Gen14: A space for speaking

Whilst this space is undeniably a visual one, it is also a product of less tangible thoughts and ideas that are layered underneath the work that is displayed. Yesterday evening’s public engagement event was an opportunity for the space to really explore its potential as a site of discussion.

Sometimes ideas are caught and captured within a piece of work, but it is also important to recognise that sometimes thoughts are simply aired and then dissolve, becoming instead a point from which other ideas spring and circulate. As I have discussed in my previous blog post, sometimes cultures evolve so rapidly that the world cannot quite keep up, but this rate of speed is only accelerated when things are spoken rather than solidifed into a lasting creative output.

We are a visual generation living in a time that is obssessed with tangibility, but also one that is pervaded by the written word. Whilst in some ways this allows information to be more accessible, in a circulatory as well as an ascertainable sense, it also means that there is a tendency towards pinning something down- defining it to the point that we reduce it. If a culture, or an individual, is more interested, more comfortable, or simply finds they can express their ideas more accurately in a spoken format,we must be careful to ensure that these voices do not go unheard.

As ideas flew, intermingled and dissolved into the aether last night, a discussion about potential barriers to participation arose, and the very nature of the spoken came under the spotlight. The exhibtion inescapably relies on the consent of the participants if they wish their work to remain beyond one generation of the exhibtion, and the most conventional form of this consent requires the reading and signing of a written form. As a result, what remains, what lives for the lifetime of the exhibiton, has to be the product of participants who have understood and accepted the decision we present to them. Sometimes, unfortunately, the transient nature of some of the work here relies on a conflict between our particpant and our perhaps overwritten world, rather than on a particpant’s individual artistic choice. Whilst we can video interpretative dance, whilst we can record the spoken word, our copyright licenses and laws have not necessairily caught up with our recording equipment. Oral consent is a possible path to particpation, but it is more difficult to determine and to evidence as ideas and concerns inevitably get lost in translation between two parties, even, or perhaps especially, in an exhibtion that wants to listen to marginalised voices. If a potential artist has difficulty understanding, or an unwillingness to understand, our language and our terms, perhaps that language needs to change. However this is difficult barrier to negotiate when the laws of these licenses are written to protect, rather than inhibit, our speakers and their creations.

Most people who came to the engagement evening last night could either add to the work that has been created here, to make a visual statement of their ideas that would last as long as the exhibition, or they could create something that would disappear once again after the course of the day. However, they also had another way in which to participate. To speak or not to speak, to engage with these ideas in a public forum or to consider them privately. The point is not the option they chose, or the outcome of that decision, but rather that they had a very tangible choice. However, not everyone who may wish to, or not wish to, engage with this exhibition has such a choice in which all the options are really available to them. Sometimes it is not because they choose not to speak, but that we deny their language that they do not participate. Between the layers of this multi-layered exhibition, some voices go unheard, and are left to dissolve like last night’s unrecorded conversation. How we negotiate the conflict between written licenses and the spoken is something that we have yet to create a language to truly meet.

Beth, gen 14.


GEN9: A generation

Coming back to the exhibition this week, it was really interesting to see how it had evolved. The work has grown outward and upwards, spreading out into the space. Paintings have been suspended from string, drawings have appeared on the windows, and work that existed before I went away has been added to and altered. The exhibition really is mirroring a sense of the constant fluctuations in cultures and identities, presenting heritage as a changing, rather than a fixed inheritance.

Growth and time are tangled together like vines. It is this image, to me, that the idea of a generation represents. Not only does the word have a distinct sense of family, of history, of footprints that become layered on top of each other and leave a collected legacy of imprints, but it also suggests evolution and alteration. Each day here is a generation, an allocated amount of time in which things emerge, develop, and sometimes go back into hibernation after their short time in the light.

The exhibiton is processual, playing on and fostering this idea of time and growth, but sometimes it becomes quite a task to untangle this process. Sometimes the work here evolves so rapidly that it is difficult to determine the original source. This dilemma particularly emerged in some work currently displayed by the window of the consensual side of the exhibition. Situated beside each other, or even layered upon other work, the various materials of beads, acetate, paintings and sketches have become part of a collected landscape. Returning to catalogue works in an exhibition that is very much about the moment (though, paradoxically, a moment that is selected and available for viewing at other times) is an interesting undertaking. It is necessary to consider the creative intentions of the artists; of where they intended their work to be displayed, whether they intended it to be viewed as a collaboration with nearby works, whether even, they are happy for it to be altered (and, indeed, this is what copyright is all about and hopefully accounts for), but in some ways, doesn’t the retrospective explaining and cataloguing of artwork present something of a discord? After all, it requires a strange sort of labouring of a spontaneous act.

However, surely if this doesn’t happen the alternative is that the work simply withers away? The exhibiton is not just about the art that appears and disappears, grows or matures as time passes by. It is also about recording that work, as it emerges and changes. We are generating information, a digital legacy, alongside the generation of artwork. Though just because some of the work is never harvested, doesn’t, of course, change the fact of its onetime existence, and, more importantly, does not change its significance. As things grow, as time passes, some things are noticed by the wider world and some things pass us by. This is what the idea of heritage is all about- not only slow developments that are eventually picked up and echoed elsewhere, but also things that grow on ground level, quietly and minutely, fading like a light footpint in the sand. Some things grow so rapidly that the rest of the world never quite catches up.

