P: What’s this for?
C: The website?
P: Yes, the website.
C: Um, it’s to demonstrate that not all work is slave labour. That we do it for a different purpose, whether we call it art or activism, art education. It’s not about accumulation, but maybe memory. It’s like an archive. An archive of our resistance (laughs).
P: Um, how so? Seriously. Isn’t the very idea of an ‘artist’ website already mired in all that professional practice showcase crap that we detest? How do we escape that? Can we escape it?
C: How about you write this bit and I’ll edit you later? Moderate you?
P: If I do that it’ll become very bitter very quickly. Shall we just settle on it being an archive of what we do?
P: So, when we say ‘archive’, what counts as relevant exactly?
C: Good question.
P: It all gets a bit Foucauldian – you know that preface to The Order of Things that quotes Borges – do we include things ‘drawn with a very fine camelhair brush’? What limits do we set?
C: So, like including failed proposals or stuff that wouldn’t normally be in a ‘showcase’ website? Not sure why you’re asking the question.
P: Well, it could know no limits. I like that idea though. And easily done, with lots of links to wherever. Desultory browsing. Let’s see how it goes…
P: It’s not going well. Doubt is a terrible/wonderful thing. It still feels like blowing a trumpet rather than collating an archive, for no one in particular. Posterity is a scary word.
C: It’s for sharing, not showing off. You know the value of engagement with others. And for not assuming to speak for others too. How do I know that this version of my words is my words?
P: Well, you don’t/can’t know for sure. If I’m editing you then you can say what I like, even if I don’t like the very idea…
P: And by the way – it’s all looking very texty and not at all sexy so far. Another underlying resentment.
Yet later, in the pub with others…
P: I liked Jon and Dan’s considered reinvention of their artist personas, from Carritt & Palmer, to Jon Carritt & Dan Palmer. More like the actual them than the ‘professional’ version – rejecting the earnestness of all those double acts in the manner of Langlands & Bell, Cornford & Cross, Noble & Webster (though a quick google and I see they’re actually Tim and Sue these days). Should we go down that road? I do like my full name.
C: Maybe slash then. A cut to differentiate our entangled state.
P: Sounds painful.
Months later again...
P (talking to himself): The slash doesn't work. The ampersand is back. & I'm still very resentful, despite not having worked on this for months. I'd prefer not to.
A day after...
P; Anything to add, given the on-goingness of this dialogue?
C: Not at this point. Currently working on updating my CV.
P: OK. Well I'd like to offer a 'current state of play' synopsis. Firstly, this dialogue seems to be in the right spirit of things. Long-winded, navel gazing/self-reflective, and certainly not 'user friendly' in some crass UX model of efficiency and 'hit' maximisation. This website is now 'live', but very far from complete. Hopefully it becomes more complete in the near future, but remains forever a work-in-progress. More nagging doubts and worries though. All too often I see artists' websites that purport to be contemporary and up-to-date but are actually pickled in aspic. Who can be arsed to constantly refresh their material? So does this dialogue itself become part of a dusty archive? Another worry is the way in which the available Wix formats constrain us in the design of the site. So many design rules and conventions are subsumed in their generic 'user friendly' templates and menus. Without being able to code it will be impossible to step outside of those rather trite and commercially orientated conventions. So the best we can do is offer some whingey meta-critique whilst messing with those conventions in an ineffectual way. Then we probably end up with what to many may merely look like a poorly designed website. Hey ho and note to self: there mostly is no audience, so don't worry about it.
Some time later again...
C: Well this is going well... at least so it seems to me with a bit of distance (and yes claiming digital incompetence was a cheeky ploy!). At least with less creative doubt and navel-gazing it's easier to see the value of building this record of all that disparate stuff we have done. Our little box in a suitcase...of samples...not sure about the grey veil we seem to be lurking behind...maybe some colour?
P: No to aesthetic critique - certainly at this point. Other than in a meta-manner in order to complain about the generic constraints.
C: Ah... I can see there are authorial prerogatives and the collaboration is better as a fictional device.
P: OK. Well if you'd like to step in to take them on, that'll be fine by me.
C: So what is this? I think we are back to where we started...let's delete this nonsense.
P: A dilemma. Who hits the delete button? Not me, when I've come this far. Your 'negative' action, if you wish. Even though I might resent having been dragged into this, now we're this far in I'm fucked if I'm trashing it all.
C: So the negative becomes a positive, in that it might allow us to start again.
P: Not if we don't delete what we've got already - it just accumulates. On and on, more and more, like this unending dialogue...
C: End it then. More interesting conversations to be had elsewhere.