Unreal Nature

December 14, 2017

I Know Exactly How You Feel —

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:53 am

…It was very human that meeting —

This is from My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, Volume 1, 1915-1933 edited by Sarah Greenough (2011). These bits are from the beginning of their relationship, when O’Keeffe had just arrived in Texas, to teach art at West Texas State Normal College:

Alfred Stieglitz • [New York City] • [July 2, 1917]

Monday, 7:30 Evening — There is an electric storm — incessant lightning — rain — hardly any thunder — rain. It was a stifling day — I hope it cools off some — the humidity was unbearable. —

— It has been an awful day in every way. — Last night writing you I ransacked the store-room — looking through prints & papers — wishing I didn’t care for any of them — My own work — good — but good for what or whom! — These are serious days. —

It was much after two — nearly three — when I finally got to bed again. But I couldn’t sleep — Finally daybreak came —

… — From nine till two the wife & I had words —

… — You say you wrote a letter to Strand that you really should not have — but had to — I have to laugh. — Just as I didn’t wish to write about the body — & do —

And do so many things which I have to & yet don’t want to. — Showing that I really want to but reason says I shouldn’t.

— Nothing accomplished at 291 today. — It was hot — and I much too upset — It’s a wonder I don’t break down completely — nervous prostration. — I guess I’m made of mud — …

… The night is going to be an endless one again. —

[ … ]

Alfred Stieglitz • [Lake George, New York] • [August 22, 1917]

Wednesday — the 22nd — So you are in the High Mountains — you & Claudie [Georgia’s sister]. — I can well picture you there — I’m glad you went — I had hoped you would —

… No, it wasn’t funny for you to wish I’d come out there —

That’s really where I ought to be — somewhere far away from hereabouts — away from all this — the ever-reminding of the past — I’m really — here at least — ready for the scrap-heap — old junk. — No energy — no joy — not even pain — just a bundle of useless nerves — something I despise — & no matter what I try to do — result — just nerves. More nerves. — Every human sound seems to cut me to the quick —

A few moments yesterday up on the farm — I was alone — just standing there amongst the vegetables — looking at the ground — at the creepers of the melon patch — There was a threatening sky — & the wind didn’t know whether it should blow northeast or northwest — the difference between rain & clearing. —

The new gardener to whom I had not yet spoken —

… We met up there — And I don’t know why — but we talked for about fifteen minutes — I don’t know what brought it about — but was very wonderful — that meeting. Life — War — Society — Plant Life — the Universe — We understood each other — He’s unmarried — Scotch descent — Riches once upon a time in the family —

It was very human that meeting — the most human thing that’s happened to me in some time —

He seemed drawn to me & I to him — Queer — Perhaps I’m not quite as dead as I imagine I must be. — Merely suffocating in an atmosphere which is so foreign to me —

[ … ]

Georgia O’Keeffe • [Canyon, Texas] • [October 29, 1917]

… — You know — I feel as if I can’t stand it here much longer — I don’t know where I’ll go or what I’d do — but — it feels like it’s coming — just that I can’t stand it to look at these folks and hear them talk and see how they are thinking —

I guess it’s the same everywhere — If I were a man I’d get up and go to war so fast you couldn’t see me — Everything just seems awful around me — I seem to hate everyone — Claudie is the same — It isn’t exactly hate — it’s more impatience with everybody and everything — All living seems to be changed — It’s as though the sky will never be clear again —

It’s a cold weird moonlight night — a tearing wind — sand blowing and dried little green locust leaves on the almost bare trees seem to string out in the wind — I never saw such a night — whistling and rumbling wind — the bare dusty moonlight — uneven gusts of wind — I could hardly walk against it — It’s terrible — and yet I like it.

… It’s no use to write to you when I feel like I’ve been feeling — That isn’t why I haven’t written though — I’ve simply been dumb —

Like a machine I’ve tended to many tag ends of work this week. I seem bent on trying to get things in order — as though I’m getting ready to leave —

Isn’t that queer —

There isn’t much sense in it because every place is just as bad as this I guess — I don’t see any place to go to.

