Sunday, April 21, 2013

Truth in the Multiverse

Freedom and technology
Freedom In Nature
Multiverse truth

trajectory of thought
trajectory of time
Synonymous scale
Minimalist score
The miraculous is everywhere

Space membranes and the matrix
the infinite edge.
Community Eyes.
Imagining Helen Keller
Internal icon.

I missed the asteroid

Monday, December 3, 2012

Truth in the Sovereignty of Subjectivity

A slightly and intentionally rhizomatic response to Brian Prugh’s article, can an artist be Wrong?

            I would first like to state that Kenneth’s Goldsmiths, NYC project, “Capital”, is a contribution to knowledge. Goldsmith is researching New York City’s history, gleaning texts and arranging them according to a similar structure of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades project, arguably one of the first post-structuralists works, and I appreciate this ironic twist.  
            He may not be contributing to logo-centric knowledge, as per ideas of truth, falsity and factual accountability of such, however he is working with directly gleaned information that holds an amount of truth in itself. The way that he is presenting holds a great amount of truth that mimics the way we move through information in this age, gleaning and trying to organize and understand it the best we can.  Goldsmith’s approach is capable and certainly in dialogue with a paraliteral inquiry and knowledge of ones experience, seemingly presented in an effort of aesthetic pedagogy, juxtaposing vernaculars of current times and places, and times lost, exposing the rift between. Is this exposure in the spirit of post-structuralism literary theory not a contribution to thought? Whether one agrees with this methodology is an entirely different issue.
            How can an artist make a claim of truth? Should an artist make a claim of truth? I don’t believe an artist can make a claim of truth and offer it up as so, without being didactic in a way that is imposing on the public. It becomes rather an authoritative action that is counter-productive to the efforts of dislodging people from falsity or dogma. Goldsmith may be attempting to give the public an aesthetic education, but where history and his activity are the authority in lieu of him.
            When theory turns praxis we are in a bit of a dilemma. Goldsmith is offering a theory; he is pointing out perhaps what we already know that history is not, and cannot be passed down in a truly objective manner, that our sense of a historical continuity if false and problematic.   Any criticism, valid or not, that Kenneth Goldsmith is not up to anything new, would probably not phase or please Goldsmith, who defines himself as an uncreative writer and doesn’t think anyone needs to write anything new. Goldsmith is in the spirit rather of first priming the public with this liberating action, revealing the discontinuity of our history and knowledge of such. This is an effort, in the same effort of Walter Benjamin, to free us from one of the last remaining gestalts of our time, capitalism, one that has yet to be eclipsed since Benjamin’s time.

             “The public can only achieve enlightenment slowly” - Kant

            The ethical via politics is aimed at the public; its target first and foremost is the masses, the aesthetic on the other hand aimed at the individual. How can we make, or more importantly make a public claim about the truth of our subjective endeavors?  We can only move forward in hopes of tilling the soil.
            He is revealing a striving for freedom, a striving for his own understanding of history, asking us to question ours.  Goldsmith is engaged with the flux, engaged with the flux as one who might consider themselves as agnostics to be, as one who believes that truth isn’t something that can be neatly packaged and presented as such, as one who believes in multiple truths, at least in that there are truths that cannot be objectively resolved. The artist can lay the pieces out but it is not the job of the artist to put the pieces together. It may take juxtaposing all sorts of ‘weirdness’ before anything fruitful will emerge and when it does it most likely won’t be something that one can point to and label as “truth”.  Internalized truth can be found, but it is an internalization that will and should remain in the sovereignty of subjectivity because the last thing we can hope to find is an accurate judgment of another’s subjective experience. What Brian seems to be calling for is a more activist approach to art, actively speaking.  I would rather have faith that the truth will reveal itself, and any attempt to force a truth, is outside of artistic endeavor, this may be the goal the horizon of ethics, ethics through political action, of which such starts have failed. Kenneth Goldsmith not offering us a teleological model rather calling us to reconsider our own connection to the continuity of the capitalist system, while landing us in the present moment, which is neither fixed nor static.

