Online project and symposium at Winchester School of Art
The Internet

This project has been reviewed by Maija Leipins, CAS programme manager

‘I click on the link and an image appears – On a mountainside in Catalanya, Sarah Misselbrook chokes back the ashes of her ‘facemask’ of incinerated charcoal drawing, while back in her flat share on the ‘dingy’ side of Cambridge, Denise Kehoe ponders the power of her Poundland cake of, ‘Gorgeous Flawless’ to deliver the perfection it purports. Meanwhile Karen Woods’ prolific urban meanderings, shared remotely with Ashokkumar D Mistry, quickly transmute into collaborations of text which run between them like ever increasing rills into undiscovered landscapes of exchange.

If you’ve ever felt that your artistic practice is at odds with the art world that prioritises white wall exhibitions as the pinnacle of success, or constrained by the expectations of a portfolio career, you may be interested to learn about Chapel Arts Studios BLOCK_CHAIN>THE POWER OF TWO.

Designed and curated by Susan Francis at the invitation of Chapel Arts Studios (CAS), BLOCK_CHAIN > THE POWER OF TWO is a structure for artistic collaboration, expanding on the CAS Post It Exchange, (previously instigated by myself and Dawn Evans), and David Dixon’s A.M Methodology. In Winter 2017, an open call went out for artists to respond to the subject of dissent whether that be political, environmental, social, or material. The selected artists in residence have been furthering their creative exploration since January working in blocks of two weeks to produce individual, yet relational work.

BLOCK_CHAIN>THE POWER OF TWO borrows it’s terminology from the blockchain, the powerful digital algorithm, originally created for Bitcoin, which dissipates data across the Internet and logs each and every exchange in immutable transparency. Along the same themes of transparency, exchange, and digital data, our BLOCK_CHAIN brings artists together across all levels of academic and artistic practice into a transparent exchange

CAS Associate Artists have been exploring the notion of ‘Dissent’ for some time” and what we see emerging is a methodology for collaborative practice, with difference and questioning, even objection, as fuel for creative dialogue. Broadly speaking, we are exploring new ways of living, working and thinking through art.

BLOCK_CHAIN>THE POWER OF TWO has distinct advantages:

  • It is accessible to artists living overseas or in remote locations
  • Artists working in isolation or  restricted somehow in their practice are energised and inspired
  • It fits around artists lives which are increasingly challenged by portfolio careers, family stressors, or part-time work
  • Audience is not restricted to location but rather reaches across the globe through social media.
  • Diversity amongst participants creates interesting and unforeseen connections between materials and subjects, creating unexpected tangents in artistic direction

As the process comes into it’s final iteration, eight more artists enter the BLOCK_CHAIN spanning geographical locations from the UK to the Philippines. The outcomes at this stage will feed into a symposium at Winchester School of Art bringing the artists together either physically or remotely to reflect on their experience. The energy is palpable –  as the work produced even at this early stage testifies.

Written by Maija Leipins about the BLOCK_CHAIN process, curated by Susan Francis