Talking Whiteboards

Besides their facility to condense information, diagrams have a number of formal characteristics. Those include modularity, mobility, negation of depth (they are figures that create their own ground), definition of playing field, and implied invitations to act. This project is designed to explore and make palpable the implied invitation to act, by making it explicit.

In the summer of 2016, I invited 45 visitors to my studio, individually, in pairs or in groups of up to 5 to talk out loud what any one (or several) of seven diagrams inspired them to consider. 23 of those sessions are documented below, in excerpts that average 15 minutes each. The diagrams are presented on rolling Whiteboard easels that can be wheeled into any desired configuration and marked up with dry erase markers. Five of the seven boards are from 2011, produced to be part of a series of events at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, in conjunction with an exhibition, "Without you I'm Nothing: Art and its Audience". At that exhibition, I used the boards as props for performance lectures. They are Creativity (after Duchamp and Torrance); Hairy Blob, a visual brief of a curatorial concept about metaphors of time and their impact on other areas of life; a summary of Walter Benjamin’s Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction that focuses not on the aura, but on political aesthetics; Flexible Art Worlds, a diagrammatic syllabus for an Arts Administration course; and a diagrammatic summary of Vilém Flusser’s essay Exile and Creativity. As briefly indicated, each of these diagrams has its own history and conjunctions, they do not represent a thematic group beyond that their contents are related to the arts. Two boards were new in 2016, a Studio Critique Template, created as part of ongoing research about Studio Critique, and The Braid, a diagram that condenses key learnings from 4 years of conversations with artists and other cultural producers, always prompted by the question "How do you work? ". Both of these diagrams deal with how artists speak about working, and how these conversations are part of the work.

In 2016, mostly, The Braid was engaged, at times supplemented by Studio Critique, Creativity (after Duchamp and Torrance) and Exile and Creativity. Longtime collaborators, friends, colleagues and couples dug in as well as people paired with each other, who had not met before. These videos may be of interest to art educators, as many of the artists, designers and arts administrators who participated explicitly discuss how their work unfolds, and how artistic and professional considerations intersect. Thanks go to all who participated, Asha Iman Veal, who facilitated and participated, and to Jared Larson for recording. This project is partially supported by an Individual Arts Program Grant (IAP) from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events (DCASE)(2016) and by an Artist Project Grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency (2018).