Jerwood/FVU Awards 2018
‘Unintended Consequences’

What the hell just happened? Did anyone see that coming? 2016 offered numerous examples of how the best-laid plans can unravel, and be subject to the law of unintended consequences.

There has been much talk in recent times about the ‘wisdom of crowds’, and how the aggregation of information about people’s individual choices and behaviour will generate invaluable data that can be used to establish the greatest good for the greatest number. This may be the moment to interject an element of doubt. Once we start to have the suspicion that if shit can happen then it probably will, how can we trust that next time it will be different? And anyway, even if it were to be the case, and exercises in prediction became such a safe bet that they were, in effect, a foregone conclusion, might this state of affairs not provoke a counter reaction, whose implications are not at all easy to foresee?

Art, on the other hand, should be contrary, quixotic – hard to fathom where it comes from, hard to work out where it might lead. Arts funders may want to try to measure and manage it; may seek ‘outcomes’ and have a desire to reach an optimum number of people, but art’s magic will always be elusive. Good art will continue to move us, but the how and the why by which it does so will always be moveable too.

The world we live in has become unfeasibly complex, and our urge to find solutions often only creates, or reveals, a new set of problems. Bugs get fixed but the fixes go on to spawn new bugs. Software designed to speed up the system (or shake up the market) unwittingly causes it to crash. Well-intentioned actions frequently have unintended side effects.

As we all know by now, you don’t always get out what you put in, but the efforts you do make can bring rewards when or where you least anticipate. Accidents will happen – you may be fated to be the unlucky fall-guy of someone else’s bright idea or even end up as a victim of your own success, but not every inadvertent by-product or unexpected outturn need have unwanted repercussions or negative consequences. They can also sometimes come as a pleasant surprise!

We want you to surprise us, disconcert us and disarm us with your responses to this theme.