Interactive Design Homepage

College of Arts, Victoria University

Teacher Name: Lisa Cianci - email:
Course Coordinator & Education Manager: Alan Morgans - email:

Class Website -

Subject: ID2 - Interactive Design

Course: Advanced Diploma of Graphic Design (CUV60411)

CLASS 14 - More history of creativity: Collaboration / Activism / Community

Why is this relevant to graphic designers?


1. On Artists/Designers as Agents for Change


There are many ways that creative practitioners contribute to culture and society. There are a plethora of academic texts on the topic of artists/designers as agents for change - social & political change, environmental change, educational change, health issues, innovation in science and technology, etc. Today's class notes provide some links within some broad categories where artists are currently involved in changes that are not purely for creative purposes.

One could link some of these areas to movements like the Situationist International and Fluxus, though it seems that the current zeitgeist is for artists to be working from within the area they wish to affect, rather than operating as outsiders railing against the status quo.

Lyndal Jones is a Melbourne artist who works within the community with projects that take long periods of time - years in fact, to realise. Her projects involve with community participation rather than imposed, staged "interventions" in spaces and locations - which is a different way of working as compared to the art "events" of the 1960s and 1970s.

See Lyndal's website - The Avoca Project: Art, Place, Climate Change:


our global village

Uji Handoko Eko Saputro (aka Hahan), Indonesia b.1983 | The Journey 2011 | Synthetic polymer paint on canvas 


street art

street art
presentation slide by Martin Irvine found at this URL:


environmental art

Clemson clay nest by Nils-Udo (2005) via designboom


community-based art

trash installation by Vik Muniz


art activism

Image capture from computer game, Escape From Woomera


art/design/science collaboration & ethics

FEEL:CHAMELEON: An emotional algorithm video installation, Tina Gonsalves 2010


art therapy

art therapy
Image by unknown artist, taken from this website:

On Collaboration in Art

Collaboration in art is a consistent part of our history of creativity in all cultures. It has become a major discussion point since the advent of Post Modernism because collaborative creative practices tend to operate counter to the idea of individualistic artist as solo creative genius. We now recognise the importance of environmental factors in the development of creativity and working in partnership with others can be a way to increase and strengthen creative output, to explore concepts and ideas through coming together to form "rhizomatic" networks of people intersecting to create artworks.

Of course (as mentioned in previous weeks), creative media such as film and music have a consistent history of collaboration, but the visual arts in particular have had a different history though artists we think of as supreme "creative geniuses" have also at times collaborated with others as you will see in the class notes below.

This concept of collaboration also tends to blur the lines between artist and audience, and it can be seen in many modern and recent works where participants on collaborative works operate as "authors" and "audience" simultaneously.

Charles Green, the Australian artist (collaborative artist) and academic makes some resonant points in his essay "Collaboration as Symptom":

Artists appear in their art, voluntarily placing themselves center stage in self-portraits but also at the margins of all their other works, constructing themselves through brush marks, in signature style, by individual preferences, and through repeated motifs — in short, from the intersection of subjectivity with medium. As a basic tenet of connoisseurship, this seems obvious, but there are degrees of self-conscious intention that complicate this process, especially during the latter half of the twentieth century, for many artists have thought carefully about the way they code themselves into their art, manipulating the way they appear. This is not to suggest that artists are narcissistic, or that they are necessarily even interested in the politics of identity; rather, artists have always conceded and exploited the inevitability of implicit self-representation. Artists are thieves in the attic: They far from innocently try out different, sometimes almost forgotten identities in the chaotically organized attic of history, rummaging in dusty, dark rooms where variations of authorial identity are stored away from view. This runs counter to the conventional idea of the lonely artist passively waiting for inspiration’s light bulb to be turned on. Such a clichéd figure is deeply embedded in media representations of artists, in market valuations based on authenticity and originality, and in so much public discourse that it is generally perceived as “normal.” If this is normal, then the deliberate, careful construction of authorial alternatives described in my book must be aberrant. Artistic collaboration is a special and obvious case of the manipulation of the figure of the artist, for at the very least collaboration involves a deliberately chosen alteration of artistic identity from individual to composite subjectivity. One expects new understandings of artistic authorship to appear in artistic collaborations, understandings that may or may not be consistent with the artists’ solo productions before they take up collaborative projects.

