In response to the text ‘Odradek’ by Franz Kafka the manual group decided to stage a public event called ‘Join the Dots’. Our aim was to question the role of authorship in art practice, and we felt that this response was analogous to the questions Kafka posed in his text. Odradek raises important questions about the nature of meaning created by any art work and how this meaning is communicated to and understood by an audience. Odradek disrupts the traditional conventions of narrative content by describing an impossible character. Odradek’s physical nature, although described in detail, remains elusive and its status as object or individual is contradictory. These contradictions are inherent in the text as a device utilized by Kafka to communicate the difficulty of describing the indescribable.

Our goal was to remove the known outcome of an artwork; defining a set of simple parameters by which our audience would take control of the production of the artwork and be allowed to complete the piece. In this way we sought to create ‘indeterminate’ parameters, in other words, we did not want to limit the solutions of our parameters and so a seemingly infinite number of possible outcomes could appear possible. In this way the audience would become the ‘determinate’ factor of the artwork, given the freedom to generate the content once they had been set in motion by the parameters.

Our join the dots theme was intentionally chosen to be light-hearted and encourage a playful interaction from our audience whilst removing any overtly ‘serious’ expectations associated with the participation in a high concept artwork. Although we did not want to discourage or censor our audience in anyway the join the dots framework did provide an inherent limitation which both focused the audience in grasping the concept and participating. The gallery setting also provided a suitable venue as it is automatically associated with the pursuit of inquiry by an artist or an artwork and as a result certain amount of restraint and cooperation was adhered to.

The public participation became the artwork. The actual participation by the audience and their solutions to our parameters ‘join the dots’ was the engagement that became most like the elusive nature of the indescribable that Kafka’s Odradek alludes to. By creatively contributing to the walls within the defined parameters of joining the dots in whatever manner, the audience completes the indeterminacy of 3000 unconnected dots into deterministic system. The audience have answered the question posed by the artists by staying present in the space were connections are asked to be made and completing those connections. And so we see the emergent nature of the work; were at first the dots were connected in a linear manner producing various geometric patterns, to the emergence of characters in the patterns and the eventual introduction of narrative through text labelling and character interaction. The audience was able to complete the artwork by seeing meaning were none had been previously and impart this meaning into the space for others to contribute to and connect with.

Odradek raises questions about our need as human beings to find meaning in that with which we are presented, whether it be an artwork or not. We hoped to show how that meaning is always ready to surface.