notes for a hypothetical essay on relocating the aura

Posted by curt cloninger | Sat May 27th 2006 1:40 p.m.

Walter Benjamin says that people used to attach an "aura" (roughly,
sense of awe) to the scarce, original unique, physical art object.
Benjamin observes that since everything is now infinitely
reproducible, we've lost this aura.

As an artist not making one-of-a-kind objects, where can I relocate
the aura? To answer ,"In the network" is like answering "in the
air," or "in time," or "in existence." I need a more specific,
behavioral/tactical description of this new locus of awe and aura.

Designer Clement Mok says designers should describe their practice
not in terms of media deliverables ("I make websites"), but as
doctors and lawyers do, in terms of services performed and results
achieved. A doctor doesn't say, "I make incisions." A lawyer
doesn't say, "I generate paperwork." This seems like a better way
for a "new media artist" to describe her art. (Note: Even the term
"new media artist" describes her in terms of media deliverables.)
She shouldn't say, "I make net art." Better to say, "I cause x to
happen. I orchestrate x. I'm investigating x." Thus in describing
"where" I relocate the aura, I should avoid saying, "It's in the
podcast, weblog, RSS feed, wearable mobile computing device, etc."

As an artist, my self-imposed mandate is to increase a more lively
dialogue with the Sundry Essences of Wonder. If wonder is akin to
awe is akin to aura, I'd better figure out where to relocate the aura.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

There are four places I can house the aura that seem interesting:

1.
In the destabilized/variable event/object. Generative software makes
this possible. My bubblegum cards are a personal example (
http://computerfinearts.com/collection/cloninger/bubblegum/ ) Cage
and Kaprow are precedences. The aura is embedded in the chance and
variability that the artist invites into the destabilized/variable
performance.

2.
In the perpetually enacted and iterated act/stance/position. My
ongoing [remix] series of posts to rhizome RAW are a personal
example. Ray Johnson's life/death and mail art, Joseph Beuys
pedagogy, and D.J. Spooky's perpetual remix as talisman are
precedences. Even Howard Finster, Daniel Johnston, and Henry Darger
qualify, albeit in a less consciously tactical capacity --
prodigiously outputting without thought of object
uniqueness/scarcity/worth/market value. The act of perpetual
creation is the art, and the output is (to greater or lesser degrees)
incidental ephemera. William Blake almost qualifies. The stream is
perpetual; it becomes the new "event object;" and in this stream the
aura is embedded. Note: This approach takes lots of energy.

3.
In the boundaries of context. Our Deep/Young Ethereal Archive (
http://deepyoung.org ) is a personal example. Precedences and
co-examples are:
http://www.mjt.org/ ,
http://www.grographics.com/theysaysmall/small/RotherhitheUniversity/ ,
http://www.museum-ordure.org.uk/ .
http://www.thatwordwhichmeanssmugglingacrossbordersincorporated.com/
, http://www.dearauntnettie.com/gallery/ .
This approach necessarily involves disorientation and re-orientation.
The contextual frame is soft, and the aura is embedded into this soft
frame. Keeping this frame soft is a delicate matter. It requires a
heightened, sometimes schizophrenic sense of performative awareness
(cf: Ray Johnson, David Wilson). It may require the artist to
alienate "real" art institutions wishing to fit the art into their
frame. As the artist of such work, I can't overtly foreground the
soft contextual frame as my intended locus of aura. If I do, the
soft frame I'm working so hard to construct and keep soft immediately
solidifies and is in turn meta-framed by a much more solid, didactic,
"artist statement" frame; and the aura flies away. Note: Warhol well
understood that an object's scarcity was a silly contemporary place
for the aura to go. Instead, he ingeniously embedded the aura in the
foregrounded concept of the object's scarcity. His deep awareness of
this ironic relationship may explain why his art objects now sell for
so much. (cf: http://www.dream-dollars.com/ ).

4.
In human relationships. Personal examples might be
http://www.lab404.com/data/ and http://www.playdamage.org/quilt/ .
Co-examples might be http://learningtoloveyoumore.com ,
http://www.foundmagazine.com/ , and some of Jillian McDonald's
performance pieces ( http://www.jillianmcdonald.net/performance.html
). You could describe this as "network" art, but compare it to Alex
Galloway's Carnivore, which is also network art, and you realize
"network" is too broad a term. This human relationship art is not
about the network as an abstract monolithic cultural entity. It is
about humans who happen to be interacting with each other via
networks. The aura is embedded not in the network, but in the human
relationships that the art invites. As with locus #1 (In the
destabilized/variable event/object), this locus necessarily involves
chance, because human relationships necessarily involve chance.

These four places for housing the aura are not mutually exclusive.
Conceivably, a single artwork could house the aura in all four
places. This warrants further artistic investigation.

curt
  • Michael Szpakowski | Sun May 28th 2006 4:51 p.m.
    HI Curt
    I *love* Benjamin, but I do think he is best read as a
    species of poet rather than as a exponent of logical
    argument, which stuff is frankly fairly thin on the
    ground in his oeuvre.
    A lot of the time he was just plain *wrong* factually,
    but *right* poetically & I think this was the case re
    the question of "aura".
    The sense of rightness, of the sublime &c, put it how
    you will, actually seems to me to be independent of
    epoch or medium. So, for me,
    Kentridge, Tarkovsky, Nauman <multiples>, just scream
    "AURA, AURA, AURA!" whereas Vettriano, Hirst <
    physical, one of a kind> kind of whisper "DUD,
    COMMERCE, DUMBING DOWN, FLATTERY, DUD."
    best
    michael

    --- Curt Cloninger <curt@lab404.com> wrote:

    > Walter Benjamin says that people used to attach an
    > "aura" (roughly,
    > sense of awe) to the scarce, original unique,
    > physical art object.
    > Benjamin observes that since everything is now
    > infinitely
    > reproducible, we've lost this aura.
    >
    > As an artist not making one-of-a-kind objects, where
    > can I relocate
    > the aura? To answer ,"In the network" is like
    > answering "in the
    > air," or "in time," or "in existence." I need a
    > more specific,
    > behavioral/tactical description of this new locus of
    > awe and aura.
    >
    > Designer Clement Mok says designers should describe
    > their practice
    > not in terms of media deliverables ("I make
    > websites"), but as
    > doctors and lawyers do, in terms of services
    > performed and results
    > achieved. A doctor doesn't say, "I make incisions."
    > A lawyer
    > doesn't say, "I generate paperwork." This seems
    > like a better way
    > for a "new media artist" to describe her art.
    > (Note: Even the term
    > "new media artist" describes her in terms of media
    > deliverables.)
    > She shouldn't say, "I make net art." Better to say,
    > "I cause x to
    > happen. I orchestrate x. I'm investigating x."
    > Thus in describing
    > "where" I relocate the aura, I should avoid saying,
    > "It's in the
    > podcast, weblog, RSS feed, wearable mobile computing
    > device, etc."
    >
    > As an artist, my self-imposed mandate is to increase
    > a more lively
    > dialogue with the Sundry Essences of Wonder. If
    > wonder is akin to
    > awe is akin to aura, I'd better figure out where to
    > relocate the aura.
    >
    > ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    >
    > There are four places I can house the aura that seem
    > interesting:
    >
    > 1.
    > In the destabilized/variable event/object.
    > Generative software makes
    > this possible. My bubblegum cards are a personal
    > example (
    >
    http://computerfinearts.com/collection/cloninger/bubblegum/
    > ) Cage
    > and Kaprow are precedences. The aura is embedded in
    > the chance and
    > variability that the artist invites into the
    > destabilized/variable
    > performance.
    >
    > 2.
    > In the perpetually enacted and iterated
    > act/stance/position. My
    > ongoing [remix] series of posts to rhizome RAW are a
    > personal
    > example. Ray Johnson's life/death and mail art,
    > Joseph Beuys
    > pedagogy, and D.J. Spooky's perpetual remix as
    > talisman are
    > precedences. Even Howard Finster, Daniel Johnston,
    > and Henry Darger
    > qualify, albeit in a less consciously tactical
    > capacity --
    > prodigiously outputting without thought of object
    > uniqueness/scarcity/worth/market value. The act of
    > perpetual
    > creation is the art, and the output is (to greater
    > or lesser degrees)
    > incidental ephemera. William Blake almost
    > qualifies. The stream is
    > perpetual; it becomes the new "event object;" and in
    > this stream the
    > aura is embedded. Note: This approach takes lots of
    > energy.
    >
    > 3.
    > In the boundaries of context. Our Deep/Young
    > Ethereal Archive (
    > http://deepyoung.org ) is a personal example.
    > Precedences and
    > co-examples are:
    > http://www.mjt.org/ ,
    >
    http://www.grographics.com/theysaysmall/small/RotherhitheUniversity/
    > ,
    > http://www.museum-ordure.org.uk/ .
    >
    http://www.thatwordwhichmeanssmugglingacrossbordersincorporated.com/
    >
    > , http://www.dearauntnettie.com/gallery/ .
    > This approach necessarily involves disorientation
    > and re-orientation.
    > The contextual frame is soft, and the aura is
    > embedded into this soft
    > frame. Keeping this frame soft is a delicate
    > matter. It requires a
    > heightened, sometimes schizophrenic sense of
    > performative awareness
    > (cf: Ray Johnson, David Wilson). It may require the
    > artist to
    > alienate "real" art institutions wishing to fit the
    > art into their
    > frame. As the artist of such work, I can't overtly
    > foreground the
    > soft contextual frame as my intended locus of aura.
    > If I do, the
    > soft frame I'm working so hard to construct and keep
    > soft immediately
    > solidifies and is in turn meta-framed by a much more
    > solid, didactic,
    > "artist statement" frame; and the aura flies away.
    > Note: Warhol well
    > understood that an object's scarcity was a silly
    > contemporary place
    > for the aura to go. Instead, he ingeniously
    > embedded the aura in the
    > foregrounded concept of the object's scarcity. His
    > deep awareness of
    > this ironic relationship may explain why his art
    > objects now sell for
    > so much. (cf: http://www.dream-dollars.com/ ).
    >
    > 4.
    > In human relationships. Personal examples might be
    > http://www.lab404.com/data/ and
    > http://www.playdamage.org/quilt/ .
    > Co-examples might be
    > http://learningtoloveyoumore.com ,
    > http://www.foundmagazine.com/ , and some of Jillian
    > McDonald's
    > performance pieces (
    > http://www.jillianmcdonald.net/performance.html
    > ). You could describe this as "network" art, but
    > compare it to Alex
    > Galloway's Carnivore, which is also network art, and
    > you realize
    > "network" is too broad a term. This human
    > relationship art is not
    > about the network as an abstract monolithic cultural
    > entity. It is
    > about humans who happen to be interacting with each
    > other via
    > networks. The aura is embedded not in the network,
    > but in the human
    > relationships that the art invites. As with locus
    > #1 (In the
    > destabilized/variable event/object), this locus
    > necessarily involves
    > chance, because human relationships necessarily
    > involve chance.
    >
    > These four places for housing the aura are not
    > mutually exclusive.
    > Conceivably, a single artwork could house the aura
    > in all four
    > places. This warrants further artistic
    > investigation.
    >
    > curt
    > +
    > -> 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
    >
  • marc garrett | Sun May 28th 2006 5:43 p.m.
    Hi Michael & Curt,

    I suspect the 'aura', has changed into something else now, and perhaps,
    if we are open to it - we can find it not only in art but also in the
    everyday, rather than through objects alone, posing as unique. For
    'unique' is not necessarily a signifier of what is beautiful, or the
    'aura'. If one was genuinely interested in 'feeling' what could be
    'authentic', then one is at least closer to the essence of something
    special or of value, but to contain it as art or as anything else for
    that matter, more reflects a desire to contain the sublime and control
    what is untouchable...