            “Enlightenment can only happen by self-liberation of individuals “who are capable of thinking for themselves despite established authorities”

Kant “What is enlightenment” New York Modern Library 1977, p.55

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Print in the Age of Relational Aesthetics

            In a time when the gesture of the written script is vanishing, along side of many branches of linguistic tongues at a rapid pace we wonder what next follows the simplification of syntax in relaying specific nuanced ideas as well as our bodily disconnection from the gestures of our thought. In this distillation of our communication, greater eloquence and specificity will be needed to covey our ideas more elegantly and effectively in the fullest expression. At the same time that our language is becoming a distilled universal it is trying to communicate about more and more ideas and more and more aspects of many different cultures.  Our products are presented in editioned multitudes for consumption, our information presented in the possibility of infinite repetition within the Internet. All of these having a similar shared visual form that is also shared with the graphic arts. These objects as multiples have become a network of potential contexts within the shared visual vocabulary and are new part of the new possibilities of communication and understanding.
            Within the context of relational aesthetics and current movements within contemporary art, using recent modes of presentation from sculpture as a counter point example, take the work of the sculptor, Michael Jones McKean, stating, as many others, that objects carry with them specific content, and it is not so much the objects themselves that he is sculpting with, instead, the content associated with these objects. I think that a similar attitude should be embraced when thinking forward of printmaking and its possibilities for the future. In the same way that objects carry a specific history and context, so too, the specific processes as well as the graphic marks, and gestures that each process lends itself too carry with them, their own histories and contexts. Each process offers a specific language, and like the inability to translate properly the meaning from one language to another, the same is true about the way that information can be translated via different print technologies. And for this reason I would advocate for the sustenance of the knowledge associate with these. And as future printmakers implement these technologies they should do so with the intentional use of the context and history each graphic process implies an question what sort of network that they are creating through their use in combination and if it is appropriate to the ideas that are generating the work.
There are inherent conceptual concerns, historical baggage, and philosophical implications of print technologies, processes, and media and we cannot dismiss the connectedness of print with its various manifestations of past and present usage. Print exists at a specific intersection of time and technology. Seeing and understanding this specificity is crucial to, and will direct its future as an art form. First, I would like to state that print is a technology, some uses dated, while some on the cutting edge of technology. Each technology offers up its own possibilities, each with their own limitations, and conceptual baggage.  I would also argue that each art form/media, has it’s own paradoxical properties of possibility and limitation, and everyone with their chosen form needs to wrestle with its place in the continuum. 
            Breaking down then some the physical properties of print, which differ from each specific print technology to the next: repetition, (with the possibility and implication of an infinite repeat), reversal (transformation), matrix, (stability, fixedness), process of delay and indirectness, transfer.  These properties carry with them content that every printmaker should address in their practice, not necessarily with a concrete answer but at very least an awareness to these greater questions and implications behind each of these qualities.
             The properties of each property can be broken down further. There are specific conceptual concerns regarding the matrix, it’s ability to reproduce, exactly or with variation, many matrix technologies offering up the theoretical possibility to be repeated infinitely. The arrival at matrix from original idea/image to printed form requires a specificity of labor and process ends with a determinacy that is unlike any other media. The stability of the matrix, which allows for ease of read of the printed image. This read of a seemingly unlabored image is a characteristic unique to print; it is also an illusion, as the evidence labor is lost. Labor, the read of and inability to read labor, is something to be considered.
