#3 Studies in Accumulation

When we do something regularly we increase and enforce its impact. The value of having a daily practice of yoga or meditation is that over time we build strength, flexibility, mental clarity and fortitude. If we only practice occasionally we may notice some benefits, but the cumulative effect of a practice won't be felt unless it's something that we devote consistent time and attention to.

Cumulative power is also felt when many people come together with the same intent. Activist movements depend upon a critical mass of people coming together in order to raise awareness and push issues forward. Accumulating support through different means is something that we have to think about when we are organizing around causes.

This creative prompt takes a looser view on accumulation. The goal is not to increase skill or create an end product, nor is it to convince anyone to join our effort. This prompt is simply an opportunity to observe the evolution of our efforts over time. Below I've given a few examples of artists who are working with accumulation in different ways. Take a look, do your own research and come up with a project for yourself. It doesn't have to be complicated, in fact, it's better if it's not. Just deciding to do one thing every day for a span of time can have a profound impact. 

Hannah Claire Somerville - 1 Year of Stitches
"I am interested in the impact, or mark, that an individual makes on a daily basis. Big or small, our daily activities are often times unquantifiable and intangible. I am approaching this project as a personal map making; the fabric ground represents each day of 2016, with the needle and thread representing my actions throughout the day. I will embroider— maybe one stitch, maybe more, (hopefully) every day and photograph the result. The embroidery I create will become a tangible, visual account of the decisions, movements, conversations and sometimes lack thereof, that I make each day. I hope to use this project as a means of generating a deeper reflection upon the choices we make as a society."


Tehching Hsieh - One Year Project 1980-1981
Tehching Hsieh is a performance and visual artist who works with duration and endurance. He has completed a number of year-long projects including one year that he didn't go inside, another year he spent living in a cage, and another year he spent tied to artist Linda Montano. In One Year Project 1980-1981 (Time Clock Piece,) Hsieh set himself the task of clocking in and photographing himself every hour for one year. Hsieh's work is provocative and intense for those of us on the outside who most probably can't even imagine the physical experiences he creates for himself. The visual end-result of Time Clock Piece is a short film and stunning collection of 8,627 mugshots which portray Hsieh visually aging and impacted by the performance. Time Clock Piece is considered a seminal work in performance art and like Hsieh's other pieces inspires us to reflect deeply on the human experience, our rituals and obligations.

 Tehching Hsieh with One Year Performance 1980-1981 at Carriageworks, Sydney. Photograph: Anna Kucera/The Guardian

Tehching Hsieh with One Year Performance 1980-1981 at Carriageworks, Sydney. Photograph: Anna Kucera/The Guardian


Katie Peterson - Future Library
Scottish artist Katie Paterson has launched a 100-year artwork - Future Library - Framtidsbiblioteket - for the city of Oslo in Norway. A thousand trees have been planted in Nordmarka, a forest just outside Oslo, which will supply paper for a special anthology of books to be printed in one hundred years time. Between now and then, one writer every year will contribute a text, with the writings held in trust, unpublished, until 2114. Tending the forest and ensuring its preservation for the 100-year duration of the artwork finds a conceptual counterpoint in the invitation extended to each writer: to conceive and produce a work in the hopes of finding a receptive reader in an unknown future. (Text from Future Library)


Cities and Memory is a global field recording and sound art project that allows participants to upload sounds from around the world. Currently there over 1,300 sounds which have been recorded and archived from more than 55 countries. Users on the site can listen to sounds chosen from a map to have a sonic geographic experience or they can listen to podcast which features "sonic reimaginings or reinterpretations can take any form, and include musical versions, slabs of ambient music, rhythm-driven electronica tracks, vocal cut-ups, abstract noise pieces, subtle EQing and effects, layering of different location sounds and much more."
Cities and Memory takes its name from Italo Calvino’s book  Invisible Cities, which explores how people can experience the same place in dramatically different ways.