Amanda Glover SP
I found the success of the WochenKlausur piece very interesting. I believe that its genesis as an art piece (as opposed to an activism project) in many ways heightened its power. The 'boat colloquies' mentally and physically provided a peaceful and secluded environment for open-minded conversation; the understanding of the work as an artistic experiment encouraged/evoked receptiveness from within the participants (probably with far greater success then had the environment been clouded with the expectation and forced energy of an activist intervention). This quote sums it up quite well: "The relevant legacy of modernist art from this perspective is to be found, not in its concern with the formal conditions of the object, but rather in the ways in which aesthetic experience can challenge conventional perceptions and systems of knowledge." p. 3
I also found The Routes project fascinating from the point of view that, unlike the WochenKlausur piece and The Roof is on Fire which both presented social inequalities and conflicts with a direct aim to dispel tension, The Routes focused more on the experiences of the bus drivers and raising, through their knowledge, questions about the divisions and shapes of society.
Blows Against the Empire:
I really enjoyed the part in this reading about the Digger's work in San Francisco, and the discussion of the physical doorway erected as an entrance point to their free food site in Golden Gate Park. It struck me how the concrete, architectural form of a doorway at once referenced the elite creative environment of galleries and stages that the Diggers so fervently rebelled against while also providing a point of transformation into a new perspective - the communal, gift economy that they were initiating.
http://www.diggers.org/diggers.htm - A detailed archive documenting many of the Digger's projects, texts, videos and links.
A History of the Social Web:
Scholz' discussion of the various precursors to the modern internet presented some interesting ideas, like the use of Cage's 4'33 and how it established a fixed system through which an audience could freely listen and interact with one another. Also intriguing is the sheer number of small, independent servers with overlapping but unique constructs that were launched before the internet became a unified, conglomerate entity. I'm curious how the limitations and features of each system would have influenced (consciously or subconsciously) the perspectives of those using the programs.
I found O'Donnell's article to be opinionated but also very insightful and provocative. I liked his discussion of our economic reality, using theatre as an example to demonstrate how un-commodifiable activities are usually unable to remain prevalent in our capitalist society. Later he ties this notion into several of his works, using The Talking Machine and Q & A to create forums for pubic conversation free from the confines of bars, movies theaters, restaurants and other social spaces that require the spending of money, as he says, "the struggle of theatre for social relevance without the benefit of easy commodification is instructive for all forms; it points to avenues for establishing, sustaining and maintaining the relevance of art in general." p. 21 To this end, he states the importance of transforming art from being object-based to being dedicated to generating relationships. His discussion of social discomfort is also very important to the thrust of the article. In the physical body as well as the social one, addressing an issue (through physical/metaphorical acupuncture) often leads to pain which is in turn necessary for movement and change. He also compares the process to the initial confusion that is essential to learning. The opportunity for public discourse (however initially awkward and uncomfortable) that O'Donnell encourages is the metaphorical needle from which other aspects of the social realm, namely shifts in patterns of power, might benefit.
http://mammalian.ca/about/ - Info about Mammalian Diving Reflex, O'Donnell's Art workshop, their projects and artistic mission.
I Am Searching For Field Character/Revolutionizing Human Character:
I found Beuys' essay read much like a manifesto, yet the aim of I Am Searching For Field Character was a bit tricky for me to reconcile with some of Goldberg's description of Beuys' pieces in Revolutionizing Human Character. While Beuys' own text speaks clearly and pointedly to the need to awaken the artistic potential within everyone, his pieces (at least through Goldberg's descriptions) seemed much more like internal transformations in which Beuys' himself was often the subject. Perhaps the experience and aim of the pieces was less to 'tell' or 'inform' the audience of their potential and instead provide a visceral scene that would "probe the moment of origin of free individual productive potency" and provoke an intense and radical response? Or perhaps the aim of his pieces was to approach his interest in the expansion of the realm of art purely from a different angle?