[ … ]

Alfred Stieglitz • [New York City] • [November 2, 1917]

… — It’s so quiet here — the sun pours in in the morning —

— I’ve just read your letters. There is one you didn’t mail — I know exactly how you feel — the condition you are in — much the same as my own —

[ … ]

Georgia O’Keeffe • [Canyon, Texas] • [November 20, 1917]

9:30 Tuesday night —
I’ve just read your letter — looked at it — simply glanced this morning — … have just now been free long enough to tackle yours —

It may be a large mixture of many things but it is living and real — and it’s curious how we seem to be saying the same things so often — feeling the same — Curious — yet not curious.

… — And I sat here — just thinking — knowing people too well —

It’s too late now to be even considering lamenting the fact that there isn’t much more for you to know about me — really nothing that I know of right now — so I’ll not consider it — I probably wouldn’t consider it anyway.

— What I’ve given — whether it’s what I write — or drawings — or whatever the communication — has been because you gave as freely — I guess —

It seems — when I think of it — as natural as just sitting here breathing — as natural as the fact that I grew to the height I am — one seems as natural as the other [and] as little of my choosing —

It scares me when I feel that —
NO SIR — I won’t be scared if you know me too well — that will be natural too.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

December 13, 2017

The Medium that Prompted Art to Rethink What’s at Stake

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:04 am

… It is not that these works set out to “make sense” in a traditional way and fail to do so; rather, they invite a kind of viewing experience that is more open and undirected, at least for the viewer who is informed enough to accept the invitation to experience the work rather than to turn away bewildered.

Final post from Why Art Photography? by Lucy Soutter (2013):

… Photography is generally taken as the representational medium par excellence, the medium best suited to show us the world and (usually via the inclusion of text) to tell us what it means. Postmodern theory rewrote this script to present photography as the medium best suited to show us the crisis in representation and to tell us what it means.

[line break added] Over the past few years, a key shift has been taking place in which many philosophers and art theorists are moving away from the theory of art as representation — or even as crisis in representation — to focus on art’s affect, i.e. what it does to us when we experience it with our own bodies. This affect may be described in language but is not reducible to language and is essentially different from language. It involves a suspension of our normal perception, a shift into an alternate mode that allows us, if only momentarily, to reconsider ourselves and our relationship to the world.

[line break added] Indeed, a good deal of the ambiguity, contradiction and refusal of clear interpretation in contemporary art could be thought of profitably in these terms. It is not that these works set out to “make sense” in a traditional way and fail to do so; rather, they invite a kind of viewing experience that is more open and undirected, at least for the viewer who is informed enough to accept the invitation to experience the work rather than to turn away bewildered.

[line break added] This theory turns traditional approaches and attitudes to art upside down, raising all sorts of difficult questions about what might happen to value and meaning and to the traditional roles of artist, critic and educator. I am not alone in arguing that it is high time for these orthodoxies to be challenged and that the resulting upheaval may be cause for celebration rather than anxiety.

… David Campany, author of books including Art and Photography, is far more sanguine about photography’s potential as a medium. In a 2011 interview … he made bold sweeping claims for photography’s usefulness and value:

it’s interesting that historically photography has always emerged as the crucial medium in discussions not just about reproduction and originality, but also about authorship, anonymity, authenticity, agency, the status of the document, quotation, appropriation, value, democracy, dissemination and so forth. It’s the medium that prompted art to rethink what’s at stake in those concepts, but has also proved to be the medium best placed to articulate and express them too.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

December 12, 2017

To Make Something That Renews the World Around It

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:45 am

… That in turn presupposes a willingness not to know or to pretend to know the situations or phenomena before we have apprehended them conceptually and experienced them perceptually.

