Responsive Environments and Protagonism: The Sustenance Principle


Session Title:

  • Evaluation and Valuation

Presentation Title:

  • Responsive Environments and Protagonism: The Sustenance Principle



  • (Long paper)

    Keywords: Responsive Environments, Protagonism, The Gift, Sustenance, Productive Principle.

    This positioning paper is in two parts. The first part examines the notion of ‘the gift’ as applied to artistic works in The ‘Do-It-Yourself’ Artwork, edited by Anna Dezeuze (2010) and to disrupt this notion with the countervailing concept of sustenance. This analysis critiques sociologist Marcel Mauss’ research into the First Peoples of Canada, specifically in terms of the development of his theory of ‘potlatch’ based predominantly on the Kwakwakw’wakw People and their destruction of property as a show of strength. The paper seeks to disrupt this concept, summarised as ‘the ‘gift’ as obligation’, with the Coast Salish Peoples’ practices of offering sustenance to their fellow tribes through the sharing of food wealth. This can, it is asserted, provide resources for the author’s present research on responsive environments. The second part explores the principle of sustenance. The paper argues that, from this perspective the artist’s role is to create resources that can be productively extended, challenged or repurposed by a process of ‘protagonism’. This is because those resources, supported by digital technologies, sustain opportunities both in and out beyond responsive environments. This position, it is asserted, supports an intensification and diversification of Claire Bishop’s participation motivations of ‘activation’, ‘authorship’ and ‘community’.

Related Links: