Unreal Nature

April 30, 2019

The Distinction Between Art and Craft

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:07 am

… answers to the question of what actually happens in the creation of a work of art, proceeded step by step.

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

… The fact that the disdain for manual labor and the abuse of philistine forms of life become less severe with the beginning of the Renaissance, and that the links between art and craft are loosened while those between the artist and the humanist are strengthened, opens up an entrée into the artistic profession for the higher levels of the middle class. Nonetheless, the artists of the early Renaissance are for the most part little people.

[line break added] For a long time they are regarded as superior craftsmen and are hardly to be distinguished from the master and journeymen of the guilds. Andrea del Castagno is the son of a peasant, Filippo Lippi the son of a butcher; the Pollaiuolos bear the name of the father’s trade — poulterer. In the artists’ biographies of the period humbleness of origin is often exaggerated as a stereotypical part of the legend of the artist. It is, however, a sign of changed circumstances that the prestige of a famous man is in no way diminished by this humbleness.

[line break added] The social rise of the artist still proceeds only very slowly, in spite of the apparent lack of prejudice and the incomparable reputation of a Michelangelo or the princely standard of living enjoyed by a Raphael or a Titian. Most artists still lead a humble existence even in the sixteenth century, even if we can no longer talk of artistic penury as we could centuries before. What is significant for the social conditions is that Michelangelo’s family, as Condivi tells us, regards entry into the artistic profession as humiliating.

… The decisive step toward the formation of the artist’s consciousness of social status was taken with the deepening and extension of artistic education. Its emancipation from the purely practical course of instruction in the workshops of the masters, its theoretical supplementation and academic regulation in evening courses and in the newly formed academies, the development of aesthetic theories, and the writing of treatises on painting which aimed at being not merely recipes but answers to the question of what actually happens in the creation of a work of art, proceeded step by step.

[line break added] The interest in the exploration of the distinction between art and craft and the emphasis on the differences between them mark the beginning not only of the autonomy but also the crisis of modern art.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

April 29, 2019

The Absence of Results

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:26 am

… To what extent is his work a form of denial, an attempt to delay the truth possibly forever?

Continuing through Four Walls and a Roof by Reinier de Graaf (2017):

… Imagine a Hollywood film scenario. The main character is a retired police detective. Much of his career has been dedicated to a single murder case, one of those pesky ones that has defied resolution. It still does. Through a flashback, we witness the police investigation some thirty years earlier. It is slow; the methods used are clumsy; communication among police officers is flawed; important clues are overlooked; and wrong suspects are arrested, only to be released again.

[line break added] Then, in an unexpected plot twist, it is revealed that the murder has been committed by the main character. Suddenly, his clumsy, seemingly ineffective detours make perfect sense: not failed attempts to resolve a case but strategic moves to prevent its resolution. He doesn’t want to go to prison, but he also doesn’t want to frame anybody else. He is trapped between the immorality of his deed and the moral implications of his guilt. His only option is to continue the search. His freedom depends simultaneously on the display of motivation and the absence of results.

Does the character in this script resemble the contemporary architect? To what extent is his work a form of denial, an attempt to delay the truth possibly forever?

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

April 28, 2019

The Most Basic Sacred Gesture

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:08 am

… it produces the color of a place in so far as this place is an origin of the world.

Continuing through ‘The Technique of the Present’ by Jean-Luc Nancy (1997):

… There is no art that is not cosmological, because the productive technique of spacing produces the world each time, an ordering of the world, the world in whole or in part, but always the whole in each part each time. The world is never anything but the indefinite reference of all its points between themselves, and what is called a work of art is each time a singular, monadic and nomadic solidification of the cosmos.

… The sacred operates by setting aside or setting apart, in so far as this distancing is the condition of the relation or of communication — or more precisely, in so far as this gap is the condition of the infinitude of the relation. (The sacred is nothing other than the ordinary condition of communication: reserve, threshold, access without access.)

Painting cuts out a space — the most basic sacred gesture, the trace of the templum.

… Painting does not use colors, it produces the color of a place in so far as this place is an origin of the world. On the one hand, the place is independent of all places, and each locality is absolute: it instantly colors the totality of a world. But on the other hand, the place is merely localized by its relation to and distance from all places. It is ordered by its coordinates to the very ends of the world.

My most recent previous post from Nancy’s essay is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

April 27, 2019

His Remorse

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:22 am

… Forgiveness is not aimed at contented people with clear consciences …

This is from Forgiveness by Vladimir Jankélévitch, translated by Andrew Kelley (1967, 2005):

… since the crime is inexcusable and unforgettable, at least let the victims forgive it; this is all that they can do for it. — Forgiveness does not know impossibility; and yet we still have not mentioned the first condition without which forgiveness would be devoid of sense. This elementary condition is the distress, the insomnia, and the dereliction of the wrongdoer; and although it is not up to the person who forgives to require this condition, this condition is nevertheless that without which the entire problematic of forgiveness becomes simple buffoonery.

