190A introduction

190A pg 13 lg

190A pg 21

190A pg 24190A pg 27Excerpt from the text Zoom.002.wav.31/03/2013.doc


Zoom.0002.wav.31/03/2013. 3.17min. Soundscape on media player with headphones looped. 

Zoom.0002.wav.31/03/2013.doc. Transcription of walk through 190A on 31/03/2013 with William Bligh, Sinead Bligh and Ciara Scanlan.

WB’s typewriter 1980 – 1995: the tool on which AFS daily reports were written.[1]

[1] The book ‘a search for reconciliation between mental space (the space of the philosophers) and real space (the physical and social spheres in which we live).’ – Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space.  Maritsa 30 Typewriter containing media player with headphones.


190A Retelling. MART Dublin March 2014.

190A Retelling

‘190 A Retelling’  – Visual Art Exhibition

The MART Gallery, The Old Fire Station, 190a Rathmines Road Lower, Rathmines,Dublin 6.

MART would like to invite you to the opening reception Wednesday 5th March @ 6pm with art, stories, and beverages around the history of a building. MART has invited the local public, former residents of the building and The Dublin Fire Brigade to attend and tell a story or two about “190a”, and visit the new incarnation as a Gallery and meet the new residents, Artists.

‘The house shelters day-dreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace.”  Gaston Gachelard – The poetics of space.

MART curators Matthew Nevin & Ciara Scanlan have invited 5 artists to make site-specific works around the newly renovated 150 year old fire station in Rathimnes. Through the re-appropriation of old forgotten artefacts and found objects of the building a visual conversation tells the story of the generations of uses and lives that passed through. The building itself has morphed through many forms: a library, a home, storehouse, fire station, The Civil Defence, pigeon layer and finally The MART Gallery and Studios. The exhibition will host interactive and temporal sculptures, sound recordings and photography based on the history of the building itself and the power of place to hold memory and drive the imagination.

Artists: Sinead Bligh, Gerard Erraught, Jessica Kelly, Ciara Scanlan, Emily O’Callaghan, Jim O’Callaghan, Trish McAdam.


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All images © Mart and the artists. Further information and documentation can be found on the MART website

Dundee to London via Dublin



Dundee to London via Dublin is a retelling of past work after reading Derek Jarmans text Chroma, A Book of Colour – June 93. With the multiple narratives intersecting of Chroma, and a heightened awareness of colour in mind, this work was made. It ruminates on colour associations, current narratives and the past memories, which create this whole. The work brings together past video and sound work made on various journeys between Dublin and Dundee and current sound work made in London.

Christmas 2013 I was given a multi-coloured crochet blanket made by my mother, the centre of which was a rectangle of bright green knitted wool, which my grandmother was knitting at the time of her death in 2012. This unfinished piece was re-imagined by my mother into a crochet blanket. A colourful homage to my mother and grandmother.

The green wool is a wonderful gaudy granny green, flakes of sliver sparkles through it – in the knit in which Granny Bligh always knit, the tight delicate knit as recognisable to me as her hand writing.

My mother leaves a similar footprint in the wool, the earthy colour palette she uses and the looser thicker stitch of crochet – equally beautiful, and as individual as chirography, contrast dramatically to my Grandmother’s last made thing.

This illusive – sparkly green rectangle with open-ended potential, the beginning of the thought.

My grandmother was an inner-city Dubliner. She was born and bred – and then bred, in the Dorset Area of Dublin, and knitted beautiful baby cardigans in gaudy pink, blue, lemon and green. She would sell these to the women who owned the stalls on Moore Street, who would then sell the cardigans on themselves.

‘Were Adam’s eyes the green of paradise?

Did they open on the vivid green of the Garden of Eden? God’s green mantle. Was green the first colour of perception?’[1]

I made a sound work from recordings taken of Moore Street in 2012, unknowingly just before my grandmother would die. I showed it in conjunction with the video Dublin to Dundee, made from the bus journey back to Scotland after recording that work. A result of a preoccupation with movement through space and its ability to direct thought through associative memory.

The gaudy green rectangle of wool (and it’s blanket of multi colored palette) directed me back here, to this short film and sound work. To view the film again (made at the time my grandmother was knitting that wool) about a place that belonged to her.

The contrasting colour of the blanket and the riotous colour of the film directing thought.

[1] Derek Jarman, Chroma, A Book of Colour – June’ 93. Pg 63. Vintage.2000.  In this seminal work Jarman explores colour through autobiography.



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Shown here are the joined elements of sound, video and image as the film Dundee to London via Dublin. 2014. Stills of the piece will be installed at The Cafe Project, Chelsea College of Art and Design from 07.02.2014.

