Working on the library of lost books – the first stage – deconstruction!
As a freelance artist I spend time thinking, conceiving, developing and believing in projects that never come to fruition for one reason or another. I am asked to submit proposals for opportunities and I thought it would be interesting to post some of them -
The proposal – talking city – longhouse
I am drawn to this projects immediacy. I have been making work within the public realm for some time. This work often involves extensive public consultation with user groups and stakeholders, negotiations with engineers and planners alongside acknowledging health and safety, maintenance and various design procedures and codes. This process alongside the timescale – usually taking up to a year to come to fruition steers the work to be of a certain kind. The work I leave behind has a certain degree of authority because of the process’s and structures that it evolves from. It would be interesting to make work without the support of these systems, to see if the work I create has integrity from both a conceptual and aesthetic position and if it can stand ‘alone’ without the joint crutches of consultation and bureaucracy. I work at Norwich University College of the Arts and enjoy my job there but I think the rest of Norwich asks itself - What’s an art college for? What is an art education? What do we do in that building? I would like to make an intervention where the private becomes public, both the college becoming public within the city and the individuals experience within the college. I think the root of students work at this moment in time can be monitored by their relation to the research they are engaged in. I would like to spend the day making visible the books taken out by students from NUCA library to the general public of Norwich. This intervention would present the range of interests and activities undertaken by the students to the wider audience of the city and the different courses within the University. I would do this by taking the electronic output from both the self service and desk service and writing on chalk boards attached to the railings on the street the titles of these books. I believe this would develop a connection between the city and the university and a wider discussion about the role of the arts student.
The proposal - Maggs Bros Ltd
There is a sense of excited anticipation experienced whilst unwrapping books; this leads to revelation and pleasure.
I make artists books. My recent practice focuses on the idea and use of the fold, considering how to extend and explore notions of revelation and the ephemeral nature of the page; front becoming back along with the belief in the book as a series of spaces in time. The work also considers the specific meaning and creative use of materials in conveying ideas and exploring a sense of place. I propose to make a series of artworks that will extend beyond 50 Berkeley Sq, the bookshop intervention and exhibition, through the postal service and into the homes and lives of five Maggs Bros clients. I will respond to five books that have been bought and require postage. I will use my skills in bookmaking and experience in utilising the fold to wrap the books in ways that respond to the specific qualities inherent in the book, taking care not to undermine the very reason for the wrapping; security and care.
I would consider the history of the five books, including known owners, the content and form of the book, making poetic visual connections between these factors to serve as an intention or brief with which to respond to. I would do this over two days in the space where the books are prepared for postage. The wrapped books would be photographed by Maggs Bros; I would be delighted for Maggs Bros to document the whole process if they wish. I would provide an artist’s statement for each piece. I would use the materials that Maggs Bros Ltd uses to wrap books for postage. The choice of books would be discussed, but the decision of which books and customers would be with Maggs Bros Ltd.
The proposal - Unravelling the National Trust: Nymans House and Gardens
I propose to make a large, limited edition bookwork to be seen as one of the lost books from the destroyed library. The work would be made from paper and card, be printed using both traditional and digital techniques and be in an edition of at least 10. Words and images would explore and communicate ideas around medical astrology. The bookwork would be made from hybrid structures (lots of folding) to enable multiple narratives to be formed. I would want to focus on Nicolas Culpeper who was involved in the advancement of medicine at a point in its development when it was connected with religion, politics, astrology and botany. His questioning of traditional practice and assumed knowledge, exploring new solutions for ill health would be a starting point in the creation of a bookwork which would explore notions of truth and the value of knowledge. The book would explore the essence of bookness - sequence, order, time, revelation, intimacy and control. The work would create a space for the reflective experience, taking time to connect, look, listen, consider and explore the idea of a medical astrologist The structure of the bookwork would enable multiple narratives to be constructed by opening, folding and revealing pages, creating many hybrid possibilities from the fields Culpeper was involved with, including the possible uses of herbs and the idea of ‘alternative medicine’. I would like the work to be physically accessible to the public, to be held, touched, pages turned to create the many juxtapositions. I envisage wear and tear on the book. For me this is not an issue as the many marks made by handling will become part of the narrative. But if it is felt that the experience has been diminished because of the state of the book another copy of the edition can be used.
