HWLA 2 [AIRWAVES]
PIRATE RADIO INTERVIEWS, PART 3
Amanda Ramsos, Amanda Steggell, Jeff Mann
Moderated by Scott delaHunta
Scott: You know this whole notion of collaboration. We've all been involved in a lot of collaborating, situations of various types. I've been around some people that want to really deconstruct the collaborative process, even while it is happening. Create certain times where you say "how is it working?", and "how are people communicating?" "what are some of the blocks", "what are some of the emotional relationships". I've always thought that collaboration happens as a consequence, of a situation rather that in of itself. Because we came together for these two weeks from diverse backgrounds to collectively be making things or describing processes then to in fact take collaboration aside and in fact look at that. It's a bit like Lev Manovich's analysis of the interactivity of the computer, that the computer, because of its nature, is interactive. To call it an interactive machine is to create a useless repitition. Here we are not discussing collaboration. If we have things we need to work out then...it doesn't strike me that, as a group, we have been looking at these collaborative processes. We've been looking at the notion of prototypes, we've been looking at KeyStroke, we've been looking at other things with our lenses.
what is your relationship with InterAccess?
and I are doing a project there coming up in the next couple of months called
LiveForm:Telekinetics. It's about using networks and telerobotics.
the Art and Robotics Group that I'm actually thinking about. That's the group
that you have set up and, more or less, organized those activities.
Yes, I started that a few years ago. And we've had three or four projects now.
A couple of exhibitions.
think my interest from what you showed me briefly 10 days ago was a couple of
projects that involved a large number of people working together it seems to
me. Is that right?
The group we had meetings and workshops and exhibitions, but it wasn't a collaborative
work. There was another project that was done called "Sensebus" that
was a collaborative piece.
Speaking for myself and our Motherboard works, we base our collaborations on
social aspects. We like to work with people that we gel with socially because
at some point you have to make a connection to the other person. There has to
be a collective consensus of what one is working on. And so you have to have
some connection with them in order to do that. And to look into that process,
for us to do that and analyze that process of collaboration which is great and
then it can swing down, isn't possible. I think it would be possible for someone
looking in from the outside maybe to make some conclusions, but actually reflecting
on the collaborative process in that way doesn't really come up unless we come
across really big difficulties. But I think that when you are an artist group
getting to know each other, getting to respect each other's skills, approaches
to their work, and approaches to life then one can make a kind of consensus
about how to work. It's a very different process if you are getting an exhibition
up, or if you are working in a kind of free fall situation, or that free fall
situation is a kind of performance. But I think that if the social aspects are
there then generally you can work through the difficulties. So I'm not into
analyzing the collaborative process.
I guess I can speak based on the experiences I've have working within collaborations.
I could probably say that I only work in collaboration. Maybe it's because of
the scope of my work and the desire to always involve other people and it can
happen at different levels where you are collaborating with an audience within
the project so that it a kind of collaborative situation. Or you are collaborating
with some other people to make something and that is a kind of productive collaboration.
And I think what I'm really excited about what has surfaced during this workshop
is another whole form of collaboration that I've never really experienced where
we are all in a productive environment and we are exploring things and we all
have different backgrounds. The collaborative opportunities that I've been involved
with others have been instigated because of the desire to have an interdisciplinary
group. And that starts to yield a really interesting projects. So I think that
one of the things that I'm really intrigued by and enjoyed being a part of is
this idea of having a space that fosters different kinds of collaborations.
Our work lab we've really set it up so that there's time where we can work in
collaboration, or there's times where the space becomes collaborative or we
are just helping each other out and it's a really a casual opportunity to collaborate.
I've really enjoyed this format as a whole other different situation. And to
me it's always so much more satisfying working in collaboration because there's
so much more that gets brought into the process.
I almost never work in collaboration. So this is kind of a different situation
But you are collaborating with Michelle now.
we did a residency in Amsterdam which was a lead on to this project. So yes
it is a bit different. I've done things that were, like I said about the Art
and Robotics Group, more like a group show where there is this kind of group
environment, but still people kind of working on their own projects. Hot Wired
Live Art has still been a little like that, there have still been a number of
individual projects that have been going on, but it's all kind of happening
together and there is a lot of back and forth kind of things, ideas bouncing
off of each other. I find that there is a lot more energy than there is if there
is just one person. I guess the question is how to focus on that energy, lot
of different ways of working.
