Giant Step 1

Marginal Establishments, Cooptation and Resistance

Bari, Italy 

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Giant Step 1


Gallery Camp, New Gallery Walsall

March 3, 2014

Tom Estes led the group discussion "Supporting Art Outside The Mainstream" as part of Gallerycamp at The New Art Gallery Walsall.

The New Art Gallery Walsall presents, collects and interprets historic, modern and contemporary art in innovative and challenging ways. Their aim is to deliver a programme that reflects the diversity of contemporary art and the multi-cultural communities in which we live.

The changing exhibition programme on Floors 3 and 4 focuses on the contemporary visual arts. Presenting both solo and group shows and through artists' projects,  they aim to support and develop the work of living artists and to build and develop audiences for the visual arts.

The Garman Ryan exhibition programme explores the many themes of the collection and presents mainly historic temporary exhibitions, it also showcases contemporary works from the collection making interesting connections between old and new art.

Gallerycamp was the free ‘unconference’ for people interested in discussing the future of galleries (and arts + cultural organisations more broadly) and the increasingly important role of digital stuff and new technologies (ideas, projects, inclusion innovations) in this.

It has never been more important for galleries to make the most of digital and new tech as tools for communication, creative exploration, (audience) engagement, curation etc.

It was an unconference so we followed the principles of Open Space events – people can wander in and out of sessions, tweet, blog and take photos all day. 

Tom Estes with his work 'Back To The Future' at New Gallery Walsall




MK Gallery

March 3, 2014

Tom Estes in conversation live at the MK Gallery, Milton Keynes, in collaboration with NN Contemporary , October 10th, 2013. Situated in Milton Keynes, MK Gallery is one of the UK's leading public galleries, presenting a programme of international contemporary visual art. 

In the talk I discussed my digital practice of  c
reating an art-world-as-fiction by intentionally leaving a project unrealized. This is intended to raise question of whether the projects should be understood as an online representation – using fictional space to comment on the ‘real’ world - or as intervention- actually reordering the real world. 

I begin the process of creating an installation in which a video is projected onto a three dimensional object- in this instance a book. I then document the installation by photographing it. However this 'real time and space installation' project is never intended to be carried out but instead only set up in order to be depicted by a secondary means- through photographic documentation. This has the effect of  flattening the three-dimensional object back into a two dimensional image while paralyzing the time based sequence into a single image. This closed circuit of illusion is intended to mimic and merge with the mass media desire for immediate novelty. By reducing of the 'installation' to a single image the work references and anticipates the widespread practice of sourcing images found on the web.

MK Gallery provides free access to high quality, innovative and thought-provoking contemporary art from around the world. In its programme MK Gallery stimulates participation and debate, building relationships between artists and audiences."

Scratch Nights are a series of events by emerging local and national practitioners working in music/sound, film, expanded cinema, performance and spoken word. Pecha Kucha was organised in collaboration with NN Contemporary Art.

NN is a contemporary art space who believe that international art and culture should be accessible to all.  They work with artists at all stages of their careers to present an international programme of contemporary art and multi-disciplinary events.


MK Gallery 900 Midsummer Blvd Milton Keynes MK9 3QA


Art in Action: Tate Modern's Tanks

October 19, 2012

 Discursive Exercises' took place at The Tate Modern's Tanks- the world’s first museum galleries permanently dedicated to exhibiting live art, performance, installation and film works. 'Discursive Exercises' consisted of educators being given assignments that might challenge and inform classroom practice. Set against the extraordinary backdrop of these cavernous spaces and led by artist run gallery ‘Five Years’, artist Tom Estes contributed to The (Im) Possible School Book as part of the series The Tanks: Art in Action. Estes' contribution to the Five Years Tanks Summer School was to build on his existing practice but with one slight twist. In this instance, rather than stage the Live Art Action himself, Estes encouraged the participants to stage an action themselves as a form of ‘adult play’. 


The aim of 'Discursive Exercises' was to provide random objects and ask the participants to interact or ‘play with the objects'. The Play was to be a self-chosen activity, rather than a prescribed, active, self-initiated process, intrinsic, episodic, rule governed and symbolic. Learning Through Play is a term widely used in educational and psychology to describe how a child can learn to make sense of the world around them. In order for an activity to be considered play, the experience must include a measure of inner control, ability to bend or invent reality, and a strong internally based motivation for playing. Through play, children can develop social and cognitive skills, mature emotionally, and gain the self-confidence required to engage in new experiences and environments. There are critical differences between play and work by a parent or teacher. Although many educators and parents are beginning to understand the theory that Play is not wasted time, it might be difficult for the adult mind to understand the perspective of the child: That play is a process, but without a predicted outcome or product. Work, on the other hand, has a definite intent and a prescribed outcome. If parents and educators try to label experiences as play but in reality have a specific requirement for the activity, then it becomes work, not play. 