    marc

    >HI Curt
    >I *love* Benjamin, but I do think he is best read as a
    >species of poet rather than as a exponent of logical
    >argument, which stuff is frankly fairly thin on the
    >ground in his oeuvre.
    >A lot of the time he was just plain *wrong* factually,
    > but *right* poetically & I think this was the case re
    >the question of "aura".
    >The sense of rightness, of the sublime &c, put it how
    >you will, actually seems to me to be independent of
    >epoch or medium. So, for me,
    >Kentridge, Tarkovsky, Nauman <multiples>, just scream
    >"AURA, AURA, AURA!" whereas Vettriano, Hirst <
    >physical, one of a kind> kind of whisper "DUD,
    >COMMERCE, DUMBING DOWN, FLATTERY, DUD."
    >best
    >michael
    >
    >--- Curt Cloninger <curt@lab404.com> wrote:
    >
    >
    >
    >>Walter Benjamin says that people used to attach an
    >>"aura" (roughly,
    >>sense of awe) to the scarce, original unique,
    >>physical art object.
    >>Benjamin observes that since everything is now
    >>infinitely
    >>reproducible, we've lost this aura.
    >>
    >>As an artist not making one-of-a-kind objects, where
    >>can I relocate
    >>the aura? To answer ,"In the network" is like
    >>answering "in the
    >>air," or "in time," or "in existence." I need a
    >>more specific,
    >>behavioral/tactical description of this new locus of
    >>awe and aura.
    >>
    >>Designer Clement Mok says designers should describe
    >>their practice
    >>not in terms of media deliverables ("I make
    >>websites"), but as
    >>doctors and lawyers do, in terms of services
    >>performed and results
    >>achieved. A doctor doesn't say, "I make incisions."
    >> A lawyer
    >>doesn't say, "I generate paperwork." This seems
    >>like a better way
    >>for a "new media artist" to describe her art.
    >>(Note: Even the term
    >>"new media artist" describes her in terms of media
    >>deliverables.)
    >>She shouldn't say, "I make net art." Better to say,
    >>"I cause x to
    >>happen. I orchestrate x. I'm investigating x."
    >>Thus in describing
    >>"where" I relocate the aura, I should avoid saying,
    >>"It's in the
    >>podcast, weblog, RSS feed, wearable mobile computing
    >>device, etc."
    >>
    >>As an artist, my self-imposed mandate is to increase
    >>a more lively
    >>dialogue with the Sundry Essences of Wonder. If
    >>wonder is akin to
    >>awe is akin to aura, I'd better figure out where to
    >>relocate the aura.
    >>
    >>++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    >>
    >>There are four places I can house the aura that seem
    >>interesting:
    >>
    >>1.
    >>In the destabilized/variable event/object.
    >>Generative software makes
    >>this possible. My bubblegum cards are a personal
    >>example (
    >>
    >>
    >>
    >http://computerfinearts.com/collection/cloninger/bubblegum/
    >
    >
    >>) Cage
    >>and Kaprow are precedences. The aura is embedded in
    >>the chance and
    >>variability that the artist invites into the
    >>destabilized/variable
    >>performance.
    >>
    >>2.
    >>In the perpetually enacted and iterated
    >>act/stance/position. My
    >>ongoing [remix] series of posts to rhizome RAW are a
    >>personal
    >>example. Ray Johnson's life/death and mail art,
    >>Joseph Beuys
    >>pedagogy, and D.J. Spooky's perpetual remix as
    >>talisman are
    >>precedences. Even Howard Finster, Daniel Johnston,
    >>and Henry Darger
    >>qualify, albeit in a less consciously tactical
    >>capacity --
    >>prodigiously outputting without thought of object
    >>uniqueness/scarcity/worth/market value. The act of
    >>perpetual
    >>creation is the art, and the output is (to greater
    >>or lesser degrees)
    >>incidental ephemera. William Blake almost
    >>qualifies. The stream is
    >>perpetual; it becomes the new "event object;" and in
    >>this stream the
    >>aura is embedded. Note: This approach takes lots of
    >>energy.
    >>
    >>3.
    >>In the boundaries of context. Our Deep/Young
    >>Ethereal Archive (
    >>http://deepyoung.org ) is a personal example.
    >>Precedences and
    >>co-examples are:
    >>http://www.mjt.org/ ,
    >>
    >>
    >>
    >http://www.grographics.com/theysaysmall/small/RotherhitheUniversity/
    >
    >
    >>,
    >>http://www.museum-ordure.org.uk/ .
    >>
    >>
    >>
    >http://www.thatwordwhichmeanssmugglingacrossbordersincorporated.com/
    >
    >
    >>, http://www.dearauntnettie.com/gallery/ .
    >>This approach necessarily involves disorientation
    >>and re-orientation.
    >>The contextual frame is soft, and the aura is
    >>embedded into this soft
    >>frame. Keeping this frame soft is a delicate
    >>matter. It requires a
    >>heightened, sometimes schizophrenic sense of
    >>performative awareness
    >>(cf: Ray Johnson, David Wilson). It may require the
    >>artist to
    >>alienate "real" art institutions wishing to fit the
    >>art into their
    >>frame. As the artist of such work, I can't overtly
    >>foreground the
    >>soft contextual frame as my intended locus of aura.
    >>If I do, the
    >>soft frame I'm working so hard to construct and keep
    >>soft immediately
    >>solidifies and is in turn meta-framed by a much more
    >>solid, didactic,
    >>"artist statement" frame; and the aura flies away.
    >>Note: Warhol well
    >>understood that an object's scarcity was a silly
    >>contemporary place
    >>for the aura to go. Instead, he ingeniously
    >>embedded the aura in the
    >>foregrounded concept of the object's scarcity. His
    >>deep awareness of
    >>this ironic relationship may explain why his art
    >>objects now sell for
    >>so much. (cf: http://www.dream-dollars.com/ ).
    >>
    >>4.
    >>In human relationships. Personal examples might be
    >>http://www.lab404.com/data/ and
    >>http://www.playdamage.org/quilt/ .
    >>Co-examples might be
    >>http://learningtoloveyoumore.com ,
    >>http://www.foundmagazine.com/ , and some of Jillian
    >>McDonald's
    >>performance pieces (
    >>http://www.jillianmcdonald.net/performance.html
    >>). You could describe this as "network" art, but
    >>compare it to Alex
    >>Galloway's Carnivore, which is also network art, and
    >>you realize
    >>"network" is too broad a term. This human
    >>relationship art is not
    >>about the network as an abstract monolithic cultural
    >>entity. It is
    >>about humans who happen to be interacting with each
    >>other via
    >>networks. The aura is embedded not in the network,
    >>but in the human
    >>relationships that the art invites. As with locus
    >>#1 (In the
    >>destabilized/variable event/object), this locus
    >>necessarily involves
    >>chance, because human relationships necessarily
    >>involve chance.
    >>
    >>These four places for housing the aura are not
    >>mutually exclusive.
    >>Conceivably, a single artwork could house the aura
    >>in all four
    >>places. This warrants further artistic
    >>investigation.
    >>
    >>curt
    >>+
    >>-> 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
    >>
    >>
    >>
    >
    >+
    >-> 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
    >
    >
    >
    >
  • Marisa Olson | Mon May 29th 2006 8:51 a.m.
    Hey, guys. This thread is interesting. My two cents...

    I don't really think that the loss of the aura is such a bad thing--or
    something that Benjamin necessarily laments. I read the aura as 'stuff
    that gets in the way' (ie perceived phenom of a distance), or
    moreover, as the immaterial (but weighty) presence of history,
    hegemony, and aesthetics.

    I think that, in Benjamin's discussion of property systems, and
    particularly in his citation of Marinetti's futurist proclamation that
    "war is beautiful," that he's call for us to relieve ourselves of
    aesthetic models that impose certain negative relationships between
    works and individuals. I believe he's saying that these same models
    inscribe our subjectivity--as traced by our models of consumption--as
    victims of the property/fascist system(s) that have beget our
    aesthetic systems. In this vain, "war is beautiful" is not such a
    confusing statement. A fascist system begets an aesthetic system that
    says X, Y, and Z equal beauty; ergo war equals beauty. It's a way of
    seeing how violent the aesthetic "regime" (to perhaps overdo it a bit)
    has become...

    Anyway, I'm travelling and don't have the book with me so I can't
    offer any relevant quotes, but it's something I've also been thinking
    about lately, so I wanted to chime in.

