As the class comes to an end there has been a lot of intriguing projects from my classmates. Together they present a nice collective of interests and ideas that deal with relational aesthetics, and to see all of the projects you can find links here.
I want to ask a few questions about some that I found really engaging. The first one is take one/ leave one by YiRan Liu. It can be found at www.leaveone.org. This is the project I am most familiar with, and I have seen it from conception to its current state. In the project, YiRan leaves postcards with a short story she’s collected with a space for someone to respond with their own story on the other half and send it back to her. Some questions I have for YiRan deal with the reliance on participation for the project to fully function. In her explanation of her project on her site, she explains the influence of the penny cups you find at checkout counters. But it made me wonder, what happens to the penny cup when nobody leaves one? It sits there sad and empty and some poor soul gets 98 cents back to carry around. If no one sends YiRan stories, does the site become sad and empty? YiRan has done some things to counteract this problem, such as directly probing people for stories, making the postcards accessible and even paying the postage to encourage sending. YiRan's role as both an editor and publisher of these heartfelt, emotional and sometimes funny stories she collects, by whatever means, is enough for me to enjoy the project, but for it to really be relational, do people need to relate back? How much can we rely on the kindness (or interest) of strangers?
Another project I enjoyed was [placed] by Steve Nyktas, which can be found here. Like YiRan’s postcards, Steve leaves a small gift in the world. But unlike take one/ leave one, [placed] asks for nothing in return. Here there is no exchange witnessed, only the probability of an exchange. Like one of our class discussions on Rirkrit, I feel like Steve’s piece uses both of Andrea Fraser’s models of a post-commodity artwork we read in her essay. It utilizes both the service and readymade models we discussed in class. I would like to know, does it seem to lean one direction over the other? You had this object that is simply placed out in the world, but it enters with a hope of being used. Steve plays the role as an enabler more than an instigator, and how does that relate to the service model Fraser discussed? How does Steve’s role as a passive-provider affect the work in respect to our discussions on relational aesthetics?
Part of the reason why it has taken me so long to post these questions is because I’ve been spending time on Eric Mika’s site Vertical Manufactory, which is a “participatory infrastructure for quick, communal, mouse-drawn sketches” or “an open stack of interleaved sketches.” After some Googling and talking with a friend, I found out more about what interleaving entails. I was told that it involves allowing data to be missing but to still receive everything to improve performance. I like the idea that by allowing me to regulate the amount of information I can determine the quality of the image for my own taste. If I want, I can even vandalize the image, or improve it depending on the viewpoint. It reminds me of a DIY version of Rudolf Stingel’s Celotex installation (Untitled, 2007) that was at the MCA. They both have a completely open system that is limited by an awkward and clumsy material. However, Eric’s piece is able to give control to the viewer about how they want it to be seen. It made me think, what does given that power and control do for my experience? What does the project gain from the DIY, personalized aspect of a collective drawing? I am also curious, how do the clumsy tools work for and against the work? I find myself getting frustrated, and limited. I don’t really think I can make a compelling composition with simple paint tools, but somehow I like looking at the collective. But, I also know that we're all in it together with these awkward "brushes" and it seems to level the playing field of the art work that can be created.
These three projects show a wide variety of different perspectives on relational aesthetics. I’ve appreciated looking at all of the projects, and I wish you all luck.