Anna, Emily, Johnny & Susan, Wakefield, 13 June 2012

Friday, 22 June 2012

The one armed bandit of participation

Hi guys - I guess we're still in the process of loading up info and then we can review... here's a presentation I made to the engage conference I programmed in Margate regarding participation - this set the context for the conference:

JG Engage Conf Intro


  1. its good to start to understand what we have been working on, what we are thinking about. I think Suzanne Lacy has a similar idea of levels of participation, I was looking for some info and came acoss this event which looks really interesting Mathematics of Participation:Scale in Social Practice:

  2. The Mathematics of Participation! Crickey, not heard that one yet Susan, but I like it!... At the conference we featured the same project The University of Local Knowledge, presented by two of the orgs involved: the Arnolfini and the Knowles West Media Centre. I'd be very interested to hear how Suzanne talks about the project, and represents it... which brings me to thinking that our ideas of investigating representation of projects, needs to consider who they are being represented to - the audience for our work. It's obvious actually isn't it - am I stating the obvious, or can we not see the wood for the trees sometimes?...

    When I went to helsinki to present at the conference (which was called 'It's all mediating') I'd thought that mediating was a quaint european word, which they had in part chosen because it helped spell IAM, as an acknonym for the conference - but actually since I've realised that actually it is all mediating! Contemporary art is all about mediating - where that be lack of, or text, or workshops etc.. Anyway I think I said this, but perhaps in our push for authentic we need to work out who we want to imagine the audience of our work to be... not who is or will be, but who could it be?

    In terms of the mathematics, spectrum, ladder, escaltor, etc... I proposed the one armed bandit in jest, partly to get a laugh and defuse expectations and earnestness at the Margate conference but also to point out that models are just successful solutions to someone else's problems - they can help us think, reconceptualise something but also we know through our own expereince and practise what works in our situations/contexts - and maybe we don't need to complicate something, when in fact its actually quite simple...

  3. Yes I agree Johnny, I introduced the 'continuum of participation' to a group of MA community art students I was teaching a couple of years ago, purely as a tool for getting them to consider a selection of art projects, which had all been labelled participatory, differently. so we can add continuum to the list I think.
    We discussed the audience when we were discussing ideas at the Hepworth. I think it is definitely worth considering if there is a form of representation that is universal. It would certainly be more economical if there was - rather than finding lots of different forms for different audiences. So it seems that we are talking about two considerations: appropriate ways of representing the participatory action for the project (participants, funders, organisations and artists) and appropriate ways of representing and communicating to the audience.

    I think I must be missing something obvious, but how does all of this link to leadership?
    I think it would be useful to agree if we are going to be producing something, or using something that has already happened to explore this. Personally I favour the first?