THESIS AS GAMEPLAY
‘MAPPING ART RESEARCH’
Tables, Platforms and Stages have been a repeated formal element in my practice for many years now. It began as an oppositional response against the historical pedestal and gallery plinth as well as a critical analysis of the wide spread use of the ‘studio work table’ as a common display structure in contemporary art. The second critical action in my practice was to take the painting off the vertical axis of the wall and lay it on the horizontal axis of the floor and exhibit the painting on tables. As both Structural Support and Conceptual Frame, the Platform / Table has sculptural, functional and varying degrees of social value.
Firstly, the mapping of my research has been an important part of establishing the frame, content and context of my thesis. In this work, I wish to show and examine that the research is the artwork and the artwork is research. This display of research gives you the viewer the opportunity to survey my research visually and understand in 3 separate models, how all of these references are connected. Hopefully the viewer can visualize and read how I am establishing these connections through the process of mapping, collecting, archiving and visually designing the information into a historical artwork. The diagrams and information displayed under glass on a table top gives the viewer a high 360-degree view, enabling body movement and the possibility of interaction and visual play.
There are many types of Tables which could have been used to display and examine this research artwork. For example, in the everyday we engage in social and solitary activities interacting with Tables. Dinner tables, meeting tables, Business tables, office tables, study tables, desks, studio tables, artists work tables, game tables and many more uncountable in human history. Tables have varying purposes and meanings across many cultures worldwide and in the History of Art. So why this time would I decide to display my research in the context of a sports table? The PING PONG / Table Tennis Table? Ping Pong and Art. (1)
We can trace the Installment of the Ping Pong Table as a social networking instrument throughout the recent histories of contemporary art. Starting from Július Koller (b.1939), Ping-Pong Society, Bratislava, 1970. Now we are finally understanding its intimate relationship. It was radically established by Czechoslovakian Conceptual artist and Social Activist Jülius Koller. Koller was a sportsman and tennis and table tennis fan. Combining sport with political statement, he viewed the clearly defined rules of the game and the ‘2 and FRO’ of the balls as symbol of democratic communication and metaphors for a working democracy and social interplay. Other artists mentioned in this discussion have also referenced the Ping Pong Table as an art object within a history as a ‘Readymade’, but more importantly its structure as a game which resembles the game of art theory and philosophy, the strategic play of ideas between artists, and communication in the art world.
The 2 and FRO of the ball, the volley. While in the historic avant-garde the game was based on the individual competitor outperforming and beating his / her competitor. You would attack with as much speed and power as possible trying to take your competitor out of the game, positioning your return volley in the most difficult position of the court e.g. the very edge of the table or the side line, making it as difficult as possible for your opponent to return the volley. In the contemporary / post-contemporary condition, after the ‘post-modern’ / ‘post-medium’ condition the rules and objectives of the game could be completely changed. Instead of trying to out volley your opponents, players set up a co-operative advantage, where the objective is to return the volley as accurately as possible, to enable and endure the longest volley possible. In this game, where players share the volley of ideas and strategy, the longer the volley the more chance there is for the conversation to go somewhere.
Gabriel Orozco (b.1962) discusses his artworks that play on various types of games, and how those works relate to underlying theoretical concepts. In Gabriel Orozco’s words, he says, “Games, because they have this reference to social structures, are expressions of how we believe the universe works in different cultures. We know that chess has that, and billiards has that. Ping-pong has that, too. Every game has a connection to how we conceive nature and landscape, how we order and we structure reality” (2). In Survival Aesthetics, references, histories and strategies must be laid out and aligned…
I propose in this thesis that art, like sports and competition, is a game where artists / agents of culture play out strategies (3) – mostly against the dominant or outdated models in order to activate and advance the position of their works and projects. In this Artwork, (TTRT) ‘Table Tennis Research Table’, I am operating on several theoretical levels connected to my thesis.
1) We can trace the Installment of the Ping Pong Table as a social networking instrument throughout the recent histories of contemporary art. Starting from Július Koller, Ping-Pong Society, Bratislava, 1970, Rirkrit Tiravanija 2012, Gabriel Orozco - Ping Pond Table 1998, Agatha Gothe-Snape 2014, Teppie Kanuji / COUMA 2005, Lee Wen 2013, Aleks Danko PHHHHHHHIT 2011
2) “Ping Pong, Chess, and Billiards are more like philosophical games. I believe that philosophy has to be a practice: practical philosophy. It’s like the way the Greeks used to solve philosophical and mathematical problems—by walking. Not sitting. It’s easier to solve problems moving—when you walk and you talk—probably because you have better irrigation in the brain or just because you are breathing better. Because you are moving, you have better chances to solve complex problems. And also, I think, in a way, it’s an action thing. So, I think philosophy is an action; it should be. And to play the games are part of it”.
3) It is well known that Marcel Duchamp was a big fan of Chess and likened it to the Game of Art.