Showing at Chelsea Space until 15.03.2014 is contemplation on the filmmaker, artist, writer, and activist Derek Jarman. Research around this exhibition led to the making of Dundee to London via Dublin.

Almost Bliss: Notes on Derek Jarman’s Blue curated by Donald Smith



Friday, 14 December 2012 posted on the Cooper Gallery Blog: 

Part one Notes and thoughts in two parts from interactions with Edgar Schmitz’s Hubs and Fictions, A touring forum on Current Art and Imported remoteness, curated by Sophia Hao which traveled from the Cooper Gallery Dundee, to Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, Newcastle terminating in Goldsmiths, London.

“Sited.                                                    Orchestrated.

Experienced.                         Performed.                    Remote.

a  choreography.                      Props.                                     Stand-ins.            Cameos.”[1]


Throw words at a wall, and see which sticks, it seems this is often how we learn, how we build our narratives and points of view. This tool was often the prompt we were given, in English class at school, as a starting point for creative writing. It is meant to give us agency, and often gives so much, without the usual framework, the paragraph around the word gives, we are left confused, disorientated, and so go off in our own terrible and wonderful tangents as we ourselves build a narrative of understanding into something or nothing. I have been asked on many occasions during the course of facilitating for these events, what is the exhibition about? What is the point? It’s all a bit vague isn’t it? These questions I regularly found difficult to answer, so without a hard fast manifesto attached to the work, I would revert to my own narrative of connections. Drawing on my own points of interest which I read from the work; such as how we engage with art, art and reality, art and knowledge, the process of exhibition making, the processes of thoughts leading to an artwork and the numerous collaborations which this entails – collaboration that contentious word.

This idea of a semi fictional hub, as discussed during the forums, was never at the forefront of my mind while describing this event, although asserted as being the central concern – one of the few assertions. However I found this to be most interesting in the work. In Hubs and Fictions, we see the often intangibility of an artwork which sets your mind off in your own direction of interest, only to bring you around again to form new conclusions. Or not if you so choose. So I began thinking about fictional hubs, or hubs in general. What is an artistic hub? A cultural hub? About how contemporary art for good or for ill, connects those who are geographically remote, in smaller spheres of the art world with those in the massive – within global and personal scales.

Tom Morton: London based Curator & Writer. Contributing Editor of Frieze magazine works include ‘Man in the Holocene’ with Catherine Patha

Girl:“She’s pretty” Boy:“You think?”

‘Tom Morton – Cubitt Gallery ¬ Junction: North London Cultural Consortium Walks around rings cross’

‘London is now a truly international city, home to a global array of artists and curators who effortlessly draw on modes, styles, technology and influences from across continents in the creation and

“the beat of destiny yeeaaah” mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble click click BANG

presentation of art.’ London in 6 easy steps.

“Do you want to buy some….I’m not from around here you know?”

“Got any spare change?”

“Want to buy a phone?”

…shifting relations that make up the city from their particular perspective’ [2] Then of course there are those sphere’s in which we inhabit, in which we dwell, those which we draw from in order to make. Our personal social structures, our environment, our lives – fictitious futures and memories. A cultural hub is a fictional thing. Something decided to be by a group of people, believe yourself to be something, convince others and then it will be so – Always subjective and liable to flux. Hubs move, evolve and change, go bust and so emigrate elsewhere. It is the infrastructure which enables a hub to develop. Intellectual and monetary – it is a nomadic thing, always interchangeable.

So is there the potential within art to imagine the sphere in which you produce as a component of a larger cultural hub, and utilise that, though you may be geographically removed from a supposed physical hub. In doing so do you create a new hub in your own sphere? Or equally does this mean within your own modes of working, where people meet and communicate, either with or without a particular physical area around them, become a Hub – a facilitator for the production of work. Is a hub a place where work is produced? This suggests the Hub as a place, and the cause of the production of work.

The term Hub is frequently used in a technical sense to describe a device that connects a computer to the internet, or a computer to another computer. Connecting the remote – therefore borrowing this definition you could suppose that remoteness is an inherent component for the function and maybe a constant re-invigoration of a supposed Hub. A hub – a device for complex remote connections.

Title note; taken from comments made by Edgar Schmitz, Hubs and Fictions Forum, Goldsmiths, London 06/12/2012.

[1] Edgar Schmitz: List of adjectives often used by Schmitz in describing Surplus Cameo Decor and Hubs and Fictions; final Hubs and Fictions Forum, Goldsmiths, London, 06/12/2012.

[2] Research notes made in preparation for the forum Hubs and Fictions, in Leyton Library London. Points of speech made by others using the library, which interrupted the writers train of thought are indicated in grey.