    Best,
    Marisa

    On 5/28/06, marc <marc.garrett@furtherfield.org> wrote:
    > Hi Michael & Curt,
    >
    > I suspect the 'aura', has changed into something else now, and perhaps,
    > if we are open to it - we can find it not only in art but also in the
    > everyday, rather than through objects alone, posing as unique. For
    > 'unique' is not necessarily a signifier of what is beautiful, or the
    > 'aura'. If one was genuinely interested in 'feeling' what could be
    > 'authentic', then one is at least closer to the essence of something
    > special or of value, but to contain it as art or as anything else for
    > that matter, more reflects a desire to contain the sublime and control
    > what is untouchable...
    >
    > marc
    >
    > >HI Curt
    > >I *love* Benjamin, but I do think he is best read as a
    > >species of poet rather than as a exponent of logical
    > >argument, which stuff is frankly fairly thin on the
    > >ground in his oeuvre.
    > >A lot of the time he was just plain *wrong* factually,
    > > but *right* poetically & I think this was the case re
    > >the question of "aura".
    > >The sense of rightness, of the sublime &c, put it how
    > >you will, actually seems to me to be independent of
    > >epoch or medium. So, for me,
    > >Kentridge, Tarkovsky, Nauman <multiples>, just scream
    > >"AURA, AURA, AURA!" whereas Vettriano, Hirst <
    > >physical, one of a kind> kind of whisper "DUD,
    > >COMMERCE, DUMBING DOWN, FLATTERY, DUD."
    > >best
    > >michael
    > >
    > >--- Curt Cloninger <curt@lab404.com> wrote:
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >>Walter Benjamin says that people used to attach an
    > >>"aura" (roughly,
    > >>sense of awe) to the scarce, original unique,
    > >>physical art object.
    > >>Benjamin observes that since everything is now
    > >>infinitely
    > >>reproducible, we've lost this aura.
    > >>
    > >>As an artist not making one-of-a-kind objects, where
    > >>can I relocate
    > >>the aura? To answer ,"In the network" is like
    > >>answering "in the
    > >>air," or "in time," or "in existence." I need a
    > >>more specific,
    > >>behavioral/tactical description of this new locus of
    > >>awe and aura.
    > >>
    > >>Designer Clement Mok says designers should describe
    > >>their practice
    > >>not in terms of media deliverables ("I make
    > >>websites"), but as
    > >>doctors and lawyers do, in terms of services
    > >>performed and results
    > >>achieved. A doctor doesn't say, "I make incisions."
    > >> A lawyer
    > >>doesn't say, "I generate paperwork." This seems
    > >>like a better way
    > >>for a "new media artist" to describe her art.
    > >>(Note: Even the term
    > >>"new media artist" describes her in terms of media
    > >>deliverables.)
    > >>She shouldn't say, "I make net art." Better to say,
    > >>"I cause x to
    > >>happen. I orchestrate x. I'm investigating x."
    > >>Thus in describing
    > >>"where" I relocate the aura, I should avoid saying,
    > >>"It's in the
    > >>podcast, weblog, RSS feed, wearable mobile computing
    > >>device, etc."
    > >>
    > >>As an artist, my self-imposed mandate is to increase
    > >>a more lively
    > >>dialogue with the Sundry Essences of Wonder. If
    > >>wonder is akin to
    > >>awe is akin to aura, I'd better figure out where to
    > >>relocate the aura.
    > >>
    > >>++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    > >>
    > >>There are four places I can house the aura that seem
    > >>interesting:
    > >>
    > >>1.
    > >>In the destabilized/variable event/object.
    > >>Generative software makes
    > >>this possible. My bubblegum cards are a personal
    > >>example (
    > >>
    > >>
    > >>
    > >http://computerfinearts.com/collection/cloninger/bubblegum/
    > >
    > >
    > >>) Cage
    > >>and Kaprow are precedences. The aura is embedded in
    > >>the chance and
    > >>variability that the artist invites into the
    > >>destabilized/variable
    > >>performance.
    > >>
    > >>2.
    > >>In the perpetually enacted and iterated
    > >>act/stance/position. My
    > >>ongoing [remix] series of posts to rhizome RAW are a
    > >>personal
    > >>example. Ray Johnson's life/death and mail art,
    > >>Joseph Beuys
    > >>pedagogy, and D.J. Spooky's perpetual remix as
    > >>talisman are
    > >>precedences. Even Howard Finster, Daniel Johnston,
    > >>and Henry Darger
    > >>qualify, albeit in a less consciously tactical
    > >>capacity --
    > >>prodigiously outputting without thought of object
    > >>uniqueness/scarcity/worth/market value. The act of
    > >>perpetual
    > >>creation is the art, and the output is (to greater
    > >>or lesser degrees)
    > >>incidental ephemera. William Blake almost
    > >>qualifies. The stream is
    > >>perpetual; it becomes the new "event object;" and in
    > >>this stream the
    > >>aura is embedded. Note: This approach takes lots of
    > >>energy.
    > >>
    > >>3.
    > >>In the boundaries of context. Our Deep/Young
    > >>Ethereal Archive (
    > >>http://deepyoung.org ) is a personal example.
    > >>Precedences and
    > >>co-examples are:
    > >>http://www.mjt.org/ ,
    > >>
    > >>
    > >>
    > >http://www.grographics.com/theysaysmall/small/RotherhitheUniversity/
    > >
    > >
    > >>,
    > >>http://www.museum-ordure.org.uk/ .
    > >>
    > >>
    > >>
    > >http://www.thatwordwhichmeanssmugglingacrossbordersincorporated.com/
    > >
    > >
    > >>, http://www.dearauntnettie.com/gallery/ .
    > >>This approach necessarily involves disorientation
    > >>and re-orientation.
    > >>The contextual frame is soft, and the aura is
    > >>embedded into this soft
    > >>frame. Keeping this frame soft is a delicate
    > >>matter. It requires a
    > >>heightened, sometimes schizophrenic sense of
    > >>performative awareness
    > >>(cf: Ray Johnson, David Wilson). It may require the
    > >>artist to
    > >>alienate "real" art institutions wishing to fit the
    > >>art into their
    > >>frame. As the artist of such work, I can't overtly
    > >>foreground the
    > >>soft contextual frame as my intended locus of aura.
    > >>If I do, the
    > >>soft frame I'm working so hard to construct and keep
    > >>soft immediately
    > >>solidifies and is in turn meta-framed by a much more
    > >>solid, didactic,
    > >>"artist statement" frame; and the aura flies away.
    > >>Note: Warhol well
    > >>understood that an object's scarcity was a silly
    > >>contemporary place
    > >>for the aura to go. Instead, he ingeniously
    > >>embedded the aura in the
    > >>foregrounded concept of the object's scarcity. His
    > >>deep awareness of
    > >>this ironic relationship may explain why his art
    > >>objects now sell for
    > >>so much. (cf: http://www.dream-dollars.com/ ).
    > >>
    > >>4.
    > >>In human relationships. Personal examples might be
    > >>http://www.lab404.com/data/ and
    > >>http://www.playdamage.org/quilt/ .
    > >>Co-examples might be
    > >>http://learningtoloveyoumore.com ,
    > >>http://www.foundmagazine.com/ , and some of Jillian
    > >>McDonald's
    > >>performance pieces (
    > >>http://www.jillianmcdonald.net/performance.html
    > >>). You could describe this as "network" art, but
    > >>compare it to Alex
    > >>Galloway's Carnivore, which is also network art, and
    > >>you realize
    > >>"network" is too broad a term. This human
    > >>relationship art is not
    > >>about the network as an abstract monolithic cultural
    > >>entity. It is
    > >>about humans who happen to be interacting with each
    > >>other via
    > >>networks. The aura is embedded not in the network,
    > >>but in the human
    > >>relationships that the art invites. As with locus
    > >>#1 (In the
    > >>destabilized/variable event/object), this locus
    > >>necessarily involves
    > >>chance, because human relationships necessarily
    > >>involve chance.
    > >>
    > >>These four places for housing the aura are not
    > >>mutually exclusive.
    > >>Conceivably, a single artwork could house the aura
    > >>in all four
    > >>places. This warrants further artistic
    > >>investigation.
    > >>
    > >>curt
    > >>+
    > >>-> 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
    > >>
    > >>
    > >>
    > >
    > >+
    > >-> post: list@rhizome.org
    > >-> questions: info@rhizome.org
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    > >Membership Agreement available online at http://rhizome.org/info/29.php
    > >
    > >
    > >
    > >
    >
    > +
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    >
  • curt cloninger | Mon May 29th 2006 1:16 p.m.
    Hi Marisa (and all),

    It is interesting how historical context can so color a theorists
    writing. Here's a classic irony: Greenberg once associated kitsch
    with the academy. He likened Beaux Arts academic
    aesthetic-by-numbers to what would now be the equivalent of a faux
    Roman columnar bird bath at Home Depot. The irony is, after the rise
    and fall of Greenberg, the academy is now back to liking kitsch, but
    the context is totally changed from 1939.

    I'm starting my MFA this summer, so I'm trying to think more like an
    artist and less like a critic. My notes on aura were written from
    the perspective of my own artmaking. My art doesn't want to be
    overtly political. As such, I'm less concerned with whether Benjamin
    himself was glad at the loss of aura or sad about it. It seems he
    was more ambivalent toward it than you are reading, Marisa, but I've
    not read enough of him to argue this convincingly.

    Benjamin was there at ground zero to realize that industrailized
    media was changing something about the art object, and he was able to
    give this "something" a name -- aura. I'm guessing most folks read
    (or are assigned to read) "the work of art in the age of mechanical
    reproduction" less because of Benjamin's particular marxian
    perspective, and more because he was historically one of the first
    theorists to put his finger on this shift regarding the art object
    (although Duchamp was already exploiting the shift two decades
    earlier).

    But what was once liberating for Benjamin in 1936 (democratization of
    the formerly aestheticized object) has led to certain artistic
    vacuums today that are hardly exciting. Without lamenting the loss
    of "aesthetic" (lest I rouse the rote response of "who's aesthetic"),
    some forms of contemporary art, liberated from the "bonds" of the
    spiritual and mystical, have lost something. I'd like to call that
    something awe and wonder. Benjamin's "aura" is not perfectly
    synonamous with what I'm talking about, but it seems related. Note
    the difference between incarnation and reification: with incarnation,
    spirit enters body and the two are enmeshed but still distinct; with
    reification, an idea becomes an object. (Perhaps) Benjamin merely
    sees the unique art object in terms of marxist commodity. I see the
    unique art object from a more incarnational perspective -- a physical
    body "wherein" something spiritual resides.

    Michael S. implies that Benjamin was wrong to associate the aura so
    strongly with an object's singularity, and maybe this is so. But I'm
    enough of a graphic design historian to get all sexed up about a
    potential visit to the library of congress rare book reading room
    where I'll be able to leaf through one one of the few extant copies
    of William Morris' Kelmscott Press Chaucer. And I didn't spend an
    hour in Sao Paulo looking at Bosch's "Temptation of St. Anthony"
    triptych simply because of the subject matter and the brushwork. I'm
    willing to concede that the "aura" is not housed exclusively in the
    object's singularity, but some of it definitely accumulates there
    given enough time under the bridge. Assuming Hirst's sheep doesn't
    rot, and barring another Satchi fire, even that dumb thing will have
    accumulated some aura in 200 years.

    Anyway, maybe "aura" is too entrenched in a frankfurt school
    historical context for me to take it and use it to mean "awe and
    wonder." I'm testing out the implications of such a reappropriation.
    As an artist, I'm personally more interested in "where" such an
    "aura" might be tactically relocated, now that there's not an art
    object any"where." Call it a subjective inquiry into non-objective
    incarnation.

    ++++++++++++++

    [Warning: I am about to use the terms "good" and "bad" quite freely.]

    Regarding the connection Benjamin draws between aesthtics and fascist
    control, even that connection is colored by the era in which he
    lived. In this, Benjamin and Greenberg have something in common -- a
    reaction against a Nazi-sanctioned, state-approved art. The irony is
    that something like Hirst's sheep -- a work that Benjamin, Greenberg,
    and Hitler could all have agreed to dislike (although for radically
    different reasons) -- is now state-approved art. What can we infer
    from this? Correct politics don't always lead to good art.
    Intelligent art criticism doesn't always lead to good art. Why?
    Because there is more to art (and life) that intelligent criticism
    and correct politics.

    There is a Sex Pistols documentary called "The great rock 'n' roll
    swindle" which is itself a Malcolm McLaren swindle. I'll call the
    following proposition "The great dialectic swindle":

    Nobody wants to get duped. Heaven freaking forbid you get duped.
    All ideologies are suspected as tools to control the minds of the
    proletariat/disenfranchised/duped to keep them from rising up,
    claiming their due, and getting unduped. Thus the goal is to ever
    suspect and critique -- proving yourself intelligent, free, radical,
    enlightened, and above all, not duped. To quote T. Rex, "You won't
    fool the children of the revolution!" Of course, the only ones able
    to recognize that you are not duped are the few free souls also not
    duped. Anyone unable to recognize your lack of dupedness must
    themselves be duped. (They may have read Derrida, but they didn't
    read him in French.)

    I propose that this inordinate fear of being duped is one of the
    biggest dupes of all. If the human soul exists, if a spiritual realm
    exists, if God exists, if certain objective truths exist, if certain
    universal aspects of human nature exist apart from historical
    materialism -- then those who suspect such things as being "duping
    constructs" are getting meta-duped. This is indeed a thorny,
    catch-22 mindfuck -- to suspect as duping constructs the very things
    that could free you, all the while being duped by the very
    safeguards you think are keeping you from being duped.

    (Couldn't my own suspicion of the meta-dupe be an even bigger
    meta-meta-dupe? So says Derrida in French.)

    peace,
    curt

    At 7:51 AM -0700 5/29/06, Marisa Olson wrote:
    >Hey, guys. This thread is interesting. My two cents...
    >
    >I don't really think that the loss of the aura is such a bad thing--or
    >something that Benjamin necessarily laments. I read the aura as 'stuff
    >that gets in the way' (ie perceived phenom of a distance), or
    >moreover, as the immaterial (but weighty) presence of history,
    >hegemony, and aesthetics.
    >
    >I think that, in Benjamin's discussion of property systems, and
    >particularly in his citation of Marinetti's futurist proclamation that
    >"war is beautiful," that he's call for us to relieve ourselves of
    >aesthetic models that impose certain negative relationships between
    >works and individuals. I believe he's saying that these same models
    >inscribe our subjectivity--as traced by our models of consumption--as
    >victims of the property/fascist system(s) that have beget our
    >aesthetic systems. In this vain, "war is beautiful" is not such a
    >confusing statement. A fascist system begets an aesthetic system that
    >says X, Y, and Z equal beauty; ergo war equals beauty. It's a way of
    >seeing how violent the aesthetic "regime" (to perhaps overdo it a bit)
    >has become...
    >
    >Anyway, I'm travelling and don't have the book with me so I can't
    >offer any relevant quotes, but it's something I've also been thinking
    >about lately, so I wanted to chime in.
    >
    >Best,
    >Marisa
    >
  • Eric Dymond | Mon May 29th 2006 2:18 p.m.
    I wonder if we have a collective time for auras today. They pop up in personal time, but I think an aura as a shared aspect of an artwork is counter productive and outside of any time-frame I can imagine in the current state of art.
    I have a fear of these things anyway, it's not rational, but it's there. "war is beautiful" was a celebration of the increasing speed of machines. For me it's always been one of those unintended but accidental truths. In one short phrase it demonstartes how machines can act as a prosthesis and at the same time, turn into governor (in the classic cybernetic sense) when used. The design of the machine in the hands of malacious designers makes it more dangerous, and more inviting.
    Summer days.... indeed.

