Unreal Nature

August 17, 2019

Prising an Opening

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:56 am

… we were all agreed that the quality of the discussions we had while doing things was quite unlike anything …

This is from Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture by Tim Ingold (2013):

… Here, every work is an experiment: not in the natural scientific sense of testing a preconceived hypothesis, or in engineering a confrontation between ideas ‘in the head’ and facts ‘on the ground,’ but in the sense of prising an opening and following where it leads. You try things out and see what happens.

… To practice this method is not to describe the world, or to represent it, but to open up our perception to what is going on there so that we, in turn, can respond to it. That is to say, it is to set up a relation with the world that I shall henceforth call correspondence.

… Obviously, without the benefit of prior training (which some of us had), we anthropologists cannot snap our fingers and, as if by magic, turn ourselves instantly into artists or architects. But we could at least try to ground our discussions in something practical so as to give the ideas we came up with some foundation in experience. And we did all manner of things!

[line break added] We wound string and wove baskets, made pots and fired them on a home-made kiln, we practiced the Alexander technique and discovered how heavy a head or limb can be when it is completely relaxed. We helped a farmer rebuild a drystone wall, held a workshop on polyphonic singing, tried our hand at architectural drawing, visited artists’ studios and exhibitions, and so on. Some of the things we did were a bit mad, and they did not always lead anywhere. We never had a coherent agenda.

[line break added] However, we were all agreed that the quality of the discussions we had while doing things was quite unlike anything experienced in an ordinary seminar, and that they were tremendously productive of new insights. But while this is undoubtedly the case, it was not so clear why this should be so. The question is: what difference does it make if discussion is grounded in a context of practical activity?

My previous post from Ingold’s book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 16, 2019

The Energy of People

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:59 am

This is from Marina Abramović’s contribution to It Speaks to Me: Art that Inspires Artists by Jori Finkel (2019):

… This sculpture looks so abstract, almost Cubist, but it’s really a human figure walking, showing how you leave energy behind as you move through space. It’s not very large, but at the same time you have the feeling of an immensity. It’s like the tiny Giacometti figures that actually fit in your hand but can hold a big, empty museum space because the energy is so condensed.


Umberto Boccioni, Unique Forms of Continuity in Space, 1913

… My own work in performance is also based on immateriality and energy. When I did The Artist Is Present, I had a strong sensation of the energy of people. When they stood up and left the chair, their energy was still there. It just stayed there, becoming layers and layers of energy.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 15, 2019

Passing Like Ghosts Through the Glass

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:14 am

… He exhibited reality as photographs so that reality did not become confused with museum hygiene.

This is from ‘Parts Imply Wholes and Wholes Are Social’ by Molly Nesbit found in Part Object Part Sculpture edited by Helen Molesworth (2005):

… In Cachoeira, Brazil, one evening in 1991, Gabriel Orozco found an empty market with its crowd of tables and a pile of unsold, rotting oranges. He laid an orange on each table, arranged them like points in the day’s wake, took a photo of this field of points, a hitherto unseen latent plane, and moved on. The Brazilians watching laughed and called him a crazy tourist. He smiled too and did not dispute them. He later said that this was his work in reality. Not on reality, not with reality, but in reality, his way of traveling in reality.

… He preferred to call the no-place [“utopia”] reality. When his work in reality was first shown inside the museum, he found a way to stress the outside. He exhibited reality as photographs so that reality did not become confused with museum hygiene. For his project show at the Museum of Modern Art in 1993, he took fresh oranges to a neighboring apartment building and asked the residents to put single oranges in their windows looking over the sculpture garden of the museum. He called the work “Home Run,” as if the oranges were enchanted baseballs hit out of the park, passing like ghosts through the glass.

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 14, 2019

There Was a Dream

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:04 am

… If you want to take a dark view of things, you can argue that a great period of cultural expansion and enlightenment may be ending.