Beth, Gen 9.


GEN7 What is on my mind…?

Driving in this morning Radio 4 gave me:

Led Zeppelin vs Spirit –

… with a discussion about other near ‘copyright infringement’ misses from the music world

Tate Modern’s ‘Switch House’ –

… and an interview with people from the welsh valley’s who have never been to London and don’t know anyone who has been to London, but through tangified imagery and digital technology were able to comment on the newly opened building and the art work housed within

A feature on The Referendum from the perspective of trans-european lorry drivers who need to ‘keep on driving’ to avoid ‘chance takers’ finding a way onto their trucks

It appears that our topic is hot.

This afternoon we have our Capturing Culture discussion group. Do pop in and join us if you are passing by…

Avatar Rose, GEN7

For more material from Generation 7, take a look at this week’s archive: GEN7 Archive

GEN3 The Rules of The Game

The fabric of our culture is woven together with the laws of our land. Thus, by creating this Mirror Land in the Atrium of Exeter CVS our awareness of the laws which bind our actions is augmented.  The academics whose research forms the backbone of this artistic act, Professor Charlotte Waelde, Coventry University and Dr Anastasia Somerville Wong, University of Exeter, are both at the forefront of their field – Law. By creating this game we have consciously brought certain laws to the foreground. As facilitators of the space it is our role to be conduit between the research, the participants and the game.

This is how it works in the WMI(Y)? exhibition:

When you arrive in the welcome area of Exeter CVS you will see this ahead of you.

Empty Space GEN0 Cropped

If you show an interest in what we are doing we will engage you in conversation and tell you about what is happening. We will let you know the ways you can get involved and the choices you have while you are with us. There is always choice in this exhibition and you will choose what to do or what not to do. We will support you by giving you the information you need to make your choices from an informed place.

If you chose to get involved, these are the main three rules:

1. The exhibition is a platform for you to make artwork which relates to your heritage. Your artwork can be in any form – painting / drawing, 3D sculpture, video / photography, movement / dance, poetry / prose, music and so on. The only limitations are the materials available. We have a good selection here and you are welcome to bring your own specialist materials. The only censorship will be in response to sexually explicit imagery as it is not a suitable environment to display that.

2. The exhibition is for anyone. You do not need to be an ‘ARTIST’ to take part. Anyone can make art and we will support you to do that. For example, today I supported a participant to make a video of her speaking about her heritage.

3. You are in control of your artwork. When making your artwork, the facilitators are on hand to support your choices.  No one will do anything to or with your artwork without your knowledge or permission. The facilitators can and will advise you but the ultimate responsibility for your actions rests with you.

Before you make artwork in the exhibition we will ask you to make a choice:

The exhibition is divided into two sides. You are equally welcome on either side.

On the righthand side is the CONSENTING AREA. On this side the artwork you make will remain here for the whole exhibition.

You will need to complete a Consent Form before you can work on this side. This is a legal document which protects you, your artwork and the facilitators of the exhibition. It helps us to be clear about what you are doing here and the choices you have made while you are with us. Here is a copy of the Consent Form.

Consenting Area Consent Form

The facilitators will take photographs of finished static work and will film or audio record ‘live performance’ work. These will be uploaded onto this project blog.


The facilitators will guide you on assigning a copyright licence to your artwork before you leave the exhibition. There are six different copyright licences to chose from which will give the public different rights to use the record of your artwork which is on the blog. The facilitators will support you to make an informed choice and assign the correct copyright.
No artwork will be removed from the exhibition until the debrief sessions on 28th and 29th June. Any artwork which is not collected at a debrief session or was made by more than one person will be destroyed at the end of the exhibition.
The digital blog record will remain indefinitely. You can ask us to remove your work from the blog but only for two weeks after the exhibition closes.

Please ask if you have any questions –

On the lefthand side is the NON-CONSENTING AREA. On this side the artwork you make will remain here for that day’s session only.

The facilitators will not ask you to complete any paperwork. You will not assign a copyright licence and there will not be a record of who has made the artwork.

The facilitators will not upload recordings of the artwork onto the blog.

All artwork will be removed and destroyed at the end of each day.

Please ask if you have any questions –

Final thoughts:
The act of making artwork is experienced by everyone in their own way. The facilitators uphold your right to express your heritage in whatever way you feel is right. However, one of our academics, Dr Anastasia Somerville-Wong, has offered us these guidelines for making art in this exhibition:

Ethical guide_Anastasia's Guide

by Dr. Anastasia Somerville-Wong, University of Exeter

When making your artwork you might want to use other people’s work within yours. Our academic Professor Charlotte Waelde has given us this guidance:

Using other people's work_Charlotte's Guide

by Professor Charlotte Waelde, Coventry University

I think that is enough rules for one day. Noticing how terribly long it takes to get this right. But right is how it must be in order for the game to go on…

Time to make some ART!

