Summer Reading Suggestions

Right, so for the last few years I've offered a summer reading group for art grads in Milwaukee. The idea was that to take a break from the whole academic coursework thing we would get together regularly with some common reading to talk about. In addition, the readings would be things that the our university doesn't cover. So far it hasn't worked out too well as its hard to get people to commit to reading and meeting when they have some time off.

Does anyone have any suggestions for essays, short books, etc that might get people a little more interested?
Past readings have included Delueze and Guatarri, Manovich, etc… but again, people didn't get too excited except for me.

Would it make sense for me to set this up as an online project, or would meeting up be really important?
Basically, maybe a discussion forum would work best so that people could participate when they can, but it might be nice to actually get together… physical vs. virtual community etc etc

Any thoughts or suggestions would be great!


, Vijay Pattisapu

I've recently discovered the writings of Motherwell…they're punchy and accessible to a broader audience than, say, Deleuze. I don't know if Motherwell was already in your coursework though. :P

, a bill miller

No he wasn't… I'll look though.
Also, links are welcome!

, Michael Szpakowski

Frank Sibley "Aesthetic Concepts" ( collected in a number of places including Sibley's Collected Papers : 'Approaches to Aesthetics' OUP New York 2001)

Meyer Schapiro: 'Einstein & Cubism, Science and Art" ( in Schapiro -'The Unity of Picasso's Art' George Braziller New York 2000)

I'm not being perverse or obscure. I challenge anyone to read these marvelous pieces and not gain something from their clarity of thought and expression, even if one completely disagrees with them.

, a bill miller

On my way to the library right now.
Thanks for the suggestions!
Anyone else?

, nathaniel stern

Hey Bill:

Don't know what you've been reading, but here's some of the fun stuff I liked (whether new or in a revisit) this year…

Jean-Luc Nancy excites me greatly. Brian Massumi for more on virtuality (lovely!), and maybe Katherine Hayles' now classic ironic text on the posthuman, just for fun and history regarding technology and embodiment theory. I've also recently finished Relational Aesthetics - a much easier read, which I had been putting off for some time - and found some interesting parallels with regards to interactive work in the more literal sense (rather than the socially participative sense he means), despite Bourriaud's disdain for such art. Claire Bishop and Nicolas de Oliveira have easier summaries on the general trajectories of installation if that interests (should be in your library), and the former also has a recently edited theoretical book called "participation," which collates many inspired arts texts over the last century or so… And you and I can discuss any and all together when I get to Milwaukee in the Fall!

Best, nathaniel

, a bill miller

I was reading a bunch on Relational Aesthetics awhile ago and that might be an interesting option. And I've read some of Hayles (Writing Machines) and really liked it. This is going to be really fun.

I've decided to run this as an online group with the occasional in-person meet up. I also want to find pdf's of the readings so that I can post them to the group as a way to share (but of course with credits). So far the difficulty is finding online copies, but that will work its way out.

, Sal Randolph

Aaaarg is a great resource for finding theory type readings online:

& iff you do want some stuff on Relational Aesthetics and the like, I have a list of online reading resources here:

, Sal Randolph

Oh, and another online library of theory & art theory readings

, a bill miller

Great! Thanks!

, Tara Rebele


You've already gotten good suggestions here. The Motherwell looks really good, though I've only read a few parts so far. The Claire Bishop "Participation" that Nathaniel mentioned is a good easy read because, as he mentioned, it has a sampling of theoretical, curatorial/critical and artist's writings. And its approach to the term "participation" is nice as it attempts to expand on current offerings by looking at it through the lens of social engagement.

I think if you are meeting some resistance to longer/denser single author works something like this could be a good alternative as it offers a range of perspectives, doesn't ask the reader to invest at length in any one, yet any of the texts could serve as a catalyst for further exploration. So maybe a reader type book would work well for your purposes? Also in the same series as the Bishop Participation is "The Artist's Joke" which explores the role of humor in art. I haven't read it yet so I can't tell you much about it– but I saw it at the library the other day and just had to grab it for its title. Now it is on my ever-growing stack of summer reads, as is the Bourriaud, which I've also been meaning to get to it …

Not sure if the dynamic would be appropriate for your group, but you could also try running it like a book club– where each participant gets to select one reading (a book or an article, chapter, excerpt) for the group. Or if that would be too many readings you could have everyone bring one book/text to the first meeting and allow the group to vote on the selections.

For one of my classes this spring I set up a Ning. I tried this because I hoped it would be comfortable for them–like what they do on their own time, it feels less academic than Blackboard, which they only use for classes, and it can be gotten to when they can get to it. There were some nice posts in the forums about readings and artworks. But, there was also an energy to our in-class discussions that wasn't replicated in the forums– the buzzing and bouncing off one another that being in the same room can generate. So maybe there's something to be said for both the online and offline approaches. Perhaps try a mix?

Tara Rebele

, a bill miller

You're right on with your suggestions about how to select texts. Because this is a sort of "peer" group, I think its best if everyone is invested by helping to determine what the readings are. I am going to choose a few readings to get the ball rolling and then see where it leads depending on the group. That is where I think the online component will be really nice… group members could vote or discuss what's next. I also think its important to meet offline too. I think the more diverse the approach, the easier it is for some people to engage. Discussions could carry over to the meetings from the online component and vice versa.
Thanks again,
A. Bill

, Rob Myers

Relational Aesthetics is good for making sense of contemporary art.

And in no particular order:

"Sweet Dreams" by Joanna Brucker
"Free Software, Free Society" by Richard Stallman
"Censoring Culture" by Atkins et al
"Free Culture" by Lawrence Lessig
"The Laws Of Cool" by Alan Liu
"Essays On Art & Language" by Charles Harrison
"OurSpace" by Christine Harold
"Collecting Contemporary Art" by Louisa Buck
"Rhythm Science" DJ Spooky/Paul Miller
"Purple Cow" by Seth Goodin
"The Dedalus Book Of Absinthe" by Phil Baker

, a bill miller

I've been meaning to read "Rhythm Science" for some time… I knew this would start to happen… my personal reading list is going to triple! Thanks!

, curt cloninger

As an exercise in meta-macroscopic perspectives:

Whitehead's Adventures of Ideas
Lovejoy's The Great Chain of Being
Deleuze's What Is Philosophy? (sorry about the Delueze)
Latour's We Have Never Been Modern

, a bill miller

Again, those sound good… thanks for the recommendations!
We just got the group started and this list will help if we run short. Otherwise its going to be a list of things to read for myself.