This is from the interiew with Jed Perl found in What It Means to Write About Art: Interviews with Art Critics by Jarrett Earnest (2018):

[ … ]

Jarrett Earnest: … what is it in particular about criticism that brings out these conspiracy theories?

Jed Perl: Well, criticism is about our passions. From a critic you want clarity, you want clear thinking, but mostly, I think you want huge passion. One of the great things about loving the arts is those moments when you lose yourself in them, like, Yes. This is it!

JE: All my favorite critics are lovers at the core.

JP: Yes.

JE: Especially when they’re mad!

JP: Exactly! A really compelling critique is a critique that’s grounded in love — in the love of an art form and all its possibilities. And love is not a science! That’s where it gets complicated.

[ … ]

JP: I couldn’t live without the arts. I mean … I couldn’t live without my friends and family, but I also really couldn’t live without the pleasure of paintings and books and music. And those pleasures are multilayered. That’s why any simplistic political litmus test for art really drives me crazy — from any side.

[ … ]

JP: … The art of criticism has never been an easy one to practice; like any serious creative endeavor, it’s a struggle. But the circumstances are especially challenging now. There are fewer outlets for serious criticism, at least in the print media. And the scale of the art world — and the outrageous amounts of money involved — has become oppressive; it’s a weight that threatens to flatten all of us.

[line break added] If you want to take a dark view of things, you can argue that a great period of cultural expansion and enlightenment may be ending. There was a dream that began in the nineteenth century that the audience for “serious things” — whether scientific knowledge or artistic experience — was going to continuously expand in democratic societies.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 13, 2019

Suddenly Able to Swim

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:55 am

… We achieve this only by patient education, and finally by a leap and not by a graduated progress …

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

… Usually [the art recipient] has need of a whole series of mediators and instruments of mediation in order to understand what the author intended with his work and what means he used in order to formulate his vision and organize his material. A new formal language still unknown to the general public loses its strangeness and unapproachability only through the agency of these mediators. The aura of the secret, the magic of the miracle that something which is beyond form and apparently ineffable should achieve a form is never lost by art if it really is art.

The work of art not only means, but is something and remains a sort of fetish which owes its inexplicable, or partially inexplicable, effect to its peculiar existence, which is mixed up with its meaning but is independent — sometimes alienating, sometimes beguiling. And just as a work of art not only means something but also is something which is simply inexplicable, it forms both an autonomous as well as a committed point of view toward the world and reality.

… We have these mediations to thank for the fact that a vulgata develops out of an apparently secret “mandarin” language, the nonconformist avant-garde acquires a more or less acceptable sense, and their rebelliousness, which is aimed mainly at bewilderment, becomes tractable and to some extent respectable.

[line break added] he routine of regular art criticism in the daily newspapers and journals, popular literature on the theory of art, and picture books which deal with the history of art, of prescribed visits to art collections and exhibitions, of the constant presentation of new products in drama and music, of constant television and radio programs may in themselves be of questionable value, but they create an atmosphere in which art becomes an everyday phenomenon even if it is for the most part neglected.

… An artistic experience which is achieved by the dilution and vulgarization of its substratum is not an achievement, for we do not arrive at the adequate evaluation of high art by tolerating what is inferior. The ability to appreciate authentic art assumes an arduous path toward the formation of taste. We achieve this only by patient education, and finally by a leap and not by a graduated progress from imperfect and mediocre products to more and more genuine and more and more demanding ones.