    Eric
  • Michael Szpakowski | Mon May 29th 2006 4:06 p.m.
    Couple of things:
    I think when Benjamin talked about aesthetics &
    fascism he was doing something very simple - warning
    us not to forget real life, not to be too insular, to
    be too delighted with the *formally attractive &
    seductive* - I can imagine the Nuremburg rallies were
    immensely exciting events to be at, carefully
    choreographed by people who were *evil* but *not at
    all stupid* & in addition understood a thing or two
    about art.
    I remember having a great night out a few years back
    at the son et lumiere show at Stone Mountain near
    Atlanta -exhilaratingly atmospheric, especially as
    we'd just climbed the mountain (wonderful!) & then
    caught the last cable car down to catch the show
    but..also..profoundly disquieting.. not because it
    sought to *justify* slavery/confederacy but because it
    sought to *neutralize* them in spectacle..
    As for Benjamin's Marxism ..well..it's a very odd
    species of Marxism.. Adorno was able to pick formal
    holes in it with ease.. *but* of course when it came
    to the test of supporting student anti racist, anti
    war activism in the 60's Adorno failed it miserably.
    I do not believe Benjamin, bookish, naive, unlucky in
    life & love, would have failed such a test.
    For me, politically, Benjamin was in general *deeply
    confused* in one, the formal, sense. *But* there is
    something about him, a deep humanity, which resonates
    with the humanism of an untainted ( by Stalinism,
    academicism, sometimes -eg Althusser- one and the smae
    thing, always related) Marxism. In this combination of
    confusion and humanity he resembles Brecht, with whom
    he had a strange & tense friendship..
    I feel there are two ways of rescuing *positions* from
    Benjamin -one is a retreat into the academicism of the
    disappointed & ageing generation of 68, whose retreat
    from engagement with life continues to poison
    philosophy, critical theory &c -the other is to read
    him as *literature* in which somehow ( in the same way
    as Proust, or Melville or Joyce) some kind of truth is
    embedded.
    Read the essay on Kafka & tell me you're not
    exhilarated..*then* precis it for me :)
    best
    michael

    --- Curt Cloninger <curt@lab404.com> wrote:

    > Hi Marisa (and all),
    >
    > It is interesting how historical context can so
    > color a theorists
    > writing. Here's a classic irony: Greenberg once
    > associated kitsch
    > with the academy. He likened Beaux Arts academic
    > aesthetic-by-numbers to what would now be the
    > equivalent of a faux
    > Roman columnar bird bath at Home Depot. The irony
    > is, after the rise
    > and fall of Greenberg, the academy is now back to
    > liking kitsch, but
    > the context is totally changed from 1939.
    >
    > I'm starting my MFA this summer, so I'm trying to
    > think more like an
    > artist and less like a critic. My notes on aura
    > were written from
    > the perspective of my own artmaking. My art doesn't
    > want to be
    > overtly political. As such, I'm less concerned with
    > whether Benjamin
    > himself was glad at the loss of aura or sad about
    > it. It seems he
    > was more ambivalent toward it than you are reading,
    > Marisa, but I've
    > not read enough of him to argue this convincingly.
    >
    > Benjamin was there at ground zero to realize that
    > industrailized
    > media was changing something about the art object,
    > and he was able to
    > give this "something" a name -- aura. I'm guessing
    > most folks read
    > (or are assigned to read) "the work of art in the
    > age of mechanical
    > reproduction" less because of Benjamin's particular
    > marxian
    > perspective, and more because he was historically
    > one of the first
    > theorists to put his finger on this shift regarding
    > the art object
    > (although Duchamp was already exploiting the shift
    > two decades
    > earlier).
    >
    > But what was once liberating for Benjamin in 1936
    > (democratization of
    > the formerly aestheticized object) has led to
    > certain artistic
    > vacuums today that are hardly exciting. Without
    > lamenting the loss
    > of "aesthetic" (lest I rouse the rote response of
    > "who's aesthetic"),
    > some forms of contemporary art, liberated from the
    > "bonds" of the
    > spiritual and mystical, have lost something. I'd
    > like to call that
    > something awe and wonder. Benjamin's "aura" is not
    > perfectly
    > synonamous with what I'm talking about, but it seems
    > related. Note
    > the difference between incarnation and reification:
    > with incarnation,
    > spirit enters body and the two are enmeshed but
    > still distinct; with
    > reification, an idea becomes an object. (Perhaps)
    > Benjamin merely
    > sees the unique art object in terms of marxist
    > commodity. I see the
    > unique art object from a more incarnational
    > perspective -- a physical
    > body "wherein" something spiritual resides.
    >
    > Michael S. implies that Benjamin was wrong to
    > associate the aura so
    > strongly with an object's singularity, and maybe
    > this is so. But I'm
    > enough of a graphic design historian to get all
    > sexed up about a
    > potential visit to the library of congress rare book
    > reading room
    > where I'll be able to leaf through one one of the
    > few extant copies
    > of William Morris' Kelmscott Press Chaucer. And I
    > didn't spend an
    > hour in Sao Paulo looking at Bosch's "Temptation of
    > St. Anthony"
    > triptych simply because of the subject matter and
    > the brushwork. I'm
    > willing to concede that the "aura" is not housed
    > exclusively in the
    > object's singularity, but some of it definitely
    > accumulates there
    > given enough time under the bridge. Assuming
    > Hirst's sheep doesn't
    > rot, and barring another Satchi fire, even that dumb
    > thing will have
    > accumulated some aura in 200 years.
    >
    > Anyway, maybe "aura" is too entrenched in a
    > frankfurt school
    > historical context for me to take it and use it to
    > mean "awe and
    > wonder." I'm testing out the implications of such a
    > reappropriation.
    > As an artist, I'm personally more interested in
    > "where" such an
    > "aura" might be tactically relocated, now that
    > there's not an art
    > object any"where." Call it a subjective inquiry
    > into non-objective
    > incarnation.
    >
    > ++++++++++++++
    >
    > [Warning: I am about to use the terms "good" and
    > "bad" quite freely.]
    >
    > Regarding the connection Benjamin draws between
    > aesthtics and fascist
    > control, even that connection is colored by the era
    > in which he
    > lived. In this, Benjamin and Greenberg have
    > something in common -- a
    > reaction against a Nazi-sanctioned, state-approved
    > art. The irony is
    > that something like Hirst's sheep -- a work that
    > Benjamin, Greenberg,
    > and Hitler could all have agreed to dislike
    > (although for radically
    > different reasons) -- is now state-approved art.
    > What can we infer
    > from this? Correct politics don't always lead to
    > good art.
    > Intelligent art criticism doesn't always lead to
    > good art. Why?
    > Because there is more to art (and life) that
    > intelligent criticism
    > and correct politics.
    >
    > There is a Sex Pistols documentary called "The great
    > rock 'n' roll
    > swindle" which is itself a Malcolm McLaren swindle.
    > I'll call the
    > following proposition "The great dialectic swindle":
    >
    > Nobody wants to get duped. Heaven freaking forbid
    > you get duped.
    > All ideologies are suspected as tools to control the
    > minds of the
    > proletariat/disenfranchised/duped to keep them from
    > rising up,
    > claiming their due, and getting unduped. Thus the
    > goal is to ever
    > suspect and critique -- proving yourself
    > intelligent, free, radical,
    > enlightened, and above all, not duped. To quote T.
    > Rex, "You won't
    > fool the children of the revolution!" Of course,
    > the only ones able
    > to recognize that you are not duped are the few free
    > souls also not
    > duped. Anyone unable to recognize your lack of
    > dupedness must
    > themselves be duped. (They may have read Derrida,
    > but they didn't
    > read him in French.)
    >
    > I propose that this inordinate fear of being duped
    > is one of the
    > biggest dupes of all. If the human soul exists, if
    > a spiritual realm
    > exists, if God exists, if certain objective truths
    > exist, if certain
    > universal aspects of human nature exist apart from
    > historical
    > materialism -- then those who suspect such things as
    > being "duping
    > constructs" are getting meta-duped. This is indeed
    > a thorny,
    > catch-22 mindfuck -- to suspect as duping constructs
    > the very things
    > that could free you, all the while being duped by
    > the very
    > safeguards you think are keeping you from being
    > duped.
    >
    > (Couldn't my own suspicion of the meta-dupe be an
    > even bigger
    > meta-meta-dupe? So says Derrida in French.)
    >
    > peace,
    > curt
    >
    >
    >
    >
    > At 7:51 AM -0700 5/29/06, Marisa Olson wrote:
    > >Hey, guys. This thread is interesting. My two
    > cents...
    > >
    > >I don't really think that the loss of the aura is
    > such a bad thing--or
    > >something that Benjamin necessarily laments. I read
    > the aura as 'stuff
    > >that gets in the way' (ie perceived phenom of a
    > distance), or
    > >moreover, as the immaterial (but weighty) presence
    > of history,
    > >hegemony, and aesthetics.
    > >
    > >I think that, in Benjamin's discussion of property
    > systems, and
    > >particularly in his citation of Marinetti's
    > futurist proclamation that
    > >"war is beautiful," that he's call for us to
    > relieve ourselves of
    > >aesthetic models that impose certain negative
    > relationships between
    > >works and individuals. I believe he's saying that
    > these same models
    > >inscribe our subjectivity--as traced by our models
    > of consumption--as
    > >victims of the property/fascist system(s) that have
    > beget our
    > >aesthetic systems. In this vain, "war is beautiful"
    > is not such a
    > >confusing statement. A fascist system begets an
    > aesthetic system that
    > >says X, Y, and Z equal beauty; ergo war equals
    > beauty. It's a way of
    > >seeing how violent the aesthetic "regime" (to
    > perhaps overdo it a bit)
    > >has become...
    > >
    > >Anyway, I'm travelling and don't have the book with
    > me so I can't
    > >offer any relevant quotes, but it's something I've
    > also been thinking
    > >about lately, so I wanted to chime in.
    > >
    > >Best,
    > >Marisa
    > >
    >
    > +
    > -> 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 | Tue May 30th 2006 9:52 a.m.
    Dirk Vekemans suggested a fifth place in which to locate the aura --
    in the psychologically constructed "space" of the non-linear
    narrative. I hate to use the phrase "virtual space" because that
    seems like VRML and Poser avatars, and that is way too limited (and
    techno-dorky) a definition of this kind of mindspace. What I'm
    talking about is more like the unconscious mental architecture that
    you naturally construct while "surfing" a "site." There's a way to
    hijack this mental architecture and embed an aura into it via
    disorientation. In such works/spaces/places, the "site architecture"
    isn't there to support the the "content" of the "plot." Instead, the
    opposite is true -- the "plot" is the architecture itself, and the
    content merely serves to give the architecture form. I call such
    spaces "fugal narratives": http://deepyoung.org/permanent/fugue/ .
    Mine is here: http://lab404.com/plotfracture/ . Another favorite is
    http://www.silverladder.com/links/badscary/intro.htm

    Dirk's cathedral is here:
    http://www.vilt.net/nkdee/

    and this from http://www.vilt.net/nkdee/presence.jsp :
    In order to build the game i need to create a universe here first .
    Now i don't have the time nor the budget to go about it the Star Wars
    way so it's gonna be a rather simple universe. Not a model of the
    universe, just a space with places in them, so there's gonna be a lot
    of fiction involved. I don't like the 'page' metaphor for files that
    are accessible by requesting them, i prefer a fictionalisation into
    'place'. - dv

    curt
  • Patrick May | Tue May 30th 2006 10:10 a.m.
    First I thought we ought to forget about the aura / author, then I
    was amused by the role of the "scriptor":

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_the_author

    ~ Patrick

    On May 27, 2006, at 3:43 PM, Curt Cloninger wrote:

