Social Works

I've been reading....


(left to right; top to bottom)

Float: Variations on the Right to Remain Silent by Anne Carson
The Lure of the Local by Lucy R. Lippard
The Choreographic by Jenn Joy
What We Made by Tom Finkelpearl
Choreographing Difference by Ann Cooper Albright
Draw it with your eyes closed: The art of the assignment by Dushko Petrovich & Roger White
Performing Monuments by Mechtild Widrich
One Place After Another by Miwon Kwon
Theory/Theater: An Introduction by Mark Fortier
Small Acts of Repair by Goat Island
Standing in Space by Mary Overlie
Social Works by Shannon Jackson
This Very Moment by Barbara Dilley
School Book 2 by Goat Island

How am I different because you are here?

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How do we 'respect'?

While at the Washington State Penitentiary this past week, one of the inmates shared an acronym that he uses daily. These are words he lives by and hopes his kids will too. I find it to be a powerful guide for those of us who do creative social practice work within communities. 

R - Relax
E - Explore
S - Smile (welcome people in and accept them)
P - Participate (engage fully)
E - Evaluate (assess your impact)
C - Compensate (adjust based on your evaluation)
T - Teach (share what you learn)

Shared with his permission. By request, he remains anonymous. 

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Time out for happiness

"The Gilbreths [created systems for more efficient labor because they] wanted the increase in productivity to result in greater happiness for all.  After all, if we are saving time by being more productive, what will we do with all the extra time or goods produced?  We should use them to be happy, owners and workers alike." -David Merkel

Georgetown Steam Plant workers in early 1900's. Seattle, WA

Georgetown Steam Plant workers in early 1900's. Seattle, WA


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18 types of elemental motion

An excerpt from Wikipedia (Feb 26, 2015):

Therbligs are 18 kinds of elemental motions used in the study of motion economy in the workplace. A workplace task is analyzed by recording each of the therblig units for a process, with the results used for optimization of manual labor by eliminating unneeded movements.

The word therblig was the creation of Frank Bunker Gilbreth and Lillian Moller Gilbreth, American industrial psychologists who invented the field of time and motion study. It is a reversal of the name Gilbreth, with 'th' transposed.

A basic motion element is one of a set of fundamental motions required for a worker to perform a manual operation or task. The set consists of 18 elements, each describing a standardized activity.

  • Transport empty [unloaded] (TE): reaching for an object with an empty hand. (Now called "Reach")

  • Group (G): grasping an object with the active hand.

  • Transport loaded (TL):moving an object using a hand motion.

  • Hold (H): holding an object.

  • Release load (RL): releasing control of an object.

  • Preposition (PP): positioning and/or orienting an object for the next operation and relative to an approximation location.

  • Position (P): positioning and/or orienting an object in the defined location.

  • Use (U): manipulating a tool in the intended way during the course working.

  • Assemble (A): joining two parts together.

  • Disassemble (DA): separating multiple components that were joined.

  • Search (Sh): attempting to find an object using the eyes and hands.

  • Select (St): choosing among several objects in a group.

  • Plan (Pn): deciding on a course of action.

  • Inspect (I): determining the quality or the characteristics of an object using the eyes and/or other senses.

  • Unavoidable delay (UD): waiting due to factors beyond the worker's control and included in the work cycle.

  • Avoidable delay (AD): waiting within the worker's control which causes idleness that is not included in the regular work cycle.

  • Rest in peace (R): resting to overcome a fatigue, consisting of a pause in the motions of the hands and/or body during the work cycles or between them.

  • Find (F): A momentary mental reaction at the end of the Search cycle. Seldom used.


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Short Talk on Housing

For days these words have been resting on my tongue, slowly dissolving.
The lines have begun to settle into my hips. 

Here is one thing you can do if you
have no house. Wear several hats -
maybe three, four. In the event of rain
or snow, remove the one(s) that get(s)
wet. Secondly, to be a householder is a
matter of rituals. Rituals function
chiefly to differentiate horizontal from
vertical. To begin the day in your house
is to ‘get up’. At night you will ‘lie
down’. When old Tio Pedro comes
over for tea you will ‘speak up’, for
these days his hearing is ‘on the
decline’. If his wife is with him you will
be sure to have ‘cleaned up’ the
kitchen and parlour so as not to ‘fall’ in
her opinion. Watching the two of
them, as they sit side by side on the
couch smoking one cigarette, you feel
your “heart lift’. These patterns of up
and down can be imitated, outside the
house, in vertical and horizontal
designs upon the clothing. The lines
are not hard to make. Hats do not
need to be so decorated for they will
’pile up’ on your head, in and of them-
selves, qua hats, if you have understood
my original instruction.
— "Short Talk on Housing" by Anne Carson

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On the creative practice and making

Writings and radio conversations that investigate the creative practice and making processes.  Worth further investigation.

