Tracing the Tacit: Silence, Chance, Disorientation and Entropy
Escalator Retreat: 13-17 May 2013

Artists, art-writers and curators explored underlying ideas, influences and concept, which inform their practice but are not immediately apparent in their finished work.



Escalator Visual Arts

The retreat was organised around four key themes: Silence, Chance, Disorientation and Entropy - subliminal systems that govern creative decision-making and create tacit forms of experience and knowledge. We invited proposals for a workshop centred around one of the four topics, at a duration of one hour. During five immersive and reflective days selected participants led their own workshop, took part in the activities led by others and joined in talks by invited speakers as a means of exploring their practice, sharing ideas, and approaching their work from other perspectives.

Tracing the Tacit was suited to artists, art-writers and curators interested in multidisciplinary exercises, both led and self-initiated, including contributions from experts in diverse fields. The organisers of this programme, four curating students from the Royal College of Art, Margrethe Troensegaard, Miloslav Vorlicek, Ritz Wu and Paula Lopez Zambrano, took part in the retreat with the invited practitioners.

A total of six participants were invited to attend the retreat following a selection process. Three places were reserved for those from the South East and East of England regions. There was no charge for participating in the retreat. The first day of the retreat was devoted to practice presentations. Following this each day was structured as an investigation into one of the four themes:

Chance Encounters, led by Margrethe Troensegaard. From the I Ching through mathematics, Surrealism, neo-avant-garde music to contemporary participatory practices, chance has been wielded as a source of inspiration, as artistic methodology, structure of composition, and as content. This day was devoted to multidisciplinary investigations of the phenomenon of ‘planned unpredictability’ – as an underlying and invisible tool, aim or by-product of artistic and curatorial making, and its potential within this framework.

Disorientation, led by Miloslav Vorlicek. First in time, then in place and finally in person: these are the typical symptoms of disorientation. It is implicit that humans go through disorientating experiences at various stages of their lives, be it through felicity or loss of memory, to name just a few. By the examination of diverse forms and mechanisms of disorientation, practitioners were invited to investigate how these conditions or states may exhort the processes in which artistic and curatorial practices are structured.

The Language of Silence, led by Paula Lopez Zambrano. "Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness" (Samuel Beckett). Sometimes language hides meaning that cannot be communicated through words or symbols.  This day explored the ways in which silence can provide access to a tacit experience when reflecting upon the explicit components of language —those which can be directly transmitted and understood by others— in opposition to what cannot be transferred by means of writing, drawing or speaking.

Entropy, led by Ritz Wu. The rhetorical definition of entropy is as a universal law, stating that all physical entities are in a state of perpetual loss of energy, or decline.  It therefore becomes a potent metaphor for the vengeance of time upon all systems, states, and forces. The gradual unraveling of order as an absolutism of our environment has been adapted to various usages in artistic and scientific practice, which was explored in this part of the retreat, as a meditation on how this idea may be subverted to different ends.


All artists attending the retreat were invited to propose ideas to develop their findings from it further, either jointly or individually. A number of proposals (dependant on numbers submitted and amounts) from each retreat are selected and supported to submit applications to Grants for the Arts to realise their ideas.


Escalator is the pioneering talent plan from Arts Council England, East that finds, supports and invests in the best artistic talent across all artforms throughout the East of England. Escalator is establishing the East of England as the leading UK region for talent development. Since it launched in 2003, Escalator has helped over 250 artists to develop their work, forge new partnerships and reach new audiences.

Tracing the Tacit was curated by first year RCA Curating students: Margrethe Troensegaard, Miloslav Vorlicek, Ritz Wu and Paula Lopez Zambrano.

The participants were: Rebecca Bligh, Terry Bond, Edward Clive, Ruth Hoflich, Jack James and Emily Speed.

The invited speakers were: Mete Atature, Lizzie Fisher, Paul Goodwin, Marysia Lewandowska, Katie Paterson, and Kate Cooper and Marianne Forrest from Auto Italia.

Image: Photograph of magnified lens fungus from a camera lens © Richard J. Kinch