I will provide my findings, methods and methodologies to date and how I intend to use them in the future. My draft chapter is about Contextual Review so I am not going to say much about it here.
My work involves facilitating Social Sculpture encounters where a group of participants create the piece using props and myself as its materials. I video and voice record, after the experience I use participants’ comments if needed as part the work. I work with different age groups. Initially I introduce my practice based research. I explain the process. I request their ideas on how we might use a particular material. After that dialogue, I start progressively to make fewer suggestions of my own, and I let them take over the decisions and negotiations on what to do. Using their interests in my work as an anchor, I talk with them about themes such as Social Sculpture and Participatory Art. Later on during editing of the material I use these recordings as the soundtrack and analyze them for my research writings in the form of Reflective Practice.. Even though my approaccto thate Socail Sculpture ps it)tly from his bank account to avoid late payments. his tests. That the
A discussion of my research aims and how they’ve changed.
When I started this process my main areas of inquiry were Metamorphosis, life changes and transformations through time, translocations and mobility.
As I started working in my actions I slowly move to focus on transgenerational interactions, emotions and memory. I still use the term ‘transgeneration’ for my research to describe the collision between transformation and generation in order to convey the complexity and plurality of subjectivities and their transformations during the interactions in my Social Sculpture making. My Social Sculpture works are constructed through using my own body, sound collections of the participants and materials as participants. I am material for the research, my practice becomes a mirror and reflection simultaneously. The production of art works is integrated into social situations and experiences where the participants create while I take a more passive attitude to let myself be material for them.
During the doctoral journey evolution, my Social Sculpture practice has slowly been shifting to philosophy. I understand Social Sculpture as the materialization and/or embodiment of philosophy, as well as the language of it. I came to this realization while editing the material collected during the Social Sculpture encounters, because during this process I found that philosophical questions and archetypes emerged.
Through my work, I am able to see how every group of people has its own tragedy. During the Social Sculpture experiences, poesis comes to the surface in different ways. Different groups of participants relate to each other differently, and the relationship between participants objects, materials and the environment varies as well. When participants become overly analytical, and look for intellectual associations in a dialectical frame of negotiation, the Social Sculpture in fact reaches its conclusion because the core of the encounter losses its energy when bringing the experience to literal associations in which point it turns into a cliché while the tragedy, the essence goes away.
One of my aims during my thesis is to reflect my Social Sculpture explorations pieces and analyze them through Reflective Practice. How some of the pieces ended or turned the Poetics of the piece into Comedy (transferring to my practice Nietzsche ideas in The birth of tragedy,) due to the appearance of reason (Socrates dialectics) and the participants’ needs to intellectualize or rationalize their actions.
The nonstructural mode in which I facilitate experiences and reflect on them is in fact a way of working that is nomadic and non-central (post-human ideas), and it is not based in the idea of mimicking a divine original (Plato). There is no plot, plan, or identity but only energy, action, and reaction between people from different age groups, random objects, and other elements that are naturally placed in an environment that could be based on (though is not limited to) animals, plants, or the weather.
· Performance: I left the studio space and worked outside. I started by engaging with built spaces.
Evolution: I have moved from producing objects to producing actions, and giving to my former objects a new dialogic meaning. Eighteen months ago, I started exploring transformations. I was exploring possibilities by producing actions that were recorded on video. After a process of recording the sound separately, I added it to the video. Once the two elements were together (image and sound), the work became a video production, where the two elements transformed each other. In that body of work, I was performing my actions with different environments relationship: interacting with the public (as in “Action #1”); inside my studio, (as I did for “Colchonero, memory #1” and “El Juego, la Materia y el Ego”); or walking out my studio (as in “Embodying Space”). Simultaneously to the production of these actions, I was taking the Fieldwork Workshops, with a group of different discipline Artists; the particularity of this Workshop was that we didn’t know each other and even less know each other’s work and/or practice. During the Fieldwork Workshop each Artist presents a piece of an in process or finished work, the condition is not to say anything about it, each Artist has few minutes to exhibit it. After all the Artist’s work presentations, each one receives one by one feedback on feelings, comments and reactions to the Artwork. It was during those Workshops that I recorded what they said about my performances videos, and after each workshop I added the recordings to the video of the action I presented. I was focused on the liminal echo between the visual and the voices whose words come from their own projection that my action activates on them. My action then was the canvas for their own issues, thoughts, culture, experiences and vocabulary.
· Participatory Art. I Started looking for groups of people to work with, the first ones were a group from North Beach Senior Center and a group of teen from Miami Beach High.
