Thursday, 26 February 2009

Techne, Technology and Technique

Maya Deren - 'Meditation on Violence' 1948



this is one of the most used films in vjing.

All Tomorrows Parties - last one curated by Jake & Dinos Chapman - how does curating a party differ from simply being an event organiser and selecting the line-up??

Fine Art/Popular Art - differentiation. Masters students could be said to be masters of what? like martial arts has a certain level of skill. 'Arts' in different places and at different times many different things were considered art forms e.g. in the past surgery was considered an art - is plastic surgery an art?

The way of the master - body and physical art. How does technique in one form of creative practice relate to technique in another? Is the computer replacing older manual techniques, how can you assess mastery?
This used to be clearer as there were limited media and techniques but now many are combined and people are developing new techniques with computer related technologies constantly.

There are 3 general types of art:

  • Creation of Beauty - this is still prevalent and problematic in cont. British culture e.g. in CCW
  • Discovery of Truth - e.g. Astronomy
  • Production of Knowledge e.g. Anatomist - Surgeon.
The research approach is towards the production of knowledge, different kind of art. Moving from the creation of beauty to the production of knowledge - how is this possible?

Types of Practice:

  • Physical - body centred practices (e.g. martial arts, healing, dance etc) Techniques without technologies - no materials.
  • Mental - mind centred practices (e.g. learning, knowledge, soothsaying, memory)
  • Instrumental - practices which use man made tools, instruments, devices. (e.g. writing, archery, painting, film, surgery).
Why don't we have musicians in art schools?

The Fine Arts is a cultural invention - 18th C (more about this in the culture of craft). An attempt to save the fine arts - elevated in position. The fine arts legacy is from a continuing Romanticism - the artist is a genius.

Whereas mass art like cinema has multiple authors, director, actors and is a combined effort of creativity. Involving many people, made for a huge audience. Walter Benjamin's essay - Art in the age of mechanical reproduction. Print production - started from Goya. Warhol was aware that mass culture was a very important force but still signed things, also aware that the artist is genius thing important.

'Do whatever' culture is from the last 50 years - a freedom of expression. Fine art on a pedestal, since Duchamp. Fine art is just choices - all about the intention of the artist.

Now this is in a direct conflict with the university wide initiative of having a responsibility historically to create 'reflective practitioners'.

Designers - clarity of communication just as likely to produce beautiful artefacts as fine artists. Fine art developed a deliberate obscurity - distancing itself from 'craft' and 'sunday painters'.

At this point the whole lecture descended into a debate about art/design/craft which was very interesting but people are still so touchy about how they are labelled. The fine artists were protesting about John's viewpoint and background coming from a graphic designer and his bias towards craft maybe and put across the interesting point that if you had a phd in physics - you wouldn't expect a layperson to understand the concepts so why does fine art have to lower itself for the masses to understand in the same way?

...Techne = making in Greek. Aristotle - 'artificier' is one who takes a raw material and applies to it a set of ideas and procedures to produce an object. In ancient greek culture there was no division between art and crafts. (Note - talking to Maiko today she said that the division between art and craft is so much more pronounced in the UK than in her experience in other countries).

Hearts of Glass - film by Werner Herzog (1976) couldn't find the clip on youtube of the expert glass blowers.

Heidegger - significant shift in the meaning of technology from craft to modern industrial technology, digital systems - detachment from the hand - apocolyptic feeling. Tactile, sensual feeling is lost. Alienation between producer and consumer. and now the mechanical relationship to the machine that is being lost. Are we losing the potential for aesthetic understanding?
Lucy McKenzie - Scottish artist, in fine art but learnt traditional craft techniques.

Style is making a difficult thing look easy.

Heidegger - influenced continential philosophy of essence and of being.

The Question concerning Technology (1954)
Building, Dwelling, Thinking

had to leave lecture early at this point :(...

