The Object/s of Light in Perception

Directing and producing the commissioned studio to gallery event/s
Expanded and integrated discursive workshop/s
February 18th – 22nd 2013

Jane Whitaker

[Funding bodies and support in kind, Arts Council of England, Lottery Funded, Newlyn Society of Artists for Plymouth Museum and City Art Gallery (Drakes Circus November      22nd 2012), Portland Drill Hall & Community Stone Work Space and Gallery (Easton Lane Portland, Dorset) February 18th – 22nd 2013/ 9th/10th April 2013. Further funding support, PSQT; Plymouth City Council, defra, European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development, Dorset County Council, chalk + cheese.]

Convening, screening documentation: Feedback within the participatory field, ethics and dissemination agreement/s, co-funding criteria.

“New Light on Newlyn” ‘Women in Art’ (from the permanent collection) on display until 2     November 2013 Plymouth Museum and City Art Gallery South Gallery, image backdrop for the performance 22nd November 2012 (JW)


Performance Art and Pedagogic space/s ©The Object/s of Light in Perception

The original intention of the work of Performance Art (as commissioned for the Plymouth Museum and City Art Gallery in 2011/12) (in response to the Newlyn Society of Artists collective show) followed on from an earlier initiative in 2007 as the foreword to the catalogue for the show confirms.

This initiative in the form of a previous NSA exhibition, entitled Lineage, celebrated a major refurbishment also, of the education room at the Newlyn Gallery Penzance.

The work of the imaginativeeye group in the SW region of the UK during this period enabled a practical focus to develop through the artists’ eye into the historicity of the performer and how the Eye Project/s team might contribute to an understanding of contemporary performance. This approach originally encompassed and promoted a reflexive form of research and importantly the documentation of this process in an online archive.

Past practice and the historical concerns of Performance as an active, inevitably subjective concern (from the artists perspective) were re-engaged in by the participants throughout the project of the imaginativeeye during its trajectory from 2000 to the present.

This archive now forms part of the British Library UK Web project initiative, (2010) for preservation of websites in e.g. the arts and humanities.

The earlier performance for the Newlyn Society of Artists 2007 exhibition and event at the Newlyn Gallery “Shifts in Perception” positioned the artists of the Newlyn School historically within this paradigm, and is video documented in the portfolio of the website. The performance of “Shifts in Perception” from 2007 and the active investigation of the historical period pertinent to the Newlyn School are accessible through this archive. This technique of investigation was transposed to the Newlyn School as it were within the time line of contemporary art generally.

The opportunity to consolidate this period of research investigation, and its future within the advancing technological development of the current period particularly regarding Live work was therefore a very welcome opportunity in 2011/12.

The given trajectory in the earlier decades of Performance Art history and Performance Art as a subject area in itself was a concern of predominant importance to both of us (as the key artists within the imaginativeeye project) and our differing yet shared concerns in terms of how our past practice was influential to future work. The dialogue created in this context is now documented in the imaginativeeye portfolio of the period.

The NSA in giving opportunity for performance spaces within their established exhibition programme and its connectivity to the Exchange Gallery of members work i.e. the 2007 exhibition ‘Lineage’ was therefore an important critical compass point.

Funding was received from ACE in 2007 for the imaginativeeye.

However the work presented at the time was quite unwieldy in that the paintings of the Newlyn School and the shifts in consciousness necessary to further understand and open up this period historically, through the exhibition (and the contribution of the performance) represented for all those concerned including the NSA committee an opportunity in 2012 to consolidate how this earlier exhibition might be reformulated and given a wider audience in the Plymouth Museum and City Art gallery, the museum having specific works from the Newlyn School in their collection.

The new Title ‘New Light on Newlyn’, and the offer that was extended to visit the archive of the PMCAG to view the paintings in the collection and respond to a work or works with a “new work” always encompassed the possibility at the outset for the inclusion of a Live work of performance as originally included in the Lineage event.

My own role in the collaboration with Ken Turner (through the imaginativeeye project) was therefore to continue to contribute to the development, evaluation and analysis of this form of research that deliberately focussed how “practice” in performance work and its activation and evidence of the historicic context importantly could be given provenance and expanded and deepened to reach out to both the existing locale, and to new audiences in the process. The aim being to deepen understanding of the artists’ past practice (in performance terms) and to create and innovate a form of evaluation of this process through the activation of new works.

The accepted funding application in this context, had at its core, an identified approach to the given ACE criteria (particularly regarding the activation of Performance Art, new and existing audiences within the Museum and Art Gallery as a civic space) but also in terms of how this activation would reflect on and give an appropriate airing to the project of the imaginativeeye, consolidating in this respect, both of the practitioners respective experience and more fully identifying their own specific contribution/s.
The development script process as documented on the website portfolio is therefore important to this work.

This new project with its aim to consolidate the previous work in Shifts in Perception 2007 (in the same period of the Newlyn School of painting 1880-1940) and the linkage to the philosophic and conceptual developments of the period required a more rigorous coherence and consistency of approach to the core idea of the active components of the work.

That is to say in how Performance itself as a discipline could actively engage with its own arguable provenance, within painting and sculpture for example, and in doing so showcase the period of history (or further period in history for that matter) in question, creating within the form itself an opportunity for making a work of Performance Art, as a result. Questioning the role of the archive and also activating and creating an educative opportunity, enjoyable and accessible to all.

The workshop structure attached to the project created a specific focus through the performance and presented an opportunity for the gallery venues to encompass an engagement with participants that encouraged active reading and making processes. This was directed through the documentation of the event of the Performance Art work, understanding of the context in which this work had been generated and support and opportunity for members of the public to actively question and contribute discursively and practically to the event of the live work within the NSA exhibition in Plymouth City Centre and beyond.

The activation and environment of the civic gallery space was therefore very carefully considered by the artists before the event and during the preparation on site and following the successful delivery of the work.

A `”video trailer” and showing of the conceptually developed object, in context was on view during the first part of the NSA exhibition. However the inclusion in the NSA exhibition of the further video documentation of the performance immediately following the work in November to the end point of January 12th 2013 was decided upon by the gallery team exclusively (the artists suggestions of the usage of headphones and a summary outline regarding the documentation and its role within the work /stills images and descriptions were given indeterminate response by the PMCAG).

The workshop preparation also in this context appeared to be hampered by systems already in place regarding scheduling for the gallery spaces. This was disappointing given the original commission from the PMCAG had encompassed a trajectory (including studio visits to St Ives) from the beginning of the year, with encouragement given at all times for the fruition of the whole concept of the work. This was at all times inclusive of the potential for funding initiatives, which of course demanded awareness of the creative workshop reflective of the research and as detailed in the funding proposal as an integral part of this work.

The website portfolio is therefore an important component of the outcomes of the work regarding the joint venues detailed; further venues in development in the context of future funding initiatives, also for further and ongoing evaluation and development for performance idea already identified.


PSQT development of workshop and integrated performance February 18th – 22nd 2013 (JW)

Transcript: the convened discussion 9th April 2013 PSQT Drill Hall Gallery.

Brian is first to speak: recalling how he went about the task of filming.

“I’m here to film what the activity is all about OK. When the stage is all set up, I’ll try and get that as part of the film, but it needs explaining because ninety-percent of the people that saw what Vanessa was aiming to do wouldn’t have a clue what it was all about! Kids playing marbles we can see what they’re about, what Vanessa was doing, didn’t. I’m not saying its wrong, but it needs explaining, exactly what the process is.”

