Publication Details

B. S. Bunt (2012). Walking, Drawing and Procedure. Swinburne University of Technology, 21-23 November.

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What is the relationship between coding practice and contemporary forms of socially engaged art practice? Both can trace links to the conceptual art tradition. Both explore issues of system, instruction, communication and constraint. Both disturb the limits of autonomous art - either by choosing to speak and to think in an alien, technologically inflected language, or by refusing to function in the gallery context and in the service of producing neatly solid and distinct aesthetic phenomena. Although at times the two can correspond closely – within currents, for example, of open source culture and political software art – they tend to preserve an uneasy relation. Despite their affinities, they cannot quite find adequate points of contact. This paper aims to examine this awkward relation, considering key dimensions of commonality and difference, as well as envisaging possibilities for greater collaborative intersection. Fostering exchange involves, at the outset, acknowledging diverse modes of addressing the social – from the literal to the indirect, from the immediate and ephemeral to the diagrammatic and abstract. Then, in a related manner, it involves conceiving new ways of setting these modes at play, of bringing into dialogue code and lived experience. More specifically, this paper examines how forms of code-drawing, which can easily be interpreted in terms of a naïve and conservative return to the terrain of conventional art, can intersect with the diagrams and ephemeral ‘walked’ paths of socially engaged art.