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Neil Cummings

Works at Chelsea - open source software, collaborations. Found that his feeling was its not enough to produce more art objects, which are then displayed in galleries and then bought for museum collections - there are enough objects in the world already - why do we need more? interesting point...
This process is slow and not under the control of the artist, 80% of museum collections are in storage.
So his practice became more about being a curator from these collections. Branching out into society for sponsorship opportunities - banks, auction houses - bringing the work into more direct contact with people's lifestyles.
His work doesn't have a style - it changes depending on the tools and media needed for each project. Research is a crucial part of his work.

Made a film for the British Art Show touring in 2006, organised by the Hayward. Worked with regional media archives. Orphan films (out of copyright) - combined to make a new film about life in britain - picked the moments when the people realised the camera (1930s). GPL (General Public License).

Mark Getty (Getty Images) said that interlectual property rights are "The oil of the 21st century" - speaking to Bill Gates - Corbus.

The wonderful thing about archives is that they have multiple authors, unlike a collection which is usually one person's individual taste, it is possible to curate from an archive - it is a territory.

Setup a critical practice group (wiki) at Chelsea - trying to free information, allow all to contribute - can lead to a lot of disorganisation. Got an open congress conference at Tate Britain. www.criticalpracticechelsea.org


Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Philosophy by Mel Thompson

Two widely accepted features of the mind/body question:

1. That the mind is not within space/time and not material - and thus that it should not be identified with its material base in the brain.

2. That the mind function through communication - is not simply limited to the operations of a single particular body, i.e. the mind is not subject to physical limitations, and is related to transpersonal communication.

The second rate composer/artist follows all the established rules and applies them diligently. He or she prodces art that follows fashion. The really creative person does not follow rules, producing work that may be loathed or controversial, but nevertheless may be said to be an intelligent production - the attempt to express something which goes beyond all previous experience or rules. This is a kind of 'knowing how': knowing how to perform creatively.


Again, had to return this book to the library so couldn't finish the notes. I feel like I need to do a philosophy course!!! Maybe just listen to those Radio 4 programmes...

Recent Links

Artists in labs - residencies in science labs in Switzerland. Apply before Aug!
Christian Gonzenbach - one of the artists in residence at the moment who is attempting to sculpt dark matter!! - amazing but his website is in french and don't think he has posted anything about this yet...

The Arts Catalyst - based in London, commissioning artists that critically engages with science.

Arts Active - International network with info about artist's residencies in science and industry lab research.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

British Museum - Benin Bronzes



Phil advised me to see these sculptures in the British Museum as they have extraordinarily fine detail and complex results from the lost wax casting method. Beautiful.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Inter-group Crit

with Book Arts tutor, Maiko, Printmaking student & Book Arts student.

Presented: Wax scene - this one without arches and computer other way round.


Their comments without me saying anything:

Can walk around it and discover it, seeing from different viewpoints. Is it a marquette? maybe it is as the wires inside the chair etc look like they are just for structural support. As its in wax is it to be cast in a foundry? but it looks too delicate for lost wax casting...
What about the meaning of the wax as a material - it melts, natural material - although the computer, table and chair are all manmade objects. Can read the scene like a story and imagine travelling through it. The trees are out of proportion - bigger than life. The tunnel from the computer - is it a flower? much more crudely made than the jungle part.
You can imagine someone sitting at the desk and writing a story about a forest which appears behind them. Dolls house scale which encourages a narrative. The shape of the base - is it unconsidered? why is it broken and joined?
Looking at it on the table at eye level is important so the viewer can identify with the viewpoint of sitting in the chair - would you move it round on the table like on a lazy susan or walk around it as a sculpture. Has the magic of alice in wonderland. The hole through the computer is more violent - like a bad dream. Can imagine it as a long piece - one scene into another round a whole room.

I was so encouraged by their comments as they understood many of the aspects I was attempting to bring across in the work that it obviously communicated itself without me explaining it. This was great as I had considered this model/whatever to be unsuccessful in representing anything to do with my proposal.

Then I was able to explain more about my practice and the process of dream to sculpture is central and key to the work. How can I think about the 'fuzzy areas' its so easy to draw this in 2d but how can I show this in 3d - steam/candyfloss! Could be the most interesting part about the unknown bits.

Maiko & Suzanne again mentioning that the dreams are just a starting point/fragments and I shouldn't get trapped in just trying to remake the dream how it was as this is impossible. Got to work forward from the dream starting point to make something new from it - self analysis...

