“Social Intersections Research Project”

“Working in groups of two or three students, produce an art project that engages with issues of the relation between art and the social.”



After the initial project briefing, my group and I were very confused where to start. We spent some time brainstorming different ideas, drawing from other works we had been shown in the class lectures. When sitting down and thinking held no results, we drew from previous assessments and decided to go for a walk around the Uni campus in an attempt to find some inspiration.

The walk sparked some ideas; camera surveillance, the process of people meeting, etc, but nothing that we could foresee to be project-worthy.

After hours spent and meeting as a group we were still struggling to think of a main idea for our art project, so we turned to Bianca. Bianca took the assessment outline, and gave us the idea that the task itself could be the art project – our problem of not having an idea, could become our solution. It was a really interesting concept in which we decided to take upon. After discussing this with Bianca we went away and decided to lay out some rules for our project. We would visit 3 different locations and survey the public; explain the subject & assessment and ask them what they would do for an art project if they were in our position. We initially aimed to get at least 10 answers at each location, recording the audio of the conversation, and then record the individual’s age, gender, occupation, etc, in order to compare the answers.

On paper, we had an amazingly straightforward and conceptually interesting project, but when we put it into action, problems started to arise.

We started out at the Uni campus as location #1. None of us realised how difficult it would be to walk up to a stranger and start asking them questions. After conquering the first problem and building up the nerve to engage passers by, we came across another problem. Most people do not have a spare minute out of their day to help 3 poor uni students. We tried different openers to try and persuade people to stop and help but we were still not getting any results. After about an hour and a half we had to resume to our individual lives, but decided we would visit Wollongong mall next.

Later that week we set up camp at one of the main entrances to the mall and started harassing strangers. We found people were even less inclined to help in comparison to the Uni. We ended up getting 1 or 2 results from roughly 25 attempts, which took just over an hour. As we were struggling we discussed going into shops and asking staff but agreed that was inappropriate. This is when the project started to evolve. What ever it was that we were doing prior, was not working, so we had to change something. It didn’t suit us – in terms of time – to stand around for hours getting only a few results so discussed what we could do to obtain results more efficiently. I suggested I could interview a bunch of my friends as we couldn’t afford to spend so much time in the hopes of surveying random people on the street. The group agreed, so I recorded the audio of roughly 10 different conversations onto my phone that day.

Our initial idea of presenting our project was to use an info graphic poster, to compare the results of different locations/ages/genders/etc and display this visually. This also had to change, as the majority of the interviewees were of the same age, and the randomness of each individual was eliminated due to the fact I was interviewing my friends. As a group we discussed our options and came to the idea of compiling the audio recordings and playing them through a speaker for our presentation.

I cut up the audio files so that each of the interviewees ideas/answers were back to back, so you didn’t have to listen to me ask the same question over and over. I feel this would be more engaging and interesting for the listener. We then designed a poster to accompany the speaker so that the audience would understand exactly what it is they were listening to.

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Here is the final audio compilation:

“CAOS201: Social Intersections Research Project”



The two main texts I found relate to our art project would be Allan Kaprow’s “Just Doing” and Roland Barthes’ essay “The Death of the Author”.

1. In Barthes’ essay “The Death of the Author” he talks about rejecting the idea of authorial intent, and instead develops a reader-response critical theory:
‘The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost; a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination.’ The use of the word “quotations” expresses the idea that a text cannot really be “created” or “original”—it is always made up of an arrangement of preexisting “quotations” or ideas. Therefore, the “author” is not really an author, but rather a dictator who simply puts together pre-existing works, which is exactly what we did as a group. I found it interesting in distinguishing who really was the true artist/author of this project. Yes, our group planned out the idea behind the project, but without the public/audience, the project would not exist. Because of this, I feel as though the public are the true authors of the project, and we (the group) became the audience.

2. In Kaprow’s “Just Doing” he states that ”playing with everyday life often is just paying attention to what is conventionally hidden”. This relates to our project as it held no real purpose; playing, and we were essentially just uncovering ‘what is conventionally hidden’ – that is, the ideas and memories of individuals, which already exist. We continued “playing”, and like Kaprow states “Playing has no purpose other than more playing”, we allowed the project to evolve without consciously setting any kind of limits or boundaries.



– Kaprow, A 1997 ‘Just doing’, TDR, Vol .41, No. 3, pp. 101-106.
– Barthes, R 1967 ‘The Death of the Author’



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