The best thing I’ve found this week (actually, this month; maybe even this year) is a book called do it.
According to the editor’s introduction, this is a ‘collage of beginnings’. The book itself is a collection of works by artists from 1993 to the present, and grew out of a project exploring instructional procedures as an art form. The publisher’s blurb makes reference to “the question of whether a show could take “scores” or written instructions by artists as a point of departure, which could be interpreted anew each time they were enacted”.
That’s all a bit arty for me, so I will just describe how I see it: this is a book of instructions by artists on how to Make Art. It’s a bit like paint-by-numbers (and we all remember how cool THAT was when we were kids), but in a grown-up, arty-farty kind of way.
For example, Dimitar Sasselov’s A Walk in Our Cosmic Neightborhood (2012) begins “Walk out on a clear evening in November to a dark spot where you can see the stars”, then carries on to detail what stars you should look for, how to sketch them, and what they are called, and ends with the instruction to “Imagine the possibilities”.
Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Sculpture for Strolling (1995) is a recipe for creating a metre-wide sphere from daily newspapers (adding one paper a day after reading it). On completion, you are invited to roll the newspaper sphere outside in the streets and the squares as a “sculpture for strolling”.
Jonathan Horowitz (Untitled, 2002) offers this: Choose two things that are similar and or different; while David Askevold lays out quite detailed instructions on how to prepare a shrunken head (titled, of course, On Shrinking a Head (2004)). He even helpfully suggests possible clients: “a deceased relative, friend, lover or oneself”.
There ‘s a project that begins with satellite TV channels, the Fibonacci sequence, and a digital recording device; and ends with a mosaic that is “… a simplistic representation of one edge of the multifaceted media matrix.” There’s a recipe for making cocaine, one for a cubic metre of bird feed, and one for fried cellular phones.
Obviously some of these projects or artworks are a little more achievable than others, and I’m kind of hoping that some of them aren’t really designed to be ‘made’ at all, but it’s an astonishing book, and I am mesmerised by it! There’s often discussion in mainstream media about art installations, and what actually constitutes an artwork (and we’ve got some great books here in the library about this), so while you’re thinking about all of that, why not have a go at one or two of the projects yourself? And then let us know how it went …