iteration and selection

Even at this late stage don’t lose the sense of going back through materials, through this blog, of iterating, discarding, adding, testing, wondering.

In the process of selection the researcher/practitioner decides which are the best or most useful realisations derived from the task, and discards or temporarily puts to one side the others. Here each iterative step is an example of the operation of a selective pressure, somewhat like those that over aeons determine biological evolution and the success of genes and organisms. Biological processes hinge on the survival of the fittest, but fitness depends on the environment, so not all impressive species survive. Artistic selection processes are likely to be even more arbitrary, and there may be many fine specimens amongst the practitioner’s rejects. This occurs because practitioners are making these decisions in relation to the specific artworks they are shaping (what would be suitable for one may not be appropriate for another), or because they might miss a good idea at an early stage of the process where its relevance or potential is not apparent. In addition, although we might be tempted to think of these choices as individually motivated, they are made in response to broader social and artistic forces.

– From the Introduction to Smith and Dean (p.22)


Practice-based research offers a clear challenge to conventional thinking in its premise that the practice of performance can be at once a method of investigative research and the process through which that research is disseminated.

– John Freeman, Blood, Sweat and Theory, p.7

robert morris and expressing process

I’ve been talking with some of you about this complex question of how we articulate or express or make public the practice we are involved in. I liked this (highly reflexive) example:

He also made objects that literally express the processes of their making. In 1961, Morris built Box with the Sound of Its Own Making, a walnut box that contained a three-and-a-half-hour recording of the sawing and hammering sounds that occurred as he constructed the box.

– Larson, Kay. 2013. Where the Heart Beats. Penguin Paperbacks, p.395

He also made a work called Passageway (1961) in which a long wooden passage curved and narrowed gradually to closure. “Walk though it, you feel the compression; a body ‘doing what it’s doing’ soon reaches its limit” (Larson, p.395).

This seems to me to also be an example of practice that is able to articulate its own suchness (and I chose this example because of the compelling (corporeal) nature of the experience for the audience).


Image and other details:

You could also check out his work Column (1960) in which a simple column is made to fall (or act or move).