Nicolas Bourriaud's little book Postproduction does not match the emphasis on cultural contestation and collaborative independence that is so conspicuous in the networks and projects of the new socially oriented artists. True, Bourriaud argues that "art can be a form of using the world", but when it comes to the details, Bourriaud converts these social events back into those of an encounter "between the artist and the one who comes to view the work". His new artist is a 'semionaut' (the DJ, the programmer, the web surfer), whose 'collaborations' with the social world are reduced to exchanges of signs. When he speaks of how the semionaut "activates the history" of appropriated material, Bourriaud is referring to the generation of new meanings. And because he places his hope in the liberatory effects of semiotic play, he takes his position in direct opposition to the avantgardist who asked "what can we make that is new?" with the motto, "how can we make do with what we have?" I think the new socially oriented artists are closer to the avantgarde than this, with a question that goes beyond Bourriaud's semiotic play: how we can make what we have do something else?
Old Habits Die Hard emphasises an aspect of contemporary independent art that separates it from Bourriaud's semionauts. The semionaut is an individual who, in Bourriaud's account, is in opposition to others, in particular to the obsolete producers on whom the semionaut's appropriational practice depends. Of course, this opposition can be redescribed in collaborative terms. The DJ and the socially oriented artist acts in a spirit of hospitality rather than hostility. While hospitality can contain its own forms of hostility - when inclusion is nothing but a positive spin on the neutralisation of opposition, for instance - there can be a tenderness to hospitality that is worth encouraging. As a genre of social interaction, hospitality is more promising, ethically, as a model for an artist run space than, say, entrepreneurialism or semiotic play. Collaborative independence, involving hospitalities within hospitalities, is a form of independence that does not delude itself that autonomy (self-determination) is equivalent to isolation (the myth of the self-created self) The 'self' of 'self-determination' is understood, within collaborative independence, to be co-produced with others. That is, the self of self-determination is not self-sufficient. And thus, the independence in collaborative independence is necessarily based on the individual's utter dependence on others.
We are not semionauts; we are, if anything, socionauts. Socially oriented artists do not demonstrate any inclination today to reduce social encounters to semiotic encounters. At the same time, such social encounters are not typically those between an artist and a viewer mediated by the object that is made by the former for the visual pleasure of the latter. If the contemporary artist contests culture by, among other things, contesting the role of the artist, then it follows that the contemporary artist contest culture by contesting the modes of attention of the viewer (the artist's traditional collaborator). In fact, contemporary artists seem to be in the process of converting the viewer into a doer, an active participator in the events and actions set up by the socionaut. In this sense, the contemporary artist in the first decade of the 21st century has in common with the avantgardist in the first part of the 20th century a vital commitment: the merging of art and life as a critique of the isolation of art from everything else. If the avantgarde's sense of breaking new ground gave them a social superiority complex, the current crop of socially oriented artists are avantgarde only insofar as they share the political programme of the avantgarde, not their social position at the head of culture. Avantgardism was always independent but now it has become independent collaborative hospitality."
The Greek symposium was a key Hellenic socio-political institution. Though the name originally referred to a drinking party (from the Greek sympotein, "to drink together"), the symposium was a forum for free men to debate, plot, boast, or simply to party with others. They were also held to celebrate the introduction of young men into aristocratic society or other special occasions, such as victories in athletic and poetic contests.
The term has since come to refer to any academic conference, or a style of university class characterized by an openly discursive format, rather than a lecture and question–answer format.
In keeping with Greek notions of self-restraint and propriety, the symposiarch would prevent matters from getting out of hand. The playwright Eubulus, in a surviving fragment of a lost play has the god of wine, Dionysos himself, describe proper and improper drinking:For sensible men I prepare only three kraters: one for health (which they drink first), the second for love and pleasure, and the third for sleep. After the third one is drained, wise men go home. The fourth krater is not mine any more - it belongs to bad behaviour; the fifth is for shouting; the sixth is for rudeness and insults; the seventh is for fights; the eighth is for breaking the furniture; the ninth is for depression; the tenth is for madness and unconsciousness.
Dear Peter and Alison,
I have been thinking about our conversation of the other evening and thought that it might be a good idea to get something on paper, as much to sort it out for myself as to put a point of view to you.