 Estes presented five elements to the participants regarding play:
 1. Play is spontaneous and voluntary.
 2. Play involves active engagement on the part of the player. 
 3. Play involves an element of make-believe.
 4. Play must have no extrinsic goals; there is no prescribed learning that must occur. 
 5. Play must be pleasurable and enjoyable. 


 Working with historical records and contemporary precedents, participants worked individually and as a collective to re-enact, devise and document performance. The Tanks became a site for practical enquiry and intervention, opening up dialogue and exploring live art and the performative as modes for learning which also culminated in a live event. Since the 1950s contemporary art practice has evolved significantly in areas of performance and film, as well as through works that incorporate active social relations between artists, collaborators and audiences. Such works pose many questions for museums, not least because they are often complex to show and do not readily fit into existing frameworks, through space, audiences or context. But while live pieces naturally celebrate the moment in which they are performed, they also form part of a longer and more extensive history of gesture, movement, activism and physical action. 
This is a rich and variable history that is easily bypassed in museums and overlooked in collections. The Tanks provide an opportunity not just to revisit this history, but to place it centrally in a new conversation that questions how live works function in relation to traditional understandings of museum collections, and how an evolving history of contemporary art and action whose roots stretch back to the beginning of the twentieth century can be presented, researched and archived. A further question that the Tanks bring to the forefront of discussion for museums is the changing role of the audience at a moment dominated by social media and new modes of broadcast. Many of the works presented in the Tanks address their audiences directly, emphasising the visitor’s own physical presence, whether that be by being part of a crowd surrounding a performer, becoming part of a conversation, or walking through and around an immersive installation. 

 With these complexities and the advent of new recording technologies, the live event takes on new meanings and possibilities. The audience’s experiences can be immediately recorded and disseminated in a way that is unprecedented in historical terms. As such, it is also the audience that forms a central component of what happens in the Tanks. This is why the opening programme is presented as an ‘open manifesto’ – a call to define and shape the programme. Within Tate Modern’s new generator it is the true meeting of artworks and audiences that will establish what the Tanks are and can be. The Tanks at Tate Modern launched with a fifteen-week festival that will include recent acquisitions as well as a major new commission. Following decades of inactivity, and an extensive period of redevelopment, the cavernous underground oil tanks of the former power station were transformed and returned to daily use, becoming once again active and working components of a larger building. Raw, versatile, circular and unique, neither white cube nor black box, they provide an entirely new type of space for Tate Modern, and for museums internationally. No longer generators of electrical energy, they are instead generators of ideas, creative energy and new possibilities for artists and audiences. They challenge many aspects of what historically has been important to museums – their collections and modes of display and archive – and ask vital new questions of what it is to be a museum in the twenty-first 




Giant Step 1: Enter the Artworld? Marginal Establishments, Cooptation and Resistance

June 24, 2012


Giant Step 1: Enter the Artworld? Marginal Establishments, Cooptation and Resistance
Presented by The European Cultural Foundation, Van Abbemuseum, Galeria Labirynt, MOSTYN | Wales, vessel and Politicized Practice Research Group.

Giant Step is a project organized for the purpose of discovering the place of the institution within contemporary culture, with institutional change being the ultimate goal.To provide a range of perspectives, Giant Step involves two internationally established institutions, Van Abbemuseum (represented by Charles Esche) and MOSTYN | Wales (represented by Alfredo Cramerotti), and two that are less connected to a rigid institutional structure, vessel (represented by Viviana Checchia and Anna Santomauro in cooperation with Vlad Morariu) and Galeria Labirynt (represented by Magdalena Linkowska in cooperation with Anna Smolak and Magdalena Ujma). Giant Step begins by researching the specific issues and urgencies that occur in each of the local and national contexts where these institutions function (Italy, Netherlands, Poland, UK).  

