[ISEA97] Paper: Graham Harwood & R. Pierre Davis – National Heritage


a. To commit audiences, artists and project collaborators to confronting their complicity in the widespread use of new communications technology for the dissemination and organisation of nationalist and racist strategies.

b. To create a gallery installation that involves the audience in a contractual relationship with a computer programme designed to address the process of “racialization” — the reframing of ethnic difference as racial distinction —and the new eugenics” — an aggregation of disciplines harnessing biological engineering technology to the values of the social marketplace.

c. To engender interpretative methods of collaborative working, between audiences, artists and project contributors that exploit the possibilities presented by new communications technology for art working within a social context.

d. Formation of Mongrel, Producers of National Heritage Although much of his work has been collaborative, Harwood has always been singled out as individual producer. In an attempt to deal with this, Harwood co-founded Mongrel, an artist-led group, after forming close working relationships with other artists on Rehearsal of Memory. Mongrel is an London-based artist-led organization of mixed people, instituted with the aim of confronting elite values composing the sites, events, media, technical and aesthetic practices of dominant cultures. Our work evades hegemonic culture and the uniformity of its privileged social groups, blurring lines of distinction and social categorizations. Instead we attempt to set up open practice on the terrain hegemonies refuse. We celebrate and foster the hybrid, clashing, mongrel forms of non-elite cultures and their rich brew of discourses on race, class and identity rooted in the mutable vernaculars of the public sphere.

e. What Mongrel does. We make socially engaged cultural products employing any and all technological means available to us. We have dedi¬cated ourselves to learning and developing technological methods of social engagement which means we programme, engineer and build our own software and custom hardware.

  • Graham Harwood was a street culture-cum-activist/artist during the 1980s. During his ten years unemployed he was involved with publishing initives such as the Working Press (books by and about working class culture), The Festival of Plagiarism (in London, Glasgow, San Francisco and Tokyo, intended to explore and exploit the values and inherent contradictions involved in the notion of plagiarism), Underground newspaper (a London-based free newspaper aimed at promoting and exploiting the uses of new media in culture and activism) and books such as Unnatural­Techno Theory for a Contaminated Culture (theoretical posi­tionings on new media). During this time, he produced the first computer-generated comic, If Comics Mental, and was widely published in graphic journals in the U.S.A., Canada, Italy and France. He was invited to make a piece of work for VideoPositive 95 (international video art festival in Liverpool). He worked at Ashworth maximum security  hos­pital in Liverpool where he produced the installation Rehearsal of Memory. Harwood’s reputation as an educa­tionalist led to setting up new media courses at Guildhall University, and advising on numerous other academic new media initiatives. Disappointed with the state of academic education, Harwood was invited to work at Artec (London Arts Technology Centre) where he continues to provide innovative training for the long-term unemployed. It was here that he received his first Arts Council grant to develop Rehearsal of Memory with Artec and ex-trainees to pro­duce, re-author and publish the CD-ROM version of the installation. Since, Harwood has exhibited and spoken at numerous events, nationally and internationally, in England, France, Austria, Australia, Germany, Canada, Portugal, Finland, Holland and Norway. medienkunstnetz.de/artist/graham-harwood/biography
  • Richard Pierre-Davis, UK, was expelled from his last year of school before taking his final exams in 1981. After a series of odd jobs, he took a course in Video Production at Lambeth Video, Brixton, London. From here he went to Cable London, where he worked for two years on the open access Community Channel. During this time, he made TV documentaries on the London Film Festival and on Chow Yung Fat, star of Hong Kong gangster movies, adapting to the methods of guerrilla TV and video production. He teamed up with a TV presenter, DJ Elyane, to produce a pilot music program and tour,and managed R’n’B group Johvan for two years. Over the last six years, Richard has also developed a video archive of London’s Notting Hill Carnival. Recently, he took a course in multimedia produc­tion at Artec in London.The course included work at approximately eight multimedia exhibitions and work with Flabbergasted, a company that supplies sound for such multimedia productions as Microsoft’s encyclopaedia Encarta, Darling Kindersley’s information titles, the Multimedia 96 show CD-ROM, and others.This was fol­lowed by three month’s placement spent as producer on Harwood’s Rehearsal of Memory.