top of page

49 items found

Publications (3)

  • Public arts enquiry

    An informal investigation of what it means to be an artist today. Throughout the years of navigating the art world, we encountered some oddities of the trade, some non-written rules, many questions and very few answers. Because of this, I started researching art and the art world in hopes of understanding the underlying meaning of art and its role in the world. We created the Magic Circle, an experiment to capture the sentiment & underlying meaning of art and its playground called the art world. A public Arts enquiry that is not seeking truths but thoughts, perspectives and desires. Some questions may seem subjective and ambiguous; it’s by design. We collected results for two months; we reached 263 people worldwide, primarily based in the UK, Europe, the United States, Mexico and India. 50.6% of participants identify themselves as an artist, 18.6% as cultural workers, and 30.6% as members of the general public. The study reveals polar opposite opinions on art, revealing a deep confusion in our understanding. We are still capturing entries that are not reflected in the draft of the current results. Parallel to the enquiry, Art Conundrum is a study that invites you to rethink your assumptions about art and its role in society, the narratives we validate daily, how we relate to each other as a community, and our role in the cultural wars. Social, political and economic approaches need the context of culture to validate their role and purpose; culture is the creation of the future. Magic Circle was supported by ACME, and University College London supported the creation of the study, which was later presented in Mind the Gap: Designing Residencies for Everyone – London Conference 2023. Tiz Creel ©2023 - artist & maker Thank you for reading 🫀

  • Quipu | Three-Dimensional Writing System

    Quipus expand our understanding of what writing can be — multidimensional. The quipu code is a language system using knotted strings, which was used by ancient cultures of the Andean region of South America, notably the Inca Empire. Considered a form of writing, it communicates complex and meaningful information through a symbolic system. Unlike alphabetic or logographic writing, it relies not on visual symbols but on tactile and spatial ones. The quipu code was used for various purposes, such as accounting, taxation, census, calendrical, and military organisation. It was also a way of preserving historical, mythological, and religious narratives and planning future events. Over time, the quipus evolved to serve artistic and literary purposes. Unfortunately, over time, knowledge of how to interpret quipus was lost. However, a Spanish census record was found to match the six quipus. This discovery was significant for deciphering ancient records. The quipu has a central cord from which hangs several pendant cords of different colours, lengths, and knots. The position, direction, and type of the cords’ knots, colour, and material encode numerical and categorical data in a base-ten positional system. According to Sabine Hyland, an anthropologist, some quipus have a logosyllabic system, where the knots and the fibres vary according to the sounds that make up words. The khipu writing system was three-dimensional, which made touch as important as sight. Each knot, twist, and colour had a meaning. Some could reveal who owed what to whom, others could tell stories of the past and present. Quipus expands our understanding of what writing can be. Deep Dive: Quipu | SpringerLink | A comprehensive overview of the quipu code’s history, structure, and functions. It is written by Marcia Ascher and Robert Ascher, two experts who have studied and described hundreds of quipus. Quipu — Latin American Studies — Oxford Bibliographies | Annotated bibliography entry that lists and evaluates some of the most important sources on the quipu code, including books, articles, and websites. It is written by Gary Urton, a professor of anthropology and a leading authority on the quipu code. Code of the Quipu | detailed descriptions of over 200 quipus, as well as references to other quipu descriptions and the locations of extant quipu specimens. It is maintained by Marcia Ascher and Robert Ascher, the authors of the book Code of the Quipu: A Study in Media, Mathematics, and Culture. The Khipu Database Project — Professor Gary Urton initiated the Khipu Database Project, which aimed to collect and analyse a large number of Khipus. Over 900 Khipus were gathered for detailed examination and study. The College Student Who Decoded the Data Hidden in Inca Knots: Tells the story of Manuel Medrano, a Harvard student who deciphered a set of quipus by matching them to a Spanish census document. — Tiz Creel (Founder of Living Things Studio ©2023) Keep it curious.

