THE ART OF GOVERNANCE - on The Artist Placement Group 1966-19 9

It was really only in spelling out the decrees of the high command that we came to understand ourselves (Franz Kafka) 1. !"ntro#uction$ With the popularisation, in the late 60s, of conceptual art and its correlate the 'dematerialization of the art object' we are faced not only with terms interminably in dispute but also with the grouping together of practices under a single heading that serves to homogenise the always already heterogeneous. he recent upsurge in interest around this area, demonstrated by large attendances at the '!ive "n #our $ead' show held at the Whitechapel %rt &allery earlier this year, is also the offer of a chance to ma'e potentially radical conjunctions, to come to see in the layers of history that which has not been fully played(out or which remains inchoate. )uch a history, when viewed in terms of 'winners' or 'losers', is, at best, a rejection of nostalgia and a call for a practice consummate with the demands of the present, but, at worst, it undermines the socio(historical continuum that we find ourselves in and begins to play those hierarchical games, themselves heavily lin'ed into an ideology of artistic individualism, that see' to ma'e league tables out of radical gestures. When viewed from a position of ignorance, or the position of a novice researcher, this renewed interest in the history of conceptualism seems demonstrative of an attempt to re( inject some social combativeness into an art world seemingly full to surfeit of people willing to act as the *high priests of show business* +1,. hat this layer of engagement has been continuous for some may come as a surprise to those who have given up on the radical potential of the imagination to become conscious of its effect upon the social field and who have plumped instead for cod(surrealist ju-taposition and open( ended ambiguity. What is revealed by only a cursory glance at such a history is that beyond homogenised categories and stylish mimicry there are practices that are always already heterogenous. hus we discover that the 'dematerialization' of the art object was variously concerned with a rejection of morphology and aesthetic scopism, with the rise of a te-t(based practice and an accent on process rather than product. "n short the submerged legacy of conceptualism is one which encourages a rejection of art's ideological role in society. hrough an e-amination of language, perception and the entrapment of desire in readymade representations the more radical proponents of conceptualism were part of an avant(grade trajectory that submitted the insitutions of art to a criti.ue. %s with their precursors they were led towards pursuing their practice amidst the dynamics of the social field. hat such a 'dematerialisation' of the artist is now only a submerged legacy is, in part, a measure of how far the art institution has been engaged in a retroprojection that only benefits the econometrics of the 'yba'. With the accent upon the artist as ''nowing' fau- naif, conceptualism is practiced as a style and as a mimicry that often comes across as apolitical plagiarism +i.e. a plagiarism not propelled by notions of the reappropriation of the means of e-pression nor concerned with the politics of representation and canonical criti.ue,. hus, then, the findings of conceptualism are seen, by this researcher, to have remained submerged beneath a recentring of the spectator upon the art object which has acted to restrengthen the divide between artists and spectators, have been obscured by the activity of 'nomination' wherein the artist's agency is only minimally drawn towards the de(specialisation of his/her own role, and have been constantly seduced by plumping for one or other of the terms 'time(based' or 'space(based'0 history is disassociatedly ransac'ed and the environment aestheticised. 1oreover, if one of conceptualism's areas of activity was the relation of 'art' to 'pop' then its legacy today is one where either term has become so reified that being 'popular' becomes a need that, who 'nows, unconsciously shapes a wor' to the degree that its artist actually submits to a preestablished definition of 'popular' rather than e-tending and testing the possibilities of what can be acceptable as 'popular'. %nd so, those artists who have un.uestioningly acceded to their delegated role as the vanguard of an hyper(real image culture ( and as such always eminently e-changeable ( have not only been tal'ed(up as the inheritors of the cowl of conceptualism but have bemusedly become as popular as advertisements. What follows is a critical trac'ing of just one of the vectors that could be said to have emerged from the conceptual practice that was re( represented by the '!ive "n #our $ead' show. 2. !%ematerialisation$ 3ematerialization of the art object can only presage a 'void' if the passing of the art object is mourned. he mourning itself, in substituting a mimetic trace for the lost object, is, in the case of conceptualism's adherents, refashioned many times over from this mimetic trace to become fi-ated on, for instance, the 'pictorialism of a te-t based practice'or in the populist adventurism of inde-ing creative activity that has escaped the art institution. 4or 5ohn !atham and 6arbara )teveni of the %rtist 7lacement &roup +%7& ( renamed in 1898 as :;",, the potential disappearance of the art object was not an occasion for mourning but an ongoing continuation of attempts to give art a purpose 'outside' its immediate and overly obvious remit in the art institutions of gallery and museum. %s a spur to the formation, in 1866, of the %rtist 7lacement &roup, !atham's own practice as an artist and theorist can be seen as part of a wider conte-t of

