Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Residency 1, Day 5: 'There are no meaningful images. Meanings are created outside of the image.' - Joachim Schmid

Final work needed to be done for ABCOA. This involved much going around the loop in order to get the formats consistent for printing and posting via PC2Paper. I needed to create a PayPal button too, and various discussions were had with individual contributors. Sixty-two people in total supplied a COA for this, with a few from Cork and West Cork. The list (including me) is as follows:

Aaron Krach, Aisling Roche, Alfred Steiner, Andreas Schmidt, Cadi Froehlich, Carritt and Palmer (Jon Carritt and Dan Palmer), Chengwei (Sunny) Geng, Clare Strand, Claudia de la Torre, Corinne Vionnet, Craig Havens, Dafna Talmor, Daniel Pryde-Jarman, Daniella Norton, David Schulz, Duncan Wooldridge, Edgar Leciejewski, Eric Doeringer, Fiona Winterflood, Greg Allen, Irene Fubara-Manuel, Jan Basarab, Jenny Odell, Joachim Schmid, Joanna Zylinska, Jocelyn Allen, John MacLean, Jonathan Lewis, Jonathan Monk, Jonathan Schmidt-Ott, Julie Samuels, Kenneth Goldsmith, Klara Vith, Lisa Levy, Louis Porter, Lucas Gabellini-Fava, MacDonaldStrand (Gordon MacDonald and Clare Strand again), Michalis Pichler, Micheál O'Connell (Mocksim), Mike Stoakes, Miriam O'Connor, Mishka Henner, Motion Sickness (Denise Kehoe, Eleanor Breeze and Arabella Hilfiker), Natalia Jaffe, Oliver Griffin, Paul Soulellis, Penelope Umbrico, Peter Morgan, Rahel Zoller, Roy Mehta, Sarah Brenneman, Scott Robertson, Susan Diab, Suzanne O'Haire, Sveinn Fannar Jóhannsson, Tomasz Madajczak, Travis Shaffer, Wayne Daly and Wil van Iersel.

The project is a good one. It will most likely have nothing to do with the Uillinn show next year but you never know how the learning, the collaborating, and so on, could influence things.

I did work more on the Turbogolf front, and engaged in one or two conversations with Zoom visitors.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Residency 1, Day 4: 'Tilting at Windmills' - Miguel de Cervantes

Today I began working on my own stuff, whilst dealing with some final aspects of the three collaborative works mentioned already. Photographs connected the mail art project had been ordered a few days ago. When they arrive it will be more clear what to do with them but one idea is simply to replace the collaged pieces I found in the envelope passed on to me with photos of those pieces, and then hand over to the next person in the relay, painter Emma Stone-Johnson.

Regarding the autonomous work, I've been revisiting the Turbogolf project, which is intended to be a significant aspect of the show in Skibbereen in 2022. For a year toy, battery powered, wind turbines have remained unpacked in the studio. Today I decided to take a few out with a view to experimenting with them, positioning in different places, maybe photographing or filming them in motion. To my disappointment, only one of the four worked when unpacked. The batteries were fine. New ones I bought did not help. I'll make contact with the various companies involved in Ireland and the Netherlands.

A steady supply of visitors appeared again today including Mark Sheerin, Tomasz Madajczak, Janina Moniska, Phil Murphy, Cecily O'Connell, and a mystery guest or two. For the most part I did not interact with them.

For a while I got thinking again about the mirror as a relatively new technology: Felix Goncalez turned up and we experimented for a bit with one.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Residency 1, Day 3: 'Why Games, Or, Can Art Workers Think?' - Hito Steyerl

It will be important NOT to attempt share everything here about how the commissioned work is developing. At any rate, even if that were possible, it would render unnecessary the need for the exhibition in the final place. Nevertheless, some boundary-muddying will be engaged with and to a degree, this is the public face of the 'sketchbook'.