This is from Sol LeWitt: 100 Views edited by Susan Cross and Denise Markonish (2009):

Bernice Rose, Chief Curator, Menil Drawing Institute and Study Center, The Menil Collection, Houston

… The wall as the new site of drawing, and the floor, as the new site of sculpture (wherever they might be found), became universal spaces for reinventing our possibilities. His rules for locating vision were the product of a beautiful mind. As the realization of his works required no particular manual skill, not even for executing the drawings, something remarkable happened: art could be and was made by all. LeWitt’s art evolved as a traveling show made by others.

[line break added] Numerous people everywhere were enlisted as surrogate artists. Even experiencing the agonies of artistic labor, they collaborated not only with LeWitt but with others from the whole history of the artistic construction of vision, beginning with the most basic mark-making. This unique collaboration, as Robert Storr has written, takes LeWitt’s art beyond the limits of his mortality and connects his sight to an eternally renewable present.

[ … ]

Robert Storr, Artist, critic, curator, and Dean of the Yale University School of Art, New Haven

It is a quiet declaration, but a resounding one still. It comes first in a long series of concise, clear, uncompromising statements and so initially seems to have pride of place.

Sol LeWitt spoke plainly about the a priori predicate for all the other rules he laid down, and did so fully aware of how jarring his choice of words was bound to be:

1. Conceptual Artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.

… while LeWitt insisted that once a working premise or process had been decided upon it must be rigorously adhered to, he was equally adamant that an artist’s starting point should not merely be a reasoned extension of the stopping point of a previous project.

Instead the artist must make a leap of faith, an intuitive jump to a new premise rather than to a foreseeable destination based on an old one. For conclusions arrived at in advance of making a work demand nothing more of the artist than illustration and nothing more of the viewer than preordained acceptance. True discovery for both artist as well as viewer requires active curiosity about the unknown. That in turn presupposes a willingness not to know or to pretend to know the situations or phenomena before we have apprehended them conceptually and experienced them perceptually.

Such faith involves no smoke and mirrors, no eyes wide shut, no secret erudition, no solemn creed, in short none of the apparatus or obscurantism of nineteenth- or twentieth-century mysticism. To the degree that LeWitt’s mysticism seemed to fit the pattern of anti-modernist antecedents in taking a stance against reason, the aim was not to advocate unreason.

[line break addedLeWitt’s object was simpler and of an entirely different, almost tangibly immanent, sort. It was to make something that renewed the world around it. Doing this took a flight of the imagination, but it also meant landing squarely in reality and working with the utmost discipline. It was a radical idea then, and it is a radical idea now.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

December 11, 2017

It Is an Ethical Obligation to Suppose that It Is Everyone’s Endowment

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:53 am

… otherwise, the name of art, which was at stake in modern practice, would have meant nothing but a social status cynically acquired.

Continuing through Kant after Duchamp by Thierry de Duve (1996):

… Concretely, Kant’s sensus communis may be restated after Duchamp as follows: every woman, every man, cultivated or not, whatever her or his culture, language, race, social class, has aesthetic Ideas which are or can be, by the same token, artistic Ideas. This cannot be proven but has to be supposed. Neither the “good taste” of the ruling class nor the “bad taste” of the oppressed classes nor, for that matter, the numerous insurrections aimed at overthrowing this hierarchy, prove that there exists a faculty of aesthetic/artistic Ideas shared by humankind as a whole.

[line break added] Neither do they prove the opposite. That all women and men have “taste” and even “genius” is merely a requirement of reason. It can be empirically denied on elitist or on populist grounds, denounced or deconstructed as an ideology reflecting particular class interests, or idealized and fostered as a goal to be attained in a future liberated or emancipated state of humankind. But there is no empirical, sociological, or historical settling of the question of whether there exists such a thing as a universal faculty of judging/making art by dint of feeling and not of concepts.

There is, however, a historical correlate to the mere thought of such a thing, as it was prompted by the rereading of Kant after Duchamp: this woman and this man, who ought to be granted the faculty of aesthetic/artistic Ideas, are the modern woman and the modern man.

[ … ]

… Whether creativity is, as Kant said of taste, “an original and natural faculty or only the Idea of an artificial one yet to be acquired,” it is an ethical obligation to suppose that it is everyone’s endowment.