The Power of Two by Joshua Wolf Shenk
In Praise of Copying by Marcus Boon
What is Original, TED Radio Hour on NPR
Mapping the Intelligence of Artistic Work by Anne West
Creative Block by Danielle Krysa (the Jealous Curator)
Imagine, How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer
Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson
Steel Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
Art and Fear: Observations on the Pearls (and Rewards) of Artmaking by David Bayles
Education for a Socially Engaged Art by Pablo Helguera

Essay Collections:

EDUCATION: Documents of Contemporary Art published by MIT Press
ART SCHOOL (Propositions for the 21st Century) edited by Steven Henry Maddoff
THE STUDIO: Documents of Contemporary Art published by MIT Press
PARTICIPATION: Documents of Contemporary Art published by MIT Press

For continued research...

list started on May 1, 2014
last updated on July 8, 2014


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Quietest Place?

What are your places of rest and solitude? Where do you find quiet? Where is quiet located?

The Art Assignment is a really rad weekly video series produced by PBS Digital Studios.  It's a sophisticated, playful, fun program hosted by curator Sarah Urist Green and author/vlogger John Green. The Art Assignment takes you around the U.S. to meet artists and solicit assignments from them that anyone can complete and then post on their website:

It's a genius series (and curiously happens to mirror the model of assignment making that I have in my own studio practice *grin*).  The newest episode really sings to me.

Jace Clayton, aka DJ /Rupture, challenges you to take a walk from where you live and find the quietest place. Once you're there, take it in for a moment and then make a short video or take some photos there.

(The Art) Assignment:  Quietest Place

1. Go outside and talk a walk from where you live or are staying at the moment. 
2. Continue until you’ve found the quietest place possible.
3. Take a moment to absorb it. Then document the place through photography or video. Upload it to your social media platform of choice using #theartassignment.
4. Fame and glory. (Your work might be featured in an upcoming video.)

Artworks mentioned include John Cage’s 4’33” (1952/53) and Charles Baudelaire’s essay The Painter of Modern Life (1863). 


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Horizon: Intimate distance

Between my body and the horizon stretches an indeterminate distance and infinite time. Simultaneously, I embody it.  My feet rest on earth.  My head, the sky.  I am within the horizon, yet it is unreachable.

The horizon (or skyline) is the apparent line that separates earth from sky, the line that divides all visible directions into two categories: those that intersect the Earth’s surface, and those that do not. At many locations, the true horizon is obscured by trees, buildings, mountains, etc., and the resulting intersection of earth and sky is called the visible horizon. When looking at a sea from a shore, the part of the sea closest to the horizon is called the offing.[1] The word horizon derives from the Greek “ὁρίζων κύκλος” horizōn kyklos, “separating circle”,[2] from the verb ὁρίζω horizō, “to divide”, “to separate”,[3] and that from “ὅρος” (oros), “boundary, landmark”.[4]
— Wikipedia

Three types of horizon (from Wikipedia).

Poet Ann Lauterbach continues in her article "The Thing Seen":

Indeed, as the Internet continues to flatten time and space into a scan that erases the “horizon” (the classical metaphor of both spatial depth and temporal aspiration), young artists are faced with a deracinated landscape. How to steady this mobile map, in which one’s own presence-one’s personhood-is without discernible evidence or local? ....[Artists] need to find ways to claim a physical, embodied presence within the increasingly dematerialized modality of connection.
— Ann Lauterbach. Art School: Propositions for the 21st Century

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Organizations + Collectives: Models for new thinking

What are organizations and collectives that are (possibly) experimenting with new modes of learning and thinking?

BMW Guggenheim Lab
Site Sante Fe
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
Radio Lab
The Pedagogical Impulse
Room 13 International
The Art Assignment
No Longer Empty
The Laundromat Project
The Project Room (Seattle)

For continued research...

list started on March 5th, 2013
updated on April 17, 2014

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Repetition as a sense making mechanism

Published on  Gertrude Stein reads from her early novel The Making of Americans (UK; public library) — a pinnacle of her signature use of repetition as a sensemaking mechanism.  Written between 1902 and 1911 while Stein was in her late twenties and early thirties.  Recorded in 1934-1935.


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