to the study but to the communities involved.

That said, and perhaps unfashionably, we recognise the social and cultural value of community arts itself. There is nothing reprehensible in artists seeking to extend cultural democracy by opening their practice to others, by sharing their creativity and experience – even, perhaps, by learning from people uninitiated into the mysteries of contemporary cultural discourse. There is obviously bad community art: there is, after all,
no shortage of bad art, (or bad education, medicine or government, if it comes to that).
The argument that community art debases standards raises questions which lie at the heart of the present study: who defines quality, value, meaning? A refusal to engage with the ethical and political reality of such questions cannot help the arts community develop a healthy dialogue with the wider society on whose money it so often depends.

The election of a Government committed to tackling problems like youth unemployment, fear of crime and social exclusion is the right moment to start talking about what the arts can do for society, rather than what society can do for the arts. Unfettered by ideology, the new pragmatism can extend its principle of inclusiveness to the arts by embracing their creative approaches to problem-solving. Britain deserves
better than the exhausted prejudices of post-war debates over state support for the arts.

It should also be stressed that Use or Ornament? does not mark the end of Comedia’s interest in the social impact of the arts, only of the first stage. We are now addressing issues beyond participation, notably in a study of the relationship between arts and social policy in Glasgow, as well as looking at ways to address aspects such as training and employability. Work is also underway on a practical handbook of evaluation methods for the arts, and we would be very happy to hear from anyone with experience in this area. In short, this report is just the end of the beginning.

Finally, the co-operative nature of this project must be recognised. Literally thousands of people have contributed in one way or another – by completing questionnaires, by participating in discussion groups, by being interviewed or simply by allowing their work to be observed. Others have helped by opening doors, making arrangements and contributing ideas: as many as possible are recognised in the acknowledgements.
The study itself was undertaken by a team, and the contribution of Chris Burton, Timo Cantell, John Chell, Helen Denniston, Owen Kelly and Eva Wojdat was invaluable.

Without the help of Naseem Khan, who managed the Hounslow and digital technology studies, and Charles Landry who developed the original idea and gave unstinting support, the study would have been impossible. None the less, responsibility for the final report rests with the author.
François Matarasso May 1997

getting spoon obbessed

an article pointed out by a retuerning postcard from my project a while ago


Objectives To determine the overall rate of loss of workplace teaspoons and whether attrition and displacement are correlated with the relative value of the teaspoons or type of tearoom.

Design Longitudinal cohort study.

Setting Research institute employing about 140 people.

Subjects 70 discreetly numbered teaspoons placed in tearooms around the institute and observed weekly over five months.

Main outcome measures Incidence of teaspoon loss per 100 teaspoon years and teaspoon half life.

Results 56 (80%) of the 70 teaspoons disappeared during the study. The half life of the teaspoons was 81 days. The half life of teaspoons in communal tearooms (42 days) was significantly shorter than for those in rooms associated with particular research groups (77 days). The rate of loss was not influenced by the teaspoons' value. The incidence of teaspoon loss over the period of observation was 360.62 per 100 teaspoon years. At this rate, an estimated 250 teaspoons would need to be purchased annually to maintain a practical institute-wide population of 70 teaspoons.

Conclusions The loss of workplace teaspoons was rapid, showing that their availability, and hence office culture in general, is constantly threatened.

Further: The case of disappearing spoons-Disposable spoons, stirrers/metal dectectors as another solution

18 January 2006

We read with interest the article (1) regarding the disappearance of
spoons from the work place. We assume the teaspoons were used for stirring
tea/coffee in the tearoom. Disposable stirrers/teaspoons would be an
ideal substitute for stainless steel teaspoons if the sole purpose was
stirring tea/coffee. It is possible that the teaspoons go missing because
of the attractiveness of the stainless steel teaspoons that have been

We do not have much of a problem in this aspect in our work place,
perhaps owing to the use of disposable spoons/forks/stirrers. For the sole
purpose of stirring tea/coffee only stirrers are used. Perhaps the use of
disposable spoons/stirrers (some places use wooden stirrers) would be the
easiest solution to the mystery of disappearing spoons. This also reduces
the chore of washing and keeping a tab on them (five months spent to keep
track of the spoons is quite a lot of time). Even losses would not be as
much when disposable spoons are used.

Immobilization, by chaining teaspoons (Trevor Watts-Spoon Solutions,
BMJ.com, Dec 23rd, 2005), may not be very practical and actually may
become complicated when a number of users arrive at the same time (even
with multiple chained spoons)(we do not wish to disrupt Dr. Watts'
business plan of making chained teaspoons). Forcing staff to bring their
own (Trevor Watts-Spoon Solutions, Dec 23rd, 2005) is okay, but people
tend to forget often and the problem will tend to continue.

Or maybe the authors should find a way to use metal dectectors to
solve the case of the disappearing spoons.