Here is now what the postmodern phrasing entails. Considered after Kant (himself considered after Duchamp), the Duchampian Idea of art as a proper name, or his pictorial nominalism, states that it is a requirement of reason, today, that we should have supposed, yesterday, that there exists a faculty called creativity shared by humanity as a whole.

[line break added] Otherwise, the essentialist and universalist utopias of modernity would have been nothing but Schwärmereien; otherwise, the destructive impulses and the revolutionary hopes of the avant-gardes — some of which have bred unforeseen monsters — would have been dangerous vanity and irresponsible optimism; otherwise, the name of art, which was at stake in modern practice, would have meant nothing but a social status cynically acquired. Whether creativity exists, as inscribed in the genetic code of the human species, for example, or whether it is an illusion, merely useful as a guide for cultural pedagogy or policy, it is an intellectual obligation to suppose that it was a fruitful regulative Idea for modernity.

… I am convinced that if it exists, it is a faculty both innate and acquired, or rather, already encoded in our genes and still to be acquired through history, because it is inseparable from the fact that humans are “programmed” to be born prematurely, inseparable from the incompleteness of their central nervous system, and from the ensuing fragile selective advantage which, for better and for worse, forces all men and women to link their personal growth to the cultural progress of the species. From this angle, the choice between the modern and the postmodern is a false one. Both are, and will always be, premature.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

December 10, 2017

Through the Creative Perception of Listeners and Readers

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:01 am

… we always arrive in the final analysis, at the human voice …

Last post from the essay ‘Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel’ found in The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays by M.M. Bakhtin edited by Michael Holquist (1981):

… All the novel’s abstract elements — philosphical and social generalizations, ideas, analyses of cause and effect — gravitate toward the chronotope and through it take on flesh and blood, permitting the imaging power of art to do its work. Such is the representational significance of the chronotope.

… The text as such never appears as a dead thing; beginning with any text — and sometimes passing through a lengthy series of mediating links — we always arrive in the final analysis, at the human voice, which is to say we come up against the human being.

… However forcefully the real and the represented world resist fusion, however immutable the presence of that categorical boundary line between them, they are nevertheless indissolubly tied up with each other and find themselves in continual mutual interaction; uninterrupted exchange goes on between them, similar to the uninterrupted exchange of matter between living organisms and the environment that surrounds them.

[line break added] As long as the organism lives, it resists a fusion with the environment, but if it is torn out of its environment, it dies. The work and the world represented in it enter the real world and enrich it, and the real world enters the work and its world as part of the process of its creation, as well as part of its subsequent life, in a continual renewing of the work through the creative perception of listeners and readers.

… We find the author outside the work as a human being living his own autobiographical life. But we also meet him as the creator of the work itself; although he is located outside the chronotopes represented in his work, he is as it were tangential to them.

… Even had he created an autobiography or a confession of the most astonishing truthfulness, all the same he, as its creator, remains outside the world he has represented in his work. If I relate (or write about) an event that has just happened to me, then I as the teller (or writer) of this event am already outside the time and space in which the event occurred.

[line break added] It is just as impossible to forge an identity between myself, my own “I,” and that “I” that is the subject of my stories as it is to lift myself up by my own hair. The represented world, however realistic and truthful, can never be chronotopically identical with the real world it represents, where the author and creator of the literary work is to be found.

[ … ]

… In the present work we will not consider the complex problem of the listener-reader, his chronotopic situation and his role in renewing the work of art (his role in the process of the work’s life); we will point out merely that every literary work faces outward away from itself, toward the listener-reader, and to a certain extent thus anticipates possible reactions to itself.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

December 9, 2017

The Need for These Purposes

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:45 am

… these new developments, these sophisticated formations, can be so aberrant that they produce amazement, and resistance …

This is from the essay ‘Mallarmé’ found in Paul Valéry: An Anthology (1956: 1977):

… I want to picture a most rigorous state of meditation, fraught with anxiety, as though a life-or-death matter, yet inspired by that insignificant object insofar as life is concerned: poetry. To what could this passion of the intellect correspond — tormenting so deeply the man who has it, taking away his ability and, so to say, his right to sleep, making him blind to the most pressing demands of self-interest — if it were not to some Sovereign Good which he perhaps feels existing in himself and which a little more constancy, tension, and keen hope can at any moment allow him to grasp?

