Conceptual Art

Posted by Eryk Salvaggio | Mon Aug 8th 2005 4:16 p.m.

Joe and Curt,

Might I take a stance in defense of conceptual art?

One of the ways art is most interesting to me is when it exposes a new
possibility, reframes an old problem, or explores limitations of current
ways of thinking. This is why new media is fascinating to me- even if it is,
for example, the concept of blogging, podcasting, etc that excite me for the
sake of its possibilities, these do lead to a tangible reframing of ideas
about access, distribution, and waking up creative potentials in people that
might otherwise rest unstirred. Whether I ever hear a podcast that blows me
away is almost irrelevant to the benefits of the technology simply existing.

How we think about the world, and the words and concepts that we use to
describe a world to ourselves, are what define us, probably more than the
world itself manages to define us. Conceptual art is a means of breaking out
of boxes and exploring different ways of doing things (and a lot of it is
deliberately engaged in violating the rules of language itself as a means of
exploring the limitation of language itself. An idea is not always, as you
say, "a collection of words"). Like any other art, some of it will resonate
and some will not. But I have never really been comfortable with the
segregation of "forms" of creative thought. If a piece of software comes
along that radically changes my way of thinking about the world, it is about
the same to me as if a new piece of art comes along that radically changes
my way of thinking about the world. If that piece of art is, say, something
Jenny Holzer writes with LED lights, I don't believe it is separate from if
she said it to me in person.

Artistry is fast losing its definition as a skill set; technology is going
to make sure of it. As that opens up the creative process, ideas are going
to grow far more important than the technical execution of an idea. It's not
about the quality of the art, it's about the quality of the articulation.
Consider, for example, what spellcheck has done for an entire generation of
grammatically challenged poets. It isn't very difficult to imagine a
computer program that will automatically replace your word with a word that
helps your stanza fit into the template of a sestina, for example, and at
the click of a button make suggestions for changing it to a ballad. (A more
practical example is the notion of audio tracking software that allows for
an entire genre of popular music to be made by individuals without any idea
of how to play an "actual" instrument). As technology accelerates the number
of radio producers, musicians, film makers, magazine publishers, and
artists, the tangible output is going to be secondary to the concept driving
it. In other words, if anyone can make anything with the tap of their
finger, then the idea of what they make, and the fact that they have
articulated it, will be far more important than the process of how it was
made.

I've read Curt using, specifically, the example of Michael Mandiberg's
"After Sherri Levine": Walker Evans takes photographs of share croppers in
1936, Sherri Levine, in 79, takes pictures of the pictures and puts them on
line. Mandiberg, in 2001, scans Evans' originals, and puts them on line,
then scans Levine's pictures of those pictures and puts them on line,
elsewhere. Curt says the work is poor because it couldn't exist without an
artists statement- and that, therefore, the artists statement is the piece.
The artists statement is always an explanation of history and context. But
Mandiberg's artist's statement is a history and a context, of art, and how
we re-evaluate art as technology changes our interactions with the world.
"After Sherri Levine" makes a point that strikes a nerve; but also crackles
the synapses as it makes new connections between ideas.

It is not exactly a moving piece of emotional art, a call to arms, a protest
piece, or anything of the sort. But it does say something interesting in an
interesting way- and saying something interesting is about all any of us
with access to the right technology will need to know how to do.

Two Cents,
-e.

----- Original Message -----
From: <joenolan7@comcast.net>
To: <list@rhizome.org>
Sent: Monday, August 08, 2005 3:43 PM
Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Regarding The "Anti-Nike"

>A friend of mine just sent me a link to Charlotte's front page rant/spoof
>regarding flooding the meme-way with concepts alone instead of "realized"
>conceptual art. Although this is obviously a fun/tongue in cheek call to
>arms, in many ways I think this is a fundamental critique of "conceptual
>art" and a pointed observation of it's fundamental flaws.
>
> I invite you to continue reading a section of a recent blog from my
> website (www.joenolan.com) in which I address the same subject more
> directly.
>
> Thanks and enjoy!
>
> Joe Nolan
>
>
> I have been finishing up a series of drawings that I hope to include in a
> book of poetry that will be available some time this summer (hopefully).
> They are "self portraits" and also religious iconography. Those of you who
> are familiar with my other my work know that I feel that "All Art is
> Martial Art". Which is to say, the elements that create the successful
> martial moment are the same ones that create successful art.
>
> These elements are: 1) confrontation, 2) impact and 3) movement.
>
> Anyone who is familiar with the visual work I have done in the past knows
> that it is my contention that "art" is best employed to express that which
> is beyond the bounds of language. In this sense I reject all "conceptual
> art" out of hand as an intellectual conceit and an ignorant
> miscalculation.
>
> A concept is an idea. An idea is a collection of words. A collection of
> words is most simply (i.e. most elegantly and therefore most beautifully
> and therefore most artistically successful)conveyed by...wait for
> it...more words!
>
> Please just write me the essay you are going to have to post in the
> gallery anyway to explain your faulty efforts.
>
> Because of my understanding of "art" as the language that is beyond
> language, in my opinion it is most effectively applied to those concerns
> that elude our clumsy mouthings: emotions, impulses etc. Being somewhat
> over-the-top as an artist and a person I, naturally, tend to push this to
> it's logical conclusion and concern myself with the ultimate
> "unspeakable": God and man's impulse toward the transcendent.
>
> +
> -> post: list@rhizome.org
> -> questions: info@rhizome.org
> -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
> -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
> +
> Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
> Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
>
  • MTAA | Mon Aug 8th 2005 7:25 p.m.
    welcome back Eryk :-)