A former MFA student at DJCAD, Sinéad Bligh is an artist currently based in London. https://twitter.com/SineadBligh

A hub: a device for complex remote meanderings.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013 posted on the Cooper Gallery Blog

Part two

of notes and thoughts from interactions with Edgar Schmitz’s Hubs and Fictions, A touring forum on Current Art and Imported remoteness, curated by Sophia Hao which traveled from the Cooper Gallery Dundee, to Baltic Center for Contemporary Art, Newcastle terminating in Goldsmiths, London.

Guy Brett (Writer/Curator, London)             Tom Morton (Writer/Curator, London)

Vanessa Joan Müller             (Curator, Cologne)

Wang Nanming                                                         (Critic, Shanghai) [1]

At the final event of Hub’s and Fictions at Goldsmiths in London, Vanessa Joan Muller (Curator, Cologne), spoke of various projects undertaken by the European Kunsthalle, of which she is academic director. The European Kunsthalle operates as a forum for the production of art work, in which the production of work is assigned as much importance as the presentation of the art work. She spoke of the ethos of the forum and how it strives to adopt some of the positive aspects of art in public space and use them to create something which acts as a new public space. The reasoning to this ethos struck home to me. Muller reasons; ‘there is no public space in big cities anymore, it is semi-public space, it’s all commercialised space, and (through their projects) people also get an awareness of what an art institution could function like, because most art institutions are some of the few spaces where people actually meet and talk, but most art museums are transformed into something shopping mall like, with a huge shop in the front, a cafe, a book store and then somewhere in the back you find the actual exhibition space.’ [2]

This idea of conceiving an institution, or a public space, for that matter, without an allocated physical space is highly provocative. It is difficult for a cultural institution or space to exist without all the trappings that usually sustain it financially, trappings which evolve to become the makeup of the institution itself. But in disregarding this, individuals could be enabled to communicate and organise remotely and collectively thereby existing in and of this world. Perhaps you could conclude that the only actual public space remaining is this virtual one from which you are reading- albeit a somewhat ephemeral and intangible one- which incidentally brings us back to Hub’s and Fictions.

The question put but not asked:

When cultural Hubs are increasingly suspended between local situations and broader milieus of displacement in a globalised setting, what is the potential of fiction? How do we articulate the relations that play out between gallery presentations, institutional aspirations and the ways they intersect with fantasies of elsewhere? And if exhibition making is inherently a form of narrative, what kinds of fiction or realities can it stage?[3]

For Hubs and Fictions the invited contributors were given this elusive, open-ended question as a starting point in considering what area of their interests they would talk about at the event. Email invitations detailing the area of interest with which the forum was concerned were sent, but not intended to hold the speaker to a decided response. The diverse array of speakers and their differing approaches to the questions that were put in email prior to the events – but interestingly not put again in public at the actual event – relates directly back to the exhibition Surplus Cameo Decor. In that the wide range of Cameo contributors from within the spheres of art, curation, criticism and film were invited to be present and just be themselves in the space, not particularly directed in which way to act.

The speakers differing reactions to these carefully considered words, thrown at a wall, are intriguing. They knew little of the physical exhibition Surplus Cameo Decor it seems, but for those who have experienced the exhibition, their discussions relate back to it. Here the speakers have responded to this invitation and spread out in their own directions of interest. We form the connections.

The audience knows nothing of the content of the exhibition either and their reaction to the events evolves as the juxtaposed speakers proceed in their musings. The audience probes in asking ‘did Hao and Schmitz as curator and artist want people to come and respond to the questions put by Hubs and Fictions or did they want them to come and respond as themselves?’
The invited speakers have already grappled with this problem. They frequently ask Schmitz ‘Am I answering your question?’ They each developed a way to react to the illusively suggested subject matter by drawing on their own practice and experience, sometimes unsure if that was the direction Schmitz wished them to proceed. In Schmitz’s deliberate juxtaposition of terms, people and disciplines, he highlights how interchangeable these understandings are.

Similarly I know little of the cameo performances. They were closed to the pubic – separate from the exhibition openings. I like the intimacy within this, it mirrors how often private conversation informs your own work. It is a continuation of an ongoing, private art-making process, continued in the open installed exhibition, generating future thoughts. The intangibility of this is intriguing. I orbited around, but was not privy to the event. It is as when one would wish to keep some things private- a conversation between those you are dying to talk to- these conversations were kept among the few invited to collaborate with the artist and curator. As if something important was needed to be said without the risk of diversion or being overheard. Talk freely.
At this final Hub’s and Fictions event we were given a glimpse of what went on in these Cameos-documentation of an event, not the same but hints, however the outcome of this is not known. The cameo events are exposed in a slide show of photographs projected on the wall of the lecture theatre in Goldsmiths. In it we saw the artist and cameos, in discussion, fervid then laughing, playing in the space.

