This book is about the way artists generate an endless chain of substitute objects for something they can never quite find. It explores the work involved in art with a focus upon finding, gathering, and assembling charged and auratic objects on the wall beside the work. The author employs the term Das Gegenwerk or the work towards the work. This concept avoids definitive closure and expands the notion of drafting and related practices to include qualitative research methods.
The multi-mode transitional practices of Das Gegenwerk are devoid of any demand for a preconceived goal but instead hinge upon the provisional and indeterminate. As such, it is a far cry from the binary logic of the computer and the design cycle but is of interest to an audience engaged with both. Das Gegenwerk hinges on our capacity to respond to the outside rather than the inwardness often attributed to creative agency.
A fundamental belief of the book is that by investigating and adapting the practices of expert practitioners, we can gain an understanding of high-level creativity. It is neither a recipe nor a linear or cyclic approach. Rather, artistic creation is an interweave of transitional multi-mode practices where the overriding emphasis is on the handling or habituation of transitional materials in physical place. The author addresses the urgent need to provide a balance between the promise of new technology and our capacity to both respond to and work with what the world bestows.
Derek Pigrum is an artist researcher that has for many years taught art in the context of international education. His artistic activity as a painter and a graphic artist is intertwined with research that began with his Ph.D. at the University of Bath into what he terms ‘transitional drawing’ used by a wide range of creative people to generate, share, and develop ideas using multi-sign modes. In 2009, he published a book that expanded his Ph.D. thesis into a monograph entitled ‘Teaching Creativity: Multi-mode Transitional Practices’. The book he is proposing is a deeper exploration of the meta-modes of the thesis and the subsidiary modes and of the central notion of what he terms ‘Das Gegenwerk’ or the work towards the work that avoids definitive closure in the context of the role of objects and place in the creative practices of artists. He has published numerous papers related to transitional practices in journals and a number of articles in books. At present, he is a Vienna-based senior researcher at the International Semiotics Institute at Kaunas Technical University, Lithuania.