In the spirit of illustrating power and regulation within the actions of movement and speech-acts, my work deals with certain proportions of agency. Rather than being a performer, actor, or social sculptor, my task is instead to be scenario-starter. For many of my works, those viewing the art are not just lookers or passive observers. It is up to them as participants to step in and enact the work and build it to a complete form. Certainly my own agency has a role, but it is the participants’ agency outside of my own actions that completes the work.
People talking to one another is a basic building block of the social experience. Conversing with one another is predicated by forces external and internal to the participants. A slight shift in the location of the conversation such as turning a couch towards a wall changes one’s perception/self-perception and changes one’s visions patterns while talking to a partner. Physical spatial structures and immaterial rule-based structures impact not just how the body moves and interacts with space, but also the pattern of speech acts.
Rules and systems of regulation transform a space into a place. Once a space is recognized as a place, the paths for social interaction become further restricted, or rather further anticipated and controlled. My practice plays with these levels of control and I adopt different roles to explore control from a variety of angles. I might lend myself out as an assistant, assert control and perform an action only to give it up for others to tend to, or simply partake in a conversation in which the present powers conflict with one another. -Josh
Check out more of Josh’s work on his website: JOSH ELSTON