R2D2: Conceptual Art

Posted by Miklos Legrady | Tue Aug 9th 2005 9:44 a.m.

Eryk Salvaggio; "The importance... 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."

Curt Cloninger; " Eddo Stern says the net as a whole is more
interesting than any individual work of net art, and he may be
right.".

Hi guys,

Where quality is lacking the work does not make a significant
contribution. Quality is a differentiation of values.

"the net as a whole is more interesting..." This statement does not
and cannot make sense.

Miklos

--

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310 Bathurst st.
Toronto ON M5T 2S3
416-203-1846
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http://www.mikidot.com
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  • Eryk Salvaggio | Tue Aug 9th 2005 10:24 a.m.
    The importance of (relatively) open-access technology is more that it allows
    me to create and distribute my work. The quality of the work is obviously
    still important. But ultimately, "craft"- the ability to get your hands to
    manipulate something in order to bring out an idea in your head- is probably
    going to be less important than the artists' choice of stories, structure,
    aesthetics- the understanding of what they are making is more important to
    me than their understanding of how to, say, edit tape or play an instrument,
    or get the cd into my hands or ears. If you have a keyboard plugged into the
    www, you have an editing suite, a publishing house, every musical instrument
    and a record label right there.

    It used to be that you mastered your tools and then did something
    interesting with them. Now, the very best software says we can just skip
    ahead to doing something interesting.

    This conversation reminds me of MRiver and TWhid's update of Sam Hsieh's
    "Cage" performance, their "One Year Performance Video" piece for turbulence:

    http://turbulence.org/Works/1year/info.php?page=bg

    It's interesting because we're sort of talking about the way technology has
    shifted the way ideas can be presented with less work, and here's a piece
    about stripping a conceptual art performance to a minimum and "replacing
    human processes with computer processes" in order to see how it changes the
    experience of the piece. It shifts the endurance test from the artist to the
    user, the same way that this distribution stuff puts the challenge on our
    digital "audience" to start producing work, rather than observe it. Sam
    Hsieh's piece was about his own endurance as an artist. By shifting this,
    and treating observation as something the audience endures, it says "you are
    the artist now". As I watch it, it seems to me that as it is counting up
    towards collectorship, it is also timing just how long it takes you to stop
    watching and start taking on the role of producer that it is handing you.

    "You have been watching X seconds and still aren't making anything."

    -e.

    ----- Original Message -----
    From: <miklos@sympatico.ca>
    To: <list@rhizome.org>
    Sent: Tuesday, August 09, 2005 11:44 AM
    Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: R2D2: Conceptual Art

    > Eryk Salvaggio; "The importance... 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."
    >
    > Curt Cloninger; " Eddo Stern says the net as a whole is more interesting
    > than any individual work of net art, and he may be right.".
    >
    >
    > Hi guys,
    >
    > Where quality is lacking the work does not make a significant
    > contribution. Quality is a differentiation of values.
    >
    > "the net as a whole is more interesting..." This statement does not and
    > cannot make sense.
    >
    > Miklos
    >
    > --
    >
    > +
    > +
    > +Miklos Legrady
    > +
    > 310 Bathurst st.
    > Toronto ON M5T 2S3
    > 416-203-1846
    > 647-292-1846
    > +
    > -website;
    > http://www.mikidot.com
    > +
    > +
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    >
  • curt cloninger | Tue Aug 9th 2005 11:51 a.m.
    Miklos Legrady wrote:

    > "the net as a whole is more interesting [than any individual work of net art.]" This
    > statement does not and cannot make sense.

    Hi Miklos,
    You may be right, but I'd be interested to hear you elaborate. What is it about that statement that cannot make sense?
  • curt cloninger | Tue Aug 9th 2005 12:52 p.m.
    Hi Eryk,

    I hear what you're saying, but it goes back to the fact that a recording studio is still an instrument. This article seems applicable:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20040221182544/http://www.artkrush.com/mainframe/fromscratch.html

    It's all a matter of how close to "scratch" you enjoy working. But moving farther away from scratch doesn't imply a lack of need for craft. It simply means you should be applying craft to a different part of the process.