Brian’s partner qualifies this opening statement:
“Why she was sitting in the corner?”

Vanessa takes up the question and feedback to the participatory group.

“Well I tried to relate to the topic and understand a little about what you (the project) were about, if you like, and what you brought to us. Because as you remember, Jane, probably, I feel fortunate to have been invited and I’m interested. I’m going to try to respond to whatever it is and join in. I have an interest in art. I have some background. I’m also interested in words and concepts and so on. I’m aware of the different schools of thought and so on. I thought, “Well let’s see how I respond”. And it ended up responding to the stage situation. Of course I hadn’t seen all the video (the PSQT event) so I didn’t know what was to come. I’d only heard what. ……Well my contribution will be to represent an artist (not necessarily from any particular school) and so in my own space, I put myself in a circle on the stage, as an addendum to your theatrical performance. So I put myself up (on stage) and enclosed myself in a small circle. I tried not to get stepped on by Ken, (laughter) so my circle was smaller. And in that circle I put some things about myself because I do, do some artwork. I also put some things that I picked up during the week, for example quotes from the pieces that you gave us and a particular quote (from a letter to Goethe from Schiller 1795) I thought I would respond to, in my circle. So in my circle I had this quote and I had that as my focus as an artist.

……………..I had a compass there and I situated myself geographically as the subject, and then I thought to myself, and this thought came to me later, well I’m also an “object” and that’s the Title of the piece. So I’m an object like an artists’ model and that’s why I sat so still. But at the same time I’m here as a participant as an individual. So that’s why I sat in the circle with my bits and pieces, how I related to the week and how I related to everybody else really.

What I wanted to communicate with other people so before I went on stage I set my circle there so that people could actually go in to that that circle and if they wanted to they could ask me why I put those things there.”

Brian, “I know well you explained that to me beforehand but when the show was going on I bet there was ninety percent of the people wonder what it was all about.

You were sitting so still!”

Vanessa, “Exactly!”

Hannah, “The projections that were behind you they made sense that you were a apart of the piece, the paintings Matisse, and the figures were on your same scale you merged into that. Vanessa “I felt I understood enough at the end of the week.”
Shani’s guide / to Vanessa
“I first off when the show started, because I saw it as a show, (I didn’t take part in the workshops) had other interests, obviously, Shani was involved and of course as a parent I was hoping that she was getting the best out of the week. I was hoping her eyes so to speak, and her understanding of different types of art, which can be bad, would be involved. But for that I didn’t know what you were doing at the start, but by the end no-one had explained it to me, you had become part of the show.”

Vanessa, “Good fantastic!”

Shani’s guide,” I thought it was a wonderful show I can’t quite believe that you would bring things like that to Portland. I don’t know how many people you expected (in the audience). I’m always disappointed with Portlander’s reactions. I’d love to have got so many more people there. We’re always appreciative”.

Shani, “Well, I never know what to expect when I come up here. That’s the truth and I come up here and I ask what next? But it’s always something new and it’s fascinating really, what goes on here (PSQT). I just was honoured to be included with you all you know you’re all amazing artists and performers and it was amazing to be included and have some part in it. I tried to relate it to my own work, somewhat, I suppose, and to what you were doing as well. But yeah it was a really good experience to be here and to see the work”.

Ken, “You were saying that you could relate some of the ideas to what you are doing in your college!”

Shani, “Yeah, it would be interesting to show people and see how they (people with visual impairment) would react to something like that because it is very visual and a lot of art is seen as a very visual concept. You go to art galleries and they say ‘Oh you can’t touch that!’ You can’t get near to this you know, and that to me is wrong. Art should be seen from all angles you know it should be visual, it should be tactile, and I think its something people need to open up to more. And you know you all opened up that really well during the week. You came here you didn’t know that there would be a blind person joining in but you all accepted it and made allowances.”

Ken, “I don’t think it was allowances, Shani, you know I think it was about exploring talents and possibilities.”

Shani, “Yes, you made alterations then to what you had intended to do, you altered it, and to do that in a short time…”

Ken, “Well you know it was amazing when you walked up on stage in front of the canvases, then behind with your hands sort of coming up over the canvases. And then of course the cup sequence was rather good…”

Hannah, “It felt like an exploration really, Shani the part when you were all working together and Mark talked to you and deduced the triangle and there were things happening at different levels. People communicating in different ways and then the responsibility was put onto Shani to come up with something and bring the performative value of the piece together, which the song did didn’t it/? Shani’s song brought cohesion.”

Anne, “Well I thought when I saw it on the night, and that was the first time that I’d seen it, that I’d not been to the workshop. I thought it was brilliant! I really thought it was brilliant. There were quite alot of things at first that I thought I didn’t understand. But then when I was editing the workshops (the weeks process and progress) it all came together. Because I was going through it slowly and I picking out the pictures and editing it and I understood it much more, because as an outside person, I thought the whole show was absolutely brilliant, what everybody did and everybody had there input. I thought it was excellent, really enjoyed it.”
Hannah, “Ok I think that you brought carving together with music and poetry and with drawing, Solomon’s drawing. Splashing and jumping. Ken I get the feeling that you want to create an art movement.”

Ken, “Well you see I think we can’t achieve democracy without real knowledge. Now what is real knowledge?” Going beyond what we see in the everyday. And what the performance was about was that. Going beyond the representational in art, which is –the sunlight comes in, to light, which is on an object and the painter paints that object, just as it is. And it used to be in philosophic terms a mimetic understanding of the form of that object, as its revealed in your sight and light.

So the idea of light and representation is very important, if you look at that as an idea of knowledge. What is that? You see an apple on a plate and Cézanne sees it very differently. Why does he see it differently? Why? Picasso sees it differently, Braque sees it differently, and Matisse sees it differently. Why? Because they are searching for a reality beyond the object itself. If we see more then actually what is there, how does this affect, come back to life and affect life as well? So art asks the question, can the world as it is reveal much more, through visual perception? Sound perception? Phenomenology, the science of seeing?”

Hannah, “I think the purpose of art is to change a consciousness. Artist have to unlearn in order to learn again don’t they?”

Shani’s guide, “I draw what I see, shade it, I make things, I’m good at what I do I’m an aircraft engineer. So I’ve always been quite exact. I don’t know, is art like that?”

Shani, “I don’t know, art I think it’s the purest part of a person, it’s their spirit, it’s very pure it’s very true. You can’t lie with art. Art can’t be categorised.”

Shani’s guide, “I mean you can take an artist to Portland Bill but if you take a photographer, its much more accurate.”

Shani, “But that’s got nothing of the person in it. The art has what that person sees; it’s not what some electronic bit of equipment sees. Its what the person sees and how the person sees, that’s what’s important.”

Vanessa, “But can we set down what we see that faithfully?”

Shani’s guide, “Cézanne sees the apple on the plate and then he sets down what he sees, his eyesight is not what makes him see differently

Shani, “It’s the thought, the thinking.”

Shani’s guide “they see what to do with it.”

Shani, “It’s the persons’ character and how they felt at that particular time.”

Brian, “The artists are setting the standard of the day and you wouldn’t know that you had developed that idea if you didn’t have something to look back on!”

