The Blooming Commons for Open Congress at Tate Britain 7-8 October 2005
With this work, my outputs as presented here, turn to the more recent strand of my research which interrogates the notion of the diverse artist (or ‘the social in the artist’) by exploring ‘the artist in the social’.
With its international congregation of proponents of participatory and collaborative cultural production (e.g. Trebor Scholz, McKenzie Wark, and Tiziana Terranova) Open Congress explored the way in which methods from FLOSS (‘Free / Libre Open Source Software) – software that anyone is free to copy, modify and redistribute - might be transferred to art/culture.
Motivated by the recognition that most contributions to the Congress were theoretical, I offered an Open Source work of art - The Blooming Commons - for the Clore Foyer: a simulated flower stall bricolaged from brightly coloured cleaning implements. (This was a more interactive version of Stall commissioned by the Financial Services Authority in 2003).
A workshop-session briefed people on the means – both practical and legal – by which they might intervene in the piece. (As Open Source production has necessitated much innovation around the legal implications of ‘copy-left’, I issued my work with a ‘Creative Commons Licence’ to legalise the freedoms I wanted to give the work’s appropriators).
I also used the workshop to raise the question that, for me, the work urged: how does Open Source, as a method of production, apply to ‘auratic’, one-off art forms, versus digital culture? My hunch – which would be tested through what happened to the work – was that it did with crucial differences.
What happened to the work as a response to my (research) question was addressed in the article I wrote as part of Submission 3. The Blooming Commons was Tate’s first open source work of art.