A few attempts were made to create a more comprehensive film documenting the ABCOA work, involving 61 other artists, including myself. It seems a bit long though the film, at about 15mins. I'd like to find a way of getting it down to 10mins but still get everyone in as Duncan Wooldridge recommends.

A Zoom-bomber appeared at one point. They performed in a way that was meant to be disruptive, and posted some aggressive comments in the chat: '14:03:37 From Dominik Delamata to Everyone : no one gives a fuck bitch.' I only discovered these comments later. Zoom has been sending daily automated friendly warnings about having posted the conference link on social media, but what's happening here is not, in fact, a conference, nor a meeting of any sort. I had, more or less, encouraged anyone who wanted to come along, to take a peek. Mostly I have the speakers off. In the case of Dominik Delamata, I changed their display name to 'Zoom-bombing Idiot' - I'm the host - and let them carry on with it. After a while they left. Interesting, or not. Dunno. Christopher Clack and maybe another was there at the same time.

Paul McNally, whom I've only ever 'known' on Facebook, signed in today for many hours, so it felt as though we were working in one extended space. We did not speak once. Occasionally I brought stuff to the laptop camera and shared but, for the most part, we ignored each other. Many others appeared, but I continued with my commitment not to engage fully. I did have a conversation with Dagmar Glausnitzer early in the morning. Later Mairéad McVeigh appeared, Yorgos Karagiannakis for a bit and others I may have missed. I was not always aware of the screen. John Halpin for example told me at a later stage that he had turned up one day, Robin Blackledge possibly appeared for a while. Lashed on a bit of Bach to deal with the post-bomber mild trauma.

Clarity is emerging in the head department as the three collaborations mentioned go under the belt. It's been possible to play around with investigations into wind-turbines, toy versions or otherwise, golf, and I have been wondering about the dimensions of the spaces at Uillinn. The thought of obtaining a wind turbine blade, or having something similar, and large, fashioned is becoming a factor in the equation.

Today podcaster and Uillinn blogger Gavin Buckley interviewed me. Afterwards, I felt like I had talked a bit too much, or talked 'at' him rather than conversing properly. This can happen,  and I am from Blarney after all: hopefully something coherent emerges.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Residency 1, Day 2: '"Can Computers Be Creative?": A Misguided Question' - Joanna Zylinska

The image above is from my walk to the studio each day. Some new destruction followed by construction is in progress not far from APEC.

It became clear that various collaborations, three in total, needed to be dealt with before proceeding with more autonomous activity. My initiative with ABC Artists' Books Cooperative, ABCOA, needs some more attention before its release date. We had been thinking about 1st April for this but there is a debate on Slack. Likewise a book containing the transcribed communications with Tomasz Madajczak in Skibbereen last summer, is in its final stages. Once again he and I were looking at 1st April to launch that. Then there is a mail art project being conducted by people here at APEC Studios and beyond, and it is my turn to take what I have been given, do something with it, and pass it on.

Today, I set things up on Zoom, with a comment instead of the name, pointing out that I might not interact. Invariably, a few turned up that I could not resist communicating with, not least painter Nick Carrick, with whom I used to share this very studio. Whilst chatting about the perennial problem of how to deal with too much stuff, Nick, hilariously brought up the antiquated notion of defragmentation: 'What's the word in computers? You Defrag it or something?'. I had flashbacks to the 1990s when a PC would be put to this task every so often, taking hours, whilst providing what seemed like accurate visualisation of the process. The process of walking over to and back from the studio, each day, and walking generally, seems to play that Defrag role for me.

