Productive Counter-Production

Some thoughts on DesignInquiry’s Productive Counter-Production residency on Vinalhaven, Maine.

Productive Counter-Production, an idea put forth by Gabrielle Esperdy, and fostered by Gail Swanlund after Gabrielle gave a memorable lecture on the subject at CalArts, arrived in my life when the idea of productive counter-production struck as more about doing something different than doing something other than what I should be doing. Productive Counter-Production isn’t a justification or excuse to ignore the relentless list; it’s an opposing force. It is a way to see a different facet, to shed a different light, to depart [act] then return. It is a form of travel.

I taught myself to net during the DesignInquiry week on Vinalhaven.


The surprise, though, was how this counter-productive practice changed what I saw. My radio was tuned to nets and weaving. Everywhere I looked, there was a technique or form that schooled the process happening at my two netting stations. Despite the didacticness of learning to net, productive counter-production’s inherent open format encouraged creative cross-referencing.

chair2 chair










And although I did learn to net and completed one ghost net and one bait bag, the most satisfying outcomes of productive counter-production used the same materials, but took a different form.