    > Walter Benjamin says that people used to attach an "aura" (roughly,
    > sense of awe) to the scarce, original unique, physical art object.
    > Benjamin observes that since everything is now infinitely
    > reproducible, we've lost this aura.
    >
    > As an artist not making one-of-a-kind objects, where can I relocate
    > the aura? To answer ,"In the network" is like answering "in the
    > air," or "in time," or "in existence." I need a more specific,
    > behavioral/tactical description of this new locus of awe and aura.
    >
    > Designer Clement Mok says designers should describe their practice
    > not in terms of media deliverables ("I make websites"), but as
    > doctors and lawyers do, in terms of services performed and results
    > achieved. A doctor doesn't say, "I make incisions." A lawyer
    > doesn't say, "I generate paperwork." This seems like a better way
    > for a "new media artist" to describe her art. (Note: Even the term
    > "new media artist" describes her in terms of media deliverables.)
    > She shouldn't say, "I make net art." Better to say, "I cause x to
    > happen. I orchestrate x. I'm investigating x." Thus in
    > describing "where" I relocate the aura, I should avoid saying,
    > "It's in the podcast, weblog, RSS feed, wearable mobile computing
    > device, etc."
    >
    > As an artist, my self-imposed mandate is to increase a more lively
    > dialogue with the Sundry Essences of Wonder. If wonder is akin to
    > awe is akin to aura, I'd better figure out where to relocate the aura.
    >
    > ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    >
    > There are four places I can house the aura that seem interesting:
    >
    > 1.
    > In the destabilized/variable event/object. Generative software
    > makes this possible. My bubblegum cards are a personal example
    > ( http://computerfinearts.com/collection/cloninger/bubblegum/ )
    > Cage and Kaprow are precedences. The aura is embedded in the
    > chance and variability that the artist invites into the
    > destabilized/variable performance.
    >
    > 2.
    > In the perpetually enacted and iterated act/stance/position. My
    > ongoing [remix] series of posts to rhizome RAW are a personal
    > example. Ray Johnson's life/death and mail art, Joseph Beuys
    > pedagogy, and D.J. Spooky's perpetual remix as talisman are
    > precedences. Even Howard Finster, Daniel Johnston, and Henry
    > Darger qualify, albeit in a less consciously tactical capacity --
    > prodigiously outputting without thought of object uniqueness/
    > scarcity/worth/market value. The act of perpetual creation is the
    > art, and the output is (to greater or lesser degrees) incidental
    > ephemera. William Blake almost qualifies. The stream is
    > perpetual; it becomes the new "event object;" and in this stream
    > the aura is embedded. Note: This approach takes lots of energy.
    >
    > 3.
    > In the boundaries of context. Our Deep/Young Ethereal Archive
    > ( http://deepyoung.org ) is a personal example. Precedences and co-
    > examples are:
    > http://www.mjt.org/ ,
    > http://www.grographics.com/theysaysmall/small/RotherhitheUniversity/ ,
    > http://www.museum-ordure.org.uk/ .
    > http://
    > www.thatwordwhichmeanssmugglingacrossbordersincorporated.com/ ,
    > http://www.dearauntnettie.com/gallery/ .
    > This approach necessarily involves disorientation and re-
    > orientation. The contextual frame is soft, and the aura is embedded
    > into this soft frame. Keeping this frame soft is a delicate
    > matter. It requires a heightened, sometimes schizophrenic sense of
    > performative awareness (cf: Ray Johnson, David Wilson). It may
    > require the artist to alienate "real" art institutions wishing to
    > fit the art into their frame. As the artist of such work, I can't
    > overtly foreground the soft contextual frame as my intended locus
    > of aura. If I do, the soft frame I'm working so hard to construct
    > and keep soft immediately solidifies and is in turn meta-framed by
    > a much more solid, didactic, "artist statement" frame; and the aura
    > flies away. Note: Warhol well understood that an object's scarcity
    > was a silly contemporary place for the aura to go. Instead, he
    > ingeniously embedded the aura in the foregrounded concept of the
    > object's scarcity. His deep awareness of this ironic relationship
    > may explain why his art objects now sell for so much. (cf: http://
    > www.dream-dollars.com/ ).
    >
    > 4.
    > In human relationships. Personal examples might be http://
    > www.lab404.com/data/ and http://www.playdamage.org/quilt/ . Co-
    > examples might be http://learningtoloveyoumore.com , http://
    > www.foundmagazine.com/ , and some of Jillian McDonald's performance
    > pieces ( http://www.jillianmcdonald.net/performance.html ). You
    > could describe this as "network" art, but compare it to Alex
    > Galloway's Carnivore, which is also network art, and you realize
    > "network" is too broad a term. This human relationship art is not
    > about the network as an abstract monolithic cultural entity. It is
    > about humans who happen to be interacting with each other via
    > networks. The aura is embedded not in the network, but in the
    > human relationships that the art invites. As with locus #1 (In the
    > destabilized/variable event/object), this locus necessarily
    > involves chance, because human relationships necessarily involve
    > chance.
    >
    > These four places for housing the aura are not mutually exclusive.
    > Conceivably, a single artwork could house the aura in all four
    > places. This warrants further artistic investigation.
    >
    > curt
    > +
    > -> 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 | Tue May 30th 2006 10:28 a.m.
    [The scriptor] is born simultaneously with the text, is in no way
    equipped with a being preceding or exceeding the writing, [and] is
    not the subject with the book as predicate." (Barthes)

    A fairly accurate description of several actionScript programmers I know.
    cf: http://www.markamerika.com/filmtext/

    At 12:10 PM -0400 5/30/06, Patrick May wrote:
    >First I thought we ought to forget about the aura / author, then I
    >was amused by the role of the "scriptor":
    >
    > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_the_author
    >
    > ~ Patrick
  • Rob Myers | Tue May 30th 2006 1:39 p.m.
    [Relational Art] is auratic. Because without the aura of management -
    uh- art, what differentiates the social and aesthetic incompetence of
    RA from just actual social and aesthetic incompetence?"

    http://www.robmyers.org/weblog/2006/04/21/relational-aesthetics-the-
    institutional-theory-suspension-of-judgement-radical-commitment-via-
    rhizome-raw/

    This is the aura of value, of the addition of value through
    management of human relations, which is a managerial aspiration.

    - Rob.
  • curt cloninger | Tue May 30th 2006 5:14 p.m.
    Hi Rob,

    I assume this is referring to proposed aura relocation locus #4: "In human relationships." Yes?

    This from Susanne Lacy's 1993 essay on "new genre public art:"
    "What exists in the space between the words public and art is an unknown relationship between artist and audience, a relationship that may *itself* become the artwork."

    Emphasis on the words "unknown" and "may become."

    What if the aura is not embedded didactically and managerially by the artist into these relationships? What if situations are constructed by the artist and then observed to see what aura might arise from these relationships? I liken it to generative art. The artist/author has a modicum of control, but if he's in total control, it's not generative art. The paradigm is one of research rather than auteur artmaking. Do you deny that such art is possible?

    Rob Myers wrote:

    > "[Relational Art] is auratic. Because without the aura of management
    > -
    > uh- art, what differentiates the social and aesthetic incompetence of
    >
    > RA from just actual social and aesthetic incompetence?"
    >
    > http://www.robmyers.org/weblog/2006/04/21/relational-aesthetics-the-
    > institutional-theory-suspension-of-judgement-radical-commitment-via-
    > rhizome-raw/
    >
    > This is the aura of value, of the addition of value through
    > management of human relations, which is a managerial aspiration.
    >
    > - Rob.
  • Rob Myers | Wed May 31st 2006 6:44 a.m.
    Quoting curt cloninger <curt@lab404.com>:

    > I assume this is referring to proposed aura relocation locus #4: "In
    > human relationships." Yes?

    It's in relation to one of the current major descriptions of art (Relational
    Aesthetics) and #4 is a good description of that so yes. :-)

    > What if the aura is not embedded didactically and managerially by the
    > artist into these relationships?

    The aura is not at the level of the precise variation of content. I am not
    talking about a blue or red aura, I am talking about the presence of a
    coloured
    aura, and what the preence of a coloured aura means. The managerial aura is at
    the level of the class of work (Relational Art) and how such works are
    structured. The artist doesn't have to be didactic and the managerial element
    is immanent to the nature of the work, not a chosen stance of the artist.

    > What if situations are constructed by the artist and then observed to
    > see what aura might arise from these relationships?

    They will have the aura of managed situations and evaluative observation
    motivated by the creation or extraction of value, which is managerial.

    > I liken it to generative art. The artist/author has a modicum of
    > control, but if he's in total control, it's not generative art. The
    > paradigm is one of research rather than auteur artmaking. Do you
    > deny that such art is possible?

    Given my generative background, not really. ;-)

    This is an interesting comparison. Certainly in both instances we have an
    artistic system of constraints and (claimed) non-artist agency. But in
    the case
    of generative art these are instrumental, whereas in relational art
    they are the
    art. Relational art is more like push polling that scientific research
    (or soft
    reseearch like market research).

    Relational Art gives (claims) results (aesthetic phenomena) at the level of
    human relations. The nature of these relations may vary (and it doesn't matter
    whether they are positive or negative, emergent or imposed). But they
    are still
    relations. What gives these relations value is not their precise nature but
    their general existence as part of a class of phenomena, and their existence
    has been encouraged and identified as valuable by the artist. This creation of
    value by directing human relations for institutions in this way is managerial.

    - Rob.
  • Alexis Turner | Wed May 31st 2006 11:26 a.m.
    Awe and wonder" are attached to the novel. The curve is an
    interesting one - up to a point, the pleasure derived from such an experience
    increases with the novelty of the object; however, once that certain point of
    novelty is reached, the experience exponentially plummets into an unpleasurable
    one. People's minds are tickled by a level of difficulty, but when the object
    becomes too foreign, complex, or new, it is met with revulsion and anger.

    In other words, Benjamin's "aura" and "awe and wonder" are really just a
    metaphor for learning, and the concept can be applied to anything, not just art.
    A little bit of a challenge
    in an object is pleasurable precisely because it creates this learning
    experience and awakens curiosity. If the understanding of an object is too far
    out of reach, however, the person cannot "get it" and thus lashes out. It
    becomes "stupid" or "boring" or "wrong." How many times have you heard that in
    a classroom/gallery/concert/world affairs?

    So, in this regard, Benjamin (and your mission) is wrong - the locus of the aura
    is not the object, it is the mind of the person experiencing the object, and
    aura, as an experience, can never be lost if a person exists who hasn't seen or
    learned everything there is to know. One person may fail to express wonder at
    an object if it is familiar to them, but to another it represents something
    they've never fathomed. Likewise, the person bored by the first object will
    find others intriguing.

    I use the computer, and I make art, to discover (better?) (new?) ways to teach
    and create understanding.
    -Alexis

    On Sat, 27 May 2006, Curt Cloninger wrote:

