Nothing up my Sleve

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Nothing up my Sleeve

Date: 2005.08.31 - 2005.09.09.07 (approx) Music: "Canyon" by Philip Glass. Muse on duty: Malraux. "The previous work which gives the start to every artist's vocation has usually so violent an impact that we see not only the style that has fascinated him [sic], but the subjects, too, incorporated in the pastiche". -- Andre Malraux, "The Voices of Silence", Tr. by Stuart Gilbert, LCCN N'70.M336 (Doubleday, New York, 1953), P.319. On this page: {Authenticity} {he Historical Development of a specific Aesthetic Experience


Again we come back to the question: Just what *is* the "aesthetic experience" and what makes it so odd or so "special"? The range of experience goes from the material to the spiritual. And on the one extreme, the pure materialist has no need for novels, art, music, dance, theatre, and indeed most film, literature, science, etc. All that exists is the "bottom line"; ie, money, power, position, politics, technology. At the other extreme the spirtualist has little need for the items of the material world. Indeed one of the Tau's cautions "Know of the material world so that you will understand it, but do not dweel in it deeply". So, then what is the essential nature of the "aesthetic"? The art historian and philosopher Nelson Goodman questioned the role of an original work of art in the modern world. If the techniques used by forgers are so good that microscopic and chemical analysis have difficulty in discerning the original from the fake. He articulated the concepts of “autographic” and “allographic” forms of art. A painting or a sculpture is autographic, while any copy of a musical score of a piece by Beethoven is not a forgery since the music itself is allographic. Since the score itself it “merely” a means of specifying the art work itself; ie, the performance of the piece of music. Note that a given performance is indeed autographic. So, what then of the "thing" itself. In the case of copied works, we accept that they are copies. And indeed, for the most part the copy *is* as good as the original. This point was brought home by Marcel Duchamp's "readymades". One of the most notorius of them being the "Mona Lisa with the Moustache" or "LHOOQ", which when the letters are said quickly in French is said to sound like "she is hot in the derriere". To create this work, Duchamp took a cheap reproduction of the Mona Lisa (The Lady La Gicanda) and drew a moustache and goatee (technically a Van Dyke) on it. The "original" of this work hangs in the headquarters in Paris of the French National Communist Party in the director's office (Robert Hue). Obviously it is a "modified original" (or technically a "modified readymade") or to use Duchamp's term "readymades assisted". Naturally many people were upset by this "defacement" of "great art". And yet, that is what art is supposed to, well, at least the avant garde. Now we come to the problem of "ownership", if i (as artist/performer/etc) create a work of art, shouldn't it be that I control how it is distributed, seen, or otherwise experience. Take for example, my print "blue circle with textures, printed on two half pieces of paper with a small gap between them". The web-ready image hardly conveys the tesxture of the actual print, now does it. In many cases, there is little "loss" from the web-ready (or other reproduction) of a print. In some cases, the distinction is so great that the web-ready version might just as well be done on a bad photocopy machine wiht minimal toner. Thus, an image (made available) on the web and then modified *is* different because the modification is made to a copy of a unique work. This is not limited to the non-digital world of the tradtional studio arts. For example, if a digital image is created that to be properly rendered would require a piece of equipment costing $50_000 Altarian, most people would not be able to "experience" the work properly. It is *completely* up to the artist (creator) of the work to decide to what extent the experience of the viewer is "authentic"; that is, the artist in each case "autographs" the piece. Take for example, the works of Christo & Jean-Claude. The installations are always ephemeral and very site specific; eg, wrapping of the Riechstagg, the "Gates" of New York. The experience of the viewer is authenticated by the physical presence of the work -- viewing the work in a picture, even a video made by a carefull crew is at *best* allographic, and arguably in-authentic and at worst, cheap, a rip-off, and/or badly done. We need only to look at the overwhelmingly bad re-makes and or sequels of movies to see tribututes to the god of the in-aesthetic. This brings us to the so-called "shared experience". In the present case, the work exists in two forms (as intended by the artist). The first is (arguably) the "more refined" or "better" experience, participants in the room are given the two pieces of paper and instructed how to hold/place them so as to get "the best" of the work. The on-line version is a badly made photo. The color and texture are destorted by the web-ready reduction of the image. Albiet, a higher quality image could be made, but the exposure itself is flawed: Slightly out of focus, Bad lighting, And the print curls outward, thus spoiling the "illusion" of flatness - the earmakr of "art on paper". As to the concept of "ownership" the example is given of ??artist?? whose work was purchased and hung in the home of a friend of the artist. When the artist needed the work for a show, the *owner* said no. When the owner was out of town, the artist visited the home and told the housekeeper that he had come to "do some maintenance" on the work. Instead, he cut it from the frame and took it with him and displayed it in the exhibit. In a second case, the printmaker/sculptor Richard Sierra decided to print a second edition of a print. This insensed a person who had bought one of the first edition prints. (There were quite a few in the two editions). At news of a lawsuit, Sierra had a friend who was a marksman fire several bullets into the entire second edition (stacked one on top of the other). Technically, there is no second edition. There is a new edition known as a "print variant"; ie, the original matrix is printed, and then the print itself is altered. Had the original matrix been modified (eg, etched further, burnished, etc), then the new "edition" would be refered to as a new edition of the "subsequent state" of the print. Note that is is important since one of the main ideas of printmaking *is* to make more than one "original" -- that is more than one allographic copy of the autographic original matrix. It is common practice for the printmaker to "proof" the matrix with a print, evaluate the print, work further into the matrix (creating the next "state" of the matrix), print the matrix again (ie, proof it), and proceed thus until at some point the matrix is printed and a "final" edition is produced. In practice, several editions of several different states could be produced; eg, State 3, edition of 100; State 12, edition of 50. When the matrix is "struck", it is either destroyed entirely (or at least cut in half), or a "strike mark" is made to clearly indicate that the previous edition and any sub-sequent editions can easily be distinguished. "blue circle with textures, printed on two half pieces of paper with a small gap between them" - 2005 (presumed destroyed)