Rachel Whiteread at Alan Cristea Gallery
Bill Woodrow
Jane Gifford

Discussion about bronze/wax. Books arts tutor not liking bronze idea as too far from the ethereal nature of dreams but I like the duality! Spoke about the Horizon programme last night on TV and how the latest thinking is that your brain has an experience in the day and then maybe as a filing technique relates it to a previous experience in your life that produced the same feeling/emotional response - very hard to quantify that feeling - so complex about how something relates to a past experience like having someone in your dream from primary school or something, you haven't thought about for years but obviously something that happened to you recently or in the previous day triggered the memory - I'm very interested in these 'feeling links' between things.

Also spoke about those landscapes in dreams which only exist in the dream and you know you have been there before (Subtle Knife city again) or the reconfiguration of Park Road. Maiko skeptical that you have visited before in dreams without repeatitions in your recordings as could just be deja vu.

Antony Hudek - Lecture

Flat Time and the John Latham Archive

Antony Hudek is currently research fellow, Ligatus, Camberwell College of Arts, working on the John Latham Archive in Peckham. The experience of working with John Latham's personal papers will form the basis of his presentation, which will touch upon ideas that have resurfaced in a number of other initiatives he has been involved in over the past few years -- ideas about memory, collecting, the visualisation of historical narratives, and foreclosure.

Really enjoyed this lecture by Antony. Softly spoken American with a very interesting brain! Suzanne's notes will be so much better than mine on this as I ended up listening too much and not writing - particularly relevant I felt for her practice.

He explained more his own journey into being an art historian and his interest in artists who found it hard or didn't distinguish between their personal and professional development/lives and didn't quite make it big.

Spoke about his MA or was it Phd work on Francois Lyotard and his exhibition Les Immateriaux 1985, Pompidou centre. Cutting edge technology at the time. Exhibitions are so hard to document - transient. Archive Fever by Jacques Derrida - seminal book on archiving.

Interesting idea that an online archive is false, can be wiped out in a second. Warburg archive - 1927. Image collections curated into a personal narrative. New structures of remembering, organic growth of the archive. Extremely interesting man followed by quite a lot of discussion about his documentation of John Latham's work in Peckham and the difficulties in this as he was such a private, secretive artist who didn't like discourse.

Link to the Tate video I already watched - interview with John Latham before he died.

Philosophy of the Arts - An Introduction to Aesthetics

Only just started reading this but had to return it already - grrr. My interpretations:

Art and Beauty
Aesthetic judgement is:

1. not a judgement of fact because it is subjective.
2. It is not merely subjective because it commands the assent of others - in declaring an object to be beautiful, we think we have a reason for demanding a similar delight from everyone.
3. not a judgement grounded in practical rationality because the beautiful has no practical purpose.
4. not merely fanciful or superficially attractive because it has the mark of purposefulness.

So what sort of judgement is it? Kant - 'free play of the imagination'. 'Purposefulness without purpose'.

Art and Emotion
Art is not physical, utilitarian, moral or productive of knowledge - so what is the benefit? If artistic images are not constrained by external reality, practical value or moral purpose, what makes them more than idle fancies? Answer - properly artistic images are 'symbols'. 'Intense feeling is what confers upon art the ethereal lightness of the symbol'. Art is symbolic expressions of feeling. (Croce).

Difficult for me to engage in this text without enormous brain power! - to be continued....

Poetics of Space - Mammoth Notes

Knowing must therefore be accompanied by an equal capacity to forget knowing[...]a sort of pure beginning, which makes its creation an exercise in freedom.