 In the second phase of the project, there will be an analysis of the various applications of cultural production in Europe in order to foster dynamic dialogue and discussion.The main goal of this project is to establish possible roles that institutions could play in the cultural production of a specific area, in order to respond to the needs of the area itself. In this process, Giant Step aims to develop the concept of an “ideal” institution, which entails the necessities of supporting and developing culture and creating critical dialogue. This will be a multidisciplinary process carried out through the format of a “nomad symposium,” which allows the application of efforts to a variety of local artistic communities and audiences.Due to high influence from the heritage of historical institutional critique, Giant Step will focus on relaying this material; local cultural operators will be provided with books, interviews, workshops, and talks, which will be the basis for the discussions. Multiple issues will be addressed, such as the adaptation of “traditional” cultural institutions to complicated economic, social, and cultural contexts, the ideal form of the institution and its production, and the adaptation of current formats to keep up with cultural and societal change. 


The Giant Step project has begun on January 9, 2012, with all partners starting their research activity with their local artistic and cultural communities in order to focus on aspects that will be discussed during the symposia. Each respective partner will have a separate timeframe for the Giant Step symposia.June 12th signals the start of activity production, with the first of the four symposia. Promoted by vessel, it will also found the basis for another important appointment of the Italian institution: vessel’s International Curatorial Workshop, an intensive three days workshop for young curators from all over the world, which in this second edition, June 15–17, will deal with the theme of institutional critique. it is possible to get further information about the project, the institutions involved and all the other activities connected to Giant Step. abstracts and bios are now online and you can see them here!



For more information go to The Giant Step 1 website



Ulster Festival- University of Ulster

June 24, 2012


 Tom Estes – Live Art Performance

- In The Glass Box -
The Ulster Festival of Art & Design
March 20th 2012 
The University of Ulster- Belfast

Ah, spring! This season brings increasing daylight, warming temperatures, and the rebirth of flora and fauna. People have recognized the Vernal Equinox for thousands of years as it hails the start of Spring. This year The Vernal Equinox began in the Northern hemisphere on March 20th. As a visiting lecturer at The University of Ulster Tom Estes decided to celebrate the Vernal Equinox by creating a Live Art Performance for The Ulster Festival of Art & Design.

The aim of the project was to use the Sun’s rays to make a cup of tea by means of this ‘Parabolic Solar Kettle’. Using an old umbrella and a bit of aluminium foil Estes created a Parabolic Curve as a reflector or a ‘Parabolic Solar Kettle’ while discussing his practice with students and members of the public. The project was inspired by The Vernal Equinox but also by local Neolithic monuments like Newgrange (Irish: Sí an Bhrú) because it is aligned with the rising sun on the winter solstice, which on that one day of the year floods its stone room with light .

Although New Grange is aligned to the Winter Solstice, there is no shortage of rituals and traditions surrounding the coming of spring.The early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx so that it points directly toward the rising Sun on the day of the Vernal Equinox. The first day of spring also marks the beginning of Nowruz, the Persian New Year. The celebration lasts 13 days and is rooted in the 3,000-year-old tradition of Zorastrianism.

 Far from being an arbitrary indicator of the changing seasons, March 20 (March 21 in some years) is significant for astronomical reasons. On March 20, 2012, the Sun crosses directly over the Earth's equator. This moment is known as the vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. For the Southern Hemisphere, this is the moment of the autumnal equinox. The word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning “equal night.” The spring and fall equinoxes are the only dates with equal daylight and dark as the Sun crosses the celestial equator. At the equinoxes, the tilt of Earth relative to the Sun is zero, which means that Earth’s axis neither points toward nor away from the Sun. 

In order to create a ‘Parabolic Solar Kettle’ Estes had to create a Parabolic Curve. Parabolic geometry is well known, and it was probably the very first type of solar cooker. In mathematics, a parabola plural parabolae or parabolas, from the Greek παραβολή) is a conic section, created from the intersection of a right circular conical surface and a plane parallel to a generating straight line of that surface. Another way to generate a parabola is to examine a point (the focus) and a line (the directix) on a plane. The locus of points in that plane that are equidistant from both the line and point is a parabola.

The parabolic shape focuses the sun's rays into one point; called the focal point. However, it is not the sun’s heat that heats the water, nor is it the outside ambient temperature, though this can somewhat affect the rate or time required to boil, but rather it is the suns rays that are converted to heat energy that heat the water; and this heat energy is then retained by the container and the water by the means of a covering or lid. This occurs in much the same way that a greenhouse (or a Glass Box) retains heat or a car with its windows rolled up. An effective solar cooker will use the energy of the sun to heat the vessel and efficiently retain the energy (heat) for maximum effectiveness. In order to make the water boil the solar heating had to be done by means of the suns UV rays. The solar kettle lets the UV light rays in and then converts them to longer infrared light rays that cannot escape. Infrared radiation has the right energy to make the water molecules vibrate vigorously and heat up.


