We want to critique the process through which value is formulated and established in the art context. What are the markers of such a value? These markers are supposed to exist in pedagogy but are not transparent or continuous with they manifest as criteria in practice. The motivating forces that inspire people to collect or in some other way value work are very often to do with perception, social standing, and exchange value.
The collection that Pollinator wants to initiate wants to make this process open, transparent, and rational. If the establishment and articulation of value is a process that can be demonstrated as an objective procedure that is implemented on the basis of a set of parameters, the general sense of cynicism and apprehension that is experienced in the context of art can be questioned. The Pollinator Collection sets out to do this. The motivations for wanting to do this are multi-fold: one of the common sources of cynicism is expressed in the context of art in the form of apprehension about the authentic source of an art work’s claim to a certain value.
The common validators of this value are art history and the preference of collectors. In recent times both of these have known to be corrupted. Art historians have gotten distracted and seduced by the power and role of ‘engineering history’ and collectors have been more interested in becoming speculators. In this scenario, our approach is in going back to imagining the entire ecosystem through a set of artists’ and educators’ analytical thinking. In the process of putting our collection together, we will be structuring the process in a transparent and inclusive fashion. The transparent and inclusive manner will document all the steps involved in the putting together of the collection. This documentation will help in seeding a knowledge-base for the formulation of an index of the value in a way that it can be easily reverse-engineered. At this time, we are living in a scenario where only a vague system of value-mongering is followed by only the following associations and links. In the end, we value that which we can associate with something valuable without knowing either the original source of value or the parameters on which the supposed value is based.
Our process will begin with an open call on our website. Any artist who believes that their work holds some value can apply. Applications will be assessed on the strength of the rationales proposed as well as on the basis of our interest in the images of the work they submit. A short-listed few will be invited for a face-to-face pitching cum interview session. The setting of the pitching and interview session will feature the project initiators as well as a set of scholars and professionals from the field. At the end of each session, we will make an offer of a value (termed as ‘Inherent Value’) based on the parameters laid out by our questions (as marked by all those invited to the session) to the artist. If the artist accepts the value, we will give it to them in the form of symbolic ‘Inherent Value’ points in exchange for a non-exclusive right on the representation of their work.
_What is the objective of this?
Our experiment exists to elicit articulations that respond to the questions and thereby render the art context into a rational space.
_What is the scope of this project?
The Collection Bureau is an experiment that investigates the value systems governing the art world, intending to reduce the mystique and introduce more rational parameters as a discourse.
_If my work is selected through the open call, do I have to physically bring my work to the meeting at IAF 2018?
No. If selected through this open call submission, we will be making an archival print of the selected image of your work (so no phone pictures please, only upload ONLY .jpg files with a max width of 2480 px and a max height of 3508 px saved at 300 dpi). You do not need to physically bring along your work. **
_What is the unit of the score?
‘IV’ (Inherent Value, intrinsic value, or just Intent value).
_ What is an inherent value? How is it collected?
The value which is embedded in the work, something that cannot be affected by existing external frameworks and dwells into the artistic inspiration is referred to as it’s inherent value. The IV metric exists as a discourse crafted by the bureau and does not equate to any extrinsic value. The process of valuation depends on the artistic process seen through a critical checklist that caters to the emotional and rational ingredients of an object. It is collected through a set of questions that talk about the intention behind the making of the work. The first version of this project will act as a playtest that will then be improved according to the findings.
_Who are the collectors?
The system is the collector. The questions evaluate what needs to be collected.
_Who are these artists participating?
The artists participating are those who choose to engage in our experiment.
_Why and what are you collecting?
We are collecting articulations of works offered in response to questions that our framework comprises of, in our value-system these questions are the unitary constructions of value which we are using to acquire these articulations.
_How is it different from the conventional Art collection process?
The conventional method is based on external validation and speculation. Our method is based on inquiry, rationalization, and the desire to know.
_What all do these artists can get to display?
They can submit anything in any discipline (performance piece, audio, video, object) in the format of an image printed with the (specifications to be written) that they construe as art.
_How are you valuing Art or the response to these questions?
The basis of these questions is an inquiry or the desire to know. (The set of inquiries are based on Urgency, priority, challenge, Artist’s Inspiration, Academic, Ethical concerns, Motivational, Ambitious, Success, Failure of the work)
_How is your system special/ valid? How do you give scores?
Each panelist gives a preferred ranking to each answer. An accumulative average score is then derived from the data of all panelists. The constant increase of these said panelists ensures that the scoring system remains as dynamic and fair as possible. The question set is based on 40-60% the evaluation, 40 percent on the work, and 60 percent over the intention.
