Unreal Nature

January 4, 2018

An Axis Connecting Intention and Disappointment

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:55 am

… What is thought and what is experienced continually replace each other.

This is from ‘The Serial Attitude’ (1967) found in Solar System & Rest Rooms: Writings and Interviews, 1965-2007 by (of) Mel Bochner (2008):

Serial order is a method, not a style. The results of this method are surprising and diverse.Eadweard Muybridge’s photographs, Thomas Eakins’s perspective studies, Jasper Johns’s numerals, Alfred Jensen’s polyptychs, Larry Poons’s circles, dots and ellipsoids, Donald Judd’s painted wall pieces, Sol Lewitt’s orthogonal multi-part floor structures all are works employing serial logics. This is not a stylistic phenomenon. Variousness of the above kind is sufficient grounds for suggesting that rather than a style we are dealing with an attitude. The serial attitude is a concern with how order of a specific type is manifest.

Many artists work “in series.” That is, they make different versions of a basic theme; Morandi’s bottles or de Kooning’s women, for example. This falls outside the area of concern here. Three basic operating assumptions separate serially ordered works from multiple variants:

  1. The derivation of the terms or interior divisions of the work is by means of a numerical or otherwise systematically predetermined process (permutation, progression, rotation, reversal).
  2. The order takes precedence over the execution.
  3. The completed work is fundamentally parsimonious and systematically self-exhausting.

… Types of order are forms of thoughts. They can be studied apart from whatever physical form they may assume.

This next is from ‘Seriality and Photography’ (1967):

… One result of a method such as seriality tends to be a certain visual complexity uncommon to minimal, or single-image art. The usage of conflicting conceptual and visual orders reverses, in often irritating ways, the continuity of time.

… Frustration has become a key response to certain recent art. Frustration because the viewer is looking for a complete “idea” and is foiled. The notion of completion (i.e. self-containment) is at fault. What is thought and what is experienced continually replace each other. Nothing reveals itself without at the same time concealing something else.

[line break added] The concealed is the source of thought. And thought, which we hoped to use to “fill in the gaps,” is in itself bottomless or … incomplete. So every work is only the residue of thought’s attempt to simultaneously close itself up and its frustration at not being able to do so. The artwork, whatever “form” it might take, is the visible center of an axis connecting intention and disappointment.

My most recent previous post from Bochner’s book is here.

-Julie

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