[Thoughts on the intersections of practice at Testing Grounds, by Communications and Operations Manager Trent Griffiths, November 2018]
What do we mean by Testing Grounds encouraging ‘interdisciplinary practice’?
Interdisciplinary work is people from different disciplines working together, sharing methodologies and data and resources in solving a common problem or creating something new.
In the context of Testing Grounds, that working together has three perspectives. The first is that we encourage and support artists from different disciplines to actually work together. We program so that work intersects and overlaps and it requires creative practitioners working with us to lean into sharing space with people from totally different disciplines — to embrace how an outdoor installation can reference and enhance the experience of a dance performance, or how a dancer might draw new inspiration from a poet-in-residence (to use just two actual examples).
The second perspective means that while individual practitioners might be concerned with how they develop their own work, we consider how the program works together as a whole experience. Someone coming to see one thing can encounter a bunch of other things outside their expectations. Those encounters are a kind of experience synthesis; things being in the same space does something to the experience of each, making the whole greater than the sum of the parts. So Testing Grounds isn’t a place for installations, or performance, or workshops, and it’s not even a place for those different things at different times. It is those things at once, in the same space, within the same framework of ongoing, evolving, alive creative practice.
The third perspective is how the infrastructure contributes to art meeting architecture meeting design. The way the site works requires engaging with the physical design of the space in specific ways — to negotiate the grid and paths of travel, to make use of the big barn doors that open out onto central shared space, to embrace the shifts of wind and light, and to come to understand the materials that allow for hanging and staging and showing and working. Using a magnet to hang a work becomes an exercise in both art and design. As infrastructure, it is designed to be built on and extended from.