As 2017 gets underway amidst a welter of bad news and scary disregard for the truth, I’m pleased to be bucking the trend with a determined effort to gather factual evidence for my project. In other words, the data gathering phase is now underway!
My project aims to place the working artist at the centre of the enquiry and find out what digital information means to their work, how important it is in their particular workflow and how confident they feel in performing their digital information handling tasks.
In order to understand the artists’ perspectives, I am undertaking a raft of case-study length interviews across the UK. This benefits from my partnership with DACS. The DACS team is kindly working with me to identify a number of potential interview participants on the basis of their age bracket, and whether they are low, medium or high-level claimants from the Payback scheme. Given those factors, I then look at anonymised identifiers for each Payback scheme member artist and choose a sample of artists based on approximate location across the UK. This choice of location is to ensure two things: 1) representation from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales as well as from England; and 2) that as London and the Brighton area are the postcode districts with the largest number of Payback members, this weighting is reasonably represented in the sample.
At the end of the selection process, DACS writes out to the small group of selected artists and invites them to participate in an interview. Now that we have gone through this process and I’m in the process of working with our first cohort of artists, I’m delighted to report that those interviews I have undertaken so far have been just as absorbing, surprising and rich as I had hoped, and I’m hugely grateful to those artists who have been so generous with their thoughts and time.
However, I realise that not everyone who is invited as a result of this process will be able to participate, so once I have transcribed and begun analysis of the first raft of interviews, I’ll be looking out for more visual artists in contemporary practice to talk with. If you work in fine art, including sculpture, painting, printmaking, illustration or fine art photography, I’d be very happy to hear from you any time at laura.molloy AT oii.ox.ac.uk.
P.S. If you’re in the London area this week, I’ll be appearing at Jerwood Visual Arts to participate in a panel on the value of the archive in contemporary practice. The event, ‘Once Through a Lens’ will be at 18.30 on Thu 9 Feb. There is more information at http://www.jerwoodvisualarts.org/events/panel-discussion-lens/. I hope to see you there!