Tag Archives: pause

Why am I here?

I did not read books the first summer; I hoed beans.

Nay, I often did better than this. There were times when I could not afford to sacrifice the bloom of the present moment to any work, whether of the head or hands. I love a broad margin to my life. Sometimes, in a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and still- ness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was reminded of the lapse of time. I grew in those seasons like corn in the night, and they were far better than any work of the hands would have been. They were not time subtracted from my life, but so much over and above my usual allowance. I realized what the Orientals mean by contemplation and the forsaking of works. For the most part, I minded not how the hours went.

The day advanced as if to light some work of mine; it was morning, and lo, now it is evening, and nothing memorable is accomplished.

Extract from Thoreau’s Walden, 1854


By Definition

ac·a·dem·ic [ak-uh-dem-ik]


a student or teacher at a college or university.

a person who is academic in background, attitudes, methods, etc.:

(initial capital letter) a person who supports or advocates the Platonic school of philosophy.

slack·er [slak-er]


a person who evades his or her duty or work; shirker.

a person who evades military service.

an especially educated young person who is anti-materialistic, purposeless, apathetic, and usually works in a dead-end job.

slack·er·dem·ic [slak-uh-dem-ik]


an especially educated person who is anti-materialistic, purposeless, apathetic, and a student or teacher at a college or university.

a person who supports or advocates the evasion of duty or work.

The Good Craftsman

The Good Craftsman

We live in a time of excessive organisation, in which the idea of ‘order’ has become overvalued, and in which conflict, in its political sense is repeatedly circumnavigated in favour of consensus. In the light of this all of us involved in the field of the arts might best invest in the dissolution of the concept of organisation altogether; both in sense of ‘putting things in order’ with its administrative and systematic connotations, and of the ‘group of engaged in a common endeavour’ with its suggestion of agreed aims and goals. We need to have the courage to stop organising things and to see what emerges, and the first step in this process for freelancers is to stop shoring up our craft in a rational and managerial way and to consider our own contribution to the institutional sector (whether state or self-organised) as exemplary of a different mode of production – which I will call de-organisation. To imagine the characteristics of this approach at the current time is difficult, because unlike other takes on organisation, it argues for the production of less rather than more. Less organisation for sure, but also less of everything else: less doing, less talking, less making, less thinking. De- organisation begins with switching off the overheated machine and relaxing to the sound of the descending hum as it grinds slowly to a halt. In the silence that follows, faith in the de- organised approach involves embracing those before mentioned ‘indefinably valuable qualities’ latent within the process of working together on our culture. We need to develop a sensibility and patience in the face of these abstract qualities, listen to them and let them guide our actions. It is only at this level that ‘more’ comes in: de-organisation involves more waiting.

By waiting we buy the time to witness that there is a power that is distributed and ambient, alive within forms, rather than busy authoring them and, due to its heterogeneous and continually changing character, irreducible to any singular agreed upon statement of identity. Here is the germ of de-organisation, a subtle suggestion of what might arise from the dissolution of organisational hegemony. In place of the organised it evokes a moment of trust in the ongoing life of something without assuming responsibility for its planning. This also points to one aspect of the term self-organisation that is frequently overlooked in the arts and complicates any overly simplistic reading of it as a tool for self-determination amongst artists. This is precisely not the simple idea that artists can ‘do it themselves’ or ‘take control’, but instead, the more abstract idea that left to their own devices structures, including culture, may begin to organise themselves. To explain what this might entail, the definition of self-organisation used in the natural sciences is useful. In that field the term describes the way in which particular natural systems have a tendency to develop, and take new and more complex forms, in a seemingly unplanned fashion, without the influence of an external or central authority. In such cases changes in the nature of the whole system occur on account of numerous actions at a low- level, with the smallest parts interacting locally without the need of an overall view of the whole. This is what scientists analysing systems have come to call ‘emergence’.

It may appear dilettantish to suggest that we should communally place more trust in the intangible and unfathomable aspects of ‘how things come to be’ and practically speaking it is, in so far that these are things that we cannot preconceive, which therefore lie outside the realm of the organised. But, meditations of this kind are important because, on the face of it, the cult of professionalisation and the resulting equations of better organisation, quality and transparency has had an increasingly stultifying effect on our museums and academies in recent years. This is having the same effect as excessive performance feedback and employee monitoring in business and our own stress-inducing predilection to remotely steer all aspects of our lives from our laptops and iphones. It is time to face the fact that there is no neo-liberal bogeyman forcing us to do things this way and no cabal to overthrow. In fact, if we draw from a comparison of the institution, the organisation and the individual today, we see, more disturbingly, that we are doing this to ourselves; we are willingly ushering in an era of self- imposed micromanagement that borders on the institutionalisation of the self. Maybe, in the spirit of dilettantism, it is time to re-assess the benefits of a life less organised.

extracts from Barnaby Drabble, ‘On De-organisation’, 2013

WOF notes

\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/Which key-notes would you like to share with all of us?

Participation is a practice based activity, a performative action, an unfolding of experience, an open work, an exchange. Participation accents the embodied nature of encounter, be it with words, ideas, images or forms, accenting the powerful resonances that may come about through contact and connection.

