This artwork engaged the field of participatory and collaborative art practice. Produced for ‘Open Congress’ at Tate Britain, it addressed the question that propelled the 2-day event: how can the methods of ‘Open Source’ – software that anyone is free to copy, modify and distribute – be transferred to cultural production? As such, it took the form of a simulated flower stall – in the Clore Foyer and Auditorium – bricolaged from brightly coloured household implements.
The ‘modular’ construction of the ‘flowers’ invited modification and redistribution through interaction, which was additionally encouraged via workshop sessions. The workshops also addressed issues of copyright, and introduced the use of ‘copy-left’ or ‘Creative Commons’ licenses which legalised the freedom I was giving to visitors to appropriate ‘The Blooming Commons’. The novel application of the Open Source ethos to art production elaborated a particular ‘ecology’ of art, and an ethic and aesthetic of recycling.
While the eminent international, theorists of ‘open source’ e.g. Trebor Scholz, McKenzie Wark, and Tiziana Terranova offered papers on a range of Open Source-related themes, ‘The Blooming Commons’ was the only, actual Open Source art-work. Extensive research suggests that while, by definition, digital production in the area of Open Source art is fairly copious e.g. Rob Myers, Kollabor8, analogue production is less so - Julian Priest being one of the few examples; certainly ‘The Blooming Commons’ was the Tate’s first Open Source work of art.