“To photograph is to appropriate the thing photographed” Susan Sontag.
“To tell someone how to make art is the first form of appropriation” David Boyce.
I have, since I first became aware of them, been taken with the work of Yoko Ono and Sol LeWitt. Particularly their use of “instructions”. I have been drawn to the way this begins as simplicity and minimal gestures. Coupled with this is the potential for the work to take on multiple forms depending on the way the work is interpreted and produced by different people. Making art can be a lonely experience, making something in the knowledge it may be interacted with in a multitude of ways can be enticing and gratifying.
I have been thinking on this particular process a lot over the last few years, particularly as a while back I ran a workshop for people who wanted to refine and clarify their personal vision and direction in their photographic practice. As part of the workshop I assigned a range of tasks and exercises to help encourage the participants to think about what, how and why they were doing what they do. Some tasks were technical, others more abstract, thinking exercises. The workshop was fun, and I was reminded that a great way to learn is to teach.
Now, this got me thinking.
In creating the exercises I found myself reflecting on the work of both Yoko Ono and Sol LeWitt.
And then after developing a range of exercises for my students I then began to expand them in an attempt to question and explore some of things that interest me as an artist. Things like copying as a waypoint in developing your style and learning technique, the imprecise nature of language and translation, and, as always with me, ideas around chance and randomness.
I am currently working on a range of methods for reproducing or conveying these works. From Hong Kong’s ubiquitous acrylic sign boards to letterpress work, typewritten note cards, rugs, machine text to voice generators and binary code. Who knows what else, tattoos might also be available to those who wish.