Joseph Grigley's Instruction

This installation was created for the Juliet Art Museum’s do it exhibition, for which artists were invited to interpret a curated set of of instructions by other artists. The instruction that I interpreted was written by Joseph Grigely in 2002, which directs participants to “watch television with the sound off for one hour.” Grigley’s is best known for his conceptual work inspired by his hearing impairment. 

The instruction made me question what constitutes the act of “watching television.” What level of focus should we have on a television program for it to be considered “watching?” Often, the television becomes a visual background to other activities such as reading, playing games, or having a conversation, and watching TV can be as social an act as it can be private. The instruction also made me think of the pastime of the American family sitting together in a living room or family room, possibly engaged in other activities, but so often anchored by the television.

 

More about: do it

do it began in Paris in 1993 as a conversation between curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and artists Christian Boltanski and Bertrand Lavier. They were curious to see what would happen if they started an exhibition that could constantly generate new versions of itself. To test the idea, they invited 12 artists to propose artworks based on written “scores” or instructions that can be openly interpreted every time they are presented. The instructions were then translated into 9 different languages and circulated internationally as a book.

Since then, hundreds of artists have been invited to submit instructions, and do it has taken place all over the world from Austria to Australia, from Thailand to Uruguay, from Canada to Iceland giving new meaning to the concept of an exhibition in progress. Each do it exhibition is uniquely site-specific because it engages the local community in a dialogue that responds to a set of instructions. As a result do it is less concerned with copies, images, or reproductions of artworks, than with human interpretation. No two iterations of the same instructions are ever identical.