    ::Date: Sat, 27 May 2006 15:43:05 -0400
    ::From: Curt Cloninger <curt@lab404.com>
    ::To: list@rhizome.org
    ::Subject: RHIZOME_RAW: notes for a hypothetical essay on relocating the aura
    ::
    ::Walter Benjamin says that people used to attach an "aura" (roughly, sense of
    ::awe) to the scarce, original unique, physical art object. Benjamin observes
    ::that since everything is now infinitely reproducible, we've lost this aura.
    ::
    ::As an artist not making one-of-a-kind objects, where can I relocate the aura?
    ::To answer ,"In the network" is like answering "in the air," or "in time," or
    ::"in existence." I need a more specific, behavioral/tactical description of
    ::this new locus of awe and aura.
    ::
    ::Designer Clement Mok says designers should describe their practice not in
    ::terms of media deliverables ("I make websites"), but as doctors and lawyers
    ::do, in terms of services performed and results achieved. A doctor doesn't
    ::say, "I make incisions." A lawyer doesn't say, "I generate paperwork." This
    ::seems like a better way for a "new media artist" to describe her art. (Note:
    ::Even the term "new media artist" describes her in terms of media
    ::deliverables.) She shouldn't say, "I make net art." Better to say, "I cause x
    ::to happen. I orchestrate x. I'm investigating x." Thus in describing
    ::"where" I relocate the aura, I should avoid saying, "It's in the podcast,
    ::weblog, RSS feed, wearable mobile computing device, etc."
    ::
    ::As an artist, my self-imposed mandate is to increase a more lively dialogue
    ::with the Sundry Essences of Wonder. If wonder is akin to awe is akin to aura,
    ::I'd better figure out where to relocate the aura.
    ::
    ::++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    ::
    ::There are four places I can house the aura that seem interesting:
    ::
    ::1.
    ::In the destabilized/variable event/object. Generative software makes this
    ::possible. My bubblegum cards are a personal example (
    ::http://computerfinearts.com/collection/cloninger/bubblegum/ ) Cage and Kaprow
    ::are precedences. The aura is embedded in the chance and variability that the
    ::artist invites into the destabilized/variable performance.
    ::
    ::2.
    ::In the perpetually enacted and iterated act/stance/position. My ongoing
    ::[remix] series of posts to rhizome RAW are a personal example. Ray Johnson's
    ::life/death and mail art, Joseph Beuys pedagogy, and D.J. Spooky's perpetual
    ::remix as talisman are precedences. Even Howard Finster, Daniel Johnston, and
    ::Henry Darger qualify, albeit in a less consciously tactical capacity --
    ::prodigiously outputting without thought of object
    ::uniqueness/scarcity/worth/market value. The act of perpetual creation is the
    ::art, and the output is (to greater or lesser degrees) incidental ephemera.
    ::William Blake almost qualifies. The stream is perpetual; it becomes the new
    ::"event object;" and in this stream the aura is embedded. Note: This approach
    ::takes lots of energy.
    ::
    ::3.
    ::In the boundaries of context. Our Deep/Young Ethereal Archive (
    ::http://deepyoung.org ) is a personal example. Precedences and co-examples
    ::are:
    ::http://www.mjt.org/ ,
    ::http://www.grographics.com/theysaysmall/small/RotherhitheUniversity/ ,
    ::http://www.museum-ordure.org.uk/ .
    ::http://www.thatwordwhichmeanssmugglingacrossbordersincorporated.com/ ,
    ::http://www.dearauntnettie.com/gallery/ .
    ::This approach necessarily involves disorientation and re-orientation. The
    ::contextual frame is soft, and the aura is embedded into this soft frame.
    ::Keeping this frame soft is a delicate matter. It requires a heightened,
    ::sometimes schizophrenic sense of performative awareness (cf: Ray Johnson,
    ::David Wilson). It may require the artist to alienate "real" art institutions
    ::wishing to fit the art into their frame. As the artist of such work, I can't
    ::overtly foreground the soft contextual frame as my intended locus of aura. If
    ::I do, the soft frame I'm working so hard to construct and keep soft
    ::immediately solidifies and is in turn meta-framed by a much more solid,
    ::didactic, "artist statement" frame; and the aura flies away. Note: Warhol
    ::well understood that an object's scarcity was a silly contemporary place for
    ::the aura to go. Instead, he ingeniously embedded the aura in the foregrounded
    ::concept of the object's scarcity. His deep awareness of this ironic
    ::relationship may explain why his art objects now sell for so much. (cf:
    ::http://www.dream-dollars.com/ ).
    ::
    ::4.
    ::In human relationships. Personal examples might be
    ::http://www.lab404.com/data/ and http://www.playdamage.org/quilt/ . Co-examples
    ::might be http://learningtoloveyoumore.com , http://www.foundmagazine.com/ ,
    ::and some of Jillian McDonald's performance pieces (
    ::http://www.jillianmcdonald.net/performance.html ). You could describe this as
    ::"network" art, but compare it to Alex Galloway's Carnivore, which is also
    ::network art, and you realize "network" is too broad a term. This human
    ::relationship art is not about the network as an abstract monolithic cultural
    ::entity. It is about humans who happen to be interacting with each other via
    ::networks. The aura is embedded not in the network, but in the human
    ::relationships that the art invites. As with locus #1 (In the
    ::destabilized/variable event/object), this locus necessarily involves chance,
    ::because human relationships necessarily involve chance.
    ::
    ::These four places for housing the aura are not mutually exclusive.
    ::Conceivably, a single artwork could house the aura in all four places. This
    ::warrants further artistic investigation.
    ::
    ::curt
    ::+
    ::-> 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 | Wed May 31st 2006 2:20 p.m.
    Hi Alexis,

    I agree with a lot of what you are saying regarding awe/wonder and its relationship to successful teaching. I subscribe to a pedagogical philosophy that says a teacher can't really "teach" anything. Instead, a teacher's job is to cause learning to occur. It's a subtle but crucial distinction. Didactic lectures are much less effective than creating exploratory situations. When a student experientially discovers something (as opposed to just being told that something), then she owns that something. My challenge as a teacher is to create situations where such discovery can occur. And for this to be truly effective (and not merely a camoflaged, connect-the-dots object lesson), I have to accept the fact that my students may arrive at conclusions different than my own, and I have to be willing to alter my own conclusions. It's inductive vs. deductive hermeneutics.

    As you say, the trick is to make the topic experientially intriguing enough to engage and invite, while not making it so cryptic that it mystifies and repels. There is a continuum that runs from didactic preaching on the one extreme to cryptic confusion on the other, and the ideal pedagogical approach lies somewhere in between. Substitute "artistic voice" for "pedagogical approach," and the same probably hold true.

    Two quotations come to mind. Spinal Tap warns against the overly cryptic extreme: "There's a fine line between stupid and clever." Muddy Waters warns against the overly didactic extreme: "If the audience can understand every word, then you're singing it wrong."

    I disagree with your assignment of the aura to the mind of the student/patron/user. Much as I hate to admit it, Cary Peppermint's old idea of performance as a kind of "conductor" seems useful. There is the student and the teacher, and there is "something" that occurs between them. Whatever that "something" is, that's "where" the aura resides. The best teacher is able to awaken awe in students ranging from dull to jaded. The best artist is able to do the same. If I though it was all totally subjective based on the audeince's prior experience, I would stop teaching and making art.

    best,
    curt

    Alexis Turner wrote:

    Awe and wonder" are attached to the novel. The curve is an
    interesting one - up to a point, the pleasure derived from such an experience
    increases with the novelty of the object; however, once that certain point of
    novelty is reached, the experience exponentially plummets into an unpleasurable
    one. People's minds are tickled by a level of difficulty, but when the object
    becomes too foreign, complex, or new, it is met with revulsion and anger.

    In other words, Benjamin's "aura" and "awe and wonder" are really just a
    metaphor for learning, and the concept can be applied to anything, not just art.
    A little bit of a challenge
    in an object is pleasurable precisely because it creates this learning
    experience and awakens curiosity. If the understanding of an object is too far
    out of reach, however, the person cannot "get it" and thus lashes out. It
    becomes "stupid" or "boring" or "wrong." How many times have you heard that in
    a classroom/gallery/concert/world affairs?

    So, in this regard, Benjamin (and your mission) is wrong - the locus of the aura
    is not the object, it is the mind of the person experiencing the object, and
    aura, as an experience, can never be lost if a person exists who hasn't seen or
    learned everything there is to know. One person may fail to express wonder at
    an object if it is familiar to them, but to another it represents something
    they've never fathomed. Likewise, the person bored by the first object will
    find others intriguing.

    I use the computer, and I make art, to discover (better?) (new?) ways to teach
    and create understanding.
    -Alexis
  • Eric Dymond | Wed May 31st 2006 8:12 p.m.
    curt cloninger wrote:

    > Hi Alexis,
    >
    > I agree with a lot of what you are saying regarding awe/wonder and its
    > relationship to successful teaching. I subscribe to a pedagogical
    > philosophy that says a teacher can't really "teach" anything.
    > Instead, a teacher's job is to cause learning to occur. It's a subtle
    > but crucial distinction. Didactic lectures are much less effective
    > than creating exploratory situations. When a student experientially
    > discovers something (as opposed to just being told that something),
    > then she owns that something. My challenge as a teacher is to create
    > situations where such discovery can occur. And for this to be truly
    > effective (and not merely a camoflaged, connect-the-dots object
    > lesson), I have to accept the fact that my students may arrive at
    > conclusions different than my own, and I have to be willing to alter
    > my own conclusions. It's inductive vs. deductive hermeneutics.
    >
    > As you say, the trick is to make the topic experientially intriguing
    > enough to engage and invite, while not making it so cryptic that it
    > mystifies and repels. There is a continuum that runs from didactic
    > preaching on the one extreme to cryptic confusion on the other, and
    > the ideal pedagogical approach lies somewhere in between. Substitute
    > "artistic voice" for "pedagogical approach," and the same probably
    > hold true.
    >
    > Two quotations come to mind. Spinal Tap warns against the overly
    > cryptic extreme: "There's a fine line between stupid and clever."
    > Muddy Waters warns against the overly didactic extreme: "If the
    > audience can understand every word, then you're singing it wrong."
    >
    http://www2.gsu.edu/~dschjb/wwwmbti.html
    there are a wide variety of learning types ( and now this is starting to sound like on of my pro-dev workshops) but the method you outlined doesn't work ( at least according to most educators I work with) with all students. The group you appeal to are the extroverts and sensory, which will sway the learning experience of others to their favour *human nature* , thats why they are who they are.
    Myers-Briggs Type Indicators actually do work. I tought a strange (by most standards) grouping last semester. The computer programmers fell into a Thinking versus Feeling grouping by majority, while the Figure Drawing class required an emphasis on the Sensing versus Intuition type of learning experience. These were 2 seperate programs with 4 groups of students.
    Computer students:
    http://mediastudies.humber.ca/index.php?page=fulltime&task=view&id34578&sortby=alpha&category=Postsecondary&designation=&assocTHtail
    Visual Arts Students
    http://mediastudies.humber.ca/index.php?page=fulltime&task=view&id34589&sortby=alpha&category=Postsecondary&designation=&assocTHtail

    Although noone falls directly into one group, there is a rainbow of learning types, I do have students who would find the engegement technique you describe as unpalatable. Now thats not to say that all would reject it, however, we have international students with MA's in Computer Science from India, who require a formal lesson plan (17 of them), and students from the toughest area in Toronto , Jamestown, who need the sensory and judging approach, and kids from everywhere else in the country (Canada), who fall into every manner of grouping.
    I have no idea where the aura lies in my daily routine, but the students tend to like my approach, and they are unaware that I am tapping into all four streams when I educate.

    > I disagree with your assignment of the aura to the mind of the
    > student/patron/user. Much as I hate to admit it, Cary Peppermint's
    > old idea of performance as a kind of "conductor" seems useful. There
    > is the student and the teacher, and there is "something" that occurs
    > between them. Whatever that "something" is, that's "where" the aura
    > resides. The best teacher is able to awaken awe in students ranging
    > from dull to jaded. The best artist is able to do the same. If I
    > though it was all totally subjective based on the audeince's prior
    > experience, I would stop teaching and making art.
    >

    No you wouldn't. It might perturbe you, but you would continue. I agree with most of what Alexis stated , and believe that the aura, artistically, has been disconnected from the object, and the space between. Residing wholly and completely in the personal time of the receiver. Bad news for producers and managers, good news for the individual. Think of podcats, vblogs, and the new audience and then explain the role of the classic aura to me or any aura, I don't think it exists, it was a convenience to describe a shared social experience.

    Great thread. And better threads within threads.

    Eric

    > Awe and wonder" are attached to the novel. The curve is an
    > interesting one - up to a point, the pleasure derived from such an
    > experience
    > increases with the novelty of the object; however, once that certain
    > point of
    > novelty is reached, the experience exponentially plummets into an
    > unpleasurable
    > one. People's minds are tickled by a level of difficulty, but when the
    > object
    > becomes too foreign, complex, or new, it is met with revulsion and
    > anger.
    >
    > In other words, Benjamin's "aura" and "awe and wonder" are really just
    > a
    > metaphor for learning, and the concept can be applied to anything, not
    > just art.
    > A little bit of a challenge
    > in an object is pleasurable precisely because it creates this
    > learning
    > experience and awakens curiosity. If the understanding of an object is
    > too far
    > out of reach, however, the person cannot "get it" and thus lashes out.
    > It
    > becomes "stupid" or "boring" or "wrong." How many times have you heard
    > that in
    > a classroom/gallery/concert/world affairs?
    >
    > So, in this regard, Benjamin (and your mission) is wrong - the locus
    > of the aura
    > is not the object, it is the mind of the person experiencing the
    > object, and
    > aura, as an experience, can never be lost if a person exists who
    > hasn't seen or
    > learned everything there is to know. One person may fail to express
    > wonder at
    > an object if it is familiar to them, but to another it represents
    > something
    > they've never fathomed. Likewise, the person bored by the first object
    > will
    > find others intriguing.
    >
    > I use the computer, and I make art, to discover (better?) (new?) ways
    > to teach
    > and create understanding.

    Who is understanding anything? ;-)

    > -Alexis
  • curt cloninger | Thu Jun 1st 2006 8:59 a.m.
    Hi Eric,

    I agree that there are different learning styles. Maybe I over-described my approach, skewing it toward those students who learn by doing. The goal is to do whatever it takes to cause learning to occur, student by student. Even with those who like rigour, at some point they still have to own the material themselves. I teach in a program that's interdisciplinary, so I get art students and programmers. Teaching programmers graphic design is always a challenge. Teaching painters code is usually easier.