I propose that collaboration was a crucial element in the transition from modernist to postmodern art and that a trajectory consisting of a series of artistic collaborations emerges clearly from late 1960s conceptualism onward. The proliferation of teamwork in post-1960s art challenged not only the terms by which artistic identity was conventionally conceived but also the “frame” — the discursive boundary between the “inside” and the “outside” of a work of art. I would argue that artistic collaboration in the late 1960s and during the 1970s occupies a special position: Redefinitions of art and of artistic collaboration intersected at this time.

From "Collaboration as Symptom" by Charles Green, University of Minnesota Press, 2001:

Also read Green's essay "Against Artists" here:

And see Green's collaborative work with Lyndell Brown towards the end of these class notes.

Today we will look at a range of well known collaborators - some are familiar icons of modern art, and others are more recent and local but they all have created artworks / music / films etc. through collaboration

Some well know collaborations and partnerships over the last 100 years:

Pablo Picasso & Igor Stravinski (& Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes)

"Pablo Picasso and Igor Stravinsky were brought together as artists commissioned by Serge Diaghilev’s celebrated and notorious Ballets Russes. From 1917 until 1919 the pair engaged in an artistic dialogue which formed the basis for their collaboration on Ragtime."
(Carina Nandlal -

see also :



Salvador Dalí & Louis Buñuel

Un Chien Andalou (An Andalusian Dog) is a 1929 silent surrealist short film by the Spanish director Luis Buñuel and artist Salvador Dalí. There were a few film collaborations by artists linked to the surrealist movement at the time - it was an exciting time for artists using film as it was a relatively "new media" at that time.

Watch it here on Youtube:

Scene from Un Chien Andalou


Salvador Dalí & Walt Disney

Destino is an animated short film released in 2003 by The Walt Disney Company. Destino is unique in that its production originally began in 1945, 58 years before its eventual completion. The project was originally a collaboration between American animator Walt Disney and Spanish Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí, and features music written by Mexican songwriter Armando Dominguez and performed by Dora Luz. It was included in the Animation Show of Shows in 2003.

Watch it here on Youtube:

Image from Destino


Marcel Duchamp & John Cage

Duchamp & Cage were an interesting partnership - artists that worked in different ways, but were influenced by each other. Cage wrote "Music for Marcel Duchamp" and Duchamp also write a piece of music inspired by Cage.

Music for Marcel Duchamp 1947:

They both also collaborated in performances together as shown below:


A scene of Duchamp, Teeny, and Cage playing chess in a performance, Sightssoundsystems,
a festival of art and technology in Toronto, 1968

Dancing around the bride:

Erratum Musical :


Cabaret Voltaire

Cabaret Voltaire was the name of a nightclub in Zurich, Switzerland. It was founded by Hugo Ball, with his companion Emmy Hennings on February 5, 1916 as a cabaret for artistic and political purposes. Other founding members were Marcel Janco, Richard Huelsenbeck, Tristan Tzara, and Jean Arp. Events at the cabaret proved pivotal in the founding of the anarchic art movement known as Dada.

Hugo Ball performing at Cabaret Voltaire in 1916


Robert & Sonia Delaunay et al. - Orphism

Sonia Delaunay, with her husband Robert Delaunay and others, co-founded the Orphism art movement, noted for its use of strong colours and geometric shapes. Their work extends to painting, textile design and stage set design.

A small section from the artist's book Trans-Siberian Prose and of Little Jehanne of France,
by Blaise Cendrars and Sonia Delaunay-Terk, published in 1913



Gilbert Prousch & George Passmore (Gilbert & George)

This iconic and sometimes controversial pair began as sculptors, painters and performance artists and moved into large-scale installed, multi-part visual works like the one shown below:

g and g


Vitaly Komar & Alexander Melamid

Russian "non-conformist" artists Komar & Melamid" founded a movement they name Sots Art—Soviet Pop and Conceptual Art based on Socialist propaganda and mass culture. Sots Art combined the principals of Dadaism and Socialist Realism. Works include portraits of family members and self-portraits in the style of representations of official heroes, and works bearing popular slogans—"Glory to Labor!" or “Onward to the Victory of Communism!” for example, signed by K&M".

These artists collaborated from 1943 to 2003 when their collaborative work stopped. I was fortunate enough to see them give a lecture at the VCA in the late 1980s and remember how funny it was - like a comedy performance. Their work sometimes appears to be solemnly serious perhaps because of the social realistic style, but they have a subversive way of using that style and humour is a big part of the work.

