[ISEA2011] Paper: Jamie Allen, Rachel Clarke, Kamila Wajda & Areti Galani – Creative Ecologies in Action: Technology, Creativity and the Artist-led Workshop


For art-and-technology practitioners, the artist-led workshop is an established tool for public and community engagement.  The workshop format is integrated into academic and artistic gatherings and events, and is an excitingly varied and multimodal part of conference and festival activities internationally.  Perhaps most particularly in new media contexts, the invitation to participate in or deliver a workshop includes the implication that technological tools will be taught, and practical skills will be imparted.  As such the artist-led workshop, as a form, is a site where a complex ecology of artistic, social and educational goals and interactions are held in relief.

Within more traditional communities, the workshop has been regarded as a somewhat lesser format for the presentation of ideas that presentation of papers (conferences) or artworks (festivals).  To the curator, the workshop can be an economic way of having an artist involved in an event, lessening the cost of commissioning and/or transportation.  In community arts practitioners interrogate the effectiveness of engaging and congealing local communities.  Pedagogues usefully develop evaluations for educational and material goals.  For the artist-leader, too frequent delivery of workshops servicing broader agendas can serve to cloud artistic objectives.

This paper presents technology-based art practice workshops that have been designed to develop the workshop form as a collaborative and artistic output in its own right.  Inspired by Kaprow’s formulation of Happenings, and Beuys’ interest in open-works and wordless-teaching, the work presented attempts to make workshop groups into ad-hock creative ecologies in action.  These workshops are discussed with particular emphasis on the design successes and challenges of these events, the context specific environments employed and self-developed, low-cost construction kits created.

Through collaboration between artists and with educators, creative, conceptual and constructionist learning goals are designed into public invitational formats drawing on topics in interaction design, sound design, media ecology and sustainable energy.  The context of new media allows for a public invitation which is partially technical, yet centers more markedly on the embodied and social outcomes of bringing people together in experimental, interactive and technology-infused artistic happenings.

  • Jamie Allen makes things with his head and hands. These things most often involve peoples’ relationships to creativity, technology and resources.  He tries to give people new, subversive and fun ways to interact with these aspects of life and experience.  Jamie is an artist works at the intersection of art and technology, is an artist, designer and a technologist, as well as a teacher, researcher and experimenter. Jamie’s interests are in the ways people relate to electronic media and digital information in their diverse forms, beginning with their transduction into and from energy, as a material resource.  In a technological culture, art-and-technology practice may suggest new insight into how we shape our tools, and how our tools shape us. Recent work includes a public multimedia tour From Here On Out (fromhereonout.org, commissioned by the Wunderbar Festival), CURRENT a permanent interactive lighting installation, and the large-scale media facade work Refractive Index (refractiveindex.cc) supported by Arts Council England and being completed for the London 2012 cultural programme.  jamieallen.com
  • Rachel Clarke
  • Kamila Wajda 
  • Areti Galani                                                                                                                              

Full text (PDF) p. 48-54