First Discussions: ‘Support Structures’

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Today our students met Gavin Wade, director of Eastside Projects, in order to gain an understanding of their approach to display, working process, and role art (and of the gallery) has in the city.

This collaboration will build upon the narrative of Production Show as the artists (Peter Nencini, James Langdon) work in collaboration with the engineers (Co.LAB, Eastside Projects plus others). Aspects to consider:

  • Inside and outside are both deemed as public spaces and they engage with different members of the public at different times.
  • Over 40 works have been displayed on the facade of the gallery since its opening.
  • The scaffolding was erected as support structure phase9.  Scaffold as  Declaration of Altered Conditions (2008). Declaring changes are necessary in the creative process – the works on display have been produced at different speeds
  • Documents produced by the organisation are treated as ‘assets’. As such, they become part of the thinking process – even contributing to ideas for the artwork to emerge from. The Flyers are seen as a landscape (our interpretation) where Nencini’s forms are fixed onto the page as a stock watermark – reworked around and overlaid when printing the next set of ‘assets’.
  • From the discussions today, much of the meaning and intentions are the same between architects and artists, but often expressed in a different language and specialised vocabulary.
  • The show places the ‘supporters’ of Birmingham (the artist and the engineer) on display. Often the roles of these supporters are blurred – the engineer can mean anything between data analysts to manufacturers. Artists can act both as their namesake or even slip into the engineer role.
  • The act of exhibiting is part of how we find things out – as an artist producing work – or as a viewer learning about the artist.
  • The display of a support structure: how is trade useful for the production of art? How is trade useful for the production of a place (and identity)? Can the facade structure reveal aspects of Eastside Projects and/or Production Show in order to contribute to these questions?

To launch the collaborative engagement, we first have to break down preconceptions of the roles of all the stakeholders – and in doing so – reflect on our own practice. First tasks is to find a common working method between the artist and engineer – in this instance the  grid Peter describes as “stupid scale”. Tasks to facilitate the discussion on the grid:

  1. Read the following interview of Peter Nencini on his Make Do Type here
  2. Write a maximum of 250 word reflection of key points raised in the discussion today between all the participants. Begin to analyse the relationships between them all and include this in your text. You should draw on inter-disciplinary practices and approaches. Elaborate on your roles as ‘engineers’ – be provocative.
  3. Produce a mapping diagram of the relationships (and therefore disciplinarities) of all the participants in this project. Consider how we relate to abstract constructs (eg. curation) and entities (eg. a gallery) as well as people. The mapping take take any visual form.
  4. Draw an elevational grid. This can be to scale or a non-scalar grid. Separate the layers e.g.. brickwork, scaffold, openings, billboard positions. You can draw on archived images of the facade as well as from observation. To start with, can these be printed on A3 acetate or trace so we can overlay.
  5. Consider different electronic tools to help communicate between members when offsite eg. Trello, dropbox, Webex or other.

We will build on this work in the second session next week…

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