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Portfolio NW Artists talking blog: Islington Mill Art Academy collaborative text

The latest post in the Portfolio NW artists talking blog is a collaborative text written by members of Islington Mill Art Academy.

IMAA is a peer-led experiment into alternative modes of art education. Founded in 2007, it emphasises shared responsibility, and its nature changes with its membership. It is underpinned by sharing ideas and each members skills and knowledge.

The text is a response to IMAA's recent open crit, themed around auto-biography. Held regularly, these crits act as platforms for critical discussion and debate.

The catalyst for the text is an artwork by Art Academy member Jared Szpakowski, a blog as a daily visual diary:

Lauren Velvick, 16 August 2013 16:15 -

Browsing through Jared's blog what strikes me initially, bearing in mind our previous discussion around autobiography, is a sense of long sentences. A long sentence can draw you in, and along with it, so that your understanding of the subject is richer. Although, it's difficult to maintain focus and rolling understanding throughout the reading of a very long sentence, even if it's gramatically correct, and you don't lose you breath. I find the images - photographs, digital collages, gifs, and screengrabs - along with the snippets of text on threeteabagsinanenvelope to be immersive in this way. Knowing what I do of Jared's practice from previous I.M.A.A discussions I noticed the recurrence of waiting room chairs, either in their natural environment or bundled up into weird pom poms, and wonder about their significance to him. The bits of text matched with images are descriptive and sensory, what makes those images in particular need or warrant text?

Natalie Bradbury, 19 August 2013 10:49

Further to what Lauren said about previous conversations on autobiography, Jared's blog also made me think of a recent discussion we had about the conventions of art criticism and the tendency among critics to over-explain everything and set up their reviews and interviews with context about an artist's previous work and biography. We questioned whether this is necessary in the age of the internet, where we can head to google with a mental list of things we've seen fleetingly referenced elsewhere. Web criticism enables the author to add hyperlinks to other sites and images, avoiding the need to explain everything in full. To bring this back to Jared's blog, I found its self-referentiality interesting: it creates an online web of his practice through internal hyperlinks (for an example see, which take you backwards and forwards in time on a non-sequential journey rather than presenting a purely linear progression of thoughts and images.

Jackie Haynes, 21 August 2013, 09.32

I headed straight for Google to translate the Polish words for city centre and communication system whilst considering the autobiographical relevance of these words and images to Jared, which he posted in response to the crit group discussion, as a blog entry:
The speed of the flickering photographic book illustrations made viewing difficult. It had a similar effect to an uncomfortable strobe light or how rapid eye movement (REM) might be imagined before waking up or even semi-consciously trying to pin down an image whilst dreaming.

The threshold between sleeping and waking has parallels to Rachel Newsome’s current writing upon waking exercise and her reference to Jeanette Winterson’s metaphorical use of the household threshold. This sense of movement continues to Natalie’s remark about the backwards and forwards, non-linear progression of time. This could be envisaged as a cyclical sequence, reminiscent of the kind of internal circular discussions which hinder sleep, illustrated in a similar way by Beckett’s 'Play.'

The full text will be published on the a-n artists' talking blog throughout this week.


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