an en. free from the encumbrance of having to ma'e an objectal art(wor'.uestions of what it was the %7& as an organisation wanted to act upon and in order to change what. as facilitating administrators or as incidental persons. were only minimally negotiated through means of a funding body and. hat their placements in industry +1869(18A=. commodified. in eschewing e-pectations about a resultant art wor'. as a material force *releasing the impulse to act*. as not at all dissimilar to the creation of manufactured commodities.. in e-amining the boundaries of what constitutes visual art or language and in becoming conscious of the social(role allotted to creative wor'ers as 'e-ports' for national cultures. self( e-pression and production. % release of the *impulse to act*. the hope for the incidental person. and pursuing the resultant activities without see'ing their artistic legitimation. contemplation. if the art object was coming to be dematerialized then. in the mid 60s. would come to *generate ma-imum public involvement and ma-imum enthusiasm* so as to *release the impulse to act* +>. then. one of the most efficacious 'materials' there could be. as to who or what constitutes the 'spectator' of conceptual art. but what that desire. and to developing the 'time(based' conceptual means of resisting the mono(dimensionality of art as a commodity0 aligning himself with developments in physics !atham came to view 'events' rather than the 'particles' as a more apt basis for a socially engaged artistic endeavour. hat the incidental persons. could be conse. could.. brings into being once it is conscious of itself as an active force in conjunctions with the desires of others. and. so the %7& thesis implies. also. furthermore that the incidental persons could also bypass that layer of administration and curatorial mediation that still censors social art today. he problems.uestions around the desires of the incidental persons themselves and furthermore to . could have been in a position to e-amine the flows of desire within the social relations of wor'place and government departments is. Whether or not this is an idealistic projection onto the %7&'s industrial placements of the early A0s is maybe besides the point. intended to change becomes crucial. with an %7& practice that involved itself with submerged social dynamics. which raises desire but leaves it une-pressed.. continuing the wor' of collapsing the division of labour between artist and critic in the writing of te-tual art. !atham. came to view the creation of art objects +be they novels or paintings. it seems. the concept of 'artist' was to be similarly overturned and redefined and !atham eventually wor'ed(up the term 'incidental person' as a more fitting description of the intended activities of artists engaging in the social field and wor'ing to effect a change even in the smallest 'minits' of duration.uiry that. in using the very 'aimlessness' of the %7&'s brief could swing a focus onto the aims of commodity producing industries. "f we ta'e into account the stri'e wave creativity of the wor'ing class of this period or the potentiality of an 'imagined' %7& then the actual outcomes of an %7& placement will always pale. led to a desire to wor' directly with a *total conte-t of people* via the %7& +2. .. the materialisation of desire in the social field as a rhythm between restraint and possibility. in that. come to materialise desire and wor'(relations as the conceptual objects of group participation and personal responsibility that unfurls over time rather than as the contemplative still(lifes of an institutionally directed spectatorship that undifferentiatedly repeats the limits of its own confines. trained as a painter. is. meant. could have become an area of concern and dissension within the %7&. became concerned with adding an e-tra dimensionality to the surface of the canvas +protruding boo's. as the %7& was coming to be formed. his impulse to act. leads to . as an outgrowth of his association with 7roject )igma and he 3estruction "n %rt )ymposium. developed upon 7olloc' and action painting through a durational mar'ing of the canvas in micro moments +spray paint. in maintaining a fluid position of independence and 'affectivity'. no longer a matter of spectators being grouped by an institution. he conceptual activity of the incidental person.engaged activity that.uently autonomous enough to develop lines of en. 4or !atham. it was hoped. What it was that the %7&. at this time. the %7& seemed to offer a radical direction.uiry about social dynamics. but nonetheless holding them to 'feasibility studies'. 6ut rather than produce a static subjectivity where the artist's person. this formative activity led to e-plorations in jettisoning an object(base for art and. 3id they want to change society or did they want to change societies attitude to art? >. in terms of the dematerialization of the art object. "f %rt B !anguage were. but any 'success' in such a direction is not the nomination of desire in such an environment as a surrogate 'art piece'. !&Goin' Pu(lic&$ "n constituting a move away from the art institution and in encouraging artists to *ta'e determined control of their social function*+@. becomes an institutional currency. $owever. a'ing a cue from <auschenberg's blan' canvas of 18=0. much vaunted at the time. could be communicable as spurs to action and participation rather than as objects of self(referential contemplation. events spanning micro(moments and cosmological durations that. he gained notoriety through his creation of )'oob owers +sculptural constructs made from boo's and burnt in public places. but more a matter of bringing into rhythm the differential speeds of spectatorship. not foisting a 'brief' upon the potential placements. his can be seen as relating to one of conceptualism's 'advances' in terms of the artist's own 'individuality' becoming the subject of art. in becoming immersed in the unfurling dynamics of the wor'place. then the %7& could be seen to be wor'ing around areas of dissolving the 'divide' between the artist and the public and moving further towards 'dematerialization' by avoiding the sometimes self(referential focus of %rt B !anguage that maintained the latter in a 'civil war' relationship with art institutions. )o. was that the performative aspect of wor' within industry and government departments would not be seen through the prism of the art institution.