Public Space in a Private Time:
This piece was really eye-opening for me, even in the sense that urban landscapes have become alienating, not inherently because of their noise pollution, lack of trees/plants, imposing buildings, etc but because the small comforts that once made these locations more hospitable (the presence of accessible, free clocks for example) are rapidly disappearing as a result of consumerism. Speakers rarely play music out to the street nowadays since almost everyone has an mp3 player or is on their phone not wishing to be disturbed. I found the idea fascinating that increasingly, privacy can be bought even when one was out in the public arena. I especially liked Acconci's proposal for Revelle Plaza at UCSD featuring the flagpoles and grass spirals. He raises the notion that public spaces are most often host to isolated and benign groups and not inclined to foster unified gatherings and actions (largely due to this increased 'public privacy') until an outside source steps in and helps initiate. I thought the proposal was brilliant because he effectively created an object-based intervention (using the physical and conceptual power of the flags and mounds) to change the mindset of the inhabitants.
While doing this reading I kept finding myself fighting against the flow of Brown's narrative because it was so geared towards the business implications of design thinking and functionality. While initially it felt like a bit of a tangent from the creative applications of design used in the art world, I realized that understanding how design is (and can be) used by the business sector is crucial for artists, so that we can deliberately use design to differentiate our work from business models or overlap these models for conceptual explorations. For example, Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby's United Micro Kingdoms (UMK) took business thinking into account when designing different models of their 'Digicars' based on socio-economics and theoretical market research.
Bootcamp Bootleg/IDEO Design Field Guide:
I found these toolkits very reminiscent of the text I'm reading for my Social Innovation & Entrepreneurship/Business Incubator modules called Business Modal Generation. Yet, for the most part I believe that these toolkits lack a certain open-endedness/question raising philosophy that we've talked about relating to social practices in art. I feel that these act as great initial jumping off points for our interactions in town but that it is crucial that we as a group bring intention to the projects and try to resolve issues in the community without completely answering questions and ending room for discussion and transformation.
The Elimination of the Audience:
I liked how Kaprow defined and made distinctions between those who are part of the intended participating faction and those who make up the 'environment' surrounding the piece (who may become peripherally involved but don't derail the participatory nature of the piece because they are "...authentic parts of the environment"). Jumping off of this, the notion that on a certain level what can propel an audience into being a participatory element isn't necessarily physical action but artistic intention. Kaprow explains the idea of a Happening which is scored for "just watching", in this sense, what appears on the surface to be an idle audience is in fact a crucial and purposeful part of the piece.
The People Formerly Known as the Audience:
The idea and perception of the audience in day to day life (outside the art world) is crucial to socially oriented art that seeks to explore and eliminate performer/audience barriers. As Rosen speaks of the media, he uncovers another area in life in which there has perviously been a very defined one-way power structure from the media ('on the stage' as it were- those who are being perceived and listened to) to the common people. I thought it was fascinating to explore the emotional desire of the 'day to day audience' to engage in broadcasting. Does this current social climate support participatory art pieces? Or does this prevalent desire amongst the public to participate have more direct correlations within the context of the media, namely the desire for independence from these dominant corporations?
Art and Social Change:
Lippard talked a lot about different social impulses and their manifestations in social art works. For example, she says that "...community-based work is grounded in communication and exchange, [while] activist art is based on creative dissent and confrontation" p.409. Yet, to a certain extent any art working towards social change and transformation has a certain element of confrontation to it whether it be by purely showcasing a problem or by working toward a controversial goal/shift of opinion. The article covered a very broad range of issues relating to art and social change but I particularly liked her discussion of artistic collectives and the relationship between individual artists and the art world as an entity. The article left me feeling that the blanket statement about 'art not being able to change the world' deserves more scrutiny than it is commonly afforded. Lippard acknowledges that the art world (which is in a greater sense controlled by museums and other authorities with their own agendas) has a massive impact on the visibility and impact of artists' work. Another factor is that many artists in general are resistant to speak out in the public sphere on world issues and prefer to explore these ideas through work done in studios. Yet, in the opportunity that a collective of artists is motivated and (with the support of the art world) has a platform for their creative expression (such as the Collage of Indignation at NYU's Loeb Student Center) the impact and unified power of a group of artists can have a radical impact.
