Thursday, November 29, 2007

Art Sans Us : Open Thread

There's an interesting, if melancholy, article in today's New York Times about how the Corcoran and his Chelsea gallery, Kinz, Tillou & Feigen, have gone about selecting the work for Jeremy Blake's posthumous exhibitions:
Jonathan P. Binstock, the curator of the Corcoran exhibition, and Lance Kinz, a director of Kinz, Tillou & Feigen, decided to incorporate [the work-in-progress] “Glitterbest” into their exhibitions in its incomplete state out of deference to Mr. Blake, who had approved inclusion of some of the images in the Corcoran exhibition catalog and advance announcements for the New York show. They hoped the unfinished work would give viewers insight into his creative process and provide a glimmer of what the video might have become.

“It was a way to remain true to the vision of the exhibition, and it furthers our efforts in exploring his theme of portraiture,” Mr. Binstock said of “Wild Choir,” the Corcoran show. Reflecting Mr. Blake’s most recent career focus, the exhibition presents lushly cinematic, deeply probing digital-video studies of three artists he admired.
The article details the care and consideration shown throughout the process, and I feel that the exhibitions are an appropriate testament to the legacy of Mr. Blake, but there is something somewhat unsettling about any effort to interpret the intentions of an artist no longer with us.

Mind you, I've thought about this issue before, but the Blake article comes on the heels of my having just read portions of the Alan Weisman book, The World Without Us, a fascinating and sobering assessment of what will (might) remain and happen should all the humans on the earth disappear in an instant. Here's a thought-provoking
interactive chart outlining the various events one might expect at 10, 1000, 1,000,000 (etc.) years after the world goes humanless (roll over the years to see the author's guesses).

One chapter in the book is titled "Art Beyond Us." In it the author discusses X-treme archival issues with two top conservators, and I learned that water is paradoxically both the fastest way to destroy most art and one of the most effective ways of preserving it (so long as the art work is entirely submerged and then carefully removed [not always possible]). What was even more surprising though was the speculation that at 10,200,000 years after all humans had disappeared, long after microbes had evolved that would dissolve all the world's plastics or any stone walls in New York City had fallen to glaciers, bronze sculptures would still be recognizable.

The end of the "Art Beyond Us" chapter, though, is dedicated to the one form of human creativity that will last forever, fragmented, but essentially infinite: radio and television broadcasts. Billions of years from now, they will still be at the relative beginning of their journey outward through the universe, carrying reruns of the Brady Bunch, or what have you, to any being that might cross their paths. In as much as it saddens me to think we won't ever know what Jeremy Blake would have done exactly with the images and sounds found on his computer, the notion that we have a context (his other work, our contemporary sense of what he was saying about it, and our sense of ourselves) in which to view his posthumous exhibitions strikes me as a huge advantage over the alien lifeforms left to piece together some meaning from the snippets of broadcasts of Bay Watch or The Three Stooges or even the Evening News. Will they assume it must be art? Will they assume we must have been mad? Without the context provided/clarified by its creator's time and place or a work's intended audience, does art make any sense at all? OK, I need some coffee...consider this another open thread.

Labels: art criticism, open thread


Blogger Joerg Colberg said...

I haven't read the book, but as a cosomologist I can't refrain from adding an even more sobering aspect to our legacy: Since the acceleration of the Universe is increasing - in other words the Universe has begun to expand at an ever increasing, in fact *exponential* rate - humankind's radio wave legacy will still exist, but it will be unable to reach anyone outside of the galaxy as the expansion of the Universe turns the Milky Way (which by then will have collided with Andromeda to form one large galaxy) into a true "Island Universe": If there is an observer somewhere in that future galaxy he or she or it will conclude there is nothing out there as light from other galaxies can't be observed. And as the material to form new stars gets depleted, the future Milty Way galaxy will slowly fade away - that will take many billions of years, though.

11/29/2007 10:12:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice mental prep for Miami.

11/29/2007 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


Just so I understand, are you saying the universe is expanding more quickly than the broadcast signals are traveling?

That is sobering. Then again, I think I can rest eternally without worrying whether alien beings ever see American Idol.

Nice mental prep for Miami.