_ Does an Artist do self-assessment as well?
Yes, answering the questions themselves does require self-assessment and introspection.
_How are you different from the other Art collectors in general?
The qualification process has been streamlined to be exactly the same for each applying artist, therefore, creating a fair system based on set values that do not focus on any monetary aspects of the work.
_What will happen to the collection afterward?
The collection here should be seen as ‘shared knowledge’, a bank of collection practices. After the first experiment, we would be analyzing the further course of action.
_It is just one collection or a part of a larger collection?
This collection is one of its own kind. Collection Bureau will continue to create more collections as well.
_How can one buy the collection as a whole? Will this work be auctioned ever?
At this point, the collection is a like a library of thoughts and gestures. It’s not up for sale. We would rather use it to build a didactic approach.
_Why should we give rights to our work to you? What will you do with my work?
We only acquire the right to share and display the image of your work and not to alter it in any way.
_What is the scope of this alternate system? Why is it needed?
The alternate system has to question, engage and extend the limited perspectives of the mainstream art-world.
_How do you cater to transparency?
By allowing anybody to participate and displaying our framework that is open to suggestions.
_Do you think it will work? Is it capable of finding new avenues?
Our minimum objective is to at least trigger discourse and debate.
_What are the frames?
Each frame contains an image of the work and the score sheet of the responses. There are 120 frames in total. Which would be filled by the four days of the project.
_How long does a person sit in front of the panel?
_How long does it take to answer the questions or how much time is allocated in answering the questions?
Maximum of 1 minute per question
The project as you saw was the first step to this inquiry of what is value and learning how to see without any other set notions. The project started with this belief that there is an ever-growing need for the alternatives to how we perceive and understand value, what is valuable, how we consider value, by whom it is created, and how does it gain value with time. With this project, we interrogate this invisible and complex verb, and further try to illustrate an exercise to distill the merit and its growth through a lens of empathy, diversity, complexity, care and trust.
How do we translate intrinsic value into external real-world currency? The currency can be anything if it works as a circulation, as a medium of exchange; here we set ‘questions as a currency’.
Can the intention of this collection be seen as a “gesture to procure worth” also “identifying the merit” and to question is it possible at all?
Value is an invisible entity, which is tough to perceive, often expressed in the form of a system that changes as we write, evolves as we believe. Since the first discussion in September 2017, our ideas, thoughts, observations, and insights developed into various directions. At every point, we felt there is so much can be done and imagined the choreography within realistic possibilities.
“Collector” or Collection. The initial ideas about this wordplay were not rigid to us, as the act of doing this project was most important. What we tried to interrogate here was the Collection as an act of how to procure an object, which has a value. We also see Collector vs. Collection as “performer of the activity” vs. “activity”. The collection gains its importance by seeing all the objects in totality, a shared knowledge, and wealth, which is accumulated by a particular kind of process. In our discussions we have to clearly state the shared or the community value of what we are doing and keep it distinct from our experiments in seeding a parallel economy.
As practising artists it is important for us to answer these questions, which are unanswered and intorspect to weave our further practice. We thought of making this the prime lens to distill the value. The same questions are to be answered by everyone who wants to be a part of this experiment by applying as an artist or a panelist.
The core points we can hold onto actually. Some we have managed to work on, some not yet:-
The determination of value [dealt]
The development of a parallel economy [not dealt]
The development of a community [started] The development of a system [dealt]
However, nudging this project to show a light of the day, we insisted persistently moved ahead in spite of rough patches in the way.
Some rough patches:
Internal coordination (not smooth in the beginning)
Articulation (the external voicing out of the whys and whats – a talk? A panel discussion?)
The nature of our conversation (more development – more coherent)
We have to think more about the entire process of panelist applications and how we are qualifying them – it did not work this time. The question remains, what happens to the collection? And what can we do with this data is still to be decided. We would have to playtest in different aspects of artist careers, across the mediums and across the cultures and languages and seek their responses, and see all the questions that need to be upgraded for different kind of age of practice.
We did evolve certain things, rather restricted to go further in terms of “pay”, in terms of daily wage and challenged the “currency” by marking our own value points, at this time we also thought not to bring the common INR into the scene of this set of Imaginarium.
Are there any ways to create a parallel economy?
Can we create a recommendation-system for artists?
Can these set of negotiations perform in the field of design?
How will it change if we use the same rule set for literature? Music? Sports? Technology? Innovation?
Is it possible to make them effective in schools and universities? And what level this can be encouraged?