    The aura in a podcast is in locus #2: In the perpetually enacted and iterated act/stance/position. A perpetual stream from a consistent perspective replaces the object as the locus of aura.

    curt

    Eric Dymond wrote:

    > http://www2.gsu.edu/~dschjb/wwwmbti.html
    > there are a wide variety of learning types ( and now this is starting
    > to sound like on of my pro-dev workshops) but the method you outlined
    > doesn't work ( at least according to most educators I work with) with
    > all students. The group you appeal to are the extroverts and sensory,
    > which will sway the learning experience of others to their favour
    > *human nature* , thats why they are who they are.
    > Myers-Briggs Type Indicators actually do work. I tought a strange (by
    > most standards) grouping last semester. The computer programmers fell
    > into a Thinking versus Feeling grouping by majority, while the Figure
    > Drawing class required an emphasis on the Sensing versus Intuition
    > type of learning experience. These were 2 seperate programs with 4
    > groups of students.
    > Computer students:
    > http://mediastudies.humber.ca/index.php?page=fulltime&task=view&id34578&sortby=alpha&category=Postsecondary&designation=&assocTHtail
    > Visual Arts Students
    > http://mediastudies.humber.ca/index.php?page=fulltime&task=view&id34589&sortby=alpha&category=Postsecondary&designation=&assocTHtail
    >
    >
    > Although noone falls directly into one group, there is a rainbow of
    > learning types, I do have students who would find the engegement
    > technique you describe as unpalatable. Now thats not to say that all
    > would reject it, however, we have international students with MA's in
    > Computer Science from India, who require a formal lesson plan (17 of
    > them), and students from the toughest area in Toronto , Jamestown, who
    > need the sensory and judging approach, and kids from everywhere else
    > in the country (Canada), who fall into every manner of grouping.
    > I have no idea where the aura lies in my daily routine, but the
    > students tend to like my approach, and they are unaware that I am
    > tapping into all four streams when I educate.
    ..
    >
    > No you wouldn't. It might perturbe you, but you would continue. I
    > agree with most of what Alexis stated , and believe that the aura,
    > artistically, has been disconnected from the object, and the space
    > between. Residing wholly and completely in the personal time of the
    > receiver. Bad news for producers and managers, good news for the
    > individual. Think of podcats, vblogs, and the new audience and then
    > explain the role of the classic aura to me or any aura, I don't think
    > it exists, it was a convenience to describe a shared social
    > experience.
    >
    > Great thread. And better threads within threads.
    >
    > Eric
  • Alexis Turner | Thu Jun 1st 2006 12:08 p.m.
    Sorry, I still have to say that it is about as useful to describe an object as
    having an "aura" as it is to describe it as having honest-to-goodness "magic."

    Historically, the art that awed, impressed, and created wonder was the
    art that explained something fundamental about human nature or the world. It
    showed people something they already knew (but in a new way), it improved upon
    their existing body of knowledge, or else it exposed them to something they had
    never realized was possible. For art to do this, however, it must have 3
    things at a minimum, and all ultimately go back to the mind and how it
    processes said art: the work must be experienced, must have meaning, and must
    have effect.

    None of these are magic.

    That said, I suspect the reason current art has no "aura," as Benjamin feared,
    is because current art has no meaning, insofar as it seems no longer to be
    produced with the idea that it can inform or change the people that make it
    or view it. Instead, it is just "stuff" produced by a bunch of post-modern
    wankers who like the romantic idea of what it means to be artists, and so sit
    around and hope that if they explain what they are doing in pretty enough words
    (even if what they are doing is simply pooping for a peephole), that somehow
    THAT makes it, not just art, but BETTER art and it will thus awe people in
    accordingly bigger and better ways. Fetishizing an object or an act simply
    because it exists (a podcast) or because of an intrinsic quality (it takes a
    long time) does not imbue it with meaning, and the viewer is certainly adept
    enough to understand this at a fundamental level, even if they might not be able
    to put their finger on it. In the end, the art fails to spark the mind, or
    have "aura."
    -Alexis

    PS: Your problem with the idea of the viewer engaged with their mind, instead
    of their "feelings" (the whole Myers-Briggs diversion) is semantic only.
    Feelings and the mind are inseparable. While one may respond more logically or
    more emotionally to an object, the response is nonetheless informed by a
    person's history and understanding of the world. I use mind loosely to mean
    understanding.

    On Thu, 1 Jun 2006, curt cloninger wrote:

    ::The aura in a podcast is in locus #2: In the perpetually enacted and iterated act/stance/position. A perpetual stream from a consistent perspective replaces the object as the locus of aura.
    ::
    ::curt
    ::
    ::
    ::
    ::Eric Dymond wrote:
    ::
    ::>
    ::> No you wouldn't. It might perturbe you, but you would continue. I
    ::> agree with most of what Alexis stated , and believe that the aura,
    ::> artistically, has been disconnected from the object, and the space
    ::> between. Residing wholly and completely in the personal time of the
    ::> receiver. Bad news for producers and managers, good news for the
    ::> individual. Think of podcats, vblogs, and the new audience and then
    ::> explain the role of the classic aura to me or any aura, I don't think
    ::> it exists, it was a convenience to describe a shared social
    ::> experience.
    ::>
    ::> Great thread. And better threads within threads.
    ::>
    ::> Eric
  • curt cloninger | Thu Jun 1st 2006 2:16 p.m.
    Hi Alexis,

    Just because a bunch of sucky contemporary artists waste their time delineating the nuances of a bunch of scatalogical theory that ultimately doesn't amount to a hill of beans or make their art any less sucky, this doesn't prove that all theoretical dialogue is bullshit. Merely asserting that something seems like shit from your perspective doesn't really dismantle that shitty something.

    You assert that current art has no aura because it has no meaning. But art can have an aura without having meaning. A rock can have an aura without having artistic meaning. If certain pieces of contemporary art have no meaning, it's simply because they have no meaning. Yet they may still have an aura.

    My understanding of humans also assigns thoughts and feelings to the mind. I further understand humans to operate out of a heart/core/will/spirit. Then of course there is the body and the social relations. All of these aspects are integrated into a single being. The integrating aspect is the soul. So goes my understanding of humans.

    You assert that successful art must have three things: "all ultimately go back to the mind and how it processes said art: the work must be experienced, must have meaning, and must
    have effect. None of these are magic." I disagree. Successful art need not have "meaning" per se. Furthermore, experience and effect don't solely happen in the mind. There is something "magical" about how we experience art and how it effects us (although magic connotes alchemy and a selfish manipulation of nature. I would say "spiritual.")

    Explain instrumental music's effect on a listener in terms of mere psychology. For one thing, instrumental music has no "meaning." Is it effective because the mathematical relationship of the rhythms and melodies produce an ordered and harmonious effect that is interpretable psychologically? I've heard all that argued and don't buy it. Instrumental music has both psychological and spiritual characteristics. Of course, neither of us can prove that it does or doesn't, so we disagree.

    Music aside, I definitely agree that good art is going to be about something other than merely its own mechanism of transference. That is hopefully a given. Nevertheless, regardless of genre and subject matter, there is something different about object art and non-object art. I'm not saying that this difference solely constiutes all there is to the art. I'm just saying this difference exists, and I'm thinking about it.

    Is there not something different about a book from the library that has been checked out and read by a bunch of people and the exact same book new from Amazon? It's the same content, the same subject matter, but the library book has a kind of history and provenance. Is that provenance psychologically ascribed to the library book by the reader, or does it emanate from the spiritual history of the library book itself? Whichever it is, the library book is somehow different than the new book.

    best,
    curt

    Alexis Turner wrote:

    Sorry, I still have to say that it is about as useful to describe an object as
    having an "aura" as it is to describe it as having honest-to-goodness "magic."

    Historically, the art that awed, impressed, and created wonder was the
    art that explained something fundamental about human nature or the world. It
    showed people something they already knew (but in a new way), it improved upon
    their existing body of knowledge, or else it exposed them to something they had
    never realized was possible. For art to do this, however, it must have 3
    things at a minimum, and all ultimately go back to the mind and how it
    processes said art: the work must be experienced, must have meaning, and must
    have effect.

    None of these are magic.

    That said, I suspect the reason current art has no "aura," as Benjamin feared,
    is because current art has no meaning, insofar as it seems no longer to be
    produced with the idea that it can inform or change the people that make it
    or view it. Instead, it is just "stuff" produced by a bunch of post-modern
    wankers who like the romantic idea of what it means to be artists, and so sit
    around and hope that if they explain what they are doing in pretty enough words
    (even if what they are doing is simply pooping for a peephole), that somehow
    THAT makes it, not just art, but BETTER art and it will thus awe people in
    accordingly bigger and better ways. Fetishizing an object or an act simply
    because it exists (a podcast) or because of an intrinsic quality (it takes a
    long time) does not imbue it with meaning, and the viewer is certainly adept
    enough to understand this at a fundamental level, even if they might not be able
    to put their finger on it. In the end, the art fails to spark the mind, or
    have "aura."
    -Alexis
  • Alexis Turner | Thu Jun 1st 2006 4:38 p.m.
    Not to piss off the one person on the list who on occasion actually agrees with
    me...but...

    Do you find it rather absurd that you are trying to refocus the aura of
    MECHANICALLY PRODUCED art? It defies the very, very notion of what Benjamin was
    discussing. Digital art is the antithesis of what he was, and so many of his
    accolytes continue to, carry on about so doey-eyed. If you are truly committed
    to holding on to his idea so dearly, you should really take up oils.

    On the other hand, if you truly want to retain the aura in digital art, then
    you must give Mr. Walter a kick in the pants and rethink the thing altogether, not
    just sort of half-assed moving it around. Until you are willing to do that, I
    do not believe you will find the answer to your question. At the very least,
    you must decide if you want the aura the thing, or if you would be content to
    illicit the effect of the aura, which you did actually seem kind of interested
    in, as your first post mentioned some level of desire to create "awe and wonder"
    in your viewer.

    I have simply posited that a more appropriate locus is in the viewer, as it
    allows you to both have your cake and eat it, too (and please, I will personally
    beat to death the first person that brings up that damn Marie Antoinette thread
    again...MANIK). You get to say there is an aura involved with the piece, as
    well as illiciting appropriately giddy responses in the viewer. Not to mention,
    as Eric pointed out, that the meaning of an object and the artist's place as
    clever educator is just SO much more interesting than the artist as a producer
    of things that people want to have sweaty fantasies about. Nonetheless, this
    is no doubt hard to swallow, as in order to do this I have just taken all the
    magical, fetishistic, cultish power away from non-living art objects and put
    them into the human mind. A book is a book whether from the library, the rare
    book room, or Amazon, notwithstanding my *personal* preference for the politics
    of the first, the feel of the second, and the smell of the third.

