What is Art Scatter?

Art Scatter is an ongoing assemblage of our cultural material, our occupations and preoccupations, our hand print and shadow on the wall of the cave.

In archaeology the term “scatter” refers to the distribution of evidence of human activity. In archaeological resource surveys, a lithic scatter site denotes the haphazard arrangement of chipped stone flakes struck from obsidian or flintstone during the production of tools such as knives, arrowheads or scrapers. The arc of scatter shows us where the toolmaker squatted; the size and shape of the fragments reveal his craft. A more general artifact scatter may include the maker’s finished tool, as well as pottery, bone or other evidence of habitation, diet or culture of the tribe. A trash scatter – a dump – will include successive layers of discarded or abandoned items, a record of things disused, broken, forgotten. Scatter is thus at once the thing made, how it was made, and its history of use.

Art Scatter is our surface reconnaissance of the contemporary arts and culture landscape (with some subsurface burrowing as well), the arc of our own scatter as we examine the scatter of others.

Art Scatter is thus not to be confused with so-called “scatter art,” those minimalist installations or found environments of randomly collected materials that have aesthetic meaning only by virtue of their chance arrangement.

No, Art Scatter is about the purpose and meaning we bring to creation and observation. We gather, we carve, we leave marks, we study marks. We observe culture, we are part of culture.

— Vernon Peterson

a Portland-centric arts and culture blog