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….


Longitude and Latitude

Today, a glimpse out the office window alternates between rainfall and sunshine,  a black hearse drives slowly by and somewhere the ocean changes color…

Cy Twombly, Untitled (Bolsena) 1969

Untitled (Bolsena), 1969
House paint, oil, crayon and pencil on canvas
78 x 98-1/2 inches (198.1 x 250.2 cm)

Some notes on coordinate systems as a way towards a description:

“We might say that there are two sections through the substance of the world: the longitudinal section of painting and the cross-section of certain pieces of graphic art. The longitudinal section seems representational; it somehow contains the objects. The cross-section seems symbolic; it contains signs. Or is it only when we read that we place the page horizontally before us? And is there such a thing as an original vertical position for writing – say, for engraving in stone? ” Walter Benjamin (c. 1920) p. 8 – notes from Marus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings (eds.) Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings, Vol. 1, 1913-1926, Harvard, MA, 1996.

I’ve been looking closely at some of Cy Twombly’s works in the book “Cycles and Seasons”. The passage quoted above resonated with me as I was looking at the reproductions of the Bolsena Paintings by Cy Twombly and reading the accompanying essay by Nicholas Cullinan. One of a series painted in 1969, the Bolsena series it is said records the events of 1969 that may have been on Twombly’s mind – the event of the decade perhaps as NASA’s Apollo 11 space mission unfolded before a collective world audience.  It’s an interesting consideration and connection of current events of that time influencing perhaps and recorded in Twombly’s own cryptic cypher of graphic marks and painterly splots.  What a hopeful time and sense of exploration!

Gulf Oil Spill May 17, 2010 - via NASA satellite imagery

NASA’s Terra satellite captured a visible satellite image of the Gulf oil spill on May 17 at 16:40 UTC (12:40 p.m. EDT) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer Instrument on-board. The oil slick appears as a dull gray on the water’s surface and stretches south from the Mississippi Delta with what looks like a tail. Text Credit: NASA Goddard / Rob Gutro

I’ve been thinking about this in the context of our own current events unfolding, as reports and images trickle in on the growing disaster of the oil spill in the gulf. NASA Satellite images show the extent of the slick as is disperses – but it is too soon to know the toll and we somehow still are unsure of how to stop the bleeding. How far we have come in the last 40+ years.

Seeing that vs. seeing as

what do you see?

both/and -a rabbit? a duck…?

a series of lines / shading forming a differential between figure and ground?

I cherrish time the kids and I spend staring up at the clouds lying in the warm grass where we are free to do what comes natural. When we choose to make the time to do this,  it’s amazing how natural it seems to us “seeing as”.  The projection our perceptions upon an observable world, as you can imagine –  rarely do we exclaim: “look at the density of that vapor!”  It just doesn’t happen that way.

fig. above the ambiguous image – and Ludwig Wittgenstein

Caleb Charland – Demonstrations

Picturing phenomena – refreshing.

Circles with matches from the series "Demonstrations" by Caleb Charland

Circles with matches from the series “Demonstrations” by Caleb Charland

I was able to visit Bluesky Gallery, here in Portland  (the new website is great by the way) this last weekend to catch a look at the Caleb Charland show hanging from his series “Demonstrations”.     The large silver gelatin prints were quite beautiful. I say this because a number of the images I would imagine would have been quite difficult to get such a wonderfully large range of tones. To my eye, the prints excelled at achieving this wide range without the frustrating intrusion of having been pushed too far (you know the effect, where you notice “too much contrast” or “too much sharpness” which gets in the way of the absorbing the illusion of the photo… in other words,  the photographs seemed to have a “natural” appearance…  not over worked…  much richer than the images that can be had on the web as usual…

Sparkler through crystal ball from the series "Demonstrations" by Caleb Charland

Sparkler through crystal ball from the series “Demonstrations” by Caleb Charland

However, the more lasting impression for me is what I think the pictures seem to record: the pictures bear witness to a performance of various phenomenon – you might say “law’s of nature”.  We can describe these phenomena perhaps precisely in abstract scientific terms, but it is difficult to grasp until you have some personal experience in some way with the phenomenon.  As I saw the work, I kept having that feeling of “hey look at this!” That’s what was refreshing. To simply witness what happens as various contraptions yield and act in cause and effect.

Skeleton key with copper wires from the series "Demonstrations" by Caleb Charland

Skeleton key with copper wires from the series “Demonstrations” by Caleb Charland

“Demonstrations”, as noted in the show’s introduction, appear as quasi-scientific investigations. They record a happening over the duration of an experiment.  Charland’s contraptions themselves are wonderful sculptural elements, well composed within the picture borders. Often, there are references to famous scientific discovery’s of the past – some of which we might learn about in school as kids. The effect of the series is unpretentious – it tells us nothing in the end, but instead offers hints of how it might be rewarding to simply embrace seeing again with a child-like sense of wonder.

Additional information written up about Charland and an upcoming group show at Micheal Mazzeo.

Notes on bubble chamber inspiration

untitled, (desktop) by Matt Niebuhr - copyright 2010 - all rights reserved

untitled  (photographs from a desktop series)
Matt Niebuhr

The topside of my drawing / drafting table is way more like the bubble chamber…  more so than I’ve been able to intentionally make so far in another visual form on paper  (even though I have really, really tried to do so)…

I just love those bubble chamber diagrams / photographs…. on so many levels.  So, I’m accepting and embracing the imprint left behind  (pictured above)  as the meaningful record of those attempts. Perhaps my actions are not all together hopeless… These photos will serve as documents to the history of other actions.

Finding good source imagery (by this I mean images that trigger an action)  is a lot like panning for gold.  In the  blog-o-sphere… if you’re lucky, you might find the occasional nugget.  I became aware of the bubble chamber via and I’m so glad for that…

Imagine growing up in a world where the internet (for all the good and the bad it encompasses) has always existed !

What’s new…? 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.

Brad Moore – photography

I’ve been following some great photography work by Brad Moore – I think this work shows an extraordinary constraint and edit.

Vista Belta, Wimington, CA by Brad Moore

Vista Belta, Wimington, CA by Brad Moore

Also receiving alcolades from Lens Culture among many others…

Notable for making the cut at Photolucida, Critical Mass 2009 portfolio reviews: Congratulations to this year’s Critical Mass Top 50 – 2009. I think his work would be great to see in book form!  Let’s hope the work is considered for this – as a have appreciated many of the fine books put together by Photolucida which can be found here:

Happy Kids Nutrition by Brad Moore

Happy Kids Nutrition by Brad Moore

I’ve appreciated Moore’s work for some time – especially the surburban landscape themed photographs – as written previously in this post. It would be terrific to see a group of this work presented at Blue Sky Gallery here in Portland…  Maybe someday soon!