Host(s): Rory Hamilton (TVSS artist), Jessica Voorsanger
(TVSS artist)
Guests: Mark Ayres (musician / composer), Alice Angus (Proboscis) , Ann Elliott (Artlink) , Oriane Messina (writer / performer), Chris Mackenzie (musician / composer)

Collaboration is a difficult but worthwhile enterprise.

Some questions we posed (some unused):

How much does one need to learn about the other collaboraters disipline? Is this useful for future projects?

How does timescale effect a collaboration and the other practice of the participants?

Too many cooks? Are there too many ideas pulling a collaborative project out of shape?

What happens when all of the artists involved have strongly differing agendas? Can your project benefit or suffer?

Dependency on participants - Either other artists involved or participation from audience.

Collaboration as participation- Can your audience be your collaborators?

Where does authorship come into collaboration?

Collaborative relationships of artists in TVSS + collaborations with other people like Radiophonics/SMart etc.

Could projects serve different agendas for different parties/audiences?

How did the criteria or agendas of funders/venues impact on project?

We could have talked for a very long time about these issues but time caught up with us. Thanks to all involved and hope this text represents some of our dialogue.

Summary of dialogue:
Due to the nature at different people’s practices it can be difficult for each party to convey their needs to the others. Learning to speak each others languages can help in the process but this usually happens towards the end of the project. Both sides go into the partnership with a different expectation of what the end result will be. Artists can help this by being very clear about the expected outcome (but few artists know exactly what they are going to produce at the very beginning of a project.)

Many people we might collaborate with are used to being employed by a client who will be very prescriptive about the outcome, artists tend to want to develop the process and outcome. It can be hard to pin artists down.

There are different forms of collaboration: power balances can also vary widely in these relationships. Everyone seemed to have had a different experience, everyone had some trouble in their collaboration but all parties seemed to have got something good out of it. It is unfortunate that most of these collaborations are one-off; as the collaboration would work better second time around when everyone understands each other better.

The subject of authorship brought much debate. In some collaborations each party clearly owns a part of the work, in others the work is impossible to separate. Music can be separated from image but written word spoken by actors can not. Communication and distribution of the work can lead to problems where authorship is concerned. Some collaborators felt that artists were overly concerned by the authorship issue.
Many of the projects in TV Swansong were collaborations within the overall collaboration of TV swansong it’s self. This lead to some good and bad situations.

Advice for potential collaborations:
Be clear. Make sure both parties understand the outcome.
Respect other people working methods (and how they differ from your own).

Put all your cards on the table, don’t hold back anything which might become and issue later.

Make sure everyone knows who owns what.

Learning something of the other party’s process can help understanding.

Have fun.

Rory Hamilton and Jessica Voorsanger - August 2002