31/05/16 08:29 Filed in: Studio Practice
It’s done, in the package and ready to go when the post office opens...After Stephen Shore II
- 15 printsDrive
- the bookDrive
- 10 prints
A selection of (supplementary) installation prints from TYB - Le loup, le renard et la belette
is still a work in progress, and you can only submit stuff once.
And some hard copy writing (essay, PPP, artist statement, TYB report and journal extracts).
It doesn’t feel like a lot, but now it’s just a matter of waiting and seeing if they’ll let me on for the final year.
22/05/16 09:58 Filed in: Contextual Research
After 100 years of history, what next for the love affair between photography and the American road trip? And where might that take me?
“Some people think that the camera steals their soul. Places, I am convinced, are affected in the opposite way. The more they are photographed (or drawn and painted) the more soul they seem to accumulate.” (Wells, p60)
America is a vast country, with what might be considered as a short (recorded) history. However, in the last 100 years or so, it has been rapidly accumulating “soul” as artists and non-artists alike “go west” on their American road trip armed with a camera. The original pioneers, whose journeys these road trips often serve to replicate, travelled westwards by wagon train, taking months of supplies with them to support them until they reached a likely location to raise a settlement before the winter took hold. Not a journey to be taken lightly, and even many years later, not one that would lead to a lifestyle that might allow for luxuries such as making art for the rest of the world; Albert Bierstadt’s Looking down the Yosemite Valley (1865) [a] was amongst the earliest images from California to be seen in New York, even though this was well after the advent of photography (Wells).
Later though, with the advent of the automobile, and the infrastructure that goes with it, and coinciding as it did with the simplification and commercialisation of the photographic processes, the great American road trip was born and subsequently labelled as the “first American popular culture that could truly call itself national” (Campany, p11). And with it, America’s soul (akin, it would seem, to Benjamin’s “aura”) has grown, at least within the confines of pop culture. The American road trip is now an iconic right of passage, a journey of discovery of things previously discovered. How will this be affected by a seemingly relentless tide of change to technology, to art and to culture itself, and to my own evolving practice?
First though, some thoughts of history. Back in the early 1900s, following in the footsteps of those early pioneers will have been a great adventure, the American version of the European “Grand Tour”. In 1903 there were but 141 miles of asphalt roads in the whole of America, and a coast-to-coast trip would take about 2 months. Just three years later, there were enough roads to warrant improved navigational aids and the Photo-Auto Guide was launched [b], a turn-by-turn photographic map to make routing simpler, and by the end of that decade, there were 130,000 cars in America. Another 20 years later, there were 26.7 million! (Campany)
Early road trip photography would consist of “picturesque albums of beautiful landscapes, interspersed with shots of awesome bridges” (Campany, p8), but notions have changed. Photography has cemented its position within the arts, and over a century of road trips have provided a growing knowledge of what America by car has looked like; the universal motifs of the gas station, the motel and the open road itself, and every subsequent image is now made through a tangle of preconceptions and memory. Photographs of gas stations taken today are taken with the knowledge of those seen before, through Stephen Shore, Ed Ruscha and others, or in the movies that work a similar trope, maybe adding sex and guns as further spice. Just as the reader caused the death of the author in the theorising of Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault, the author is also risking suicide through their own anachronistic reading of those before him!
Walker Evans’s photographs provide a direct lineage to post-war American photography; his images for American Photographs (1938) showed little in terms of a signature style or overbearing sentimentality in the vernacular scenes he shot. Robert Frank would continue this tradition in the seminal collection Les Americains (The Americans, 1958). He toured for 8 months in a Ford Business Coupe, shooting 800 rolls of film that were to become “essential for the understanding of both America and photography” (Campany, p42). Stephen Shore came from Warhol’s Factory to photograph his many road trips in an analytical yet un-critical, curious but distanced manner. A major early proponent of colour photography, he also foresaw something of the Facebook generation, photographing everyday life from a personal point of view, sharing the utterly mundane, from the Post Office to motels, crossroads to pancakes [c] to the people he saw on his travels, and many other things in-between. Joel Sternfeld captured surreal yet optimistic juxtapositions, Alec Soth was sleepy yet traditional. Amongst all that, Lee Friedlander took framing to a higher level.