Relations In Public:
Goffman's writing excels at revealing the intentions and emotions that play into relationships in public spaces. I particularly liked his point that road traffic seems a more competitive and less forbearing system then street traffic; an overall distinction that later helps to unpack the relationships and potential tension between the two systems of interaction. I also found fascinating his discussion about intuitive gestures, their origins and how they facilitate meaning. For example he states that, "...when two individuals are talking to each other and a third races by to whom one of the talkers owes a few greeting comments, the engaged individual may hold the arm of his fellow participant while turning to address the person passing by. The arm hold serves, as it were, to hold the conversation, to fix it, out of real interaction time while the other work gets done...a person walking through a subway, accidentally stepping on the foot of a seated passenger can maintain his rate of movement, turn his head back and hold out his arm and hand while he verbally excuses himself. The held-out hand, in effect, holds the offender in the remedial encounter even while his body is rapidly leaving it."
A Manifesto for the Present:
I liked that the reading functioned as a series of concise and portable (in the sense that each individual phrase is short enough that you could conceivably remember it and contemplate it over the course of your day) meditations on the world around us. The depth of each phrase allows for more of one's interaction with the text to happen after one is finished reading. Their open-endedness and universality also reminded me of the I Ching, and in a more abstract way I found they encouraged me to think about the present differently and could be used as a jumping off point for creative thinking and processes similarly to Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies cards.
I greatly enjoyed Bourriaud's essay and found that it was able to cover a lot of ground for its relatively short length. I think it was important that he started by addressing the evolution of art as a social interstice by explaining that this new direction of thought was more of a transition than a departure from previous conceptions of art as he states, "[It] has always been a factor in sociability and has always been the basis of a dialogue". I also liked his explanation into his use of the word interstice as a term to describe the nature of art and its relation to the rest of the governed world, specifically the line, "an interstice is a space in social relations which, although it fits more or less harmoniously and openly into the overall system, suggests possibilities for exchanges other than those that prevail within the system". Gonzalez-Torres' piece 'Candy Spill' functioned as a powerful example of how a work's impact can be magnified; by exploring social behavior and including the audience in the realization of the work, one's own actions (and in this case weaknesses) become part of the piece's statement.
What Occupy Wall Street Can Learn From the Situationists (A Cautionary Tale)
I thought that Davis' article was an interesting look at revolutionist structures (past and present) yet I feel that regardless of whether or not Debord held himself to his own standards, there were some very powerful ideas that rose with the situationists. While I agree that a certain amount of organization and leadership is key to the success of any movement, the idea of a conspiratorial (as opposed to an authoritarian) group exciting revolutionary thought among society as a whole is a very empowering notion because it implies that the message is adopted because it is one that resonates with the multitudes not because it is being broadcast by a controlling authority.
Places Of Learning
Ellsworth's ideas about learning & pedagogy and their relation to physical space and movement seemed very intuitive to me. Much in the way that the architecture of a constructed space or the composition of a natural space can influence our mood or mindset, so too can physical spaces foster learning (both directly through non-verbal influence and indirectly by promoting and encouraging one to keep an open and inspired view). I especially liked how she paralleled the transformation inherent to learning with the movement through a space and the simultaneous experience of suspension and animation. I also liked how Dannett spoke about his piece (the entrance to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.), saying that, "...the only shelter in the empty plain, where people cluster less for advice than for protection from the dizzying agoraphobia of so much open space. The very idea of advice or assistance seems futile in such an environment". For me, this piece demonstrates how powerfully feelings of unease or vulnerability in relation to a physical space can be evoked to communicate and resonate with a conceptual idea (in this case, of the holocaust as an unresolved and demanding event).