    Eryk Salvaggio wrote:

    > Joe and Curt,
    >
    > Might I take a stance in defense of conceptual art?
    >
  • curt cloninger | Mon Aug 8th 2005 10:09 p.m.
    Hi Eryk,

    Hope you are doing well.

    e:
    Whether I ever hear a podcast that blows me
    away is almost irrelevant to the benefits of the technology simply existing.

    c:
    but that's just enthusiasm about the potential of a new communications technology. I agree; it's potentially exciting. I'm certainly not arguing against the value of concepts. I'm not even arguing against art that traffics in concepts (most art does).

    e:
    Conceptual art is a means of breaking out
    of boxes and exploring different ways of doing things (and a lot of it is
    deliberately engaged in violating the rules of language itself as a means of
    exploring the limitation of language itself. An idea is not always, as you
    say, "a collection of words").

    c:
    in the sixties and seventies conceptual art was a means of breaking out of boxes. now conceptual art has escaped those boxes to become its own box. describing one's concepts without ever implementing them is the next logical means of breaking out of *that* box. Twice the concepts in half the time; and you can spend your free time actually making good art. Instructionists of the web, post forth!

    e:
    But I have never really been comfortable with the
    segregation of "forms" of creative thought.

    c:
    I'm even less comfortable with the segregation of concept from craft, as if the former trumps the latter and is totally independent of it.

    e:
    Artistry is fast losing its definition as a skill set; technology is going
    to make sure of it. As that opens up the creative process, ideas are going
    to grow far more important than the technical execution of an idea. It's not
    about the quality of the art, it's about the quality of the articulation.

    c:
    but what is "quality of articulation" if not "artistry" and craft (unless you're talking about "crafting" an artist statement)? If what you're saying is true, why "articulate" anything at all? Just post instructions.

    e:
    (A more
    practical example is the notion of audio tracking software that allows for
    an entire genre of popular music to be made by individuals without any idea
    of how to play an "actual" instrument). As technology accelerates the number
    of radio producers, musicians, film makers, magazine publishers, and
    artists, the tangible output is going to be secondary to the concept driving
    it. In other words, if anyone can make anything with the tap of their
    finger, then the idea of what they make, and the fact that they have
    articulated it, will be far more important than the process of how it was
    made.

    c:
    There is still craft in electronic music and hip-hop, otherwise anyone could be Amon Tobin or DJ Spooky. Such music is not accomplished with a mere tap of the finger. It's craft applied to a different aspect of the creative process, but it's sure enough craft. As Brian Eno observed as early as 1975, the recording studio itself is an instrument.

    e:
    I've read Curt using, specifically, the example of Michael Mandiberg's
    "After Sherri Levine": Walker Evans takes photographs of share croppers in
    1936, Sherri Levine, in 79, takes pictures of the pictures and puts them on
    line. Mandiberg, in 2001, scans Evans' originals, and puts them on line,
    then scans Levine's pictures of those pictures and puts them on line,
    elsewhere. Curt says the work is poor because it couldn't exist without an
    artists statement- and that, therefore, the artists statement is the piece.
    The artists statement is always an explanation of history and context. But
    Mandiberg's artist's statement is a history and a context, of art, and how
    we re-evaluate art as technology changes our interactions with the world.
    "After Sherri Levine" makes a point that strikes a nerve; but also crackles
    the synapses as it makes new connections between ideas.

    It is not exactly a moving piece of emotional art, a call to arms, a protest
    piece, or anything of the sort. But it does say something interesting in an
    interesting way- and saying something interesting is about all any of us
    with access to the right technology will need to know how to do.

    c:
    i think "After Sherri Levine" is a cheap one-liner. Ba-dum-bum. I think art can do better.

    Mere technology didn't usher in the promises of a brave new modern world in Le Corbusier's time, and I'm not holding my breath for it to happen in ours (although Wired keeps assuring me it's just around the bend). Luckily, I don't have to wait on technology. Heck, I don't even have to wait on an intern. As a proto-conceptual instructionist, i need only post my concepts. Whether a bot or a human is able to implement them is no longer my concern. Up with the mouth! Long live the mind! Down with the hand! Death to the eye!

    the love below,
    HAL 3000
  • Eryk Salvaggio | Mon Aug 8th 2005 11:12 p.m.
    Hi Curt,

    I am trying to resist the line-item quote back, a methodology I think gets
    me into trouble. :) Let me also say, I think your idea for the conceptual
    art construction exchange is a great one, even though I sense just the
    tiniest bit of jest.