Hope this is not too much of advice and we wish all future chain-
spoon manufacturing businesses all success.


1. Megan S C Lim, Margaret E Hellard, and Campbell K Aitken
BMJ 2005; 331: 1498-1500.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Rod Maclachlan Artist Reasearch

I am a Bristol-based sculptor equally drawn to working with light and movement as I am to objects and architecture. This combination of media reflects by preoccupation with exploring the complementary relationships between mind and body, observation and the imagination, the physical and the ethereal. In some works kinetic assemblages takes the place of the body whereas in others, such as Exchange, the body of the audience member is the sculptural element. I have been using archaic projection techniques to playfully explore the dynamic between a physical object and its de-located luminous image where a lens is the only mediating factor.

My artistic and professional career to date has acted as research into the technologies and techniques of creating spectacle. Many spectacles lead to a gaze of detached awe and leave little room for the viewers‘ own reading and imagination. I believe visual wonder can trigger surprise and puzzlement that can interrupt habitual judgments thereby liberating the viewer’s imagination. It is important to me that the viewer is aware of and actively complicit in their suspension of disbelief; something far more empowering than passive dazzlement.

I am interested in this quality of interactive looking that can be both analytical and receptive; analogue projection is a medium with which I can explore these different ways of seeing. After many years working with digital production and projection I became disillusioned with the qualities of the image and light whilst the technologies involved clouded the process of production. Through researching into early optical instruments and pre-cinema techniques such as magic lanterns, camera obscura, phatasmogoria and Megascopes, I rediscovered direct projection methods that had the power to create images that transfix the audience without pretence. Looking at these devices, I can sense the wonder felt at the first use of optical and electrical processes that we now take so for granted. The complex evolution of these technologies and our familiarity with them has led to detachment from the fundamental optical and perceptual processes at work. Episcopic or Opaque Object projection is the most direct projection technique possible as the projections exist in the present time with no recording or representation. The alchemical qualities of magnification, repetitive movement and focused light can transform mundane materials into transcendent projections that encourage the viewer to re-access their visual perception.

My practice has evolved, in part, through an active involvement in collectives such as The Cube Cinema and Blackout Arts and through VJing, film and production design work.

Exchange, 2009

A Rules & Regs commission in conjunction with AND Festival and The Bluecoat.

Two gallery visitors / audience members come to the installation at a time and are invited to wear a belt around their diaphragm area. The belts are then calibrated to the extremes of their breath expansion and contraction. The visitors are asked to enter into the installation room where they will be unaccompanied. As the visitors move into the space they come to realise that their breathing patterns are each controlling the intensity of one of the lights. As they breathe in the corresponding light fades up, as they exhale the light fades to darkness. With natural breaths the lights simply glow up and down but with a deep breath the room is filled with bright light. If both participants breathe out simultaneously the room becomes totally dark.

The participants are simultaneously the Audience and the Performers.Like many human processes, Exchange may lead to an experience that is at once sublime and ridiculous. The sublime and the ridiculous are often so closely related, that it is difficult to class them separately.The reciprocal relationships of internal & external, light & dark, and me & you often inform my work. These are complementary opposites are relative. - darkness defines light; your position helps identify my own; observation cannot be separated from imagination. 

The relationship between the physical and the ethereal is also a reciprocal one. Breath, body, air and energy are the exchanges that are vital for life. For Exchange I wish to explore the sense of stretch as the links between these internal sensations and external stimulation are expanded and amplified.

Artist Research Allison Lynn

process, 2011

My work consists of a wide variety of ceramic and embroidery techniques. I make large installation concept pieces as well as a range of jewellery. I love the variation of both scale and technique and enjoy diverse projects. My main influences are age, decay and
my own life experiences. I often use recycled materials and shapes from found objects.

Pressed flowers and pieces of polished shell are used to represent organic life and the fragility of nature. I want to question the way we look at nature and show its beauty in a different way. These parts are not the first thing noticeable, but encourage the viewer to look more closely at the piece.

I collect used fabrics and often combine these in my work. Hand dyed silks and organzas play a large part and I use shibori techniques to create shapes. I enjoy ageing fabric by burning and heat setting, these work particularly well with old coat linings that have already aged naturally. I combine these techniques with high-fired porcelain painted with lustre and silver to create a diverse collection of work.

artist research Anna Sherbany

In “Empty Gestures” the ritual becomes a visual marker of what remains common to all people.

The singularity of the gesture is poetic as well as powerful. The increasing value of water is measured by its absence.
The movement of the hands becomes a metaphor for human resilience.

The video is projected onto water in a bowl standing on a plinth. The viewer is encouraged to “disturb” the surface of the water.

