Nicolas Bourriard – Relational Aesthetics

After Bachelard and de Certeau this seemed like familiar territory especially as I had used this work (quoted by others) in my MA1 essay. It also illustrates ideas using artworks and this makes it all the more ‘comfortable’ to read. Most of the ideas are now very familiar and the reflections on 1990s artwork are relevant today but not new. What I responded to is his ability to see the continuity in all aspects of art, ideas and how ‘even if one game is over we continue playing’.

The most interesting ideas I came across were :

The rational and irrational form: for example taking the idea of the rational from the enlightenment and the irrational from Dada.

The ideas behind modernity are not dead only the way in which it was idealistic and teleological. The modernist Utopia is replaces by modeling utopian ways of doing things – (what de Certeau might have called tactics). He also talks about Social Utopias giving way to micro utopias.This appeals to me as I am essentially optimistic although very critical of society and therefore whilst appreciating the ironic end of history, end of art dystopian work doesn’t resonate so well with me.

The chapter on forms and the others’ gaze: especially the idea of each artwork being a bundle of relations with the world. Although Bourriard talks mainly about gallery work the ideas in this chapter of ‘the face looking at me’ can be applied really well to public spaces and guerilla tactics.

The relationship with technology and the digitally calculated image as opposed to the traced image of physical impact. This is obviously slightly dated in terms of technology but this relationship of the very few experiencing an event in physical time and space and the possibility of the whole world seeing the documentation is even further exaggerated today and we have to work with this. In particularly I liked the idea of the trace as a concept that I would like to apply and the idea that it was often within traditional media that technology was debated most clearly rather than being used. We have moved on but I think we can still have that debate.


Drawing from the publicity

putas 1 putas 2 putas 3 putas 4It is really difficult to maintain the quality of line or the loose freshness of the drawing when I scale them up. However I needed to do this in order to make them have a physical presence in the street – I suppose. Or could I use small ones in the street.

I need to think about how to do this. For example I could use the 50m law which exists in some areas that prostitutes have to be 50 meters from the highway. I could also use props such as chairs that they use not to sit on but to signify their presence. I also want to draw the sites at least some to incorporate this type of mapping. These drawings feel too heavy and less tracelike so I am going to try to be more subtle and break down the process into traces and layering.

I have to decide how to do this before the end of the year (Thursday) as a trial run which I could incorporate into TYB.


Should I keep the scale of the prayer cards and publicity flyers? or make larger wheatpasting in the street? How to place the cards/flyers

Where should they be sited? I am going to look at the maps but start close to home

Why am I returning to the back view continually? Anonymity? vulnerability?

First sketches from the publicity

Starting out small scale not looking – these types of drawings are like magic to me – also impossible to repeat and to scale up – I am not sure how I can juxtapose this imagery with the religious prayer cards or how I can use it but these drawings are fresh and I would like to incorporate these traces. Maybe I need to visit the sites again.

Gaston Bachelard – The Poetics of Space

This book has been a real epic for me. I started in the summer in Morocco and struggled with the dominance of ‘the house’ and the number of floors everyone doesnt and never did have. Indeed at one point the author bemoans living in a Paris apartment, which seems like a luxury. However, I managed to overcome my own limited perspective and acknowledge his point of view and learn something from it. This was helped by the way the points are made and illustrated using poetry. Although this book is about the phenomenology of architecture it is also about much more. I found ideas such as the inside and outside and the miniature really stimulating and the chapter about intimate immensity really rewarding to read.

The newness of the poetic or the aesthetic experience. from the outset Bachelard underlines the importance of the poetic experience as something immediate and new this is always balanced by the oneiric experience of our memories of daydreams. From the beginning he proposes that the poetic act has no past.

The most important significance of the house, or indeed the hovel or hut is that it shelters daydreams. It provides intimate space where we can hide and daydream alone. These corners which are intimate and protected from others are also immense. Rather than focus on the dream he focuses on daydreams or the memory of them. ‘The house allows us to dream in peace’. If this book is about architecture it is about private space and

Oneiric Bachelard describes the oneric experience as the memories of day dreaming rather than about sleeping dreams. Daydreams are moe important to him.

Inner immensity  Bachelard proposes that it is inner immensity which allows us to give meaning to the visible world. He talks of going into the wood and feeling the limitlessness. This also feels like the pleasure of being lost – or rather of not knowing the geometry of a place.

The Practice of Everyday Life, Michel de Certeau

I was drawn to this book some time ago but didn’t connect it to my current research until Angela suggested it to me in connection with my contextual study. The main thread is about how we tend to assume that consumption is a passive activity and that society is neatly organised into producers and consumers. de Certeau proposes that consumption can be and is a creative activity and that academia struggles to understand it as it does not have the tools.

His example at the beginning of the book is how South Americans used the Spanish colonisers products to practice their own outlawed beliefs. As he states the practice of everyday life is rarely documented and when so it is usually studied by a limited single scientific discipline and method. He gives us some examples such as ethnology and sociology. These are seen as inadequate tools and also the results of these studies are not applicable to other communities. From the outset de Certeau claims a desire to establish a science of singularity by connecting everyday pusuits to particular circumstances.

As with Bachelard he is disenchanted by the scientific method as this activity is creative and cultural and therefore rational reasoning is limiting. he looks specifically at oral traditions and walking in the city as examples of how individuals are free to interpret and consume in a non productive and creative way. He also examines the relationship between theory and practice in detail which was extremely useful.

