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Systems Art » Symposium » Presentations » From Social Frames to Knowledge Planes

Mary Anne Francis
Systems: Art and Collaboration


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It seems to me that there are two broad issues for us (CP) in addressing the role of system in collaboration ... and art.

(1) The role of "system" in how individuals collaborate / work with one another.

(2) The role of "system" in artís collaboration with non-art arenas.

NB The questions that follow do not represent a "systematic" over-view of the territory as the premises of some invalidate the premises of others. Another way of putting this is to say, that as yet, Iím not coming at the territory with any one method Ė or system - in mind, despite an interest in Niklas Luhmannís work.

To start with:

  • How do we want to define "system"? Do we want to identify our definition with any one disciplinary emphasis e.g. cybernetics, social science, engineering?

    Is a "system" defined by structure (integrated elements forming a coherent whole), or its purposiveness (designed to accomplish task x), or both, or something different? Cybernetics might have a different understanding of "system" to "social science" ...

Questions for (1) that it would be useful for CP to address include:

  • Does collaborative practice necessitate a greater systematization of working processes than individual practice? Or is it just the case that collaborative practice benefits from more transparency of systematic processes?

  • How might we relate a structural analysis of "system" (thinking of "system" as a series of integrated operations) to the role of individuals in Critical Practice? (For instance, one way of addressing this would be to associate individuals with distinct operations, tedious though this might be).

  • How has Critical Practice attempted to engage the idea of "system" in its working practices? Do we think that say, in "Open Organisations", weíve got a good model? Are there areas of process / practice this model doesnít cover? Here, a related question is:

  • Is "system" a metaphor for collaboration?

  • How might the greater role of "system" in CPís work prove counter-productive?

  • As much as we attempt to actively engage systems in our working processes, are there systems that engage us without us recognising it?

Questions for (2) that it would be useful for CP to address include:

  • How do we think about "art"sí relationship to non-art in terms of "system"?

  • How useful is Luhmannís model of art (as an autonomous sub-system) for artists who want to collaborate with non-artists?

  • What concept of "system" is useful Ė if Luhmann's is problematic - for thinking about artís interaction with non-art areas?

  • How can we avoid thinking about cross-disciplinary collaboration as a "clash" of different systems?

And as a PS

  • Has Luhmannís account of artís "autopoiesis" been rendered problematic by recent and contemporary developments in art Ė or should that be "art"?...?


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Systems Art » Symposium » Presentations » Systems: Art and Collaboration

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