  • The art conundrum

    From the starving artists to the lone genius, we will explore some oddities, dilemmas, social rules and questions in this strange field. This text will invite you to rethink your assumptions about art and its role in society, the narratives we validate daily, and how we relate to each other as a community. Abandoned Youth The systemic exclusion of young artists and the myth of posthumous fame. We don't celebrate young artists, either by coincidence or design. Some might say that experience creates masterpieces; others say it is a method of systemic exclusion. This observation led me to explore the old myth of posthumous, where artists get famous once they are dead. Maybe that is what art was meant to be: hindsight, that moment of clarity long after the storm. Chances are that the evolution of art is already here, but you cannot identify it because if you could see it now, it wouldn't be. Perhaps artists are not meant to become famous because no one allows freedom, which is only possible by touching the outskirts of social walls that define how we think and behave. To go beyond what is presented and find inspiration outside the social baggage that conditions which we are. How can you support artists without them having to become famous? Artists starting during the first ten years need more investment, not less. Predicting the Unpredictable Can art’s next big thing be predicted? A network of institutions and galleries defines the value of art. I am going back to basics. Art can't be defined or outlined. It has no direction, no logical, socio-psychological, or mystical explanation of what makes it art. That is what makes it so magical. I always thought art was very different from other performance measures. Well, Network physicist Albert-László Barabási claims he can predict artists' success without looking at their work. Art performance is measured based on who painted it, who owned it, who commissioned it, and who wants it. Art is, at its heart, a reputation economy. The survival curves reveal that 52% of the artists had only one recorded show. Moreover, for those who have more than one exhibition, according to the data, ten years after their five exhibits, 86% of artists with low initial reputations stopped having exhibitions. The study Quantifying reputation and success in art identifies that the value of an artwork is defined by a series of connected institutions and galleries that lead to the centre of the network. He concludes that art is ruled by a handful of industry leaders (central nodes). If you can or cannot get there, it is defined by who would work with you in your first five exhibits. The predictions were incredibly accurate. The best art is the most expensive because the market is so smart — Tobias Meyer, Sotheby's former Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art. Likewise, in 2012, an exhibition at MoMA showed how over 80 artists invented abstraction between 1910 and 1925. The exhibition opened with a diagram of the artists' network to show who knew each other. Two business professors used MoMA's data to analyse patterns of creativity; however, the data concluded that there was no correlation between creativity and fame for these artists. There was, however, a strong correlation between having a large and diverse network of contacts and being famous (Fame as Illusion of Creativity). It is because, In areas of human activity where performance is complex to quantify objectively, reputation and networks of influence have a central role in defining access to resources and rewards. Art is Trust Values underpinning the art sector and the role of social norms in determining art’s value. When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less. The question is, said Alice, whether you can make words mean so many different things. The question is, said Humpty Dumpty, which is to be master — that's all. He talks about it just as if it was a game! - thought Alice. — Lewis Carroll (Through the Looking Glass). Even though art has always been considered a subjective experience in a particular place and time, art history is taught as a tale of extraordinary human achievement. Art is transformative, revolutionary, and sublime. The reason sophisticated, experienced, and legally represented institutes are willing to pay millions for something that the law does not recognise because of the social norms of the art world. For us, art is the act of belief; for the rest of the world, it is a matter of trust. Art has unclear definitions, leaders, structures, goals/objectives, communities, and foundations. What I thought to be the virtue of art was setting the scene for something much darker. Like anything else, arts is tied to the free market; value is a measure of confidence and privilege—a world where money is behind nearly every decision made. Looking closely at the foundations of the art sector, we identify values like competition, gatekeeping, social exclusion, the cult of the genius and the exploitation of the genius persona. Why are private views not private? You might say it's just a word, but all words have a context and meanings. The words we choose to define art are a significant window to our identity as an arts community. William Powell Frith's painting represents the private view of the RA summer exhibition. the exhibition was open to the public for a fee. Before the public opening, guests like royal family members, aristocrats, patrons, critics, and artists had a special preview. Private views might be private now, but the idea of exclusivity remains. If we don't understand our past, we can't understand our present. This