… Language, when once we separate it from its practical uses, can receive certain sumptuary values that we call philosophy, or poetry, or otherwise. From this point the only question is to stimulate the need for these purposes. This is essential, as these new developments, these sophisticated formations, can be so aberrant that they produce amazement, and resistance on the part of the reader. But the more the need is created, and even aggravated, the more energy the reader finds to solve the problems of the text: from this he will often draw justifiable pride.

[ … ]

… The subject is no longer the cause of the form: it is one of its effects. Each line becomes an entity having physical reasons for existence. It is a discovery, a sort of “intrinsic truth” that has been wrenched from the domain of chance. As for the world, all reality has no other excuse for existence except to offer the poet the chance to play a sublime match against it — a match that is lost in advance.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

December 8, 2017

Of Its Own Accord

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:30 am

… watching to see how things worked out, choosing the right moment to put his weight behind a development that was beginning of its own accord.

This is from Flesh of My Flesh by Kaja Silverman (2009):

… “Painting is the making of an analogy for something nonvisual and incomprehensible: giving it form and bringing it within reach,” he wrote in 1981. “And that is why good paintings are incomprehensible.”

… Abstract painting helps us to expand what we can think and see by referring insistently beyond it. In the sixteen years since [Gerhard] Richter made this claim, he has used it to transcend all kinds of limits — aesthetic, political, historical, and even geographical.

Surprisingly, the artist attributes the same potential to photography. The analogical value of the photographic image is not exhausted once we have explored its relationship to its referent. It moves through time, in search of its “semblables” and “frères.” The analogy that comes into existence when a photograph locates one of its relatives is historical in nature; it links the past to the present.

[line break added] It remains in a state of latency, though, until we recognize it. Fortunately for us, photographs do not passively await this recognition; instead, they actively solicit it by “dropping” on the “doormat,” like advertising flyers. This is another of the reasons why they are so important to Richter, and why he so frequently emphasizes their agency and authorlessness.

The kinds of analogies I have just described closely resemble what Walter Benjamin calls “dialectical images.” They connect our present to specific moments from the past.

[ … ]

Richter has always profoundly distrusted his own will and often speaks about his desire to circumvent it by painting automatically, like a camera. He also gives as one of the reasons why he so frequently painted from photographs in the 1960s the fact that they permitted him to eliminate conscious thought — not to know, as he explains it, what he was doing.

[line break added] In a note from 1985, Richter accounts for the color charts and the abstract paintings in a similar way: “At twenty: Tolstoy’s War and Peace … the only thing that stayed with me, that struck me at the time, was Kutuzov’s way of not intervening, of planning nothing, but watching to see how things worked out, choosing the right moment to put his weight behind a development that was beginning of its own accord. Passivity was that general’s genius. (The Photo Pictures: taking what is there. … The Color Charts: the hope that this way a painting will emerge that is more than I could ever invent … ). The Abstract Pictures: more and more clearly, a method of not having and planning the ‘motif’ but … letting it come.”

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

December 7, 2017

Seeing Through Living

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:55 am

… I’d like to watch you dance — I’d like to see all you do — just living through seeing — I see much as it is — but there is no end to seeing —

This is from My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O’Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz, Volume 1, 1915-1933 edited by Sarah Greenough (2011). These bits are from the beginning of their relationship, when O’Keeffe had just arrived in Texas, to teach art at West Texas State Normal College:

Alfred Stieglitz • [New York City] • [April 19, 1917]

… — I got a letter too. — And it was, as always, good to get. — Very. — So you heard from the woman with six sons. — You see how much you are giving people — Just in daring to be yourself — I say “daring” — It isn’t “daring” at all — You wouldn’t be to me what you are if it were “daring.” — The sun doesn’t “dare” to shine — nor rise — nor set — It simply does what is natural to it — So with you — You express yourself — all the time — every breath of a moment — That’s why you mean so much to me — You live from within — way, way, way within — the without is an accident — passing — real & no theory — real because the within is so genuine.

