Proposal for Wall Drawing, Information Show, Sol LeWitt

Proposal for a wall drawing, information show by Sol LeWitt

“In conceptual art, the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all planning and decisions are made beforehand. The execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes the machine that makes the art.”  Sol Le Witt – via – Originally quoted from ” Paragraphs on Conceptual Art ” Sol Lewitt – Artforum (June, 1967).

The quote above sums up quite well, LeWitt’s notion of conceptual art. However,  I disagree that the execution is a perfunctory affair.  Given that the “work” is considered the “idea” and the piece of art merely the result is fine, but I believe that one has to “make” the idea into physical form in order to complete the process.  It is in the making that the physical world exerts it’s will and the work “becomes” independent of the mind.  It is transformed. And the “thing” made is the artifact, a record of the idea, in all it’s physical being – for as long as it may exist in a physical state.  Curiously, it seems that the object remains the thing of value around which one buys or sells or exchanges for something else of value.  Think of it this way: generally, one usually doesn’t purchase a sheet of musical notation, rather the consumer purchases the sound results of that notation… Even if you do purchase the notation – it is mostly likely so that you can (re)make the music yourself…

It seems that it is the form, a form which constitutes “physical being” which is shifting so rapidly  – sometimes only existing in a virtual presence.

a young artist in art school used to worship the paintings of cezanne. he looked and studied all the books he could find on cezanne and copied all of the reproductions of cezanne’s work he found in the books.  he visited a museum and for the first time saw a real cezanne painting. he hated it. it was nothing like the cezanne’s he had studied in the books. from that time on, he made all of this paintings the sizes of paintings reproduced in books and he painted them in black and white. he also printed captions and explanations on the paintings as in books. often he just used words. and one day he realized that very few people went to art galleries and museums but many people looked at books and magazines as he did and they got them through the mail as he did. moral: it’s difficult to put a painting in a mailbox.– the best way to do artjohn baldessari – via (courteous of the echoing chamber – tumblr)

Perhaps Baldessari had it right – it is something to think about…  I also think with time and saturation especially of the virtual experience online – there will be a demand and recognition to return to the physical object as the most rewarding experience….

Even with “make an un-straight line” and the notion that “objects are perishable and ideas need not be” – I wonder why it is that as objects become scarce they tend to increase in value….

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Emerging artist derivative contract – Tom Saunders – consumer goods

Commodities, futures, derivative contracts….for art

Interesting concept and altogether not too hard to imagine the business world trying to formalize  in contract terms what may already be taking place in concept.  That is of course if the artist and buyer actually get to the point of forming some sort of relationship…

I suppose that in this case the benefit is mostly to the buyer in potentially protecting themselves in the event that the artist fails to capture an audience… or the best case goes on to  be a smashing success which increases the value and importance of the work, assuming this allows the derivative holder to purchase future work at “emerging” prices…

The benefit to the artist is of course the potential for financial security to the extent that it allows the artist to develop their potential and even out the financial peaks and valleys.

The tricky part (gamble) is to consider the variable of “experience value” of the work what I might call the artworks “shelf life”  and the attention span of the audience.

I’m guessing I’m not alone in feeling a bit uneasy  – what with recent examples of what can go terribly wrong in the parallel financial business world.  What’s at risk is a fundamental connection between the artist and patron.  Most of my own personal experiences with works of art are greatly enhanced upon getting to know the artist – and that experience with the art – is what may also be at risk.  On the other hand – the benefit of being able to focus on creating has to be recognized !

Source: Via Artdaily and this story (filed under consumer goods)

Measuring success: work that challenges, changes, transforms ?

Reading a nice article : “ping pong” chat over on Conscientious

Key  questions /issues:

  • How to engage work that challenges, changes and transforms?
  • What is a  measure of success?
  • Can photography effect change – really?
  • Can a photograph serve as a model for “what to do”  instead of “what not to do?”
  • What evidence of change are we seeking?

Perhaps there is collection of projects that celebrates the actions taken to postively change – perhaps creating a model by which the viewer / audience might actually believe that a change in simple behaviors might lead to a bigger change in a positive and meaningful way…. wouldn’t it be great to see more work celebrated in a way that begins to address the questions above?

It reminded me about something I’d written previously, a question really – wondering if Jordan’s work is going only  “half way”  into the problem (written back  Jan 2008)


Crushed cars #2, Tacoma 2004 – Chris Jordan

The images are there – a lot of them – some flirt with an aesthetic that is almost “beautiful” albeit ultimately destructive.  Most of the photographs, that I’m aware of (please, I’d like to become better informed), seem bleak in outlook, or so about destructive imagery that I for one, can’t imagine myself ”transfering” seeing into doing,  taking an action about the situation…  It’s novel to be able to view a million, billion sheets of paper and realize that we use up that much resource.. by the minute… or something along those lines… but it leaves me feeling dismayed and disconnected – I feel like ”throwing up my hands” with a helpless feeling overwhelming me – I can’t not use paper after all… maybe more wisely, but… source

Specifically,  the notion of promoting  what work strikes you as meaningful (which lets be honest –  is after all what these blogs are all about right ?) that potentially challenges, changes, and transforms the viewer audience – in some yet undefined /  immeasurable way…  is what matters.

Work that produces a measurable outcome – a positive change – takes time to evolve to achieve… to be recognized as such.

Photograph: Chris Jordan – Midway; Message from the Gyre

This is one aspect of what I might call a “new success” – by this I mean success which is gauged not by the amount of money earned by the author – (this is still extremely important and necessary), but instead, a success measured by the amount of change and kind of change that work provokes

Perhaps if over time these sorts of projects get more into the “mainstream”  the effect will be one of challenging us the viewer into seriously making a change in the way we live our lives.