We're ready...only thing left to do is get on that plane.

11/29/2007 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ED, I told you once; The art of the future is the one we will take into space. Painting is out, digital in!

Don't worry about the expanding universe, we should be out of here by then.

Whoever wonders about the universe, will figure out the expansion. The same way the Atlantic was crossed without knowing anything about the other side.

11/29/2007 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Very cool link!

I agree that, though painting is probably the most honest of arts, digital archives is the best way to ensure legacy, that is, if we stick it inside bronze sculpture..(let's see..bronze hard-disc surrounded by plastic, inserted in thick bronze cube with engraved instruction as to how to open the darn thing).

Then also you can broadcast the data. Just broadcast all digital archives as data with incoming audio message about the technology needed to receive and transfer data into comprehensible media.

The universe expands but also constantly shifts and mutate like a box of ping pong balls that constantly shakes. So there is always a chance that the data can be received. Hurrah for The Bold And Beautiful! But if artists want to be part of this they should start by properly archiving images of their works and make them accessible. How many works do I have a hardknock of a time finding in catalogs?


Cedric Caspesyan

11/29/2007 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Actually you don't need wave if you have the technology to receive the data by matter induction, like one quantic element connecting to the next and you get to where you want.

Whatever transports data, you could define a way to transport yourself from the opposite direction, or simply suck it in. We're closed to pay credits with the touch of finger (natural salts and electricity), so nothing is impossible.


Cedric Caspesyan

(and I'm not entirely convinced yet that we loose all conscience
when we die. relegate that to the world of esoterical beliefs)

11/29/2007 12:44:00 PM  
Anonymous joy said...

though painting is probably the most honest of arts, digital archives is the best way to ensure legacy, that is, if we stick it inside bronze sculpture...

wow, just in case that looming EMP pulse comes and wipes all the disks on earth clean. Hmm, which means sculpture is not merely that thing you back into when you're looking at a painting.

11/29/2007 01:26:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

It is only recently that artists have been professionalized enough to keep records or "document" their work. The computer is interesting because the hard drive becomes a living breathing record of this process. In the future I think it will be necessary to create archival schemes for recording this data and creating navigable and comprehensible paths through "the mind of the artist" as it were - the "historical record" of the individual.

"They discovered Mr. Blake’s labeled folders in Adobe Photoshop, the graphics-editing software. Each folder contained sequential picture files with titles. But within each dense file were numerous layers of the artist’s “moving painting” imagery, their intended direction and flow indecipherable."

From this we may infer that Jeremy Blake, like many artists, was an absent minded professor type, and that his process was disorganized and fragmented, mirroring perhaps a mind on the brink or a mad-man genius working without a story board or script, intuitively and on the edge - where rationality cannily meets the non-rational.

A disorganized mind and work-flow would make the work much harder to decipher as well as archive.

The journalist Choir Sicha proposed that crack was the culprit, and given the facts, it seems likely that a shared drug induced psychosis (methamphetamine) is not beyond the pale and consistent with the symptoms. Is that what the article is hinting at?

People who don't know anything about photoshop (or computers) are prone to hyperbole.

A while back Roberta Smith called using Photoshop "programming," I believe unironicly. Photoshop does not have that funtionality unless you consider "actions" as a rudimentary "program" - not what RS was describing though. Maybe she was quoting the source indirectly, as many reporters do.

I have no doubt that combing through Jeremy Blake's files was time consuming, but photoshop is pretty easy to deal with for a hobbyist or professional (but everything takes time - for example you might spend a week designing and tweaking a web page so making an animated movie with refined animation "S" curves could take months, even with a storyboard)

No mention is made of the way the animation was created - I assume the photoshop document was imported into After Effects as I read was done in the past. Did JB do all his own animation or did he usually direct it as the idea guy?

"With a deadline looming, Mr. Binstock approached a friend, David Sigal, a documentary filmmaker and videographer"

Clearly the article works to create a sense that this posthumous work has value, and that the process was intriguing and valuable because it illuminates JB's process. But is Mr. Sigal qualified to make command decisions in animation in a work that apparently had no storyboard?

I think this article leaves a lot to the imagination - and that smells like PR to me.