Shani’s guide, “Are there going to be distinct movements from now on do you think there has been Cubism there has been…”

Jane, “Well I think one of the objectives of our proposal to the Arts Council and the performance Art events was to acknowledge that there had been almost a circular, or cycle, (particularly with the experience that Ken has) and I’m not that far behind, in terms of the generation that we sprung from. And one of our suggestions to the Arts Council was that we would return to the origins of Performance Art, if you like in an attempt to open up to new audiences, that history.”

Anne, “Yeah when you sit down to edit a film I’ve no idea how it’s going to turn out. What impressed me about this project was from the workshop footage that Brian had made throughout the week, I could see how everybody had their input into that final performance and I could see where that was all coming from and I thought that was absolutely excellent. That’s what I gained from the edit. I started working on the workshops and I could see it all come together. I thought this really has to be shown to a much wider audience.”

Hannah, “But really your film edit began with Brian filming everyone’s expectations. People arrived who were working with glass and metal, the people that returned for the workshop were the people that were ready to give up their expectations and Anne interjects, “join in”. Part of it was that we were not sure where things were going Anne, “that’s right”. I think it was a very difficult ground to be in and in fact it didn’t’ need to be too big in terms of participants just big enough for that process to happen and to say these people that stayed with it (9 from an initial 15) managed to survive it and manifest something within it.”

Jane, “Your film Anne, from the Weymouth Cine and Film Club, does give a really good perspective on that. It was a large group for a workshop with which those participants had to remain for four days consecutively!”

Direction, script score and research.

Poem 1.
Seeing light
Touch the object

Cast shadows reveals the darker tone

Cast shadows reveals the spectral quality

it is light that is divided

reveals the form.

The performance work was set up to consciously draw on the earlier work of collaboration particularly the method of active engagement and focus on “making”.

This approach was key to this early period of development. In fact it is the performance itself particularly the first performance of Object/s of Light in Perception that consolidated profoundly the earlier work.

Poem 2.
Mr Forbes cross’d to Cancale
searching for the subject in 1883,
finding life in the ordinary object, staged the picturesque in the coastal town of Quimperle.

Monsieur Monet
lives the sequence,
overcasts the morning shift of memory.
Intensifies the thinking palette.

The communication
that the retina
in Brittany.

The earlier and experimental showings, results of the collaborative focus created during the period of the imaginative eye workshop and performance events from the work of Shifts in Perception in 2007 are perceptibly important.

The approach to this commissioned work in January 2012 however was very different, in that a deliberate attempt to differentiate and confirm the collaboration was underway. It was also acknowledged by the artists that the technical considerations, particularly creating experimental and performed sequences from the rehearsal and pre rehearsal studio visit period would form an integral part of the projected video sequences of the actual performance.

Key elements as catalogued in the Bibliography were already in the artists own collection/s, the production of video sequences of the visual responses to the commission and the viewing of the Plymouth City collection were also key to defining the preparation periods of rehearsal.

Analysing the large format charcoal drawings/scripts or score produced is very feasible however the example given here simply articulates the results of this method as it was transposed to the integrated workshop situation. This was an invaluable part of the response and exchange with the participants and represents a key response to the funding criteria in that the creating of this score, or scenario for the workshop performance in February 2013, based as it was on the distinctive process of the research method, enabled participants to focus their own ideas through the performance work that had been established, (having viewed the documentation of the PMCAG event, responded to it and further focused their own ideas through it during the 5 days). This process enabled all concerned as well as the artists convening the workshop to understand more fully the identified components of uncertainty, crucial to the creative process.

The focal point of my own contribution to this environment was to hold the directive and continuity of this process from the preliminary stages in January 2012 through to the completion of the two performance works and the integrated workshops in February 2013.

Therefore the real complexity of this methodology it is now confirmed was clarified as the resultant production “timeline” was extrapolated that is midway during the final period of research preparation in the September of 2012.

During this period of 5 days of studio preparation all the evidences, video experimentation, that is visual elements constructed and performance activation for camera, blocking scripts of the historical frameworks, dialogue for the fictional sequences and the sound composition were prepared. Important to the direction and preparation of the performance, the sequences were initially ordered for transference to the Final Cut timeline through the creating of a power point presentation, which particularly focussed the interpretation of the fictional sequences drawn from the Cubism essay of Gleizes & Metzinger 1912. Sequential slides noting the exact time frame and order of all of these elements.

The Final Cut transfer production of sequences was a requirement of the performance from the outset as the research process had revealed an interesting ability to activate the image making as an event, both for the projected sequences of the eventual performance and as an integral part of the projection itself. This method arguably created new depth to the visual projection as an independent work. Extant now as a visual record that in its live activation takes up new meanings.

This is an important consideration and outcome of this performance as further investigation, development of specific elements are visualised and activated in new contexts perhaps for the work.


Appendices: Ethos and dissemination. Programme notes: referenced sources.

Bibliography and programme notes prepared for PMCAG upper (Attrill)
South Gallery Plymouth & PSQT Drill Hall Portland

Reading clips given at the PSQT w/shp

Proforma/s for participants, during the workshop [participatory agreements for the 5 days]

Ethos and event Proforma ‘Documentation’

Programme notes.
The brush, as a vital part and parcel of the artists’ ability to create visual integration of thought and action, is the starting point for the first sequence. The brush stroke, is played out in a manner that pushes at both the metaphor of the brush, yet is a serious evocation and “reading” of the seminal essayists’ Gleizes and Metzinger’s collaborative document of the period. The embodiment of the ideas of one large group of painters leading through to 1913 and the development of Cubism is thus portrayed.

The dialogue, or the original essay is performatively restored, as a dynamic vehicle in the discovery of the origins of “Cubism” through the Impressionist approach, and the techniques of the brush.

This visual journey is further integrated into a fictionalised sequence; Stanhope Forbes as the leading light of the Newlyn School joins the artists’ of the Impressionist school, specifically Claude Monet. The narrative thread picks up quickly, as we meet Stanhope Forbes following his crossing to Cancale in the coastal region of Brittany and the expedition to Quimperle, in pursuit of the picturesque subject and style.

Part two takes us through a sequence of perceptive steps advancing through the journey of the artist’s eye, mindful of the imaginative leap and interpretive quality of the projected image, as a moving canvas that catches light, and the component parts of the observation by the artist, of the subject and the object. That is within the subject, as a focal mechanism of Impressionism and the contrasting Newlyn style.

The mobility of movement in light and the focus on the ordinary “object” opened up in Part one thus forms the basis for the development pictorially and thoughtfully for the Cubist form, in its development.

To substantiate this development, through the artist’s eye and imagination, a brief demonstration interjects at the start of Part three of the performance. To accompany the historical realisation of the Cubist form, this is a playful approach for the audience to participate in a personal understanding of the developing consciousness of the period; leading to the complete rendering of the “object” of art as a conceptual subject through the brief, yet vital foray of DADA. The redolent decadent dynamism of the pre and post war avant-garde in European sensibility.

As we near the end of this Performance Art work as a perceptive insight, into the period, the lasting influence of the ‘object of perception’ and its origin in the everyday, the link to the schools of thought identified in parts 1 and 2 are consolidated. The focus shifts to the real object, purchased by Marcel Duchamp on his arrival or escape to New York, USA in 1915 – an ordinary Snow Shovel.

