Willats Chapter 7

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S.W. I'll just continue really... in response to some of your original questions. One thing I would like to say: The world moves on but even so some of the concepts and ideas that were originally involved in the early 60s are still sort of engaged, I'm still engaged with more recent manifestations of these ideas. But I think, that some very important things are happening... which are changing, even the recognition of ourselves as people in relation to other people. Increasingly our practice has to recognize the fluidity within society, in relationships, and also the term... stemming from that the idea of relativity in perception and understanding... These are important thing to get to grips with, and also the notion of coming back to the idea of art practice itself, that the audience, the so-called audience – they are not an audience in my opinion but – the so-called audience are probably more important than the artist; no work of art can be independent of this relationship, and it's the audience of society that makes the meaning to the work of art. ... Increasingly we can recognize this to the point where we can divest authorship away from the artist into a kind of social situation. Recently I've been working in Liverpool with the residents of some group of flats, tower blocks in Liverpool. This is sort of being more than an embodiment of these ideas where, over a period of time, two people have come together who didn't know each other before but nevertheless lived in this neighbourhood, and they've made a walk, a journey into, together with different means of recording reality that they came across – film cameras, still cameras, audio tapes and so on. And they've made a kind of walk, and this is a different one but it's always the same, the same walk through a fabric of things ... housing estate, into a park, into... a particular kind of walk. I asked each person to record the language of this environment that they had been walking through... and record items – you know, signs, objects, anything really that they felt that could have another meaning for them. The idea was here, that if one person found something, the other person also tried to record it from their own perspective, they tried to find a kind of agreement, so like the two of us, walking together and you had a camera and I had a camera and we found something. I could maybe make a shot and then you would say: »What does that really mean? Talk to me!« and then you would try to make a shot. And this information... is about twelve different couples of people made this walk, and then we made a workshop about a month later where all the material that people had gathered together was brought into this workshop. We had all kinds of interactive facilities that would extend the dimension of the workshops. So we had, internet connections, computer terminals, even typewriters - all kinds of means from which people could rework this information. They tried to develop a symbolic journey, symbolic journey together, each person. »If we had done a walk together we would then be trying to make a symbolic journey«... but it would be based on agreement. What we could agree? We had a two- or three-day period in which we would try to develop this. And this was an extremely significant experience for the people involved... because they really tried to agree. Each journey was completely different from the other one. And this then we made as an installation in the foyers of the buildings in which people lived – a multimedia installation, what I call »Multichannel«, made up with sorts of displays, films, sound recordings and things like that. That has been presented over a three-week period for other people to not only to look at, but to think about making the same journey, making the walk themselves, the same group, as a a sort of guide book that you can take with you. The interesting about that work was... - unlike the »tennis clubs« in the late 60s, where I had a kind of model in advance, like a conceptual model in advance which I tried to bring down to reality by taking it through a different resolution - I very purposefully started from a kind of »zero«; I just went up there and had meetings with the people; so I didn't have a kind of advance model, and the model came out of the discussions I had with people; and obviously I kind of guided the project through and gave it a framework and it was important, that I instigated the means by which people could engage with this framework – the provided facilities, provided times and all that kind of things for people to do things. But interesting, I think, it was quite a different way of operating. In that means of operating I'm trying to recognize the randomness of relationships, they sort of try to again divest myself from the idea of these advanced models and to... acknowledge the fluidity of the situation in which you arrive in. And that relates of course to a lot of works in this exhibition... this sort of ideas.

S.R. These are good last words, and we can start to look at some of the exhibition. Thanks a lot, thank you very much. It was a pleasure. Thanks.



Stephen Willats