    The importance of the podcast, blogging, etc, to me, is not the quality of
    its product- I think that is an inevitability as people get used to the
    tools. But what is more exciting to me is the ability of any individual to
    access the technology to create and distribute thier product and to allow
    others to take it, manipulate it, and distribute the manipulations.Which
    makes me think of the conceptual art exchange that you've been talking
    about: by giving people the instructions to make a piece of art, you also
    give them the ability to customize it, interact with it much more directly,
    something that appeals to our "Pimp My Ride" culture for sure. It is also a
    different medium because it is designed to be experiential and generated
    rather than intellectualized and recieved.

    The thing about it is, conceptual artists have already been doing it. My
    relationship with Fluxus exists solely because of the Fluxus Performance
    Work Book. I've never seen a Fluxus piece performed, but it still interested
    me just to read about them through the "scores" that exist. Also, it has a
    much earlier analog in music theory. You would go out and buy the
    instructions for performing a piece of music rather than a recording. You
    read notation and if you played the piano, you would perform a piece that
    you would never hear otherwise (Then we had the piano with the tape,
    remember that thing? The first electronic music, in the western bar rooms
    amidst spittoons and horses?).

    Cheers,
    -e.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "curt cloninger" <curt@lab404.com>
    To: <list@rhizome.org>
    Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2005 12:09 AM
    Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Re: Conceptual Art

    > Hi Eryk,
    >
    > Hope you are doing well.
    >
    > e:
    > Whether I ever hear a podcast that blows me
    > away is almost irrelevant to the benefits of the technology simply
    > existing.
    >
    > c:
    > but that's just enthusiasm about the potential of a new communications
    > technology. I agree; it's potentially exciting. I'm certainly not
    > arguing against the value of concepts. I'm not even arguing against art
    > that traffics in concepts (most art does).
    >
    > e:
    > Conceptual art is a means of breaking out
    > of boxes and exploring different ways of doing things (and a lot of it is
    > deliberately engaged in violating the rules of language itself as a means
    > of
    > exploring the limitation of language itself. An idea is not always, as you
    > say, "a collection of words").
    >
    > c:
    > in the sixties and seventies conceptual art was a means of breaking out of
    > boxes. now conceptual art has escaped those boxes to become its own box.
    > describing one's concepts without ever implementing them is the next
    > logical means of breaking out of *that* box. Twice the concepts in half
    > the time; and you can spend your free time actually making good art.
    > Instructionists of the web, post forth!
    >
    > e:
    > But I have never really been comfortable with the
    > segregation of "forms" of creative thought.
    >
    > c:
    > I'm even less comfortable with the segregation of concept from craft, as
    > if the former trumps the latter and is totally independent of it.
    >
    >
    > e:
    > Artistry is fast losing its definition as a skill set; technology is going
    > to make sure of it. As that opens up the creative process, ideas are going
    > to grow far more important than the technical execution of an idea. It's
    > not
    > about the quality of the art, it's about the quality of the articulation.
    >
    > c:
    > but what is "quality of articulation" if not "artistry" and craft (unless
    > you're talking about "crafting" an artist statement)? If what you're
    > saying is true, why "articulate" anything at all? Just post instructions.
    >
    > e:
    > (A more
    > practical example is the notion of audio tracking software that allows for
    > an entire genre of popular music to be made by individuals without any
    > idea
    > of how to play an "actual" instrument). As technology accelerates the
    > number
    > of radio producers, musicians, film makers, magazine publishers, and
    > artists, the tangible output is going to be secondary to the concept
    > driving
    > it. In other words, if anyone can make anything with the tap of their
    > finger, then the idea of what they make, and the fact that they have
    > articulated it, will be far more important than the process of how it was
    > made.
    >
    > c:
    > There is still craft in electronic music and hip-hop, otherwise anyone
    > could be Amon Tobin or DJ Spooky. Such music is not accomplished with a
    > mere tap of the finger. It's craft applied to a different aspect of the
    > creative process, but it's sure enough craft. As Brian Eno observed as
    > early as 1975, the recording studio itself is an instrument.
    >
    > e:
    > I've read Curt using, specifically, the example of Michael Mandiberg's
    > "After Sherri Levine": Walker Evans takes photographs of share croppers in
    > 1936, Sherri Levine, in 79, takes pictures of the pictures and puts them
    > on
    > line. Mandiberg, in 2001, scans Evans' originals, and puts them on line,
    > then scans Levine's pictures of those pictures and puts them on line,
    > elsewhere. Curt says the work is poor because it couldn't exist without an
    > artists statement- and that, therefore, the artists statement is the
    > piece.
    > The artists statement is always an explanation of history and context. But
    > Mandiberg's artist's statement is a history and a context, of art, and how
    > we re-evaluate art as technology changes our interactions with the world.
    > "After Sherri Levine" makes a point that strikes a nerve; but also
    > crackles
    > the synapses as it makes new connections between ideas.
    >
    > It is not exactly a moving piece of emotional art, a call to arms, a
    > protest
    > piece, or anything of the sort. But it does say something interesting in
    > an
    > interesting way- and saying something interesting is about all any of us
    > with access to the right technology will need to know how to do.
    >
    > c:
    > i think "After Sherri Levine" is a cheap one-liner. Ba-dum-bum. I think
    > art can do better.
    >
    >
    > Mere technology didn't usher in the promises of a brave new modern world
    > in Le Corbusier's time, and I'm not holding my breath for it to happen in
    > ours (although Wired keeps assuring me it's just around the bend).
    > Luckily, I don't have to wait on technology. Heck, I don't even have to
    > wait on an intern. As a proto-conceptual instructionist, i need only post
    > my concepts. Whether a bot or a human is able to implement them is no
    > longer my concern. Up with the mouth! Long live the mind! Down with the
    > hand! Death to the eye!
    >
    > the love below,
    > HAL 3000
    > +
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/subscribe.rhiz
    > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    >
  • curt cloninger | Mon Aug 8th 2005 11:29 p.m.
    >The importance of the podcast, blogging, etc, to me, is not the
    >quality of its product- I think that is an inevitability as people
    >get used to the tools. But what is more exciting to me is the
    >ability of any individual to access the technology to create and
    >distribute thier product and to allow others to take it, manipulate
    >it, and distribute the manipulations.Which makes me think of the
    >conceptual art exchange that you've been talking about: by giving
    >people the instructions to make a piece of art, you also give them
    >the ability to customize it, interact with it much more directly,
    >something that appeals to our "Pimp My Ride" culture for sure. It is
    >also a different medium because it is designed to be experiential
    >and generated rather than intellectualized and recieved.

