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Ernest Dowson Contemporary Art Project

Six degrees of decadence: 31st May - 7th June 2008

Throughout the week of Brockley Max, Jam Circus will play host to
Six degrees of decadence a new digital-based art project based on the life and works of the Poet Ernest Dowson which playfully explores ideas of connection, truth, history and technology.

Dowson was an English poet, novelist and writer of short stories associated with the Decadent movement and is buried in Brockley Cemetery just a few hundred yards from there. As a contributor to the 'Yellow Book' and 'Savoy' magazines of the 1890s and a member of the Rhymers' Club, he worked and socialised with better-known contemporaries such as Oscar Wilde and WB Yeats, and the artist Aubrey Beardsley, who illustrated several of Dowson's works. Despite such renowned acquaintances Dowson's own life mirrored Yeats' idea of 'the tragic generation' - destined for failure and in many cases early death - with Dowson dying penniless in 1900, aged 32.

The larger part of Dowson's life and works remain unknown to most people, however both he and his writing inspired many other people, words and works. This is the starting point of Six degrees of decadence.

Throughout the week they will trace some of the associations and influences of Dowson using the password for Jam Circus' wireless network. Each day the password will be changed to reveal a another Dowson connection. By logging onto the wireless network there you will be taking part in a collaboration that ultimately produces a new visual artwork; specific to Jam Circus, the week and the amount of time that you spend connected to the network. As with Dowson, what you choose to use the network for remains invisible to people, but the time you spend connected will impact upon the final work.

This is the first off-site art project of Tea Leaf Arts and the start of a series of commissions and public artworks that aims to engage broader audiences in the making, understanding and enjoyment of contemporary art using everyday technologies and places.