Concerning Stephen Willats and the Social Function of Art Experiments in Cybernetics and Society (Bloomsbury, 2021)  pulls together key strands of London-based artist Stephen Willats’ practice and threads them through histories of British cybernetics, experimental art, and urban design. Willats built relationships through art with people in tower blocks, underground clubs, middle-class enclaves, and warehouses on the Isle of Dogs, to investigate their current conditions and future possibilities. Irish’s study demonstrates the power of Willats’s multi-media art to catalyze communication among participants and to upend ideas about “audience” and “art.” Irish argues that it is artists like Willats who are now the instigators of social transformation.

Sharon Irish is an art and architectural historian and adjunct lecturer at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her most recent book is Suzanne Lacy: Spaces Between (University of Minnesota Press, 2010). She has lectured in the United States, Canada, Europe, and India, and has taught library and information science, and architecture and art history at the University of Illinois. Her previous publications include a book-length bibliography on medievalism in North American art and architecture, a monograph on the architect Cass Gilbert (Monacelli Press, 1999), a number of articles and book chapters on Gilbert, and essays on artists Anish Kapoor, Suzanne Lacy, Nek Chand Saini, Le Corbusier, and Stephen Willats.