Revisiting WORKSITE: James Shannon (2)

The following notes reflect on the second contribution from artist James Shannon to the WORKSITE blog.

  • In this post James describes how he made small drawings while working as the manager of a quiet café. To make these drawings, James had to work discreetly and without recourse to his usual tools or materials, such as brushes and paint. He found a solution in using coffee as his primary medium, using it to make small sketches and studies on scraps of paper from the café environment. James also notes the stress of having to work “on the sly, between serving customers and without making a mess”.
  • To me the constraints described above – the lack of space and materials, and the time pressure of the environment – all conspire to enable James to create this particular work. In fact, these constraints have actually resulted in an innovative approach to medium which might not have been discovered (or at least attempted) without this specific set of conditions.
  • The situation described above can also be interpreted as a form of collaboration between the artist (James) and the environment/site (the café). In this sense the café provides the materials and conditions for the work to be produced, and the artist works within those parameters in order to make that work.

I definitely think that these ideas of “enabling constraints” and “collaboration with site” are worthy of more study and exploration, and I think I will pursue these themes in more detail as I plan my outcomes for the upcoming submission of my project.

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