From their website:

k and m
Komar & Melamid, Napoleon and the Camel (from Anarchistic Synthesis series),
1985-86, mixed media, 2 panels, 96”X72


Fluxus artists

As we covered Fluxus in detail last semester, you should know the principal ideas of Fluxus. Many of the artists collaborated in performances, installations and events. George Maciunas was one of the founders and collaborators with many of the other artists as demonstrated below.

George Maciunas, Dick Higgins, Wolf Vostell, Benjamin Patterson & Emmett Williams performing
Philip Corner’s Piano Activities at Fluxus Internationale Festspiele Neuester Musik, Weisbaden 1962.


The Situationist International

The Situationist International (SI) was an international organization of social revolutionaries, the exclusive membership of which was made up of avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists, active from its formation in 1957 to its dissolution in 1972.

The intellectual foundations of the Situationist International were derived primarily from anti-authoritarian Marxism and the avant-garde art movements of the early 20th century, particularly Dada and Surrealism.

Guy Debord is the most well known and referenced of the Situationists. There are many texts by Debord which give a good ideological foundation for what the Situationists were about. They worked as agitators and some claim their work was what started the 1968 revolt in France.

Bureau of Public Secrets - Terry & the Situationists (humorous)

Terms made popular by the Situationists are:


A détournement is a technique developed in the 1950s by the Letterist International, and later adapted by the Situationist International (SI). It has been defined as "turning expressions of the capitalist system and its media culture against itself"- as when slogans and logos are turned against their advertisers or the political status quo. Détournement was prominently used to set up subversive political pranks, an influential tactic called situationist prank that was reprised by the punk movement in the late 1970s and inspired the culture jamming movement in the late 1980s.


france 1968
"under the pavement, the beach"


Dérive (drift, wandering)

"In a dérive one or more persons during a certain period drop their relations, their work and leisure activities, and all their other usual motives for movement and action, and let themselves be drawn by the attractions of the terrain and the encounters they find there. Chance is a less important factor in this activity than one might think: from a dérive point of view cities have psychogeographical contours, with constant currents, fixed points and vortexes that strongly discourage entry into or exit from certain zones." Guy Debord

from :

photograph of Situationist International members date unknown


Marina Abramović & Ulay

If you haven't seen the video Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present, then you should watch it - there is a copy on the shared server. It chronicles Abramović's career as a performance artist, culminating in her "tour de force" three month exhibition at MoMA New York in 2010. The documentary also shows her work with the artist Ulay who was her partner in life and art for 12 years from 1976 - 1989.

In 1988 Abramović and Ulay decided to make a spiritual journey which would end their relationship. Each of them walked the Great Wall of China, starting from the two opposite ends and meeting in the middle. As Abramović described it: “That walk became a complete personal drama. Ulay started from the Gobi Desert and I from the Yellow Sea. After each of us walked 2500 km, we met in the middle and said good-bye".

Ulay & Abramović - performance in 1978


Christo & Jeanne-Claude

Christo & Jeanne-Claude have had a long collaborative career creating extremely large-scale environmental installations. The stunning works not only require the collaboration of the two artists, but also require large teams of technical participants and many resources to actually realise the work.

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Wrapped Coast, One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia, 1968-69 
Photo: Harry Shunk  © 1969 Christo 

See more work on their website:


Group Material

Active from 1979-1996, Group Material was an artists' collaboration that produced over forty-five projects addressing a wide range of social, political, and artistic issues. Members included Doug Ashford, Julie Ault, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Mundy McLaughlin, Karen Ramspacher and Tim Rollins, among others. The collective also worked with artists such as Vito Acconci, Mike Glier, Barbara Kruger, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Faith Ringgold, Martha Rosler, Andres Serrano, Nancy Spero, Anton van Dalen, Carrie Mae Weems, and many others.

Collaborative works included works based around the AIDS epidemic in the US in the 1980s.


Group Material, DAZI BAOS, Union Square, New York (1982)


Andy Warhol & Jean-Michel Basquiat

Warhol & Basquiat collaborated on a series of artworks in the 1980s.

"It was like some crazy-art world marriage and they were the odd couple. The relationship was symbiotic. Jean-Michel thought he needed Andy's fame, and Andy thought he needed Jean-Michel's new blood. Jean Michel gave Andy a rebellious image again."
Ronny Cutrone quoted in Warhol: The Biography by Victor Bockris,
Da Capo Press: Cambridge, 20030, pp.461-2.