Bibliography, stills and text sourced for the Performance Art event (projections) and Live Art event.

Artists of the Newlyn School 1880-1900 Caroline Fox and Francis Greenacre catalogue produced with financial assistance from the ACGB, the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art and Smith, Klein and French Laboratories Ltd ©Newlyn Orion Galleries Ltd. 1979,79,81. ISBN 0 9506579 0 5
Text for Stanhope Forbes dialogue p., 73 – 79
PLATE/S A Fish Sale on a Cornish Beach Oil on Canvas 473/4 X 61ins Stanhope A Forbes/1885 Plymouth 1964 p., 77.

Cubism Gleizes & Metzinger 1912 from Ten Unabridged Essays Modern Artists On Art edited by Robert L. Herbert ©1964 Prentice Hall, Inc Edgewood Cliffs New Jersey. Spectrum Books Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 64-7568
Text for the operation of thought and the optical imaging of light through colour, p., 3-4 p., 8, p., 13

The Sources of Modern Art Jean Cassou, Emile Langui, Nikolaus Pevsner, 52 Colour Plates, 333 black and white plates, 51 line drawings. Thames and Hudson London 1962© Verlag DW Callwey, München 1961.
PLATE/S XV111 Bathers, Les Grandes Baigneuses Paul Cezanne 1900 – 1905
PLATE XX Jeune fille à la guitare Georges Braque 1913.
PLATE X1X les Demoiselles d’Avignon Pablo Picasso 1907.

Seven Dada Manifestos and Lampisteries Tristan Tzara, illustrations by Francis Picabia, Calder Publications, Fifth impression 2003. ISBN 0 7145 3762 4
Text for the audience participation demonstration of Cubism p., 6 – 7

The Essential Cubism Braque, Picasso & their Friends The Tate Gallery ©1983 The Tate Gallery/Douglas Cooper/Gary Tinterow Reprinted 1983 Tate Gallery Publications ISBN 0 905005 24 4
PLATE/S 111. Self-Portrait, Pablo Picasso 1907 Oil on canvas Národí Galerie Prague 1960 p., 232
PLATE/S 2. Standing Female Nude, Georges Braque painted between December 1907 and June 1908 Alex Maguy 1972 p., 38

Marcel Duchamp first published under the Title: Sur Marcel Duchamp in a limited edition of 137 copies by the Trianon Press, Paris. First English edition 1959 Trianon Press 1959© Marcel Duchamp, Robert Lebel, George Heard Hamilton. Colour and monochrome plates printed under Duchamp’s supervision.
Text, Essay, Marcel Duchamp The Creative Act 1959 p., 77 – 78.
PLATES 51, 52 Nude Descending a Staircase, Marcel Duchamp 1912 – 1916
PLATE/S 83 In Advance of the Broken Arm (1915)

Selected background reading: and PLATES further sources for the projected images.

Claude Monet: chronological/retrieved 2012-09-6

1883 retrieved 2012 -07-10

Screen shots. Further sources 1872 Sunrise, temporal and atmospheric conditions 1890-91 retrieved 2012-09-6 retrieved 2012-09-6

Fishing Boats Le Havre 1885 Claude Monet, Saint la Garde Station 1876/77 retrieved 2012-11-16

Photomontage Portrait No. 29 (Double Exposure: Full Face and Profile)
Victor Obsatz Gelatin silver print, 1953 Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; gift of Jacqueline, Paul, and Peter Matisse in memory of their mother Alexina Duchamp
© Victor Obsatz and Moeller Fine Art, New York–Berlin retrieved 2012-3-26

Further reading: workshop

Kandinsky Reminiscences from Ten Unabridged Essays Modern Artists On Art edited by Robert L. Herbert ©1964 Prentice Hall, Inc Edgewood Cliffs New Jersey. Spectrum Books Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 64-7568
Dada The Revolt of Art, Marc Dachy Thames and Hudson© 2005 ISBN -13 978-0-500-30119-7.
On the Aesthetic Education of Man, Aesthetics for a Social Purpose Friedrich Schiller Dover Publications, Inc New York 2004 first published in 1795
Aesthetics and its Discontents, Jacques Rancière, Polity Press 2009
Transfiguration of the Common Place Arthur. C. Danto Harvard University Press 1981

Reading clips prepared for participants for the workshop reference/s Drill Hall & Community Stone Work Space February 18th – 22nd 2013

The Ready Made and the Tube of Paint, (page 179), Kant after Duchamp, Thierry de Duve© 1996.

On the Aesthetic Education of Man Nineteenth letter, (page 92), Friedrich Schiller to a Danish Prince (from a letter with Goethe in mind 1795).

The Primacy of Perception (introduction page 5), The Primacy of Perception, Maurice M. Ponty. ©Translation 1964.

Dada Manifesto 1918 Seven Dada Manifestos (page/s, 3 – 13), Tristan Tzara. ©Editions Jean-Jacques Pauvert Sept Manifestes Dada Lampisteries 1963.

Philosophy and Art, The Transfiguration of the Commonplace, (page/s 80 – 89) Arthur C. Danto ©1981.

Proforma ‘Aims and intentions of the workshop’: Monday 18th – Friday 22nd February 2013 (Performance work inclusive).

Ethos: and event.
We are suggesting that all participants read and agree the following:

The workshop will be available to all those who want to investigate and explore the ideas presented in the performance work The Object/s of Light in Perception, performed at the Plymouth Museum and Art Gallery in November of 2012. This will form the basis for a series of exploratory exercises in small groups in response to and as presented by the artists overseeing the workshop, and for those who come forward and want to take part.

The artists intend with the participant’s permission to document the progress of the week from day to day as the various elements of the workshop are generated, discussed and developed within the groups or individually.

There will be an opportunity to contribute to the artist’s performance work (scheduled for Friday 22nd February at 7 pm) as an added event with an invitation to all friends and family etc

The participants are aware that photographic and video documentation may be prepared for an ebook publication, in which case the participants to the workshop will be notified in advance.

The workshop is supported by the Arts Council of England amongst other funding bodies identified, and seeks to support the artists’ initiative in the techniques of research investigation and practice for the above.

I have read and understood the above working ethos


Email address and contact address phone and mobile phone as required


Jane Whitaker, Ken Turner, imaginativeeye Eye Projects UK web archive for and in association with PSQT Learning Stone.

Proforma ‘Ethos and Event discussion forum documentation’ 9th April 2013 PSQT
The workshop conveners prepared the video material and a preliminary outline of the purpose of the meeting, which focussed the ideas for discussion. Soup and bread was also prepared to welcome the participants and guests and tea and coffee for the start of the meeting. The following clarifies and confirms the approach to the issue of documentation and the distinction that occurred in advance at the venues concerning the forms of documentation produced.

Proforma: [given to participants attending the get together]

“Ethos: and event discussion forum”. Following up from the week of participatory work, the “research video” from the static camera will be presented. The idea is to raise debate about the event, the performance work itself and also the photographic images generated, duration of the video and quality and suggestions and feedback to the purpose, focus and placement of the material in the context of the project.

Also the video footage made during the week by Brian and the Weymouth film club and the material photographed by Anne and associates during the performance will be viewed. There will be discussion and suggestions regarding the finished film itself for PSQT archive and possibly the imaginativeeye website.

