tate summer school – Tuesday

Today’s focus was on performance and the camera. The day began with a viewing of the two sets of moving images that were made yesterday. These were screened side by side. We discussed elements of the film that seemed to “work well” together.



Wake and Shake followed:

  • Everyone had to make a hole in a corrugated cardboard sheet.
  • We conducted two short experiments with the cards with holes and a camera mounted on the rotating table. Yesterday the camera “looked in” at objects on the table, today the camera was on the table and “looked out”. We first of all simply all randomly placed our cards with their variously shaped  holes in front of the slowly rotating camera. The second experiment was more structured. Half of the group held their cards together and walked in a circle. The other half of the group walked in the opposite direction. Glimpses of the second group and their cards could be seen through the holes in the inner circle. We repeated this exercise refining the movements the second time around

We then watched the two films straight away, discussing the qualities of the film as well as the way the exercise felt as a performance. Improvisation, rehearsal, refinement were key ideas.

Next, we went into the gallery with our cards with holes. We walked until Alex rang a bell and then we froze for a few seconds. Because we were doing this in public, we rapidly became an object of interest. Some people wanted to join in. A couple of the summer school participants handed over their cards and holes to people who really wanted to participate. We “ performed” this piece on the second floor and in one of The Tanks.

Move Freeze in the gallery

Move Freeze in the gallery

On returning to our own space in the Exchange we debriefed. We noted that:

  • because we all had a card with a hole we appeared to be a collective
  • because we acted together, and were in Tate, the public seemed to assume that what we were doing was, and had the status of, ‘art’
  • very few of us felt embarrassed
  • the activity seemed to be invitational
  • the activity could be seen as an institutional critique- a parody of audience behavior – but alternatively at a personal level, it was play in the gallery

One of the group thought that this would be a great exercise to do in school at breaktime – it would be surprising, a simple disruption to the regular routine.

After lunch it was time for Alongside Making, and people again worked to instructions, making images and objects.

Tracking - objects two rows of holes

Tracking – objects two rows of holes

We then returned to a Tracking exercise. This was a more complex moving image construction with two concentric circles of cards with holes and objects. This time, the aim was to create movement in around the through the holes. The resulting film was uploaded and screened.


Alex makes badges

The penultimate activity of the day was small group discussion to the question What is it? The group that I was in took the ‘it’ to be the process of making images and discussion roved around the ways in which people felt attuned to, or confused by the activity we had been engaged in during the day.As there had been all day, some of our conversation focused on individual making and creativity, versus collective creativity and making. I later heard that another group took the ‘it’ to be art, and spent time discussing what counted as art and what didn’t.

As on Monday people doodled during discussion and badges were made from the doodles.

The final activity was a visit to a gallery again in small groups to discuss an aspect of art education or a work.

Pedagogic points:

  • Extend an exercise through multiple variations, each adding further complexity and refinement.
  • Use immediate viewing of product as ‘evidence’ to stimulate group reflection. The discussion will then influence the next iteration.
  • If an interesting idea appears, modify the initial plan. Improvisation is integral to creating meaning-making opportunities.
  • Expect everyone to participate, but accommodate different approaches to the task and even those who choose not to participate.



About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
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