Latent Learning Curriculums
As we've discussed in class many times, the transition between art and activism is often hard to pinpoint, and I liked how Future Farmers verbalized the relationship between the two and explained why they identify their work more with art. They stated, "we all agree that art remains more open than activism. We have found that much activism is bound by prescribed thoughts, dogma, and manifestoes. Art does not have to have one aim and that helps us avoid clichéd activist positions." I also liked that while many collectives and individuals in Latent Learning Curriculums identified their work as in the scope of art as opposed to activism, many were very careful to identify and distance themselves from aspects of the art world that we usually associate with, but that are not integral to, the practice of art (as these artists demonstrate with their work and ideas). For example, Sal Randolph's exploration of art terminology, specifically the word 'work' and how it implies an inherent professionalism in practice (which led to the title of her work 'LeisureArts') and Temporary Services' statement about the art world's competitive nature and their desire to create mutually beneficial work especially catered to those who have little experience in the arts.
Places Of Learning (continued)
I liked the description of Wodiczko's projections on public buildings and monuments because for me his work brilliantly communicates the type of social commentary that so many graffiti artists strive for. Not that graffiti/street art can't have a powerful impact but I find that Wodiczko's projections are integrated more with their environment in the way that the shapes of the buildings impact the form of the projected images. In this way the images take on more complexity which he is able to amplify with the sheer scale of the projections. The fact that each installation only lasts for a night or two (and that they can only be seen at night) provides a sort of 'jolt' (as opposed to the constant, eventually mundane presence of a graffitied wall), an interesting stimulus for stirring thought about the significance and history behind public spaces and buildings and our relationship with them. As Ellsworth says, "[Wodiczko's work] create[s] the potential to disrupt habitual ways of inhabiting urban space and reconfigure[s] ways of knowing both the inside and the outside - both self and society." I also loved some of the description of the internal layout of the Holocaust Memorial Museum as it is described that the lighting and placement of displays causes certain artifacts to recede into semidarkness, therefore compelling visitors to, "expend deliberate physical, emotional and cognitive effort to access the museum's materials in ways that implicate the viewers in sensations and movements that are analogous to the efforts required to remember traumatic histories and knowledges".
I started my journey at the intersection of North St. and First St. around 3:30pm on Saturday and began walking toward the city center. The first things I noticed were the sounds (mainly of cars, planes and stores). The sounds had an interesting quality to them; it was a very grey, evenly overcast day and the bustling street noises sounded flat and dampened as if they were trapped underneath the cloud layer with no room to escape. I found myself subconsciously moving away from the busy street at my first opportunity and took a left along the river, following it upstream to a bench. As I walked, I contemplated the dichotomy between the fervent energy of the river and the sullen, empty buildings that surrounded it. On its left was a boarded up and abandoned school, its playground and field sprouting weeds, to the right, an empty bank and parking lot closed for the afternoon. When I finally turned around and started walking back along the river I noted that my progress seemed faster and wondered if it was because I knew the way or because I was traveling with the current of the water. Turning back onto the main street, I noticed the shift from the loose rock and gravel path by the water to the smooth, worn-down cement of the sidewalk. Occasionally when someone walked by, I'd shift to the right, closer to the planted trees and felt the uneven surfaces under my feet caused by the roots under the sidewalk. Turning down a residential street, the loud and immediate sounds of cars became muted as if a blanket had been pulled over my head. The city noises were replaced by the sounds of children playing and soft hums/mechanical noises emanating from the back of store fronts. I took a few more turns until I found myself back on a big street. After walking half a block I spotted a bench by an empty, overgrown lot and sat for a while, facing away from the street. I opened my notebook and started to write some observations as I heard and felt the first few drops of rain beginning to fall.