Anna Sherbany is a London based visual artist and lecturer. She lectures in Europe and the Midle East and her artwork has been exhibited internationally. In her work Anna probes and explores themes of memory, migration and (dis)location, through interaction and engagement with people. Using image, film and sound, she produces photographic works and mixed media installations, exploring the relationship between wall/screen, space and audience, seeing the gallery as a formative part of the work and actively engaging the viewer. The installations are about revelation rather than interpretation.
Empty Gestures video installation 2009 Group exhibition “End Game – Blue Gold” Darb 1718 Gallery Cairo, Egypt.

Ruchika Wason Singh

My works deal with the human habitat and existence and its relation with the environment.

As a practicing artist living and working in the urban setting of Delhi, my work has been impacted by the daily life and the processes of consumption therein.

These have grown out of my gendered experiences and the interface with objects/commodities of consumption in the kitchen ,at the supermarket and at home. It interests me how every day, mundane activities can become sources of deeper meaning and self probation. In the choices of food and lifestyle lie our own location within the environment .For me commodities embody multiplicity of choices not only through their capacity to gratify but also to hoard, pollute and accumulate. In this sense I see consumption and its aftermath as a reflection of the environment-that which is physical as well as mental. This explains the expanse of my thought process and also the direction of exploration of my forms.

In my works though I reflect upon these situations, processes and patterns; generally there is an absence of the human body itself. It is apparent either in parts or through the objects and metaphorical symbols, as associated agents of acts of human life-those which have been, are being or will be performed. From reflection to anticipation, the objects become significant references of identities, choices, acceptance and resistance. As part of the creative process, at times even through their physical presence, they exist beyond their functionality as sources of probation and enquiry.

Working as an artist in a fast globalizing India, I find certain grounds common for all artistic and existential engagements beyond borders. These are the domains of creative dialogue and that of consciousness, through which we can connect with our own self and with each other.

Ruchika Wason Singh October 2011, Delhi.

Deborah Gardner artist research

She states her concepts are: The sculptures relate strongly to the body, some in terms of memory of presence in the cast moulds of the head, fist and body within a pillow or bed and the subsequent evidence of a permanent presence these casts hold. Others are analogous to the body in terms of forms and reference to clothing or beds.

At the Close of the Day, 2011
-Storm Brewing alludes to common notions of Britishness, such as umbrellas and the rain or tea drinking but it also alludes to both an intimate and immense space; we can read both puddle and sea in one space. The tea cup sinks in the clear resin up to the rim of the cup; there remains a tension between submergence and buoyancy. The dynamic configuration of the umbrella and teacup implies that at any point the cup may be launched out of the umbrella. Comparisons could be made to Britain's current financial and political situation.

Mantelpose, 2010
-this work came about through an exploration of the domestic realm. Using the site of my home, I made a series of interventions using either members of my family or installations as a means of reconsidering or subverting familiar spaces and sites.

Artist research Abigail Duffty

The art work becomes less a 'work' than a process of meaning-making interactions.' Allan Kaprow

Since 2007 I have been working under the pseudonym of the Institution of Meaningful Interaction (IMI), which has been a platform for participatory live art. Creating events/happenings that set out to redefine the relationship between audience, object, space and performer through play. Using the observations of everyday situations to engage the audience into ritual activity that highlight our humanity.

Through out the last year I have become interested in the relationships between 'self' and the 'other', in relation to connecting through contemporary modes of communication such as the social networking sites and the use of technology as the extension of man. Which in turn highlights that we are defined by the 'other' and how we don't exist within a vacuum. Drawing inspiration from such works of the Happenings in the 1950s and 1960s IMI has set out to develop the idea of a contemporary Happening.

Flux, the state that the audience and the performer find themselves in during a performance has also become an important part of my researching area. Looking into how the performance space 'provides a sense of immediacy, feedback, and direct communication' as Lucy Lippard mentioned in Leaving Art: Writings on performance, politics, and publics, 1974-2007 by Suzanne Lacy.

By creating performative installations from low-fi materials such as cardboard, paper mache, paint and so on the audience is invited into the immersive world. Upon entering the performance space the audience take on the role of performer by interacting with the mechanical objects within the space. In doing this they begin to create a dialogue between objects, space, audience and performers. This dialogue creates this sense of immediacy and feedback that Lucy Lippard state, by a direct communication from one being the audience to the other being the object.

I use oversized everyday objects that have mechanical elements in order that when the audience interacting with them they enter into a state of play. The use of humour creates a comfortable environment for ritual tasks to take place. Allowing for the audience member to cross the threshold of reality into the hyper reality of the performance space, suspending their belief for the duration of the event/happening. In this process of play the audience begin to partake in meaning-making interaction through the use of direct communication with the objects and other members of the audience in the immersive world. This meaningful interaction is where I would like to continue my research and develop my practice.

Manifesto of Existence, 2009

Performance based on the ritualised activities of everyday life. Using oversized objects to highlight the humour of the activities that give us structure and assurance. The performers repeated their given tasks whilst reciting the manifesto over and over again.

i like the humour n play with her work, the everyday nature and the oversizing