[line break added] The development does not consist in change of objects but in change of attitude. No matter how many assumptions and preconditions it may require, we suddenly discover what real art is, as if everything which had been experienced and learned beforehand had nothing to do with the revelation. We comprehend what art is as if by chance, just as we are suddenly able to swim.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 12, 2019

The Artisan Lives His Work

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:19 am
… Something in the material that he works is a continuous response to that which he does, escaping all productive finality …
This is from The Mirror of Production by Jean Baudrillard (1973):
… To define ‘work’ as a process of concrete labor, in opposition to industrial labor, is not enough. It is something other than labor. Just as there is no separation between the sphere of producers and the sphere of consumers, so there is no true separation between labor power and the product, between the position of the subject and of the object. The artisan lives his work as a relation of symbolic exchange, abolishing the definition of himself as ‘laborer’ and the object as ‘product of his labor.’
[line break added] Something in the material that he works is a continuous response to that which he does, escaping all productive finality (which purely and simply transforms materials into use value or exchange value). There is something that eludes the law of value and bears witness to a kind of reciprocal prodigality. In his work, what he bestows is lost and given and rendered, expended and resolved and abolished but not ‘invested.’
… The truth of labor is its capitalist definition. Starting from this definition, the illusion is established of labor that would be nothing but labor, one that can be reappropriated in the totality of its process, as an artisanal alternative to the capitalist system. In fact, this alternative remains imaginary. It makes no reference at all to what is symbolic in the mode of the artisan, but to the artisan revised and corrected in terms of the mastery and autonomy of the producer.
[line break added] But such mastery is absurd since its definition encloses itself in terms of labor and use value. The individual who ‘controls’ his labor is an idealization of this basic constraint. It is simply the slave who has become his own master, since the master-slave couple is interiorized in the same individual without ceasing to function as an alienated structure.
-Julie
http://www.unrealnature.com/

August 11, 2019

The Thinker Listens

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:17 am

… while thought, dozing and hunkering down in the numerous twisting recesses of dormition, winds about and, enveloped in sinuous inattentive virtualities, has worth …

Continuing through The Incandescent by Michel Serres, translated by Randolph Burks (2003; 2018):

… When I, whether a little runt or a Leviathan, adapt the volume of my voice to the audience, as well as the slowness or haste of the delivery, the rhythm of the periodic sentences, the expressive music, the vocabulary itself, the distinction and the clarity of the meaning, in short the range of techniques said to be eloquent, I feel — from the tension of the backs of my knees to the furthest point of my attention — my body climb up several different types of excitation and sometimes arouse such an overexcitement that it afterwards takes hours to get to sleep, so much does vigilant vivacity perch above the vegetative and in the end delay rejoining it.

[line break added] Conversely, at which stage of sleep is speech established when it whispers and lets itself go, sliding from inattention into muteness? Each level requires specific behaviors in which wakefulness and dormition are mixed, in precise proportions, all the way out to the two extreme states where the one tends to dissolve the other: white sleep and sharply discriminating and many-colored attention.

… We always overestimate too much a certain light and its focus, whose point bestows clarity to explanation, and distinction and transparency to exposition, while thought, dozing and hunkering down in the numerous twisting recesses of dormition, winds about and, enveloped in sinuous inattentive virtualities, has worth: mute, deaf, blind, black, it crouches down like a wild animal ready to leap into the intuitive day. The professor expounds; the thinker listens to the background noise of the body and the world. Heavy and light, thought weighs down low, flies high and hears the entire staircase. But the word, at the peak, drugs all the rest the way it forgets time.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 10, 2019

Strangers to Ourselves

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:12 am

… this division between realms of knowing and of being is presupposed.

This is from Making: Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture by Tim Ingold (2013):

… to convert what we owe to the world into ‘data’ that we have extracted from it is to expunge knowing from being. It is to stipulate that knowledge is to be reconstructed on the outside, as an edifice built up ‘after the fact,’ rather than as inhering in skills of perception and capacities of judgement that develop in the course of direct, practical and sensuous engagements with our surroundings.

[line break added] It is this move that — by situating the observer on the outside of the world of which he or she seeks knowledge — sets up what is often alleged to be the ‘paradox’ of participant observation, namely that it requires of the researcher to be both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ of the field of inquiry at one and the same time. This paradox, however, does no more than restate the existential dilemma that lies at the heart of the very definition of humanity which underpins normal science.

