I think the second question in number 4 is actually the same question.
The second question was a suggested improvement to my first first
question by a discussant, making it more expansive, which it seems to
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?
You have already hit upon one way to think about the questions that I
think is extremely important. One's intention could be the most
important factor at work in terms of contextualizing the difference
between and art-related invention and an invention in other fields.
As you and others have noted, certainly utility is important because
the use value can transcend original intentions. However, intentions
could rule in terms of how one ultimately frames the invention. For
instance, it might be incidental that an art-related invention is
useful in another area to the person who conceived the invention.
We have also seen a kind of reversal of this in which Buckminster
Fuller (who has been mentioned in previous posts) has transformed his
primarily utilitarian inventions into deliberate visual forms and
exhibited them as artworks.
Here, I think Derek's emphasis on discovery is very important because
invention can be the recognition and/or perception of novelty.
In terms of both intention and discovery it might be useful to revisit
Marcel Duchamp's conception of the ready-made. The traditional concept
of the ready-made has become complicated by scholarship led by Rhonda
Roland Shearer (director of the Art Science Research Laboratory:
http://www.asrlab.org) that ruptures the accepted doctrine of
orthodoxy, which holds that the ready-made is an artist-chosen
manufactured object that becomes redefined as art when deliberately
placed into an art context, by asserting that all of Duchamp's
"original" ready-mades were in fact custom or handmade objects
ultimately intended by Duchamp to call into question the mechanisms of
the creative process and human perception, especially citing the
influence of the mathematician and scientist Henri Poincaré on
Duchamp's conception and expression of ready-mades as they relate to
methods of discovery. For an extensive discussion of this topic, see
Tout-fait: The Marcel Duchamp Studies Online Journal,
While it is true that Duchamp intentionally obscured this aspect of
the work and "delayed" its reception (the original so-called
ready-mades were lost [what we currently see exhibited are replicas])
and that he did modify or "assist" many of the ready-mades (this
actually supports the theory), it is clear from reading some of the
posts on our topic and a very good section of _Artists as Inventors /
Inventors as Artists_ by Simon Penny entitled "Bridging Two Cultures:
Toward an Interdisciplinary History of the Artist-Inventor and the
Machine-Artwork," that the traditional view of the ready-made is still
firmly in place, despite the fact that this scholarship, dating from
the late 1990s, positions Duchamp's ready-made firmly in relationship
to the limitations of human perception and to methods of discovery.
(What a fitting and amusing message he left for us to find.)
Yes, I would like to learn more about examples of what you have
described as "radical novelty" as well. Thank you!
On 3/6/09, derek hales <email@example.com> wrote:
> Dear Yasminers,
> 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
> utility. However
> 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
> the social?
> Derek Hales
> 2009/3/1 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>> 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
>> Yasmin_discussions mailing list
>> 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,
>> 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
>> 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.
> Yasmin_discussions mailing list
> 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.
Yasmin_discussions mailing list
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.