Art, then, is an increase of life, a sort of competition of surprises that stimulates our consciousness and keeps it from becoming somnolent (sleepy).

pg.9 Memories are motionless, and the more securely they are fixed in space, the sounder they are. To localise a memory in time is merely a matter [...] to communicate to others.

pg.13 For the real houses of memory, the houses to which we return in dreams, the houses that are rich in unalterable oneirism, do not readily lend themselves to description. To describe them would be like showing them to visitors. [They must] retain their shadows. For it is not until his eyes have left [the page/or plan of a room] that recollections of my room can become a threshold of oneirism for him. Related to my memories of halls, Conyngham Road, Ladybarn Lane, Stuart Road, Lake Street.

pg.51 Sometimes the house grows and spreads so that, in order to live in it, greater elasticity of daydreaming, a daydream that is less clearly outlined, are needed. "My house," writes Georges Spyridaki, "is diaphanous, but it is not of glass. It is more of the nature of vapour. Its walls contract and expand as I desire. At times, I draw them close about me like protective armour...but at others, I let the walls of my house blossom out in their own space, which is infinitely extensible."
Spyridaki's house breathes. First it is a coat of armour, then it extends ad infinitum, which amounts to saying that we live in it in alternate security and adventure. It is both cell and world. Here, geometry is transcended. Related to the houses and also the city from Subtle Knife which I have created in my imagination.

Ou vous ai-je perdue, mon imagerie pietinee?
(Where did I lose you, my trampled fantasies?

pg.57 If we have retained an element of dream in our memories, if we have gone beyond merely assembling exact recollections, bit by bit the house that was lost in the mists of time will appear from out the shadow. We do nothing to reorganise it; with intimacy it recovers its entity, in the mellowness and imprecision of the inner life. It is as though something fluid had collected our memories and we ourselves were dissolved in this fluid of the past. Rilke, who experienced this intimacy of fusion, speaks of the fusion of being with the lost house: "I never saw this strange dwelling again. Indeed, as I see it now, the way it appeared to my child's eye, it is not a building, but is quite dissolved and distributed inside me: here one room, there another, and here a bit of corridor which, however, does not connect the two rooms, but is conserved in me in fragmentary form. Thus the whole thing is scattered about inside me, the rooms, the stairs that descended with such ceremonious slowness, others, narrow cages that mounted in a spiral movement, in the darkness of which we advanced like the blood in our veins."

pg.105 [...]arrested in flight towards dream values by the geometrical reality of the forms.

pg.150 I made myself very tiny, entered into my picture and climbed into the little train, which started moving, then disappeared into the darkness of the tunnel. For a few seconds longer, a bit of flaky smoke could be seen coming out of the round hole. Then this smoke blew away, and with it the picture, and with the picture, my person... How many times have painters, as they painted their dreams, they have escaped through a crack in the wall!
And so, if we follow the poets of miniature sympathetically, if we take the imprisoned painter's little train, geometrical contradiction is redeemed, and Representation is dominated by Imagination. Representation becomes nothing but a body of expressions with which to communicate our own images to others. In line with a philosophy that accepts the imagination as a basic faculty, one could say, in the manner of Schopenhauer: "The world is my imagination." The cleverer I am at miniaturizing the world, the better I possess it. [...]Values become condensed and enriched in miniature. One must go beyond logic in order to experience what is large in what is small.

pg. 174 But a whiff of perfume, or even the slightest odor can create an entire environment in the world of the imagination.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

10 Images


Francesca Woodman

'Invented Memory' by Cyrus Karimipour

Picture from Telegraph magazine article

Porcelain Sculpture by Harumi Nakashima. 50 x 45 x 40 cm.

Heather & Ivan Morison

'Empire of Light, 1954 by Rene Magritte

Finnish photographer Ea Vasko

Chiharu Shiota

Seth Price/Kelley Walker at Modern Art Oxford
This was the post I was looking for to show Maiko - the 3d representations with limited viewing points. These are the images that I presented that I have found that express aspects of my ideas, as a visual communication tool. As was pointed out - most if not all are 2d and I need to think how I can get across these ethereal etc QUALITIES in 3d sculptures which are very solid and you know - THERE, permanent. Restricted or manipulated viewpoints could be an option or ways to hide/reveal things, look hard and you might see something else/more. Optical illusion - tacky?

Ready for mould


Prom dress ready for the mould and an experiment melting wax onto the porcelain - sticks well...
Also made the really thin dress today but no photo. I'm trying to see how thin I can push the bronze to be...even if I have to take/sand away material after casting...