Collaborative Effort

The article brought to mind a collaborative project titled Airwaves installed last semester at the Corcoran. The installation depended on the participation of bystanders. "Airwaves, a participatory installation conceived by Elana McDermot, Jenna Lee, and Farolyn Taylor of Mark Cameron Boyd’s Graduate Collaborative Studio, focuses on the effect of music on the creation of art. Participants were asked to listen to two different sound tracks, of either harmonious or dissonant sounds, then to create a continuous line drawing on the corresponding work based on the sounds they heard."1

In class we spoke about the difference between interaction, collective action, participation and collaboration. Maria Lind describes participation as "more widely associated with the creation of a context in which participants can take part in something that someone else has created but where there are, nevertheless, opportunities to have an impact."2 I recall the day of installation. Many people volunteered to leave a special mark on the canvas. Were these participants collaborators? Without there participation the canvas would have remained empty of intersecting lines, jagged ropes, and sailboats. The project was shared with strangers, critiqued by strangers and enjoyed by strangers. The participant became a collaborator as soon as the ear buds rested on their earlobes. And what about the many onlookers that passed by watching, eager to view but uninterested in participating. Is there a difference between the producer and the receiver? Was the viewer a participant? I believe so. The viewer was taking part in the installation through observation.3

I must revisit the last page of the article where Maria Lind poses two questions. One: Does it make any difference if diverse forms of artistic collaboration lie behind method which produces better results? Second: Is collaboration a better method which produces better results?4 I will tackle the second question by citing the article. I do believe that collaboration produces better results. On page 16, Maria Lind states, "At the same time, it is worth underlining the obvious-as Brian Holmes does; namely that even the lone artist in their studio is dependent upon contributions from others."5 We as artists engage in collaborative projects daily. I remember on countless occasions asking my close relatives for advice on a painting or a sculpture. Was I collaborating with them? I say yes because we exchanged knowledge, ideas, and preferences. Their views helped shape my perspective of an artwork. Come to think about it, no artwork is purely designed and conceived by one person. Many people seek counsel from old masters or contemporary stylist. We are all collaborators, collaborating with someone else to better ourselves and our community through the power of art.

1. Written by Jenna Lee
2. Maria Lind. The Collaborative Turn. p. 17.
3. Maria Lind. The Collaborative Turn. p. 17.
4. Maria Lind. The Collaborative Turn. p. 29.
5. Maria Lind. The Collaborative Turn. p. 16.

1 comment:

Sara said...

I really enjoyed reading your blog. I think your insights on the nature of collaboration-that we are all collaborating all of the time- are really relevant. I wonder what the impact on society would be if we had a greater acknowledgement of our collaboration? If instead of focusing on the notion of "individual genius" and "personal accomplishment" we talked more about our influences, the help, inspiration, etc. we receive from others and the world around us. In theory, by acknowledging our inter-connectedness, it might lead to a less combative society. However, as we touched on last week in class, it would certainly bring up issues around ownership and compensation for work. If everything is collaborative to what degree do you own it and have the right to sell and profit from it? Is there a level of collaboration or influence that exceeds the individual and at that point you need to share credit and profits? These questions have been floating around in my head since Friday. It was good to read your thoughts on them. Hope you are having a good weekend.