Visual Intelligences Research Project

Symposia : Did Hans Namuth Kill Jackson Pollock?

Symposium Publicity
Open the document (802 KB - new window)

The Problem of Documenting the Creative Process

When Hans Namuth and Jacson Pollock finsihed filming on the Saturday before Thanksgiving in 1950 they walked inside from the barn, out of the cold.  Pollock walked over to the sink, reached down, pulled out a bottle of whisky and said to Namuth, "This is the first drink I've had in two years. Dammit, we need it!" The rest , as they say, is history. *

Embedded in this brief account is the very real problem of how the creatve process can be documented.  Does documenting art 'kill' it? Arguably, the film assured Pollock his place in history, but can the archive deal with living process.  If it is not possible to make a document that doesn't impinge in some way on the creative proces, can it tell us much about how creativity happens. How do we  interpret and understand such documents? Does knowing about an art work's evolution 'spoil' our relationship with that work?

More recently artists have collaborated to make documents of their thinking and making, so is the Pollock quote simply not relevant today?  Can contemporary artists use documentation creatively, as an integral part of their process?  How have new technologies impacted on this documentation of process?  And what role do conservers and archivists play in documenting the creative processes?

This symposium aimed to address the above questions.  It was a collaboration between The Visual Inelligence Research Project, an initative within the Institute for the Contemporary Arts and Lancaster University, the Journal of Visual Art Practice, the refereed journal of the National Association for Fine Art Education and Camberwell College of Art, University of the Arts, London.  The project has also received support from Chelsea College of Art and Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts London. It was held on 28th April 2007 at Chelsea College of Art, University of the Arts London.