Talking with a Stranger
Initially I was quite nervous about attempting to engage a stranger, the environment on Main St. had a busy and unwelcoming feeling so I turned into a music store that caught my attention. After walking around the shop for a little while I started talking with the lady at the front desk. I found out that she (Jane) and her husband (who was the main musician in the family) had only recently moved to this new location in June and that she often runs the store alone because he also builds houses. While our conversation was nice enough, I kept having to ask her questions to keep it going and was acutely aware that our exchange was nothing more than smalltalk. Feeling a little disheartened at the prospect of having a meaningful exchange, I wandered to the back of the shop and took a guitar down from the wall to play. I noticed two people sitting on the floor a little further behind me that were playing together (one appeared to be teaching the other) and I made a mental note that if I was going to be proactive about this assignment I'd walk up and ask to play with them. I spent a little more time playing alone and mentally preparing before jumping up and walking over to them before I could second guess myself. I introduced myself and said that I'd heard them playing and was wondering if I could join them. Initially they both looked a little uneasy, and the guy explained that he was teaching his friend how to play (perhaps implying that playing together might not work). I reassured them by taking interest in what she was learning and began to reminisce about learning myself... The guy (Willie) then offered that if I played some chords, he could maybe solo on top since he "knew some jazz scales". I started playing a simple progression and he found the scale easily, beginning to improvise over my playing. By this point, all social discomfort had faded away as even though we'd only all exchanged a sentence or two we all were able to understand and relate to one another through the music. Noticing that his friend (or girlfriend?) Tess wasn't keeping up with the chords, I asked her if she could sing, to which she shook her head 'no' but Willie took up the slack and started singing over the guitar, coming up with a humorous verse as we went. We noticed a drum kit in the corner and migrated over to it so that Tess could fool around on the drums. Willie shared that he was teaching Tess guitar in the hopes that they'd be able to play together as it's been hard for him to find other people to play with who are at the same level. I agreed that it was challenging and that I'd also had a hard time finding people to play with in the past. Willie went to switch guitars and when he came back, I absent-mindedly started strumming a Neil Young song. He turned around and asked, "what song is that?!" I told him it was Sugar Mountain by Neil Young and he said, "Oh my god, that's where I grew up. That song reminds me of sitting on the front porch, my parents all drunk on Jack Daniels". It was a pretty surreal moment for everyone (especially because I had no idea what compelled me to start play that song all of a sudden). The three of us went on to play for another 20 minutes or so, doing a rendition of Pink Floyd's Wish You Were Here. I also showed Tess some pointers on the drums and Willie demoed a few guitars for another customer who didn't play yet but was looking to buy a starter guitar. Willie said it would be fun to play again and asked if I came to this guitar store often. I said that I'd popped in before to get strings but that yeah, it was convenient for me. He said that he lived in Marlboro but that next time he came to Bennington maybe we could jam. I suggested we exchange emails but he seemed to not really hear me and I got the feeling that maybe he didn't have a computer. I quickly suggested that I could give him my cell number instead and he agreed. After he gave me his number, I asked if I could text it to which he replied that it was his home phone in Marlboro and that he would've given me his cell number but it was really new and he couldn't remember the number. We all said goodbye and as I was leaving, Willie excitedly pointed to a guitar in the window and said, "that's the one I'm gonna buy!"
The whole experience was a really fascinating one for me, for on the one hand I felt like I had a really genuine and meaningful exchange with the two of them but at the same time I was constantly aware of how I was presenting myself and choosing my words. I got the sense that they didn't have very much money and subsequently felt uncomfortable about my iphone and what I wearing. Yet I guess I'd dressed simply enough that it wasn't obvious I went to Bennington; towards the beginning of our exchange they asked if I lived close by and when I explained that I was here for college they said "Oh, you go to Southern Vermont?" When I said that I went to Bennington, I could detect a little bit but suspicion perhaps, but mostly I think they were just surprised given the fact that I came up to them and was enthusiastic about playing. I also noticed that Tess was a bit guarded and while I got her to smile and laugh once we started playing I got the feeling that she'd been through some stuff. For me it was tricky trying to reconcile these observations with the exchange that we had - because I was precisely aware of how different our backgrounds were, perhaps more then they were. Perhaps the experience was about teaching me that while certain boundaries exist and can't be erased, it's still possible to push them aside and have a meaningful conversation (or jam session).
To raise $20 dollars, I made strings of origami paper cranes. I chose to make cranes because it's an easy and meditative process and people seemed to be very interested in buying them to decorate their rooms. While it was an enjoyable process, looking back it wasn't a very time efficient way to make money as each string of 10 cranes took about an hour to make (from folding them to threading them onto the yarn and tying knots) and I could only sell them for about $5 a string.