Further we would be very grateful if the following questions specifically could be addressed and suggestions made.

a) What is the immediate response to the suggestion of website access for the various video materials and in their completed and agreed formats from PSQT and Eye Projects UK web archive? Other viewpoints and portals?


b) Are there any suggestions regarding the potential interaction between the two films, e.g. the “realtime” version of the performance event and the workshop process e.g. can or has a consensus be arrived at regarding the editing of this material or should it at all? Might the camera volunteer/s and editors take up and make what they think is a “good” response to the given deadline, which is e.g. May 31st the week of.


c) Is it possible to encompass a voice over narrative, preliminary introduction etc that acknowledges the sight impairment consideration within the project overall? e.g. a descriptive text might be written and or included as a separate project, a working group set up for this?


d) Might interviews with all the artists taking part be a good idea? How might this be delivered?


e) Can we enable a core group to ratify oversee the production and distribution of the films when finished? Is this necessary? This might just involve email contact and verification in which case updated emails are required or mobile, text, other forms of social media communication.


f) Given time constraints any further suggestions?


Discursive Workshop PMCAG
Contact: website: Imaginativeeye and Eyeprojects - UK Web Archive











Location of the above:

Portland Quarry & Sculpture Trust within Learning Stone and Gallery

Isle of Portland      Dorset  



EVALUATION AND REFLECTION                  back to front page

Ken Turner




Is it, at this juncture, correct to refer to the work still as ‘performance art’?

Perhaps not to jump to conclusions in 2013, but there are indications in the manner and method of thinking and delivery that indicates to both myself and Jane that the motivation and methodology is changing. That is, a marked degree of clarification has occurred within the intentionality as defined during past development from 2001 to the present. In development now in 2013, a more immediate expressive visual and audile form has been formed in the sense that a communication of ideas is more clearly expressed through performance concerning phenomenology. That is to say, that we were not aiming to confuse audiences, as we unintentionally did in 2001 when ideas were first set in perhaps a too overheated concentration on ideas in performance evidenced through philosophical ideas: in this, a mode of performance was, or became entangled with the idea of taking philosophy ‘off the page onto the stage.’ This is not to say we were intentionally making things difficult for both audiences and us ourselves, because intuitively and subconsciously we had an idea that performance art had to move on. This required a tremendous effort to release ourselves from what we considered an outmoded conception of what this discipline had become. Its function, its signification, and its motivation and its methodology as expressed at the time of writing, appears to deviate from its original method of practice as one of radical thought and practice, and indeed, not exploring radically enough: one of enquiry and rethinking around the problem of how the arts functions in the social and cultural environment of today had become a necessity. Perhaps one should refer to this sate as being in a pause mode. In the present economic situation many artists are feeling that here is the time to advance and put forward new ideas with a sense of urgency.

I am referring to Jane Whitaker in these thoughts, and maybe I should, to present a better view, and a fairer one, leave Jane to express what her views are as one coming from a perhaps, not so much a different background in performance, but one in which the academicism related to performance plays a more significant role today: I think it is important, particularly as the Universities in accepting the idea of performance art are in the process of bringing to the discipline an academic view at some remove from its practice by artists. Experience of the thing, physically and emotionally, in itself is essential to its understanding and development, and most importantly to be able to convey meaning to future audiences. Critical writing on performance art has for too long created a false evaluation in its philosophies and motivations. I am not alone in this feeling, and I’m hopeful that in some way ahead this will be rectified: namely, speculation of an over-intellectualistic theoretical approach that precedes the experience of practice, is fundamentally wrong. Historically, we can see evidence of artists who write, think and perform in many different disciplines: doing, making and saying, in that order. However though my belief in the system of believing in the ordering of a process in eventually coming into something different to this observation is happening. Though this belief in critical procedures of saying after the event, is one I firmly adhere to, there is an apparent turn around in my own thinking on where performance art can find its motivation. Where we are perhaps in advance, of possible developments, and conversely turning procedures around in the manner of Derrida, is that since 2001 ideas for performance have come from extensive readings in the works of continental philosophers: and, most recently in painters like Monet, Metzinger, Picasso and Duchamp on writings on their art. However, this practice of stimulation from philosophy or artists’ ideas and statements does not amount to a completely cerebral action, without that is, a sense of experiential accumulation into the consciousness of ones inner being. In my own process of perception and phenomenology, the life class had always, since art school days, been the starting point of motivation and source of inspiration. Now it’s the ‘turn’ of a philosophical sentence or phrase; from the image to the word. An idea on the page catching my thought as visual image, as movement, as a transformative gesture into performance. I like Derrida’s image of ‘four times around the frame and the idea transforming the simulacrum in overturning and reversing Plato’s Cave allegory. Gilles Deleuze also make a cogent intervention in like manner on Plato’s Cave. The idea of the reversal is always an essential part of art. Art could not survive as a continuous repetition of form. Just as philosophy is open to questioning and the excitement of argument itself fundamental to discourse, so art too lives on discursiveness of perception and representation.

This process of course, refers to my search for meaning beyond the visual, the ordinarily perceptible, the transcendental. Of equal value also is the idea of painting being a conduit to the other of the visible. In this sense painting is as important to me as performance, and the two go hand in hand as a development of consciousness towards the idea of knowledge.

Your paintings, how do they fit in?

There is no way for me to subordinate painting to performance. They have an equal place in my work as an explorative and questioning purpose towards that which has been my motivation through the years as long as I can remember. However, there is a difference that’s bugging me about painting. Along with problems of representation in performance there exists also a similar problems in painting. Performance offers so much more that encompasses all the material things associated with performance such as movement, light, sound, time, and word, that I don’t find in painting, or shall I say only by inference. However, I’m certain there is a way. My recent reading of Jacques Rancière’s ideas of aesthetics has led me to understand how now these ideas fit with most of my work, including a reevaluation of Action Space and the idea of the social. The political nature of my thinking has moved into a more exact realisation that politics cannot be separated from art. Action Space saw that happening in the 60‘s and 70‘s until it was commodified by the Arts Council and taken in as a model of performance of action in the community. The smothering effect.

It’s much more complex though, this affect, this irrational aspect of aesthetics. Aesthetics deals with much more than an art work: it is the meaning of art, art at large, its visibility beyond the object. In some ways the flat plane of the painting’s ground has harboured within it the slow emergence of the idea of the abstract. Now it is time for the flat planes of the mind to work itself into multidimensional forms that reach into the sedimentation of thought, abstracting an abstraction of the world at large. In this instance, it’s not to emancipation that we should look, but to something a little more nuanced. Modern art does itself hold forms of learning but the language needs to be learnt. Its attempt to be emancipatory faltered and integration into the world staggered into poster art, advertising and so on. Then with the computer and technology we have something else, even to the extent of the Bridge of San Francisco becoming viewed as an art work with its thousands of changing twinkling LED lights. One would have thought that a consensus could have been arrived at between art, icon, and idea at some time. The Russian artists in 1917 had thought this when Malevich painted his ‘Black Square’ as a symbol of the revolution and new art for the people. Many modern movements have failed through subjectivity and feeling being taken, taken up, distorted, first by delimiting their knowledge and thus in this manner, immersed into political and social systems, unknowingly as ‘delimited knowledge.’ However, real knowledge is indestructible, even the Fascists had some twisted understanding, and saw that art had a power of its own, particularly in music and painting, and some convenient philosophies.

