Revisiting WORKSITE: Julian Smith

Notes taken while rereading Julian Smith‘s responses to the WORKSITE Q&A.

  • Julian defines “work” as “energy utilized toward a particular task of any kind”, while “site” is “a designated area where some kind of action or work will be done”. In this way the definition of “site” is directly related to that of “work”; “site” implies “work” and vice versa.
  • On this relation between “site” and “work”, Julian notes that “although personal definitions or interpretations vary, a site can imply some kind of work. Yet, work does not seem to imply a specific site where it must be done”. This in some way positions “work” as the primary activity, and “site” as the secondary.
  • On the influence of “site” on his work, Julian writes that “it has a direct correlation with the size shape and often the frequency of what I make. The space, and the materials already in it or brought in have a direct effect on the finished product”. This supports my thesis that art practice is a form of “collaboration” with the environment – a dialogue between “work” and “site”. Julian continues with the observation that “sometimes It’s similar to water taking the shape of whatever it is contained in”.
  • Julian adds that the “space” in which he works is “usually” the only limitation on how he works. He notes that he would like to work somewhere “bigger and empty”. It is interesting to consider how a “bigger” or more “empty” space might lead to different work, or different forms of collaboration or dialogue. What happens when the [enabling] constraint of “space” is removed, and the artist has as much space as is desired to work in? Is space then not a problem, or does the primary problem for the artist now become learning how to navigate working in a “constraintless” space – learning to find or generate boundaries where there are none?

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