I took part in a student initiated symposium on Collectivity, Collaboration, and Cooperation Friday 30th January at Chelsea College of Art and Design, in London.

It was chaired by Bernice Donszelmann & Paul McGee

I tried to look at how cooperation might be different from collaboration and I used Critical Practice – a cluster of artists, researchers and academics (of which I am a part), as an example.

I'm interested in cooperative and collaborative art practice, in issues of access and participation, the impact of digital technologies and social exchanges like generosity and friendship. I recognized that these themes provide tools to enable me to think through, and think differently about the conventions of art's authorship, its ownership and distribution.

 “We must try to avoid a vicious circle on which tighter liquidity conditions, lower asset values, impaired capital resources, reduced credit supply and slower aggregate demand feedback on each other.”

I read this quote, a beautifully succinct piece of prose in a paper produced by Paul Tucker, Executive Director and Money Policy Committee Member of the Bank of England, for the Institutional Money Market Funds Association Annual Dinner, in April 2008.

I was researching Auction Houses at the time and trying to keep an eye on financial markets. Of course we have not avoided the vicious circle, in fact we seem to be spiraling into a terrible black vortex.

“One hand, one million dollars, no tears.”

Is the McGuffin or plot device that motivates Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis, which I'm reading at the moment. Its an insiders account of the deregulation of the American Mortgage markets in the 1980's and the beginning of the havoc that CDO's and contempt, are visiting upon us now. Liar's Poker was presented in the 1990's as humorous, now it reads as a tragedy; Marx reversed.


Winter sun. Just past the lunar equinox. Slack tides. I walk along the Thames path into town to buy On Grammatology by Jacques Derrida. Lost the previous copy.

In front of the old Billingsgate fish market I clamber down on to the foreshore. Combing through the pebblebricks, gravel, shells, bones, pieces of clay pipe, fossils, plastic detritus and ceramic bits-and-pieces.

I notice a distinctive drift of cobalt blue Willow Pattern shards. Squat, sift and see a fragment with an image. I pick-it-up to inspect. In China there's a man on a river foreshore. I'm in a Borges story.

Working SessionI was in conversation with Dr Dan Smith at Chelsea College of Art and Design. We were attempting to play with the lecture format and discuss notions of the everyday. We used Michel de Certeau and the Practice of Everyday Life (1984) as our guide.

De Certeau defines two broad spheres within everyday practices.

The first sphere is that of Strategy. Strategy is the realm of power. Political, economic, financial, aesthetic, legal and scientific. It’s the proper place for the excise of authority. A strategic authority confers the ability to oversee a particular field - financial, aesthetic, legal, etc. Armies and war, laws and legal codes, monetary policy and bond issues spring to mind. Institutions help dominate a particular field of strategy, like the Serpentine Gallery, White Cube or the Frieze Art Fair.

Ibn Tulun mosqueI was in Cairo in November 2008 to make a short film for an exhibition curated by Nav Haq and Tirdad Zolghadr entitled Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie at the Townhouse Gallery.

Althought I had visited some twenty five years ago, Cairo is still an amazing experience.

In some downtime I went to visit two mosques side-by-side, the majestic Sultan Hassan and Ar Rifa’r which contains the tomb of the Shah of Iran. As a tourist you need tickets to enter. There was a wooden kiosk with a lady inside. I ask for a ticket.

First, trust seeped away in the debt markets. They seized, and the repercussions caused financial and 'real' economies to collapse. Trust is the most precious commodity in any market.

I'm reminded of a project I did in 2001 at Tate Modern and the Bank of England, Capital. Capital was a series of encounters between two iconic institutions and the economies they animate; the Tate and the Bank of England.

In Tate Modern and in the Bank of England Museum, at unspecified times during the day a visitor was approached by a gallery or museum official. "This is for you" accompanied the presentation of a beautifully packaged gift -a limited edition print.

I visited the South London Gallery on 25th February 2009, to see a new film by the Danish artists collective Superflex. Its entitled Flooded McDonald's. I've followed their work for sometime, because I'm interested in how they propose artworks as tools, capable of affecting change; with projects like Supergas, Free Beer - is a beer which is free in the sense of freedom, not in the sense of free (without a price) beer - its a FLOSS joke :-) - and CopyShop.

At the invitation of Scott Lash and Götz Bachmann (cultural studies, Goldsmiths), philosopher Bernard Stiegler (Centre Pompidou) and Robert Zimmer (computer science, Goldsmiths), a diverse group gathered at Goldsmiths to consider the idea of economies of contribution.

The workshop included perspectives from media, art, design, software and theory. In their introduction, the organizers outlined the emergence of a shift from consumer capitalism to an economy of contribution.

I was in Cairo in November 2008 to shoot a short film for an exhibition entitled Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie. It's in a ‘reality’ TV style. A broadcast ‘trailer’, in fact a synopsis of a future programme. Its a copy of Faking It.

Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie explores issues of class in contemporary art. Faking It is all about class.

Thursday the 19th February, I went to listen to an interview at the Goethe Institute between the filmmaker Harun Farocki and artist Kodwo Eshun. Harun screened a rough-cut of a work-in-progress entitled Immersion. Immersion is based on a first-person shooter games engine developed by the US military to train troops for service in Iraq.

Clunky graphics pan, track and zoom to reveal pixilated deserts, palm trees, 'arab' avatars, explosions, smoke and ruined buildings. The games-engine, with head mounted display and (plastic) XM8 interface has been released to a consortium of software engineers and psychotherapists. Cut to a therapist. The therapist is using the software to lead a traumatized soldier back, back to a scene of explosion, mutilation and death, back to site of their trauma.


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