How do people view the overwhelming mediocrity that now passes for art, with only an enclave holding dear the real value of art? The internet discloses mediocrity by the many thousands. Is this where creativity should find its spirit, its resurgence of knowledge? Happily there are pockets of resistance to mediocrity. The are groups questioning cultural developments on a real basis of investigation within radical thought. This is where I belong. I place myself firmly in the outsider position of what’s accepted as our ‘culture.’ The real struggle is to relate the outsider position to how art and thinking as an art form can overcome, or at least come to terms with, the dominance of economics and the material necessities over the immaterial values inherent in the aesthetics of the social where the blurring of sensitivity is being achieved by a continuous succession of news bulletins that scan the world as though the social where the blurring of sensitivity is being achieved by a continuous succession of news bulletins that scan the world as though life itself is contained in informational spats. Within this din of noise, it’s difficult for one to be heard, difficult for ideas to be considered even, give time to settle, to sediment themselves, to be discussed. When it comes to art there is no let up of drowning and distorting the imaginative hurdles accomplished through persistence and perseverance of mind. That is, unless one finds some sort of ‘outlet.’ Even then it’s all over bar the shouting for useless determination to continue as that which one believes to be right. Maybe that’s it, and many are in the same position, keep going, what else?




‘Disrupting The Gaze: Art Intervention at the Tate Gallery’ by Marc Garrett of
Reproduced from

In June 2001, activist Brian Haw began his protest against the economic sanctions on Iraq, opposite the Palace of Westminster in central London. This continued until his death from lung cancer in June 2011. It began with only a few banners and as years passed the number of banners
killing of people in Iraq supported by the UK and US governments. “Even as fresh attempts were begun to oust him, he won an award for being that year’s most inspiring political figure.”

In 2006-7 British artist Mark Wallinger created his art installation State Britain, replicating all of the tents and banners at Parliament Square. It was featured as his main entry for the Turner Prize at Tate Britain. The installation included copies of other people’s contributions to the protest consisting of messages and banners amassed by Haw, and it won Wallinger the Turner Prize that year. Mark Wallinger appropriates Haw’s activist kudos for his own work, and confers a sense of political progressiveness on the Turner Prize and the Tate, while the institution incurs absolutely no risk.

“Faithful in every detail, each section of Brian Haw’s peace camp from the makeshift tarpaulin shelter and tea-making area to the profusion of hand-painted placards and teddybears wearing peace-slogan t-shirts has been painstakingly sourced and replicated for the display.”

With his close attention to the materiality and appearance to the Haw’s peace camp he achieves a total removal of all its political force. Its installation at the Tate offered no threat to extend beyond the boundaries of the hermetically sealed art object. Wallinger is perceived as the more politically aware of the celebrated artists of his generation, but he’s working with the politics of spectacle. A politics in which the worlds of art, media and commerce exploit the images and stories of politics purely for their sensational and marketable equalities rather than its world changing potential.

There is then, this problem of the art institution and the artist. The historical edifice, where art on display invites another kind of receptivity, another kind of aesthetic. An artist’s ‘gaze’ disrupted, dismantled and reconstructed in its meaning, nuanced into an art object into an art gallery, finally observed and considered as art in an art gallery. In this respect, Duchamp saw the light by not taking an art object into an art gallery. His ‘ready mades’ turned the spectator into a ‘thinker about art,’ not a passive observer.

Interestingly also, in this context, Eye Projects first performance of the ‘The Object/s of Light in Perception,’ being in the venue of the Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery, could have succumbed to this artistic faux pas, though markedly dissimilar in not being a Turner Prize candidate. In its final scene Duchamp fictionally meeting up with Stanhope Forbes, a figurative painter from another time historically, presenting a ‘Newlyn Ice shovel’ as a ready made replacement of the original ‘Snow Shovel’ of 1917, overcame the ‘gallery’s presence.’

Not only overcoming the institutional aura of a landmark city art gallery, but also for a moment introducing a questioning note of instability and uncertainty in the role of art, especially as placed in a city museum.

The Edwardian splendour of these prestigious City Galleries, its magnificent stairways, marbled adornment and its extensive staffing emphasised its permanence and authority in the City of Plymouth. Despite the environment, we saw the performance as being simply a job of work: importantly one that in being there became ‘civic.’ That is, having a sense of responsibility to the city at large. The real value of performance came through in its liveness and the purpose of questioning for just a few moments in its history, was one of a state of transformation to a physicality of presence, and a connection with an audience in its immediacy. In contrast, we were also aware that the exhibition on the walls of ‘Women Painters from the Middle Ages to the Present Day’ was fortuitously appropriate to our event on perception, as it illustrated the changing notions of perception through the ages. This also fitted perfectly into the pedagogical aspect of our project. I did wonder how many of the audience noticed the juxtapositional change in historical time as they were caught up in the other reality of the ‘now moments of time’ in the performance. My thoughts in this direction went to how this could be a point of discussion in the workshops that had been scheduled as part of the project.

The script for the performance took five modern movements in art that we saw as representative of important periods showing changes in perception in time, as an understanding of light as it reveals the object and, of light as a thing in itself, in the spectrum. We understood light as a medium of thought, as it were, in tandem with the brush application of making paintings, where these periods expressed ideas of figurative art, impressionism, cubism, dada and conceptual art. Thus, we processed a visual and audile thesis with a prerecorded backdrop of multiple projections of video for a choreographed action that matched itself to the mood, sensibility and character of the projections and expressive nature of the artists historically represented.

Building and making a dramatic series of moving images on stage that flowed as a series of dynamic representation of the theories of light and form, backed up by appropriate research material from a variety of sources that the audience were given as a bibliography, was a deliberate educational reminder, as they entered the gallery. Also programme notes on the performance to make as clear a view as possible the substance and content that we were dealing with. The motivation for the schemata and idea of the project entailed more than appeared if only a passive attitude was brought to the event. As with all good at forms, the background of content and the spearhead for the project had taken root far back in time, (2001), when we made our first excursions into art and philosophy with research into Jacques Derrida’s ‘The Truth in Painting.’ centred on the painting of Van Gogh’s ‘Old shoes’ with discussions between Heidegger and Schapiro on what the ‘unlaced shoes’ held a truth that might be unravelled. However more of this later, as I intend to trace the ideas and structures back through ten years as the story unfolds back and forth.

The Plymouth Performance itself: it was a Thursday afternoon and after two days of rehearsal we were ready to go. However, midweek and, on an afternoon, this wasn’t quite the right time for a large audience, particularly as we would have been pleased to have also had a younger set of people from all sections of the community. We put this down to the vagaries of institutional economics and hierarchies within the museum. Our particular appointed Curators within the Museum though, were ever attentive and helpful to our needs. The performance was well received, and showed great interest and enthusiasm. The comments book evidenced this very clearly. On reflection, the idea of a civic place, a performance of cultural interest, a pedagogical thesis and an entertainingly visual presentation of historic import in visual perception with a philosophical grounding, appeared to be a radical move in performance art. It was a major achievement, and a huge stride and consolidation of our previous work. The idea of a ‘civic sense’ was closely linked to the development our workshops, but this turned out to be not possible due to the galleries commitments of prescheduled organisation. The value of further work in this direction was to be a series of workshops dealing with the thesis as shown in the performance, and its relationship to the exhibition on the walls; leading to a second performance wherein the participants of the workshops were to become an ‘addenda to the main performance. This addition was vital to continuing the discursive evaluation of the project as a whole and a continuation in involvement of the audience with the subject. This was a loss to the audience and a loss to others who may have been involved if information had reached further into the Community, University, and Art School. Publicity was distributed to these organisations about the initial performance, but not enough stress was put to the second showing (which eventually did not happen, but later became possible elsewhere) and workshop structure and purpose. Urgently then, a new venue was sought.