            There is a different sense of unfolding of time of which the print, in contrast to painting, a stamping, an immediacy of the whole, a resolve. If fact I would argue that time does not unfold at all I print, instead the instants flicker, instant totalities is read all at once. Different areas may in fact, unfold more slowly and function in this manner, but this is an attribute of composition not of print technology. It is not a material unfolding in the ways that paint can lend itself to. This assertion of a certain totality, in contrast with the build up of painting, the searching for form is a property of painting, which is different from printing. The printmaker must arrive at a decision about the determinacy of the image before the image is realized in printed form; many of the problems are solved ahead of time. While, the painter, drawer, or other direct media artists, must wrestle with and problem solve the issues directly on the chosen substrate.
            This indirectness and delay through process is something that cannot be skirted around, but rather each printmaker needs to determine the role of these and how this lends itself to, or inhibits the read of their work. We are surrounded by printed material; we live in variable editioned microcosms of attempted culture through capitalism and the spread of corporate colonialism.
            Print whether it wants to be or not, is associated with all of these attributes; having risen out of the need to spread and share information. Print is tied to this history, tied to the conversation of technology, and the history of communication, production, edition, and seriality.  If a printmaker wishes to be loosed from this there are specific knots that need to be untied. Printmakers cannot disconnect themselves from these issues at least without fully grappling with them first. Printmakers need to own their history, own an awareness of their unique coordinates, which intersect the greater terrain. We need to realize print is a specific technology, that in its own uniqueness of process, it is a process with a history and generating images out of this technology should not be done with arbitrarily.
            If a printmaker is discontent with their role, place in the artworld, they should evaluate their own conceptual concerns within this paradigm.  If the monetary value of prints if a particular concern, this needs to be realized for what this is, that people desire the uniqueness of a work, the ontological artifactuality, is of imperative importance when determining stature and monetary value of a work. Although, this financial point seems negligible and a good print seems to fare as well as any other art form.
            Prints are often just lacking the physical presence that a painting has, as well as most all works on paper. In their fragility, and need to be framed, work will not hold the same presence behind a barrier of glass, as that of being faced with the raw materiality.  Print is tied to ideas of ephemera yet at the same tied the imagery has the ability to slam its fist on the table with a certainty and conviction that painting is not able to hold to. The strength, fragility and intimacy, for instance, of an intaglio line are comparable to no other.  This is a paradox to be embraced and also teased apart.
            A major conceptual concern of contemporary drawing and painting is the idea of the material trace. Here as well, the directness, the artifact, is an entity that a painting and drawing holds up in contrast to the print. The materiality of print, as well as the process itself, as already stated is often lost in the process. In painting and drawing this struggle, (which is not just about the struggle and heroic nature of abstract expressionism, the struggle as struggle is not enough) but the direct residue of these efforts is of a different philosophical interest than of imagery that has been refined and processed. This underlying issue cannot be understated or ignored.
            The philosophical concerns underpinning print and in line with is history and inherent properties; the matrix, reproduction, edition, these are all part of how we experience and live in the world and should be exploited by the printmaker as we move into the future. They certainly cannot be ignored or wished away nor should they, as the terrain is rich and teaming with possibilities. Romantic notions to hold on to dated technology for the sake of itself will not move this field forward in the way that is seems to wish to go. We all wish to dislodge ourselves from the histories of our chosen field and have a fresh clean break, but this can only be done with a keen awareness of the implications of the processes we are projecting forward.  