can come into fruition as the apt subject of discussion as to %7&'s efficacy on a smaller. and after 3ebord's filmic e-periments. whilst the latter attempts to show how the continuum of time.. an incentive to our ma'ing time for ourselves through access to the differential speeds of perception and desire. intimate scale. revolutionary politics as the very process of combined wor' in the social field to effect wide reaching change. are perhaps conditioned by the fact that much of what occurred in the placements was activity that had no prescription. our lives. direction rather than ta'e it towards its ever(impending 'individualised' canonisation. when the theories are e-tended to a cosmological level. o ma'e such time leads Eage into the nirvana zone of zen whilst it leads 3ebord towards 'situations' and the history of the wor'ing class movement. !The Time-)ase# Theories O* +ohn . trade union representatives. the previous . our time.uantifiable durations to be measured out as money0 waged(durations which. but it was also a practice that insisted upon de(specialisation of the artists role and the transformation of the e-hibition into a zone for social research.atham$ 5ohn !atham's 'eenness to reference <auschenberg's blan' canvas as a 'turning point' in the shift from an object(based art brings forth two other wor's of the =0s that were similarly intended to ma'e art reflect upon its social purpose0 5ohn Eage's @'>>* and &uy 3ebord's $owlings in favour of )ade. "n providing a space in which the 'incidental persons' could operate independently of government directives +which ultimately is not the case today for artists and writers in residency. a conjunction between art and physics through the Cinsteinian auspices of 'all matter being at a dimensionless point'. industrialists. his demarcation point.uestion not only of what we e-pect from 'art' but what we e-pect from time itself. where it seems that the 'micro(event'. there is. a time of socially creative process. hat the 'wasted' moments of 'silence' or 'imagelessness' are there to emphasise our being conditioned to e-pect time to be filled for us is.after promulgating the 'open wor'' and a process(accent involving chance operations. but which. perhaps transcends time in a a concerted response to a still activated neurosis of artists to feel 'alienated' or 'outside' the wider society.. perhaps. illustrative of the pre( materialization of the artist as professional and perhaps hints that. or a union meeting. "n this way much of %7&'s activity would rest with the personal testimony of the various 'incidental persons' and the people with whom they wor'ed.uite considerably when we sense that what is being removed from the 'time(based' approach is the notion of history as the social continuum we are . is hived(off into . and the semblance of a dialogue to be begun again. or desire and social relations. hough both mar' similar nodes on different journeys they both manage to raise the . 6ringing such people into the public sphere could have made(for an injection of accountability and democracy by means of e-tending the placement by utilising the art space of the $ayward &allery as a forum. "n the absence of such information. come. comes across as increasingly naive when it is a matter of articulating what it is that the %7& sought to change. communicating in a *counter(literal* way. 6oth these pieces raise the notion of duration. forms the basis of a &rand Fniversal heory or a 'meaning of the world'. perhaps. time(based documentation. 5ohn !atham's 'time(based' theories. albeit punctuated with process(mar's and fragmented dialogue. he time(based theories of 5ohn !atham. hese two precursors of 'dematerialization' highlight potential areas of radical conjunction for conceptual art0 music as eminently 'dematerialized'. "n contradistinction to Eage and 3ebord. inter(disciplinary. $owever. the %7& was actively encouraging *conte-t related concepts*+6. he former. as with 5ohn !atham's event(based wor's with their in(built address to a 'reflective intuitive observer'. which would in many circumstances be the temporary autonomous province of the 'incidental persons' themselves. confronts its audience not simply with the 'end of cinema' but with a reminder of the e-istence of a social reality as a produced reality. in this piece. to be satisfied with finding a new status for art as that which. the sound of steel manufacture and discussions with *artists. with the retrospective views of !atham and )teveni and with the visibility of %7&'s move towards &overnmental 3epartment 7lacements after 18A=. he resultant 'wor'' of an %7& industrial placement could have been labour itself or. as a facet of capitalist social relations. underlying the open(ended application of an incidental person's transversal and intuitive 'nowledge. coming roughly at a time of growing wor'ing class militancy and when ta'en together with )teveni's retrospective subsumption of wor'er(participants by their trade union representatives is. a mindset that see's legitimation for an art practice not from the art institutions themselves but from industrial and government professionals +A. perhaps in the manner of an %thenian democratic model based upon slave labour. falter . the %7& was one endeavour that sought to ta'e conceptualism into a more engaged. made after the fact in an attempt to communicate the history of the %7&. his latter point seems to be the case with the 18A1 show %rt B Cconomics which the %7& staged as a 'going public' with its activities to that date0 a melange of displays. 17s and others* +=. e-oticization of the wor'ing classes.uote unfortunately attends to a case of the wor'ers themselves becoming subject once more to dematerialization and as such is a factor through which the compromised nature of the %7& endeavour can come to lightD an endeavour which ta'es on a radical semblance when it is contrasted to the object(based aestheticism of the art institution. as a means of registering desire. being content with the fi-ity of a specific turning point. )uch utterances. in the organisational 'unconscious' of the %7&. whilst functioning to illustrate the dematerialization of the art object and leading to the micro(event of desire and the *impulse to act*. Eage's 'silence' dematerializes music even further to confront its audience with their own sounds and the blan' screen of 3ebord. @. we are left. can even buy the silence of the past.