    You define "craft" as "the ability to get your hands to manipulate something in order to bring out an idea in your head." That is only a rudimentary function of craft. It satisfactorily describes a technicians (or a conceptual artists) use of craft. But craft as performed by a master craftsman is much more intrinsically related to the idea; it does more than merely objectify the already existing idea. At its best, craft plays a decisive role in forming the idea. Even in prose, as I write, I think. My writing is part of my thinking. Once I'm finished writing, I know more than before I began to write. Having to wrestle with the formation of the sentences clarifies and refines my ideas. The limitations of media (plastic, digital, semiotic, networked, performative, or otherwise) are not hindrances to be eradicated, but rather collaborators and guides to be wrestled with and ultimately embraced. Bypassing such dialogue with media limitations foregoes the very thing that is uniquely cool about art. If you're not into wrestling with media at some level (however close to or far removed from "scratch" interests you), best stick to chartered accountancy, contract law, or blogging.

    All the messy accidents that happen along the way whilst wrestling with the medium are half the fun of making art (the feedback, the distortion, the manifested ghost in the machine). I want to get into it and hands-on tweak as much as I'm able. And I want such tweaking to be in direct and continual dialogue with the ideas in my head. A back and forth, a dance, a process. Designer Stefan Sagmeister did an ad where he made a trophy out of half-filled coffee cups. He illustrated a mock up of the ad concept in Photoshop to show his clients and they said, "this mockup is great. we'll use it as the piece. youre done." And he said, "no, now I have to go fill up the coffee cups and photograph the actual piece." As if the process of having actually "done it" would somehow come through and inform the final work in an integral way. (cf: http://hillmancurtis.com/hc_web/film_video/source/sag.php ). And Sagmeister doesn't consider himself an artist. In our upside down era, many graphic designers get this aspect of artmaking better than many professional artists.

    It's not that one *can't* bypass wrestling with the media. Of course it's possible, and increasingly so. There are no rules. You can do whatever you want. You can take the next logical step, sit around your room and think up concepts, never even post the concepts or instructions, and call your new out-o-the-box art process "proto-instructional brain-wavism." You can call art whatever you want. You can even call it interesting, good, and useful if you want.

    But as Exene Cervenka says, "I got something better than this."

    it's better to burn out than it is to rust,
    curt

    -

    Eryk Salvaggio wrote:

    The importance of (relatively) open-access technology is more that it allows
    me to create and distribute my work. The quality of the work is obviously
    still important. But ultimately, "craft"- the ability to get your hands to
    manipulate something in order to bring out an idea in your head- is probably
    going to be less important than the artists' choice of stories, structure,
    aesthetics- the understanding of what they are making is more important to
    me than their understanding of how to, say, edit tape or play an instrument,
    or get the cd into my hands or ears. If you have a keyboard plugged into the
    www, you have an editing suite, a publishing house, every musical instrument
    and a record label right there.

    It used to be that you mastered your tools and then did something
    interesting with them. Now, the very best software says we can just skip
    ahead to doing something interesting.
  • Miklos Legrady | Tue Aug 9th 2005 2:09 p.m.
    >Miklos Legrady wrote:
    >
    >> "the net as a whole is more interesting [than any individual work
    >>of net art.]" This
    >> statement does not and cannot make sense.
    >
    >Hi Miklos,
    >You may be right, but I'd be interested to hear you elaborate. What
    >is it about that statement that cannot make sense?

    The sum may be greater than the parts, but this one's obvious; if
    the individual work, the content, isn't interesting, the means of
    publication cannot be that interesting... except as potential for
    future interesting works, which is pure spec.

    --

    +
    +
    +Miklos Legrady
    +
    310 Bathurst st.
    Toronto ON M5T 2S3
    416-203-1846
    647-292-1846
    +
    http://www.mikidot.com
    +
  • curt cloninger | Tue Aug 9th 2005 3:31 p.m.
    Miklos Legrady wrote:

    > The sum may be greater than the parts, but this one's obvious; if
    > the individual work, the content, isn't interesting, the means of
    > publication cannot be that interesting... except as potential for
    > future interesting works, which is pure spec.