Political activist and installation artist, best known for his community building projects
Born in Alabama and raised on a sharecropping farm in the rural south, Lowe was raised amidst inequality, poverty and racism, social issues that later inspired his work. His formal training was in the visual arts (specifically painting) but has expressed in interviews that he quickly became discontent with the context of political and didactic work within the art world. In 1985, he relocated to Houston, Texas where he now lives. Over the past twenty years he has worked both inside and outside of art world institutions by participating in exhibitions and developing community-based art projects.
Project Row Houses in Houston, Texas
The genesis of the project came in 1990 during an in-studio visit with inner-city high-school students. In an interview, Lowe recalls “I was doing big, billboard-size paintings and cutout sculptures dealing with social issues, and one of the students told me that, sure, the work reflected what was going on in his community, but it wasn’t what the community needed. If I was an artist, he said, why didn’t I come up with some kind of creative solution to issues instead of just telling people like him what they already knew. That was the defining moment that pushed me out of the studio.”
He became inspired by Joseph Beuy’s idea of the enlarged conception of art and social sculpture. He was also inspired by the work of John Biggers, a muralist who painted black neighbourhoods of shotgun houses, representing them as places of pride and community not crime and poverty.
In 1993, Lowe bought (with a coalition of other artists) a group of 22 abandoned and decrepit “shotgun houses” in Houston’s Third Ward (a low-income, predominantly black suburb) that were originally built in the 30’s as tenant shacks. He set up a non-profit organization to raise funds, develop, and administer various programs. Speaking about the project he’s said, “we wanted to use something already a part of the community, something people felt comfortable with…it’s in the home, in the neighborhood, where we develop our tastes for things".
“The shotgun houses became the perfect opportunity to pursue the creation of a new form of art. They had two key elements: 1) a beautiful form recognized by the renowned Houston artist Dr. John Biggers to be filled with architectural, spiritual, and social significance, and 2) a need for social action among the community to bring the project to life.”
With the help of grants and seed money from the Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the houses were renovated over the course of the next year with the help of hundreds of community volunteers, and opened in 1994. The grand plan for the site included spaces for artists and writers-in-residence; arts programs for children, youth, and the community; transitional housing for unwed teen-aged mothers and their children; a day-care center; classroom and project galleries; and a Spoken Word House. Project Row Houses has received tremendous support from arts organizations, community organizations, and local businesses. The project remains ongoing and has expanded significantly since its inception.
Lowe's founder statement: "We have been guided by our mission to be the catalyst for the transformation of community through the celebration of art and African American history and culture. This mission has remained at the heart of our efforts, with attention always being paid to recognizing and responding to the changing needs of our community. As PRH has grown physically (our site now covers nearly six blocks and 50 properties), we are committed to the vision of PRH as the realization of the social role that art can play in neighborhood revitalization, historic preservation, community service and activism, and inter-generational education, especially for our youth."
Watts House Project, Los Angeles, CA
Arts Plan for Rem Koolhaus designed Seattle Public Library with Jessica Cusick
Borough Project for Spoleto Festival with Suzanne Lacy, Charleston, SC
Delray Beach Cultural Loop, Delray Beach, Florida
Project for the Seattle Art Museum in their new Olympic Sculpture Park with David Adjaye.
Phoenix Art Museum
Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston
Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Neuberger Museum, Purchase, New York
Kwangji Bienale, Kwangji, Korea
Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Glassell School; Indianapolis Museum of Art
The Kumamoto State Museum, Kumamoto, Japan
Venice Architecture Bienale, Italy
Rudy Bruner Award in Urban Excellence
the AIA Keystone Award
the Heinz Award in the arts and humanities
Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Governors Award
Loeb Fellow at Harvard University
Skandalaris Award for Excellence in Art Architecture
USA Booth Fellowship
Creative Time Annenberg Prize for Art and Social Change
Rick Lowe - http://projectrowhouses.org/
Lucy Lippard - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_R._Lippard
Kenneth Bailey - http://ds4si.org/
Vito Acconci - http://acconci.com/
Mel Chin - http://www.melchin.org/
Lara Almarcegui - http://www.edbprojects.com/artists/lara-almarcegui/
George Ferrandi - http://www.georgeferrandi.com/150907/welcome