if they raised the concept of duration and.. revolutionize their own lives. the very history that the incidental person would bring into a situation and the very history of that situation itself.uisitiveness0 * hey certainly had no wish to listen to my . then. gave it political overtones by inferring into the silence and blan'ness that it was necessary for its recipients to ta'e action to define time in a space(time continuum +autotemporalise.. industrialists. echoing 3ebord. "n some ways then there is an %7& alignment with one e-trapolation of 'constructing situations' which &uy 3ebord made in 18=A0 *"f we ta'e for e-ample the simple gathering of a group of individuals for a given time. then the %7& create a situation whose ambiance is professional not least in the fact that it still orbits such terms as 'contract' and 'art(object'. were overloo'ed or tactically omitted from the overall approach of the %7& +1@.actually living in. or at least an insurrectionary event. the )ituationist bugbear of the 'specialist' who has a psychical investment in the structures of society as they now stand. on closer inspection. that have the negative effect of one group member waiting for others to get up to 'speed'. was to show duration and attempt to fill it with an overarching theory that may or may not have functioned as a 'brief' to which the incidental persons were encouraged to adhere +9. !atham's time(based move towards what he calls 'event structure' is synchronous but fundamentally divergent from the )ituationist "nternational's notion of 'constructing situations'. "f 3ebord and Eage loo'ed elsewhere for their legitimation. the %7&'s 'situation' is far more closely confined than that of 3ebord's open ended description. in terms of those situationist ideas disseminated in the early 60s by 7roject )igma +10. with their undertow of disciple(inducing didacticism. it does not actively pursue de(specialisation but brings forth the 'incidental person' as a specialist in his or her own right.. "n this way.ituation$ his hum of contradictions is probably the fate which would befall anyone who attempted to sell a 'situation' to the government. but that in bringing together people from various disciplines +civil servants. When it is a matter of groups see'ing common objectives and common directions for action. 4urthermore.. to what e-tent do such theories. in refusing the testing practice of contradiction. Whilst such an approach may allow for the effects of an %7& placement to be seen over a longer duration of time than is normally allotted an artist(in(residence.. spea'ing before the time(based theories too' a firmer grip on him. but the starting point for 3ebord was that participation is essentially open to the degree that it becomes creativity in the social field regardless of its being defined as an 'art' activity +1>. it does not appear to ta'e account of what occurs prior to the placement. is. give rise to a situation in which the *impulse to action* is fettered by considerations of 'correct' adherence. in their channelling of multiform desires in the direction of the theorist as 'e-pert'.uestions that they had no wish to . the releasing of desires and passions and their inevitable confrontation with authority. 6. with half an eye turned towards eternity. !&"n#epen#ent "nterest&$ :n record as renouncing a *4ran'furt )chool orthodo-y of apartheid between artists and government*+1=. What remains unrecorded is how the ramifications of this latter speed of endeavour. and enter a situation 'nowing nothing about it at all. it is just such a concept that <olf )achsse informs us that the %7& deliberately adopted and adapted0 the lac' of a contract between incidental person and the host agency.. $owever. at best. =.. and for such 'situations' to come about surely means that its participants must be passional enough to desire a change of social structureD a passion which becomes an *impulse to act* precisely because it is de(specialised and see's not to be allotted a professional role but the polymath role of rema'ing a society. %s a blueprint for the incidental person it may not have been realistic but as a means of operating in a manner a'in to Gaf'a's researcher in "nvestigations :f % 3og it was a means of charging a situation with in. then. and. referred to 'nowledge as being for e-perts and as that which renders thought unnecessary +16. and its later development by 7roject )igma as a 'metacategorical' approach. but it was precisely because " as'ed these . left to the micro(event practice of the incidental persons themselves and their role in provo'ing others' capacities to. "n many ways this encapsulates the success and failure of the %7& endeavour in that !atham was prepared to uproot himself. to study what organisation of the place. for 3ebord.. 5ohn !atham's disgruntlement with what appears to be a continual criticism of the %7&'s tac' is worthy of sympathy to the e-tent that 'leftist purity'.. almost ma'e himself blan'. what selection of participants and what provocation of events produce the desired ambiance* +11. our own times. $owever. "t does not always ma'e the difference and it only very rarely seems prepared to undergo e-periments in deracination.. hat the ultimate participants. in leaving it empty. the de( materialised nature of the wor' with social relations and the impassioning of the participants towards a *release of the impulse to act* could all combine to bring about a situation. whilst it admits of process and refle-ive reassessment. !To-ar#s .uestions. )uch problems could be seen to have been operative not only with the %7& but with 3ebord and his )ituationist comrades +8. architects etc. while ta'ing into account the 'nowledge and material means we have at our disposal. 5ohn !atham. were a wor'ing class united by class interest is maybe to depart in a direction that deserves separate treatment. 4or 3ebord the ultimate situation would be a revolution. it is perhaps such over(arching theories. "ndeed. it would be desirable. perhaps 5ohn !atham's error. if we bring in 3ebord's later comparison of a constructed situation as a means of ma'ing our own history +12. can often remain at a level of ineffectual idealism a'in to the ghettos it lambasts.

