Friday, 7 May 2010

Black Lab Week Twelve

It was decided in the meeting that a new method for minuting and disseminating the activity in the Lab should be tested. As such these notes are intended to be less comprehensive than usual…

Present: David Thomas, Mick Welbourn, Dan Robinson, Andy Abbott, Dave Ronalds, James Hill, Yvonne Carmichael.

We used the final meeting in the Green Sands to reflect on what had happened in the space and what we might want to take from it into future developments for the ‘Black Lab’.

We discussed the activity of a fortnight ago; the music jam, performance day and meal. It was agreed that these three activities had demonstrated the range of approaches that had been applied in the Lab; from the very free-form and organic to the tightly curated and more ‘organised’. We discussed the perceived tension at the food event where it seemed there was a clash between the desire on Jayne’s part for the event to be organised and to follow a schedule and the manner in which it was embraced and ‘detourned’ by participants (particularly through the presence of children). Those that were present found it a productive tension but Andy had concerns that it might have arisen due in part to a lack of clarity about what Black Lab is and its ethos/methods. Are we in a position now to better articulate either of those?

We began by addressing the method. We talked about how the Tuesday ‘general meeting’ had provided some rhythm and momentum to the project and that it provided an opportunity for those not able to make every meeting to learn about the events. We also discussed alternatives – like alternating between ‘general meetings’ and events on Tuesday although it was felt this had been applied to some extent. We also talked about how the lab had been administrated – Andy taking responsibility for ‘chairing’ meetings, completing minutes and being a point of contact for potential participants. It was agreed after discussing alternatives including finding funding for this kind of role that a rotating chair and admin would be the best structure to share the work load and the learning.

We also talked about the name. Is it helpful that the project has been called a ‘Lab’? The consensus was that this was a fair representation of how we used the space. Perhaps the link to Black Dogs (through the word ‘Black’) is unnecessary? We talked about alternatives. Andy proposed, following Dan’s initial reflections on the project, that ‘club’ was a better descriptor of the project than ‘Lab’ and potentially more inclusive and fluid (i.e not rooted to one site). We talked about other names for the project from the problematically dry (Leeds Art Club, Critical Art Club) to the more vague (Green Sand Club). The general consensus appeared to come down on the more lyrical and open.

We tried to unpick any ‘ethics’ that might have arisen or presented itself during the project. We attempted this by going round the group and talking about what we had enjoyed the most about the project. Responses included the fact that we had made use of empty property, to the open and apparently ‘agenda-less’ nature of the project. The word ‘comfortable’ arose a few times when talking about the environment we had created. Why was the environment of the Black lab free and comfortable? Why does it feel like a safe place to attempt things? How might we articulate this better? It would be a shame if all we had to say about the project at the end was that it was good because it was vague. Yet there is something crucial and critical about the open nature of the activity and the drive behind that activity. How can we retain this whilst doing justice to the specifics of what has happened and what we might have learned?

It was clear that we weren’t going to be able – nor should we attempt – to ‘wrap up’ the Black Lab at this particular meeting and so called it a night.


All present to contribute to notes and minutes

New space for Black lab (or whatever it may now be called) to be identified

Next Meeting: decided when in new space. Tuesday May 18th is when we have a visit from Dan Simpkins and Penny Whitehead.

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