This reconstruction is not the same as Editing Anne Frank's Diary to reflect a more positive outlook, or Nietzsche being made into an anti-semite. But still, one has to wonder what the work would have been.

11/29/2007 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger Joerg Colberg said...

Well, Ed, it's very hard to wrap one's head around all of this, but basically, the answer is yes, at some stage it will do that. But then this only concerns our signals reaching people or life forms outside of our galaxy. Our own galaxy is what we call "bound" so it's not going to be blown apart as the expansion of the Universe speeds up. But then since the Sun is going to turn into a Red Giant star in a few billion years, that's all academic anyway.

BTW, I seem to remember that there was some artist somewhere who tried to build something that would last 10,000 years (much more easily understandable) and that future humans - assuming we're not blowing ourselves to bits or making our habitat unlivable - would be able to understand. I might be able to dig up a link, but in a nutshell, he figured the best thing to build is a gigantic clock made from stone. It's quite an interesting story, but since I don't have a link at hand I should probably not make people's mouths water (provided anyone else is actually interested in this)... (Maybe someone has a link handy?)

11/29/2007 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger Joerg Colberg said...

Well, here's a link:

11/29/2007 01:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And what about marble and other types of stone? Does it seem that greeks were right after all?

A Non

11/29/2007 02:58:00 PM  
Blogger Sunil said...

Great post. Nice combination of a bit of science and art. Mr. Blake was a good artist. Looking at some of his videos seem almost like paintings in motion. I do not know about all the rhetorical posing advanced by Mr. Binstock. Like zip mentions above, it could be a case of PR and worse, trying to get an extra mile of a dead artist. Nice to cosmologists here...

11/29/2007 03:06:00 PM  
Blogger hovie said...

People who don't know anything about photoshop (or computers) ...

or for that matter those who don't know anything about the creative process in general ...

are prone to hyperbole.

11/29/2007 03:10:00 PM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

Sunil you are so damn possitive. I think my point is that unlike the Mass Coma museum as artist dealio, this is more a case of a former collaborator (david sigal) being downplayed (branding! Cache!)as an executor or "art worker" as they are known in the red light district. guess he's ok with that.

i support his decision to do the work.

Note that roberta smith didn't write this article. Wonder why.

11/29/2007 03:14:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

Why does this question matter AT ALL???

Barbara Brennan states that the act of creation is a shaping of the soul; that every creative act expands outward from the soul, goes to the end of the universe, and then returns, re-shaping and refining the soul of the artist with the total of its intentions and its lessons. We are not separate from the universe, in that we are unilaterally affecting it with our endeavors; we are integrally connected with it.

Thus, worrying about what effect the detritus of our creative process will have, on unknowable circumstances and unknowable beings, millions of years in the future, is to miss the whole point of creation. We have the opportunity to act with honesty and integrity in the present moment, period. All else is vanity.

11/29/2007 03:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow -- someone referred to choire sicha as a "journalist"?

11/29/2007 04:14:00 PM  
Blogger hovie said...

"outsider journalism"

11/29/2007 05:17:00 PM  
Blogger hovie said...

(or "insider journalism," as the case may be)

11/29/2007 05:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

>>We have the opportunity to act >>with honesty and integrity in >>>the present moment, period. All >>>else is vanity.

I agree. But if I am digging a copy of Student In Prague, an early silent film, I think that has to do with me more than the vanity of the artist, who is long dead.

What I don't understand is how it can be so hard in 2007 to get a free copy of a silent film over the web. Or why not all the books owned by Vatican are not diffused as PDF on an internet archive.

I am not too concerned about present artists' copyrights when there is such a huge cultural back catalog available. But I am concerned that this catalog is not made available though we have the technologies to do this. The new trend is "this estate is private", and so they use architecture to excuse that as long as an artefact remains inside a privately owned piece of architecture (say, Vatican), than the public has no access to it (or something similar to this).

Cupidity is one big stick in the wheel of vanity, I find.

Cedric Caspesyan

PS: Duh about EPM. Any physical mean to protect a drive against epm?

11/29/2007 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

We have the opportunity to act with honesty and integrity in the present moment, period. All else is vanity.