A past connection proved fruitful. The Drill Hall in Portland, with its full title as ‘Portland Quarry & Sculpture Trust for Learning Stone Workshops and Gallery’ has been in existence since 1984; where the expansion of ideas and activities that had already taken place in terms of involving a multiple collection of skills, saw now how a further implementation of integration into future programmes of an even stronger consolidation could happen: closer in real physicality and cognitively motivated juxtapositions, whereby artists, scientists, educational establishments and local communities would be enabled to interrelate, not only a focus on the Limestone Quarries, as the historical site in which the scope of geology and other arts and sciences could be extended, but also one in which artists and architects and others could realise the benefits of shared experience taken from work outside, in the landscape of the lime stone quarry environment, and then cogently displayed or performed as they are brought into the space of the Drill Hall. This has been made evident in a previous exhibition entitled ’Seeing Through Stone-2009’ where a public was able to view experiments and achievements of their work and discoveries, and could do so again with perhaps an even closer interrelation: more experimental methodology of cross linking disciplines in creative ideas.

The performance brought from Plymouth with its already successfully established structures would still be centred on the landscape of the mind and perception, but because of the spatial qualities of the Hall, the staging could be intensified, both sculpturally and architecturally, with an extra dimensional dynamic. This was an advantage for me in having the opportunity to work on a larger sculptural form, increasing the space in length, breadth and height. Added to these qualities, the three projections, increased the scale of pictorial movement where every space was filled with information and process. Standing back from the slightly raised stage the spectacle touched upon a feeling of a vast historical landscape, as if timeless. That is, an actively performed view of a history of five revolutionary periods in modern art from the late 1880’s to 1917, with its perceptions and ideas and methods as the artists concerned had persevered in an articulation of their visions.





Cubist period and the eye of Picasso bearing down from different vantage points as it travelled over the scene







The DADA period was followed by a recorded speech on Free Play and the Dance of the Ice Shovel.
The Ice Shovel was part of the fictional technique adopted in replacing the original Duchamp Snow Shovel.

Free Play as an aesthetic, has as its main thesis the aesthetic education of man as articulated in Friedrich Schiller’s book ‘On the Aesthetic Education of Man’ first published in 1795. As a series of 27 letters to a Danish Prince at the time of the French Revolution, art for Schiller was the vehicle of education. A philosopher and poet; these Letters assert that through aesthetic experience, people can reconcile the inner antagonism between sense and intellect, and nature and reason. Though they are written in a language more suited to ‘gentlemanly society of the time’ they expressed deep concerns that reverberate today in our understanding of a duality in sensuous-rational man, where aesthetic play gives space to the imagination in an educative process.




These two extracts were just two of the many given out in the workshops that preceded the performance. On a table, as we met the participants for the W/S, were a number of reference books that had been used in the research period for setting up the performance’s background information. The team of participants on the first day of the five planned, amounted to fifteen. Our perception of what might evolve was to just see how they responded to an introduction that conveyed the sense of a philosophical idea of visual perception. One that eventually became an ‘addenda showing.’ Interest eventually went to a manageable number from fifteen to nine; involving, the visually impaired, mentally impaired, the unemployed and a retired teacher of languages and a school boy of nine years.




The talents amongst this group were: a blind composer and singer, a geometrician of Platonic Solids of crystals and stone carver, a laser expert in electronics, a teacher of language, a poet, a central government information employee, a filmmaker, a guide for the blind, and a painter school boy. It wasn’t long before the group, after three days, decided that they did not want to be just an addenda to the performance, but, nothing less than a full integration into the performance itself. Their insistence was a surprise, but seemed that having to take this on, we had entered a new paradigm of participation. By the end of five days this new approach was accomplished, very successfully too. Introducing a second showing with an integrated group of local people with a variety of skills, some with physical and mental impairments, was a step into a possible format of performance in which pedagogy, as we envisaged it, theoretically from the beginning, was now a way forward and worthy of serious consideration. That is, working from the premise that a fully professional performance could be taken forward, pedagogically, into a second showing where a new kind of learning was to evolve saw shades of Schiller’s notion of aesthetic education in the arts and society. Justifiably, it could be observed that this development was like a new growth in thinking how performance art, particular to the ‘Imaginative Eye’ and ‘Eye Projects’, could be attached to ideas of new learning methods. That is, one in which experience of performance art in all its sensibilities and cognitively essential qualities in ideas of perception, becoming a new exciting force in research and development in new educational ideas, linked closely to artist’s led initiatives and experience. A professionalism of contact and immersion in a practical working and discursive process in which a distribution of the sensible and sensibilities was seen to be possible.




xx  “I was honoured to be included and accepted as a blind person without question. Amazing to become part of it. A really good experience in a sound and tactile sense. It will be good to take the video to my college”

ff “ When I was editing everything came together. Everybody had their input and could see where it was all coming from.
It was absolutely excellent. This should be seen by a wider audience”

ee “I wasn’t part of the workshop so nobody was able to explained things to me, however in watching it, in the end I understood and it was really good”

dd “I understood what you were about and I tried to relate to the topic, and felt fortunate to be invited. I was interested in the concept and looked to see what I could do. I responded to the stage situation where I became a sort of model during the whole performance”


Scripts, such as the above were part of the display of information during the five day workshops in the Drill Hall. It took a long time for us to get the project into a structural form for rehearsal due to the amount of historical research and search for appropriate images. This was observed by the group participants who could see the background of schemata followed and information covered. Discussion on this level of detail and attention was seen to be necessary if the participants were to appreciate the work of preparation and the seriousness of the project. Finally, with the video made of the completed performances and workshops given out to all the members of the group of collaborators, this experimental project in pedagogical performance came to a point where we could go on to evaluate and contrast the two sections of the project as indicated above.




Also to go ahead with publishing a separate e-book in a form where both Jane and I made our own responses to the project. Of course there were many areas of agreement, but ideas in collaboration was also part of our own personal remit, so we need to bring these into sharp focus. Importantly, we are dealing with both collaboration and participation and what they mean, as often they are entered into without too much thought. Not only to ourselves, but as illustrated at Portland, a new direction has to be found. We are sure that up to this point in the joint Plymouth—Portland project, the direction has been right for future projects and look to be equally invigorating in their eventual fulfillment.

Other comments made at Plymouth and Portland


“Brilliant, really enjoyed it” — Essey, Torpoint.

“My poor little brain. It is not currently up to speed. However, I shall be attempting to remedy this. Loved your performance” — Corina, Plymouth.

“Very good, enjoyed it” — G. E. Phewkesly.

“ Thoroughly enjoyed the whole show” — B. Stone.

