Testaments - Goldsmiths CCA

Two pieces stood out to me. They both step outside the gallery and engage with the real world, but remain ideosyncratic Ideas.

They are interesting to me because they are either service design that looks like art, or art that looks like service design.

Lots of service design can appear diffuse, because it tries to engage with the real world. The real world has lots of Complexity, and so many projects meet this complexity by being complex themselves. This is what we are taught on MA GDCP - (See MA GDCP Reading List) - that complex problems need complex interventions.

I wonder what a different kind of service design could look like - one which meets the complex world with simple ideas that cut through the complexity. The thing that could keep them service design is that they engage with the system at multiple levels. See Multilevel perspective mapping.

These two projects touch this idea.

Police Book Exchange

By Abbas Zahedi

A blue powder coated library trolley. Members of the public are invited to leave books they want the police to read, and a local police force is invited to leave books they want the public to read.

This artwork has been staged twice - once at Goldsmiths and once at Whitechapel. Both times the police haven't engaged. The letter written to them asking for contributions is displayed by the trolley.

The trolley, letter and book form a whole that has a good aesthetic quality. The fact that the police haven't engaged makes the work easier to digest. It risks becoming didactic.

If this were a piece of service design, it'd be a failure - but judged as art it's at least somewhat successful.

It does feel slightly insincere, as the police are being invited into territory that is not their own - the gallery. It's a bit like asking members of the public to walk into a police station and hand books to the front desk.

The thermals made me lazy, or The squatters (Smoky meet Monk's Deflated Sculpture II (2009))

By Ryan Gander

Ryan was asked to create a public sculpture for the opening of a university. He proposed that all funds for the sculpture are invested, and an annual scholarship created. Alongside the scholarship a cat would be put in the university to live. The recipient of the scholarship is responsible for the cats wellbeing, and wears a badge with a cat on it when in the university.

Ryan says this is his favourite unrealised proposal. I really like it too.

It's a rare example of an idea that you can say in a sentence (is this all ideas?) which engages with multiple levels of the world across many time scales.

Last update: 2022-03-20 10:38