Revisiting WORKSITE: James Shannon

James Shannon

  • Shannon defines “work” as “activities that are moving towards an ultimate goal”. With it’s focus on activity, this interpretation is similar to that of Priya Peña, however here work is more strictly defined in relation to progress toward an expected outcome. Where Peña’s practice can be seen to “document” her incidental “private work”, Shannon appears to work with an end goal already in mind. Are these two methodologies as different as they appear?
  • Shannon defines “site” simply as “a location”, and suggests that site relates to work through “the influence on your work based on the imagery, limitations etc. of the site”. Thus the site in which the artist works can be seen to have a direct relation to the work that is produced there – exerting “influence” through the presence of stimuli and (enabling?) constraints. As in the work of Joel Davidson, the parameters of “site” expand to encompass a whole environment.
  • Shannon notes the “subconscious” influence of his environment on his work. Does this imply an extension of “site-specificity”, in which works are made not for a specific site, but instead are produced (to some extent) by a specific site?
  • Taking this idea further, we might suggest that art practice entails a kind of “collaboration” between actor and environment – a hybrid process of occupying (or populating) a space, editing it, and functioning or performing within it. Art “works” would then constitute indexes of this process; outcomes generated from (and reflexively documenting) the relations between work(er) and site.
  • Shannon lists the sites in which he works as his “studio, […] computer, […] house [and] brain”. It is interesting to consider the different kinds of work and outcomes that might be generated in “collaboration” with these different sites, and the ways in which these collaborations might be influenced by the (enabling) constraints of each environment.

One thought on “Revisiting WORKSITE: James Shannon”

  1. The concept of the site producing or enabling particular types of work (as opposed to the artist making something for the site) is useful in relation to your core thesis. As well as the obvious connection with ANT (Latour et al), there’s a link back to Marcel Mauss, via Foucault, and the concept of inhabitation. Habits form around particular habitats and vice versa – e.g. local cuisine (culture/habit) is often very clearly relate to habitat. A local cuisine is defined by the enabling constraints of the seasons of course; never just by the tools or skills a chef might have to hand. In that sense, the local environment has a role in the development of the culinary arts. Can the same be said of the case studies you have to hand?

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