Evolution: from working in actions by myself and using people’s voices/comments recordings I moved to looking for groups of people to develop my actions. During my exploration at the Senior Center (November 2015) I was exploring Relational Aesthetics, I was bringing my work to the senior community creating a playful environment where I lost control of the action surrendering myself to their control, decisions and proposals. I became material for them. I “provoke” them by bringing one material and asking them what to do with it. Another tool of provocation was the camera sitting on a tripod, they knew they would be filmed, to my surprise they liked it and they took control of it as well. Their voices and comments were recorded after the action and are part of the video.
· Materials I changed my approach to the material and my understanding of the material.
Evolution: from using material to produce a piece; to use few materials as props for the action; to lately understand the materials as more-than-human participants (S. Pope) and at the same time understand myself as material, giving the control of the action to the participants as the encounter takes place.
At the moment, to describe my practice I use Joseph Beuys’s term “Social Sculpture” because it is a material-driven approach, as opposed to Relational Aesthetics’, a concept that has no object and much less material because it is focused purely on the social. In my work, the material plays several roles. During the encounters the material is an active participant as its interrelation with human participants and how different energies develops. During editing, I take the material into consideration through Reflective Practice. After editing I have objects, a video with sound and still photographs. The combining of video and sound creates an object, and the methods required for making this object draws on both the main technical strands of my background: camera work for video and photographs on the one hand and sound on the other. I understand sound as a 3D piece. During the sound editing, I create form and space with the audio and look for different textures.
Controlled/uncontrolled: During the encounter my role does not involve control. In contrast, once I begin editing and reflect, my role becomes exclusively one of control.
I explored the relationship between controlled and uncontrolled through the action and the piece’s participants, whether they are people, material or environment (which have been described by Pope as “more-than-human”, as I discuss in RDC2).
· Social Sculpture I became more aware of the didactics and pedagogical elements of the encounter and reached the conclusion that my practice corresponds most closely to Beuys’ Social Sculpture rather than to isolated sculpture and/or performance. I aim to create a more appropriate lexicon to use in my work.
· Philosophy and dialogic (M. Bakhtin) I view all these transformations of myself and my practice as the metamorphosis of the human of which Nietzsche speaks of. The realization that my work is raising questions and statements to which I find the answers and connections to Post Human philosophy such as Nietzsche, Deleuze, Bradotti.
· Reflective Practice is the method I use to link between practice and to articulate my findings. I’m developing my own scheme for my reserach based practice: self-reflection during encounter (Social Sculpture) > reflection and dialogue with participants from doing (after the encounter) > self-reflection during editing material> planning the next one.
I reflect on the differences between working with the senior community to working with the teens from High school. While the seniors struggle to understand contemporary art, performance and the interdisciplinary approach as art, they were very spontaneous and free during the action and after during the reflections. In contrast, the teens from were very knowledgeable and interested about performance and Social Sculpture in fact for them, even though never heard the concept of Social Sculpture before, they grasp the idea as something natural and intuitive. However, they struggle in participating spontaneously and without prejudices. In fact, there was a big difference the few times I left them working by themselves. Also, they struggle to give comments after the action, they show having obstacles in communicating their own encounter experience.
The methodology used in my research until now was based on Nietzsche’s triangulation. Nietzsche proposes the use of diverse approaches in order to increase knowledge, which echoes the often-interdisciplinary nature of practice-based research.
The form of triangulation that I deploy in my methodology incorporates the following three angles: Philosophy (Theory, Dialogic), Social Sculpture (Socially Engaged Art; SEA), and pedagogy. I use pedagogy not as an independent discipline but rather as an element of Philosophy and SEA. More than being the third element of the triangulation, pedagogy will transform the triangulation methodology into something that is more akin to circulation in its dynamics. Rather than using pedagogy as a separate element in my research, I will use it in an auxiliary role to allow the philosophy and Social Sculpture elements of the methodology to reciprocally inform one another. Therefor pedagogy is the transmission element that transforms the triangulation into a circulation methodology. For this reason, throughout the thesis I will speak of “transpedagogy” rather than of “pedagogy.”
My interest in transpedagogical issues is to articulate the transformation that Nietzsche speaks of in his theory of triangulation, which includes the use of diverse approaches and measuring the data from different perspectives and through an interdisciplinary approach. Joseph Beuys claimed that his greatest work of art was to be a teacher (Artforum, 1969) and explored this through his experimental pedagogy. Similarly, Claire Bishop in her book Artificial Hells has written a chapter dedicated to pedagogic projects. She explains the similarities and differences between artists-teachers and viewers-students, and emphasizes the processes as methods of art. The process in my Social Sculpture explorations are, in fact, the departing point of my practice-based practice.
