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In capitalist societies the habitual definition of individual freedom is seen as an assumption of a right to exercise individual initiative directed towards the potential increase of individual wealth. However, the majority of people find themselves in the position of selling their individual abilities in exchange for the material means of survival at the expense of other fundamental human needs. They serve the interests of the individual or controlling group which has the power to create circumstances for the production and acquisition of profit.

John Latham, in his recent Report and Offer for Sale presented at the INNO 70 exhibition, Hayward Gallery London, December 2 – 23 1971, makes certain predictions on behalf of the APG which have a direct bearing on this issue: “It should not be unreasonable to prediction improved qualitatively, as n that as a result of carefully directed dissemination of the basic concepts, in 20 years some thousands of millions of people will have their lives significantly, as compared with their present condition today; many major policy-decisions will have been altered and innovations introduced of a kind which will be fundamentally democratic on a wider base than is possible under present short-term considerations of power.” (p. 8, PROSPECTS AND YIELD, 2nd para.) This concept involving the establishment of an undefinable activity, an invisible force capable of transforming the hearts, minds, and practices of individuals, groups, organisations, societies, forms the basis for the activities and practices of APG Research Limited and associated Trust. The implication being that it will render both capitalist practice and socialist ideals redundant, which are seem by Latham as ‘mere stratified habits of thought that have little to do with change’. (The Guardian, August 2  1971, Artists on the Shop Floor, Naseem Khan.) These two forces in reality determine the context of our lives. They control the ultimate means of destruction.

It is difficult to imagine the intrusion of a third social transforming force of the magnitude in which Latham speaks which was not conditioned by what preceded it, unless it is possible for an individual to adduce a pure concept unrelated to the immediate and historical socio-political context, but containing the necessary elements to change our relationships with the world. The more one considers the character of Latham’s concept and his assertion of the mass value of its potential, the more it assumes the guise of a faith. The dismissal of while areas of socio-political philosophy as ‘mere stratified habits of thought’ is understandable since they are aspects of the baser material world unenlightened by the absolute unmeasurable measure Delta, the Godhead: “…APG could be said to have started from a position in outer space, albeit focused hard down on the surface phenomenon of an encapsulated planet. The view is projected by the shafts of illuminating energy that come from individual apprehensions of a new fundamental concept, one that has not yet reached the public circuits.” (APG insert in Studio International, February 1971)

Latham defines the Delta Unit as: “This is a new concept whereby an old problem can be made accessible, the evaluation of the difference in the state between unconsciousness (e.g. sleep) and an optimum state of awareness – firstly as to single individual, and subsequently as to any coherent group or community. The state of sleep, not taken too literally, could be represented on the scale of Delta representation as D = 0. Correspondingly the optimum state would be represented by, say D = 100, thereby indicating intermediate states.” (p. 19, DELTA UNIT)  (Under the heading “Structural Principle in Delta” “Time Base” and “Time base in communications” are discussed (p. 19). For analysis and comment see Gustav Metzger “A critical look at Artist Placement Group” Studio International January 1972.)

How has APG Research Ltd. and Trust been organised and operated in order to achieve its aims? “The company APG is a Charitable Trust and with its associate APG Research Limited is a non-profit making intermediary organisation charging only for services. There are no shares held in either organisation. Its capital value in Delta, available to APG, is a product of the capacity of the APG (noit) individuals in conjunction with their administrative body.” (p. 2 CAPITAL/ASSESTS)  Its subsidising body is the Arts Council of Great Britain, which according to Latham ‘owns’ APG Research Limited Trust as a conceptual (art) work: ‘It has become fairly acceptable recently in areas where ‘sculpture’ and ‘painting’ were recognised carriers for ‘work’, for ‘the concept’ to be regarded as the chief element. It might be recorded moreover that the Arts Council of Great Britain was the first body to ‘buy’ conceptual works as such when it allocated funds to APG….” (?) (p. 11 NEW CONCEPTS)

John Latham is the only artist who is a Member of APG Research Limited. One supposes that he used what is now referred to as the Delta measurement during APG’s development. And therefore APG itself must be an example of what might result when other organisations are exposed to a Delta individual. One assumes that the other 13 Members of APG Research Limited support the (Latham) APG concept, and yet they have together with Latham assumed power over and above the artists who have related to APG as members of an artist (noit) panel. This seems to contain a contradiction since it is Latham’s (APG’s) claim that it is the artists, excluded from the decision making powers in APG, who have the mysterious Delta ingredient capable of transforming industrial and organisational contexts.

Latham also has been, at least until the INNO 70 exhibition, the chairman of the artists (noit) panel. NOIT is a term that has been used by Latham as a title for one or more of his own works since 1955 (Art News USA, March 1955, p. 48), and later in 1959 when he exhibited a painting called NOIT and SKOOB 1959, material paint and books, owned by the Alan Gallery New York City. In the catalogue of his exhibition at the Lisson Gallery in 1970, p. 24, Biography, reads “1960 … Emphasis on time as the key element in any ‘art’ activity, and invention of a term – NOIT – to signify a new definitive activity.” NOIT now refers to a collective body of artists. “The term NOIT refers to the activity of the individuals comprising the panel of artists. The role o APG (noit) is of an advisory nature and this body does not make executive decisions for APG, (whereas of course they do as Individuals, artists).” (p. 3 GROUP STRUCTURE)

Latham apart, the relationships artists have with APG are smaller to those of the employees of a private company, they have no control over the destiny of the company, they receive no wage or salary (but they may on agreement be placed in a company and receive a salary through the agencies of APG), and their activities are used at the discretion of the executive Members of APG. “10. The company agrees to supply to APG all reasonable information it requires concerning the Association and the operation of these arrangements for the purposes of its research data, and also agrees that APG shall be entitled to obtain from the artist all similar information. APG will treat all such information as confidential. It APG wishes to publish any reference to this Association in any annual or any other report it will refer the text of such references to the Company for approval beforehand.” (p. 18 THE PROPOSED CONTRACT … whereby it is suggested the Organisation finalises an Association (with an artist).)

APG Research Limited is a private company which ahs been subject to the transforming influence o the Delta motivated individual since 1969, i.e. John Latham. The structure o the company is that of a tightly knit, highly autocratic family business, with a poor record of human relations, particularly with artists, and in view of the number of companies approached, i.e. 110, given four operation years the results have been meagre – culminating in only three associations for periods of longer than 3 months. (p.10 GROUP FINANCE)  Art cannot exist at the expense of people. It becomes a form of tyranny.

APG was one of a number of organisations founded and operated by artists since the mid-sixties. They now appear to have been a series of attempts to resolve aspects of the developing larger crisis in which artists and art are seen to be largely irrelevant given the priorities of capitalist society.