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1996-2018 All Rights Reserved © FormLAB,  Les Joynes Joynes LLC, ARS, New York and DACS London.


FormLAB (FormLaboratory) is a geographically-dispersed (nomadic) artist collective conceived by Les Joynes (US) at Goldsmiths in 1996. An arts research series FormLAB explores the root-processes of artmaking and interdisciplinary collaboration. FormLAB and artist-centric practices in museum is the topic of Joynes’ research at Goldsmiths, University of London; the Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity and Nation (TrAIN),University of the Arts London; Columbia University, New York; and his post-doctoral research at Escola de Comunicações e Artes, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil. Joynes is selected as US Department of State Zero1 Art and Technology Artist (2019). Images above and below, FormLAB installations, at the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture, Sao Paolo, 2012


In 2009 FormLAB created a pop-up museum on 39th street in Manhattan's Garment District (FormLAB, 2009); occupied a former textile factory in France (FormLAB, 2010), a factory neighborhood in Seoul (FormLAB, 2012); the Brazilian Museum of Sculpture, Sao Paulo (FormLAB, 2012); Zanabazar Museum of Art, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia (FormLAB, 2014) and most recently Inside-Out Art Museum, Beijing with performances on the Great Wall, (FormLAB 2017). FormLAB now prepares exhibitions for St. Petersburg, Russia (FormLAB 2020).


Above, Video still from multi-technology performances, Treignac Project, France (2010) 


In its different iterations FormLAB becomes a temporary shelter, or a hideout for time (Robert Smithson in "Entropy and the New Monuments," (Artforum, June 1966) FormLAB positions itself within spaces that capture and preserve time and become temporary “living dioramas”  that present instants of artistic creation, uncertainty, discovery and the unexpected. (1) particularly in spaces not yet templated by history or expectation. FormLAB relocates the focus of art away from only the final object created by the artist into a system of operations where the artist and spectators experience the artwork as a series of intersecting timelines that recursively unfold within the exhibition space. 


FormLAB mines found-objects from localized communities and activates them within an art space. It creates production systems: transforming materials on site into artworks; and archive systems for display within museums and galleries. 


In addition to building on the concepts of time evoked by Robert Smithson, FormLAB is inspired by Cabaret Voltaire (1916) (Kandinsky, Klee, Tzara, Taeuber-Arp, de Chirico, and Ernst), the Cadavre Exquis experiments of Andre Breton (1918), Oskar Schlemmer’s Triadisches Ballet (1922) and William Burroughs Cut-Ups (1970). This results in installations that combine performances, videos and contemporary cabinets of curiosity.



Above,  FormLAB Performance, Shifting 0.00000000103279% of the Great Wall (2min 50s), China, 2017


Above,  FormLAB Performances, Zanabazar Museum of Art, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, 2014. 







(1) In the early 2000s curators began to express an interest in the notion of the laboratory as ‘still untouched by science’ from “Laboratories is the answer, what is the question?” TRANS 8 (2000) from Bishop, Clare, (2004) Antagonism and Relational Aesthetics: October (Fall 2004): pp. 51-79.


As Maurice Blanchot wrote “Interruptions having somehow the same meaning as that which does not cease. Both are affects of passivity. Where power does not reign – nor initiative, nor the cutting edge of a decision – there, dying is living. There dying is the passivity of life – of life escapes freed from itself and confounded with the disaster of a time without present which we endure without waiting, by awaiting a misfortune which is not still to come, but which has always already come upon us and which cannot be present.” Blanchot, Maurice, The Writing of the Disaster, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, 1986, p 21


The informe (or formless) is defined by Georges Bataille in Documents (1929) as “…not only an adjective having a given meaning, but a term that serves to bring things down in the world, generally requiring that each thing have its form. What it designates has no rights in any sense and gets itself squashed everywhere.” In Bataille, G (1929), Documents 1, Paris, p. 382 (translated by Allan Stoekl et al, Georges Bataille. Vision of Excess. Selected Writings, 1927-1939, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press “Formless”, p. 31).

Above,  FormLAB Installation, Inside-Out Art Museum, Beijing, 2017.