The audience’s reaction to this not knowing is thought-provoking. Oddly Mark Twain’s novel ‘The Adventures of HuckleberryFinn’ springs to mind, particularly the chapter during which two con men convince people that they are the Dauphin and the descendant of the King of England. They convince the assembled crowd, gathered to view a performance, of this magnificent fiction because there is no way for them to perceive fact- no readily available historical certainties to disprove the con men. In their meanderings the audience gathered at Goldsmiths, questioning as they try to piece together this complicated Hubs and Fictions evokes for me the various complications of constructed narratives as in this scene from famous fiction.

There are no con men here but artists; so what is the truth to be exposed? It seems only that we wish to expose more truths; however, what are truths but fictions on which a consensus has been decided?

[1] List of speakers for the final event, carefully chosen to provoke discourse, as one would throw words at a wall, here the words arranged to suggest a wall structure.
[2] Vanessa Joan Muller, transcriptions from Hubs and Fictions, Goldsmiths, London Dec 6th 2012.
[3] Question emailed to the invited speakers by Sophia Hao curator of Hubs and Fictions and the exhibition Surplus Cameo Decor, by the artist Edgar Schmitz, Cooper Gallery 2012.

A former MFA student at DJCAD, Sinéad Bligh is an artist currently based in London. https://twitter.com/SineadBligh


Thursday, 3 May 2012 posted on the Cooper Gallery Blog: 

authorship, repetition, contiguity.
If Knowledge emerges from practice, and practice emerges from knowledge, (situations, reading, writing, discussion, viewing others artwork- in short interaction) who do we credit in the work? Is it possible to credit all those things which have influenced our view when this emerges both consciously and unconsciously. To document an event is a strange thing. Here I refer to documenting in a literal sense, to taking photographs of a happening or to transcribe conversations, as was my experience recently. Even within transcription the way in which you choose to transcribe, the layout of the words on the page, even though you are re writing what has been directly spoken, has a degree of subjectivity. In photographs we see this even more so as the photograph suggests a viewer and a particular standpoint.

The nature of this sort of open ended collaboration in which we are participating in, allowing for personal exploration into different directions creates a different dynamic if we consider that each of the individual agents of the collaboration has a different direction in which they wish to proceed. In this way a single photograph of documentation of an action initiated together could be seen to mean different things to each of the collaborators. So in that way, all of us and none of us, own it.

This is demonstrated within the cooper gallery blog which you are reading right now. Joe, Rowan and I have been sharing our experience of An Event in a Public manor and in it you can see the differing angles of interest as if you were privy to the discussions which we had in Talbot Square and the Hockney gallery. The repetition in

phone buzz 1
discussing the same events, often blogged at the same time or around the same time illustrates this. The same action viewed by different individuals leading to different points of discussion and different output from that interaction.  The staccato of a blog enables a dipping in and out from the differing blogs, allows the viewer/user to create their own narrative to the events as very few blog users will read the blogs chronologically more often dipping into one, scrolling to another, the contiguity of how they read and interpret will be determined in part by the order in which each individual will read, and perhaps comment on. Adding to this the bogger is also reading what other participants have blogged and in this way the conversation continues. It is an interaction among the original participants and the user/viewer.
there is a zebra print towel drying on a washing line outside, it is flapping in the wind, catching my eye. It is suspended from a washing line coming from a first  floor window from a flat 2 doors up, to a pole in the garden. Right at my eye level.
It’s a good day for drying washing. A woman has just come out to hang out her clothes the next garden up. She hangs them on the line she shares with the rest of the inhabitants of her building. Steam rises from the clothes, they must have just come out of the washing machine. She looks around; I wonder, subconsciously does she feel she is being observed by all the surrounding windows. .2
Recording sounds of an action has a similarly interesting contiguity of instances. I make sound recordings, some sound may interests me, this sets my thoughts running, and so I endeavor to capture that moment. I am constantly trying to collaborate with my surroundings, and to archive my thought. But within the context of An Event the recordings were generally not of actions which I was singularly making which I set to capture. It is the space and/or the agents within that space that sets me thinking and recording, and within my own practice I generally have a predesigned (even if it is reactionary) reason for doing this. However if my actions are in direct reaction to another artist’s work, is there co-authorship there, does it belong to the agents or to me as I am moulding their representation from my own subjective standpoint?
John Dummett, on the Thursday of the events was in conversation with the other writers of An Event and the artists of A Cut A Scratch A Score, David Barnett and Sam Belinfante  in the Hockney Gallery  and he questions whether critical writing has the role of performing as a ‘textural afterlife of an experienced event’. 3 In this there is a crediting of the writers own output, their own work, as a thing in its self and the context in which it was running. It is neither and both a document of A Cut A Scratch A Score. It is not running from but running parallel dipping in and out, feeding from each other, progressing in different directions. It does in fact keep the actions of the original event alive after they have run their course, but they will be alive within the writers own view, authorship to the writer. In their further discussions at this time, David Barnett and Sam Belinfante alluded to a further manifestation of A Cut utilising the documentation of the week-long event. This is not a repetition of the happenings, but the restaging of the different elements. They observed will be a different beast entirely, yet it will still belong to the previous set of event to some extent because it is acted out by the initial collaborators. There was a sense of continuity in the way they were describing how new manifestations of the previous event will be formed. Pieces of this and thoughts and discussions from that, are forming into a whole new joint manifestation, or a few manifestations it seems. It seems there is no need for singularity in authorship when the agents are moving towards the same aim.
repeat cycle
This contiguity of forming a work refers me back to thoughts concerning writing in situ.  As the audience/reader is privy to the act of making and in so doing inserts their influence on the space in which the writing is done, then are they therefore entitled to a degree of authorship? If a writer is drawing from the high pressured environment of a site writing event they will encompass all the influencing factors that space and conditions will impose. You often see books credited to an author’s partner or friend in reference to the supportive presence, or conditions they created in which the writing was done. Maybe in a more humanist approach we should start crediting humanity and society as a whole in our introductions. I go too far.
The question of documentation and the viewer’s presence is intertwined within the practice of performance art. Here the public are often directly effecting the action or the inaction of the artist. If the documentation (another view) of the performance is not made the art work would still exist, similarly it would exist without the audience, however the action is still performed to another viewer,( the camera, the documenter). Omitting even this,  it is still performed to the self, the view of the self, the viewer always important. However even if documentation of performance is made by the artist themselves from their predesigned view the documentation of the event is never the same as the live action. It is impossible to capture innumerable signifiers within that space which made that performance particular. It can never be repeated and never completely documented.

