Unreal Nature

February 28, 2019

Ecology

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:45 am

… electric light is as crucial a man-made resource as water and sunlight are natural ones.

This is from ‘New York’ by Jean-Louis Bourgeois (1970) found in It Is What It Is: Writings on Dan Flavin Since 1964 edited by Paula Feldman and Karstan Schubert (2004):

… Watching a gallery of Flavins come on, light up, is a breathtaking show, a genuine electric circus; the pieces burst into life, seizing the space around them like giant instant dyes. Mr. Russell Woeltz has suggested a Flavin show calls for cameras, still and movie, to take shots not just of the lamps themselves but the people and objects they can so strikingly dramatize.

… The notion of Flavins as proxy suns is more than just gaudy metaphor. If “ecology” can refer to our everyday urban experience as much as to distant wilderness, then electric light is as crucial a man-made resource as water and sunlight are natural ones.

… imagine Flavin king of our avenues, bedrooms, classrooms and offices — no temporary art-world luminary but his basic insight immortalized by constant use. This would be permanent — not merely temporary — majesty, perhaps even enshrined in the language. Till now Flavin has made capital-F Flavins with lamps bought direct from commercial suppliers; he has made no secret of this.

[line break added] In the future, perhaps people by the thousands, as well as public authorities, might install and enjoy small-f “flavins” bought from the same source. Flavin’s lamps are found objects of a rare kind in art — manufactured, generally available, and, given the richness of light and mood they yield, not expensive. Flavin is in a unique position to use his high-art status to further the ecology of our eyes …

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

February 27, 2019

The Gift

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:59 am

… the highest poetic charge is generated by an elementary but decisive switch in the identity of familiar things …

This is from Hans Bellmer by Peter Webb with Robert Short (1985):

… The surrealist object was a self-sufficient poetic image which stood for the problematic relationship between human sensibility and the external world. It is recognizable by the way it displaces the traditional connection between an object and its function in much the same way as automatism displaces that between words and their conventional meaning. The object is chosen or designed to provoke and disturb. As a result, new, poetic and often humorous meanings emerge.

[line break added] A famous early example from the Dada epoch was Man Ray’s transformation of a flat-iron: he fixed a row of tacks to its working surface and called it the ‘Gift.’ Most often the surrealist object subverts the utilitarian purposes of a thing to achieve a certain wish-fulfilment. It becomes a weapon in the battle waged by Surrealism on behalf of the pleasure principle against the reality principle.

Looking for the first time at the photographs of Bellmer’s Doll, Breton, Eluard and their friends were confronted with the archetypal surrealist object. An ostensibly innocent toy had been snatched from the hallowed, protected domain of the nursery, enlarged to child-size, and converted into a garish fetish that arouses the most ambiguous, unavowable and palpably erotic desires.

[line break added] No surrealist object is more pregnant with riddles — not only the riddles posed by Hoffmann about the natural and the artificial or the living and the dead, but fresh, Bellmerian riddles about the states of childhood and womanhood between which the Doll is indeterminately suspended. Bellmer conveyed both the precocious sexuality of the child, already amply documented by Freud, and the residue of childhood imagination and longings in the adult.

[line break added] The effect is insidious and cruel, but unlike many of the objects made by Dali, Dominguez or Miro which are elaborate confections of unlikely and exotic bric-a-brac, the Doll is simplicity itself. The Doll proves one of Surrealism’s less understood rules: that the highest poetic charge is generated by an elementary but decisive switch in the identity of familiar things …

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

February 26, 2019

Something New

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:56 am

… The elements make the whole possible but do not contain it.

Continuing through The Sociology of Art by Arnold Hauser, translated by Kenneth J. Northcott (1982):

… The closer we get to the origin of a work, the further we may be from its artistic meaning. If there is an interdependence between the work and the biography of an artist, it is a mutual and dialectic one. The biography of an author is determined as much by the nature of his works as these are by the nature of his personality. The artist sums up his life in his work and predicts the outlines of his work in what he experiences. He anticipates the material and the significance of his art in his biography, but the content of his life consists only of what he can fashion as an artist.

… As soon as we have green, yellow and blue disappear. The elements make the whole possible but do not contain it. Just as the nature of the components disappears when they combine, so the quality of the whole ceases to exist when it is once resolved into its component parts. Even in those cases, however, where the properties of the elements do not entirely disappear — for example, those of copper and tin in bronze — a new property may appear, namely hardness, which is completely new, is completely unpredictable, and could not, in theory, be produced.

[line break added] Sociological units are part of this sort of integration. Individuals with their particular natures, interests, and aims are not eradicated in social structures, but take on a whole set of characteristics they do not possess individually. Every structure of this sort unites factors which do not of themselves allow us to draw a conclusion about the whole and which when synthesized produce something new while at the same time retaining their original properties.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

February 25, 2019

Meteorology in Mind

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:16 am

… what the house actually really lost with modernity is a rich diversity of climatic spaces, between the humidity of the cellar and the drought of the attic …

This is from ‘Domestic Climates’ by Philippe Rahm in issue #33 (2012) of the independent quarterly magazine, Volume:

… Might not climate be a new architectural language, a language for architecture re-thought with meteorology in mind?