Taken to its logical conclusion that would imply artists must destroy their works after some point, though, no? To leave objects lying around for others to tend to would be vanity, no?

11/30/2007 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Marc Snyder said...

Perhaps the tending of those objects is a creative act in itself - choosing to use your resources to preserve something you think has value. There is so much out there that will inevitably disappear, that to take the role of caretaker for some particular thing, or body of work, is a form of creation. And it's a thing separate from the original artist's intentions.

11/30/2007 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger hovie said...

By sheer coincidence (?), CTRL Gallery in Houston (who will be at Aqua next week) is showing the work of Valerie Hegarty, beginning tomorrow:

Hegarty re-creates iconic American paintings by artists such as Mark Rothko, Clyfford Still, Winslow Homer, Gilbert Stuart and Charles Wilson Peale, offering various scenarios for the physical deterioration of a work of art. This simulated decay, achieved entirely with archival art materials, walks the line between delightfully obvious fakeness and uncanny realness.

A variety of fates have befallen a series of paintings of the instantly recognizable and highly symbolic George Washington. In one case, the decay suggests thousands of years of gradual erosion, while in another, a sudden, cataclysmic tragedy seems to have ravaged the portrait of the founding father.


11/30/2007 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

Taken to its logical conclusion that would imply artists must destroy their works after some point, though, no?

Don't be ridiculous. It implies nothing of the kind; the notion that other people ought to attend to them is vanity. The art is merely the detritus of the process of soul-creation, and has value as it influences the souls of self and others, do you see? One may trust that the universe will handle them appropriately, without worrying overmuch about what this handling might become.

I recently destroyed a dumpster-full of my student work, but that was indeed vanity. I could not bear the notion that anyone unrelated to myself would come upon those horrible things.

11/30/2007 01:32:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

And I thoroughly agree with Marc, that tending to objects that one perceives as valuable is its own act of creativity, and indeed a salutary act of reverence. One of my other occupations has been that of archivist/librarian/conservator, in fact.

11/30/2007 01:36:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


not trying to pick on you Pretty Lady, but I want to push this a bit further to see where it might lead.

We have the opportunity to act with honesty and integrity in the present moment, period. All else is vanity.

How do you act with honesty and integrity in choosing materials/media though? Expecially today, when the technology is nearly perfected such that we're not far from being able to produce atomically exact replicas of work.

Take for example a sculptor who wants to create a piece in bronze. Yes, there are certain aesthetic and process criteria unique to bronze, but the artist cannot not know that whatever they cast will last for 10 millions years (unless someone else melts it down again). How do we, following your assertion that we differentiate between honesty & integrity and vanity, judge whether this sculptor ought not use some medium more biodegradable?

btw, any push of any argument to its logical conclusion is by definition a ridiculous act. That doesn't make it any less entertaining, however.

11/30/2007 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger prettylady said...

How do we, following your assertion that we differentiate between honesty & integrity and vanity, judge whether this sculptor ought not use some medium more biodegradable?

I have long asserted that 'should' and 'ought' are ridiculous concepts. We simply cannot know the ultimate outcome of any of our actions; thus, trying to control these outcomes at a projected distance of 10,000 years is a vain act, and distracts us from what we can control, which is our attention and intention in the present moment.

I am not saying that it is bad for a piece of art to last 10,000 years; I am saying that it is utterly irrelevant how long it lasts. An ephemeral piece, such as a performance by Meredith Monk or a street installation by Swoon, may create waves that affect thousands of people very profoundly; equally, a fragment of a Greek statue that endures 2,000 years in a museum may continue to speak to the human condition through the ages.

I think you misunderstand what I mean by 'honesty and integrity' versus 'vanity.' I do not specify what integrity must look like for any particular artist, because the physical manifestations of that integrity are unique to every artist. Integrity is operating from one's inner direction, one's deepest self, as far as one can perceive it.

Vanity, on the other hand, is attempting to manipulate external circumstances so that one will be perceived in a particular way by others. It is attempting to locate the essence of one's identity outside of oneself; it is an attempt to impose an agenda on the world, rather than genuinely interacting with it. It is the putting on of a mask.