    right on. Eddo Stern says the net as a whole is more interesting
    than any individual work of net art, and he may be right. But
    networked collaborations and remix culture aren't necessarily the
    exclusive province of conceptual art.

    >The thing about it is, conceptual artists have already been doing
    >it. My relationship with Fluxus exists solely because of the Fluxus
    >Performance Work Book. I've never seen a Fluxus piece performed, but
    >it still interested me just to read about them through the "scores"
    >that exist. Also, it has a much earlier analog in music theory. You
    >would go out and buy the instructions for performing a piece of
    >music rather than a recording.

    In some Baroque-era music there was even allowance for interpretive
    improvisation within the score.
  • Plasma Studii | Mon Aug 8th 2005 11:35 p.m.
    some say conceptual art is pretentious bullshit, some love it. but reading both sides of this
    5,376th episode of "The Conceptual Art Question", these issues remain untouched for me:
    why (or why not) is skill necessary? why (or why not) call skill "art" (didn't it used to be -
    what REALLY, tangibly changed)? why validate work that shows no skill? why does anything
    NEED to be considered art?

    On Aug 8, 2005, at 6:16 PM, Eryk Salvaggio wrote:

    >Joe and Curt,
    >
    >Might I take a stance in defense of conceptual art?
    >
    >One of the ways art is most interesting to me is when it exposes a new possibility, reframes
    an old problem, or explores limitations of current ways of thinking.
    >
    >This is why new media is fascinating to me- even if it is, for example, the concept of
    blogging, podcasting, etc that excite me for the sake of its possibilities, these do lead to a
    tangible reframing of ideas about access, distribution, and waking up creative potentials in
    people that might otherwise rest unstirred. Whether I ever hear a podcast that blows me away
    is almost irrelevant to the benefits of the technology simply existing.
    >
    >How we think about the world, and the words and concepts that we use to describe a world
    to ourselves, are what define us

    but is defining at all necessary? does it serve any function that causes or prevents physical
    dammage? can we still eat and breath without it? of course!

    furthermore, why defend words with paragraphs? it's a circular proof. if you get something
    out of the ideas, so be it. who cares where they come from or if we label it "art"?