We brought 9 Talbot square into the Hockney gallery. A re-staging of an idea of a place to form thoughts.  A thinking square. It became a totally different thinking space within the Hockney gallery. Here it felt like an empty volume waiting to be filled. In 9 Talbot Square the volume was filled with its surroundings and it was easy to pick a point, a sound, or our discussions to fill the space. It was intended to act in this way within the white space but it evolved into a representational volume, (aesthetically interesting one would hope) not a talking space, instead it seemed to function within a context for the whole. Developing its new context within the gallery alongside the writers work for An Event and the TV monitors playing scene’s from A Cut A Scratch A Score.

I found the remnants of the materials used to form the volume intriguing.  After the installation had been taken down, these materials used to represent the volume, that came from tape and string, quantifying  a volume and line in space, turned back to tape and string, and in that action they became documents. In this useless form they suggest the possibility of another use. Re-staging and documenting. This is yet to be defined; a new context in which to be placed, and a new body of knowledge to be gained from that, and this manifestation shall credit its influence’s as they have been already been well documented. That’s the thing with knowledge, at least within an academic sense, the source must always be credited.

1. Interruptions to the writers train of though whilst writing in her in flat.
3.Referenced from transcriptions of A live ‘interview unlike any other’ with the acclaimed artist Bruce McLean featuring two of his films. An Action of words: Writers in residency, John Dummett, Ajay Hothi and Christina Manning Lebek,29/03/2012 Royal College of Art, London. Lecture theatre.. Transcriptions by Sinead Bligh. 2012.      

4.Source Sound.Sinead Bligh 2012. Please click on the link to hear the sound file. This sound suggesting the writers environment and the spatial context in which the writing was done, a washing machine also being cyclical and repetitive. Here the writer was also prompted to put on her washing by the influence of others doing so.


Monday, 30 April 2012 posted on the Cooper Gallery Blog: 


To undertake in some kind of collaboration does there have to be a kind of commonality among the participants? There is a tendency in collaborations that those involved have agreed some kind of end, or interest in common subject matter leading to some kind of final product or event closure. Or is collaboration more about doing things in reaction to each other, where the end is more open, as opposed to working towards the same point. The inclination of the directionality of a collaboration, the common movement towards a point leads to an ending and stifles the movement of thought into organic directions throughout the process, and worse still can lead the agents to preforming the same actions in order to fulfill some kind of expectation for an outcome.