after some ministerial support. )erving art as if to serve some article of faith and assuming. it still too' )teveni and !atham several hard wor'ing years to get the four placements up and running +2>. "n '<eport :f % )urveyor'. under special protection of the %rt Eouncil's <oyal Eharter and conse. he overtoned echo of the %7& is such that its most socially effective wor' seems to be either submerged from the record in the desiring(production of a placement's 'micro(events' or lies in what )ir <oy )haw.. his 'spoof wor'' began in the unprecedented situation of an arts facto assertions such as the claim made that art should be a wor' *complementary to rather than as opposed to that of governing bodies. then. is not only as idealistic as the leftist purity that recoils from the often invigorating contamination of contradiction. a space devoid of history or memory. )uch wilful ignorance. it is inferred by 5ohn !atham's paraphrasing. the then &eneral )ecretary of the %rts Eouncil. it must be borne in mind that any %7& placement was not one(sided and just as the danger of bringing about the release of a *latent public impulse*+19. A. )o. refuting the e-istence of correspondence that was in the %7&'s possession and becoming increasingly obstructive to the %7&'s appeal for funds from other bodies. met with a bric' wall. the transcendental artist rising above politics in that such an assertion. dubbed as a 'spoof wor''0 the e-posure of a state(controlled culture which has been e-tensively documented through correspondence by 5ohn !atham and 6arbara ) facto.. then. hrough this process !atham and )teveni put themselves through a practical learning curve in the machinations of a capitalist democracy intent with 'eeping control over cultural activities and residencies through the auspices of the %rts Eouncil.. to consult their 17 and eventually to meet with the then )hadow %rts 1inister.. %t all turns the dogged persistence. perhaps through wilful ignorance. )uch an operation. in paying ne-t to no attention to the historical ma'e(up of the )tate as precisely that body which see's to maintain sectional class interest as the public interest. !atham paraphrases a letter from )ir <oy )haw to the then shadow %rts 1inister in which the %7& is misrepresented and maligned to the degree me away* +1A. assuming that art does have a contribution to ma'e to society at the centre*+21.. his situation led !atham and )teveni to appeal and reappeal against decisions. than the conscientious bureaucrats of a &overnmental 3epartment who could. being brought to fruition in the governmental placements without the financial assistance or political bac'ing of the %rts Eouncil.uently. with this promotion of an 'independent interest' the incidental person becomes. that the %7& had been intending to *promote a public interest independent of the interests of the parties involved* +18. ma'es the competing definitions of what constitutes the public interest a relatively simple problematic. whilst perhaps contributing to the 'dematerialization' of the artist. however commendably selfless and potentially subversive.. is tantamount to seriously underestimating the connection between capitalism and governments and ma'ing such lin'age invisible. that power lies at the 'centre' in the offices of government is to recollapse the advances made by the 'dematerialization' of the art object in the direction of a wor' in the social field and is to deny the power of a government's subjects to change their situation. then. 7repared to scarifice their own careers ( in a manner few artists and writers could even partially conceive of ( they put themselves through the machinations of a capitalist democracy intent on 'eeping control over cultural activities through the auspices of the %rt Eouncil.. to ta'e effect unchallenged leads . the source of a new e.. cutting not only their access to funds but cutting the %7& out of the historical record +2@. even e. !atham informs us. can be steered bac' on course by a combination of 'specialists'. the %7& doggedly persisted in see'ing representations to the %rts Eouncil and other government departments to continue their wor'. %s such it touches upon the problems of the %7& approach in that the incidental person is turned bac' into an artist by means of their 'professionalisation'. by means of an %7& placement come to gain some 'outside' 'nowledge about their operations and the social relations they were concerned with managing. that of the %7&. hey were actually witness to having their projects filched and their input erased from the historical record. perhaps. when the term of the governmental placements had ended. once again. a wilful ignorance can not only be welcomed with open arms as a surface to project upon but can be e-ploited.. he %rts Eouncil continually rebuffed their approaches.. the )hadow %rts 1inister reconsider his supportive interest in the group. 6y the early 90s. reveals that the %7& was not see'ing to change society but societies idea of art0 *%rtist placement was intended to serve art . !&. but when married to other e. his ma'es for an accord between %7& and the &overnment 3epartments in that the incidental person as a 'salaried' rather than a 'waged' employee becomes identifiable as a management representative involved in the 'decision ma'ing' concerns of the government department. "f this perhaps removes the contradictions of the industrial placements between 'shop floor' and 'top office' ( in that outcomes emanating from the incidental person's presence are more of a policy ma'ing 'ind ( it does not remove the sense that the %7& were see'ing legitimation from the authorities by ultimately proving their responsibility to the aims of that authority0 *a new component necessary to parliamentary democracy* +22.poo* /or0&$ &iven this compatibility between the %7& and the left(liberal or socialist strands of &overnment 3epartments it is perhaps telling that after endless rounds of negotiation and the legitimating assurances of the *civil service memorandum*. the blan' space necessary for such an endeavour. but when it was offered. his letter. %bove all.uilibrium*+20. was perhaps effective when getting to grips with theoretical physics. Cveryone is interested in an objective view of their endeavours and none more so.

