We began this project in 2003 through an awareness of art market forces, institutional forces and the rate at which visual culture is usurped or co-opted by marketing and advertising. We wanted to create a space that offers a sustainable infrastructure that supports ourselves, our politic, our peers, that creates an expanding network and allows for growth and evolution through interaction; a coming together of several influences in a non-hierarchical manner to create a greater cultural experience, an aggregate experience.
We devised the project in volumes so that it could be time based and act as a platform for our own changing interests, and in order to punctuate these periods of time, we throw launch events and develop a publication per volume.
We began by endlessly talking to peers, colleagues and a few strangers about how they might personally interpret the notion of the unrealised in their practices from rejected proposals to ideas out of place to the ridiculous. After a while we had the generous participation from several artists and from there a network started to develop as further artists were nominated by participants.
Over time, dotted by volumes and launch events, the ways in which participants responded to the intellectual space started to develop as well. The unrealised is an elusive notion that describes an invisible presence and can be stretched to fit, to fill gaps, or to bind topics as varied as failure, material presence and intellectual property rights.
So now, through the natural course of collaborative, conceptual and practical development, we're contextualising the project through a series of topics which have been revealed by thinking about practice through the unrealised and that keep each idea in the present through their re-reading...
Discursive, linguistic, archival tactics allow ideas to develop without the necessity to develop works through or anchor concept to material. This space operates through uncertainty where traditional qualitative judgements of an artwork are suspended, where processes of ideation are revealed and where a coma replaces a full-stop to allow the viewer to occupy head space within the making of the work. For an artist to reveal the 'magic' of the process through the primary form of writing acts to index these thoughts, giving them credence, giving them form, and giving them life in relation to the overall collection.
Moral intellectual rights and exchange value play a large part in handling a collection of other's ideas. We've tried to respect the authenticity of expression per submission, presenting them as delivered. We respect each participants contributions with equal value, offering the same space and hierarchy (or non-hierarchy) of positioning on the site. These expressions in the form of the written word are then exchanged for a platform from which to generate and present these ideas to the public.
Potentiality and failure are two ends of a spectrum. In one there is a never ending anticipation of future success and the other a resounding echo of goals unmet, polarities that cannot exist without each other. Some artists have used the space to look outwardly and upwardly, imagining what could be, and some have used it to focus sharply on the philosophical residue of dissatisfaction, eking out meaning and usefulness in the cycle of the attempt.
Primacy of language as a precursor to the visual form. Thinking about Plato's 'Allegory of The Cave' and his Theory of Forms, the image can persuade through seduction, but language whether written or spoken represents the closest thing to true knowledge or 'Form' (as opposed to 'form' which refers to substance).
Representational forms (and market value) and what we're talking about when we talk about the unrealised. For a sculptor, the unrealised is a very different proposition than for a conceptual artist, a writer or a musician. The material presence of a work often defines it and gives it value. If a sculpture is built with the intention of being used in a performative act and never gets used, is it a realised piece of artwork? A series of notes only constitutes music once the musician consecrates the score to a final product, but defining that finality depends completely on the artists intentions. Can writing be unrealised or can writing only write about the unrealised? Are the textual, visual and sound based presentations of work realised or made real by virtue of being developed into some medium? In the 60's & 70's the art of selling 'nothing' became regarded as a way to legitimate ephemeral activities to an art market, giving monetary value to the most fleeting of gestures. This raises questions about the realised state of all entries in Unrealised Projects. If we sell off the rights to the archive does it become realised, does it become legitimate?
Speculation and imagining an alternate future are often main drivers for artistic development. Imaging what's not there or what could be there. Taking disparate elements of knowledge, form or function and developing a subjective new that tries to reveal something about its making and therefore something about its position as new perspective.
Sustainable artist-led platform in the form of a collective, collaborative web-based archive. This format allows us complete control over creative framing, expression and development of the project, while growing the content through participation. We work with others as a way to engage our collective surroundings in the way in which our surroundings engage us, through social ties, activities and recognition of each other. We use the web as main source of placement for all material in order to maintain and expand the project independently. This relatively low-cost, flexible and wide reaching medium has allowed us and participants an accumulative, discursive and visible space from which to carry out research, self expression and artistic speculation on our own terms, not hindered by funding requirements or institutional constraints.
Universality and open-endedness allows many expressions of a universal and intuitive subject to flourish, creating an aggregate of cultural influences solidified under the loosely relational positioning of the unrealised and viewable/usable by a mass audience.