Saturday, November 17, 2012

University of Iowa Hospital Art Tour Response

Touring the University of Iowa Hospital’s Art Collection as a voyeur to the true intention of the work’s placement in the hospital left me feeling a bit sick to my stomach. I felt embarrassed and ashamed to be there touring work, passing by people in stretchers, clearly in critical condition, doctors stressed and on a lack of sleep, loosing my way, trying to find the art amidst the signs pointing to trauma, burn units, ontology, endless ailments, in endless directions. I left feeling that going to a hospital to look and judge the art was a moral transgression. Any aesthetic experience I had looking at art, was trumped by the surrounding context, of the reality of life and death, that art may be only capable of a respite from those thoughts. A worthy respite at that, but to enter into such a context willingly to such ends is besides the point of the purpose of the placement of this art. At one point I was clearly lost and a doctor asked me if I needed help. I replied that I was on the art tour; he replied that he couldn’t help and quickly lost interest in my confusion. I felt like a fraud and a joke, and wished I had chosen a real profession like this doctor.
I did witness the success of the intended role of art in this setting, to provide the stressed workers, and patients, and their families a bit of rest amidst this chaos.  I saw a young girl and her father, walking away from the children’s unit, stop and talk and touch William Lasansky’s sculpture, titled Diana and Muffin. It is a small bronze sculpture of a young girl and her cat. A few moments later another man waiting for the elevator was on the phone and seemed to be exhausted and relaying information of a family member’s condition over the phone, stopped and rested his hand on the sculpture.  This sculpture physically served as a surrogate of comfort.  There were several intricately crafted dollhouses scattered throughout the halls.  I watched as people stopped, and let their eyes gaze at the meticulous work. I heard people praise the amount of sheer labor and care that went into the houses. A young girl ran up to another and jumped up and down and moved quickly around one of these houses with great enthusiasm, I wondered what she was in the hospital for.  
I paused for a while at Dick Huss’s piece; commonly referred to as “the blue bowl” I let my mind get lost into the unearthly blue, and the intimately cared for and crafted patterns. A lady passed by and exclaimed, “Wow, that’s amazing”.  I thought about the care and precision that this artist, as well as many others put into their work.  I thought of the patients coming here to the hospital fighting for their lives, searching for someone to give them such care and precision to extricate their illness, and certainly if we as humans are willing and able to put such care and labor into our objects, we know and are reminded that people will do even more for each other. I understood quickly that seeing a scarred body, such as recent controversial photographs of women that had undergone mastectomy which were decided against,  wouldn’t serve this audience.  
Much of the art seemed in need of some dusting or care. There was a large painting by Clayton Gorde, a double mandala form, that was shoved behind some couches that we serving to protect it from obtaining more scars of gurney’s passing by. The surface bared evidence to the reality of its history of time in that space.
And while I was able to stop and appreciate and ponder the Sol Le Witt, and the Ellsworth Kelly and think about these works in relation to the knowledge I have, of the greater continuum of both of these artists works, my thoughts quickly shifted to ponder their role in the hospital context. Did the pieces lend themselves as a clearing, an open pause to the patrons of this place? Or work the just another fleeting austere moment between instrumental signage.  At one moment I passed a piece a mosaic of individual squares that had been done by patients in collaboration with graduate art students. I read the list and recognized some of my friends names, including my friend and former colleague, Megan Dirks, who lost her life in her own battle with cancer just months after this project was completed.
Feeling pretty depressed, out of place and anxious to get out of there, I stumbled upon two lithographs, black and white line drawings of Philip Guston. Both images were drawings of shoes in different settings, images akin to his well-known paintings. The manner in which they were drawn, incessant but with a great deal of pathos, spoke to the exhaustion and mimed the way I was feeling. For a moment, I was that worn out shoe, pathetically trying to hold itself together.  Robert Rauschenberg ‘s piece, Blue Line Swinger, a triptych of fragile imagery and text alluding to temporality, Past, Present, Future, I also connected to in a different way than I would have in a different context.  I was heightened in my awareness of the mundane and meaning, within the ephemeral moment, which this piece speaks clearly too.
My aesthetic experience was so embedded in the context of the hospital setting and I refuse to extricate one from the other, as that is missing the point of the project, the purpose, and placement of the work there. I find the value of this work as I have stated in its ability to shift thoughts away from the seriousness of the setting. Fortunately, at this time in my life, I was a visitor to the seriousness and therefore trying to force a read that could only ultimately be inaccurate and inappropriate. This work is there for the patrons and workers of the hospital. There is a great variety of work, with a variety of aesthetic empathies, some more attuned to my sensibilities than others, but ultimately this is not the place for the critic and I feel it a perversion to try to do so.

Monday, November 12, 2012

When Things Go Missing

The scent of the old pine tree
All the more fragrant in it's absence

all for the point
of proving to yourself,
That it can't be understood.

Declaring myself as an existential investigator

This offer is good for today only.

On Being: Lost at Sea
A tale of trying to stay afloat
While thinking of stopping and moving
In search of an authentic,
Synthetic experience.

Mimicking biomimicry,
With aiming, for improving
My visual diet.

Thankful, today,
That I left my ID at the bank
before losing my wallet.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A few thoughts forming in response to Hume

Reflections on: David Hume’s: Of the Standard of Taste

First thoughts on the sophistication of taste and experts:

Are not what we consider experts only those who have learned the proper vocabulary to apply to the variety of sensations?