is still distinguishable enough to indicate that it has been trodden on more recently. has been and perhaps still is. struggling to actually become 'incidental' and sha'e off not only their specialist identity but their faith in democracy as meaning democracy. personifications of their job description. subject to the official secrets act. %nd yet. as he says. as a result.. Whether this unchallengeable edict from up on high was informed by a wariness as to the perceived challenge of %7& placements to the %7&(inspired %rt Eouncil 'residency' scheme. in which all begin from 'zero'. 9. that the threat implied by the incidental person was being ta'en more seriously by others than it was by the %7& themselves0 *"f there is thought to have been a thread of intent in %7& activity in any way suggesting plots to undermine the system.uo belying a capitalistic agenda. in the case of "an 6rea'well's placement for the 3$)) in the area of mental health. who 'nows.ecrets$ he ramifications of this 'spoof wor'' may be seen to be pessimistic and to offer no further strategies of continuation for a radical 'event' based practice that see's to release the *impulse to change* by trac'ing the desires in social situations. limiting the range even of its own ghettos. perhaps. but it has been won at the e-pense of reconvening the art object as governmental reports which. )uch a desiring(presence of people who neither identify as revolutionary initiates or artist( professionals. it. %n improvisatory element. revealed at the first turn to be the site of an always inevitable conflict that even the most informed and combative of artists could not compete with alone. or imagined. in this 'spoof wor''. needs the continuing deracination of the 'e-perts' rather than their continuing attempts at lead(weight coherence. as functionaries. nonetheless continued to 'eep open a concern to effect social institutions other than art institutions. underestimated the e-tent of the bureaucratic deflection of the *impulse to act* ever upwards and the e-tent to which the 'public interest' was and still is being defended as a cultural status . putting faith in the artist as professional. )uch e-posure is the %7&'s legacy and this is where 5ohn !atham's time(based theories wor' their most efficaciously in that. if not directly lin'ed to what happens on the subse. in deliberately see'ing to wor' outside the institutions of art the %7& have pic'ed up a trail that in having started long before them and continued long after. . in perhaps revealing the ultimate sanction that a &overnmental 3epartment could wield over a placement in order to ma'e sure desire didn't brea'(out in the social field in unmanageable proportions. perhaps more to the point. then may it be brought into the open* +26. )uch a 'revolutionizing' of daily life. could be one ramification of a conceptual art practice as could be the lent(momentum made possible through those 'dematerialised' forms that carry along with them the *rejection of any a priori identity of the artwor'* +28. his tangible outcome of "an 6rea'well's placement as a 'te-tual wor''. not unduly.uent enactments to 'eep on occurring there needs to be a variety of follow(throughs which would include the testimony of the incidental persons +29. heir wor' in the social field. and other %7& members through to an embracing of the political potential of desire as a material force in the e-amination of social relations. 6ut maybe such pessimism is itself strategic. does not therefore undermine the slow seepage of effect that the placement had for those who participated in it and.uent enactment* if that enactment is to escape from reifying its e-perience in predetermined categories such as 'art' or 'government' and. a deracination that enables those who feel they have access to the means of e-pression to give encouragement to those who are coming(to(e-pression.. would presumably ma'e sure that such a reoccurrence of the %7& route would meet with short shrift. the presence of other 'incidental persons' who do not have the encumbrance of an artistic identity to sha'e(off but who. 7ractice becomes invisible but ever(present. heir escape from the self(referentiality of art may have been successful in terms of a refutation of the art object. has. led to a growing distrust of those institutions where social control and governance is practised li'e an art. is crucial in widening the scope of *subse. whilst compromised by a belief in democratic capitalism and by a proffesionalisation rather than a de(specialisation of artists. in the interstices of their practice. he *public interest* which the %7& hoped to serve independently is. for. a process much concerned with ma'ing social relations visible.. or whether it was a fear of the subversive potential of the incidental person strategy is not a choice to be madeD it is both at the same time and maybe more.. seemed to have vastly overestimated the presence of similar 'free individuals' in the decision ma'ing processes and. unhealthily for those who believe the state is run by the half(wits who front it. *perhaps we have to consider that all action is potentially. to be threatened* +2=. or it may be that some internal state security is believed. not only does this 'spoof wor'' reveal the state's interest in culture at a time before capitalism became increasingly acculturated. 3emocracy did not want its new component and the %7&. into detecting the whiff of a conspiracy0 *it may have been the assumed threat to administrator's own careers that is the chief factor.!atham. he governmental route has maybe been tried and tested and seen to be a route that is hopelessly compromisedD not least by the fact that the %7& through the 'spoof wor'' reveal. 4or subse. !O**icial . With no prescriptions in place for an activity. that activity could escape the purview of any and all institutions and in immersing itself in a socio(historical continuum in which desire can come to be 'materially' visible as 'radiant energy' is perhaps where dematerialized artists meet with imaginative revolutionaries0 desires outstrip their confinement within institutions and build their own. shows up.uent enactment* +2A.

