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Instruction Book

On June 3rd, 2003 – ten years ago today – I graduated from the Studio Arts BFA program at the University of Western Ontario (or “Western University,” as the hip kids are calling it these days). In my four years there, I became friends with some of the greatest artists and all-around people I have ever had the privilege to meet and work with.

Over the next few months, I would like to pay homage to some of my closest friends: Jennie Cherniack, Nathan Cole, Ryan Johnson, and Roman Tkaczyk (if any of you guys are reading this, please note that your names are in alphabetical order). The way I intend to do this requires a bit of explanation.

In November of 2002, we put on our first of two graduating exhibitions. I will now defer to the show’s catalogue, pictured above, to explain what it was all about:

“Entitled DOmestik ITch, this show is based on the concept of ‘art-by-instruction’ and inspired by Hans Olbrist’s internationally circulate[d] ‘DO IT home project’. This catalogue documents the instructions created by each member of the fourth year Practicum class. Each set of instructions details the process by which a work of art or experience may be produced. The concepts of DOmestik ITch and ‘art-by-instruction’ are completely interactive, just don’t read it, do it!”

The catalogue, brilliantly designed by Roman and printed in an edition of 200, contains the instructions written by the eighteen members of the class, plus a blank page for the reader to create his or her own (nineteeth) set of instructions. Each of us in the class was randomly assigned one of our peers’ instructions. We then exhibited the results of following these instructions.

Over the course of the next six months, I will be enacting the instructions created by my friends, one set per month, and documenting the results on this blog. A few irregularities: I was given Roman’s instructions by luck of the draw for the original exhibition, so rather than recreating the results, I will be posting the documentation of my efforts from 2002. Additionally, two of my friends who should be on the above list of greatest-people-ever were not part of the practicum class. I will be contacting them to request that they write custom instructions for me to fulfill, specifically for the purpose of this blog project (I will reveal their identities if/when they decide whether to participate). I will also be posting the 2013 Tenth Anniversary Special Edition of my instructions, Classy Rotary Adjective, so that any of you following along at home can try it as well!

Here are the projects I will be undertaking, in the order I feel like, between July and December:

Do It Dish by Jennie Cherniack
Phoenix by Nathan Cole
– TBA by Secret Mystery Artist #1
– TBA by Secret Mystery Artist #2
Draw Something You Like by Ryan Johnson
Reproduce. . . by Roman Tkaczyk (documentation of completed work from 2002)

I have added a new category to the blog, “Art by Instruction,” to make it easier to follow this project over the next few months.

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