Wednesday, August 30, 2006

About the title of the project

The title of the project was inspired by a passage from Henri Bergon's book Laughter. Bergson writes:

"We have dwelt at considerable length on repetition and inversion; we now come to the reciprocal interference [Footnote: The word 'interference' has here the meaning given to it in Optics, where it indicates the partial superposition and neutralisation, by each other, of two series of light-waves.] of series. This is a comic effect, the precise formula of which is very difficult to disentangle, by reason of the extraordinary variety of forms in which it appears on the stage. Perhaps it might be defined as follows: A situation is invariably comic when it belongs simultaneously to two altogether independent series of events and is capable of being interpreted in two entirely different meanings at the same time." (an online version of Bergson's Laughter is
available at , 55).

The notion of reciprocal interference seemed an apt way to title the project because it encompasses two important aspects of the collaborative artmaking process - reciprocity and struggle. While the collaborative artworks produced so far have sometimes been comic, and I have often laughed to see what I have received in a parcel from a fellow-collaborator, it is the "extraordinary variety of forms" that have emerged I have found particularly surprising and exciting. One's work is made strange by friends' interventions. It is fascinating to see how another artist deals with your work-in-process and the direction in which they take it. Because of those interventions, one becomes aware of entrenched habits - some examples in my case were a tendency to work in portrait format, to avoid figures, animals, narrative. It is invigorating to work in new ways, learning from and being challenged by one's friends. And it is scary - the more one admires a work the more one fears wrecking it. These collaborative practices entail putting aside such fears, resisting preciousness, and trusting that this risk-taking will generate good work, not every time perhaps, but often enough to make it worthwhile.

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