My work  for my final show has evolved to focus on structural systems and surface as a means for producing sculpture that explores form, line and volume, spacial qualities and the transgression of an idea/data/structure through various forms, abstractions and focuses.

Whilst thinking on structural systems I thought of Adhocism. I attended a symposium called Ceramics and New Technologies, at the Holburne Museum on the 26th of February. There the artist Micheal Eden, the keynote speaker spoke about his interest in the history of the human hand, how it represented millenia of skills built upon by man. The nature of technology and craft – cultivation, trial and error, imagination and hard work followed. He spoke of platonic solids as building blocks of all matter, (in a specific context that I have since forgotten) which resonated with me particularly, for it relates well to my work. Then he spoke for several minutes about adhocism and its influences on his work, making an example of the bicycle as an example of work that is added to, build upon over time by many and eventually becomes as developed as it can be, one might dare to say almost perfect.I later found this image in the book Adhocism  by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver, it is titled ‘Evolutionary series of the bicycle’.

A few weeks later (from the symposium) and  after a couple of conversations about structures, systems and ways of working with them I decided to conduct a super fast research session (timers, chocolate bar, the whole deal) to try and build a concise, clear idea of what exactly Adhocism is, its relevance to me and my work, and what it could teach me about how I make my work. so I have checked out the book Adhocism by Charles Jencks and Nathan Silver (1972, 2013) the expanded and updated edition from the library (the one Micheal Eden referenced in his talk at the bath symposium on ceramics and new technology) and got cracking.

Right, lets go…

Much of what follows will be quotes, paraphrasing and reflections. This is to be fast. So it might not make the most joyous of reading experiences…

Adhocism is -“a mongrel term first used in architectural criticism in 1968”

A conjunction of ad hoc -“for this particular purpose” and ism – short hand for a movement in the arts.

“Adhocism denotes a principle of action having speed or economy and purpose or utility, and it prospers like most hybrid’s on the edge of respectability.”

Basically, as in architecture, it involves using an available system in a new way to solve a problem quickly and efficiently.

A typical example of adhocism takes an existing system and adding new/different components/parts or systems.

“Perhaps 90% if adhocist concoctions are like this, old systems with a few supplementary clip-ons. ”

“A second point is that the visual result should looks complex or striking”

Then a list of points of what ‘good’ adhocist concoctions should  show:

  • What they do
  • Where they came from, their past (the additions should be clear)
  • How they are put together.

“Legibility and dissect-ability are are key exressive aspects of adhocism, they are goals in themselves for some.”

The third important point about adhocism is CREATIVITY.

The point of “to this specific purpose” troubled me a bit, when we consider this in relation to my work and the work I want to make does it run into problems? Ill have to think on that one.

(All of above from foreword page 7)

The books arguments follow the ideas of Arthur Koestler and others “who have long pointed out that all creativity depends on the coming together of disparate material”

My short research period is up, at some point soon I think I shall have to have another brief one. Adhocism is an incredibly interesting area/topic that I would love to revisit. It has many values that I see in my work or particularly in my process of working, but it also holds several that perhaps I don’t find in my work or process. When things refer to systems, structures, object histories and environment I feel a resonance and get excited, other aspects of the -ism I perhaps do not understand so well or feel so strongly connected with.


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