 In the parabolic shape the line perpendicular to the directrix and passing through the focus (that is, the line that splits the parabola through the middle) is called the "axis of symmetry". The point on the axis of symmetry that intersects the parabola is called the "vertex", and it is the point where the curvature is greatest. Parabolas can open up, down, left, right, or in some other arbitrary direction. Any parabola can be repositioned and rescaled to fit exactly on any other parabola — that is, all parabolas are similar. The parabola has many important applications. They are frequently used in physics, engineering, and many other areas. In algebraic geometry, the parabola is generalized by the rational normal curves, which have coordinates the standard parabola is the case and the case is known as the twisted cubic. A further generalization is given by the Veronese variety, when there is more than one input variable.

In the theory of quadratic forms, the parabola is the graph of the quadratic form (or other scalings), while the elliptic paraboloid is the graph of the positive-definite quadratic form (or scalings) and the hyperbolic paraboloid is the graph of the indefinite quadratic form Generalizations to more variables yield further such objects. The curves for other values of p are traditionally referred to as the higher parabolas, and were originally treated implicitly, in the form for p and q both positive integers, in which form they are seen to be algebraic curves. These correspond to the explicit formula for a positive fractional power of x. Negative fractional powers correspond to the implicit equation and are traditionally referred to as higher hyperbolas. Analytically, x can also be raised to an irrational power (for positive values of x); the analytic properties are analogous to when x is raised to rational powers, but the resulting curve is no longer algebraic, and cannot be analyzed via algebraic geometry.


Creative Clash

June 23, 2012


Drink & Dial Hotline @ Creative Clash/ Committee of the Regions, Brussels

Creative Clash-Artistic Interventions to stimulate innovation, sustainability, and inclusiveness

Artistic interventions are a means of developing organisations, businesses and individuals, and thus society as a whole. TILLT Europe has been working with experts around Europe to develop policy suggestions that take into account all the areas of society that artistic interventions affect and influence: health, innovation, environmental issues, social cohesion, economic sustainability, artistic integrity, democracy, and more.

The afternoon started with a welcome and introduction, after which lunch was
served. After lunch, the policy recommendations were be presented along with descriptions of cases and discussions. The seminar finshed with snacks and performances.

This workshop and the reception afterwards will gave the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with people who have deep and exciting experiences with artistic interventions. While artist Ania Bas distributed postcards and crayons , as an impromptu Intervention Tom Estes distributed Drink & Dial Hotline cards.

 TILLT EUROPE is a policy grouping supported by the Culture Program strand 2 at The European Union. The group started this work in March 2009 and is committed to producing a package of studies to measure the impact of artistic intervention in the business field and in research projects, and to formulate recommendations on European policies that will support this type of artistic intervention.

The long term objective is to establish a European platform for cross-sectoral policy dialogue bringing together cultural actors, intermediate organisations, private and public organisations, social partners, and researchers throughout European society.

The studies on the economy of culture in Europe (link) and the impact of culture on creativity (link), both undertaken by KEA European Affairs, recognise culture as an important tool in urban and regional policys, contributing to achieving sustainable development. Our Policy Analysis Group will provide advocacy and evidence to better understand the potential of the creative economy at the European level. Initiatives taken in artistic and creative interventions in Europe have a growth potential that has not yet been fully explored.

Overall aims:
• Develop organizations in sustainable and innovative way through artistic interventions; 
• Bring art and culture to new arenas; and 
• Develop artistic methods by being present in new arenas.

A series of activities are designed for gaining input and concerns from different fields on the subject in order to formulate policy suggestions in such a way that the different actors’ interests and needs are respected.

programme at


Video Is The Only Constant

June 23, 2012

On April 7th Tom Estes showed his installation STORM at the event 'Video Is The Only Constant' at Corsica Studios. Later in the evening Estes discussed his practice as an artist and his video installation shown on the night with curator Chrisina Millare. Estes' video work, STORM is a true companion piece to his existing practice of borrowed elements in the creation of a new work. Recently previewed at the Whitechapel Galleries 'Open Screening' in London, STORM deals with the Biblical tale of Noah and the Ark- in the style of the Keystone Cops on acid. 

The work, while being projected onto a Bible, also references the Wizard of OZ. The Bible is open on the page of the account in Genesis 6-9 which details how God sends a great flood to destroy the earth because of man's wickedness and because the earth is corrupt. Estes’ choice of projecting fast-motion slapstick comedy directly onto the Biblical text is a deliberate mitigation of surrealist shock. The speeded action alters the tone of what seems a traditional childrens story- but with the mad attention urges of a Play Station gamer.


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