December 27, 2005

Pores 4

Pores 4 the journal of advanced poetics is on line now. Read essays from me, Alan Halsey, Allen Fisher, and Will Rowe, as well as work by Frances Presley, Phil Davenport and Bill Griffiths

http://www.pores.bbk.ac.uk/4/index.htm

December 23, 2005

Twelve

for the first ethic of christmas my true love sent to me an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the second ethic of christmas my true love sent to me two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the third ethic of christmas my true love sent to me three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the fourth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the fifth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the sixth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the seventh ethic of christmas my true love sent to me seven inner experiences six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the eighth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me eight possibilities of realising seven inner experiences six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the ninth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me nine ladies dancing eight possibilities of realising seven inner experiences six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the tenth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me ten favourable circumstances nine ladies dancing eight possibilities of realising seven inner experiences six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the eleventh ethic of christmas my true love sent to me eleven singular conjunctures ten favourable circumstances nine ladies dancing eight possibilities of realising seven inner experiences six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth for the twelfth ethic of christmas my true love sent to me twelve harmonious equilibria eleven singular conjunctures ten favourable circumstances nine ladies dancing eight possibilities of realising seven inner experiences six phenomenal modalities five extrinsic justifications four errors of dogmatism three veils of illusion two hierarchies between body and soul and an ambiguity in a non-temporal truth

December 11, 2005

The end of Public Art?

This week I received something (indirectly) from OPENSPACE in Edinburgh, sadly I think too late for my response to be included in the consultation. It is a “framework and matrix” for evaluation of public art projects. As I describe how it works you will probably lose the will to read to the end of this (or the will to live!) but the grinding bureaucracy of it is an important issue.

The Matrix is a table chart with columns for “stakeholders” – “the professional artist”; columns for “the collaborating artist”, “the lead architect”, “the collaborating architect”, “the lead designer”, “the collaborating designer”, “the contractor”(!?) to be used if these people are in a project. Then under the heading of “project location” there are 3 columns called “Public organisation”, “community”, and “corporate/private bodies”. Then another 7 columns for funding organisations. These then are all the peoples (or parts thereof) that will evaluate public art projects. The rows titled “Values” are the 4 overarching criteria (artistic, social, environmental, economic) against a project will be evaluated. Artistic “Values” are divided into 4 rows – “Visual / Aesthetic / Enjoyment”, “Social Activation” and “Challenge/Critical Debate”. There are also rows for “Innovation / Risk”, which is subdivided into “Conceptual” and “Technical”; and “Host Participation” subdivided into “During” and “After”.
I’ll come back to these in a moment. To complete the description: the “Social Value” of a project is measured by community development, poverty and social inclusion, health & well being, crime and safety, travel and access, skills acquisition. And so it continues down the chart, Environmental values split into landscape and wildlife, physical environmental improvement, conservation, etc. Economic breaks into marketing, regeneration, tourism, education, value for money, etc. The matrix is operated in conjunction with something called the “PERSONAL PROJECT ANALYSIS” in which “the artist or other stakeholder rates each project according to the following dimensions, listed below, using a rating scale of 1 to 10 as described against each. “ So it goes:
1. Importance* – how important is the project to you at the present time? (10 = very important, 0 = not at all important)
2. Enjoyment – how much do you enjoy working on it? (10 = enjoy a great deal, 0 = don’t enjoy at all).
3. Difficulty – how difficult do you find it to carry out the project? (10 = find it very difficult, 0 = don’t find it difficult at all).
4. Visibility – how aware are the relevant people who are close to you and your work that you are engaged in it? (10 = project very visible, 0 = project not at all visible to those around or close to me)
5. Control – how much do you feel you are in control of the project? (10 = in complete control, 0 = have no control over the project)

Anyway it goes on to a further 18 “dimensions”.
Having commissioned more than 40 public art of all types over 15 years, from community projects and residencies to international commissions with budgets ranging from a few thousand to half a million pounds, it has been amusing over the years to watch various government agencies (accountants and auditors, mainly) try and fail to work out how to measure the arts. Of course, the notion of measuring the arts is never one that involves purely artistic criteria. I remember Robert Hopper, the late director of the Henry Moore Institute, saying that art is 90% like plumbing but it is the 10% that is the important bit. Artforms where there is a door or a box office are increasingly evaluated by their visitor figure or ticket sales – in essence the accountants accepting that they will never get the 10% so they measure what they understand – the figures. This latest Matrix is a very dangerous document not because it has managed to quantify the unquantifiable but because it claims that it has. Quickly running through a comparative exercise: Say a R├╝ckriem stone installation or a Lawrence Weiner text: you can see these significant artists scoring low on many of the dimensions and values of this chart. However, if you score say a small scale “cartoon” sculpture in a children’s playground in a regeneration area you can see such a work scoring high. I would probably label one art and the other something else and would accept that there is a place for the latter. However, despite the fact that the majority of public art in the UK is commissioned by people who don’t know much about it, and most projects are tiny battles in their own right with vested interests pulling this way and that, what will happen is that this Matrix model (or something based on it) will be rolled out as the model of practice. In it artistic criteria are heavily outweighed by non-artistic criteria. Public authority managers who are increasingly strait-jacketed by Government targets culture will start by evaluating art commissions using the chart, soon they will project initiate with the chart as a built-in project conclusion. Governmental inspectors, who also know fuck all about art, will adopt the matrix as the assessment criteria, so that your public art commissions will have to have an overall high percentage of positively scoring projects. The chart has a built-in bias in favour of non-artistic criteria which will means that commissions that are difficult or ground-breaking or as Lawrence Weiner would say “useful” (despite there putatively being a tick box to value this – actually two boxes against twenty-one) will be matrix “failures”. A breed of artists who can do high-scoring matrix projects will grow up; artists with any integrity will actually refuse the commissions and public art will be dead.

December 03, 2005

Countdown to 2006 and 2008

Don’t expect there are many people left reading this, as I have been away so long. Anyway, the Nannucci installation at Bury Art Gallery is very impressive, with its sometimes miraculous mixing of light creating a visceral effect if you view it for any length of time. It’s on until 7 January. And bar that the first Text Festival is over. Phew! I’m still doing the review but can say about 40,000 saw the exhibitions, and there is no way to count the number of people who saw (and continue to see) the public art commissions. From the lessons and new relationships forged it is hard to hold back from programming the next one straight away. As some will know I am taking 2006 off to write and research so the next Festival is fixed for 2008. For the sake of my health it will be shorter (maybe 5 rather than 9 months) but include the mix of exhibitions, commissions, performances and probably more multi-media work (the omission this time round). The Festival laid down an analysis of the current textual situation operating through strategies of materiality, parataxis, intertextuality, spatialisation and restricted (system) processes; in the intervening two years I want to think and discuss where we go from here. I hope that the next Festival will be even more rigorous than 2005 and I hope that you will feel free to contact me to talk through ideas and proposals you may have for inclusion.

A brief mention of 2006: Backed by an Arts Council research grant, I have now got an exhibition of my own text work at the Sleeper Gallery (
www.sleeper1.com) in Edinburgh which will be accompanied by the Gallery’s first publication. It also looks possible that my still-in-progress Palermo poem will be published to coincide with the event. Anyway the Exhibition opens on 28 April.