[ … ]

Georgia O’Keeffe • [Canyon, Texas] • [April 24, 1917]

… I went to the dance — Yes — and danced too — Ted is funny — and likes it so much you can’t help it —

Lester was there — I thought he wasn’t even going to speak to me — but after watching for some time — across the room out of the corner of his immovable face he came over — He can dance — really well — neither of us said anything — but that the other danced well —

When I found I had danced four or five times with him I went home — that was enough — It was funny — So absurd — And — darn it — I dreamed about him —

[ … ]

Georgia O’Keeffe • [Canyon, Texas] • [April 29, 1917]

… I’ve just been wondering the past few days why I — and the [younger] sister [who was living with Georgia at that time] were put in the world —
I feel like such a misfit — She doesn’t know it yet but she will in time be as much a misfit as I am and I’m sorry for her — I never ought to talk to folks about anything but the weather —
I always horrify them — And it always surprises me when I find how differently I think about things —

I talked at dinner today — last Sunday too — without intending to — Open mouths and queer looking eyes waked me up both times —

I don’t know how I grew queer — how it happens that I’m almost always alone — And I don’t care if I am alone — I’d rather be alone than with them —

[ … ]

Alfred Stieglitz • [New York City] • [May 1, 1917]

… I wish I weren’t so damn sane — It borders on insanity to see too straight —

I had Marin & Zoler laughing for an hour — Carles turned up at home — a surprise — he’s restful — for he is straight — isn’t playing a game — I haven’t heard from the rent guarantors — It makes me laugh —

And through it all your pictures hang there silent watchers — and they give me the strength to laugh — It’s a kindly laugh —

I’d like to watch you dance — I’d like to see all you do — just living through seeing — I see much as it is — but there is no end to seeing —

[ … ]

Here editor Greenough interjects this description of O’Keeffe:

… Throughout the spring of that year [1917] O’Keeffe watched many of the young men of Canyon enlist, she had coquettishly flirted with the Canyon attorney Rector Lester, the married Amarillo men Willard Austin and Kindred Watkins, and the student Ted Reid with a casual disregard for the small town’s standards of propriety.

[line break added] But by early May, her relationship with both Watkins and Reid had become more intense and complicated. As she later explained, she was staggered that “so many people had kissed me in such a short time — and I had liked them all and had let them all — had wanted them to.” When the spring semester ended on May 14, she “fled” Canyon, as she told Stieglitz, going first to Amarillo with Leah Harris to visit [friends].

[line break added] But a few days later when she received Stieglitz’s letter announcing his intention to close 291, she decided on the spur of the moment to go to New York and left Texas on May 20. While she still had many friends in the city, “it was [Stieglitz] I went to see,” she confessed to Pollitzer. “Just had to go Anita — There wasn’t any way out of it.” She flabbergasted and entranced Stieglitz by arriving at 291 with no warning on May 24.

… the next few days, … O’Keeffe described as “the most wonderful days of my life” …

Steiglitz saw O’Keeffe off from the train station, back to Texas, on June 1:

… In the days to come Stieglitz frequently wondered “why I hadn’t put my arms around you at the station & held you — not letting you go — & why I hadn’t kissed you as I wanted to.”

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

December 6, 2017

Social Use in the Present Moment

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:45 am

… to invite viewers into forms of visual experience that relate to their social use in the present moment.

This is from Why Art Photography? by Lucy Soutter (2013):

… Now that most of us carry a digital camera phone and many of us have some experience with the basic tools of digital image manipulation, we are more sophisticated consumers of visual images generally. Our culture is insatiably hungry for both photographed realities and photographic illusions. Digital photography feeds both these needs impartially and cannot be said to be innately less truthful than film photography.