For example – why not take a small step in our own consuming lifestyles for example – resolve to never again buy bottled water…

If there were only a way to objectively measure the change effect on a larger scale – actions for example do speak louder than words (or pictures) for that matter…

A goal: 20 interesting things to say…

“yeah, our days are numbered…after a while it begins to sound like background noise. I don’t have 20 interesting things to say a day, and I don’t believe many people do…”  (1) Kathleen Parker  (response to the question of the frequency and quality of “new media” (blogs)).

I absolutely agree that most people don’t have 20 interesting things to say  in a day – let alone a month even – for some, even a lifetime.

A lesson to be learned about the quality of writing on a blog – each piece treated as if one is writing an essay.

Over time, people will begin to learn how to discern the good from the bad  (anyone can blog afterall) and not just the popular. What the “old media”  (i.e. the published analogue media)  took care of for readers was a certain kind of filter and editing process. Readership knew this and perhaps this lead to a degree of complacency to accept what we see online. This is something we will have to re-educate ourselves to overcome.

Frequency of “bits” , while it may supply the needs of the attention deficit disordered reader , should not become the method by which one gains readership attention…  if one does achieve readership due to frequency – be wary.

I want depth – not frequency…

(1) 2010 Pulitzer prise récipient Kathleen Parker (traditional media / “old fashion conservative columnist” ) on the question of the transformation taking place in journalism and the “new media landscape”…and getting “attention”  (or otherwise known as an audience) .    Interview on NPR (Scott Simon)

What’s new…? Beni Bischof

BENI BISCHOF

Kirche #1 - Beni Bischof

Above images from “BRICKED CASTLES” / Beni Bischof

New work to me…  I like how these images defy easy categorization – perhaps it is best to simply say these are very good critical pictures.

My impression is that these works float in almost pure picture form. The picture contains the elements of  a photograph, a drawing, a painting – and it is incidental upon what medium the image rests…  That is something new and exciting.

What’s so great?

These pictures are modern and potent.

Rather than admiring the laborious recreation of “what has already been”, Bishcof’s pictures (at least those in the “Bricked Castles series” ) move beyond recollection, imitation, or sorry re-creation and reference. Quite unlike for example this work posted on Conscientious by Jörg Colberg- which rests quite heavily on someone else’s shoulders.  In my opinion the referencing sort of approach / process as exampled by Hiroyuki Masuyama recreating Caspar David Friedrich leads only to diluting the potential potency of both…

Bischof‘s Bricked Castles series for me has that potent quality of allowing one to postulate multiple meanings… especially considering the current context of world affairs for example between the “eastern” and the “western” cultural (religion) views of the world…

See more about Bischof here.

“Storybook wolf” a depiction of a “mental model” and a real thing.

Some considerations regarding the “model wolf” image … over on Conscientious (and I would agree the specifics surrounding the photographer and the resultant image / award / “unaward”  in the specifics of that situation isn’t that controversial itself)…  but I thought that this is something worth thinking over some more!

I saw this “staged” image story earlier this week and initially I thought “that’s too good to be true”…. also… but what I was thinking about, specifically what I imagined was a lot of prep work on behalf of the photographer (the actual planning was alluded to in the related article before the image was in question…(infrared / motion trap / trigger rig)… To me this is a first rate example of a “staged” photo – that is “setting it up”.  This supposes a mental model already exists about what the picture will depict. Seems to me like it might be akin to the press photo opportunities public officials so carefully orchestrate and too this is the skepticism with which many approach the photographic image these days (in certain contexts).  I don’t care and it doesn’t matter if the image was “set up”.  It is just a picture of a wolf leaping over the fence…  but…

I’ve written my own thoughts previously wondering about the “mental model” and photographers who seem to put the photograph into service as a way to create the image of that “mental model” . But in this case two very different kinds of “models” comparing examples by Paul Shambroom and his work in the Security series...  which are depictions representing simulation that of “First responders and law enforcement officers training in large-scale simulated environments…” or “real” simulated events, compared with the work of Paolo Ventura and  “War Souvenirs” – Ventura’s work as pure image invention, simulation and authorship – it reveals itself as such…

The important thing is that the Storybook Wolf picture did make me wonder… would there be any difference between a “real wild wolf”  trapped in the photographer’s image and say a trained / captive “performing” wolf? A zoo specimen perhaps in a good diorama set up might have produced the same photographic object and result…   Maybe a “real wild wolf” would tend to look a little more scuffy?  Who knows?  But it remains that the picture clearly was made to be viewed in the context (and with that all of the expectations)  of it depicting a wild creature in a real situation… this was my expectation…

The idea of what we “expect” of photographs is a great topic… the Morris articles in the Times a while ago regarding Walker Evan’s “documentary” work and the role of “captions” elaborated on this while interpreting photographic objects viewed in the context of documentary work do come to mind…

My first gut response to the storybook wolf is that it is a case of context trumping the photograph especially considering how that object may be interpreted specifically in the context of the competition rules – the photo probably shouldn’t be presented as a representation of anything more than a wolf jumping over a fence.

I think the key is to try and discern as carefully as possible the context with-in which the photograph will be received / interpreted as a visual representation – this is what colors our expectations of what it is we’re viewing.  This becomes problematic when you can’t predict the context. Perhaps this is why we find all these vintage photographs from anonymous sources so fascinating… we can finally look at them for what they are…without the baggage of context.

Chance Juxtapositions

Edward S. Curtis: Chief Garfield – Jicarilla /Russell James, Natural Beauty.

Edward S. Curtis: Chief Garfield – Jicarilla  |  Russell James, Natural Beauty.

Copyright by respective photographers both images above

Edward Curtis “Shadow Catcher”

Russell James “Celebrity Sittings”

Two different results from essentially the (it seems) same starting point…. documentary projects of sorts of relative importance.