“Loved it. Great to see art in Portland, even if I didn’t get it all. Come back” — C. Stone.

“Shani’s singing was amazing and enjoyed whatching everyone working together” — Sarah Stone.

“Very good performance, Shani’s singing great, loved it” — V. Jackson.

“Very good show, I did enjoy it” — Maureen Lewis.

“A whole new experience, What I understood I found interesting. Found the very therapeutic. I would love watch a show like this again.”—Tim Lambert.

:Absolutely loved the effects created with projectios/shadows and movements. A most unexpected evening and lovely soup.” — Mandy Rathbone.

“Gat, intriguing performance, friendly atmosphere” — Dan Drogon.

“A fanastic performance of the move from representation to conceptual and abstacr art. Loved it and can’t wait to see the film”

“Very impressed by it all— the sounds and images” — Charles Frampton.

”Wonderful experience! Skillfully brought together and developed. The research method and time-frame helped to focus. Thank you both. Wonderful week of workshops” — Hannah Sofoar


Seriously, this could be a joke. Even more seriously it could be serious.

My understanding is that by taking a critical view of pedagogy within the realm of performance art, seriously, is because within society there exists an oppression of visual images, (as we all know) either moving or static, that could be examined through this discipline of performance. I object to the colonization of peoples subjective feelings by media control. This concerns me when performance art appears invariably not to address issues such as these. This is not to say that performance becomes a tool for instruction as seen in Augusto Baol’s system adopted in his ‘Theatre of the oppressed,’ or, indeed, to follow Paulo Freire’s methodology in the ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed.’ Somehow I need to work things out differently. And from what has been achieved in the performances at Plymouth and Portland. Importantly to follow a new path of practice. I see this as treading newterritory within a new ethical aesthetic. As I have indicated elsewhere about a new aesthetic, It’s going to take a long time in experimental work, reading, research and practice. I want to pursue a professional practice in performance in which my art, in collaboration with Jane in the imaginativeeye-eyeproject, is not compromised in any way and yet be able to work on new pedagogies through performance. First though, new ethical aesthetics have to be followed through in all its complexities, philosophically and artistically. Baol sees participatory theatre as means to alert people to their plight as the poor and oppressed who are under control of powers that they have no possibility of overcoming: his way is to arouse feelings and senses to be able to face the reality of political oppression. In performance art there is a way to arouse feelings and consciousness through art into a realm where one is in a state wherein a knowledge through experience expands itself beyond the ordinary, beyond the everyday. That is, being able to see the everyday in a new light because a new aesthetic of seeing is experienced through art. Important for a view of politics also, but indirectly. I am not professing that this is an original thesis, it’s really an age old ‘message’ that art is a powerful medium through which communication on all levels of interchange has historically shown itself as a medium for change. This is evident; Particularly in the modern period. This is not a plea either for emancipation or political protest as certain periods of modernism has often adopted, and currently becoming a cliche of fashion or monetary gain. I think at this stage, I see, and have to see, an ‘avant garde’ in performance art that creates for itself a huge turnaround of ideas.

So, at this moment my thoughts about painting also has to change in line with performance. This change is difficult in that I seem to be still tied to modernism and its aesthetic of form and composition. I still find these qualities necessary as being my grounding in art carried over to performance, and in structuring the formal aspects in a specific manner; it also applies to composition in time and movement, including sound. Sound itself is important as I have now developed a form and technique matching the content in expression of philosophical ideas. My videos also have made headway in this direction, as a thing in itself and for performance.

What though of headway, how does one recognize this form; particularly the struggle to bring art into the social without damaging its essential form?

I have noted elsewhere, what ‘the blurring of art and life‘ might mean. Felix Guattari has written that this blurring entirely into life, risks ‘the perennial possibility of eclipse.’ He goes on to say that art has to have a double finality, an insertion into a social network and, also to celebrate the Universe of art because it is always in danger of collapsing. Celebration for the artist occurs always at the point of making. However, this celebration is invariably short lived. The necessity to continue the celebration of art is to continue to make it. Even so, it could remain in the studio as a painted canvas or just a written unperformed script, because the feeling is that the world outside will be hostile or not able to appropriate its form, and more so if the art has a tendency to being radical: a radically necessary to life itself. In this sense, participation as a means to achieve some sort of learning process for others to take place also involves a risk, that radically may be compromised. Another Guattari: ‘how do you bring a classroom to life as if it were a work of art?’

So, participation itself in art processes instigated by an artist is a risk to art as it is understood and maybe understood in a different way to artists’ ideas. Obviously this difference could be an important deviation, and one advantageous to its completion. However the participation we sought in Portland was about integration, and importantly, one in which our particular idea of the performance, as performed in Plymouth, became different through the integration of a learning group invited from the community. The idea of a learning group then saw themselves as a research group because of their lack of knowledge of performance art, and in doing so increased their learning skills as well as knowing a lot more about performance art. We, as artists, had resolved that this was, in the circumstances, a good thing to have happened. As the comments reveal, their achievements were quite considerable and more so than if they had become only an addenda to the performance, as an add on, as it were, as was originally intended. It has to be said, that if we had not done the performance in Plymouth we would not have been so satisfied with the second performance in Portland. In this way the two performances fitted together as one project, almost as if we had planned it before hand in exactly this way. There was a plan but not to the effect and affect of being in two different venues.

The future then looks possible in that we need to plan the structure of two performances: one without participation and one with participation, exactly following the model achieved, and yet going further; in time spent in preparation of working with participants. Therefore to give more thought on the idea of a short course in a ‘College for Participatory Performance Art’ and relating it to a professional performance, prior to the course itself. To an effect this would be helpful in evaluating the work already done, where the content becomes part of the learning process. By content is meant that the subject chosen for performance had embedded in it an awareness of being set to challenge the world artistically, socially and politically. That is, in being already poised to continue with the existent philosophy of the imaginativeeye-eyeprojects and thus kept to its challenging nature of radicality. This means the need to carefully weigh up the balance of risk involved in professional skills and attitudes, and the nonetheless, adventuresome, attitudes of the not so experienced. I maybe overstating a fear, but it is one that overtook Action Space and therefore requires scrutiny. However, because of the success of the two performances and the reception of the audiences and participants, we can look forward to substantial developments.


The painting above entitled ‘The Phenomenology of Self in 2013’ is a reflection on my experience of the two performances and their respective philosophies and methodologies. In this respect my thoughts continue to be on the project as it transpired, and will be so until the next stage is begun on what happens next?

The painting below entitled ‘The Tragic Sense of Life’ is possibly showing something of the concerns I had back in 2011 about ideas in perceptivity, and what it means to be human: painted in 2011.




Reference: Miguel De Unamuno ‘The Tragic Sense Of Life’ republished in 1976.
At one point he states “..and great madness, to seek to penetrate into the mystery of the Beyond; madness to seek to superimpose the self-contradictory dreams of our imagination upon the dictates of sane reason”



A new painting (5x5 feet) dated May 2013 as a further response to the project.

Entitled: 'Ethics in Relation to the Social Environment and the Individual'


bringing to a conclusion my personal evaluation and reflections on both Plymouth and Portland. This has been an exciting piece of performance work overall and has immense possibilities for the future.

What is it that makes art so peculiar when it's in advance of the common, and yet so necessary to be in advance in the realm of thought and its practice?


back to the portland page