John Dummett refers to collaboration as being a moving apart from a common starting point as opposed to moving together.1 In this way there is no end point, it is a process of knowledge, it continues into various different directions after the life of the initial collaboration. This seems like a more genuine collaboration if you consider that within your average collaboration, some thought is put forward in the initial development (generally for reasons of funding) and from that instance the point is chosen in which everything is moving towards. Leaving this end point undefined allows the space in which the agency of the collaborators is left with free reign. This mirroring in fact, the way society constantly evolves and our understandings are shaped, not generally from a predesigned trajectory to a point determined by another.
This type of predesigned collaboration does however allow for reactionary collaborations. By setting the inclusion criteria for a certain collaboration, those that do not identify with that criteria form their apposing action or view; this way, the collaborative action causing the creation of other interactions in opposition to that. So it seems we are still collaborating in a way- just not crediting or credited for it.
This leads to the question of the nature of agency within collaboration. If you take the opposite standpoint and decide on inaction, do you become a sort viewer/spectator? If you take no action within a collaboration; if you give nothing back, if you bring nothing to the table, are you seen as to not in fact be in collaboration at all. With the initial thoughts or discussion, does it seem like you are mute. I suppose this answer lies in whether or not you see the spectator as having agency; whether or not you assign an influencing importance to the viewer.
Having the ability to react to a work or not is a power, one which I believe undoubtedly shapes consciously or unconsciously how we make. If we zoom out a bit and consider the space in which these relations take place I think we can afford ourselves the distance to consider how these dynamics between spectator and the agency which they excerpt on an artwork, form.
boiler starts up,
clock tick, fridge hum
chair is uncomfortable.2
Henri Lefebvre, in his seminal work The Production of Space argues ‘any space implies, contains and dissimulates social relationships – and this despite the fact that a space is not a thing but rather a set of relations between things (objects and products).3These objects and products are in constant relationship with each other. In the work of Micheal de Certeau: ‘Space for him is a frequented place: an intersection of moving bodies: it is the pedestrians who transform a street.’4 
So in theses slightly differing views on the nature of Space one theme remains, the agent within it. For Lefebvre the agent is the object, for De Certeau they are the pedestrians but it is these participating agents that are the influencing contributors here. Not singularly the space, program of collaboration, or subject being collaborated around but the interacting factors around it. I think John Dummott summed up the nature of collaboration extremely well when he quoted Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet, in the introduction to the interview with Bruce McLean, on the Thursday of the events in the RCA. Pessoa by way of describing what it is to collaborate makes the point that ‘From that moment when an event enters perception it becomes collaborative.’5
If we consider cinema by way of example of spectatorship, we see an interaction with an art form and the public – in the realm of Artist Cinema, but also by way of main stream cinema. Here it is an interaction with an artform on a massive scale. Cinema speaks to and for society, propaganda has often been employed within this medium for precisely this reason. But in fact I think there is a good example here of how seemingly passive consumption can evolve into an active collaboration between the viewed and the viewer. Our contemporary society has been shaped by the past 100 years of cinema. Shaping our opinions, influencing our thoughts, encouraging new cultures, then sub cultures. The screen writer views and reflects on society and holds the mirror back up to it., all be it subjectively and with their own agenda’s, which is the case with all art forms. We see this with the best of cinema, but even with the worst; sub cultures and conflicting arguments evolve from a dissatisfaction and/or disagreement  with what is portrayed and a reaction is formed. It is an organic collaboration, a movement from a defined starting point, moving outwards in other directions. Even in the case of mainstream cinema where blockbusters have been churned out to give the audiences what they want, (what will make money), there was a huge degree of interaction between media and culture to begin with to figure out what that is in order to capitalise on it.
Sean Cubitt  describes the cinema as ‘a special quasi – social space governed by ritual where the crowd is addressed as individual.6 This individual engagement within a public realm is extremely empowering, the viewer feels related to, directly addressed, whilst his neighbour is also addressed, perhaps in a differing way but there is empathy there. Empathy between the object viewed, the viewer and their fellow viewers. The cinema addresses the human desire to come together, to collect in one place, and experience. A feeling of inclusiveness which harbours down to the very nature of the notion of Place and the re-imaging of that, this which lies in at the centre of a cultural democracy.  Within contemporary society, cinema exists within a context which is shaped by mass media, particularly by television.The interplay between these subject’s and their complexities would take up a whole PHD, and divert me slightly from my point, but it is the instance of the gathering in the cinema, the seemingly passive consumptive act on a mass scale, in which the performative action of specatorship is demonstrated clearly. It is an actual action where there seems to be inaction.
The argument calling for a rethink of the agency of the spectator is well trodden ground, there has been a whole wave of artist and philosophers calling for a rethink of the notion of the audience as passive consumer, aesthetically and politically mute.
cluuink of gmail chat
Jaqcques Ranciere in this text The Emancipated Spectator, describes ‘emancipation’ in the terms of spectatorship as meaning: ‘the blurring of the boundary between those who act and those who look; between individuals and members of a collective body.’7 He goes on further to describe; ‘It (Art) requires spectators who play the role of active interpreters, who develop their own translations in order to appropriate the ‘story’ and to make it their own story. An emancipated community is a community of narrators and translators.’8 Within the context of A Cut A Scratch A Score and An Event we the artists played the role of the viewer/user/spectator. Existing on the fringes, but very much involved. We reacted to what was being viewed both in situ and with the space of time. In fact the time it takes to respond to event’s such as theses and then to draw your own expression from that can be seen as an analogy for how the viewer responds, or in fact how we digest any kind of knowledge in general. It takes time to sink in; knee jerk reactions are the territory of the consumptive viewer.
fridge hum, clock tick.
In a sense we were the emancipated (albeit from the privileged position of art educated) spectator invited to interact with the events and then left to our own devices in which we had the space to open up our own discourse. In this it was a true collaboration because the material generated became something of its own, not a documentary, a regurgitation of what was seen, but a subjective response to actions leading to other actions and in it that the communication of knowledge. All documentation is subjective, particularly those made by the viewer translating from their particular perspective, a sort of collaboration of thought. Documentation made of an action by the agents themselves gives a closer view of their own particular point of view and so perhaps this is more suitably included within the body of work its self. Not forgetting the role of the critical response, which lies halfway between both, or perhaps runs parallel, as an informed view (often given by the artist or researched by the critic themselves) and the subjective, creative response of the critic leading to text, a work of their own, and collaboration.
These dynamics are at the center of Ranciere’s thesis regarding the emancipated spectator, the critique of the artwork by the spectator, and he places responsibility at the door of the artist to create work that cannot be simply passively consumed as it has to come from a society in which the spectator is in fact engaged and so should be given back something engaging. The rhetoric for collaboration permeates so many different spheres, whether they be social sphere’s, political sphere, economic sphere or service sector,9 in none of which the artist solely exists, so within the questioning of our modes of collaboration we can review our spaces for thoughts, as social and discursive entities and within that re – imagine the art world and artistic inquiry, to extend into wider spaces of interest to society as a whole.