is true for art as it is for our own lives. Artist Salvatore Garau sold an invisible sculpture for £12,959 at an auction. The funds are set to create a competitive environment, setting up measures and markers for success that do not correlate with the art itself whilst validating them over and over again. The funding system places institutions in a constant position of precarity and survival despite the visual arts contributing £49 billion in gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy in 2022. £35 billion more than the combined automotive, life sciences, aerospace, and oil and gas industries (McKinsey & Company). Money is not allocated according to the needs of artists and creators but to preserve established institutions. Artists represent only 3% of salaried employees in publicly funded arts organisations (The Big Freelancer report). The more organisations restructure themselves to rely on fundraising and sponsorship, the more vulnerable they become. In a study titled Who Runs the Arts in England? a social network analysis of arts boards showed how board members connect with funded organisations. The study argues that cultural organisations have become more market-driven and are losing autonomy due to policy demands and curatorial and programming priorities, even at the NPO level. This elite dominance contrasts cultural policy's efforts to democratise the arts (ACE, 2010, 2020). Art Life Between low-pay art jobs, the risk of youth poverty, and the need for more opportunities for artists. They say the trick is to find work that doesn't exhaust the body or fill the head to have something left to create. Slowly but surely cementing the legacy of the myth of starving artists - which is, for the detriment of our community, not a myth. Richard Serra was a removal man, Susan Hiller was a receptionist at a Skoda factory, and Ed Kienholz sold vacuum cleaners. Besides paying jobs, artists need to keep up with the fast-moving world. To be an artist is to be a facilitator, salesman, marketing and community manager, P&R agent, academic writer, and magic maker. Is what you can get away with —Andy Warhol The risk of youth poverty is on the rise in Europe. The younger generation is unable to build wealth like their parents and grandparents. Low-paid work done by young men increased by 45% between 1993 and 2015. The crisis is leading younger generations to social exclusion. People cannot afford to participate in society. The world was different for Richard, Susan and Ed. Inexpensive things carry hidden costs, frequently borne by exploited, underpaid worker. However, there are more opportunities for artists than ever. The RA Summer Exhibition is one of the oldest exhibitions in England, and it's still running. Unlike the William Powell Firth painting, the exhibition is now free entry, funded by the artist with over 660,000 pounds for administrative costs despite being funded by Insight Investment. It is evermore challenging to ignore that art is not a real career, as my grandfather would note. Art is a hobby; why don't you do something else like graphic design? — Tiz Creel grandfather The report titled Structurally F–cked, included a survey conducted by Industria with testimonies from artists who shared their experiences of injustice, discrimination, and frustration in the UK. The survey revealed a median hourly rate of £2.60 an hour, dramatically below the UK minimum wage of £9.50. Either institutions like the British Council and the Arts Council England have reviewed, approved, and funded projects that violate the UK's labour laws, or the benefits and protections of being a citizen do not apply to artists. Like my grandfather, the government doesn't see artists as true workers with real jobs. Never invest in a business that you do not understand — Warren Buffett, Financial Bull. Nobody would argue against the idea that art has social value. Yet, almost nobody will agree that society must protect art and acknowledge and compensate the labour of the people who produce it. Art education does not help. It hides artists inside their studios, and the curriculum prevents them from working outside art world institutions. They are designed to fail. We are all participating in a system in which we are not fully valued (or, in Buffett's terms, understood). What other options do we have? Follow Duchamp's advice and go underground. Cultural Wars How do narratives shape our understanding and value of art. As we examine the narratives more deeply, we begin to get a complete picture. Stories like art is not a real job or starving artists are ideas that are now deeply embedded in the way we think, behave, and relate to each other, progressively shaping our reality. By doing what we do daily, we validate and give life to those narratives. Stories, images, music, and games form our values before they become political issues. Social, political, and economic approaches need the context of culture to reexamine their role and purpose. Culture is nothing less than the creation of the future. Politics is downstream from culture — Andrew Breitbart Today, culture is dominated by commercial interests, mass control, and misinformation. In these times when people desperately need perspective, art seems ever more disconnected from the general public. When healthy, art offers a window to our most profound truths, which have continued to awe us for hundreds of years. Art will live as long as humans do, but the cultural context is gone. Today, culture is somewhere else. As the lines blur the distinction between culture and advertising, where is art? Where do we, as a community, stand? Some might say that art