The Historical Development of a specific Aesthetic Experience

I wish to now look at the gathrering layers of the experience itself; ie, something along the lines of a "the extent to which the "viewer" becomes more and more deeply involved with the aeusthetic experience of the "thing". For example, we might well know the name Van Gogh. And we might be aware of the slef-portrait with the bandarged ear. And we might then no more about his life, and specifically his later life and his suicide. All of these bits of "knowledge", "rumor", gossip, etc -- we then bring these in as authrnetic aspects of our aesthetic appreciation of the work of art. But, what if we "approach" a new work of art the artist's name and works we are un-familiar with; somewhat different in the modern internet-ready, multi-medaia area. Our evolving aesthetic experience with this person grows by layers. We may encoutnrer their work for the first time in an advertisement; ie, as a crude "pastiche" attempt by the advertiser to "borrow" on the creative works on one person and use that to sell something. (We make no moral judgement as to the "properness" of this, since we are to be well assured that all of oh-so important *intellectual property rights* have had made to them the proper gestures, rituals, and litigations.) Next comes into our mind a curiosity of the work; perhaps a style that we have not seen before? eg, Jacson Pollock's drips, Seraut's "dots", Hellen Frankenthaller's broad swatches of colour, etc. We begin to fit this "unknown" into our "known". The next encounter with the work of art or the artist might come some time later. "so and so (whome we knew) studied under X" (the artist that we recently encounterd for the first time). *** GOOD PLACE for quote by Insley (the aesthetic of the avante garde regarging good/bad experience in TIME **** A case in point occured with an acquantence who is a big history (esp the history of Judeo-Christian era), and the subject of ??name?? Escher came up, and he violently reacted against Escheer for two works *** show the grass hopper on the bishop's tomb *** And then another work that he proceeded to describe to me. Whereupon the tiny litle bulb went off in my head. And almost laughtingly said, ah, but that's just acopy! Escher was doing that as an exercise. THe origina is by Hiermonious Bosche (the "hell" panne). And before I could explain the concept by which artists "practice" and "study" by volunatarily making hand-drawn *reproductions* of works of art, the person blurted out, "Well I could never like anything by someone who would paint sch things!!"
THis I would have to say (in or palentolgical examination of the historical geographic layers of the vearious strata of art and art history -- and more specifically "the nature of the aesthetic experience" would have to be classified as a "case of mistaken identity"; or, at very worst a "bad art trip, man -- like not cool, real bummer". And yet this is possibly the most common sort of experience that T.C. MITS comes into contact with art. [Note: T.C. MITS is taken from the delightful book "The Education of The Celebrated Man In The Street", by Lillian Lieber]. So, one of the most common experiences is thus: Mistaken Identiy and/or "The Argument from Ignorance". [Note 4]

First Exhibit

In the modern, photographic, digital-enabled, web-ready world, what then is the role of life drawing, or drawing in general for that matter? For example, Priscilla Lima’s drawing of an old woman, titled “Beauty” shows us the image of a person who would hardly be considered anything but “plain” in today’s glitzy Hollywood crazed world where people spend fortunes to remake themselves into “beautiful people”. The very image screams for the portrayed woman to be sent on TV for a complete make-over. And yet, Lima’s drawing reveals a sensitivity to the person drawn that would be lost in almost any photograph. Needless to say, a make-over would erase the very character of the person portrayed. Thus art seems to break the rule: Beauty is what the majority thinks it is; or at least what TV would have us believe it is. Similarly, the “rules” are broken by the two collage pieces by Virginia Robertson (Collage Series: Fall 2004) and Rani L. Rautela (Dot Study). The pieces purport to be drawings and yet seem either disjointed as if uncertain of concept (in the case of Robertson’s piece) or almost deranged (in the case of Rautela’s piece). But, both are purely autographic pieces. Each is a unique solution to the great question of “What is Art?”; each explores the use of two dimensional space in unique ways that would perplex most people who think that “Great Art” begins and ends with the Renaissance. Each piece succeeds, simply because it IS modern; in short, it takes chances – breaks the rules. In addition the drawings and design pieces, small metals and 2-design works are included. Indeed, these works as well “break the rules”. The three-dimensionalzed versions of various Picasso drawings of women are “beautiful”, only because we are all familiar with the authentic cubist drawings by Picasso. Hence, the two-dimensional is given 3-dimensional form. Thus, far from pretending to be forgeries of Picasso’s work, they celebrate the originality of the work. Thus, passing through the stages of becoming allographic representations of Picasso’s autographic “script” and upon contemplation, are clearly autographic in their own right. And the reverse process can be seen in the work of Zoetina Veal’s (Trichosis #0) and Resi Douglas (Tranquility) where by the electric nature of line and shadow, they essentially force the two dimensional work off the picture plane and into the third dimension. Other works go even further.

