One of our lecturers Alex Coles gave a talk on Transdisciplinary Studios and discussed various different practitioners who work across different artistic platforms. Beginning with a look into his own book DesignArt, Alex explores the varying scopes of the art world beginning with the Avant Garde period, during the early twentieth century, looking at Bauhaus and De Stijl and how these styles became an important factor in bringing art and design together. His book further explores art through time, looking at practices during the minimalist/ pop art era to contemporary art.
One of the main photographers Alex talked about was Jorge Pardo, a Cuban American artist and sculptor whose work delves into contemporary art and incorporates design, architecture, sculpture and painting. Jorge is famously recognised for his house that he built, Sea View Lane, in Los Angeles for LA Moca in 1998. For this project, Jorge’s intent was to build an architectural structure that acted as an exhibition space that people could come to visit, bridging the gap between art design and architecture. The space not only functioned as an exhibition and studio space, but he also made it his home. Jorge wanted the house itself to be a piece of artwork and physically and visually portray the crossover between the disciplines within contemporary art. As Alex explains, Jorge’s project documents the move from interdisciplinary to transdisciplinary and how contemporary art has broken the boundaries once held within each discipline or art practice.
I was intrigued by Jorge’s work because I think he very cleverly demonstrates how we as artists can work out with our own specialisms to challenge our creativity, to produce more diverse and experimental art forms. Listening to Alex’s talk got me thinking about my own practice, and I began writing down past projects where I have stepped outside my specialism in photography to incorporate other art disciplines that would aid and further the quality of my work. As a commercial photographer, I am constantly collaborating with other creatives on projects, and I often find myself learning new techniques in order to enhance my photographs. On one of my recent projects, I built the set for my photo shoot, which involved painting backdrops, making paper flowers and accessories for the model to wear.
Another artist we looked at was Olafur Eliasson, a Danish Icelandic artist famously recognised for his large-scale sculptures. Through reading Studio Olafur Eliasson, a section DesignArt, I learned more about the concept behind Transdisciplinary Studios, and it prompted me to think about what a physical studio space is and what it means. Alex explains that this studio space was a Berlin brewery and consists of several different floor levels, each with their own discipline work taking place. This was slightly confusing to me as I found it hard to understand why this was a transdisciplinary studio, yet each practice was working in their designated areas. Alex states “the floor below is dedicated to the art school Eliasson has established, including studio spaces for the students- a series of studios within the larger studio” (Coles, 2005, p. 62). I began thinking about what a studio actually is. Is it simply a space where different creatives can work under, whilst still working within the boundaries of their own disciplines? The Barbara Hepworth building came to mind, as it is a studio that provides the space for many different artists and creative practitioners to work under the same roof, with both the opportunity to work collaboratively or individually.
In relation to difficulties that have arisen due to Covid-19, I have found myself tailoring my own photo shoots around the space in my own home. I have been able to set up a simple backdrop set with 2 lights and a reflector which has allowed me to continue making work. Thinking back to my question of what a studio space actually is, I think it is a space that enables creative workflow to take place, whether that be in a large space with other creatives or in a small area individually.
Coles , A. (2005). DesignArt . Tate Publishing .
Drohojowska-Philiip, H. (1988). Welcome to the House That Jorge Built. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1998-oct-11-ca-31323-story.html