Avatar Rose, GEN3

For more material from Generation 3, take a look at this week’s archive: GEN3 Archive

GEN2 Working on the other side of the wall

I realise that in writing a blog post about working on the ‘non-consensual’ side of the wall, the side that will be restored to emptiness at the end of every day, poses something of a conflict. So much about working on this side is about the moment, whilst blogging is about something lasting, that it is necessary to write about something already in the past as though it is in the present, in order to explore these implications.

There is certainly more freedom working on this side. I am less reluctant to work directly on the wall, and knowing that whatever I create will only last as long as the day allows me to think less about how it will be interpreted, and what I am saying. Instead, I can simply say it. It is both created in the moment and lasts in the moment (or the day, if we are being technical!)

I realise as I work that there may also be a difference in the way people approach this side of the exhibition, because of the transient nature of the work. Will more attention be paid to it, or less? There is only really one opportunity to look at the work on this side, whilst the work on the other will remain. You can revisit the consenting side numerous times, or just once, without the sense that the work will soon disappear. That is not to say, however, that the consensual side never fluctuates. By adding the license code CC BY or CC BY-SA, anyone can alter the artwork you create. Yet there is undeniably an element of control that the non-consensual side denies you. By refusing to, in a very literal sense, ‘label’ your creation, you may free the work from biographical interpretation, but you also relinquish your right to determine the fate of your work even for the brief duration of its diurnal lifespan. On the non-consensual side, nothing stays constant.

However, surely this indeterminate space is freeing for both the spectator and the creator? On the consenting side, people will always be responding in some way to what is around them. In some ways, on the other side, your voice is more truly your own. It is neither affected by the work surrounding it, or subject to the subsequent invasive analysis that exhibited works unintentionally invite. Whilst the blank wall can seem quite overwhelming -there is, after all, nothing with which to anchor your art- the thought that it will soon become blank once again relieves this anxiety. On this side, there is never really anything before or afterward. Unlike the consenting side, the person creating something is always the first person to do so.

And yet, I can’t deny that the knowledge that my work will soon be erased has affected the way I think about it. In our increasingly digital world, where we leave a little archive behind us of almost everything we do, it feels rather strange to think that there won’t be any record of what I have made. In some ways, I feel more separate from it, not only because it is anonymous, but because I know it will not last.

This feeling only increases after the work is finished. Afterwards, I realised that the first thing I picked up, as I began working on this white wall, was chalk. For someone who usually works in pen, on a small scale, and often in limited colour, this seems, retrospectively, a bit of a curious choice. Then again, this is supposed to be a departure from everything. However, I wonder if it truly is. I realised, after I had finished drawing, that chalk, to me, is a transient material. It’s associated with my childhood, drawing bright, colourful patterns on the patio that will soon enough be washed away by the rain, or dusted away by footsteps. Chalk gets everywhere, and then just as quickly vanishes. It has something of a short-term impact, but it is also subtle, soft and pastel-coloured, quickly fading away. I may have chosen it because the freedom of drawing on the wall made me think of my childhood, but perhaps instead I was simply premediating it being erased. The only lasting reference to it, beyond today, will be this blog post, a lasting, digital remnant of something ephemeral.

Beth, GEN2

For more material from this Generation 2, take a look at this week’s archive: GEN2 Archive

GEN2 Beginnings

GENERATION 2 has begun, co-creative activities so far have included painting with acrylics, chalk drawings, cardboard sculpture making, voice recordings. Other visitors to the space have taken the time to share their thoughts and feelings about the exhibition themes and to contemplate and watch others making.

We will upload the CC licensed materials that have been tangified this afternoon. As far as the emphemeral aspects of the processual experience go, they were lived and will fade and be carried with the individuals that experienced them, informing their heritage and future life trajectories.

#weareallinterconnected #somethingsfade #meaningisfleeting #capturingculture

Avatar Wraith, GEN2

GEN2 The importance of choice


We have a few participants working on their creations for today’s morning drop-in session (Generation 2). People are finding unique ways to express their heritage, identity and choosing both the Consenting and Non-Consenting Areas to do this. The reasons for these choices are interesting and give participants (and the facilitators) a lived experience of the differences and positives and drawbacks for each choice. We are learning as we go along, what aspects of culture this exhibition is mirroring and how.

Some people have gone away to consider what art work they might want to create to express some of the more challenging aspects of the exhibition themes; trauma can take some time to move into expression. We are holding this space to enable people to express what is important to them and to share stories and ideas that might otherwise get lost in the fog.

We will be able to share more about this and the choices we have been making as we go along.

Amerie, Samantha and Beth will be in the WMI(Y)? space all day today and can host drop-ins this afternoon while we beaver away for our blog development session. Feel free to join us and discover what you are moved to explore and create. We’ll be open again from 2-4:30pm today.

#cocreateculture #wmiycocreate #intangibleculturalheritage

Avatar Wraith, GEN2