Second Exhibit

Ceramics (unlike sculpture) relies entirely upon the creation of unique works of art. Each piece is therefore completely autographic. However, the concept of repetition presents an almost allographic question. For example, if a ceramist creates a series of pieces in a tea set. The pieces even though “hand thrown” on a wheel, are all unique. That the ceramist has tried their best to make the pieces identical (as intent, we assume), does not deny the actual uniqueness of the pieces. In the display the Studio Gallery, the ceramic works on display are all entirely unique from each other. Whether it was the intent of each artist to create autographically unique pieces (ie, clearly different from the works of other artists, or from their own work), or to create allographic copies of some other work is a question that can not be answered easily. Each piece on display carries with a heavy burden in the context of art history and the philosophy of the aesthetics. Regardless, the works captivate us with both their diversity of physical appearance, as well as their unity in the world of ceramics. For ceramics, the great “dividing distinction” is: Functional or non-Functional? But the question in terms of the “fine arts” is hardly as clear-cut as it might appear. For example, Aaron B.W. Ostrom’s “Toucan at Inguacu” ostensibly purports to be serving tray; clearly functional. However, its aesthetic decries this in the detail to which the work is approached. Surely, the simpler approach would have been to paint a picture (take a picture), laminate it to a wooden tray, and then use it as a commonplace serving tray. That this work of art might be considered “purely” functional is at best specious. On the other hand, Marilu Delgado’s “Primitive Women” purports to be a statue, about as non-functional as one might expect. Yet, clearly it could be used as a paperweight, pencil holder, or even as a doorstop. That such effronteries might offend the so-called “art loving public”, should be held off by Marcel Duchamp’s concept of the reverse ready-made; eg, he proposed using a Rembrandt as an ironing board. His most famous (or infamously held by the art loving public) ready-made was of course the urinal, turned on it’s back and titled “Fountain”. In addition the works in the Studio Gallery, the Forum Gallery exhibits photographs, digital works, prints, and watercolors. In addition there are two installed pieces by Jorge Misum; “Cornerstone” and “Peace”. The corner-installed piece (Cornerstone) echoes back to an installation piece by Joseph Beuys wherein he tossed bits of animal fat into a corner, filling the space much in the same way as Misum’s piece does. Interworking with Misum’s first piece, his ceramics instructor, Du Chau challenged Misum to introduce a piece that embodies the concept of “peace”. The fragility of the installed piece is readily apparent, whether it achieved its goal the viewer will have to decide for themselves. The final exhibit in the fall student art show will encompass those two vast and mighty areas of art: Painting and Sculpture. For much of the art loving public, this is what “real art” is. Each student will choose their one best piece that expresses what they fill is their best work. For some, this will be a representational work that attempts to mimic the photograph. For some, the works will be completely abstract, and thus attempting to enter into the dialog of the modern.

Third Exhibit

With Duchamp’s attempt to introduce a urinal as a work of sculpture, most art historians agree that this change in the dialog of art began the modern era. If we take a photograph of an assembly line making urinals, then our photograph is “mere” documentation of manufacture of functional plumbing. If, however, we take the photo so that it captures a certain “look” about the assembly line (perhaps the use of repetition, perhaps the composition of the break of space, etc). In that case, one could maintain that the photograph itself was a work of art; and therefore, not “mere” documentation. And while the works of painting are clearly autographic, what are we to make of cast sculpture? Clearly hand-wrought, one-of-a-kind sculpture (like ceramic pieces) are autographic and therefore unique works of art. But, of the casting of several pieces, what are we to say? If we “assume” that the castings are made with the direction or permission of the artist (even if the artist was not involved in the actual casting of the piece from a mold that was made at the behest of the artist), then we are faced with the apparent dilemma of deciding whether the works are autographic, or merely allographic copies and that only the original form (from which the mold was made) is the only autographic work; and hence the autographic work becomes the mold, rather than the casting. The most famous example of this problem is that of August Rodin’s statue, “The Thinker”. The original cast statue was considered obscene and destroyed. The version that exists today is the second casting. Indeed, there are several castings of Rodin’s statue “Balzac”. Without falling prey to the so-called “intentionalist fallacy”, it is clear that the reproductions reference the original work (whether it be the first casting or the mold itself). As you walk among this exhibit, let these questions of the original work, a photograph of the work, and this (written) description of the work enter into your mind. These are the kinds of thoughts that artists often entertain while creating art. This, and the questions: What IS art? Why am I doing this? And of course: Where am I going to get money to by some more cadmium yellow, deep hue paint? --30-- --42--