on the otherhand may have escaped such a fate through apolitical 6uddhist 'ego suspension' techni. 1896. p@8. =. 1A/12/81 +courtesy of 1att $ale. 8. 1882 or the reprints in 6rea'/4low Io. was left alone as the !ast )ituationist. 6arbara )teveni0 Will %rt "nfluence $istory?. )tudio Hista. p19.. %rt B !anguage in responding to !ucy !ippard's 'dematerialization' term had the following to say0 *1atter is a specialised form of energyD radiant energy is the only form in which energy can e-ist in the absence of matter. an 'art world'. saw the construction of situations as a form of desiring(production wherein desires themselves. ibid. 11.. &uy 3ebord0 <eport :n he Eonstruction :f )ituations in )ituationist %nthology. "n may ways 7roject )igma was a far more utopian project than the %7& which. <adiant energy/ desire/libido is a largely une-plored area of conceptual art but is one which has been tentatively engaged in by such artists as 1ary Gelly..11 ( )ummer 2000. &uy 3ebord. a temporary field of activity favourable to those desires* )ee 3ebord0 7reliminary 7roblems "n Eonstructing % )ituation. @. smac's of an alienation in which the artist almost adopts the guise of another 'being'. )ee !atham. ibid. 5ohn !atham ambiguously offers that the turn away from industrial placements and the move towards government departments was sought as it would be a *more public and beneficial field*. ibid.Io. 1896. his is closely related to %sger 5orn's notion of an art(wor' liberating *a force which e-ists within the person who perceives* +)ee ransgressions Io. &uy 3ebord0 Eriti. 5ohn !atham0 <eport :f % )urveyor. 10. p@0. both interesting in terms of the *new ground premises* !atham is interested in. 7olygon. de(materialisation. never .. 5ohn !atham was present at the 'inaugural' meting of 7roject )igma held at 6raziers 7ar'. to his credit. see %ndrew 1urray )cott +ed.2 in !ucy !ippard0 )i#ears ( he 3ematerialization of the %rt :bject.conversion of a state of matter into that of radiant energy* +)ee !ippard. ibid.". ate &allery. but is also indicative of a persisting artistic insularity whereby artists succumb to the ideology of art as a separable sphere. &uy 3ebord. in intending to develop surrealism's 'theory of passionate moments'. <eport :f % )urveyor.1' in %rt %fter 7hysics. "nvisible "nsurrection. are seen as a creative endeavour regardless of the'art forms' they ta'e0 * he really e-perimental direction of situationist activity consists in setting up. p@>. A. ibid.1889. however loose and conversational in import. p>=. 12. :ne such proposed area of )igma activity was to be'cultural engineering' ( a pooling of creative people offering *technical assistance. 1886. p19. his version is an amalgam of the first version and the Hariant version which retains William Elar'e's subheading suggestions. )ee )achsse. )usan $iller and %drian 7iper. ma'ing available 'pool cosmonaut' to company 'n'. 5ohn Eage. 5ohn !atham.$oward )later 6rea'/4low 4eb/1arch 2000 Notes % version of this article edited by William Elar'e appeared in Hariant Hol 2. )ee '4rom 0(1 to 0. author of )ociety :f he )pectacle. 6ureau :f 7ublic )ecrets. here is always the snea'ing suspicion that the %7& could not of got where it wanted to go if it were to . and oiling conne-ions between 'n' and the vast groundplan in the process of articulating itself as project sigma evolves*. was very aware of the *assumed authority of the writer's medium* as demonstrated in his +mis.8. 9. the )panish Jaj group.uite getting off the ground has left it resonating without the contradictions of its practice attached.. 5o )pence. the 'novelist' %le-ander rocchi. p=8. :-fordshire in 5une 186@.ues but at least one group whom he inspired. p@A. p1@9.1. 5eremy 6lan'0 Fnpublished "nterview With 5ohn !atham. 5oseph Gosuth0 "ntroductory Iote by the %merican Cditor. )ee 5ohn !atham. >.ue :f )eparation. 