Of most interest to me in all of this:

He is interested in the idea of the social (relational) interactions. He wishes to analyse what the common person does with cultural production in everyday activities. I am interested in the way within the class system the élite produces culture for the masses who use them in their own way adding their own meanings. This reminds me of some research I did into non standard English and how this is no less complex or limiting than accepted forms.

He analyses oral stories, fables and the act of reading and speaking in detail. He also claims (in the 70s) that the marginalised are  a silent majority.  Obviously some of this is dated, with regards to the internet, but other aspects are not. The act of writing is considered in some depth and oral practice is seen as less inhibited and there is a loss in the writing of it. Especially of interest to me are his ideas about the use of oral narratives in creating practice.

He identifies a difference between tactics and strategies. The dominant culture having relatively explained and limited strategies for operating technological society the less powerful create more complex tactics to circumvent it.

The distinction between place and space. The space as a dynamic event which exists in time, it is a practiced place. The place is defined but multiple functioning. ‘every proper place is altered by the mark others have left on it’. In relation to stories they transform one into the other.

The gaps: the ways in which culture operates between the gaps: in language by saying that which cannot be said when following the rules (Wittgenstein). blurring of work and leisure through la Perruque (using work time for own activities –  the wig). The analogy of the picket fence is wonderful. The failure of reason is the blindspot and everyday practices exist in casual time in the situation of acts of thoughts.

The reuse of products being the same way as the reinvention of language not being heard. He also examines the invisibility of the sick and dying.

The meaninglessness of statistics also really strikes a chord.

The limitations of epistemology:for example the suggestion of the knowledge of cooking and other everyday activity is not known.To what extent does this apply to unskilled labour?  There are also problems of the ways of knowing about science and the necessity of interdisciplinary investigations into culture.




Testing Your Boundaries

Testing your boundaries

This presentation was given by Les Bicknell with many examples of alternative ways of displaying work, a variety of sites and ways of showing artwork.

We need to make new work which is a continuation of our practice but for which we consider site and engagement.We are expected to show work in a different context to the ways we have in the past.

reflective journal

We need to keep a journal of the whole process until March from investigation through to the exhibition

and submitt a final written evaluation of between 1000-1250 words

Initial Ideas

We had to come up with a quick response in 10 minutes and I managed to make a short list of possibilities. I only presented the first one to the group – which is not the most realistic but I have decided if I don’t aim to do what I really want to do I never will. I also have the other ideas as back up:

a. The 20D Spanish general elections

Project images of people who are not able to vote projected onto the congress building in Madrid – this would include the 90+% of Spanish people who live abroad and cannot vote and the immigrants both legal and illegal who live in Spain and don’t have the right to vote (like me). The right to protest in Spain was recently changes by the ‘Ley Mordaza’ the gagging law which was approved this year making it more difficult for us to demonstrate. We talked about the technical problems and the legal risks.

b. Domestic spaces: I like to show ordinary people as opposed to the ‘known’ this is usually also tied to history as in the ‘forgotten’ and I would be very excited to show in a domestic space:  an apartment or a house, tying this to the everyday. This we did not discuss but I think this is complicated by finding the site unless it is an abandoned building and again I could still have legal difficulties. This could work using some kind of ‘guerilla’ tactics.

c. Plaques:  Historical memory is a huge issue in Spain. The tacit agreement of the bipartisan of left and right in the transition to democracy was to not openly discuss the franco dictatorship and both sides held to this for a long time. Now the two party system is being smashed (elections tomorrow have 4 parties with relatively strong standing in the polls) and in 2007 (over 30  years after the end of the dictatorship) the historical memory law allowed the process to ‘begin’ officially. Now there are daily exhumations from unmarked graves. Naturally most of these people are unknown with the Lorca headline popping up periodically. I would like to make plaques to the unknown people who are being exhumed. The difficulties would be where to put them – and the typical plaques put the one famous person who lived in the building above all the other 100s who passed through that domestic space.

d. Workers in Ojén, Andalucia: This is a village where I lived for 4 years and where there is currently extremely high unemployment. It has never been a very rich area but during the 19th and 20th centuries many of the men worked in the mines in both Ojen and Marbella. The Spanish Govt sold the mines to the British who exported the minerals by ship from the port in Marbella. In the early 20th century the workers gained some rights from their employers. These were quite similar to those gained by trades unions in the UK such as the 10 hour working day minimum wages etc… I considered mounting an exhibition in the village to remember these early trade unionists.

I need to research projectors and where and how to hire them. This is a big technological challenge but as the issue of light has come up quite a few times now I am going to look into it.


Maps of Prostitution

I found these maps via google which helped me to identify where the centres of prostitution in Madrid. I have been following Colectivo Hetaira and Putas Indignadas and now I need to decide whether to work on this projct for now. It would take me away from some themes often present in my work such as looking at history but I still see the main interest in identity, ordinary human relationships and our connections to site and place as present. In my crit everyone seemed to think I didn’t have to choose which project to work on but I don’t feel I have time with all the reading I have to do to focus on more than one project.  Especially as I must also work on TYB project at the same time.

Captura de pantalla 2015-11-28 a las 19.07.10



Captura de pantalla 2015-11-28 a las 19.07.59