… Time will reveal whether the evolving digital technologies have more to offer to the individuals who use them or the commercial interests that drive them. It is becoming clear, however, that despite some predictions, the proliferation of vernacular digital imaging has not decreased the public’s growing appetite for art photography. On the contrary, its manifestations are multiplying.

[ … ]

… The proliferation of digital technologies multiplies the number of different ways in which a photographer may work self-reflexively with their medium. Although the production values of such work may rival commercial entertainment culture, the digital sublime of Gursky and Crewdson, which might have looked shockingly new a decade ago, is starting to look rather old-fashioned, harkening back to academic painting and the fantasy of pure image. The other works in this discussion use their digital means to invite viewers into forms of visual experience that relate to their social use in the present moment.

[line break added] Referring to internet pornography, Google Street View, thermal imaging and computer games, these digital forms are not utopian; on the contrary, they reflect aspects of the Society of the Spectacle at its most oppressive. Yet in their specific uses they open up glimpses of unexpected ways in which we might relate to the visual culture that surrounds us. Film-based technologies may now be obsolete, but the future possibilities for photography are wide open.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

December 5, 2017

Inviting All of Us Into the Game

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:57 am

… Those other lines, the other spokes of the wheel, are the paths of the possible, the infinite number of possible variations on the actual.

This is from Sol LeWitt: 100 Views edited by Susan Cross and Denise Markonish (2009):

James Meyer, Writer and Associate Professor of Art History, Emory University, Atlanta

… Forty years after the publication of “Paragraphs,” LeWitt’s claim that conceptualism is “good when the idea is good” remains useful. Anything goes, says LeWitt, anyone can make an art of ideas. This generous assertion, so typical of the artist, comes with a hook: it is up to each of us to determine whether a work is worth thinking about, whether it is good.

… At a time when assertions of critical belief are rare, when the market mentality decrees much of what is seen and discussed, LeWitt insists on the necessity of acts of judgment.

[ … ]

Adrian Piper, Artist

Think of any object, any event, any state of affairs, anything as it is at a particular moment in time and location in space. Think of that space-time intersection as a point in the space-time matrix. Then think of that thing as it is at a slightly later moment in time, maybe in the same place or maybe in a different one; it doesn’t matter. That second space-time intersection forms a second point in the matrix. Then draw a straight line between the first point and the second.

[line break added] Then repeat the operation, as you trace the life of the thing through time and space, plotting its progression from one space-time point to the next with a continuation of your line, which connects each point to the next in the temporal sequence that records its duration and odyssey. That line marks the path of the actual. It marks a section of the journey the thing actually took through time and space.

Now go back to each space-time intersection and draw an infinite number of lines radiating out through the point that now forms their center, rather like a bicycle wheel with an infinite number of spokes. The line you drew before, the path of the actual, will be one of those lines, but only one of an infinite number. Those other lines, the other spokes of the wheel, are the paths of the possible, the infinite number of possible variations on the actual.

[ … ]

… Now each kink and curve in a line drawn as straight as possible revealed variations on straightness; each meeting of lines, whether intended or accidental, revealed variations on bisection and angle; each degree of saturation in the color of a side of a polyhedron revealed a variation on that color and on the shape of that side.

[line break added] Thus LeWitt’s systematic investigation of the permutability of line, form and color expanded to encompass organic line, form and color as well, and thereby the dizzying variety of line, form and color found in nature. Now it became clear that no line, no shape, no color, no form, whether alone or in combination — any combination — was beyond the scope of investigation or beyond the scope of systematic permutation. Therefore no thinkable combinatorial possibility was beyond the reach of the actual.

[line break added] The entire infinite range of the visually possible could be transformed sequentially into the actual, progressively pushing the limits of visual and formal possibility further and further with each actualization; linking each actualization not only with previous transformations but with other permutations of form, line and color produced by other artists in other combinations; and thereby inviting all of us into the game.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.