[line break added] Human beings, according to science, are a species of nature, yet to be human is to transcend that nature. It is this transcendence that both provides science with the platform for its observations and underwrites its claim to authority. The dilemma is that the conditions that enable scientists to know, at least according to official protocols, are such as to make it impossible for them to be in the very world of which they seek knowledge. It seems that we can only aspire to truth about this world by way of an emancipation that takes us from it and leaves us strangers to ourselves.

In any appeal to data, whether quantitative or qualitative, this division between realms of knowing and of being is presupposed. For it is already taken for granted that the world is given to science not as part of any offering or commitment but as a reserve or residue that is there for the taking.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 9, 2019

Death Wish

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:54 am

… The artist is strongly motivated to move from the floor to the ground, wishing to fly out into real space …

This is from The Art of Encounter by Lee Ufan (2018):

… With the use of objects and the help of people, [sculpture] may be able to create a relationship with its surroundings, but ultimately it only mediates the non-everyday concepts and conceptual actions of an individual artist. The concepts and objects used by the artist should become a means for bringing in the atmosphere of a distant place and creating an ambiguous and risky zone of liberation.

[line break added] Good sculpture achieves an uncertain separateness, penetrated by things from the outside world and disseminating things from the inside to influence the outside, thus generating an ambiguous space. This means that sculpture is in a contradictory situation, limited but open, and this is the difference between environmental structures, spatial displays, and sculpture.


… The meaning and perception of sculpture depend on whether it is placed on the floor or the ground. Ideas are easy to see on the floor. Physical objects are easy to see on the ground.

… The floor is a pedestal extended into space. Contemporary sculpture becomes sculpture by virtue of this spatialized base. Moving from the floor to the ground, sculpture risks being dissolved in the everydayness of reality. It even risks being perceived as violent or harmful, contrary to the artist’s intentions, and perhaps being condemned or forcibly removed. The artist is strongly motivated to move from the floor to the ground, wishing to fly out into real space, but this may be a death wish for the sculptor.

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

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

August 8, 2019

Maximum Mobility

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:56 am

… To call this drawing the scatter is to emphasize the role of chance; to call it a constellation is to emphasize the systemic.

This is from ‘The Scatter: Sculpture as Leftover’ by Briony Fer found in Part Object Part Sculpture edited by Helen Molesworth (2005):

… One point remains to be made: Orozco’s economy of leftovers differs from an economy of collecting. After all, both involve groups and arrangements of objects that have been deliberately removed from functional use. Walter Benjamin once described the hidden motive of a person who collects as the “struggle against dispersion. Right from the start, the great collector is struck by the confusion, by the scatter, in which things in the world are found.”

[line break added] However bizarre collections of objects might be, the drive is “to overcome the wholly irrational character of the object’s mere presence at hand” through integrating it into a classifiable system as a “form of practical memory.” Orozco’s working tables seem to me to be an anti-collection of objects that seeks out “the object’s mere presence at hand” — the accident by which it happens to be there. Given the inertia and stasis of contemporary cultural life, to insist on the “scatter” is to insist again on the sensual encounter with the world at hand. The “scatter” includes the spaces between things, the air surrounding things, as at least as material, at least as bodily, at least as “left over” as the things on the table.

On one of Orozco’s tables sits a soccer ball, scruffy and frayed with circular shapes excised from its surface. Slightly deflated, the ball echoes any number of spheres: a shrunken peel from half an orange covered in plasticine nearby or a spinning world. On its surface is drawn a small constellation, like a stellar constellation charting the vast intervals between the stars in a miniature diagram. To call this drawing the scatter is to emphasize the role of chance; to call it a constellation is to emphasize the systemic. The friction between these two creates maximum mobility.


[by Orozco but not the one referenced above]

My most recent previous post from this book is here.

-Julie

http://www.unrealnature.com/

 

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.