    >, probably more than the world itself manages to define us. Conceptual art is a means of
    breaking out of boxes and exploring different ways of doing things (and a lot of it is
    deliberately engaged in violating the rules of language itself as a means of exploring the
    limitation of language itself. An idea is not always, as you say, "a collection of words"). Like
    any other art, some of it will resonate and some will not. But I have never really been
    comfortable with the segregation of "forms" of creative thought. If a piece of software comes
    along that radically changes my way of thinking about the world, it is about the same to me
    as if a new piece of art comes along that radically changes my way of thinking about the
    world. If that piece of art is, say, something Jenny Holzer writes with LED lights, I don't
    believe it is separate from if she said it to me in person.
    >
    >Artistry is fast losing its definition as a skill set; technology is going to make sure of it. As
    that opens up the creative process, ideas are going to grow far more important than the
    technical execution of an idea. It's not about the quality of the art, it's about the quality of
    the articulation. Consider, for example, what spellcheck has done for an entire generation of
    grammatically challenged poets. It isn't very difficult to imagine a computer program that will
    automatically replace your word with a word that helps your stanza fit into the template of a
    sestina, for example, and at the click of a button make suggestions for changing it to a
    ballad. (A more practical example is the notion of audio tracking software that allows for an
    entire genre of popular music to be made by individuals without any idea of how to play an
    "actual" instrument). As technology accelerates the number of radio producers, musicians,
    film makers, magazine publishers, and artists, the tangible output is going to be secondary
    to the concept driving it. In other words, if anyone can make anything with the tap of their
    finger, then the idea of what they make, and the fact that they have articulated it, will be far
    more important than the process of how it was made.
    >
    >I've read Curt using, specifically, the example of Michael Mandiberg's "After Sherri Levine":
    Walker Evans takes photographs of share croppers in 1936, Sherri Levine, in 79, takes
    pictures of the pictures and puts them on line. Mandiberg, in 2001, scans Evans' originals,
    and puts them on line, then scans Levine's pictures of those pictures and puts them on line,
    elsewhere. Curt says the work is poor because it couldn't exist without an artists statement-
    and that, therefore, the artists statement is the piece. The artists statement is always an
    explanation of history and context. But Mandiberg's artist's statement is a history and a
    context, of art, and how we re-evaluate art as technology changes our interactions with the
    world. "After Sherri Levine" makes a point that strikes a nerve; but also crackles the synapses
    as it makes new connections between ideas.
    >
    >It is not exactly a moving piece of emotional art, a call to arms, a protest piece, or anything
    of the sort. But it does say something interesting in an interesting way- and saying
    something interesting is about all any of us with access to the right technology will need to
    know how to do.
    >
    >Two Cents,
    >-e.
    >
  • Plasma Studii | Tue Aug 9th 2005 1:08 a.m.
    skill is just the work, the effort. art without skill is like excersize with no energy expended.
    what's the point? why would anyone want to say "sitting on the couch is exersize" or insist
    "conceptualism is art"? why argue it is or isn't? theoretically exersize is possible if the goal
    of burning calories is dropped. same for art. but it's a phenominally useless endeavor to
    persue.

    to say conceptualism is somehow more valid or interesting because no one is excluded,
    everyone can make it regardless of skill is plain silly. everyone can acquire skill. some have
    a harder time then others allong the way, but that's the nature of human effort. sometimes it
    takes some imagination or innovation. but lacking the effort, skipping the hard part, doesn't
    improve anything. (in fact, it can certainly be said, deeper insights come from experience,
    getting ones hands dirty. we think with a lot more than our brains.)

    skipping the work, the gradual acquiring of skill, the investment of time/energy (beyond just
    sitting on the couch dreaming about it) is trying to get sometghing for nothing. though the
    literal path may take some work to forge, the option to work or not is free for everyone. DIY
    doesn't have to imply a "get rich quick" scheme.

    conceptual art is at the very best like yelling at the game from a lazy boy after finishing a six
    pack. but i'm not about to argue restricting couch-potato-like behavior.
  • Geert Dekkers | Tue Aug 9th 2005 3:52 a.m.
    Another contribution (at least I hope so)

    Geert
    http://nznl.com

    On 9-aug-2005, at 0:16, Eryk Salvaggio wrote:

    > Joe and Curt,
    >
    > Might I take a stance in defense of conceptual art?
    >
    > One of the ways art is most interesting to me is when it exposes a
    > new possibility, reframes an old problem, or explores limitations
    > of current ways of thinking. This is why new media is fascinating
    > to me- even if it is, for example, the concept of blogging,
    > podcasting, etc that excite me for the sake of its possibilities,
    > these do lead to a tangible reframing of ideas about access,
    > distribution, and waking up creative potentials in people that
    > might otherwise rest unstirred. Whether I ever hear a podcast that
    > blows me away is almost irrelevant to the benefits of the
    > technology simply existing.
    >
    > How we think about the world, and the words and concepts that we
    > use to describe a world to ourselves, are what define us, probably
    > more than the world itself manages to define us. Conceptual art is
    > a means of breaking out of boxes and exploring different ways of
    > doing things (and a lot of it is deliberately engaged in violating
    > the rules of language itself as a means of exploring the limitation
    > of language itself. An idea is not always, as you say, "a
    > collection of words"). Like any other art, some of it will resonate
    > and some will not. But I have never really been comfortable with
    > the segregation of "forms" of creative thought. If a piece of
    > software comes along that radically changes my way of thinking
    > about the world, it is about the same to me as if a new piece of
    > art comes along that radically changes my way of thinking about the
    > world. If that piece of art is, say, something Jenny Holzer writes
    > with LED lights, I don't believe it is separate from if she said it
    > to me in person.

    Art, conceptual or otherwise, is about retagging, redefining, adding
    properties. Jenny Holzers LED works are as much a redefinition of a
    message object. You see the language first, then the object. I see
    the object first, then the language.

    But wait! There is more. Jenny Holzer's object is language too. She
    sets this familiar concept in front of our eyes, we say: "OK, this
    is a LED sign, not a problem. Let's see, what does it say. Oops. Not
    supposed to say that! Hmmm." And there we go again, we tell our
    neighbours -- "saw the strangest thing at the airport/art gallery/
    public space yesterday...." -- there we have it: "discours".

    There is ihmo a HUGE difference between a Holzer LED work and Jenny
    mentioning the sentence on her LED work to you in between beers at a
    party. Her work is a performance, mediated by a medium, made
    abstract, public. Resonates through a community if it is successful.
    Is successful because it resonates through. She gets up, distances
    herself, gets up on stage for everyone to see, she has an audience,
    is conscious of her audience, wishes to speak, speaks to her audience.