has never been made for regular audiences and that not everybody can appreciate art. But, in a world that is evermore divided, where the survival of our species is in question, we need art & culture more than ever. Where is the utopian future? The death of alternative means that all viable systematic alternatives have been exhausted, that we've hit the end of the line regarding economic models, and that politics can now be about making things look better. All existence is evaluated in terms of money, presented to us as ideal because everything else has failed or could be worse. The death of alternatives is closing down any possibility of collective dreaming. They express the polarity inherent in every self-regulating system. They can never be solved, but only outgrown — Carl Jung. The crisis is the moment at which the truth reveals itself, and this is when we should challenge it the most. Today's predominant ideology is not a positive vision of some utopian future but a cynical vision of resignation and acceptance. The roles of creativity and culture as developmental tools have not been removed, limited, or denied. Hegel and Danto declared the death of art; Art as a practice will continue but has no more ways of progressing. This means that art has reached a point where it no longer has a distinctive purpose or direction and where anything can be considered art. As a result, art is becoming more isolated and self-centred, losing its distinctive role in human culture. In the art world, there aren't any standards or values; they've all been dismantled (rightly so). However, there are no discussions about the meaning and purpose of art in today's context. Art means something different for each person. Calls for regulation of the art market rarely come from within the art, and despite the conundrum, everyone seems to be comfortable with how things are. No one challenges the structure and content in any meaningful way. It is wild to think that no whistleblowers or scandals exist in an industry with so much obscurity. The art world is ruthless, just like the very core of human nature. Art is a handshake business, and if someone treats you poorly, don't deal with them again, but don't go public with your gripes: it's bad form, and will result in bad karma —Adam Lindemann. When Darwin wrote about evolution, he wasn't doing it in a vacuum; he was influenced by the writings of economist Thomas Malthus. Darwin saw the features of a capitalist economy in the theory of evolution. Darwin showed that in organisms, the logic of natural selection ensures that the better-adapted types slowly but surely displace the less well-adapted. He coined the term "the economy of nature", which describes the struggle for existence among living organisms. Even though Darwin did mention mutual support as a feature of evolution, he emphasised the role of competition and scarcity in shaping human society. Somehow, Darwin needed the survival of the fittest to justify evolution. Those who tell the story rule the society — Plato The skull is a Homo erectus from Georgia who lived about 1.8 million years ago. He had lost all his teeth except for one and had a severe jaw infection. He survived for several years after losing his teeth; someone or a community was helping him survive. Almost 1.8m years ago, someone practised compassion and care before our species began. Mutual support and selflessness have been observed wildly in nature; we have found social structures and societies in nature. We can't deny there is an immense amount of violence and extermination, but there is at the same time as much mutual support and selflessness. Sociability is as much a law of nature as mutual struggle. Divergent problems cannot be killed...They can, however, be transcended — Schumacher, 1995. Wishful Thinking Role of art in creating behavioural change and shaping the future. Art has meant different things in different times and contexts. When contemplating artworks, just like listening to music or reading, we discover an interest in the world. Culture, in the original meaning (to cultivate), is how we might nurture our lives. "I believe the world will be saved by beauty." — Prince Lev Nikolyaevich Myshkin, the protagonist of The Idiot. Culture is at the centre of finding solutions to change society and its development; culture is a collective endeavour for personal and for humanity's enrichment, culture being nothing less than the creation of the future. To change the culture and the systems, choose the story that is a foundation for the future. Art has a role to play in creating behavioural change because artists are supposed to be the people who have that kind of freedom to play with infinite possibilities. We need to build trust within our community and with the general public. Because there might be no function of art, but there are consequences. The future will be created with or without us. Something might tell us that some kind of end of art has indeed occurred, but that can only mean some new narrative could now be structured. The future belongs to those who can see it. Radical ideas can and do penetrate the system, but this usually occurs despite policies or institutional support. We can assert some control over what art is and what it can do, and maybe others might be inspired by our example. I want to prove to myself how necessary art is to our daily lives, culture, and communities. Art should be seen and felt by everyone. The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes — Marcel Proust. Tiz Creel ©2023 - artist & maker living in London Thank you for reading 🫀 Read more about the text: Public arts enquiry