Friedlander’s America by Car (2010) was photographed from the car’s interior, highlighting an important difference to photography of the road trip from that of the flâneur. Whilst Frank might have used a 35mm Leica in his work, Friedlander, Shore, et al, were known to use larger format cameras. The Leica can be thought of as an open view camera, you can use it with both eyes open, seeing both what is within and without the viewfinder. With the LF cameras, you are confined to only what is visible under the curtain; the world is framed. The same happens when shooting from within the car, the world is framed before you raise the camera to shoot: the windshield, the side windows and mirrors. Shore spoke of how “A photograph has edges, the world does not” (Shore, p13), his framing was often passive, a counter-response to his camera choice, Friedlander grasped at those edges, bringing them into the camera frame, dividing and sub-dividing [d]. Compositional nirvana.
Many of the current road trip photographers are following the same highways and byways, re-photographing rather than reinventing the genre. Kyler Zeleny, Jack Latham and Ron Jude provide pleasing photographs and their own chosen narrative, but seem at first glance to be bedded in our preconceptions based on what has gone before. The parallels can be drawn and we view them through our own experience of Joel Meyerowitz, Garry Winogrand and Shore. There is an interminable sameness of view, part of the attraction, but if in 1938, within the accompanying essay to Evans’s American Photographs, Lincoln Kirstein could elude to “the boredom of a sight-sated public” (Evans, p193), how bored must the Facebook generation be? Or does some photography now simply pass by as momentary glimpses in the media datastream?
A small number of photographers have been breaking the mould in different ways. Christian Patterson’s Redheaded Peckerwood (2011) is a recreation of a journey, one taken 50-odd years earlier through Nebraska and Wyoming, one that was marked with murder; “A boy and a girl and a car and a gun. The formula is deeply encoded in American mythology.” (Patterson ). His forensic view of the crime scenes provides an oddly disassociated presence as the evidence has gone with buildings demolished in the intervening years, but there are also items copied from the archives to sit alongside his present day photographs. It becomes strangely compelling [e]. Ryan McGinley creates a fabricated reality in his journey, taking with him young models and artists to act under his direction in scenes of escapism within nature, a carefree world to share. The landscape is deconstructed and refabricated in the surreal images of Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, with varied stylistic tropes; only the idea of the road unifies the images. What are Onorato and Krebs getting at? I’m not actually sure it ‘means’ anything, other than it being a playful mash-up of motel rooms, fast food and the iconography of the open road, tilting towards more contemporary still-life and staged photography movements.
Doug Rickard’s imagery feels most like those more traditional artists mentioned earlier, and he acknowledges this. However, he hasn’t undertaken a road trip himself, instead investigating America’s troubled and economically devastated neighbourhoods via the means of Google Street View (GSV - a natural descendent from the Photo-Auto Guide?). Rickard acknowledges the power of technology, but he also acknowledges that he is tied to his own expectations: “I wanted each picture to give off a sense of place. I wanted Detroit to feel like Detroit. And part of that is based on my own idea of Detroit” (Polino). He has photographed black and Hispanic neighbourhoods in a way that appears to be missing from the traditional cannon, he has an access, albeit artificial, that might otherwise be unavailable to what appears to be a predominantly white (and male) history of recording of the journey. Here it feels like we might truly be at some form of cultural crossroads for the future of the road trip, where the traditional joins with the future to form the contemporary. From here it could go anywhere.
Technology is forever changing too; things come and go, such as the Kodak film hailed in the early 20th Century as making road trip photography simple [f] now all but consigned to the history books. These on-going changes will impact both the nature of the road trip and the art that comes as a result of it. The advances in automobile technology has already changed the landscape, and going forward there will likely be need for fewer gasoline stations and motels, especially if driverless cars come to the fore. These driverless cars might also lead to the demise of the explorative trip and the chance meandering down interesting side roads, with navigation handled by a computer based on a destination. Perhaps green credentials will push further, ushering in the advent of the cycle tour, as traced by Garry Loughlin (of the land and us). Granted, this isn’t for the faint-hearted!