    There is only one kind of art. Good art.

    >
    > Artistry is fast losing its definition as a skill set; technology
    > is going to make sure of it. As that opens up the creative process,
    > ideas are going to grow far more important than the technical
    > execution of an idea. It's not about the quality of the art, it's
    > about the quality of the articulation. Consider, for example, what
    > spellcheck has done for an entire generation of grammatically
    > challenged poets. It isn't very difficult to imagine a computer
    > program that will automatically replace your word with a word that
    > helps your stanza fit into the template of a sestina, for example,
    > and at the click of a button make suggestions for changing it to a
    > ballad. (A more practical example is the notion of audio tracking
    > software that allows for an entire genre of popular music to be
    > made by individuals without any idea of how to play an "actual"
    > instrument). As technology accelerates the number of radio
    > producers, musicians, film makers, magazine publishers, and
    > artists, the tangible output is going to be secondary to the
    > concept driving it. In other words, if anyone can make anything
    > with the tap of their finger, then the idea of what they make, and
    > the fact that they have articulated it, will be far more important
    > than the process of how it was made.
    >
    > I've read Curt using, specifically, the example of Michael
    > Mandiberg's "After Sherri Levine": Walker Evans takes photographs
    > of share croppers in 1936, Sherri Levine, in 79, takes pictures of
    > the pictures and puts them on line. Mandiberg, in 2001, scans
    > Evans' originals, and puts them on line, then scans Levine's
    > pictures of those pictures and puts them on line, elsewhere. Curt
    > says the work is poor because it couldn't exist without an artists
    > statement- and that, therefore, the artists statement is the piece.
    > The artists statement is always an explanation of history and
    > context. But Mandiberg's artist's statement is a history and a
    > context, of art, and how we re-evaluate art as technology changes
    > our interactions with the world. "After Sherri Levine" makes a
    > point that strikes a nerve; but also crackles the synapses as it
    > makes new connections between ideas.
    >
    > It is not exactly a moving piece of emotional art, a call to arms,
    > a protest piece, or anything of the sort. But it does say something
    > interesting in an interesting way- and saying something interesting
    > is about all any of us with access to the right technology will
    > need to know how to do.
    >
    > Two Cents,
    > -e.
    >
    >
    > ----- Original Message ----- From: <joenolan7@comcast.net>
    > To: <list@rhizome.org>
    > Sent: Monday, August 08, 2005 3:43 PM
    > Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: Regarding The "Anti-Nike"
    >
    >
    >
    >> A friend of mine just sent me a link to Charlotte's front page
    >> rant/spoof regarding flooding the meme-way with concepts alone
    >> instead of "realized" conceptual art. Although this is obviously
    >> a fun/tongue in cheek call to arms, in many ways I think this is a
    >> fundamental critique of "conceptual art" and a pointed observation
    >> of it's fundamental flaws.
    >>
    >> I invite you to continue reading a section of a recent blog from
    >> my website (www.joenolan.com) in which I address the same subject
    >> more directly.
    >>
    >> Thanks and enjoy!
    >>
    >> Joe Nolan
    >>
    >>
    >> I have been finishing up a series of drawings that I hope to
    >> include in a book of poetry that will be available some time this
    >> summer (hopefully). They are "self portraits" and also religious
    >> iconography. Those of you who are familiar with my other my work
    >> know that I feel that "All Art is Martial Art". Which is to say,
    >> the elements that create the successful martial moment are the
    >> same ones that create successful art.
    >>
    >> These elements are: 1) confrontation, 2) impact and 3) movement.
    >>
    >> Anyone who is familiar with the visual work I have done in the
    >> past knows that it is my contention that "art" is best employed to
    >> express that which is beyond the bounds of language. In this sense
    >> I reject all "conceptual art" out of hand as an intellectual
    >> conceit and an ignorant miscalculation.
    >>
    >> A concept is an idea. An idea is a collection of words. A
    >> collection of words is most simply (i.e. most elegantly and
    >> therefore most beautifully and therefore most artistically
    >> successful)conveyed by...wait for it...more words!
    >>
    >> Please just write me the essay you are going to have to post in
    >> the gallery anyway to explain your faulty efforts.
    >>
    >> Because of my understanding of "art" as the language that is
    >> beyond language, in my opinion it is most effectively applied to
    >> those concerns that elude our clumsy mouthings: emotions, impulses
    >> etc. Being somewhat over-the-top as an artist and a person I,
    >> naturally, tend to push this to it's logical conclusion and
    >> concern myself with the ultimate "unspeakable": God and man's
    >> impulse toward the transcendent.
    >>
    >> +
    >> -> post: list@rhizome.org
    >> -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    >> -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/
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    >> -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
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    >> 29.php
    >>
    >
    > +
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    > 29.php
    >
  • Jim Andrews | Tue Aug 9th 2005 4:14 a.m.
    if anyone can make [a thing] with the tap of their finger", then it's value
    as an artistic form decreases. it becomes a cliche. it becomes like a letter
    in the alphabet. neither the concept nor the technique can easily be
    distinguished amid a sea of similar objects. there will be a few that stand
    out, but not so much by virtue of the concept or technique as by other
    things such as whether the author has a television show etc.