1:John Dummott from transcriptions of A live ‘interview unlike any other’ with the acclaimed artist Bruce McLean featuring two of his films.An Action of words: Writers in residency, John Dummett, Ajay Hothi and Christina Manning Lebek,29/03/2012 Royal College of Art, London. Lecture theatre. Transcriptions by Sinead Bligh. 2012.
2:Text in red indicates interruptions to the writers train of thoughts whilst writing in her flat.
3:Henri Lefebvre, The production of Space (Blackwell, Oxford and London) 1993 p78
4: Marc Angue quoting Micheal De certeau in his text, Non-Places, An introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity.Marc Angue.1995. translated by John Howe.)
5:Sean Cubitt, ‘Projection: vanishing and becoming’, Media Art histories,ed (NewYork and London: Routledge, 2007) pg 412.
6:Jacques Ranciere, The Emancipated Spectator, Verso 2009. pg 19
7:Jacques Ranciere The Emancipated Spectator, Verso 2009. pg 22.
8&9: Paraphrasing John Dummott from transcriptions of A live ‘interview unlike any other’ with the acclaimed artist Bruce McLean featuring two of his films.An Action of words: Writers in residency, John Dummett, Ajay Hothi and Christina Manning Lebek,29/03/2012 Royal College of Art, London. Lecture theatre. Transcriptions by Sinead Bligh. 2012.

a plural association

Saturday, 28 April 2012 posted on the Cooper Gallery Blog: 

The human dynamics which make up our interactions are the life blood of our creative practice. As so with making the tea, making work, or making thoughts and then letting them mix in the wash. If people think visually with senses in tuned to their surroundings then perhaps they need to be taken away, at some point, from all the stimulants in order to order. The distance is needed to make sense of what is experienced in order to form a subjective output, in whatever medium they so choose. In the arena of visual culture the scrap of an image connects with a sequence of a Film and with the corner of a billboard or the window display of a shop we have passed by to produce a new narrative formed out of both our experienced journey and our unconscious.1 It is often in this state that something is observed, that ‘incidental incident’2 which connects the dots. This only half looking, when you want at be concentrating on something else, paradoxically can be a state of vigilance.