When we are working in this space and we have this outside space, also the social
aspect comes in that you continue discussing things, you continue the collaboration
over a beer or over a pool game, maybe not over a pool game because it gets
too intense, but over dinner. That aspect of it is kind of a gathering of information
from different people with different skills is very important.
one thing to be working on something quite specific and going to ask Jeff or
someone for a bit of information that is going to make this thing go which is
a little bit like Niels and the patches. There are those transactions going
on. And those transactions seem pretty cool. It's an easy sharing of information.
On one hand we're working together, we've come together, and we came together
without explicitly stating that we would make a piece. And yet on Monday we
had circumstances where we ended up having to corral energies to make an event
that was essentially a bit like that and most people, whether they wanted to
or not, did find ways to energize that and make that thing happen. So if you
set up a situation and generate energies and get work done. In this situation
we did it in the middle and then we have these few days and things are kind
of winding down. I've found these conditions really interesting. I've learned
a lot from it.
I also think in this kind of whirlpool of thise kind of input with the information
that it's been everything from going up to the gondola to the top of the mountain
and talking to the beach group who were not swimming at all and all this kind
of information. One could make an analysis and see what is going on. In this
kind of group you can't know everybody's experiences so, for example, you can't
pick up that Ellen and I were collaborating for the first three days and Niels
was coming in there and we were looking at your lively things. This is also
an exchange that influences the work. There's been developments after that and
when you say that Niels comes in and fixes things what actually it leads to
other discussions. And what is that thing, what does that open up?
was just saying that we hadn't and I don't think that we wanted to, that everybody
work on one single piece. With 11 people that is a little too hard to handle
anyways. So there seems to be a kind of a natural way of working with things.
But at the same time Amanda has her plan of how or has been giving her thought
about how these could be, how the different little prototypes have come out
in the last week could somehow be put together as an experience. So, without
that having been said before, it just opens up.
Well one of the things that happened in the early stages of developing what
might the theme be within the worklab and what has been valued since the first
worklab was this notion that we all worked in these networked scenarios so being
in a networked condition there's always these kinds of interactions and social
relationships and and sharing and communicating and if that's the venue for
our work why not also work under that kind of condition. And just thinking about
the lab and how all of a sudden you start to layer a production situation that
is site specific and trying to foster group work in a certain level, depending
on what people want, and then you also have the work itself that is coming out
of it, you are always creating these really interesting networked compositions.
And so everything is all part of the work, it all starts to layer on top of
each other. And so these kind of more casual interactions and the experience
I will have coming in on the morning and seeing something, sitting down and
watching someone else, all of these things are part of what I'm really enjoying
and experiencing as part of the project. So I think that this project at InterAccess
that's coming up is another kind of situation where you are working through
something, specifically dealing with a network, but at the same time you are
working within a network. So I think it really fosters it, and you start to
do things more intuitively, when you start to talk about things over coffee,
but that really starts to foster the work as well, so we all value both of those.
of the more interesting artworks that I've seen around are works that focus
on not so much the work as object or the work as work. The works that we've
done, and they are all prototypes, none of them you would really say "this
should be in a gallery" and it should have a catalogue and all these things.
I think it is really acknowledging that so much of it is experience of being
with people and having some fun which is sometimes lacking in gallery situations.
I'm thinking about some of the work that has been happening in Toronto, like
at The Moneyhouse.
I think that is also why the term "performance" has always felt more
comfortable than "sculpture". Michelle and I have always been playing
with this idea of "performance installations", these kinds of combos
that start to imply that there is a different level of audience participation
or there is incorporating live, like live has also been a word that has been
really important as a way to describe the situation. The situation has these
kinds of dynamics that are more along the lines of "live" and "performance"
and "installation" and "social space" and so there is a
whole set of terms, not really one but ways to describe the possibilities and
also art interest at the same time.
It's rather obvious that some of our tactics must be similar to the late fifties
and the early sixties when they were doing happenings and all those. Although
the political context, the contemporary context is completely different that
we're working in. My background in dance, I think William Forsythe's choreography
and my wife Susan is some of the most amazing artwork that I have ever seen.
I still have a passion for that kind of work. And I have made a few dance performances
on the stage in the last few years. I loved doing them. It is amazing to me
that now I'm beginning to..and I haven't felt comfortable moving into, even
with my research, areas of more social settings, or breaking down those barriers
between the audience and the performers, between the gallery object and the
video clip. It's partly because of my moving into what the possibilities are
for these technologies, these networked technolgies, these wireless technologies.