There have been a number of manifestations in the post-war years in London which I would select as important and which have a bearing on what I take to be an objective:
Parallel of Life and Art
(investigation into an imagery of general value)
Man, Machine and Motion
(investigation into a particular technological imagery)
Reyner Banham's research on automobile styling
Ad image research (Paolozzi, Smithson, McHale)
Independent Group discussion on Pop Art - Fine Art relationship
House of the Future
(conversion of Pop Art attitudes in industrial design to scale of domestic architecture)
This is Tomorrow
Group 2 presentation of Pop Art and perception material attempted impersonal treatment. Group 6 presentation of human needs in terms of a strong personal idiom.
Looking at this list is is clear that the Pop Art/Technology background emerges as the important feature.
The disadvantage (as well as the great virtue) of the TIT show was its incoherence and obscurity of language.
My view is that another show should be as highly disciplined and unified in conception as this one was chaotic. Is it possible that the participants could relinquish their existing personal solutions and try to bring about some new formal conception complying with a strict, mutually agreed programme?
Suppose we were to start with the objective of providing a unique solution to the specific requirement of a domestic environment e.g. some kind of shelter, some kind of equipment, some kind of art. This solution could then be formulated and rated on the basis of compliance with a table of characteristics of Pop Art.
Pop Art is:
Popular (designed for a mass audience)
Transient (short-term solution)
Young (aimed at youth)
This is just a beginning. Perhaps the first part of our task is the analysis of Pop Art and the production of a table. I find I am not yet sure about the "sincerity" of Pop Art. It is not a characteristic of all but it is of some - at least, a pseudo-sincerity is. Maybe we have to subdivide Pop Art into its various categories and decide into which category each of the subdivisions of our project fits. What do you think?
(The letter was unanswered but I used the suggestion made in it as the theoretical basis for a painting called Hommage á Chrylsler Corp., the first product of a slowly contrived programme. R.H.)
"Totem Teddies was my first exploration with mixed media assemblage as an undergraduate student at Cal State Long Beach. When I first created The Totem Teddies, my goal was to reclaim the dignity and power of the bear--a common totem symbol for numerous indigenous peoples. I felt that Western consumer culture had castrated the power of the bear (as well as other spiritual/natural symbols)--transforming it into a cute cuddly and harmless commodity. I chose to present the teddies as spiritual products that, once purchased by the consumer, demanded constant appeasement and attention in order to ward off bad luck. If the consumer unwittingly offended his or her teddy, a handy spinning oracle (sold separately) could be consulted for suggestions on how to re-harmonize oneself with the offended teddy."
- John Feodorov
BOURRIAUD - RELATIONAL AESTHETICS - GLOSSARY
From "Relational Aesthetics" by NB, published by "les
Presses du Reel", Dijon, France
2002 english version 1998 french version.
it costs 11 or 12 euros... Deeply recommended.
1. An attitude that involves clinging to the defunct signs and forms of one's day and rendering these aesthetic.
2. synonum: pompous (pompier)
-And why wouldn`t he do something pompous, if it pays off` (Samuel Beckett)
An idea that sets humankind apart from other animal species. In the end of the day, burying the dead, laughter, and suicide are just the corollaries of a deep-seated hunch, that life is an aesthetic, ritualised, shaped form.
1. General term describing a set of objects presented as part of a narrative known as art history.This narrative draws up the critical genealogy and discusses the issues raised by these objects, by way of three sub-sets: painting,sculpture, architecture.
2. Nowadays, the word 'art' seems to be no more than a semantic leftover of this narrative, whose more accurate definition would read as follows: Art is an activity consisting in producing relationships with the world with the help of signs, forms, actions and objects.
Art (The end of )
'The end of art' only exists in an idealistic view of history. We can nevertheless, and not without irony, borrow Hegel`s formula whereby 'art, for us, is a thing of the past' and turn it into a figure of style: let us remain open to what is happening in the present, which invariably exceeds, a priori, our capacities of understanding.