[line break added] To each person belongs a task: to the criminal belongs desperate remorse, and to the victim belongs forgiveness: but the victim will not repent in the place of the guilty person. It is necessary that the guilty person work toward this himself; it is necessary that the criminal redeem himself all alone. As for our forgiveness, this is not his concern; it is the concern of the offended.

[line break added] The criminal’s repentance and in particular his remorse, by themselves alone, give meaning to forgiveness, just as despair alone gives meaning to grace. What good is grace if the “desperate person” has a good conscience and a good mien? Forgiveness is not aimed at contented people with clear consciences, or at unrepentant guilty people, who sleep easy and eat well. When the guilty person is fat, well nourished, prosperous, and takes advantage of the economic miracle, then forgiveness is a sinister joke.

My previous post from Jankélévitch’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

April 26, 2019

Seasons

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:58 am

… I live at the center of a sundial.

This is from Roof Life by Svetlana Alpers (2013):

[ … ]

Early December watching the water tower on a sunny morning — mid-day stalk [shadow] across the great white-painted brick wall of the Lithographers’ building gives one the sense that there is something human about the water towers. unlike all the gimcracky metal communciation stuff that now sprouts on roofs [ … ] anyhow when you see shadows of the water towers on the buildings you feel that you have come home to the human — or so I hypothesize

… Later that winter, in February 2010, speaking on the phone, I told an artist friend in Holland about the shadow of the water tower. With its gawky metalwork legs, it is as if Tatlin’s revolutionary tower is stalking the wall and coming towards me as the sun moves in the sky, I say. But Svetlana, he says, the sun does not move it is the earth! True! But that is hard to believe when I look out.

[line break added] I know it is the summer solstice when the setting sun emerges to the right of the tallest building. For a minute, before it disappears, a spot glows red. And here, inside, dull, gold light coming through the window by the dining table finds the revolving bookcase with the bowl of lemons on top and goes beyond to single out a patch of the wall of books in the tall shape of the window. Seasons are marked by sun and shadow rather than by changing leaves. I live at the center of a sundial.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

April 25, 2019

The World Exists in the Interval

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:15 am

… The work of the artist slips away more and more from the system of knowledge.

This is from ‘Robots and Painters’ by Lee Ufan (1987):

Recently, there is much talk of robots that can paint.

[ … ]

… It is fundamental to the nature of a robot aesthetic completely to reject uncertain individuality and quality. In the name of opposing logocentrism, it makes the world into material for the mechanical operation of desire. As I said before, desire in this case is a mechanism for reproducing the self. The philosophy that sees everything as machine parts, convergence and dispersal of signs, and structural elements, is based on an ultra-substantialism that wants to assemble these things into a unified body of meaning.

[line break added] The philosopher taking this position most likely takes great pleasure in mental games of shifting meaning about by reassembling data. However, when data get into the hands of today’s painters, no matter what kind of program is meant to be used, they will be broken down into something prior to data from that moment on and returned to the state of a unique living thing that is difficult to name.

… The work of the artist slips away more and more from the system of knowledge. The painter has moved far away from the sort of meaning that Pascal ridiculed, but the new Pascals are likely to accuse the whole race of painters of being foolish. In spite of this, painters continue to paint, whether on canvas or some other material, realizing that each moment is a precious part of life.

[line break added] They realize that the world exists in the interval between the brush, the canvas, the paint and the hand, elements which attract and repel each other, rather than in the meaning of painting. Painters do not aim at finishing or completing a painting, because the act of painting itself belongs to a different dimension from the system of knowledge. If they speak too exaggeratedly of the nobility of the act of painting, it is because of the discipline they undertake in order to move away from the self and encounter the world, which is the real work of living.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

April 24, 2019

When I Look

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:19 am

… I have two opposite desires simultaneously; the desire to go back to the origin and the desire to go beyond the ending.

This first is from ‘Self-Change in the Act of Shooting’ by Takuma Nakahira:

… I, ever hopeful, asking for the materialization of a good photograph nearly every day (unless there is a downpour), go all over Yokohama and Kawasaki (and sometimes Tokyo) on my bicycle, constantly taking photographs.

I develop the film in the evening — wash, dry, scrutinize, and edit — a process through which the work is made. When I try to look at them once more, I always feel a very strange psychological shock.

Next is out of ‘From Document to Memory’ by Daido Moriyama:

… When I look at my own photographs displayed in front of me, I realize that I choose only my favorite things or what I most dislike as my photographic subjects. And here again, I get caught up in the thought of what an amateur I am. (Incidentally, of the examples above, my favorite objects are motorcycles, jukeboxes, mannequins, and trees; my biggest dislikes may be children, jet aircrafts, houses, and fish.)