… At the large-scale, meteorological architecture explores the atmospheric and poetic potential of new construction techniques for ventilation, heating, dual-flow air renewal, and insulation. At the microscopic level, it plumbs novel domains of perception through skin contact, smell, and hormones.

… Downstairs: the underground, darkness, fear, crime, heavy air, sleeping, and black water. Upstairs: the attic, the smell of grapes drying on rack, the day. And between these two poles, one or two floors of a quieter and tempered atmosphere.

The postmodern critique asserts that in losing the cellar with modernity, the house has lost its roots and its inhabitants their reason: “the home is now just a simple horizontality, the relationships of the house and the space become fake,” writes Bachelard. But beyond the allegory, what the house actually really lost with modernity is a rich diversity of climatic spaces, between the humidity of the cellar and the drought of the attic, cold and hot, dark and light. The house also lost areas devoted to conservation, replaced with more spaces of consumption.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

February 24, 2019

To Occupy Space

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:50 am

… Sound has power.

This is from ‘Ears Have Walls: On Hearing Art’ by Steven Connor (2005):

… When you are in a bath, or even in a sauna, you feel yourself at once inside your skin and taken beyond it. One seems to expand outwards from one’s core to one’s skin. But this movement does not confine one in one’s skin but releases one to continue to expand into the element in which one is immersed.

[line break added] Didier Anzieu finds an analogue for this immersion in what he calls the ‘sonorous envelope,’ or bath of sounds, to which all of us are subject, first of all as foetus, in which sound and tactile sensation are powerfully intermingled, and then the experiences of the young child, in which the sensation of being held and embraced continues to cooperate with the lulling and lalling, all the gentle hubbub, with which the child is surrounded. We can say therefore that the experience of immersion in sound is a strange hybrid that does not yield easily to the language of space.

… If vision always puts creatures physically constituted as we are in front of the world, then sound, as Walter Ong has put it, puts us in the midst of things. Sound puts us in the world from which vision requires us, however minimally, to withdraw. Even this is a simplification, for, in order for a sound to be audible, it is always necessary for it to be in us just as much as we are in it. We inhabit sound, because it happens to us..

… But sound is not all pleasurable permeation or erotic meeting of membranes. Sound, as Aristotle puts it, is the result of a pathos. All sound is an attempt to occupy space, to make oneself heard at the cost of others. Sound has power.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

February 23, 2019

Self Conscious

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:55 am

This is from The Patch by John McPhee (2019):

… The Liberty Science Center’s declared purpose is [ … ] to educate many and, with luck, to inspire a few. And how does a museum do that? In the words of management: “First, don’t scare them off.”

… Close by, second graders are digging in a mound of dirt in search of weevils, pill bugs, springtails, scorpion-fly pupae, centipedes, and small local millipedes. Don’t scare them off.

The African millipedes are longer than hot dogs and call to mind segments of BX cable. Would I like to handle one? In this company, what choice do I have? Nina Zitani, of the museum staff, lays a Kenyan millipede on my open palm. Curled like an ammonite, it covers the palm. “In a minute,” says Nina, “she’ll begin to move.”

She begins to move. She uncurls, stretches from my wrist to beyond my fingertips — her touch is tentative as an art restorer’s brush. She seems self-conscious. …

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

February 22, 2019

Girls Do That

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:47 am

This is from Sweet Nothings: Notes and Texts by Marlene Dumas, edited by Mariska van den Berg (2015). For those of you not familiar with her, Dumas is a painter:

My people were all shot
by a camera, framed,
before I painted them. They didn’t know that I’d do this to
them. …

[ … ]

Seemingly no-one believes in the capturing of ‘souls’
anymore. (The Devil has become a type of playmate,
the product of a Playboy culture.)
The occult has become a tame game. Artworks are seen
and made as art. A structured language of fiction. These
attitudes ruling — my faces cannot be dangerous.
(I cannot be sued.)

I like putting myself down. It’s a sort of arrogance.
Girls do that.
But BEWARE — I can see — you have long dark tunnels,
warm damp holes.
The truth cannot be held as a cold bridge weapon,
to ward off pain.
I am not a cynic. I am touched by our bruiseability.
I laugh a lot.
My mouth is a small pink wound that needs airing.

My most recent previous post from Dumas‘ book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

February 21, 2019

Corners

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:08 am

… There are many oppositions going on …

This is from ‘Art: A Different Light’ by John Perreault found in It Is What It Is: Writings on Dan Flavin Since 1964 edited by Paula Feldman and Karstan Schubert (2004):

… The fact that a particular piece is varied each time it is set up in a new space indicates that the works are to some degree what I should like to call “situational.” By “situational” I mean that the visible part of the work is in some way at least partially determined by the situation, the locale, the setting, and, in Flavin’s case in particular, the architecture of each exhibition space.