Thus the distinction is one of intention, not manifestation. If an artist really really needs to work in bronze, she should work in bronze. It might last for aeons, or get melted down for cannonballs; that makes no difference at all to the integral value of the work. If an artist is drawn to digital media, woo hoo. It might influence an alien race on Alpha Centauri, or end up being broadcast on a repeat loop in a Mexican bus. That eventual outcome cannot be the determinator of the success or failure of the work.

The artist who decides, "I'm going to work in X medium, in order that all the universe knows about Me for All Time," and that is the sum total of motivation, is the vain one. Or just an adolescent.

11/30/2007 05:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Interesting PrettyLady.

Somehow I see things this way,
may I'm vain:

1. To me art is not important. I've struggled enough for survival in the past few years to know that at best art can be helpful, but it's never important. Is it leads to a great scientifical discovery than that discovery and its applications are important, much less the art.

2. To me art is fun. You can cry me a river about the holocaust or your horrible life, art to me is still all about the envelop, the aesthetic ways you choose to express those things and how those ways are able to trigger something in me: thoughts, emotions, memories and sensations.

3. To me all art is at some level a waste of space and most is detrimental to the environment. When iit is destroyed there is always a gain in vital space.

4. To me, authentic art is a rare occasion. Most people won't be able to see any art piece more than once in real life, and the majority of art pieces are never seen but by means of documentation. This is the biggest issue that I so wish the artworld would catch up with: art is so less about art than about its documentation in terms of its powers to achieve communication.

5. The reason that I am much more of a pig for documentation than actual artworks, is that documentation don't take that much space, is easily shared and can be seen by myriads of people at a same time, and it serves as a blueprint for real fun cool art.
I believe that in the future, if an original Van Gogh is lost in a fire, its documentation will help people have it rebuilt the best way they can, but also in as many copies as people want it on their walls. It will never be the authentic copy. The original blister of genius might be loss forever. But a bad VHS video copy of Jean Renoir's "The Great Illusion" is better than not having it at all, and there is no way to reproduce the original 35mm
by the thousands. Only a few exquisite dandies might ever develop the sophisticate knowledge or taste enough to remember what was so different and great in an original authentic artwork compared to its document or reproduction, and so I am less concerned with that than with what I'm actually able to grasp myself, through the lense with which I'm able to grasp it, which is likely to ever be the quite imperfect and evershifting souvenir of the original filtered by its documentation, because I simply can't own a work of 23 millions dollars value. But so, because art is STILL fun after all that, I want to be able to decide whenever I want a piece of art in front of me, wrether by digital document or discardable replicate.

To me this is about extending the realms of knowledge and possibilites. In the fluxus of information there is too much date to decipher what is important from what it's not. This topic is pointless. The point is in being submerged into a sea of constant discoveries.


Cedric Caspesyan

PS: keep in mind that the realm of documentation evolves. Photographs are overcooked. I believe in 3D renditions of space, photographically textured.

PS2: why keep everything? Because it will be more and more easy, and because no one should decide for others what is important. Let people find their own path. To opposite what has been said in this thread: from a more esoterical point of view, nothing is unimportant. What could God find unimportant? How would that be possible?

12/01/2007 07:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Prett Lady:
>>>The art is merely the detritus >>>of the process of soul-creation

That detritus is also a gift if it can help the viewer to enhance some kind of personal soul-creation.

Or do you mean that it's more enlightning for us to discover all things by ourselves? Does attempt at communication has value?

Or do you believe, like Ben Vautier, that all art mostly repeated the message: "Look At Me. Love Me." ?

Mind you, art is definitely detritus once you don't have the hardware or media needed to grasp or soul-create from it anymore, which is another human mind.

Cedric Caspesyan

12/01/2007 07:52:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I am not saying that it is bad for a piece of art to last 10,000 years; I am saying that it is utterly irrelevant how long it lasts.

I should introduce you to a few rather vehement conservators I know.