“In order to appreciate wine, it's essential to understand the characteristics different grapes offer and how those characteristics should be expressed in wines.” –James Laube, Wine Spectator 1996

For one to properly determine if something, in this case wine, is good, we need an understanding outside of our pure experience of if we are to make an accurate analysis. We need an understanding of the fundamental properties, and as stated here how they “should” be expressed. The person that has learned to be an expert has learned how to use the right signifier to point to his sensation. The person has learned also, what it is that they should point to.
Could one, determining the elements are functioning as they should, and still not like the wine, even if objectively they can know that it is a good glass of wine?

The discussion of aesthetic is presented here first in relation to culinary sensation. We are immediately dealing with a problem of signifiers.

Praise an blame in aesthetics, maybe these are overstatements? This seems to put the realms of aesthetics into a realm capable of mania. Perhaps this is a breach on where healthy convictions should lie, when it comes to such things as art, albeit a fine wine, or a visual masterpiece. Is a work of art worthy of such extremes as praise or blame? I am inclined to say no. The question then comes to mind of art as propaganda, art for commercial purposes, religious art. Is that which is praised or blamed, the art itself or the message behind the art, or the convictions of the artists? It is true that art seems capable of producing mania in people. If it can produce mania, could it cure, or subside symptoms of mania?

to be continued...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A vague question can only expect a vague answer

A (beginning) definition of Art

It is important to determine if specific things could be defined as art, than to determine if a general term “art” is thing which can defined.

Anything has the potential to become an art object.
Nothing is art on it’s own.

An action is required for something to become art.

Art is a closed definition with infinite possibilities.

Things may resemble art without being art.
Things can be attempts at art without being art.
What is art for one may not be art for another.

One may find mimetic art to be art by the appreciation of the artists intimate concern to details of the perceived world, or through the empathy with the pained labor that such acts of rendering take. Also, one may have emotive experiences based on their own subjective experience that another does not share. The combination of associations of subject matter and the methodology of the subject matter will result in different potential emotive/ psychological affects of the viewer. One can see Richard Estes, Guggenheim, a coldly yet intimately rendered painting of what could be thought to some a high temple of art. This could be read as a commentary on the art world system. For me, the image triggers memories of my pilgrimage to New York, and spending time at this building.  Scale, materiality, all play a role into what kind of an experience a work will illicit in the viewer. In this manner one can be moved by the artist intimate attention to detail and care taken in the process of communicating an image. The image painted in photo realistic manner, perhaps opens up to me, my own experience more, than having this image been painted in an expressionist manner, where my experience of the subject matter would be filtered through the artist subjectivity first.

The manner is which information is transmitted, the creative interpretation of source to output has the potential to lessen or strengthen an artistic read.

The term art is a generality, just like the word game is a generality.

To define a thing as art, one should consider the use of a prefix for clarity.

Instead of, “is it art?” Does it have potential to be considered as one or a combination of the following?
A. Visual Art
      -Digital image
      -Material trace
B. Conceptual Art
C. Performance Art
      -Ephemeral event or happening
This may or may not include an artifact.

Not all artifacts are art. All artifacts have the potential to be art.

Art may be spontaneous. Spontaneity is not art on its own.

Computer/Glitch art and animal should maintain their boundaries as a separate category for the sake of conversation; reside within the prefix.

It is likely that life and things designed by life, technology from humans and extracted from the natural world; that both things of nature and things of man have a spontaneous emergent feature to make objects that resemble art.

Geometry resembles art. Geometry in various forms seems to be inarguably an emergent feature of human production.

Art may be used for an Emotional of Intellectual end, or a combination thereof. Depending on the degree of implementation and the success of the read of the viewer, the work has potential to be held in a higher status.

Art can be inclusive or exclusive.

Form, content, and context should all be considered when trying to determine if something is art.

An Attempt to define what is a game:
 An interactive activity with others, self, or technology, involves repetitive actions and rules. The type of game determines the amount and type rules. Games may be played for competition, skill building, or pleasure.

Art may be played as a game. Games can be played as art. Games that are not played as art, are not art.

Art can be a critique. Critique alone is not art.