Chapter 2 starts off with the steps to take in project management. What it seems to state as the obvious are the key details that we as junior designers often miss out. Though we always claim to have a grand scheme, a perfect plan, our projects sometimes do not come to fruition (to our expectations or others) due to poor planning. As designers, we are solo artists who are project managers at the same time. We often fail to acknowledge the importance of planning, I myself am guilty of this. We often have a projected aim; our concepts to manifest themselves as installations, posters that are able to express themselves. However, the effectiveness may vary depending on the degree of planning involved. Budget planning came as the most foreign, as I often do not consider how much I have to spend on a certain project, and often find myself spending too much. Even as junior designers, we do not have the excuse of not knowing certain things or skipping steps on project management. We owe it to ourselves to sought solutions and learn from our mistakes. As I progressed through the years of my studies at ADM, I find myself consulting others less. Am I more experienced and do not require other people’s help? No. One thing the reading has taught me is that complacency is also a point of failure, without the proper approach, I often find myself trapped and having risk the project going southwards.
Pragmatism isn’t my usual approach, but if I have learnt a thing or two, I have to grasp this quickly before I venture out as a full-fledged designer. Being pragmatic requires discipline, to sit myself down and go through sheets of paper and sketching my ideas until I am truly satisfied. That is the easy part, it is the planning that requires the most effort. I often see myself in roadblocks, staring at my work hours on end to think of a solution when all of this should have been foreseen. In chapter 5, William explains that poor planning led to 3 months worth of fixing mistakes that could have been prevented by the superintendent. ‘Not making a work plan is risky’ is reflected through his story on the superintendent’s inability to foresee the issue of the ramp, causing time consuming and budget expending mistakes. Being able to identify potential, drastic problems could prevent such complications from the get-go. Therefore, William explains that splitting design into bit-sized pieces is the best approach. By going from the big picture to adding the details, we can properly time manage and focus on the objectives instead of suffering from tunnel-vision. Goals and objectives are two very different outcomes. Goals are more intangible, result-oriented while objectives are tangible and planning-oriented. Identifying goals and objectives sorts the issue of planning, giving us space to divide our headspace so we can box out our ideas and allow it to grow in the correct direction.
The work was presented about one arm’s length apart at eye level. At first glance, they resemble traditional fine art placement (of paintings mainly) but instead of one large piece, there were 10 different pieces spread across two walls. The fusion of acrylic painting and found material such as paper envelopes and cardboard gave the series a rather refined touch, contrasted by the off-centered text that dominated each of the paintings. I was really intrigued by the contrast, as it resembled a collage of sorts. Collages are well-thought albeit improvised (most of the time) pieces that reflect a person’s thoughts and personality. The text appears layered due to the cut – out pieces of magazines and tabloids.
Time Passes resonated with me in more ways than I could imagine. The exhibition showcased the transformation of everyday items, activities and spaces over the course of the pandemic. I’ve always wondered how things would change due to the pandemic. Will we ever be able to return to our ‘carefree’, mask-less and intimate ways of interaction that we have taken for granted? The answer is indeterminate. I enjoyed the series of artworks that encapsulated the concept of time and how time acts on the past and present. Re-expression of our beings, whether through subtle or drastic re-imagining of spaces and materials, continue to drape over the reality of our situation.
Of the many artworks present in the Time Passes exhibition, Mengju Lin’s series of 10 artworks invites us to look at the paintings with a new perspective. 10 coherent artworks, each having different names and texts (as listed above), are juxtaposed with varying effects and context. Personally, I feel that there is no need for complication; the artists leaves us to define the objects in whatever way we like. There is no fixed solution, estranged texts brought out of context intentionally, allowing us to form our own interpretations and adapt our minds to the objects. Simplicity worked well for the artist, who sought to blend familiarity and novelty. As we hope for time to heal us from the pandemic, care and compromise have been exercised, albeit in a much different way from before. In light of this, our compromise create subtleties and nuances in future practices and it would be inappropriate to say that we can return/resume our normal lives. The new normal, though undesirable to most, is likely here to stay in either shape or form.
Social practice art is not entirely unchartered territory. I would say however that it is a term coined in recent years, finally being placed into categorization, and that in itself is theorized. It serves to have tangible outcomes for political/social shortcomings whilst maintaining its definition as art. This shifts away from simple critiquing of contemporary culture and transforms itself to then become more real-time, an art that is ever-evolving and is not bound to certain exhibitions, galleries or museums. In contrast, it isn’t to say that social practice art cannot be done in such places, but that its reality lies within the community and the social issues that they tackle.
The shift and burgeoning faction of social practice arts goes against the esoteric stereotype that art conformed to. In the past, art was commissioned by and for the wealthy. This practice was criticized by Banksy, who made an implicit statement by shredding ‘Girl with Balloon’ to become ‘Love is in the bin’. He did not resonate with the idea of placing monetary value on art and making art profitable, which motivated him to shred the work. The work ironically become more valuable after its attempted destruction. Social practice art is then the polar opposite, where its aim is to not only critique, but provide viable solutions to existing issues. How then is social practice art different from activism? Sometimes, “social practice” can seem like little more than aestheticized spin on typical non-profit work. In my opinion, the art form comes from the intent and the nature of the social practice, not just because it was done by an artist, but due to the fact that it serves a beautiful purpose that becomes the art. Having a twist on typical non-profit work and threading the fine line between overtly politicized work and charity.