It's as if by following those threads, those wires, and then those non wires,
I suddenly find myself in a bar, in a situation which is sort of constructed,
sort of performance, sort of made, but also not breaking around the borders,
not inviting people to come in to disruptive. But I'm ready to be there, it's
amazing to me. I never anticipated that I would be personally ready to engage
with those sort of things. And this lab has really done that for me more. I
find myself surprised. I also feel ready to critically engage with that as well.
And it's been really great for me. And also not really moving towards something
final, rather being more dispersed, and being more vague around the edges and
then all of a sudden, something happens there to look at or to be in, so that
has been really useful for me.
Before you were talking about the internet as a place to do work and thinking
about all different kinds of venues as public space and thinking about who's
there and what happens there and then as soon as you start to engage in performative
situations, or an intervention or some kind of transformation of that environment,
all of a sudden you have a really fantastic opportunity to create an experience
for people outside of the confines of the institution. I've always been intrigued
with finding all kinds of places in which to do that. I think there's a whole
set of things that become available if you are in that kind of situation and
the dynamics are really, liking talk about all the kinds of uncontrollable,
or the reality of it really fosters the projects as opposed to it being an extremely
controlled situation. That has been my intrigue, working in these multiple formats
where the site of the project can be in lots of different places. We had the
bar dynamics, but there are so many others. I've been doing works in bathrooms
where it's been a really exciting thing for me. Just a really kind of satisfying
situation where you can do the work, and then go to the bathroom. There's all
these kinds of things that can happen that are just a part of life.
Coming a bit more from Scott's background, I actually enjoy the variety of work,
but try to be clear about the intentions and the spaces. Going out into the
social space, for me it's important to try not to make a construction of a social
thing that could happen, but to be involved in the environment that is there.
I think that there is a difference. And sometimes, like we were talking with
Ellen who made a piece for a subway station which requires the public to move
in front of the camera and they can become part of it without being conscious
of the movement. But without the human movement in front of that camera nothing
happens. And one girl she wanted to see this piece, but she wouldn't stand in
front of the camera. She didn't want to stand there so she stood behind the
camera for 10 minutes waiting for something to happens. So there are challenges
in that kind of work to give some kind of signification, if you want. Or maybe
that's great that she's standing behind the camera for 10 minutes, maybe that
is a kind of spectacle for somebody else. But I think that Ellen described that
she was a bit disappointed that nothing happened.
Ellen (via the
I wasn't disappointed, I just was really intrigued. I think it is really interesting
that the amount of response that you get from an art piece is the amount of
input that you put in yourself.
just wanted to make a comment about playing games. There is this whole kind
of gaming culture that is really around, with the playstations and the online
gaming. I think that is also informing a lot of performance. So it's a lot less
about work as work and more about work as play. We talk about the "multi-user
environment" which is a gaming environment. I think that is also about
moving away from and industrially based economy to this idea of an information
age so that maybe that artworks are going to be less about physical manifestations
and more about thinking about language and information and roles (rules?) and
all those kinds of things that are a lot more involved with games.
the RADICAL conference in Amsterdam in July we had three pieces of software
that we were looking at. One was KeyStroke, one was Linker. Linker is a piece
of software by Graham Harwood that allows you to easily create an interactive
multi-media piece, a kind of authoring tool. Graham is an artist who creates
works from a very political stance and so Linker has 3% interface and that allows
for 97% content. In other words the form that you fill in, rather than Director
with all these menus, it's just these little square boxes that you can map things
into with very thin lines. Anyway, we had that to work with and then we had
Age of Empires, the strategy game. And the one remark about Age of Empires was
the way that it taught you to play with the game. There were seven pedegogical
phases that you went through, they led you slowly into this world, almost compelling
you step by step. That was fascinating to me because suddenly you emerge into
the experience of the game at a level where you felt you could participate in.
So I think (gaming) is really worth looking into that. And we had some games
here too. And the notions of games.
in a way you could think about the whole worklab here as a game. And we're trying
to figure out the rules and make up the rules. It feels to me very much like
thing that I would like you to comment on is this notion of the prototype. I
didn't anticipate it until Michelle emailed me. We were going back and forth
and the nature of the documentation and things. I knew that she was thinking
about quick pieces, working quickly, but somehow the notion of building the
prototype. I have found that idea intriguing for a few years but I hadn't really
had a chance to mark it as a key feature and go for this notion of prototypes.
I think it is interesting that some of us go, people refer to the "prototype"
as if it is in quote marks. And other people say, "oh that's the prototype
there" as if it is actually...and so there is a whole range. And I said
a little bit about the prototype on Monday and I think I've said before my interest
in ....I'm very interested in this notion of the recipe, or set of instructions
that somebody else can take on and use. I've very interested in the idea of
notation and the relationship between musical notation and other forms of notation.