When Benjamin Buchloh referred to the conceptual and minimal generation of the 1960`s, he defined the artist as a 'scholar-philosopher-craftsman' who hands society 'the objective results of his labour' . For Buchloh, this figure was heir to that of the artist as 'mediumic and transcendental subject' represented by Yves Klein, Lucio Fontana and Joseph Beuys. Recent developments in art merely modify Buchloh's hunch. Today's artist appears as an operator of signs, modelling production structures so as to provide significant doubles. An entrepeneur/politician/director. The most common denominator shared by all artists is that they show something. The act of showing suffices to define the artist, be it a representation or a designation.
1. Beside those two established genres, the history of things and the history of forms, we still need to come up with a history of artistic behaviours. It would be naive to think that the history of art represents a whole capable of perennially replacing these three sub-groups. An artist's microbiography would point up the things he has achieved within his oeuvre.
2. Artist, producer of time.
All totalitarian ideologies show a distinctive wish to control the time in which they exist. They replace the versatility of time invented by the individual by the fantasy of a central place where it might be possible to acquire the overall meaning of society. Totalitarianism systematically tries to set up a form of temporal motionlessness, and rendering the time in which it exits uniform and collective, a fantasy of eternity aimed first and foremost at standardising and monitoring patterns of behaviours. Foucault thus rightly stressed the fact that the art of living classed with 'all forms of fascism, be they already there or lurking '
All works of art produce a model of sociability, which transposes reality or might be conveyed in it. So there is a question we are entitled to ask in front of any aesthetic production: 'Does this work permit me to enter into dialogue [ Could I exist, and how, in the space it defines?] A form is more or less democratic. May I simply remind you, for the record, that the forms produced by the art of totalitarian regimes are peremptory and closed in on themselves (particularly through their stress on symmetry).
Otherwise put, they do not give the viewer a chance to complement them.
(see: Relational (aesthetics)).
In situ art is a form of artistic activity that encompasses the space in which it is on view. This consideration by the artist of the exhibition venue consisted, yesterday, in exploring its spatial and architectural configuration. A second possibility, prevalent in the art of the 1990s consists in an institutional structure, the socio-economic features encompassing it, and the people involved. This latter method calls for a great deal of subtlety : although such contextual studies have the merit of reminding us that the artistic doing does not drop out of the sky into a place unblemished by any ideology, it is nevertheless important to fit this investigation into a prospect that goes beyond the primary stage of sociology, It is not enough to extract, mechanically, the social characteristics of the place where you exhibit (the art centre, the city, the region, the country...) to ''reveal'' whatever it may be. For some artists who complicated thinking represents an architecture of meanings, no more nor less (Dan Asher, Daniel Buren, Jef Geys, Mark Dion) how many conceptual hacks are there who laboriously 'associate', for their show in Montelimar, nougat production and unemployment figures? The mistake lies in thinking that the sense of an aesthetic fact lies solely in the context.
2. Art after criticism
Once art 'overtook' philosophy (joseph Kosuth), it nowadays goes beyond critical philosophy, where conceptual art has helped to spread the viewpoint. Doubt can be cast over the stance of the 'critical' artist, when this position consists in judging the world as if he were excluded from it by divine grace, and played no part in it. This idealistic attitude can be contrasted with Lacanian intuition that the unconscious is its own analyst. And Marx's idea that explains that real criticism is the criticism of reality that exists through criticism itself. For there is no mental place where the artist might exclude himself from the world he represents.
The world is made up of random encounters (Lucretius, Hobbes, Marx, Althusser). Art, too, is made of chaotic, chance meetings of signs and forms. Nowadays, it even creates spaces within which the encounter can occur. Present-day art does not present the outcome of a labour, it is the labour itself, or the labour-to-be.
Art is not the world of suspended will (Schopenhauer), or of the disappearance of contingency (Sartre), but a space emptied of the factitious. It in no way clashes with authenticity (an absurd value where art is concerned) but replaces coherences, even phoney ones, with the illusory world of 'truth'. It is the bad lie that betrays the hack, who at best touching sincerity inevitably ends up as a forked tongue.
Structural unity imitating a world. Artistic practice involves creating a form capable of "lasting", bringing heterogeneous units together on a coherent level, in order to create a relationship to the world.
Movement of the body revealing a psychological state or designed to express an idea. Gesturality means the set of requisite operations introduced by the production of artworks, from their manufacture to the production of peripheral signs (actions, event, anecdotes)
Making a work involves the invention of a process of presentation. In this kind of process, the image is an act.
