In my project, I set out to make a history of the word ‘all’. I have decided to approach this by making a questionnaire. I will ask people to help me in compiling a database of thoughts about this word. The project has become more of an assessment of the word’s present state with a view to looking both backward and forward.
I’d like to invoke our old friend Marcel Duchamp and his increasingly familiar lecture ‘The Creative Act’. In this lecture he said that the audience has always been crucial in completing an artwork, in the way they bring their own thoughts and experience to it. In this piece I’m making that viewer process the focus of the work. I think thinking was probably always going to be the more exciting bit of this project, not looking, as in a lot of art. That’s the nature of the linguistic and philosophical questions I’m dealing with.
I want the finished piece to be visually very simple. I’m thinking artists like Anselm Kiefer and Christian Boltanski provide a good lead here. I will most likely use a single projected large scale photograph or image to accompany each question. It may even be blurred or pixelated. I feel this part of the project is relatively straightforward. I want it to have beauty, but not in a way that distracts from the questionnaire.
In its present state, the questionnaire is very basic. There is little agency. This is the issue I would like to hear you discuss. How can I best involve my viewers so they feel like they’re actively participating in something? It is in this area that a lot of things are very much up in the air. One thing I’m set on is that I’m going to have all of the questions presented separately, so people can answer as many or as few as they like.
I wrote about participatory art and interactivity in my two essays last term. As a result of my research for those essays I came to the conclusion that participatory art is best when people have a clear sense of what is expected of them. At the same time as this, there has to be a balance, offering enough openness for people to bring something new to the piece. Hopefully not fart jokes!
I have some specific questions, then:
There are two obvious approaches to asking the questions:
Closed questions offering yes/no answers. The advantage of these is immediate graphs and feedback will be relatively easy.
Open questions where people write as much or as little as they wish in response. The most obvious feedback method here would be a tag cloud.
Both of these approaches have differing implications for agency, both on the side of answering the questions and reading the results. What do you feel are the likely issues?
Does anyone have any thoughts on how I might discourage stupid answers? Or should I just ignore them?
Finally, another idea is the possibility of presenting a timeline that changes as people fill in the questionnaire.