    Got it. I think he means that something like http://www.metaspy.com , which simply foregrounds collective, art-agnostic use of the network, is more interesting than any single piece of self-aware net art. But then you could argue that metaspy is an artwork.
  • Eric Dymond | Tue Aug 9th 2005 8:50 p.m.
    curt cloninger wrote:

    > Miklos Legrady wrote:
    >
    > > The sum may be greater than the parts, but this one's obvious; if
    > > the individual work, the content, isn't interesting, the means of
    > > publication cannot be that interesting... except as potential for
    > > future interesting works, which is pure spec.
    >
    > Got it. I think he means that something like http://www.metaspy.com ,
    > which simply foregrounds collective, art-agnostic use of the network,
    > is more interesting than any single piece of self-aware net art. But
    > then you could argue that metaspy is an artwork.
    no, it isn't. and it isn't because it refutes the creator in a way that the opacity of the work gives way to transparency completely.
    it's a fine line, but an important one.
    metaspy is an opaque work, unknowing and only a collective experience (which is fine, but it is a social activitity that is web centric in nature, but not necessarily an artisitic experience).
    which brings me back to the article by Kuspitt. It is as if the history of art has been imposed upon a network of thinking/conjecture that yields only art historical narratives. He is very, very wrong here assumimg that we care about his narrative. We don't. I don't care about Duchamp( and Robert Smithson would agree, were he alive) that Duchamp was interested in alchemy, not machines and the filters they apply.
    We did not end up here because the weight of art history was upon us,
    we found ourselves here, accidents happen.
    see brad brace
    Eric
  • Eric Dymond | Tue Aug 9th 2005 9:04 p.m.
    I should add that Kuspitt needs us (the digital world) more than we need Kuspitt.
    Our history is our own, I think it's best to ignore his inclusion.
    That's his timeline, not mine.
    Eric
  • ryan griffis | Fri Aug 12th 2005 10:20 a.m.
    On Aug 9, 2005, at 9:50 PM, Eric Dymond wrote:

    > which brings me back to the article by Kuspitt. It is as if the
    > history of art has been imposed upon a network of thinking/conjecture
    > that yields only art historical narratives. He is very, very wrong
    > here assumimg that we care about his narrative. We don't. I don't care
    > about Duchamp( and Robert Smithson would agree, were he alive) that
    > Duchamp was interested in alchemy, not machines and the filters they
    > apply.
    > We did not end up here because the weight of art history was upon us,
    > we found ourselves here, accidents happen.

    not in disagreement really... but it's interesting that you distance
    yourself from Art History via Duchamp, yet look for (speculative)
    support from Smithson - hardly a personality outside of Art History
    (esp at the moment).
    i also think it's a bit counter productive to argue against Kuspit's
    interest here... his career has been as a critic of contemporary art
    with an emphasis on psychoanalysis and object relations, so i don't see
    the point in attacking his decision to consider developing ideas and
    practices through his own lens. if you're not participating in the Art
    World proper (as many of us aren't), you can probably safely ignore him
    as he will you. or you can also read him as a critic and historian of a
    more mainstream practice. if you want to argue _with_ him, then you
    enter into that dialogue knowingly and willingly. in that vein,
    challenges to his, or anyone's, timeline is welcome to me.
    personally, i found his take on the work of "institutional critique"
    and authoritative consciousness in the 80s pretty interesting.
  • Eric Dymond | Tue Aug 16th 2005 12:05 a.m.
    ryan griffis wrote:
    but Ryan, don't you think that Kuspitt( who's earlier writings I read carefully and enjoyed) was trying to align himself, and his endorsements, with the "NEW", but his failed critical position was attempting to take advantage of the very nomadic culture that we have created? Why do I need his valdation?
    What is Nomadic in Kuspitt? Seriousely. I see nothing.
    Kuspitt didn't acknowledge digital media until the post 911 world. Guttari was correct,very prescient in this area, anticipating what passes for a newly found nation including the need to escape older connnivances.It's a long road, and full of difficulties,but I don't see how old art historians will help the development of our needs (where does Kuspitt fit in? could he survive here on Rhizome.., I doubt it).From reading the article I have the opinion that he just discovered digital art, what a surprise!Who knew..?
    (see Soft Subversions and the Three Ecologies, and any other Deleuze/Guttari texts etc.. for our needs)
    Perhaps it has come as a shock to the New York Intellegentstia that we have gone back overseas and to the West Coast (Howard Rheingold and the EEF) for our inspiration. Shame..., shame on us all. Reminds me of an old minimalist article on east coast/west coast..., but who cares what coast you are now nearest too?
    Eric
    > On Aug 9, 2005, at 9:50 PM, Eric Dymond wrote:
    >
    > > which brings me back to the article by Kuspitt. It is as if the
    > > history of art has been imposed upon a network of
    > thinking/conjecture
    > > that yields only art historical narratives. He is very, very wrong
    > > here assumimg that we care about his narrative. We don't. I don't
    > care
    > > about Duchamp( and Robert Smithson would agree, were he alive) that
    > > Duchamp was interested in alchemy, not machines and the filters
    > they
    > > apply.
    > > We did not end up here because the weight of art history was upon
    > us,
    > > we found ourselves here, accidents happen.
    >
    > not in disagreement really... but it's interesting that you distance
    > yourself from Art History via Duchamp, yet look for (speculative)
    > support from Smithson - hardly a personality outside of Art History
    > (esp at the moment).
    > i also think it's a bit counter productive to argue against Kuspit's
    > interest here... his career has been as a critic of contemporary art
    > with an emphasis on psychoanalysis and object relations, so i don't
    > see
    > the point in attacking his decision to consider developing ideas and
    > practices through his own lens. if you're not participating in the
    > Art
    > World proper (as many of us aren't), you can probably safely ignore
    > him
    > as he will you. or you can also read him as a critic and historian of
    > a
    > more mainstream practice. if you want to argue _with_ him, then you
    > enter into that dialogue knowingly and willingly. in that vein,
    > challenges to his, or anyone's, timeline is welcome to me.
    > personally, i found his take on the work of "institutional critique"
    > and authoritative consciousness in the 80s pretty interesting.
    >
  • ryan griffis | Tue Aug 16th 2005 10:08 p.m.
    On Aug 16, 2005, at 1:05 AM, Eric Dymond wrote:

