Critical Journal- Ch.5

When holding conversation around participative systems, the language used during discussion is very important. Interaction, participation and collaboration are all different actions that have differing definitions but are often used interchangeably. The text outlines the definitions as such:

Interaction– “acting upon each other”. Interaction could occur between people or people and machines, etc. It shouldn’t be confused with reaction. Interactions have been linked to having a conversation, all parties are equally involved.

Participation–  “To have a share in or take part in”. Participants have a recorded input that changes the work. Often participation is framed inside of a system such as the system in Learning to Love you More by July & Fletcher which has a system posed as assignments.

Collaboration: “working jointly with”. This is equal work  and contributions between people to create something. Collaboration include both participation and interaction, but is different from each. Collaboration does not have to be exclusive between artists to create art.

From a curatorial standpoint, creating a space for participation takes on the role of a host in many cases and in some cases the role of a curator is unclear. “Also if the artist is acting as the host, then what role is there for the curator? If the curator is not curating an object but a ‘participative system’, then the invisible system itself needs to be thoroughly understood, not only by the curator, but also by the audience1”.  An example of work that showcases approach to participation, collaboration and interaction is the Candahar by Theo Smith and his works with various artist’s. The Candahar was held at the Mackenzie Art Gallery between April 30th and September 25th, 2016. During this time twenty three different hosts held the space and presented their own work ranging from discussion to performance. Although this work does not fall into the realms of new media art, it does hold discussion about curating and having art that is based on a participative system.

The Candahar is a Belfast based, fully functioning pub that is installed in a gallery settings. The work is based on holding space for performance and interaction between artist and audience, audience and audience, audience and concept, and so forth. The work also relies on participation from the audience because without participants there would be absence of people in the pub to experience and move the work forward. About his work, Sims states

…the installation as the setting for a social experiment aimed at issues of identity and breaking down stereotypes and assumptions, of all persuasions, by getting people to meet and talk to each other, in a stimulating, imaginative territory. ‘I wanted to break down the rules about what Irishness was,’Sims says. ‘But it’s not specific to an Irish agenda. It’s just a starting point to get something going. To me that’s the true spirit of collaboration.’2”.
Within the Candahar the question of the curator’s role is prevalent. Sim’s is creating the space to hold the work, but the curator is hosting the space in which the Candahar lives. Furthermore, they would be in charge of aiding performance nights run smoothly even though Sims has provided bartenders to work the space. I am unsure if Sims or the curator decide on the performers throughout the duration, or if that is a collaboration between artist and curator. Nevertheless, the curator is playing a different role as they traditionally would be. Similar to new media curation, it is crucial to understand the system that are at work to properly curate the work.

Source (Screen shot of LeaderPost video)

1 Graham, Beryl, and Sarah Cook.Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2010. 124. Print.
2 Tousley, Nancy. “Theo Sims: The Candahar Pub Returns to Calgary.” Canadian Art. Canadian Art, 16 Feb. 2012. Web. 10 Oct. 2016.


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