The musical score is traditionally something that one writes. It's essentially
a set of instructions. You write a set of instructions that then somebody else
can use. And that is considered standard practice. With other sorts of art practices,
something that is so concretely transferrable, that doesn't really quite exist.
So I'm really interested in playing with this notion of the recipe or set of
instructions that are passed on. But that to me also, the prototype, suggests
that that is possible. And that's my world, that is my trip around the project.
What do you think about all this?
Well I like cooking but I never follow the recipe. I have recipe books, but
I kind of scan over them and get a general feeling for it, but I'd rather go
out and eat in those restaurants and ask them what kind of ingredients that
they are using, and then go home and play around with the knowledge that I had
before. I can think up of thousands of brilliant prototypes, not necessarily
realizable, some of them really. But I think that this prototype idea you can't
empty it really. For me it's more about documentation, sharing of ideas. What's
come out. In a way we are making recipes, connecting things together and sometimes
hacking in to connect something that wasn't before compatible. For a type of
documentation in a worklab situation with a number ofpeople that working together
over a short period of time, it's excellent.
think that sounds really realistic. I feel like really leveraging this concept
into some kind of box where I can understand. I have other reasons for doing
that that I won't get into that right now.
I've been experiencing this thing about scale here. The scale of the mountains
and the work that is being suggested and tried out with the antennas and the
distance, the walkie talkies and everything, which has actually made me go into
a more micro way of working. I've working with this space game which is connected
to "Airwaves", it blows but I can imagine doing it on a large scale,
I can imagine doing it on Mars where the input can be coming from space rockets.
You can just freak out in your head about it. And that has been a kind of prototype.
Of revisiting old tools and really concentrating and really trying to make them
work in this litte microworld. So I've been shrinking my area.
The fact that you can start to create and start to build scenes or environments
and you can use things like footage of the mountain and then you could use a
small needle and you can also use a small piece of paper and a huge giant backdrop
in the same composition to create something. And so, for me bringing all these
materials, the first thing is the prototype situation or the kind of work we
are making always involves sets. Sets of things like: a KeyStroke patch, a moving
image and this object that is blowing in the wind. There are these combinations
and compositions. The prototypes lend themselves to just taking a couple of
things and putting them together in an interesting way and doing this experimentation
with these types of materials that we have brought. And then the materials that
we have brought are of different scales. Ideally what I tried to do is bring
materials that would lend themselves to playing around with "Airwaves"
. So the materials tend not to be heavy, tend to be able to float. They can
move quite easily with very little energy. And the fact that they are not all
the size of the mouse. And so all of a sudden to navigate and to have this giant
air mattress, you can't sit at your computer any more. And so, all of a sudden
you shift where you are building and what you are doing and it starts to use
the environment that you have to use. So I think that there are two things there
were the prototypes are really interesting because they are components that
they have certain types of intentions. I'm going to connect these kinds of things
together so that I can talk to that person in the other room, as a simple example.
And then what are the things that I need to do that. So it's been fun in that
sense, just to be quick and to have minimal intentions and almost fractions
of a project that you can really explore and really push quite far
think that the focus of Hot Wired Live Art is the "live art" so it's
really about being live and being improvisational. Not coming with prepared
ideas, not coming with prepared media, not coming with prerecorded video, sound
samples, or systems or whatever. We're just bringing in mostly raw materials
and some tools and things. I think the prototype idea was more to do with that.
It should be spontaneous and we're trying things out and experimenting. Of course
we're going to learn things, how we can do this and why we can't do that and
here's a new idea. If we document that and keep a record then it's useful, but
I don't think that it's not the intention of this project to come up with a
lot of recipes that are going to be used by a lot of people. It's a result of
what we have been doing but it's not.
But Scott just wanted to publish a book and make lots of money.
thing that is interesting to me with the materials, the kinds of materials the
lightness of the materials and the speed that you can put them together reminds
me of visual material and the speed that you can rearrange certain visual materials
using the computer. And once you start to get a bit behind with the software
and things and that takes some more time and Jeff has to hack in a do the antennas.
The time that we have each spent doing certain things. At one point I was really
aware of that. I lost that a little bit during the conference which derailed
me a bit. At one point I was really aware at how much time people were spending
on one thing. And that was an interesting point that I lost.
Because we all have different paces.
the objects kind of predicted or predetermined the pace.