    > ryan griffis wrote:
    > but Ryan, don't you think that Kuspitt( who's earlier writings I read
    > carefully and enjoyed) was trying to align himself, and his
    > endorsements, with the "NEW", but his failed critical position was
    > attempting to take advantage of the very nomadic culture that we have
    > created? Why do I need his valdation?

    oh yeah, don't get me wrong... i'm not saying that you or any of us
    here need Kuspit's validation. i guess that's what i'm getting at, that
    even looking at his sudden interest as conferring any kind of authority
    might be counterproductive. my own position is one of disinterest. like
    you, i find some of his early writing really useful, and think that he
    lost me way before his interest in anything digital. i saw him give a
    talk on Louise Bourgeois that was downright painful. i don't know what
    his motivations are, and i don't think it matters much either. i can't
    imaging that he _needs_ to align himself with anything. i imagine he
    does what interests him (and those who read his stuff still).

    > Perhaps it has come as a shock to the New York Intellegentstia that we
    > have gone back overseas and to the West Coast (Howard Rheingold and
    > the EEF) for our inspiration. Shame..., shame on us all. Reminds me of
    > an old minimalist article on east coast/west coast..., but who cares
    > what coast you are now nearest too?

    speaking of Smithson... did you ever see that video he and Nancy Holt
    made about East Coast vs West Coast artists. Pretty funny. much more so
    than the infamous Robert Irwin - Frank Stella conversation. If only
    Tupac and Biggie could have laughed at themselves like that. ;)
    anyway... speaking of coasts, what about the coast in the middle (the
    Great Lakes)? as a recent LA expat and regularly nomadic person, i can
    say nomadism is way over romanticized.
  • Eric Dymond | Fri Aug 19th 2005 7:41 p.m.
    ryan griffis wrote:

    > speaking of Smithson... did you ever see that video he and Nancy Holt
    > made about East Coast vs West Coast artists. Pretty funny. much more
    > so
    > than the infamous Robert Irwin - Frank Stella conversation.
    Yes, it's a great send up, Smithson is so cool and laid back, and pretending to be a real hippie. Holt is perfect as the New York anal retentive promoted by the media( and curators/critics) at the time.
    If only
    > Tupac and Biggie could have laughed at themselves like that. ;)
    thats funny
    > anyway... speaking of coasts, what about the coast in the middle (the
    > Great Lakes)? as a recent LA expat and regularly nomadic person, i
    > can
    > say nomadism is way over romanticized.

    No doubt, but I meant to point out that there is no center to go to, and you actually can go home again ;-)
    Eric
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