An Email Conversation With Artist Jack Randell

I was recently introduced to Jack Randell, another artist with a  participatory practice. Jack invited me to participate in his project ‘Bridge’ and also took time out to discuss his practice. His thoughts make interesting reading for anyone engaged or interested in participatory practice and experience.

AQ: What prompted you to take your practice in a participatory direction?

JR: The modern model of the ‘solitary artist genius’ is not in my mind, sustainable in these days of image saturation and fluid connectivity.

Sure there are many pockets of magic, and it happens often enough in my studio practice, but I fail to see where that magic is influential other than as an after effect of the purchase of the work.

Most other artforms are participatory – music, theatre, video – and having been involved in all those forms, I have witnessed the often profound effect the making and reception had not only on their audience, but also on the makers or participants.

And there is also that random shifting aesthetic that matches neatly with the image saturated environment that for many of us is more ‘natural’ than the golden mean.

AQ: How do you manage expectations, recognition and reward of participants, where you may receive them (including monetary, if applicable)?

JR: I nominate that these works are Share Alike copyright. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/us/

Which means that myself and all the participants share copyright. We each may use, distribute, archive, change or profit from the resulting image according to the copyright commons outlines. In the public domain, I endeavour to acknowledge all the participants in the work. For those works that have a physical component that I have provided or paid for, then I consider that I own its physical state. We each may use the image according to Share Alike terms, providing any resultant work is shared under the same guidelines. That being said I would have not much control over use and distribution anyway, and honestly I haven’t yet found an occasion when when it bothers me. I have had creative content stolen and re-used, and my lawyers tell me unless I am a corporation with large legal resources, its not much use chasing it up.

So the reward is the community value of goodwill, the recognition is the acknowledgement of participation, and participant expectation is met by the offer of a high resolution image of the final work for the participants own use.

AQ: How do you approach galleries or other creative spaces about using them for participatory events / works?

JR: Venues are fairly receptive to this type of proposal, as it has embedded a guaranteed  traffic load. That being said, the focus of the activity shifts away from commission on sales toward exposure to potentially new people and the absolute feel-good generated by the works. Public bodies will fund and resource these projects as CCD’s (Community Cultural Development)…. as with basket weaving,- it is viewed primarily for it’s therapeutic value, rather than what I find intriguing, which is the often odd connections and cross fertilised aesthetic – medieval dadist, I would call it!

AQ: Are there any resources or people that you would suggest / recommend to check out to learn more about participatory practice?

JR: Check out most of the work included in the current Biennale of Sydney… but there is not a lot of conversation out there on the ground. We were in Berlin recently (750 galleries) and there was looks of surprise on most every artist we approached… why are you doing this? whats in it for me? whats in it for you? If you get a hold of the Biennale catalogue, read Bruno Latour’s essay ‘Compositionist’s Manifesto’.

You can see more of Jack’s work at Fishdog.com.au

If you’re interested in participating in one of his projects, he has a call-out for participants in “New Tracks”, collaborative works at Salerno Gallery. Contact jack@fishdog.com.au

His exhibition “New Tracks”, collaborative works opens 6-8pm Wednesday 12th September at Salerno Gallery, 70 Glebe Point Road, Sydney. The exhibition runs from 11-23 Sept 2012.

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