Thank you to Roger for inviting me to contribute and to Robert for
moderating this lively discussion! My interest in Artists as Inventors stems
from an engagement with art, technology and interdisciplinary creative
practices . I am going to limit my opening post if I can, to our
introduction point #4:
How is an art-related invention different from an invention that is not
tied to the conventions of art? How is an art-related invention
different from invention in other fields?
I'm going to illustrate my response to this first week of discussion and any
subsequent short posts I make with reference to my work with artists at the
Digital Research Unit where I can. I will also try to respond to comments or
connect with some of the postings this week where this is possible, although
I am not responding to any individual post directly here – more the overall
sense I am trying to make of this currently.
before moving on and to contextualise things a little here are some thoughts
on my experience of our time working with the (Free/Libre/Open Source
Software) artists organisation GOTO10 http://goto10.org/about/ and our
support of their Pure Dyne artists tools project. I also heartily recommend
the Floss+Art publication http://goto10.org/flossart/ edited by GOTO10's
Aymeric Mansoux and Marloes de Valk, which we were also lucky enough to be
able to support with OpenMute and the Willem de Kooning Academie. I would
argue – almost contradicting what I will go on to say shortly that GOTO10's
invention could be seen to be entirely tied to the conventions of art – or
perhaps better to a *GOTO10 convention* of art that they are collectively
involved with inventing.
Put simply GOTO10 can be described as an artist collective who produce
artists tools for other artists – as well as making art with these tools
themselves – it is difficult, perhaps even meaningless to separate out the
processes involved in the invention of the *tools* here from the process of
art making – is it even desirable to distinguish between the network
operation of GOTO10 as an organisational form from the temporary structures
they are involved in, engaged with and create, from the art-worlds created
with the software tools they produce as artists?
Perhaps there is something else here about the approaches to the autonomy or
otherwise of tool-making or art-making and complicity of their *effects*
that can perhaps help us look at the autonomy of invention itself in terms
of its field of operation – to can we 'un-tie' invention, let it loose from
its mooring to any specific set of practices? Perhaps this is a way to
approach this pair of questions:
How is an art-related invention different from an invention that is not
tied to the conventions of art?
How is an art-related invention different from invention in other fields?
I know that two is already too many questions but to start by answering
these with a third: Is it too simplistic of me to say that sometimes art can
operate inside something else. Can we say this with respect to invention,
within the system of invention, its technical instruments of policy and
I want to talk very briefly about two relations between art and invention I
experience in my work with artists and following on from comments made by my
friend and colleague Andy Gracie – Andy used a term: *utility* which I think
is appropriate – the first *utilitarian* relation I would describe is in
tool creation my comments on GOTO10 apply here. Another is in artists
invention of solutions for specific works – as Andy describes. This
inventiveness can manifest, perhaps less intentionally, as inventions for
others to use – to be clear here: I am not at all saying that artists will
not share their inventions with others – far from it! or that the only
relation art has with invention is in some unintended or bespoke
I am interested in the issues of motivation or the motives and forces at
work here - artists as inventors do not *need* to start with *utility* as
the basis for their relation with invention (neither do designers for that
matter but we can maybe come back to this later).
As it says on one of the links (I think from Roger Vidler) I've followed
from this discussion 'Since potentially everything exists, creating is
discovering and making visible or manifest what is latent'. This motivating
force of discovery as creation is interesting here, as is the notion that
something can be found, perhaps by chance, out of nothing - the accidental
discovery of the 'pure' invention as something then repeatable reproducible
replicable… What then is the intention of the artist who chooses to operate
as an inventor or lets say to act within the system of invention? Is the
sense of the accidental in this process of discovery perhaps closer to the
foundation of the invention creating processes of art making, than that
found in other inventive fields or domains? Bronac and others have usefully
provided some legal definitions of invention in relation to the novel - the
creation of concepts and the relation of invention and novelty interests me
greatly – in the sense of invention as creative novelty. Can the *artist as
inventor* be evoked in terms of a *radical novelty*, the *radically new*?
Is there to be found a *complete novelty* in relation to the technical and
> Dear Yasminers,
> I wish to thank Roger Malina for the opportunity to moderate the
> discussion on artists as inventors and our six accomplished
> discussants for their participation: Derek Hales, Sylvie Lacerte,
> Arantxa Mendiharat, Hideki Nakazawa, Barbara U. Schmidt, and Colette
> My interest in artists as inventors stems from my curiosity about the
> intersections between contemporary art and utility patents. I
> discovered through research that this seemingly narrow terrain was
> actually an expansive area, which could encompass a wide range of
> practices that went far beyond artists' patents. For instance, it
> could include elements as diverse as the novel achievements of an
> innovator whose self-patent works were reclassified as "visionary" or
> "outsider" art (William W. Adkins) and a patent institution that
> collects contemporary art and displays it in the workplace with the
> progressive idea of stimulating discussion, productivity, and
> integration (the European Patent Office).
> However, the topic of artists as inventors is focused on the
> relationship between the roles and practices that are conjured by the
> terms. To this end, I will share comments on the subject by the artist
> Jakob Fenger, who is a member of Superflex, which invented (with Jan
> Mallan) a biogas system. In a conversation via Skype on 12 February
> 2009, Fenger told me that "all good artists are inventors," adding
> that "a concept for a piece is like an invention," and that in his
> opinion there is "no difference between inventing and art-making,"
> referencing the creative process as the link between these two
> I look forward to a lively discussion on the topic of artists as
> inventors throughout March.
> Robert Thill
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Yasmin URL: http://www.media.uoa.gr/yasmin
HOW TO SUBSCRIBE: click on the link to the list you wish to subscribe to. In the page that will appear ("info page"), enter e-mail address, name, and password in the fields found further down the page.
HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE: on the info page, scroll all the way down and enter your e-mail address in the last field. Enter password if asked. Click on the unsubscribe button on the page that will appear ("options page").
HOW TO ENABLE / DISABLE DIGEST MODE: in the options page, find the "Set Digest Mode" option and set it to either on or off.