Ongoing collaborative project between Andrew Howard and Laura Wild
Our collaboration involves the two of us adjusting and building on each other's work and mailing the work backwards and forwards to each other. The last time we met face-to-face was in the National Gallery, London in 2002 and prior to that we hadn't seen each other since 1989 when we first met and became friends in St.Ives, Cornwall for a period of four months. Our communication about the project is mainly by text message and hand-written letters that we sometimes include with the work. Our first project took the form of small drypoints worked on aluminium, we mailed the plates to each other and one or other of us would decide when to print the result. It was Andrew's suggestion to begin working on bigger sheets of paper and to include drawing, painting and collage.
Text communication - Saturday 30th November/ Sunday 1st December 2013
Laura: Just posted you the work from here…
Andrew: Hi Laura goody good about the artwork - I look forward to getting it next week. And thanks for the picture of St.Ives, at least I think that's where it is. 'Art is a deliberate demonstration of organisational and creative skill'. Is that a good definition? I'm listening to R6 music and they have been discussing the subject of art, which set me thinking. I was also thinking about god as a filter through which one views the world, enabling one to view it more calmly, but maybe without its paralysing horrors, which are filtered out, making action possible. And I woke up with a new printmaking technique/idea which I hope to put into practice asap! Sadly I have only one more week at the college so no time left. I noticed what looked like a vistorian dress on your roaming website. Looks interesting. Is there a story with it? I hope all is OK. Bye for now. Andrew.
Text conversation - Wednesday 16th October 2013 9.35pm
Text conversation - Friday 11th October 2013
Comment from Andrew via text message - 13th September 2013, 07.18
An additional thought to the 'if you've done nothing wrong you'll have nothing to hide' argument: does it apply to the state? Are we being asked to maintain higher standards than the state? isn't it a demand that is not reciprocal, thus one-sided and disempowering? For all the talk of 'transparent government' there are still state secrets, MI6 and so on. The whistleblowers like Manning and Snowden showed that simple diplomacy depends on secrecy.
Should the advantages of privacy be granted to the state only? No. The fear is that wrongdoing will go unnoticed and unpunished. Well, if we are to have any privacy or secrecy, be it state or citizen, that may well be the case. But it need not be. Scrutiny is not the only way to a trustworthy society. Morally guided people scrutinise themselves, making transparency less urgent. And the loss of freedom to the surveillance society may not compensate for the uncovering of wrongdoing.
Conversation via text message - Sunday 21st July 2013, 07:50-12:04
Andrew: Have you heard the platitude 'If you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear'. I've thought a bit about it and point out that there is no universally accepted notion of right and wrong. Who then should be afraid?
Laura: I think that platitude is an excuse for not taking risks in life.
Andrew: I agree. People should take risks for some greater good... for some just cause. Right and wrong should be keenly debated, not used to keep people in fear.
Andrew: Any greater goods or just causes gratefully accepted over here! The unexamined life isn't worth living said Socrates. Worth examining what constitutes goodness and justice... an environment that encourages human flourishing is one suggested answer. Or the greatest freedom for the greatest number (my own little twist on the notion of the greatest happiness for the greatest number). Are there any absolute goods? Skill? Knowledge?
Laura: Anything absolute suggests completion - no room for development. My approach to life is reflexive - learning through process. It is an open-ended approach that leaves spaces in which to be surprised and to wonder.
Andrew: Though you can be led into a cul-de-sac by being open to everything. Some standards are useful. I like to think about what those could or should be.
Laura: Yes you have a point - it is possible to be unhelpfully side-tracked. So we are talking about morality I guess? And ethics - I think the two are subtly different. I'm tempted to say 'follow your desire whilst questioning everything', but I agree this needs to be in the context of a code of ethics. Which takes us back to your original question - what is right and wrong - and who decides?
Andrew: I think that it is important that people are free to decide what is right and wrong for themselves. This is hard to do with strong pressures to accept the views of others without question. Authority can stifle debate. Yet people can do terrible things with their lives. I think this happens because their freedom to choose and decide has been inhibited. I think people are essentially humane given the space.
Laura: ...the chance to question everything for ourselves - yes. This is what we are practicing in the Roaming Penzance group - it boils down to mutual respect. I also think shame and shaming is very damaging to society and individuals and causes a lot of fear.
Andrew: How about questioning what mutual respect means? Are there rules to relationships? Are they absolutes?
Laura: Incidentally - I was showing my daughter, Lois, the paper I have and she said, 'isn't it surprising how the shape of a piece of paper can be inspiring' - this was in relation to some I bought with our project in mind. So it's reminded me to send some to you.
Andrew: She's right. Perhaps the shape of the paper makes one approach it in a certain way. Would a square, circle or triangle, or some other random shape, be better?
Laura: See how you feel about the paper I am sending.
Laura : In the context of our group there are a set of rules agreed between us all. They are necessary to ensure a space safe enough for everyone to be able to be themselves. However, in wider society these same rules may not be appropriate - so no, I don't think there are absolutes in the sense of one model fitting all situations.
And rules imposed by people in power are generally for the protection of those in power rather than those being controlled - in my opinion.
Andrew: I would like rules that enable flourishing... I find that mutual understanding is very important, and so things that facilitate that are desirable.
Laura: I completely agree.
Andrew: I think that to become more specific might be difficult but interesting. The issue of avoiding harm seems crucial. But you mentioned shame earlier. Is to cause a feeling a harm that should be disallowed? I would argue that in general feelings are fair game, but actions are more deserving of censure.
Laura: Yes - in general but feelings of shame can lead to self-harm.
Andrew: It's difficult to consider how other people are going to respond. Should one self censor? Is so, when and how? What is gained? What is lost?
Laura: I think I'm referring more to social and parental shaming and scholastic shaming - a deliberate humiliation of another supposedly for the good of all. In my opinion this rarely makes someone a better person.
Andrew: I would distinguish disagreement from personal attack.
Laura: I'm not sure what you mean?
Andrew: I think it is legitimate to disagree over issues, but wrong to turn it into a personal attack. So I might beleive that all war is wrong, and that can be disagreed with, but to call me a fool or a coward is a personal attack... Maybe it's not a neat distinction.
Laura: Ah yes now I see what you mean and that is what I mean about shaming - the personal attack.
Andrew: Some words can be very hurtful if they get under your skin. Some people use them to bully. There may be a place for them, but cool thought and discourse is not it... though maybe there are exceptions to the rule. I suspect that people who want to win an argument use provocative language to upset an opponent, rather than the considered language of people who want to arrive at a conclusion together.
Comments from Andrew about the website so far that refer to Laura's blog post (05/04/2013) - 5th June 2013
'We believe that by dissenting from competitive approaches to arts practice we can discover peaceful means to interaction. Our focus is therefore on our working process more than our output'.
Andrew: 'Looks good. I wonder about the distinction between process and product. There seems to be an interdependancy and you can't have one without the other. Perhaps the process is the product as much as the art in our case, though I would like our art to have value in itself as an aesthetic object and as such my attention to product may be different to yours. This could be interesting as our desired
outcomes may vary, creating a need for further clarity and possible creative responses. Processes that work and are satisfying may be the desired product/outcome, though part of that for me is making a valuable aesthetic object. However, what makes an object aestheticly valuable may depend on the nature of the process to some extent. Thoughts about the production of good things, the role of what people want and skill in production of those things come to mind. Which of our collabourative works could we sell? Just some late night thoughts. Nice web site. Thanks for including me. Andrew x'