Our group, Manual, held our seminar in the fourth year studio. The space had to be clean and open without any distractions from the walls. Then, at random, we placed approximately 3,200 dots on the white walls stretching from floor to ceiling, some of which spelled out the instruction ‘Join the dots’ with one hundred different coloured markers laid out in front of it, giving no other details. We then invited people into the room and allowed them to interpret our piece in whatever way they wished, our only influence in the outcome being the single instruction and the planes of dots. From thereon in we surrendered participation and allowed the piece to take whatever direction the individuals (predominantly from our student and staff body) took it.

A dominant theme in our work was authorship. Our participation in the piece ended once the audience got involved. No member of the group joined the dots or drew anything on the wall. The audience initially interpreted the join-the-dots walls by drawing abstract shapes in straight lines that resembled the outlines of constellation maps. As the first day progressed however, a myriad of outcomes for people’s dot-joining emerged. Interactions varied from figurative drawings to ornate characters, patterns and doodles and even some audience members leaving their own instructions on certain sections of the wall. This further took our concept of authorship into the realm of appropriation, giving a new perspective to our own preconceptions of how our piece would work.

The indeterminacy of the piece was one of the main points of interest for the group. Some participants disregarded the dots altogether, creating separate drawings or text and abandoning the parameters we had laid out. The instructions were even changed to say ‘John of the Dots’.  The walls remained like this for a week, the walls being added to throughout. The group Manual did not author the piece that remained, it was merely initiated by them.

Manual also wanted to subvert the notion of the white cube as a sanctified space. The white walls of an art gallery carry with them prescribed connotations of reverence towards ‘fine art’. By taking the studio space, clearing it and painting it perfectly white, we constructed our own white cube, but rather than emphasise the hallowed nature of such a space, we wished to subvert it and allow the audience participation reach beyond looking at the work of the artists. The markings on the wall sometimes took the form of what many would describe as ‘graffiti’, a practice that society often deems to be a form of vandalising, yet within the confines of ‘Join the dots’, this was yet another strand to the indeterminacy that was the intention of the piece.

In my personal work, I am currently dealing with my approach to art as a child, namely the anxiety it caused me, and the way that anxiety manifests itself in my work as an artist today. Using childhood art materials such as Crayola crayons and markers in school copybooks, I try to communicate my childhood apprehension and display it in a fine art context. This relates to ‘Join-the-dots’ in terms of how elements of childhood art making can be displayed within the gallery space and remain child-like without being childish.