Also, I can't see how that can be true if one accepts that art is a form of communication (with the implication being: communication between the artist and other people, not just the artist and him/herself). To my mind, there's something rather masturbatory about the "present moment, period" criteria for creating a work of art. Suggesting it's irrelevant whether a work lasts beyond the moment of the act of creating it suggests any post-creation communication intentions in the decision making process are irrelevant too, and that suggests that art is NOT a mode of communication at all. That if some work happens to be seen by another person, so be it, but if not, there's no difference. The artist becomes the only viewer/participant that matters. The next question becomes then why should anyone else care about an effort for which their reponse was irrelevant.

12/01/2007 11:57:00 AM  
Blogger prettylady said...

To my mind, there's something rather masturbatory about the "present moment, period" criteria for creating a work of art.

You are still conflating the specifics of external circumstance with the internal impulse to create, which in its pure form is synonymous with communication. It's a question of levels. I'm talking about a metaphysical level, not a physical one.

The present moment, on a metaphysical level, is literally the only thing that ever exists. It is not a 'period,' it is not a 'trend,' it is just the eternal present moment in the mind. That's where all artwork gets made. It isn't made in the 'Renaissance period' or the 'Modernist Period' it's made in the now. It is attention and intention in the mind.

A great piece of artwork forcibly brings you into awareness of the present moment with the irreducible power of its presence. That's communication. In my experience and observation, an artist greatly reduces their ability to produce work with this kind of transcendent power if their working mind is clogged with concerns about manipulating circumstances--i.e. 'how do I do something that will get attention in Chelsea in 2007, or 10,000 years in the future?'

I was chatting with John Morris today, and he mentioned that his best work is basically doodling. He's just present and experimenting with materials. When he tries to do something 'significant,' the pressure of decision becomes overwhelming, and the ability to push ink around in subtle, playful and irreproducible ways is lost.

That's what I mean by operating with honesty and integrity in the present moment. It doesn't have anything to do with where that present moment is located in space and time.

I should introduce you to a few rather vehement conservators I know.

Did I mention that I have been one of those vehement conservators? I'm not saying that conservation isn't important, I'm saying that it's a voluntary response to perception of value, to resonance, to a successful communication. The artist communicated something with such power that I am moved to conserve it. It's my part of the interaction, not the artist's.

12/01/2007 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger biv said...

Anyway, back to Jeremy Blake...
Given his recent death and the relatively large media surge about it, which described him primarily as a video artist, I was kind of disappointed at Kinz, Tillou & Feigen today that you could only watch one of his videos at a time, other than the incomplete one, which was showing continuously.
If they had had 5 simultaneous LCDs with the wireless headsets, it would have made more sense. I'm glad they made a special place to show one video at a time (they were showing the "history of fashion" or whatever when I was there today) but showing a single video in rotation for hours doesn't help anyone who only has one day a month to check out the galleries.
I wanted to see more.

12/01/2007 07:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re the communication issue, I saw Chuck Close speak yesterday in a discussion preceding a screening of a new documentary about him. He said he wouldn't work if there were no audience, that he definitely wouldn't be one of those people stranded on a desert island pricking his skin to draw blood to use for drawing on the back of a leaf, etc. If someone else showed up to see it, then he'd think about making art.


12/02/2007 10:07:00 AM  
Blogger prettylady said...

If I were stranded on a desert island, I'd prick the leaves instead of my skin, making patterns for the light to come through, until the leaves withered away, and this would keep me from going insane with loneliness. ;-)

12/02/2007 03:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

God bless Mr. Blake, but the simple idea of showing monoband videos in galleries (I bet, with povera wood bench) is stupid, stupid, stupid. And I know you all think I'm stupid, well the though is reciprocal, dear artworld.

Just show these in a proper cinema or sell them as DVDs if you dare.

In 100 years anyway this is either going to be on Youtube or something similar if people still think it's good, or it wll be forgotten forever. Don't kid me.
I wouldn't want to die and have a gallery make a show of my monoband videos. Gosh, no thank you.

And Pretty Lady, I don't believe you. There are centuries of genetics speaking through your body, and that genetic I believe also has an influence on the psychological. So you're always somewhat doing Renaissance Art, Modernist Art, etc... It's never pure. Only art made by insects is pure, but then if you see it as art, then your mind is still
influenced by how aesthetic history have marked you genetically.

