“ I must create a cistern or become enslaved by another man’s. ”
– Billy Blake
Above exhibit 01: A mobile phone photo of a cistern in the gents toilets in the Edinburgh College of Art.. just one of the many inanimate objects I chose to photograph in that bastion of creative endeavour while attending the ‘Remediating the Social’ Conference last month.
The conference itself was a major part of the ELMCIP project, a genius idea, collectively professionally executed by some of the smartest and sharpest minds involved with Electronic and Digital Literature in Europe and elsewhere.
The spaces in Edinburgh College of Art are populated with work, and the occasional prompt for students (& maybe staff too) the Hall of Sculptures is a spectacular space with strong lines, large pillars, imposing figures and enclosed first floor viewing balconies/walkways. Despite the presence of contemporary audio visual equipment, there remained an air of classical reverence with white sheeting and curtains adding to an almost mythical milieu. An inspiring shared space...
And yet that lickle cistern was the only publicly accessible part of the college (cue gender uproar) I accessed that immediately testified to students embracing risky elements of design and creativity.
In fairness maybe there are regular graffiti scrub downs or clean ups.. who’s to know, I just focused on that public object because it’s pretty much inaccessible to one individual, a boost up or another set of shoulders or a ladder would be required to add a sticker or comment. In some senses it characterises for me the comic underbelly of artistic co-operation or collaboration. Two or more people subscribing to the same idea, goal, method, etc..
My quote is a parody of William Blake’s exhortation to create his own system, develop his own independent poetic and artistic vision, …with a salutary solar lesson inherent revolving around vision, self-belief and sadly..a pauper’s death..
Risk resides at the center of all creativity.. but when we step across into seemingly more experimental areas, such as abstract digital art or digital creativity in emerging platforms and paradigms , the downside to that risk intensifies, sadly failure (despite my promotion of it as a paradigm of progress) is still negatively charged with destructive implications and damaging consequences..
I suppose humor and specifically parody can be safety filters with which we can address serious issues while reducing, lightening or even relieving some of those downsides..