Having imagined architecture and art of the future, the artist is now proposing solutions for inhabiting them. The contemporary form of modernity is ecological,haunted by the occupancy of forms and the use of images.
The ideals of modernity have not vanished,they have been adapted. So "the total work of art" comes about today in its spectacular version, emptied of its teleological content. Our civilization makes up for the hyperspecialization of social functions by the progressive unity of leisure activities. It is thus possible to predict,without too much risk attaching thereto, that the aesthetic experience of the average late 20th century individual might roughly resemble what early 20th century avant-gardes imagined. Between the interactive video disk, the CD-Rom, ever more multi-media-oriented games consoles, and the extreme sophistication of mass recreational venues, discotheques and theme parks, we are heading towards the condensation of leisure in unifying forms. Towards a compact art. Once a CD-Rom and Cd-I drives are available. which have enough autonomy, books, exhibitions and films will be in competition with a form of expression that is at once more comprehensive and more thought-restricting, circulating writing, imagery and sound in new forms.
Presentation of the functional sphere in an aesthetic arrangement.The work proposes a functional model and not a maquette. In other words, the concept of dimension does not come into it, just as in the digital image whose proportions may vary dependng on the size of the screen, which unlike the frame, does not enclose works within a predetermined format, but rather renders virtuality material in x dimensions.
Artistic figure contemporary with the invention of film. The artist takes his camera-subjectivity into the real, defining himself as a cameraman: the museum plays the part of the film, he records. For the first time, with Duchamp, art no longer consists in translating the real with the help of signs, but in presenting this same real as it is (Duchamp, the Lumière brothers...
Aesthetic theory consisting in judging artworks on the basis of the inter-human relations which they represent, produce or prompt.(see co-existence criterion)
A set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space.
The contemporary artist is a semionaut, he invents trajectories between signs.
Society of extras
The society of the spectacle has been defined by Guy Debord as the historical moment when merchandise achieved 'the total occupation of social life ' , capital having reached 'such a degree of accumulation' that it was turned into imagery. Today , we are in the further stage of spectacular development: the individual has shifted from a passive and purely repetitive status to the minimum activity dictated to him by market forces. So television consumption is shrinking in favour of video games, thus the spectacular hierarchy encourages 'empty monads', i.e. programmeless models and politicians, thus everyone sees themselves summoned to be famous for fifteen minutes, using a TV game, street poll or new item as go-between. This is the reign of the 'Infamous Man' , whom Michel Foucault defined as the anonymous and 'ordinary' individual suddenly put in the glare of the media spotlights. Here we are summoned to turn into extras of the spectacle, having been regarded as its consumers. This switch can be historically explained: since the surrender of the Soviet bloc, there are no obstacles on capitalism's path to empire.It has a total hold of the social arena, so it can permit itself to stir individuals to frolic about in the free and open spaces that it has staked out. So, after the consumer society, we can see the dawning of the society of extras where the individual develops as a part-time stand-in for freedom, signer and sealer of the public place.
The movement of a work, its trajectory 'The style of a thought is its movement' (Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari).
Having been an event per se (classical painting), then the graphic recording of an event (the work of Jackson Pollock with photographic documents describing a performance or an action), today's work of art often assumes the role of a trailer for a forthcoming event, or an event that is put off forever.
Til digternes forsvar
Hvad skal vi gøre med digterne?
Dem er det synd for,
de er så hjerteskærende i deres sorte tøj
blåfrosne af indvendige polarstorme.
Poesien er en frygtelig pest,
de smittede går rundt og jamrer sig,
deres skrig forgifter atmosfæren som udslip
fra mentale atomkraftværker. Det er så psykisk.
Poesien er en tyran;
den holder folk vågne om natten og ødelægger
den driver mænd ud i øde sommerhuse midt om vinteren,
der sidder de forpinte med høreværn og halstørklæder.
En hæslig tortur.
Poesi er en plage,
værre end gonoré - en grusom pestilens.
Men tænk på digterne, de har det hårdt,
bær over med dem!
De er hysteriske som højgravide tvillingemødre,
de skærer tænder i søvne, spiser jord
og græs. De står i timevis udenfor i blæsten
plaget af ufattelige metaforer.
Hver dag er en højtid for dem.