We are in constant collaboration. I enjoy Irit Rogoff’s diverse everyday approach to the sublimation of knowledge and in it we can draw parallels with Jane Rendell’s text Site Writing – the Architecture of Art Criticism.3 Rendell’s work like Rogoff’s suggests collaboration with space and the objects within that space as shaping our thoughts. These innumerable influencing signifiers which exist in that space being an integral component of writing, as it is with art, so this in its way becomes a collaboration between the body and the space.
Ashling Molloy has come online for skype. 4
The interchangeable possibilities are endless.
We need to collaborate. We are social animals and through interaction we learn. Through new spaces and experiences we are stimulated, yet we crave the space to spread out in whatever direction thought wishes to take us and to manifest that in an individual way. We look for the situations to retreat into which enable this; The quiet place to write, the solitary artist studio. It is a paradox, in small succession this bombardment is a fertile territory yet at some point it becomes stifling, prohibitive even to the making of work.
Bruce McLean sits centrally just in front of the stage, Christina and Ajay to his right, John Dummett to his left.. Behind there is a video projection of the events of Cut a Scratch a Score.. To the right of Christina there is a long rectangular blackboard vertically leaning against the wall. Written on this are the questions the writers wish to ask McLean.5
Bruce McLean doesn’t like the audience. He tells us so. You would tend to agree with him, not many people like to be peered at. He is uncomfortable sitting centre stage in an RCA lecture theater. Yet there is a controlled theatricality to the setup. Rightly so considering the previous events of A Cut A Scratch A Score. And this feels like the final performance re-staged, but with writers, not a choir. We’ve gathered because we have been intrigued by the previous work and events so now we want to see what will happen, what McLean will say. It’s a shame McLean doesn’t like audiences, they like him. We realise early on into the interview that it is indeed as billed ‘unlike any other’ Dummott, Hoti and Manning Lebeck move around, switch seats, interrupt each other, say the wrong thing right. The audience is enthralled. It is extremely refreshing and that is disheartening, in hindsight when you think how infrequently this kind of audience engagement normally accompanies an artist talk, or interview as this case may be. But these actions lie somewhere in between sculpture and performance. Sculptural performances. Performing sculptures. So if this is the case does this type of performance need an audience with which to collaborate and would the energy be the same if the interview were conducted among just these four?
Sssssssshissing of heavy rain.
Heat rising from the bed makes me wonder are my eyes playing tricks. It is however just the electric blanket.
The interview is focused on the many different manifestations of collaboration which McLean has been involved in over his long career.  He refers often to the ‘incidental incident’, an action or interaction which directs his thoughts and creative output. McLean speaks of these incidental incidents as if they were collaborations which are not set up. It seems in these incidents you can be passive, active, instigator or victim. They are described as instances of interactions that evolve into something big or to nothing big, but they seem to give direction. To McLean “Collaborating could mean anything”.This is very interesting, honest really to credit those who influence you, to embrace that from all angles however it is clear in his action and his words that McLean is very thoughtful about who he is (intentionally) collaborating with. It is in his awareness in the general direction in which he wishes the collaboration to go. He is also aware of the roles which we fall into within collaboration, or any kind of social interaction, and so in a sense he turns to curating a space to create the circumstances, specific to his interests and subverting roles, in which these interactions take place.  He even tries “to create an incidental incident everyday” Perhaps that is tongue in cheek, perhaps not, but his interest in the incidental incident and the disinterest in the audience is an oddity to me, when adding all these agents into the mix would suppose it to be the kind of climate conducive to any sort of incident. An audience or any gathering of people will always bring an influencing active element be it engagement or disengagement.
As we inhabit public space we are delving into collaboration with public and environment, bringing our presence, and noting the presence of others: “Collaborating could mean anything” and to ignore either is to miss an opportunity for an incidental incident, but I don’t believe McLean really does. He feeds from his audience, from his critics and commentators, how could one not. He has made art works commenting on the pretensions and hierarchies of the art world in works including, Postmodern Minestrone, 2012 and Urban Turban (A Moving Picture) 1995, and dealing with hegemonic structures within society as a whole, as in the Dowry Secondary school project completed 2007, to take just a segment of his career by way of example. Certainly it may be uncomfortable but it is within these discomfort zones in which McLean seems to be at his most productive. Perhaps that is the entire point. He doesn’t like audiences, but he is definitely drawn to them.

1 : Irit Rogoff., Terra Infirma, Geographies visual culture, Routledge. 2000.pg 30.
2: Referenced from transcriptions of A live ‘interview unlike any other’ with the acclaimed artist Bruce McLean featuring two of his films. An Action of words: Writers in residency, John Dummett, Ajay Hothi and Christina Manning Lebek,29/03/2012 Royal College of Art, London. Lecture theatre.. Transcriptions by Sinead Bligh. 2012.
3:Jane Rendell, Site Writing – the Architecture of Art Criticism., I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd.2010.  
4: Observations marked in red indicate disruptions to the writers train of thought whist in her flat.
5&6: Referenced from transcriptions of A live ‘interview unlike any other’ with the acclaimed artist Bruce McLean featuring two of his films. An Action of words: Writers in residency, John Dummett, Ajay Hothi and Christina Manning Lebek,29/03/2012 Royal College of Art, London. Lecture theatre.. Transcriptions by Sinead Bligh. 2012.