Concerning Stephen Willats and the Social Function of Art
This book on Stephen Willats pulls together key strands of his practice and threads them through histories of British cybernetics, experimental art, and urban design. For Willats, a cluster of concepts about control and feedback within living and machine systems (cybernetics) offered a new means to make art relevant.
For decades, Willats has built relationships through art with people in tower blocks, underground clubs, middle-class enclaves, and warehouses on the Isle of Dogs, to investigate their current conditions and future possibilities. Sharon Irish's study demonstrates the power of Willats's multi-media art to catalyze communication among participants and to upend ideas about "audience" and "art." Here, Irish argues that it is artists like Willats who are now the instigators of social transformation.