View All

Our work (46)

  • About | Living Things Studio

    About OUR STORY From an early age, I have fostered an unsatisfied curiosity. I didn't know it then, but play was already essential to my life. ​ During my artistic endeavours, my goal was to transform passive observers into engaged participants, hoping they would develop affection or interest in the work. This period marked the beginning of a journey into the myriad forms of play, including immersive theatre, tabletop games, video games, live-action role-play, and more. Over five years, I delved deep into play's forms, engaging in practice, theory, experimentation, and validation. ​ Play offers a wide range of applications and benefits. It helps us pursue a higher interest in the things around us. When we play, we engage fully with life and its contents to discover the most profound truths in ordinary things. ​ After numerous collaborative projects, I began compiling research, methodologies, and frameworks on play, leading to what we now call the Play Method. This foundation enabled the launch of Living Things Studio, which is focused on creating, sharing, and promoting play. Tiz Creel | founder & Director Tiz Creel About ABOUT PLAY Play is found widely in nature, and it is highly relevant in social psychology. Like dark matter, play is considered fundamental yet poorly understood. We have overlooked the potential and power of play by believing it is a non-productive child behaviour — our mission is to change that idea. ​ Our values are built around the belief that play — as a concept, a design tool, and an experience — is vital in understanding ourselves and the world around us. We are only scratching the surface of what play can do for us. ​ ABOUT CARE It is crucial for us to raise awareness of the multiple underlying societal issues we face, but most importantly, we need people to care more. That is why we focus on building a stronger society by embedding ideas of care, responsibility, and culture in most of our work. We see play as a tool to explore social change. Through the interactions between play and reality, new truths could emerge. Today, we need to play more than ever to encounter the challenges and uncertainties of the future; for us, imagination driven by play is the parameter for understanding the unknown.

  • Projects

    PAST EXPERIENCE CRAFTING DIGITAL WORLDS Exploring digital spaces WORRIES WALL Capture the Collective Sentiment. ECOLOGICAL COLLAPSE! Environmental awareness through a collapsable tower. PARADE OF FRIENDLY MONSTERS Community engagement project. ONLY A GAME? An AR game about climate change and global warming. SEIZE THE POWER Board game about discrimination and inequality. CHILDREN MAKING UTOPIAS Research study about building utopias. ANY PITCH WAY Pop-Up football pitch to celebrate women’s football. SITE SPECIFIC ACTIVATION ten strange creatures set along the floor of Deptford High Street for visitors to explore. WHIMSICAL CREATURES Strange creatures take over the streets of Cholula, Mexico. INFLATABLE STRUCTURE A bouncy castle designed for people to fall. CLIMATEPROV Aabsurd and intriguing interplay between human and AI performance.

  • Work with us | Living Things Studio

    WHAT DO WE DO? We collaborate with groups, organisations and institutions seeking inspiring and transformative experiences. In the past, we worked with diverse clients & partners to design new experiences and solutions that include: Tools & resources Creative sessions & exploraitons Games, play forms, & play spaces Installations & immersive experiences Community engagement initiatives Your idea! Toolkits and learning resources that provide instructions, standards, and information for self-led explorations and learning experiences.

View All
bottom of page