Engagement is central and time mediates the activity. Shared articulations of different conceptions of being in the world, different perspectives, different voices bring a conceptual site of dwelling: Thorsten’s support brought a physical site of dwelling.

Contributions could be considered speculatively through dialogue and exchange. Informal approaches supported equality, a non-hierarchical space.

The event brought a physical and psychological space of creativity, where participants were able to engage in different ways, with different persons, different concepts: the event highlighted the challenges of managing the more subtle modalities of thought and action.

That which may be captured may be explored. Art-making as an expressive practice occupies an uneasy territory between speculative and empiricist practices.

To reach beneath the obvious, one must be at ease and open to possibility.

Pluralistic approaches supported mobility between the particular and the general. Different frameworks marked out different territories as separate and significant, mirroring back to audiences and augmenting existing perspectives. The event brought different ways of seeing and experiencing, thinking and untangling.

Attunement to different perspectives can be exhausting and needs time and training to balance the needs of body, mind and spirit.

Ornament and gesture are intrinsically linked through the action of doing and being in the world.

\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/What is the relevance of WOF in your work? How do its aspects reflect in your current projects and how could you imagine integrating the questions WOF raised in future projects?

Ornament and gesture may be explored as operative elements of art–making: that which at first may appear random, unreadable, unfathomable or nonsensical may build over time to inhabit new spaces of creativity and assert agency of the individual. Ornament as gesture: a gesture towards a manner of capture through which a telling is made possible.

Attunement to different perspectives may be explored through a commitment to artistic process. Metaphorically walking the territory, exploring marginal areas, resisting the banalisation of the everyday through artistic practices.

To reach beneath the obvious, one must be at ease and open to possibility. Ideas of the pause creates an interruption in the continuous flow of the everyday. Practices of mindfulness may support letting something into its own presencing, resisting conceptions of complete knowledge towards examing interstices, exploring liminal spaces at the meeting point of a number of ideas. Challenge the authority view: the pause supports narratives to emerge that are particular to the person.

That which may be captured may be explored. The person comes to know her–/himself through encounters with the other. Observing, looking, noticing, speaking and listening are forms of performative action. Sites of encounter where multiple resonances, multiple intensities may be explored are crucial. Discernment, trust, presentness, ‘anti–numbness’ strategies, developmental methods, speculative actions may be explored.

The event brought a physical and psychological space of creativity. An existential space, in which body and mind may take up their residence in the world. A space for in the moment action, improvisation, elaboration, a testing ground for new ideas, movement from inertia to possibility.

Contributions could be considered speculatively. Brings opportunity to critically review processes and methods to consider the ways in which various stages of artistic action and reflection may work together productively.

Engagement is central and time mediates the activity. Commitment to process is an essential aspect of developmental activity: time may be mediated by artistic means, in the moment encounter, embodied experience. Different rhythms support different conditions. Change may be both temporal and temporary.

Participation is a practice based activity. Without action there is inertia. Participatory action may take many forms from speaking and listening, to simply being there. Action and reflection are part of artistic practice.


\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/Which key-notes would you like to share with all of us?

The most resonating key-notes I took are (in random order):

-Ornament is a verb – the making can release unmentioned unconscious thoughts and trigger reactions from other participants which result in deeper reflections. We make – there/for we are.

-The setting is important as it is part of the ornament – the scenery of Davos, the Kirchner Museum’s spaces and exhibited artworks, and in particular Thorsten made us feel at home. We are where we are.

-Stay Beta – giving the chance of notes instead of presentations, talks instead of panel discussions, sketches and models instead of finished results embraces the spirit of open source. Everything is a contribution.

-Become Craftswomen and Craftsmen (conf. Richard Sennett) – the making hand is part of the (research) body as is the strolling mind. Make to make and reflect.

-Train agility and versatility – future challenges are unforeseeable. Know what you make, take what you have and go for The Road not taken (conf. Robert Frost) where the unknown is already waiting.

-Monday Morning Mystic – plan the pause. Set the alarm to stop what you are doing and go for the being. Human being.

-Theoretical action needs practical action wants poetical action. The brick wants an arch (conf. Louis I. Kahn).

-Ornament is a trace (conf. the picture of my last weekend accident – I forgot the noodle soup on the stove). Let’s search for these patterns and activate the potential of ornament through gesture.

\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/What is the relevance of WOF in your work? How do its aspects reflect in your current projects and how could you imagine integrating the questions WOF raised in future projects?

The questions and aspects from the WOF I would like to include in future research (projects) are:

-Learn to make and learn to read what is made – “Bildung” is what our students need, and it covers more than disciplinary transfer of knowledge but connecting to the students and connecting them to the sources. “Bildung” is our mission and responsibility.

-Trust the model. It will reveal. Nourish your inner pictures, poetically describe them and share them with others [thanks, Wendelin].

-Set yourself with some irritation. Not too much – but some. And listen to it.

-Go “super” (conf. the Super-Modulor). The magnificent failure (upon its reflection) is more than the hesitating attempt.

-Connectivity – how can the question of ornament and its preliminary answers from the WOF connect to relevant issues?