And what for the art itself? Whilst it might be inconceivable to think of the end of the photographic print due to the current commodification of such, there are a growing number of alternative modes of presentation, many via video or digital means on the Internet. Instagram has become a powerful dissemination tool; even Shore has an account , with the contents also being transferred to book form . Richard Prince has mined Instagram for his appropriation art and it’s a tool already acknowledged within the artist and curatorial community. Other social media outlets might have their place for exhibition of art. The ability to perform direct and scheduled regular uploads (as with @555uhz tweeted film stills ), road trip art could be viewed almost in real time. Blogging (or indeed, vlogging) might also become an intrinsic part of the post-Internet photographers toolbox, the English photographer Simon Roberts has already made extensive use of blogging to direct his (English) road trip, and Soth is known to make use of Internet search engines for research. Personally, I have used GSV to identify potential photograph sites, as with my earlier Road to Joy project [g] and [h]. The future appears to lie in the Internet for more than this though; the road trip could conceivably become performative in some way through the use of social media.
I cannot actually say with any accuracy what the future holds for the American road trip or for its photography. However, in looking at the subject with a purpose of positioning my own practice in relation to it, it is clearer to me how my own work has been influenced by it, been informed by preconceptions formed from looking at it, and also the television programmes I grew up with and the cult of Americana they fed. It is also clear that I need to make my own journey and record it. When this happens, the photographs I would legitimately expect to make based upon my photographic leanings might be described as being broadly influenced by Shore and other similar colour practitioners.
Recent experiments through the course of the MA might indicate something else though. Yes, in many ways the photography of Le loup, le renard et la belette [i] can be thought of being in my existing style, but the presentation of it has not been. However I can now also draw on and build upon the GSV appropriation work (Ruscha’s Gasoline Stations and After Stephen Shore) and also the literal and linear journey presentation of Drive [j] to add to this, to take in a different direction, where the act of driving becomes part of the art process, not just the means of getting to the subject as it has been in the past. The car, the road trip and art will continue to be linked, for the near future at least; the growing pop culture soul of America will surely guarantee this.
[a] Bierstadt, A: Looking down the Yosemite Valley, California (1865), oil on canvas, 162.6x 244.5cm [online]. Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham. Available at:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Looking_Down_Yosemite_Valley,_California#/media/File:Looking_Down_Yosemite-Valley.jpg [accessed 27/04/2016]
[b] Sargent Michaels, H: Photo-Auto Guide, Chicago to Rockford (1905), book spread [online]. Encyclopaedia Britannica Online. Available at:
http://www.britannica.com/media/full/505109/180011 [accessed 27/04/2016]
[c] Shore, S: Trail’s End Restaurant, Kanab, Utah, August 10, 1973, photograph [online]. Edwynn Houk Gallery Tumblr, New York/Zurich. Available at:
http://houkgallery.tumblr.com/post/73522167639/stephen-shore-american-b-1947-trails-end [accessed 27/04/2016]
[d] Friedlander, L: America by Car, 1995-2009, photograph [online]. Whitney Museum of Art, New York. Available at:
http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/LeeFriedlander [accessed 27/04/2016]
[e] Patterson, C: Redheaded Peckerwood, 2011, book spread [online]. Photo-eye Blog. Available at:
http://www.photoeye.com/magazine/reviews/2012/01_16_Redheaded_Peckerwood.cfm [accessed 27/04/2016]
[f] Kodak: Kodak as you go, 1920, advertisement [online]. Duke University Library, Durham. Available at:
http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/eaa_K0339/ [accessed 27/04/2016]
[g] Brisco, R: GSV Research – Millerground Landing, 2013, screen capture.
[h] Brisco, R: Millerground Landing, 2013, photograph.
[i] Brisco, R: Landelo, 2016, photograph.
[j] Brisco, R: Untitled (Drive), 2015, photograph.
Campany, D. 2014. The Open Road: Photography and the American Road Trip. New York. Aperture Foundation
Evans. W. 2012. American Photographs. 75th Anniversary Edition. London. Tate Publishing
Frank. R. 2008. The Americans. Göttingen. Steidl.
Friedlander, L. 2010. America by Car. New York. Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.
Patterson, C. 2011. Redheaded Peckerwood. London. Mack Books.
Shore, S. 2004. Uncommon Places. London. Thames & Hudson Ltd.
Soth. A. 2010. From Here to There. Minneapolis. Walker Art Center.
Wells, L. 2011. Land Matters: Landscape Photography, Culture and Identity. London. I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd.
