Installation view »Open Codes«, photo © ZKM | Karlsruhe, photo: Steffen Harms

Stephen Willats
*1943 in London (GB), lives and works in London

»A State of Agreement«
1975, 4 panels, gouache, photographic prints, Letraset on card, ink

At the exhibition from October 20, 2017 to February 4, 2018


The four panels of »A State of Agreement« constitute a visualization of the social and behavioral dynamics of four couples. The depicted dynamic of their relations contains a shift from detachment to conflict, a transformation into the state of coexistence, and finally, the culmination in collaboration. The diagram's photographic visuals and text describe the changes that the couples go through.

The limited capabilities of human perception necessitate a reduction of the enormous amount of »input« into cognitively feasible models of reality. For mutual understanding, these models are built up from »codes« which function in interpersonal communication and relative according to the particular context. These codes can be used to formalize norms and conventions within a society. On the basis of this approach Stephen Willats creates a »diagram« language. The diagrams visualize coded behaviors, the existence of which makes communication and therefore a state of agreement possible.


Courtesy of Victoria Miro Gallery, London