Åh, hav barmhjertighed med digterne,
de er døve og blinde,
hjælp dem i trafikken, hvor de vakler rundt
med deres usynlige handicap: De husker
alt muligt. Af og til standser en af dem op
og lytter efter en fjern udrykning.
Poeterne er som sindssyge børn
jaget hjemmefra af den samlede familie.
Bed for dem;
de er født ulykkelige -
deres mødre har grædt over dem,
søgt lægehjælp og juridisk bistand,
indtil de bare gav op
for at frelse deres egen forstand.
Åh, græd over poeterne!
Dem er der ingen redning for.
Befængt med lyrik som hemmeligt spedalske
er de spærret inde i deres egen fantasi -
en uhyggelig ghetto, fyldt med dæmoner
og ondskabsfulde spøgelser.
Når du på en klar sommerdag med strålende sol
ser en stakkels digter
komme vaklende ud fra en opgang, bleg
som en dødning og vansiret af spekulationer -
så gå hen og hjælp ham!
Bind hans snørebånd, tag ham med
over i parken og sæt ham på en bænk
i solen. Syng lidt for ham,
giv ham en is og fortæl ham et eventyr;
han er så ked af det.
Han er helt ødelagt af poesi.
In Defence of Poets
What are we to do about the poets?
Life's rough on them
they look so pitiful dressed in black
their skin blue from internal blizzards
Poetry is a horrible disease,
the infected walk about complaining
their screams pollute the atmosphere like leaks
from atomic power stations of the mind. It's so psychotic
Poetry is a tyrant
it keeps people awake at night and destroys marriages
it draws people out to desolate cottages in mid-winter
where they sit in pain wearing earmuffs and thick scarves.
Imagine the torture.
Poetry is a pest
worse than gonorrhea, a terrible abomination.
But consider poets it's hard for them
bear with them!
They are hysterical as if they are expecting twins
they gnash their teeth while sleeping, they eat dirt
and grass. They stay out in the howling wind for hours
tormented by astounding metaphors.
Every day is a holy day for them.
Oh please, take pity on the poets
they are deaf and blind
help them through traffic where they stagger about
with their invisible handicap
remembering all sorts of stuff. Now and then one of them stops
to listen for a distant siren.
Show consideration for them.
Poets are like insane children
who've been chased from their homes by the entire family.
Pray for them
they are born unhappy
their mothers have cried for them
sought the assistance of doctors and lawyers, until they had to give up
for fear of loosing their own minds.
Oh, cry for the poets!
Nothing can save them.
Infested with poetry like secret lepers
they are incarcerated in their own fantasy world
a gruesome ghetto filled with demons
and vindictive ghosts.
you see a poor poet
come wobbling out of the apartment block, looking pale
like a cadaver and disfigured by speculations
then walk up and help him.
Tie his shoelaces, lead him to the park
and help him sit down on the bench
in the sun. Sing to him a little
buy him an ice cream and tell him a story
because he's so sad.
He's completely ruined by poetry.
vi seiler i et ukjendt hav,
og hvordan vi seiler, og hvordan vi roder,
vi styrter tilslut i en grav.
Og nogle har hundrede guder,
mens andre nøies med én,
og hvordan de knæler, og hvordan de tuder,
de vorder tilslut til ben.
Jeg er bare tretten aar,
og jeg vil gaa hen og dø;
for alle de længsler som blomstrer i mig,
de skal ikke staa og forblø.
For ingen kan svare de tusen svar
paa alt hvad jeg ikke forstaar.
Saa maatte jeg væmmes ved hus og hjem,
og saa løp jeg min vei igaar.
Og jeg har revet min haand tilblods
og flakket et døgn omkring –
og jeg har graat mig isøvn i en grøft
og fablet om ingenting.
Og jeg har længtet mig op til Gud
ad stjernernes hvite sti.
Og jeg har vaagnet ved veiens kant,
hvor kjørne trampet forbi.
Og nu har jeg mistet hvert spor jeg fandt,
og glemt hvem jeg engang var.
Jeg speiler mig kanske idag i en dam
og tigger mig selv om et svar.
Jeg gaar til jeg finder et stille sted,
hvor ingen hører og ser –.
For nu har jeg levet i tretten aar
og vil ikke leve mer.
Rolf Hiorth Schøyen
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