[line break added] But his works are also, to use the opposite term, “impositional.” They impose another order or another statement upon a particular space. New work that interests me is invariably a combination of these extremes. A purely situational work — if there can be such a thing — adjusts totally to the context and, if not invisible, approaches invisibility and therefore becomes an aesthetic if not metaphysical game of hide-and-seek.

[line break added] An impositional work is more traditional. Most modern art is impositional. Its presence takes no account of the environment but its presence inflects or changes the environment, often by chance placement or interior decorator whim. New art, as opposed to “modern” art, more often than not takes the context or the architecture or the setting into account.

… although [Flavin’s] pieces are often derived from particular spaces, more often than not they are set up to destroy or alter our perceptions of those spaces. Fluorescent lights are set up in corners, effectively destroying those corners, or are arranged along the floor corners to cast reflections that destroy the literal space and replace it with a perceptual or an aesthetic space.

… in my mind thre is no doubt that his fluorescent pieces and the concepts behind them make him, in spite of the early junk, a major artist.

In terms of the fluorescent pieces — the only ones worth considering — the key word has to be “opposition.” There are many oppositions going on at once in any of these pieces. I mean by this and what follows to indicate the complexity of Flavin’s fluorescent works, a complexity that may not be readily perceivable, but is nevertheless there and is what makes him such an important artist in all the best senses of that word.

There are oppositions between the fluorescent lights and the walls upon which they are mounted or the spaces that they transect. There are oppositions between natural light and artificial light, reflected light and direct light; between history and style.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

February 20, 2019

Transformed Into Heat

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:48 am

… after all, an experience that must be considered part of the genre of landscape photography.

This is from ‘Squinting Landscape Discourse: Photographing the San’in Region, 40 Years’ by Shoji Ueda (1999):

… I went for a walk in the hot sun with my camera. I later found out that it was the hottest day of the summer. There was no wind, so the back of my open-necked shirt was drenched with sweat. Along either side of the small mountain road heat was rising off the rice paddies, making the atmosphere oppressive. At that moment I thought about how the heat couldn’t be photographed. And the sun seemed to shine more brightly, painfully bright. Sweat felt like it was running down like a waterfall. The scenery, all of it, looked as though it had transformed into heat.

The photographs I took weren’t particularly good, but they were a record of the landscape I experienced that day.

Walking about searching for that one masterpiece of shape and composition is, after all, an experience that must be considered part of the genre of landscape photography.

… We all know Atget’s photographs.

A landscape photograph taken a long time ago, that didn’t warrant much notice then, is suddenly fresh when looked at now. Atget’s photographs still evoke the aroma of Paris and the feeling of gentle breezes.

Wind blows through the landscape. If that flow of air that is not visible to the eye can be felt in the picture, then I would venture to say that the photograph successfully fulfills one of the goals of landscape photography.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

February 19, 2019

The Work of Art Emancipates Itself

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:01 am

… Its independence is so stringent that the mere idea of the role it has played in the life of the artist or can play in the life of society may be felt to be disruptive — even destructive — of its formal aesthetic entity.

Continuing through The Sociology of Art by Arnold Hauser, translated by Kenneth J. Northcott (1982):

… The mannerist artists lost their hold on the institutions of a unified social order and a world view which was for the most part still a closed one. The protection the guilds had afforded their predecessors, the unambiguous relationship to their patrons, the Church, the secular rulers, the sure trust in ecclesiastical dogma and artistic tradition were gone or shattered. The principle of individualism, which now ruled unfettered, opened up undreamed of possibilities for them and transported them into a vacuum of freedom.

… The only question is how much of his behavior which appears purely psychological is in actuality sociological. That interpersonal functions are always carried out through the medium of the individual psyche does not mean that they originate there.

… Society is a context which implies the existence of the individual psychological being without producing it from itself, and the individual’s vital processes which presuppose a social entity — from which, however, it is impossible to derive society.

… As soon as the process of creation is completed and the formal structure exists, or the work is experienced and thought of as a formal structure, the work of art emancipates itself from the personality of its creator and from the social soil from which it springs by virtue of its immanent aesthetic meaning. Its independence is so stringent that the mere idea of the role it has played in the life of the artist or can play in the life of society may be felt to be disruptive — even destructive — of its formal aesthetic entity.

[line break added] Aesthetic character and artistic quality have no immediate connection with the fact that a work may have served its creator as a solution to some personal problem or that it is suited to serve as a political weapon for a society. The most formally diverse means of expression and communication can serve creator and audience in the same way.

[line break added] Even those elements of a work of art in which the author expresses his deepest emotions or solves the most difficult problems and which seem to him most important because of the role they play in his moral and intellectual development, or those elements which are of the greatest use to society, are by no means always the same as the ones that are artistically most valuable and significant.

[line break added] Aesthetical value has neither a psychological nor a sociological equivalent. The same social interests and political aims can be expressed in both the most successful and the most unsuccessful works. In the same way the same mental states, the same experiences, sentiments and inclinations, even the same artistic ideas and efforts underlie products of the most disparate quality.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

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