During the Social Sculpture experiences those relationships and its dynamics are the focus of my reflection. Because I have a teaching background the role of the “teacher” comes out naturally. Even though I wouldn’t say that my work is an educational experiment, there are elements of didactic present in the way I relate to the participants. I am presently reflecting on these issues and will work in a deeper analysis for the Thesis.
The methods used are the Social Sculptures I facilitate themselves, the do video and audio, my reflections during editing, and my writing. At the same time, the writing method plays two roles, first as part of the practice and second as documentation of the process and conclusions.
Photography, video and sound recording are part of my practice in terms of methods, together with written production. The process of editing images and sounds collected during Social Sculpture experiences is both material for my pieces and a meditative moment that will allow me to process the experience using reflective practice concepts.
Past-present and future of my Research
Recently, I have been reflecting on the impossibility of one of my main premises, namely the idea of “giving myself up” during the Social Sculpture encounters. Throughout the RDC1 I defended that position, and my practice was also grounded in that idea. I have now concluded that it is not possible to give oneself up. Rather, what is possible is to go to the edge of doing so ( as Yoko Ono did on her “Cut” piece). This conclusion does not invalidate my RDC1 discussion but rather prompts me to focus on the boundary between the possible and the impossible as a frame of work. I currently doubt that it is possible for me to truly give myself up, but nonetheless I will keep trying, and I will analyze my attempts to do so. During and after RDC2, instead of focusing my analysis on “giving myself up” I will focus on, explore and map out the boundary between possible and impossible as I attempt to give myself up.
Other questions that were raised after RDC1 were: How can I make Social Sculpture without interacting with people? Can I achieve the “social” element of a piece by myself? Can I raise awareness of the “social” by making a non-participatory piece? What happens to the “Social” element of Social Sculpture when there is no a human participant? These questions have parallels with John Cage’s piece 4:33 and the implications of removing sound from his composition. These questions in turn raise further, more practical queries: How can I create Social Sculpture that raises social questions without interaction with human participants? What happens if I remove the human participants in a participatory piece? Are there any examples of this potential type of Social Sculpture with no people present that already exist (do Facebook and other social media platforms correspond to this definition, for example)?
· Explore ways to disseminate my findings not only on the Art world, share them with the educational, academic, institutional and non institutional world including alternative spaces such as the senior centers.
· Space: keep exploring different environments, being more close to nature or the open urban spaces.
· Discover and interview and work with other artists with similar interests.
· Start a Social Sculpture platform a space where interested participants can share their findings.
Ethical issues in my research and how these have been resolved:
I present myself as an artist doing a research in which I look for groups of people to play (develop simple actions) with just a few materials and myself. I always explain that during each event there will be a camera and that I will be also doing voice recordings. The group is invited to participate and I will request their ideas on how we might use a particular material. After that explanation I manage to have less of my own proposals and let them take over the decisions and negotiations on what to do and/or how to play. After the sessions we share our understanding of how and what we engaged with. I make recordings of the discussions and later on during editing of the material I use these recordings as the sound piece and analyzed them for my research writings. Participants are asked to ensure that the choice they make during the social sculpture process do not have the potential to cause harm either to themselves or others.
Participants are always informed verbally in a group conversation about my research and my approach in constructing Social Sculpture pieces. The level of conversation will be adapted to the group age (for example) children will be approached differently than seniors. Participants will be given a consent form to sign explaining their rights to withdraw and the timing to do so, their right to be mention if needed on either the visual documentation of the writing part of the research (in the case of children their parents will be provided with the consent form). The consent form has also information about the project.
Before each session I will provide the participants with a consent form to read and sign with all the information about my research’s blog’s link. On the consent form participants are informed that they can withdraw at any time but they have to give me 30 days notice. In this case they have 90 days from the performance date to withdraw their images and recordings. If they decide to do so the parts in which that specific person appears either (visually or in voice) will be securely destroyed.
New contribution to knowledge
To develop a new methodology, which I call circulation, departing from Nietzsche’s triangulation methodology. The three angles of philosophy-dialogic, Social sculpture practice and didactics will compose the dynamics of the circulation methodology.
To develop a more specific lexicon to use to and articulate my practice.
To be able to develop my own reflective practice procedure and use it to document Social Sculpture in written and video formats.