Hello, could you tell us a bit about your practice?

I guess I’m participatory, with an interest in how to engage people in experiences that could be seen as gameful in nature. I work in public space, and the documentation of the work, an accumulation of the people that have engaged, contributes to a final artwork that is distributed online or is distilled into some form of installation.  Also, the work is about breaking down discourses of exclusion, as Foucault would say. So, the work looks at how you can make a work of art in a field that normally takes a great deal of training, such as music or dance, but through the concept, everyone can participate.

 

What are you exploring at the moment?

I’m examining how to create temporary public artworks with passers-bye that uses the affordance of objects in the places the activates happen. That sounds a bit dry, but it is about using an object in an environment and making it active by the way that the public interact with it. So, at mo, I have been working on a project called ‘Maypoles are Everywhere’ and in this work, I have an adjustable maypole crown that I take around town and get people around me or working nearby to join in a dance around a piece of street furniture that is wrapped with the ribbons.  I am then accumulating all these different bits of street furniture into a video work.

 

Have you found there’s anything in particular that has influenced you over the years? What inspires you?

I am inspired by games and the way they are so successful at engaging players in the experience, that players enter voluntarily and play happily for no reward, completely immersed.  I am always aspiring for that kind of interest in the artwork I create.  I find the theories of Suzanne Lacy and new genre public art pretty inspiring, and the idea of the Magic Circle by Huizinga as a space apart but of the world. I find Shostakovich’s Leningrad symphony inspiring, and the whole story around how it was put on at the time makes you realise that it is worth making art things.  The phrase ‘The beach beneath the streets’ I find inspiring. The everyday can also inspire.

 

Where do you work? Could you show us a picture of your working environment?

I often work in the public realm, so here are some pictures of us putting the maypole crown around bits of street furniture.

 

What’s on your bookshelf/what are you listening to or reading at the moment?
I am reading Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, and am very excited to see who done it at the end (just kidding) I am listening to the proms on radio 3 and to the New York Times books podcast.

 

Could you give us between ten and twenty words that define your practice? (e.g. Dark. Light. Blue. Unicorn. Table.)

OMG those were the words I was going to put now I’ll have to come up with other words.   Participation – Engagement – Affordance – Experience – Fun – Gameful – Public – Community – Epic – Everyday – Collaboration – Objects- Magic – Communal.

 

Where can people see your work?

I have just uploaded a work we created for Darlington’s Festival of Innovation. It is the Maypole work. You can see it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w95sUFs9-GE&feature=youtu.be

 

Our last featured artist, Narbi Price, asked ‘Who’s doing it right?’. Could you answer Narbi’s question please and think of a new one for our next artist?

I think that artists who use participation for experience and have some kind of end work that is visual in nature and more than the process alone are doing it right.  So someone like Roman Ondák, Measuring the Universe   who creates a work out of people marking their height on a gallery wall and the visual accumulation that emerges from this is def getting it right.  So, artworks that have experience, but also have outcome created through engagement and participation. I think that games studies and its focus on the experience of those in the work, is a school of thought that artists can learn from. Perhaps also design, and the science of making they have formulated, could be something that fine artists could also learn from in terms of installations in space.

 

My new question is:

Should an artist care if the audience understands or appreciate the work they have made. Is there a duty to communicate?

 

All images: Anton Hecht