Well I spent quite a bit of time getting this camera to fly, getting the bouancy
(spelling) right. Then I connect it to what I'm doing in the swimming pool.
I mean I'm swimming every day. We've done synchronized swimming and suddenly
I'm thinking, "where is my kind of buoancy (spelling) " which I think
is great. Not that it has any kind of practical consequences for anybody else,
but it has been a bit of enlightenment for me.
idea of the recipe has a little bit to do with the notion of arts research.
Because I'm involved within the context of higher education. In the UK it seems
to be picking up a bit like a snowball this concept of arts research that doesn't
involve products but involves processes. There are points along that terrain
that people try to figure out how to evaluate that type of arts research. Then
there are boards of people sitting and evaluating research. So the strategies
for doing that are very disappointing in most cases. Extraordinarily subjective
and you get a real mish-mash of things and I've occasionally been asked to look
at those strategies and make those kinds of comments. And at one point I said
"if an arts process in order to generate a piece which then in some sort
of odd way evaluated by a set of judges trying not to be subjective". You
know what I mean? I mean that is what is happening now. There's a dance performance
at the end of a Master's degree that gets looked at at evaluated. And because
it is being shifted to practice as reseach, they simply allocate 80% to the
piece and 20% to your writing. To me that all seems a bit boring. What if the
results of your research were to generate materials that could be disseminated
that other artists could use. In other words it would be the openness of your
process. The way in which it might manifest would be something like sets of
instructions and blocks of instructions which could be recombined by some artist
in some other way. So you would be evaluated in the ways you could open up some
of those processes. Do you see how that compares to some of my interest in this?
I think after this I'm really ready to move away from the term prototype. I
think that there are other ways that this could be described.
I'm going to be completely immersing myself in the prototype idea. Because that's
what this project that's coming up at InterAccess is all about. It's very much
focused on prototype and recipe. Providing things that are designed to be used
by other people. It's a project basically to make a reference application in
a newly designed electronics lab. So it's definately a research project where
a piece is produced. It's partly about the process, but it's also quite a lot
about research and documenting that.
This thing about the prototype. You can put practical information together in
a prototype. At the same time you can't separate...you guys were talking about
the politics, you were talking about the tools. It just depends on the work
being made and what it is about. if your work is simply about "I'm in that
room, you're in that room, we're talking together", but then for other
people it might be important to know what is the object, have you got a headset,
what company makes it, is there any imagery on the wall.
interesting attempting to be generative in the higher education. How can I generate
ideas that might knock down these not resilient spots. But at the same time
knowing if you get down into the nitty gritty, trying to also set up something
that is also flexible and fluid. The complexities of processes. It's hard.
If you are talking about a prototype as a strategy. Mark Amerika describes the
word strategy as to simulate, to draft, to sketch, to fashion. Somehow prototype
and strategy works together. To fashion can also be kind of negative. This somehow
started to resonate backwards and forwards for me.
But one of the things that intrigued me to do installation work is that for
me installation served as a prototype for these kinds of concepts that I feel
like, as an architect, I'm always trying to develop. And so creating an installation
that fosters an experience and that combines these situations and small elements
at a certain scale can start to prototype new ways of living or new ways of
being in a space with a lot of people. Whatever I've been doing I've always
been thinking about this as a kind of prototype for possibilities and that has
always been really exciting for me. This is a very specific kind of prototype
that is based on a construction type of prototype or a systematic prototype
or a network prototype and then you can take it further and build and installation
which is still a kind of prototype. And within the discipline of architecture,
the opportunity is not really presented to me and within the field of art that
is what it's all about. It's about putting out that potential. That imagination.
But I'd like to ask you Scott when you think about the notion of prototype and
reproduction, the fact that you can reproduce and reproduce and reproduce.
the idea of reproduction but I do like the idea of copies. One of my favorite
artists is Robert Smithson and to take some of the things that he would do in
the environment and then just do exactly the same thing. Like "The Mirror
Displacement" where he would take these little mirrors and just place them
around in the Yucaten and during other travels. What I've found, especially
with students that the authenticity of the practice is still slightly precious.
So when you just recapitulate somebody's work in that way then, the discussions
end up a little derailed for me with students with discussions about what the
problem is about being authentic arts practice or not. Which I don't find to
be an issue.
thing with the game though, if you make up a game it's for everyone to play.
It's like you are playing the mirror game and you're thinking "Oh, I'm
copying something that some artist did".
You set up conditions for something to happen.
it's a social thing.
Scott: I actually like that a lot Jeff, you make up something for everyone to play.
[sept 2001, BANFF, Canada]