Polino, J. 2013. A Street View: Doug Rickard And The New American Picture [Online]. Available at:
http://www.dougrickard.com/articles/out-of-order-doug-rickard-and-the-new-american-picture-2013/ [accessed 27/04/2016]
Of the land & us. 2016. Untitled (Garry Loughlin interview) [Online]. Available at:
http://www.ofthelandandus.co/post/139736087395/betweenspaces [accessed 27/04/2016]
Other Internet References
Stephen Shore Instragram: https://www.instagram.com/stephen.shore [accessed 27/04/2016]
555uHz Twitter stream: https://twitter.com/555uhz?lang=en-gb [accessed 27/04/2016]
22/05/16 09:30 Filed in: Studio Practice
In preparing for the assessment, I’ve decided to submit After Stephen Shore II, the reworking of Shore’s Uncommon Places using GSV images, but blacking out the area Shore actually photographed, such as the Desert Center image below:
California 177, Desert Center, California, July 2014
And Shore’s original:
California 177, Desert Center, California, December 8, 1978
I’ve never printed these images before, they’ve only existed digitally, so as a trial I thought I’d try to add something, to paint the black square instead.
20 years ago it might have worked. My hands were steadier – I drew straight lines all day long (I was a draughtsman at the time), but now… the edges are somewhat wavy! It looks messy, there a brush strokes, which to be fair I thought would be a good thing, but it doesn’t work for me. Perhaps with time, practice and patience…?
No. I take that back. I actually think that adding paint runs contrary to where my practice has evolved. I used to photograph using film, I still have many film cameras (they’re generally much nicer “objects” than digital cameras), I have film in the fridge. However, that film has been in the fridge for probably 6 or 7 years, and the last time I shot film with any purpose would probably be from around that time. I bought a digital back for my medium format Hasselblad and haven’t put a film through it since (although to be fair, I don’t use the camera that often).
No, my practice is pretty much completely digital now. Yes, I soaked some prints in diesel last year, but then I rephotographed them to retain them (apart from the whiff of diesel, they no longer really exist as they did last year). I suppose this was an attempt to do something similar with paint, but no. I’m digital. Why fight it? Well, until next time I feel like doing something different.
So, the prints have rectangles created in photoshop. That’s where I’m at
08/05/16 18:05 Filed in: Studio Practice
The tutorial with Joanna Lowry was late (all my fault - TYB in France, then no Internet, etc.) but it was great. She said I made some great formal compositions, so my ego was stroked. That's largely insignificant though as we went on to discuss where the project might end up, and from that it can be deduced it''s not finished yet.
Part of the tutorial spoke of what the story might be, the photographs have a feel of an empty film set, waiting for a story to be told. In the last tutorial she had advised doing more research into local events, local history and she was pushing this. I have done some research though, and pulled the name of Sebastien Le Balp out of the bag. Le Balp led a revolution in 1675, taking the Bonnets Rouges on to victory in Lower Brittany before being killed by a prisoner. It's this spirit of revolt that I've been trying to capture in one thread of the photographs - the burned out car, the graffiti, even the empty bottles...
So, next year I plan to bring this more to the fore somehow. I don't like being too direct, but if I can find a way to lift it... It might even be by including other objects. Extracts from memoirs, photos of old paintings, or similar. I don't know what there is available on that level just yet, so I'll have to do some further research and it will therefore run into next year.
04/05/16 18:58 Filed in: Studio Practice
The 25th April saw me present some work in the group crit session; some of the more recent images from Le loup
... together with some of the installation shots from the TYB exhibition, some photographs from After Stephen Shore
from the making day, and finally a link to the video and some stills from Drive
I provided the first part of my statement (more on this later) and then some questions, as follows:
My practice is moving more clearly to being related to the journey (or at least I’m recognising this more and more), the following is from my website and was updated earlier this year as the trend became apparent:
My aim is to record the journey, the road trip, getting from A to B geographically, temporally or metaphorically, and the things I see whilst I'm on that journey using whichever style of image making seems right at the time. Another recurring subject is what has been termed the “mundane” or "neutral"; those everyday things we fail to notice until someone makes an image and we are asked to stop and consider them.Occasionally I'll even try different things.I want to look at different ways of showing these things, for example using the GSV images as in the making day earlier this year, or with the Driving video, whilst not moving completely away from a “contemporary” style that might be used to describe Le loup…How I work can change from project to project, from the fairly contemporary style photographs of Le loup…, to the GSV images (Ruscha… and After Stephen Shore) to the night time photographs of Drive. Does this then seem eclectic, incoherent in terms of my practice?Is Drive in photograph form too obscure? Is the lack of information in the photographs a problem? (note - there are many more of these images in the set, it’s a subset of the video stills...)Where might I go to further explore the possibilities of the road trip or journey?
