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Themesicon: navigation pathPublic Sphere_sicon: navigation pathPublic Sphere_s
Pockets Full of Memories (Legrady, George), 2001BumpList (Brandon / Brucker-Cohen)

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«Pockets Full of Memories,» (2001) the public is asked to submit items from their pockets to a scanning and cataloging system, which then utilizes a Kohonen self-organizing map algorithm to position objects of similar descriptions near each other. Jonah Brucker-Cohen’s «BumpList» (2003) shifts the public being addressed from that of an exhibition to that of the Very Large-Scale Conversation—at least in concept. In actuality, only 6 people at a time can be subscribed to the list, and if a 7th person subscribes, the first subscriber is bumped. This additional rule for the «Bumplist» listserv format has two effects. As with Cage’s silence, limiting the size of a VLSC emphasizes that which is replaced or missing as form, as something not natural. Furthermore, it is a rule that is ‹performed› by the public, not by performers. Literal participation in the work of art is an increasingly common form of public art, growing out of the notion of an open work as theorized by Eco.

Notions of Public Art

Traditionally, public art has been a more delimited sphere than the public who experiences any art,


although in part, it is precisely an attempt by artists to expand their public. As Dieter Daniels writes: «The use of new technologies like film and radio, which are potential mass media, is associated with the hope that the avant-garde can be released from its self-imposed isolation so that ‹art and the people can be reconciled with each other,› as Guillaume Apollinaire put it in 1912.» [18]

In part, however, public art is simply the recognition of the need for public discourse to create a public at all—and hence a public sphere. As Patricia Phillips writes: «A growing number of artists and agencies believe that the responsibility of public artists and agencies is not to create permanent objects for presentation in traditionally accepted public places but, instead, to assist in the construction of a public—to encourage through actions, ideas, and interventions, a participatory audience where none seemed to exist.» [19] Many artists, for example, are appalled by the lack of public discourse in the emerging arena of biotechnologies. Critical Art Ensemble’s «GenTerra» (2001) is a participatory theater project, in which the audience is invited to decide

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