The proposal – digital city - Manchester
A dialogue with the Radcliffe and Maconie Programme on BBC 6 Music. The interaction will take the form of responding to the programmes content physically. The presenters will observe this activity and broadcast it to a global audience. My proposal is to interact with the BBC. I have been listening to The Radcliffe and Maconie Radio Programme since April 2007 and find them to be open and intelligent individuals who provide a witty and knowledgeable commentary on the music news and cultural events in general. Since their move to BBC 6 Music in April 2011 and subsequently ‘broadcasting’ from a new studio at Media City in Salford they also comment on what they can see from a window when they are broadcasting. This opportunity for dialogue is my space. I propose to use this as a space to interact with the output from the Radcliffe and Maconie show and ultimately through their digital broadcast to engage with their audience. I have a history of working with the book form and all its associated processes, elements and concepts including printing, publishing, image and text, narrative, sequence, the control and dissemination of information. The book, a symbol of power and knowledge is a vehicle to communicate directly; it is a form that is understood in these terms. Repositioning its context and redirecting its purpose challenges these very notions. The work becomes a question rather than an answer, a collaboration in the mind and hand between maker and reader/viewer. The practical aspects of the book form, of disseminating information; of making things clearer are questioned. The bookworks explore the idea of form as content and their manipulation enables multiple narratives creating a space for the reflective experience of taking time to connection, look, listen, and consider. My proposal encompasses many of the issues I have been working with in the field of public works of art for community spaces. The choice of show is important as I am a person for whom music has always been an important element yet I am at that stage in life where other factors have taken priority and the tsunami of new music has overtaken me. But Radcliffe and Maconie play quality new music by up and coming artists as well as off-centre classics from established acts. It also features live sessions and interviews from a diverse collection of performers. This seemingly comfortable mission statement means that the demographic for the show including people a bit like me are getting educated as well as entertained. The proposals genesis is my recognition and interest in the pioneers of guerilla broadcasting interaction – the members of the public on news transmissions peering into my living room, individuals who stood behind live presenters trying to get into the camera shot. At an age when access to a mass audience through broadcasting was very limited this was a way of ‘getting on the telly’ and so becoming famous. Reaching a mass audience in an age of innocence. This early form of engagement with the media by the public could be seen as a precursor to our interest and subsequent obsession with fame, an activity whose trajectory eventually leads to Big Brother and twitter feeds. There are many elements to the proposal that reference different ways of working and relationships to communication. The main ones being around translation and interpretation between the physical and the digital, the notion of connectivity through mass media and the idea of collaboration and the relationships formed through participation. The idea of communicating to a mass audience through the possible observations of two people broadcasting on the radio is interesting in itself and references ideas of gossip and testimony. The proposal considers current hybrid modes of art practice including piggybacking and by its nature viral interaction but at the same time reinterprets these activities by grounding them in the physical world. I envisage a continuous dialogue between the output from the radio show and myself. I will respond to the content of a program with a number of activities including text messaging - words written on a large pad of paper, picture messaging - drawing and painting images including symbols, tweeting – talking to random people in the square. The potential audience for this art piece is 1.3 million worldwide. There is also through the listen again facility the opportunity for repeat listening. The audience demographic for the show is evidenced by the interaction opportunities within the program. Although self selecting by its very nature the individuals who listen appear to be interested in ideas and within the profile there is a rich potential for new audiences to the arts. I am unsure if there would/should be a dialogue between the Radcliffe and Maconie show before the proposed intervention. If there is I could try and become a larger part of the shows content through their ongoing features including the chain –a never-ending list of records, decided by the listeners with every new track somehow connected to the last and theme time tea time - three records that are connected by a theme. Alternatively turning up and interacting could be more in spirit with the proposal. The budget for the proposal is a return train ticket from Darsham in Suffolk to Salford in Manchester and at the moment the materials include an ‘easel’, large pad of paper and paint and pens. The infrastructure of the BBC and their broadcasting facility would be seen as the main ‘supporter’ of the project.