Jean-Michel Basquiat & Andy Warhol,"Bananas", 1985, Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas, 224 x 206 cm (88 1/4" x 81")


Ed and Nancy Reddin Kienholz

Ed and Nancy Keinholz began collaborating in 1972. They created installations out of found materials, building on Ed Keinholz's earlier work which was described as "beat sculpture".

Cecile Whiting, UCLA associate professor of art history, touched on one aspect of the Kienholz's work that makes it uncomfortable for the audience. "Voyeurism is a theme that runs throughout the Kienholzes' work." The audience is put into the position of "peering in on scenes that you would otherwise not have access to, whether its Back Seat Dodge or the State Hospital. . . While you're a voyeur you're also implicated in the piece."

Ed and Nancy Kienholz, Soup Course at the She-She Café, 1982, Mixed media, Variable dimensions
Collection of Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Gift of Irma Braman, Photo: (c) Steven Brooke


Björk & Matthew Barney

Musician Björk & artist/filmmaker Matthew Barney collaborated on a film titled "drawing restraint 9" which is an art film set on a Japanese whaling boat.

bjork barney
still image from Drawing Restraint 9, Björk & Matthew Barney 2005


Some Australian collaborative artists:


The Inhibodress Collective ran in Sydney from 1970 - 1972. The initial members included artists Mike Parr, Peter Kennedy, Tim Johnson, John Armstrong, Bill Brown, Terry English, Niels Ellmoos, James Elwing, Michael Gifford, Orest Keywan and Rolla Primsrose.

The idea for the gallery was initiated by Mike Parr when he called a meeting in August 1970 to establish an artists’ run space that would focus on installation and conceptual art. It was to be a space in which as Parr put it “situations and ideas are formed.”


The programme for the Inhibodress Video Nights showings. (1971)


A Constructed World

A Constructed World (ACW) is the collaborative project of Geoff Lowe and Jacqueline Riva, formed in 1993.

Riva and Lowe have been working together in a multimodel practice, producing paintings, video works, events and performances. Their publications include Artfan magazine (1993–2002), Speech Web Magazine 2005–09, and errors deceits mistakes, 2006 and ongoing.

A Constructed World


Lyndell Brown & Charles Green

Charles Green and Lyndell Brown are two of Australia's most significant contemporary artists. Over the course of three decades, they have collaborated as artists, producing paintings and photographic works that are widely collected and have been included in many important exhibitions nationally and internationally.

brown green

In early 2007, Green and Brown were appointed official war artists. This was an historic appointment: Lyndell Brown was the first Australian woman to visit a battleground as an official war artist. From February to April of 2007, the pair visited military installations and bases throughout the Middle East, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf. They were attached to the Australian Defence Force and photographed in great detail their experience of Australian troops and the environments in which they operated.


brown green
Lyndell Brown and Charles Green
‘Afghan National Army perimeter post with chair, Tarin Kowt base, Uruzgan province, Afghanistan’
digital colour inkjet photograph, 2007 – 08

Interview with AWM Official Artists Lyndell Brown and Charles Green:



Soda_Jerk is an Australian two-person art collective that works with found material to trouble formulations of cultural history. Taking the form of video installations, cut-up texts and lecture performances, their archival image practice is situated at the interzone of research, documentary and speculative fiction.

soda jerk
Trailer for Hollywood Burn (2011), video, colour, sound, 16:9, 52 minutes




Nova Milne (born. Sydney & Toronto) have been collaborating informally since a chance encounter as teenagers in 1998, and more formally since they first started exhibiting/performing with the generic conjunctive title Ms&Mr in 2003.

Through a range of forms including large-scale video assemblages and installations, nova Milne create moments of connection or disruption that often take the form of an abstract encounter across the breach of time. Often performing through and with archival material, they unleash an occult potential in recombining anachronistic elements. Their amorous process invents a decentered point of view and the question of inter-subjectivity forms an ongoing existential curiosity within their practice.



Class Exercise

Piece 3: Research online - find examples of designers or artists that collaborate, work in community or are activists/agents for change. Make a blog post about your research and about your selected designers, and comment on a couple of your classmate's posts too. Use images and other media content to support your text. Discuss in class.