Thursday, 3 May 2012

airing your laundry on a public washing line.

authorship, repetition, contiguity.

If Knowledge emerges from practice, and practice emerges from knowledge, (situations, reading, writing, discussion, viewing others artwork- in short interaction) who do we credit in the work? Is it possible to credit all those things which have influenced our view when this emerges both consciously and unconsciously. To document an event is a strange thing. Here I refer to documenting in a literal sense, to taking photographs of a happening or to transcribe conversations, as was my experience recently. Even within transcription the way in which you choose to transcribe, the layout of the words on the page, even though you are re writing what has been directly spoken, has a degree of subjectivity. In photographs we see this even more so as the photograph suggests a viewer and a particular standpoint.

The nature of this sort of open ended collaboration in which we are participating in, allowing for personal exploration into different directions creates a different dynamic if we consider that each of the individual agents of the collaboration has a different direction in which they wish to proceed. In this way a single photograph of documentation of an action initiated together could be seen to mean different things to each of the collaborators. So in that way, all of us and none of us, own it.

This is demonstrated within the cooper gallery blog which you are reading right now. Joe, Rowan and I have been sharing our experience of An Event in a Public manor and in it you can see the differing angles of interest as if you were privy to the discussions which we had in Talbot Square and the Hockney gallery. The repetition in  

phone buzz 1

discussing the same events, often blogged at the same time or around the same time illustrates this. The same action viewed by different individuals leading to different points of discussion and different output from that interaction.  The staccato of a blog enables a dipping in and out from the differing blogs, allows the viewer/user to create their own narrative to the events as very few blog users will read the blogs chronologically more often dipping into one, scrolling to another, the contiguity of how they read and interpret will be determined in part by the order in which each individual will read, and perhaps comment on. Adding to this the bogger is also reading what other participants have blogged and in this way the conversation continues. It is an interaction among the original participants and the user/viewer.

there is a zebra print towel drying on a washing line outside, it is flapping in the wind, catching my eye. It is suspended from a washing line coming from a first  floor window from a flat 2 doors up, to a pole in the garden. Right at my eye level.
It’s a good day for drying washing. A woman has just come out to hang out her clothes the next garden up. She hangs them on the line she shares with the rest of the inhabitants of her building. Steam rises from the clothes, they must have just come out of the washing machine. She looks around; I wonder, subconsciously does she feel she is being observed by all the surrounding windows. .2

Recording sounds of an action has a similarly interesting contiguity of instances. I make sound recordings, some sound may interests me, this sets my thoughts running, and so I endeavour to capture that moment. I am constantly trying to collaborate with my surroundings, to archive my thought. But within the context of An Event the recordings were generally not of actions which I was singularly making which I set to capture. It is the space and/or the agents within that space that sets me thinking and recording, and within my own practice I generally have a predesigned (even if it is reactionary) reason for doing this. However if my actions are in direct reaction to another artist’s work, is there co-authorship there, does it belong to the agents or to me as I am moulding their representation from my own subjective standpoint?

John Dummett, on the Thursday of the events was in conversation with the other writers of An Event and the artists of A Cut A Scratch A Score, David Barnett and Sam Belinfante  in the Hockney Gallery  and he questions whether critical writing has the role of performing as a ‘textural afterlife of an experienced event’. 3 In this there is a crediting of the writers own output, their own work, as a thing in its self and the context in which it was running. It is neither and both a document of A Cut A Scratch A Score. It is not running from but running parallel dipping in and out, feeding from each other, progressing in different directions. It does in fact keep the actions of the original event alive after they have run their course, but they will be alive within the writers own view, authorship to the writer. In their further discussions at this time, David Barnett and Sam Belinfante alluded to a further manifestation of A Cut utilising the documentation of the week-long event. This is not a repetition of the happenings, but the restaging of the different elements. They observed will be a different beast entirely, yet it will still belong to the previous set of event to some extent because it is acted out by the initial collaborators. There was a sense of continuity in the way they were describing how new manifestations of the previous event will be formed. Pieces of this and thoughts and discussions from that, are forming into a whole new joint manifestation, or a few manifestations it seems. It seems there is no need for singularity in authorship when the agents are moving towards the same aim.

repeat cycle

This contiguity of forming a work refers me back to thoughts concerning writing in situ.  As the audience/reader is privy to the act of making and in so doing inserts their influence on the space in which the writing is done, then are they therefore entitled to a degree of authorship? If a writer is drawing from the high pressured environment of a site writing event they will encompass all the influencing factors that space and conditions will impose. You often see books credited to an author’s partner or friend in reference to the supportive presence, or conditions they created in which the writing was done. Maybe in a more humanist approach we should start crediting humanity and society as a whole in our introductions.

The question of documentation and the viewer’s presence is intertwined within the practice of performance art. Here the public are often directly effecting the action or the inaction of the artist. If the documentation (another view) of the performance is not made the art work would still exist, similarly it would exist without the audience, however the action is still performed to another viewer,( the camera, the documenter). Omitting even this,  it is still performed to the self, the view of the self, the viewer always important. However even if documentation of performance is made by the artist themselves from their predesigned view the documentation of the event is never the same as the live action. It is impossible to capture innumerable signifiers within that space which made that performance particular. It can never be repeated and never completely documented.

We brought 9 Talbot square into the Hockney gallery. A restaging of an idea of a place to form thoughts.  A thinking square. It became a totally different thinking space within the Hockney gallery. Here it felt like an empty volume waiting to be filled. In 9 Talbot Square the volume was filled with its surroundings and it was easy to pick a point, a sound, or our discussions to fill the space. It was intended to act in this way within the white space but it evolved into a representational volume, (aesthetically interesting one would hope) not a talking space, instead it seemed to function within a context for the whole. Developing its new context within the gallery alongside the writers work for An Event and the TV monitors playing scene’s from A Cut A Scratch A Score.

I found the remnants of the materials used to form the volume intriguing.  After the installation had been taken down, these materials used to represent the volume, that came from tape and string, quantifying  a volume and line in space, turned back to tape and string, and in that action they became documents. In this useless form they suggest the possibility of another use. Restaging and documenting. This is yet to be defined; a new context in which to be placed, and a new body of knowledge to be gained from that, and this manifestation shall credit its influence’s as they have been already been well documented. That’s the thing with knowledge, at least within an academic sense, the source must always be credited.

1. Interruptions to the writers train of though whilst writing in her in flat.


3.Referenced from transcriptions of A live ‘interview unlike any other’ with the acclaimed artist Bruce McLean featuring two of his films. An Action of words: Writers in residency, John Dummett, Ajay Hothi and Christina Manning Lebek,29/03/2012 Royal College of Art, London. Lecture theatre.. Transcriptions by Sinead Bligh. 2012.      

4.Source Sound.Sinead Bligh 2012. Please click on the link to hear the sound file. This sound suggesting the writers environment and the spatial context in which the writing was done, a washing machine also being cyclical and repetitive. Here the writer was also prompted to put on her washing by the influence of others doing so.

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