Around the time of Office of Experiments instantiation, I was seeking for ways to work as an artist with others on subjects of shared concern. Whilst working across media and scientific labs, I realised that these spaces, much like the studio, did not lend themselves to the art that was needed. However, the experiment was another matter. It was a useful conceptual framing for describing rigorous artistic research inquiry and the increasingly complex process and context in which art was being made. In particular the experiment as defined by historians of science, had changed shape, it had escaped the enclosure and limits of the lab, just as art had escaped the confines of the studio. In this sense, as an artist led project, the challenge was to use the experiment as both subject and method, whilst critically engaging with arts own complex scales of production. In order to achieve this, the Office of Experiments drew from other artists who were addressing such areas. In particular, this approach chimed with the artist John Latham, who supported the pursuit of the project, noting in particular a temporal resonance between the experiment and his own concept of time in which art becomes an event structure.
Further to this, I started to work with architects, anthropologists, academics and activists who shared similar ideas, and were happy to publish or produce new works under one collective name. This shift toward the collective rather than individual voice became critical and remains one of our key challenges. Office of Experiments became a project in its own right, a method for collaboration and a process for the development of rigorous research that underpins contemporary art making. Then as now, it is a transforming network of individuals coming together to develop experimental works and systems. Our changing shape reflects the nature of the research processes and the broader contexts in which we work. In this way, we can continue to be defined by the context of our subjects in order to shape rigorous system for the experiment and the event structures of art.
Our international projects are led by Neal White, who works with representatives in the USA Steve Rowell, and collaborating partners across Europe. Lisa Haskel who has acted as our technical director is now joined by Erik Kearney, software and electronics engineer. We are working with emerging artists, such as Jol Thoms (CA). And as is usual, we are in discussion with others, currently including leading architects, scientists, academics and cultural institutions looking at a range of projects and establishing new areas of activity.
Office of Experiments was established in 2004 . Its founding principles based on artistic, philosophical and historical concepts of experimentation (including temporal inquiry) first in art, then later in experimental systems and epistemic things (Rheinberger). Our aim was to explore the conceptual boundary of knowledge, the artwork, and the dominance of the artist figure through collective practice.
We were influenced directly by a range of historic and contemporary artists and artist-led organisations on this journey,. This includes an early dialogue with John Latham and O+I ( formerly known as Artist Placement Group UK) and through commissioned projects with organisations such as Center for Land Use Interpretation (USA), and a number of other marginal institutions in UK and USA.
The project owes much to direct support from Arts Catalyst, a leading International transdisciplinary art agency based in London.
For a more detailed and academically focussed interview on Office of Experiments, read Jussi Parikka’s website here:
Office of Experiments individual projects have involved a range of artists, activists, architects and academics:
Neal White (UK), N55 (DK), Steve Rowell (USA), Tina O’Connell (UK & Ireland), Lisa Haskell (UK), Rob Smith (UK) and Anna Troisi (I/UK), Luce Choules (UK), Dr Kathrin Soldhju (DE), Professor Gail Davies (UK), Dr Dominic Walker (UK), Dr Nicholas Langlitz (DE/USA) Erik Kearney (IE) and Bill Thompson (US/UK) with Rob La Frenais, Nicola Triscott, Anna Santamoro, Claudia Lastra, Lala Thorpe, Ross Roberston and others at Arts Catalyst.
Thanks to Arts Catalyst for facilitating projects since 2004.
Our other thanks are broad, but crucially include collaborators and supporters:
Tina O’Connell (IE), John Latham and Flat Time House, Sophie Olfers (DE), Elisa Kay, Antony Hudek (BE), Sarah Andrews, Barbara Steveni, Sue Breakell, Donald Smith, Jens Hauser and Simon Gould.
With special thanks to activists and autonomous researchers, such as Mike Kenner.
CREAM at University of Westminster, The Latham Estate, O+I (formerly Artist Placement Group), The Centre for Land Use Interpretation, The Henry Moore Foundation, Arts Council England, Camberwell Offsite Projects, John Hansard Gallery, SCAN, Chelsea Space, Chelsea College of Art, Max-Planck Institute, The Media School at Bournemouth University, FACT, Liverpool
Projects Supported by:
Arts Council of England
Henry Moore Institute
Portikus – Stadehschule, Frankfurt – Germany
Objectif Exhibitions, Antwerp
Austrian Science Fund
Flat Time House – The Latham Foundation
Center for Land Use Interpretation
CREAM at University of Westminster
UAL: Camberwell & Chelsea
FACT – Liverpool
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Museum of London
Heritage Lottery Fund