    also, the net itself is not more interesting than any work of net art. the
    net itself is more significant in collective human affairs than any work of
    net art, but saying the net itself is more interesting than any work of net
    art is a bit like saying that the language itself is more interesting than
    any poem written in it. as language, perhaps. as art, no.

    ja
    http://vispo.com
  • Geert Dekkers | Tue Aug 9th 2005 4:48 a.m.
    On 9-aug-2005, at 12:13, Jim Andrews wrote:

    >
    > "if anyone can make [a thing] with the tap of their finger", then
    > it's value
    > as an artistic form decreases. it becomes a cliche. it becomes like
    > a letter
    > in the alphabet. neither the concept nor the technique can easily be
    > distinguished amid a sea of similar objects. there will be a few
    > that stand
    > out, but not so much by virtue of the concept or technique as by other
    > things such as whether the author has a television show etc.

    But why be so concerned about the amount of time something takes to
    make, or the amount of effort? To me, that just doesn't seem to be
    the point. A value is measured -- if I may say so bluntly -- in the
    resonance a thing makes in a community. How much it is talked about.
    Not how much it is talked about NOW, because we'd be at the mercy of
    the man with the most air-time, I absolutely agree with you there.
    Not how much it is talked about among consumers -- if this group
    could ever be defined -- I mean the group of consumers consisting of
    those who stay consumers, never become producers. The resonance is
    what influences new production. Sometime, somewhere. Now how would we
    ever measure THAT?

    Geert
    http://nznl.com

    >
    > also, the net itself is not more interesting than any work of net
    > art. the
    > net itself is more significant in collective human affairs than any
    > work of
    > net art, but saying the net itself is more interesting than any
    > work of net
    > art is a bit like saying that the language itself is more
    > interesting than
    > any poem written in it. as language, perhaps. as art, no.
    >
    > ja
    > http://vispo.com
    >
    >
    > +
    > -> post: list@rhizome.org
    > -> questions: info@rhizome.org
    > -> subscribe/unsubscribe: http://rhizome.org/preferences/
    > subscribe.rhiz
    > -> give: http://rhizome.org/support
    > +
    > Subscribers to Rhizome are subject to the terms set out in the
    > Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/
    > 29.php
    >
  • Rob Myers | Tue Aug 9th 2005 6:42 a.m.
    On 9 Aug 2005, at 11:48, Geert Dekkers wrote:
    > On 9-aug-2005, at 12:13, Jim Andrews wrote:
    >> "if anyone can make [a thing] with the tap of their finger", then
    >> it's value
    >> as an artistic form decreases. it becomes a cliche. it becomes
    >> like a letter
    >> in the alphabet. neither the concept nor the technique can easily be
    >> distinguished amid a sea of similar objects. there will be a few
    >> that stand
    >> out, but not so much by virtue of the concept or technique as by
    >> other
    >> things such as whether the author has a television show etc.
    >
    > But why be so concerned about the amount of time something takes to
    > make, or the amount of effort?

    Indeed. If there were an infinite number of art objects, or if
    everything was art, some objects would still be better than others.
    What would make them better?

    Competence is a better guide than effort. This was the point of
    Whistler's lawsuit against Ruskin.

    And sincerity or going for the aura doesn't help. Being all serious
    and portentious doesn't make bad work good, it just makes is mawkish
    and embarrassing. See Jake & Dinos Chapman. Or Adrian Mole.

    > To me, that just doesn't seem to be the point. A value is measured
    > -- if I may say so bluntly -- in the resonance a thing makes in a
    > community. How much it is talked about. Not how much it is talked
    > about NOW, because we'd be at the mercy of the man with the most
    > air-time, I absolutely agree with you there. Not how much it is
    > talked about among consumers -- if this group could ever be
    > defined -- I mean the group of consumers consisting of those who
    > stay consumers, never become producers. The resonance is what
    > influences new production. Sometime, somewhere. Now how would we
    > ever measure THAT?

    But what causes that resonance, and what gives it that influence?
    Please not the Institutional Theory. Are we back at quality?

    Art is perceptual, it is contemplative. Concepts may be contemplated.
    Concepts may be objects of aesthetic regard. Therefore conceptual art
    is possible.

    The conceptual art of 1968-72 or so was one of the answers to a more
    general crisis of representation. But the neo-conceptual and
    relational art we have to put up with now is not conceptual in any
    useful sense, and is not an answer to any interesting questions.

    It is simply the wallpaper of managerial culture.

    - Rob.
  • M. River | Tue Aug 9th 2005 6:45 a.m.
    > How we think about the world, and the words and concepts that we use to describe a world to ourselves, are what define us, probably more than
    the world itself manages to define us. Conceptual art is a means of
    breaking out of boxes and exploring different ways of doing things (and a lot of it is deliberately engaged in violating the rules of language itself as a means of exploring the limitation of language itself. An idea is not always, as you say, "a collection of words").

