I am on a train returning from the preview of ‘Build Your Own; Tools for
Sharing’, an exhibition co-produced between, Norwich Museum and Art Gallery, The Crafts Council and FACT, 2015. Artists, designers and architects: Linda Brothwell, Will Shannon with Assemble made works and documentation of actions that created physical change in the public domain and in Assembles’ case local inhaibtants of Toxteth to be directly involved in the re-processing of their previous homes into artefacts such fireplaces made of rubble from a demolished houses.
The exhibition also includes a maker lab for an open source 3 printed prosthetic hands, regular workshops led by Does Liverpool and Norwich Hackspace encouraging members of the public to make their own hands. This exhibition is also accompanied by a booklet in the intro, curators, Lauren Parker and Clare Cumberlidge describe the work as “different kinds of participative encounter: one-to-one collaboration, co-production, and the reciprocal skills and stories…From your local street to global maker networks, a new spirit of generosity through making is celebrated”. The booklet includes instructions on how to make many of the items featured in the show and shares features and the generosity originally in Supermanual, a key component documenting the the Superchannel project which would lead to Tennantspin.
In comparing these documents I realise that Supermanual and the processes documented were way ahead of their time and contained a more than utopian gesture. In 1999 Danish artists group Superflex created the first Superchannel at 1% in Copenhagen, they were subsequently invited to develop a new a Supchannel with tenants in Coronation Court, a public housing project in Liverpool.
Super-Channel was more than cable TV channel and technical instrument,
importantly a device for the encouragement of social debate and exchange inititally around the politics of local housing. For the artists the artwork was as more to do with making infrastructure and system than the actual content of the tranmissions, effectively pro-typing a technical and social system which might challenge conventional hierarchies of communication and power. Born in an early techno positivist period in which the tools could be given back to the people or better still built with their input and put to their own use.
In creating a conduit for communication and then to give it away, Supeflex
needed a community to experiment with cable TV and broadcast, as much as the residents and Moviola (the predecessor to FACT) needed to find new ways of interaction and publishing. In the context of communities of people less associated with creating their own TV content or having a voice in society, namely the predominantly elderly tenants within a social housing project. This was also situated in period of other cable TV experiments in the UK, largely traditional and based on more conventional existent models of broadcast. It was implicitly a political act and within superflexs own rules disengaged with Arena Housing, FACT and the Tennatspin group once the tools had been handed over. Self determination underpinning its development which continued for
some twelve years. In that period the two most relevant outcomes in the context of this writing were the deep impact on a community of people and how both Tenantspin and FACT would develop.
For Arena in how it would continue to invest in the partnership and trust its
tenants with the objectives of to make direct input into how social housing and tenants sense f ownership was of value. For FACT it led to a strong sense of purpose within its approach to its outward relationships and an approach to exhibition making. The collaboration program moved from being a community development program to an integrated part of an institution with a remit to publish ideas through exhibition.
FACT itself a broadcaster ofideas utilising its building as a centre, media channel and thought creator working with artists, curators and partners. In PeterKindermans words commenting on our approach to Group Therapy, Mental Health in a Digital Age, FACT used its agency as a form of Social Activism. Questioning through the lens of artists and curators all of which owned their own variable awareness of mental health issues and illness.
This ranged from Quintan W own recapture of mental health inst. In which she herself felt victim to ??? through to Ubermorgen proactively providing web based tools to self medicate and roemve the need of an expert and Superflex themselves making a work which takes the form of a psychological instruction and through quasis hypnosis clearly reminds us that the mental un-health of us all is a product of our greed and lack of imagination. And puts us in the position of a stockbroker who has lost everything in milliseconds.
Superflex persisted in attacking capitalism, despite being assimilated into the mainstream artworld and market. It is this contraiction and shift in social and economic context I wish to focus on, How across a period of some 15 ???years we have moved from a discussion about how to organise of alternaitves and independence to a wholesale ‘capitalist realism’ Mark Fisher, in which alternative systems of belief are automatically subsumed into a marketised
Accompanying SuperChannel was Super Manual. The manual or handbook is autility to build or fix it something. The manual as a legacy for future generations to pick up and exploit, a acommunity contribution born of the guttenberg press. In Youtube world, books, manuals and cable TV networks seem irrelevant. Instant access to methods and tools to a click away on every subject for every community. At moments even possible in gaining access to menus to make SARIN? Or plans on how to overthrow a government. Indeed for moments only. Regualtoraory forces of national governments exerting enough power of commercial operators to take down explicit or dangerous content.
Knowledge no longer a utopian ideal of freedom but an entity for exploitation
and property rights.
Impact on FACT
Influence on longer term practices and future relationships from an engrained
approach of involving communities (by kids for kids), including a long standing
connections between artists instinctive interventions and with more
instrumental slower burning collaborations of partnership and utility.
Victoria / Lucie text ?
Laura Yates interview and commissioned text ?
Who is the new Superflex ? Anton Vekle ? Anonomous ?
Build your own ?
In watching the toddler leave our side we see our own demise and say goodbye
Learning to let go and prepare for the separation that always was
Accepting our own demise and acknowledging the temporal nature of our livesneeds to remain an abstract for as long as innocence and hope of better prevail.
What does Dementia teach us
Accepting existence and small exchanges as no less important than great faculty
Dignity and levels of self determination can be manintained by degree
Peter Kinderman – the decision of agency to protect a patient from riducle of wearing a red top hat or the right of the patient to exercise freewill to wear what he wants with dignity ?
Continuity of narrative
What are FACTlabs – co-produciton longer term outcomes ?
From Superflex to Assemble and back again