The feedback was positive, with a couple of tricky questions from Tanya thrown in for good measure. What follows below is from the transcript of my notes taken as people were providing feedback. They're short and perhaps not quite as concise as they could be, but people were speaking to make comments, not speaking to be written down. Having said that, there was a recording...Ines
Wondering about the name for the project, Le loup, le renard et la belette
Likes the journey, the framing at night, with the lights hitting the screen and the fact that the framing cannot be controlled.
Feels weird to see the mundane represented, but familiar and interesting.
GSV images made her feel voyeuristic - to take off the black square and see behind it. Feels gossipy...Monika
Has the feeling of missing the people for some reason, make her feel lonely like after a disaster...
Images can feel like a hole that you keep going into, loneliness.
Likes the aesthetic of the GSV images, but has no link to themDrive
gives a direct relationship, about driving, speed - likes them very much.Mwamba
Shares the loneliness of the images, but gets the feeling that being involved within the images, a part of it. Feels like being forced to see a certain part of the scene, the atmosphere of the dark sky, the petals on the floor.
Interested in the text that was juxtaposed on the installation images.
The black squares - are they removing people in the GSV images?
Loves the darkness around the drive images, working with the environment. Glare, air blowing, the warmth of the street lights... The yellow and red lights with the blackness, an explosion caused by lights and raindrops...Mathew
In response to question about incoherent and eclectic - sits very well with the photographs, journey between points.Tanya
Wants music for the video... Why didn't I just let the video roll (as video, not stills).
Doesn't feel like the photographs are people-less - there are kids, flowers and the truck. It's not lonely...Alison
Incoherent... No! Do the projects need to be connected anyway? How was the film made?
The lack of people is not about loneliness - about framing and what's not there.
The video, you are the person in the video.Angela
Single images of Drive
more evocative of experience of driving - slipping into and out of the conscious act of driving, this impact is missing from the video.
Peter Fraser - the beauty of the quotidian, of the everyday. A space before the beauty beyond what we don't notice - where I'm exploring...
Answering the questions.
Le loup... is a song title.
After Stephen Shore is self-indulgent. Working with the images of a photographer I like in a way that doesn't cost the earth to revisit them. You need to know the original photographs (or have copies to hand) to get the relationship, and this is part of the reason for the self indulgence...
Would like to develop the idea further, collaborating with someone photographing an area "live", whilst I photographed the same area "virtually". Something for the future perhaps?
The loneliness... Done on purpose for three reasons. Firstly the French privacy laws with the subject owning their own image copyright and the need for model releases. Brittany is also emptying, so there is a metaphorical reason too with people leaving and the houses lying empty until bought up by Brits or even Parisians (Normandy is getting expensive). I also don't like photographing people - it's not really something I consider myself good at...
Mwamba picked up on the fact that he felt involved in the image. I like the idea of being able to share the experience of the image - I know the facts about the photograph, but it will hopefully be able to bring something from the viewers own memory to the fore, so that the experience is then shared at some level, and it means more, even if the meaning is different.
In answer to Tanya, I'm not confident working with video... I also think it would've been too long to keep it as is, although that doesn't deter some. Not for me though - I wouldn't watch it.
The film was made with a GoPro and Aperture.
And good to think that people don't think it's incoherent.
And yes, I’ll be looking up Peter Fraser (and Simon Faithfull) again.
02/05/16 17:43 Filed in: Contextual Research
A Vogue cover shot is not a serious portrait. Who would expect it to be? I’ve nothing against the romantic rural pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge that decorate the June issue of Vogue. Nice face, nice clothes. But is a glossy picture of Kate Middleton in any way a serious work of art?
Source: Kate’s Vogue shots shouldn’t be in a gallery. They’re not art | Jonathan Jones | Opinion | The Guardian
Jonathan Jones does it again, pressing his overtly snobbish views (or opinions) about what constitutes art into the public arena. I've disagreed with him in the past, with his comments about other photographic portraits last year. This time... well again he is completely wrong.