I had an important meeting with Tomasz yesterday, where we looked at the latest version of the book again. I had made more changes, including one which reduced the number of pages from 200 to about 170 but we decided to reverse that. The Forward text was adjusted though and we now call it Onward. It's easy to work with Tomasz: at the risk of sinking into bro-mance clichés, differences feed the decision making, everything is utterly relaxed but then we converge on solutions at lightening speed; things and are in tune. We opted for a better quality of paper (which later that was reversed again) because his versions arriving in West Cork seemed to be absorbing moisture and warping noticeably. Lol, wheel in Flann O'Brien please: this is straight out of An Béal Bocht. Once changes are made, new copies are ordered and, fuck me, do we have a lot of versions now. Each duff copy or slight aberration will be worth millions in years to come ;) We discussed launching the publication on the least eventful or most unimportant day of the year which, according to scientists, is 11th April. Samuel Beckett's birthday is two days later. We could opt for that and cynically - not really - drink from B-word aura. Rather than releasing on 1st April as originally planned then, either of these two later-in-April options would give more time to check the final quality. And is Fool's Day not too self-deprecating anyhow? This book is no joke: it's fucking great. It being precisely 200 pages long and containing exactly 50,000 words is beautifully neat. Yea, we both agree that the NoSpace book is fine achievement.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Residency 1, Day 1: 'I personally feel that "defamiliarization" is found almost everywhere form is found' - Viktor Shklovsky

Not being able to travel to Uillinn, The West Cork Arts Centre, Ireland - which remains, understandably, closed due to the pandemic - it was agreed with director Ann Davoren that a planned artist's residency could be carried out remotely instead. This was to be the first of four engagements aimed at producing new work for a solo exhibition in Skibbereen in Autumn 2022. Typically when residencies do take place on site at Uillinn, a steady stream of gallery visitors wander past the three purpose built studios, because they are in the proximity of the main exhibition spaces. E
ntering the studios is encouraged when a studio door is left open. Bits of work might be on display or conversations conducted about other subjects. For this residency, a specific video conferencing (Zoom of course) link was publicised. At any time between 10am and 4pm, from 27th March to 10th April, people could visit, watch and potentially discuss. There is nothing ground breaking in having adopted this strategy: Lauren McCarthy had even livestreamed her datesIt was only done for reasons of expediency because travel was not possible. Nevertheless it was interesting to note that visitors sometimes presumed they were observing me in-situ in West Cork, and I, at times, forgot that I was not. The actual location was at APEC Studios, Hove, 'U'K but no stress had been placed on this fact.

No etiquette had really been worked out so Day 1 was exhausting. I found myself in a continuous state of conversation with between 2 and 7 people, from between 11am and 4.15pm. Some who turned up found it awkward, one even emailing later to complain that they 'didn't feel welcome... this wasn't a nice experience'. Certainly for me it was peculiar to have people I'd never met before, presenting themselves together with friends, family, other artists, the CEO of a global engineering firm, philosophers, political activists, chefs, comedians, curators, people from past lives - A certain Rob from Team Robbo responsible for this lately as far as I can work out had a chat with my nephew and sister - there were new acquaintances and a few frienemies too no doubt.

Following news of winning a Commissions Award from An Chomhairle Ealaíon, since January the typical methodology has been applied. This involves casting the net very wide to begin with and engaging with stuff that might not see its way into any final resolved project or exhibited work. I have for example been looking at ways of buying data for the West Cork area and interviewing farmers and artist-farmers about the technological aspects of agriculture. Technology in this case refers, not only to the usual suspects, the heavier machineries and infrastructure associated with farming historically (tractors for example), but also the plethora of new software tools, apps, robots, surveillance and monitoring equipment, the uses of data, the changes being made for environmental reasons, supply chain questions, the legal situation, bureaucracy, business models and broader systems related to agriculture, not to mention the social aspects and ways in which farmers interact with each other. Discussions and interviews were conducted with Miriam O'Connor, Laura Fitzgerald (both of whose artistry I admire bigtime) and my first cousin and namesake Michael O'Connell, who runs the historical family farm in Co. Waterford. At some point I believe the O'Connells were drovers or travellers, and probably got lucky after (i.e. survived) the famine period in the mid nineteenth century.