    Thx ES.

    http://www.tinjail.com/tintype/?p0

    ;)
  • Geert Dekkers | Tue Aug 9th 2005 9:04 a.m.
    On 9-aug-2005, at 14:41, Rob Myers wrote:

    > On 9 Aug 2005, at 11:48, Geert Dekkers wrote:
    >
    >> On 9-aug-2005, at 12:13, Jim Andrews wrote:
    >>
    >>> "if anyone can make [a thing] with the tap of their finger", then
    >>> it's value
    >>> as an artistic form decreases. it becomes a cliche. it becomes
    >>> like a letter
    >>> in the alphabet. neither the concept nor the technique can easily be
    >>> distinguished amid a sea of similar objects. there will be a few
    >>> that stand
    >>> out, but not so much by virtue of the concept or technique as by
    >>> other
    >>> things such as whether the author has a television show etc.
    >>>
    >>
    >> But why be so concerned about the amount of time something takes
    >> to make, or the amount of effort?
    >>
    >
    > Indeed. If there were an infinite number of art objects, or if
    > everything was art, some objects would still be better than others.
    > What would make them better?
    >
    > Competence is a better guide than effort. This was the point of
    > Whistler's lawsuit against Ruskin.
    >
    > And sincerity or going for the aura doesn't help. Being all serious
    > and portentious doesn't make bad work good, it just makes is
    > mawkish and embarrassing. See Jake & Dinos Chapman. Or Adrian Mole.
    >
    >
    >> To me, that just doesn't seem to be the point. A value is measured
    >> -- if I may say so bluntly -- in the resonance a thing makes in a
    >> community. How much it is talked about. Not how much it is talked
    >> about NOW, because we'd be at the mercy of the man with the most
    >> air-time, I absolutely agree with you there. Not how much it is
    >> talked about among consumers -- if this group could ever be
    >> defined -- I mean the group of consumers consisting of those who
    >> stay consumers, never become producers. The resonance is what
    >> influences new production. Sometime, somewhere. Now how would we
    >> ever measure THAT?
    >>
    >
    > But what causes that resonance, and what gives it that influence?
    > Please not the Institutional Theory. Are we back at quality?

    I suppose you've gathered that I don't feel I can answer that
    question. And -- are we back at quality? -- if you mean in the way
    the word was misused in the 80s -- as a synonym for economic value --
    then I most certainly hope not. But if quality were to mean a serious
    try to reposition content/medium/reality/representation then I think
    we already agree that that would be a good thing.

    >
    > Art is perceptual, it is contemplative. Concepts may be
    > contemplated. Concepts may be objects of aesthetic regard.
    > Therefore conceptual art is possible.
    >
    > The conceptual art of 1968-72 or so was one of the answers to a
    > more general crisis of representation.

    Actually, I'd rephrase that. I'd say "one of the ways QUESTIONS WERE
    ASKED in a general crisis of representation."

    > But the neo-conceptual and relational art we have to put up with
    > now is not conceptual in any useful sense, and is not an answer to
    > any interesting questions.

    See? "We" (who's that) should be asking more interesting/vital
    questions. Instead, "we" are just saving our skin. (And, for the
    record, yes, that absolutely includes me. Every day.)

    >
    > It is simply the wallpaper of managerial culture.
    >
    > - Rob.
    > +
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  • curt cloninger | Tue Aug 9th 2005 10:35 a.m.
    Geert Dekkers wrote:

    > if quality were to mean a serious
    > try to reposition content/medium/reality/representation then I think
    > we already agree that that would be a good thing.

    But still not good enough. Like Rob is saying, the seriousness of the try matters less than how well it comes off.

    > See? "We" (who's that) should be asking more interesting/vital
    > questions. Instead, "we" are just saving our skin. (And, for the
    > record, yes, that absolutely includes me. Every day.)

    You're just being modest. If the "_ This Concept" Project is proto-conceptual instructionalism in the medium of prose, you've been doing the same (with even more wryness) in the medium of illustration and animation since 2009 -- http://nznl.com/geert/repository.php

    There is a Bucky Fuller exhibit here in Asheville right now at the Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center ( http://www.blackmountaincollege.org ). His original patented blueprints for stuff (cars, houses, machines) are hung above photographs of the actual built stuff. The blueprints themselves are exhilarating, much more so than his prose elsewhere describing the concepts behind his constructions.
  • Jim Andrews | Tue Aug 9th 2005 11:29 a.m.
    > But why be so concerned about the amount of time something takes to
    > make, or the amount of effort?

    I'm not. If a thing is made more or less as easily as pressing a button,
    then there are a gazillion just like it made by a gazillion other people.

    ja
    http://vispo.com
  • kristina maskarin | Thu Aug 25th 2005 10:36 a.m.
    Jim Andrews wrote:

    >
    > > But why be so concerned about the amount of time something takes to
    > > make, or the amount of effort?
    >
    > I'm not. If a thing is made more or less as easily as pressing a
    > button,
    > then there are a gazillion just like it made by a gazillion other
    > people.
    >
    > ja
    > http://vispo.com
    >
    >

    More often than not, the technology in itself becomes the message. The previous faith in the artist genius has been passed on to blind faith in media/ technology itself.
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