Allen wrote off an interactive LEGO exhibition as pretentious and populist and said both traits rendered it incompatible with real seriousness. (Review 2011). Reblogged from Suite101
Can LEGO be art?
Interactivity is a much sought after property by curators as they organize exhibitions for the modern switched on and linked in society. At the Gallery of Modern Art in the Southbank Precinct of Queensland, exhibitions are often installations with the possibility of interaction. They are also often didactic and always entertaining.
This is the brave new world of art. Gurus do not just sit back and present to the uneducated masses. Gallery goers are no longer passive consumers of elite statements about “accepted” art or accepting of cultural gap between ‘them’ and the rich. Rather: the audience participates in the making of the art work. In this way, the artistic statement becomes theirs in an authentic and engaging manner.
Lego Extends Thinking to Enable Futures Thinking
It is no longer safe to call exhibition attendees “viewers” or audience. People who attend these exhibitions guide their own understanding of engaging with the work. The work is organic and dynamic. The sculptural form takes shape as it emerges over the duration of the installation. The cubic structural evolution project 2004 was a participatory art work in which viewers created the construction of a Lego world.
The Evolution of the Collectivity Project
This work encouraged a unusually personal level of engagement and by the time Eliasson arrived in the town square of Tirana, Albania Tirana, Albania he was able to pour three tons of white LEGO bricks onto a series of tables, inviting passers-by to come and play for 10 days in what he called the Collectivity Project.
In 2005, Eliasson was ready to engage in futures thinking. He wanted the people of Tirana to take part in the planning of the city. Albania, became independent of oppressive shackles by about 1990 when they obtained democratic freedoms, such as the right to set up opposition parties. Having experienced a lack of freedom, the infrastructure was said to be in ruins, and the government was rife with corruption. Eliasson’s thesis was that Albania needed help finding its way. “Being able to think spatially and formulate your ideas through a space-based process is an important aspect of realizing and defining your identity,” he said.
By using the white bricks as a simulation of what the people of Tirana went through every day: he was able to provide a means of visualizing the community.
Who Decides What Art Is?
In Queensland at least, audiences and participants are used to interactive participation in the construction of installation. They expect at least one interactive per major exhibition season.
As LEGO makes its way into galleries, there are times when it provokes a reaction from visitors. After having debated the definition of art for centuries most theorists agree that art involves three criteria: form, content, and context.
Roy Cook, a LEGO fan and professor of philosophy at the University of Minnesota claimed that LEGO installations, by this definition can when used in this way be classified as and clearly be called art. He uses the following criteria:
Form refers to the medium, and the skill used to manipulate that medium.
In the case of the work purchased by GOMA in 2005, the work was facilitated so that the technique is masterful. The art formed from Lego bricks is technically demanding but this challenging nature requires attributes like futures thinking, dreaming, focus and concentration. Since these works are collaborative, the factors such as time spent focused can be dispersed across a crowd and the design is in the crowdsourcing.
The cubic structural evolution project 2004
Once considered a “cultural backwater”, Brisbane has changed as a response to the revitalisation of the city with a thriving cultural south bank. Queensland Art Gallery and its adjacent Gallery of Modern Art have the biggest gallery in the country producing exhibitions of international standard.
Brisbane has a remarkable gallery, featured at the heart of a emerging and dynamic city with a beautiful artificial beach ideal for attracting children and families. It is natural for the gallery planners to pitch their investigation and subsequent presentation programs to engage children.
- Olafur Eliasson. The cubic structural evolution project 2004 Qld Art Gallery.
- Statement from Olafur Eliasson. LEGO About Us (accessed Feb. 2013)
- Baichtal,J & Meno,J. (2011) The Cult of LEGO. Safari Books.
- Murphy,J. (2006) Elliot Eisner’s 10 Lessons
- Murphy,J. (2012.) Submergence : Ways to Access Online Learning.
- Phillips,A. (2012)A Creator’s Guide to Transmedia Storytelling.McGraw HIll.
- Jenkins,H. (2013) Reading in a Participatory Culture. Kindle.