In my actual life, I make a clear distinction between such likes and dislikes. However, in my consciousness and mind, these objects are not classified, and have very self-contained reasons for existing. For example, when I happen to see a jet taking off, I feel like prostrating myself in terror, as if I were a prehistoric man — but at the same time, my heart pounds with a pleasurable sensation. I often feel such extremes on seeing particular objects. In other words, I have two opposite desires simultaneously; the desire to go back to the origin and the desire to go beyond the ending.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

April 23, 2019

The Most Effective Instruction

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:17 am

… coalition and opposition, cooperation and competition, solidarity and alienation, become actual and effective only as they succeed one another.

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

… A child learns to draw in the same way that it learns to speak: unconsciously, groping, without a particular plan. Everything it hears from its parents, siblings, or playmates is language training; everything it sees around it is a part of its artistic education. Before making the first attempt to draw an object, it has acquired a series of mechanical formulas, conventional signs, and ready-made clichés. At every stage of an individual’s artistic development, contact with society, as an anonymous teacher, anticipates the influence of the official teacher and competes with it.

[line break added] Fellow pupils and colleagues, co-workers and rivals, the unknown painters of placards, and the unmentioned composers of hits, whose products make their impression willy-nilly, belong to the faculty of the “school without walls” in which an artist grows up and matures. The most effective instruction may be just what neither the teachers nor the pupil takes into account. The mass media gain their importance through the anonymity, the ubiquity, and the irresistibility of the impressions emanating from them.

[ … ]

… Social and cultural factors participate in the historical process not only as a mere substratum of expressions of consciousness and will, like the natural factors, but also as the principles of dynamism and mobility themselves, and in more than one connection. As structures conditioned upon their situation, as classes, professions, communities of interest, cultural strata, social circles, and the like, they are involved in constant differentiation, development, or integration.

[line break added] None of these structures remains unchanged for long, no matter how stable the external conditions. The individual subject, however, moves from one social category to another even if the external conditions remain unchanged, and he is constantly moving up and down within the same category. It is finally part of the dynamic of social existence that the different forms of interpersonal relationships, like coalition and opposition, cooperation and competition, solidarity and alienation, become actual and effective only as they succeed one another.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

April 22, 2019

Why My Job Is Important

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:25 am

… There is a scene … in which a … man delivers prophecies from a highway overpass to six lanes of passing traffic below.

Continuing through Four Walls and a Roof by Reinier de Graaf (2017):

… Throughout my career I have tried to justify to others — particularly to those outside my profession — why my job is important and why it should quality as a source of pride, especially in the face of much of our built reality. Even while writing this (on a train, on my way to work), I cannot help but be overcome by a sense of shame when I pause to look out the window.

… Why do we — contemporary architects — wallow so deeply in the grand visions we offer? Where does it come from, this God complex — the inclination to view ourselves as authoritative on virtually everything? Despite a century of architectural mission statements, earnest treatises, and urgent manifestos, the world seems disenchanted. I have yet to meet a client, a public official, or any user who is truly interested in the grand promises we make, the lofty motivations we offer for our decisions (apart from costs), or, indeed, much of what we say.

… There is a scene in the film Paris, Texas by Wim Wenders in which a clearly deranged man delivers prophecies from a highway overpass to six lanes of passing traffic below. He screams at the top of his lungs, and the contents of his speech are eloquent and persuasive, but the drivers below, shielded by their steel shells, remain immune to his words. The man goes unheard, but that only inspires him to raise his voice further.

My previous post from de Graaf’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

April 21, 2019

The Present That Does Not Pass

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:14 am

… here is chronometry that measures time’s spacing, its opening …

Continuing through ‘The Technique of the Present’ by Jean-Luc Nancy (1997):

… The present of presence is not in time, it is ahead of time, in front of time. Or it is within it, not in its course, but in its most intimate heart or hollow. It is pure time subtracted from temporality: the space in which pure time opens out and inexposes itself. Space does not represent time, like a line that would be the immobile figure of a mobile process, but space opens time, distends time, distending the very moment to expose this present that does not pass.

… A place is always the curving or collecting of a certain closure (with its thresholds and outlets) within absolute spacing — or rather: a curving of this very within.

… Space-time itself does not open its creative hollow in time and space. A technique must be used for that: a technique, in sum, to recreate the creation that has not taken place.

There must be a technique, just as there must be a technique to measure passing time. Clocks and calendars put chronometric techniques to work. They measure the number of time. But here is chronometry that measures time’s spacing, its opening, preceding and spanning its gap. It is chronomorphic poiesy.

My previous post from Nancy’s essay is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

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