There is some truth in what he says though. I can't argue with the sentiment that the Royal Collection could be made available for showing to the public in some form or another. Donating it might be going too far - would he expect other art owners to donate their collection? Granted, some of it might be deemed as being a national, rather than a personal, asset, but is all of it?
What irks me is that, once more, the supposed arbiter of artistic judgement is pushing photography away from the gallery walls. He asks "is a glossy picture of Kate Middleton in any way a serious work of art?" It could be, but in this particular case it is a magazine cover photograph, from Vogue, and is (if I understand correctly) being displayed as part of a commemoration of 100 years of the magazine.
They're also being displayed in the National Portrait Gallery, which as the name suggests is for portraits. This fits the bill... He was also similarly dismissive of David Bailey's Stardust exhibition at the NPG - "If artistic brilliance were merely the creation of snazzy, glamorous, eye-catching pictures, Bailey would indeed be one of the greats." and "This exhibition goes down as easily as a colour supplement, but has about the same claim to be art." (see here
). Maybe the initial intent of these images was not as a piece of art in the same manner as, say, one of his beloved Caravaggios, but that doesn't mean that they're empty of any form of communication or aesthetic appeal. It also doesn't mean that they cannot be seen within a gallery context. Not all "art" is seen in a gallery context, and not everything seen in a gallery was conceived as being "art". Things change in this day and age, context can imbued over time, images repurposed or reimagined.
The fact of the matter is also that painting is not the only form of art, or that art has to be serious - Jones is simply living in the past.
02/05/16 09:30 Filed in: Studio Practice
A couple of weeks ago, I took part in one of Mathew’s collective intelligence art sessions. At the moment, I’m a bit pressed for time so didn’t take the time needed to read the liminal stage notes he’d provided in much depth, just skimming them. However, the performance started and everything then sort of slotted into place - the use of UNU to allow the group to decide the parameters of the piece (a sort of ouija board type interface) and then transitioning over to the work area, configured as per the results of the UNU decision process.
The making was divided into two halves - constructing the shape and then colouring, which resulted in the piece above (or at least this is part of it). I actually found this to be quite frustrating on two levels. Firstly, the interface used for the drawing wasn’t completely flawless on my Mac; the full “canvas” wouldn’t display, with some of it dropping off the bottom regardless of zoom level and without scroll bars. Also, I would click in a cell to colour it and sometimes a cell several rows lower would change colour. There were a few palette glitches too, not sure why. This is all stuff that is probably due to my computer setup as Mathew hadn’t heard of this problem before - being a Mac user for years I’ve become accustomed to some things not quite working properly as they’re generally written for Windows and ported over to the Mac as a sort of afterthought (MS Office on Mac has been atrocious in the past) - this has been changing in recent years with Apple’s growing popularity.
The other thing that I found frustrating was intrinsic to this collaborative art form - I wanted control. I guess being of an artistic disposition I have a certain desire to control what I am creating, I’ve not been used to any form of collaborative art making in the past (beyond the old children’s game where a figure is drawn in segments on folded paper...). Artists by their nature might be considered as having something of an ego - they make things they believe others should want to look at! This part of me wanted to remove the large sections of magenta from the image, maybe the fuchsia too... Purple and sage green together? Not for me thank you...
Reflecting though, this is absolutely part of the point. It’s collaborative - others may not like my choice of muted blues and greys (not all me in the piece - the participants could choose any colour from the palette, not just the ones they’d selected). I suppose the end result is less important than the actual creation - this is a technological take on the old Fluxus happenings - an instruction is given and people do their own thing. If a member of the audience had taken a savage cut from the clothes of Yoko Ono, the effect on the rest of the performance would have been detrimental. Whilst things can be changed with this digital happening (colours changed back and forth, etc. - nothing is “final” until it stops), the same general thing applies - you need to be cognisant of others, working with them rather than against.
If the drawing is to be elevated in importance in terms of an aesthetic outcome, perhaps a more considered group of participants might be a way forward - people with similar taste or styles might produce something more harmonic. But then this is engineering the end result, generating a hive mind - becoming assimilated into a borg-like collective. Yes, the outcome “improves” but the element of conflict is removed, and whilst this might be frustrating, it is probably quite key to the performance. I’ve only taken part in one, but I can see this might be the case. Its down to what the goals are - performance or end result, and that’s up to Mathew to tailor as he wants. It’s his performance, his rules at the end of the day.