I agree with your Vanity Point,
but I think art is always vanity. It's nothing but. When you are relieved from vanity you actually
go and feed poor dying children. You don't do art. Is art communication? It's a selfish for a communication if it is. It's not interested by what I have to say. Are you?

Cedric Caspesyan

And using art to make money to give to charity will never be the same...

12/04/2007 03:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

selfish form of communication.

also above was, "thought is reciprocal." What the hell did that meant? It's just that I had arguments with video artists and gallerists in the past couple years and these discussions always amounted that I was a crazy loon out of the loop. I didn't mean to attack Blake more than all artists showing uninstallative films (neither projects that necessitate loops, or juxtapositions next to precise sculptural or architectural contexts) in standard galleries. I am a fan of both visual arts and experimental film and studied in both domains, and am baffled at the poor quality of gallery screenings offered by the pretext that films have now become luxurious limited objects. That was not the purpose of that media.

I guess I cringe at artists who don't understand the purpose of their media.


Cedric Caspesyan

12/04/2007 03:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I agree that artists should understand the "purpose" (meaning the history and development of their media, including it's historical purposes), but it can be interesting when they consciously subvert that purpose. (This is rarely done well - there is too much lazy, inconsequential, student-quality art that claims to be "blurring boundaries", "conflating expectations", "subverting the dominant paradigm", etc., but the idea is a viable one.)

Definitely with you on the whole videos in galleries thing. I rarely watch the whole thing. Often there is not even a hard bench to sit on. And when there is a sort of theatre set up within the gallery, I'm not very comfortable walking into a dark room, the video already playing, eyes adjusting, bumping into people sitting on the floor. Not too many galleries have figured out a good way to show video.


12/04/2007 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

i definitely disagree with the often stated notion that Jeremy Blake was the first or only person to show video as painting, or to try to corner this pathetic niche in art historical irrelevance.

In fact if I were an artist making video as art, I would consider a reputation based on such minor conflations, or blurrings or subversions or what have you's, to be a dated and inconsequential notion of what art is, or can be.

Oh yes, vanity.

12/04/2007 03:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

>>>it can be interesting when they >>>consciously subvert that purpose.

But that notion of subvertion is exaggerated and used to absurd degrees. Recently in Mois De La Photo in Montreal you had a gallery with many standard short films each shown in their own screening room (Jesper Just, Salla Tykka, etc..). Now, when you're presented with a video by Salla Tykka, you're told that it's a subversion to cinema (gaze, feminism, etc..). It's almost exploitating the distanciation provoked by the gallery space to insinuate that the video is "not cinema", but visual arts taking the form of cinema. But that is bollocks, there is a whole tradition of experimental feminist cinema. Where's Maya Deren?

Incidentally, Tykka is clever enough to use all possible grounds. She sends some of the videos to galleries, others to cinema festivals, but it's still sold like sculptural editions (6 copies). I'm not attacking her personally, and don't mean to diminush the quality of her films, but many artists are like that. It's dishonesty. Cinema is cinema, period. I "know" when an art piece subverts cinema to a degree where it needs the gallery distanciation.
Mark Lewis would be one of these artists. But not Just or Tykka, their art is just film. It's possible to make film that subvert film standards, you know? It doesn't mean your work is something too extra-terrestrial
to be separated from the rest.

I wanted to ask the curator of Mois De La Photo in Montreal if she ever attended the short film programs of Festival Du Nouveau Cinema (like I do each year, in Montreal), but her conference was cancelled.

>>>definitely disagree with the >>>often stated notion that Jeremy >>>Blake was the first or only >>>person to show video as painting

No that started with Stan Brakhage. I mentioned before that curators have started to include Brakhage in galleries, but he walways wanted to be in cinema. I met the guy (one of the few art stars I've met). His dreams was to conquer Imax cinemas. He did consider his art moving painting, but he was totally about cinema,
and quality viewing. It's all about the time that these works request.

In Montreal recently they showed a 2 hours works by Eve Sussmann in a gallery basement. It was awful, awful, awful. How can the artist permits that? Do you remember at the Whitney how we had to sit on the carpet to watch her Velazquez film ? (at least it was short).

