Speaker reflections

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I am bad with names and so I apologize for having to refer to the speakers in the following way. In the sessions with the two architects/ designers, the conversation artist (radio broadcast conversation pieces), and the puppeteer, a light went off. These three speakers not only brought up interesting and relevant questions, which for me I am still wrestling with, but also were able to introduce important insights into critical procedures in the art-making process.
When the architects/ designers spoke they put a lot of emphasis on collaboration and the ways in which collaboration informed their process. The greatest insight for me was how they worked from start to finish. They weren't combing the world of art and design for questions to answer. Rather, their ideas sprang from conversation, and collaboration was the vehicle by which they arrived at a fruitful discussion. Once they had an idea, and certainly they were working on more than one at a time, they would work in a systematic way to bring the idea to life, often with the help of a great number of people. In this way, their collaboration was a continuation of that initial dialogue. This was an invaluable insight into the process of making work. Seeing how a source of inspiration was generated and subsequently sustained provided me with a sort of standard candle for checking the success and failure of my own work (in the sense that it had either generated and sustained a conversation or had gone flat).
The "conversation artist" (again, I'm really sorry for not remembering names), talked about social practice and intervention, using broadcasts of people talking and voicing their opinions to a local audience. What was important about his talk was the ways in which he structured his work and also trusted his volunteers. He made a point not to come up with answers to the questions he was bringing up, or to contribute directly to the conversations he was initiating. Rather, he letting the people do the talking while working to create effective sites for democracy. Seeing his work has shifted the ways in which I look at my own work and the role of ideas in my work.
Finally, the puppeteer's talk made explicit what it means to structure an artwork. Using structure, one can direct one's own spontaneity; by practicing, one can use less structure. This insight got to the heart of a problem I have been struggling with for a year, which is how do you structure instinct? He showed that by learning about the actions you are using, by opening up the ways in which you make these actions, you can work on a level that is less conscious and more authentic than if you were drawing from learned experience.
All in all, the speakers were really important to my own development as an artist. I'm not sure how they affected my work in the public realm. I think that what they showed is that public realm is a dimension of every artwork, and that that dimension can always be pushed, often with incredible results. Time will tell the ways in which their talks fully influenced by work, but for now the future looks exciting

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