Writing ideas︎︎︎
Twelve Assignments  
from Wayne Koestenbaum
1. Play a recorded piece of wordless music that you know very well. Listen to it once. Then, turn on a microphone that can record your speech, and listen to the piece again. Deliver an impromptu monologue while the piece is going. Afterward, transcribe your soliloquy.

2. Go to a museum or gallery and choose a work of art. Stand or sit in front of it. Write for ten minutes (without stopping). You needn’t mention the work of art.

3. Take notes while talking to someone on the phone. Afterward, transform your notes into a story.

4. Find a telephone book. Write a poem using as many names as possible from the yellow pages.

5. Watch a silent film. (Suggestion: F. W. Murnau’s Nosferatu.) While watching it, take notes. Transform your notes into a composition.

6. Ride a city bus. Get a window seat. Write down any words you see out the window. Go home and transform those notes into a two-page piece of writing.

7. Write about the potatoes in Chantal Akerman’s film Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. Or you can write about any other specific object (or category of object) in any film.

8. Buy or borrow a copy of the longest book you can find. (Suggestion: Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy.) Begin reading it. Start anywhere you want in the book. After a half-hour of reading, write for ten minutes; include, in what you write, at least one phrase from the long book you chose to be your composition’s incidental catalyst.

9. Make a list of names – first names – about which you have negative feelings. Choose one of the names – or more than one – and take fifteen minutes to write about the negative associations.

10. Begin to collect objects of a certain kind. Matchbooks. Pennies. Empty Kleenex boxes. Or something more beautiful, esoteric, captivating. After you have collected enough specimens – whenever you believe that point has been reached – write a brief inventory of the objects.

11. Describe an ungenerous or unkind act you have committed. The act could be merely verbal.

12. Take a pair of scissors, and cut out – very quickly – some random shapes from found pieces of paper, cloth, plastic, or other flexible materials. Assemble a small village of these fragmentary shapes. Write about that village, its inhabitants, its secrets.

2015. Reprinted in Figure it Out: Essays (Soft Skull Press, 2020).

Welcome to mapping collaboration, a toolbox for workshopping and creating across disciplines...

In spite of a long history of interdisciplinary creation, from our earliest recorded arts to our present moment, artistic pedagogy has created divisions between disciplines. This has left artists in a "post-Babel" condition where we don't share the same language and definitions. It’s also encouraged artists to develop practices for devising, creating and composing work that are distinct to their disciplines.

The inspiration for this project came from faculty and students at Simon Fraser University’s School for the Contemporary Arts where BFA, MFA and PhD programs in Dance, Theatre Production and Design, Visual Art, Film, and Music and Sound all work together in studio settings and playfully experiment with processes of art-making.

We wanted to create a database of projects, assignments and theory that we collect inside the studio and from research happening in other places. We are curious about how we collaborate and how structures reoccur, translate and deviate from one discipline to another.

Composition is central to these processes and offers a base for our approaches and experiments. We are excited about what our students are doing and inspired by the new languages in contemporary art and performance we continue to see develop.

︎︎︎select a category above to build assignments, learn more about how artists process ideas across disciplines and to create a collaborative process of your own

︎︎︎these tools are collected and used in workshops and classes; some are resources from artists; some are quotes about art-making and how bodies think and listen; others are ideas to expand and disrupt your own training and processes.  

︎︎︎Each idea is intentially short- and not meant to be executed as written, but to be adapted to your own practice and specific project/context. Some may be taken in parts or combined with others to spark new ways of training and making together.

︎︎︎submit your own ideas and tools so we can keep building this site!