I love video art, I just hate how it's being presented, and how it's being valued as sculpture when it's digital media. Digital is an opportunity, not a problem that you need to work around in order to get more money. You need to totally rethink the market over.
Make people pay-per-view on the net. I mean: calculate your 6 editions price and divise by 2000, should give a fair amount of what your dvd should cost, and you make the same money.

Let's do this:
You have a video that you sell
10 000 dollars an edition of 6.

Divise 60 000 dollars by 2000,
potential clientele.

It's 30 bucks each. Ok?
Video is made for publication and it's ok if people watch it late at night in their chalet. Grrr.

(10 000 for a monoband non-installative video is A LOT, by the way, most are sold fort lot less).

Cedric Caspesyan

12/04/2007 04:59:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

Actually, if you are an artist, video art has a very limited clientele, so I would understand a piece to be sold between 100 and 200 dollars.

But you don't need the limited edition of 5. Just fold the invitation card around a DVD-R and sell it to anyone who likes it. Fighting copyrights and diffusion is another issue. Generally you have the right to denounce diffusion of your work anywhere.
It's a bizarre conflict because, if poeople show your work a lot, you loose the money and at the same time, it's fun to know people care and may help your art career.
Assuming that secret deals between gallerists and rich collectors is safe for your art carreer would be wrong. They are too many artists for you to last. You absolutely want the diffusion, baby.

Non-installative video editions will never increase in value. In 125 years, the best films will leak and likely be diffused on services like YouTube. I don't believe in video art being re-sold at 23 millions, unless it's thoroughly installative.


Cedric Caspesyan

12/04/2007 05:16:00 PM  
Blogger Sean Capone said...

Wow, way too much heated opinions here to respond to. The original idea of 'how might Jeremy have edited the video' makes me think of Benjamin Weill's thoughts on 'ephemeral art.' Briefly put, he related new-media or technological 'experiential' art to that of dance or music, themselves ephemeral art forms, the essence of which exists in the score and in the interpretation throughout time. Perhaps it helps to look at Jeremy's files as a type of score, the medium on which they were found (hard drive) as immaterial to a certain degree. I am (was?) very enthusiastic about Jeremy's work, but you know, IMO, there was nothing really overtly 'digital' about it, if I can shorthand a discussion about whatever distinctive features of that elusive medium might be...
I did in fact ask the gallerist what they considered the 'art object' of Glitterbeast. As a digital video artist myself I've thought a lot about the materiality of the art; where does the essence of the art reside? In the Final Cut edit? In the source imagery? In the final output medium (the art is now a 'closed object' as a DVD, film print, videotape, or web page..). In Jeremy's case the source files are still the domain of his estate (his family), and the curators could only access a DigiBeta dub of the 'edit' which in this case would be considered the master print or whatever...
I always imagined that I would be able to sell my work at multiple tiers, emulating the mass market itself--a mass-inexpensive distributed version, and a 'collector edition' that would contain an alternate edit or extra easter eggs for the limited-edition primary art market. Why not?
As far as archiving goes, in the near future everything will be encoded directly onto subatomic particles such as modified neutrons, or hydrogen atoms, leaving the totality of human experience with a half-life of the universe itself. If you want a fun read about art, artifacts and eternity, check out Greg Egan's 'Diaspora'. It's a thoughtful, fun book (read it on the plane to and from Miami, the whole last part of the book finds the characters spending hundreds of thousands of years hunting through millions of alternate universes trying to decode a gigantic alien sculpture, one chunk at a time...)

12/04/2007 07:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric Caspesyan said...

I actually just learned that Blake and her girlfriend both committed suicide.

Any artist left who actually enjoy life, please? I think I'm gonna opt for visiting your show.

Thank you

Cedric Caspesyan

12/04/2007 10:35:00 PM  
Anonymous McFawn said...

This reminds me of a question raised in my Ethics 202 class as an undergrad. The prof presented this to the class:

If you were the only person left on earth, and you had run out of fuel to keep yourself warm, would you burn the masterpieces of the arts to lengthen your survival?

Barring the logistical impossibility of this, its a fascinating question. I was the only person who said I would rather die then destroy great art, explaining that great art would be a better thing to have left over from all of humanity then my corpse.

Strange to think what fragments will be left.

12/12/2007 02:11:00 PM  

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