So apparently the first guest lecturer to speak in Applications class every year is Vito Acconci. To give a little background on the class, it’s taught by the founder of the ITP program, Red Burns, and is divided into two main sections: A lecture by an artist, designer, technologist, or some kind of thinker of the day, followed by a student-led response to that lecture the following week.
Vito is an impressive presence. He gave a lecture that aimed to explain his trajectory as an artist; first as poet, then performance artist, then installation artist, and finally heading up his own design studio and concentrating on architecture and design projects. He probably wouldn’t like any of those labels (they are my own), and said if anything now he would like to be a designer. From the beginning, his frustrations with the limitations of each piece seemed to lead him along to the next one. I see how this would fuel his earlier work when he was working predominantly with his own ideas, even if others were participating with him in a piece to realize them. However, I’m not quite sure how this frustration with the limitations of previous work can push forward new work if his practice revolves around a collaborative design studio, designing multiple projects at a primarily conceptual level. Most of the projects are publicly funded, and are subject to a rigorous proposal process, often never seeing the light of day. I think a fundamental part of seeing the “success” of an idea/artwork is making it take shape and witnessing people’s encounters with it. This is where you see the problems, or witness whether your expectations matched up with people’s experiences. If so many of the ideas never get built, they exist only to inspire the next group of builders, which I guess can be enough in itself.
A few interesting things Vito said, which have stayed with me:
- Clothing is both the most public and intimate thing people involve themselves with
- His earlier work was actually quite similar to programming, since he always started with a method to be carried out
- The future of reading is skimming
- Range is just as important as depth
- He dislikes abstract ideas, loves the tangible
Some of the pieces he discussed:
- Where Are We Now / Who Are We
- Art Lab article with photos of Bad Dream House, Mobius Bench, and Island of Grotz, Austria, among others