4or 7roject )igma and its dynamo.. his turn of phrase. ibid. p2=. 1891. 1>. their conscious recognition. ibid. <olf )achsse reports that a great deal of dissension arose within %7& members over the issue of adherence to these time(based theories which have been further developed by !atham and )teveni in the late 90s and coincide with the %7&'s being renamed :.. 1useum of 1odern %rt :-ford. $owever. '%nd' 5ournal of %rt Io. 2. 1. 1882. ibid. his is interesting in terms of the notion of an art(product eliding with the commodity(form and in terms of a potential materialisation of the social relations within a factory. p18.use of boo's and in his dubbing the factory of academia the *1ental 4urniture "ndustry*. 18A>. 6. p@>. spea' of *Eage's cage*.@. on the basis of more or less clearly recognised desires. !ondon. :ne time %7& member <olf )achsse offers that this turn from the industrial placements was informed by irresolvable discrepancies over the lac' of an 'art object' resulting from such a placement. 1@.. %rt B !anguage Io. )ee 5eff Iuttall's 6omb Eulture. is.

. ibid. ibid. 5ohn !atham0 <eport :f % )urveyor. being wor'ed upon in conjunction with :-bridge academics.uoted by "na Eonzen(1eairs0 %rt %fter 7hysics. :ther %7& members listed by 6arbara )teveni in her article for %nd 5ournal :f %rt +see note =. input into the #or'shire H documentary. that e-posed conditions inside <ampton and a film made in collaboration with Gevin Eoyne. 5ohn !atham. that it wilfully played with in order to place the incidental persons.have worn a more 'disruptive' intent on its sleeve. Iicholas resilian. 18A6. )ee )teveni. in this connection. ibid. ibid. were0 7aul 6urwell. ' he "nstitution' +18A9. 7enguin 1881. 5ohn !atham . 18. 5ohn !atham. 22. 5effrey )haw.*. <ose 4inn(Gelcey. ibid. of any wor' from this period from official sources Ki. could also be seen to serve as another factor of legitimation. hese include his Eontinuous 3iaries. p28. cover te-t. . 5ohn !atham at the )cottish :ffice and )tuart 6risley at 7eterlee 3evelopment Eorporation. 2>. p=2. as an organisation. p@8. 1890. p1=2. 16. $ugh 3avies and "an 6rea'well at the 3epartment of $ealth. 6arbara )teveni. Eamerawords. 2=.. <oberta Gravitz. %rts EouncilL. he four &overnment 3epartment placements ta'ing place between 18A= and 18A8 were those of <oger Eoward at the 3epartment of the Cnvironment. ibid. 20. 7aul 7anhuysen. 19. )uch a 'udos may have won it radical allies. 5ohn !atham. 4ranz Gaf'a0 he &reat Wall :f Ehina %nd :ther )hort Wor's. )ee %rt 1onthly Io. p60. ibid. 5ohn !atham. p12. 1=. their intellectual weightiness perhaps being as seductive as their capacity to be transcendental. p>=. Gate Wal'er. Gristine )tiles. <olf )achsse0 *the result of a placement was assessed at the time but it had also to be judged later as to whether the process initiated could be correlated with an artistic oeuvre*. "n a not disconnected way the 'time(based' theories of 5ohn !atham. ibid. p@0. <olfe )achsse. p19. p=8. ' he )ecret $ospital' +18A8.. <os )chadt. but then the lines of its practice wouldn't have been e-plored and left for others li'e myself to assess later from the more comfortable vantage point of an incomplete hindsight. 1A. ibid. researching 60s art movements in the mid 90s complained to 6arbara )teveni that she could find *absolutely no trace or records whatsoever. 28. 21. Earlyle <eedy. )ee also. his is one of the contradictions. 2A. "an 6rea'well wrote a 'personal history' of his %7& 7lacement that discusses the follow(throughs he embar'ed upon. 7eter 6yrom. 2@. 5ohn !atham. ibid. 188A. %ndrew 3ipper. "an 1unro. p16.@0. 5ohn !atham in erry 1easham0 5ohn !atham. ibid.. ate &allery. $elen 7anhuysen. 26. 5ohn !atham. 5ohn <oberts0 he "mpossible 3ocument. 29.e. p1@.

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