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3 day seminar as part of the Research Fellowship in the Arts Program

2004-10-13

Wednesday through Friday last week I attended a 3 day gathering of the Research Fellowship in the Arts Program. The topic for this gathering was how to document the artistic process. I’m very happy about this gathering I felt it to be open-minded and of strong relevance to my own work and current needs and on-topic compared to what I believe should be the framework of the the program.


The first day was spent on the four new candidates of the program each giving a presentation of their projects. Ståle Stein Berg will be working on script writing for movies Øyvind Brandsegg on improvisation exploring the possibilities offered by live processing using computer based instruments written in Csound Hans Hamid Rasmussen addressing multi-cultural hybrids working on textile art and finally Kjell Tore Innvik developing and performing on quarter-tone marimba and vibraphone instruments. I suppose their project descriptions and possibly an English translation will be up at the web site of the program at some point.

The bad news of the gathering was that for the national budget for 2005 the gouvernment has proposed one more candidate only in the program. Similarly they are proposing a serious cutback on ordinary PhD candidates as well from 300 to 100 new candidates a year nation-wide. I can’t find any reasonable argument for such a proposal.

At the end of the day we discussed supervision. Thinking of it I feel like having access to three different types of resources. One is the general framework of the program the requirements possibilities and encouragement for systematic focus and continuous development over an extended time span the expectations the reports that have to be written and not the least the gatherings every 6 months. The members of the board for the program the supervisors of the various projects and not the least my fellow candidates is an incredible pool of human resources to draw on. Secondly comes my supervisors Jeremy Welsh and Morten Eide Pedersen that I’m able to see more regularly. Thirdly comes the large number of artists collaborating with me on various projects colleagues at the Art Academy staff and users at BEK artists exchanging with me on the net in various ways etc. Jeremy comes in this category as well as we’ve been collaborating on several projects.

Thursday all second year candidates including me did a brief presentation on what we’re thinking about how to document our artistic processes. I don’t have any clear answers yet and I don’t want to have them yet but I’ll have to make some decisions in the next 6 months. Generally I see my documentation to consist of two parts. One is this blog that I started doing a few weeks into the program. My project for the fellowship is in many ways a meta project: Investigating sound installations and other cross-discipline projects as a field of intersection between contemporary music and fine arts. Artistically I’m approaching the meta-project by doing other projects but want to find ways of summarizing thoughts and experience from the various projects.

While a documentation of the process is one of the requirements of the program I feel the need for a different approach towards the motivation for doing it. On one hand I’m asking what’s in it for me and on the other hand I’m asking what can be of use to others. I’m not good at motivating myself for tasks that has to be done only in order to fulfill some requirement I have to feel that it is of real use to me and/or someone else. And I certainly believe that the documentation for the research fellowship projects can and should be of wider use after all the various projects of the program are some of the most extensive artistic research projects carried out in Norway at the time being with the most resources thrown in.

I’ve spent a great amount of time writing applications and reports of the last four years. I quickly realized that when writing an application for support for an art project I should not do so only in order to get funding but also use the opportunity to develop the idea and concept of the project and plan how to realize it. That way writing applications has itself become an integral and valuable part of the process of the project. In September I spend a great deal of time assisting Verdensteatret on their application for support for 2005-2006. From earlier on I know that the process of writing that application a rather extensive one is a critical part of defining what we’ll be focusing on for the coming two years. In the case of Verdensteatret it is not so much by making detailed plans for what to do we’re much to process-minded but rather by defining some problems experiences topics and fascinations we want to investigate and in what direction we’ll move. If the documentation of the artistic process is to be a reflection on my own practice and work I want to take a look at the reflection in order to see what I’m doing more clearly and be able to act accordingly.

At the same time and just as important the documentation should be able to communicate something of value to others. For this reason I’m currently asking myself what artists has been writing and talking on their work in a way that has been of interest to me and my own artistic work? What are their approaches? Can the Picasso approach (Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.) be applied? Some of the names that comes to mind are John Cage (Silence) Morton Feldman (Give my Regards to Eight Street) and Brian Eno (LP and CD covers interviews A Year with Swollen Appendices). During the seminar the writings of Donald Judd was mentioned as well.

Another Picasso quote: You have to have an idea of what you are going to do but it should be a vague idea.

I don’t know what form to use for the documentation but I want the documentation of the artistic process to be subjective. It doesn’t necessarily have to be written in a personal language but the topics and discussions should be rooted in my own practice and reflections on it and not attempt to be an objective analysis of my own work. The documentation should be complex many-layered dealing with many different topics fragmented and self-contradictory. These are all very important aspects of my artistic strategies.

Some other questions to consider:

The final day of the seminar was spent for a one day workshop on writing. I’ll report on that as a separate blog post.

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