    Having said all of that, I am perfectly content to have you believe my opinion
    is crap, but I really do refuse to enter into a debate about the soul of a
    single, perfect, waving blade of grass.
    -Alexis

    On Thu, 1 Jun 2006, curt cloninger wrote:

    ::Hi Alexis,
    ::
    ::Just because a bunch of sucky contemporary artists waste their time delineating the nuances of a bunch of scatalogical theory that ultimately doesn't amount to a hill of beans or make their art any less sucky, this doesn't prove that all theoretical dialogue is bullshit. Merely asserting that something seems like shit from your perspective doesn't really dismantle that shitty something.
    ::
    ::You assert that current art has no aura because it has no meaning. But art can have an aura without having meaning. A rock can have an aura without having artistic meaning. If certain pieces of contemporary art have no meaning, it's simply because they have no meaning. Yet they may still have an aura.
    ::
    ::My understanding of humans also assigns thoughts and feelings to the mind. I further understand humans to operate out of a heart/core/will/spirit. Then of course there is the body and the social relations. All of these aspects are integrated into a single being. The integrating aspect is the soul. So goes my understanding of humans.
    ::
    ::You assert that successful art must have three things: "all ultimately go back to the mind and how it processes said art: the work must be experienced, must have meaning, and must
    ::have effect. None of these are magic." I disagree. Successful art need not have "meaning" per se. Furthermore, experience and effect don't solely happen in the mind. There is something "magical" about how we experience art and how it effects us (although magic connotes alchemy and a selfish manipulation of nature. I would say "spiritual.")
    ::
    ::Explain instrumental music's effect on a listener in terms of mere psychology. For one thing, instrumental music has no "meaning." Is it effective because the mathematical relationship of the rhythms and melodies produce an ordered and harmonious effect that is interpretable psychologically? I've heard all that argued and don't buy it. Instrumental music has both psychological and spiritual characteristics. Of course, neither of us can prove that it does or doesn't, so we disagree.
    ::
    ::Music aside, I definitely agree that good art is going to be about something other than merely its own mechanism of transference. That is hopefully a given. Nevertheless, regardless of genre and subject matter, there is something different about object art and non-object art. I'm not saying that this difference solely constiutes all there is to the art. I'm just saying this difference exists, and I'm thinking about it.
    ::
    ::Is there not something different about a book from the library that has been checked out and read by a bunch of people and the exact same book new from Amazon? It's the same content, the same subject matter, but the library book has a kind of history and provenance. Is that provenance psychologically ascribed to the library book by the reader, or does it emanate from the spiritual history of the library book itself? Whichever it is, the library book is somehow different than the new book.
    ::
    ::best,
    ::curt
  • Dirk Vekemans | Thu Jun 1st 2006 4:40 p.m.
    > Is there not something different about a book from the
    > library that has been checked out and read by a bunch of
    > people and the exact same book new from Amazon? It's the
    > same content, the same subject matter, but the library book
    > has a kind of history and provenance. Is that provenance
    > psychologically ascribed to the library book by the reader,
    > or does it emanate from the spiritual history of the library
    > book itself? Whichever it is, the library book is somehow
    > different than the new book.
    >
    > best,
    > curt
    >

    Patina <it. patina [kind of lacquer, blacking for leather, oxidation on
    bronze]
    <lat. Patina,patena[flat shallow pan] from patere; being open, accessible

    In a Cathedralic confusion of leibniz/deleuze/derrida the dual cycle goes
    like

    aura<absence<aura
    | |
    patina<absence<patina

    It's not that it happens beneath or above the human action/thinking level,
    it happens because the initiating energy has made the book, and afterwards
    it's just secreting/sacri-fying itself. Sure it's a death/decaying process
    but what isn't? That is a personal choice, how you want to look at it.
    There's always another side, and another...

    When you have this kind of aging, you get a material fold, a visible
    referent of the same act spread in spacetime. But you need the basic,
    initial inscription first. You can't inscribe running code. That's the
    flattening aspect of the net, i suppose, turning us into geeks.

    From a literary point of view (the only one i'm a bit sure of)it's a basic
    lack of digital/screen arty stuff you can't have this material link, all the
    timely tiny inscriptions of all the people mostly beating their own souls
    out of the book(thinking it's the book's soul, i think it's an aggregate,
    nothing primary like a stone's soul, or an organism), 'cause these things
    serve as a hook/handle for each new reader/reading, so you gotta
    find/construct other ways of hooking up your audience. Instead the net
    offers you different waves to connect to, but it's hard to find the right
    rhytm. I make 'm scroll, so if i only got 3 seconds, at least i know what
    they are doing. I don't like netvideo too much because i feel you're
    throwing away the opportunity you have to connect rhythmically, making them
    sit back again. Immersive games are a bit the same for me in the sense that
    they don't need or automatically use the net thing. The hybrid thing that it
    is/wants.

    Things will change a bit when we get screens that you can actually look at
    instead of these light sources, i suppose.

    The net thing is too important not to be trying to pour aura into. Click.
    Poor aura. We'll need plenty of that if it comes to making that ai thing
    work for our own survival. I guess that makes me rather radical at times.

    But art is too much a f** up word to make anything with, too much meat &
    soul's going to waste to be making "art" & try to sell it, at least that's
    how i see it. And identity on the net is just some code wit the @-char in
    it, unless it hooks up, but then it isn't you anymore. In this case i put
    this code here. Now where untsoweiter. It doesn't matter. Heck what do i
    know.
    dv
  • ryan griffis | Thu Jun 1st 2006 6:45 p.m.
    On Jun 1, 2006, at 5:38 PM, Alexis Turner wrote:
    >
    > Do you find it rather absurd that you are trying to refocus the
    > aura of
    > MECHANICALLY PRODUCED art? It defies the very, very notion of what
    > Benjamin was
    > discussing. Digital art is the antithesis of what he was, and so
    > many of his
    > accolytes continue to, carry on about so doey-eyed. If you are
    > truly committed
    > to holding on to his idea so dearly, you should really take up oils.

    this isn't really a disagreement or contribution into this thread,
    other than an expression of my annoyance at the continuing
    interpretation of Benjamin's text as simply nostalgic for a lost aura.
    i thought Marisa already addressed this?
    he was pretty firmly situated in the camp that believed in the
    progressive potential of technology and mechanical reproduction to
    add to art's ability to be "radical" and become something other than
    a luxury while critiquing the aestheticized politics of fascism and
    politicized art of the communists. In a lecture delivered to a mostly
    Marxist crowd of Popular Front/anti-fascists, he basically stated
    that experimentation should be considered more politically radical
    than a reliance on subject matter-as-content, ala socialist realism/
    propaganda (the whole "commitment" debate). While there is some
    "mourning" that could be found in Benjamin's account, it's more
    related to the context of the larger changes that occurred in the
    experience of material culture in general, not specifically in visual
    art. it's a change in the relationship between cultural/material
    producers and audiences that seemed important.
    Digital art doesn't "defy the very, very notion of what Benjamin was
    discussing," it pushes the argument further. Think about all the
    discourse on gaming, communication and telepresence... this is a
    clearly documented extension of Benjamin's concerns (not that he was
    the originator of them). And the concerns of people working with
    technology for its relationship to mechanisms of war were preceded by
    Benjamin's concerns that mechanization was a favorable condition to
    war and dominant property relations.
    To be critical of "mechanical reproduction" is not the same as being
    nostalgic for a pre-mechanical past.
    i'm not advocating the importance of Benjamin or his writing, i just
    don't understand the consistent reference to a text, if what's
    contained in the text really doesn't matter and just gets used willy-
    nilly.
    best,
    ryan
  • curt cloninger | Thu Jun 1st 2006 6:52 p.m.
    Hi Alexis,

    I will answer in turn.

    alexis:
    Do you find it rather absurd that you are trying to refocus the aura of
    MECHANICALLY PRODUCED art? It defies the very, very notion of what Benjamin was
    discussing. Digital art is the antithesis of what he was, and so many of his
    accolytes continue to, carry on about so doey-eyed.

    curt:
    The issue is not whether the object is mechanically produced, but whether the object is mechanically reproducible. The title could also be translated "art in the age of its own mechanical reproducibility." The essay has to do with what happens to art when it is no longer a singular object. Hence my selection of Benjamin as a launching pad for this discussion.

    Digital production techniques can lead to the creation of object art (a one-of-a-kind digital print), just as non-digital production techniques can lead to the creation of non-object art (a Shakespeare play). I don't necessarily care about digital art per se. I'm talking about non-object art.

    alexis:
    If you are truly committed to holding on to his idea so dearly, you should really take up oils.

    curt:
    I'm about as committed to holding onto Benjamin's original idea of aura as I am interested in taking up oils. Michael S. suggested that a more poetic contemporary reading of Benjamin is in order. Maybe that's what I'm inadvertantly doing. I am trying to advance a slightly skewed reading of one of Benjamin's texts in order to explore some artistic ramifications that interest me. Lyotard took a similarly skewed approach to Kant's idea of the "sublime." Forget Benjamin if he's such an anathema to you. Just talk about the ideas we're talking about.

    alexis:
    On the other hand, if you truly want to retain the aura in digital art, then
    you must give Mr. Walter a kick in the pants and rethink the thing altogether, not
    just sort of half-assed moving it around.

    curt:
    Benjamin seems more fruitful as a launching pad for dialogue than a target for my boot.

    alexis:
    Until you are willing to do that, I do not believe you will find the answer to your question. At the very least, you must decide if you want the aura the thing, or if you would be content to
    illicit the effect of the aura, which you did actually seem kind of interested in, as your first post mentioned some level of desire to create "awe and wonder" in your viewer.

    curt:
    the aura will never literally "be" anywhere, because it's just an abstract notion. Art is not science. It's not simply some visual aesthetic formula coupled with some didactic "meaning" that acts on the mind and illicits awe and wonder. Maybe you're thinking about interactive design.

    alexis:
    I have simply posited that a more appropriate locus is in the viewer, as it
    allows you to both have your cake and eat it, too (and please, I will personally
    beat to death the first person that brings up that damn Marie Antoinette thread
    again...MANIK). You get to say there is an aura involved with the piece, as
    well as illiciting appropriately giddy responses in the viewer. Not to mention,
    as Eric pointed out, that the meaning of an object and the artist's place as
    clever educator is just SO much more interesting than the artist as a producer
    of things that people want to have sweaty fantasies about. Nonetheless, this
    is no doubt hard to swallow, as in order to do this I have just taken all the
    magical, fetishistic, cultish power away from non-living art objects and put
    them into the human mind.

    curt:
    you can't say the aura is located in the viewer. By definition, that doesn't make sense. The resultant awe and wonder (if the art is good enough) will be located in the viewer. But the art (whether it's an object or a non-object) is the vehicle (conductor) which instigates awe and wonder in the viewer. If the aura is already resident in the viewer, then no conductor is required and there's no need to make art (object, non-object, digital, painted, or otherwise). By definition, the aura "surrounds" the art somehow. Even if the aura is invested in the art solely by the viewer regardless of the artist's intentions, it still surrounds the art. If you're uncomfortable with the artist asking "where do I locate the aura in non-object art," then think of it as the artist asking, "how do I create a locus in non-object art which will illicit the investment of aura by the audience."

    alexis:
    A book is a book whether from the library, the rare
    book room, or Amazon, notwithstanding my *personal* preference for the politics
    of the first, the feel of the second, and the smell of the third.

    curt:
    here we fundamentally disagree. If you can't follow me this far, I understand why the rest of my argument seems inane to you.
  • curt cloninger | Thu Jun 1st 2006 10:35 p.m.
    Hi Ryan,

    It is indeed ironic that I would be criticized as a Benjamin disciple. You and Marisa understandably challenge my reading of him, but I think my reading is defensible, with some caveats. I'm not referring to his entire canon, or to his biographical history. I am referring to one text. In that text he himself says, "We do not deny that in some cases today's films can also promote revolutionary criticism of social conditions, even of the distribution of property. However, our present study is no more specifically concerned with this than is the film production of Western Europe." Indeed, the footnoted connections he makes between film and politics seem largely tenuous and speculative, almost like they are incidental observations that he wasn't quite confident enough to include in the body of the text.

    The epilogue seems particularly tacked on. He takes the marinetti quote and runs with it, but in his rush to the tour-de-force finish line, he doesn't satisfactorilly connect all the dots. Just because he wants me to focus on the epilogue doesn't mean I have to buy it. Just because I don't buy the epilogue doesn't mean I can't find use in some of his prior observations.

    I probably should have prefaced my original post with some disclaimer like, "I know this goes against the accepted interpretation of Benjamin's aura, but..." Nevertheless, I don't think his observations are off limits simply because I disagree with the larger conclusions he draws from them. Am I not free to take his initial observations and draw my own conclusions? I don't think aesthetics are a fascist control mechanism of war just because Marinetti was loony and Hitler was an art school drop-out who dug "heroic" art. I don't fear the re-injection of aura into non-object art. I think it has probably already crept in anyway. I need not subscribe to Benjamin's politics in order to reference him (any more than he need subscribe to Huxley's politics in order to reference him). David used the sword of Goliath to chop off Goliath's head. It functioned.

    peace,
    curt

    ryan griffis wrote:

    > this isn't really a disagreement or contribution into this thread,
    > other than an expression of my annoyance at the continuing
    > interpretation of Benjamin's text as simply nostalgic for a lost aura.
    > i thought Marisa already addressed this?
    > he was pretty firmly situated in the camp that believed in the
    > progressive potential of technology and mechanical reproduction to
    > add to art's ability to be "radical" and become something other than
    > a luxury while critiquing the aestheticized politics of fascism and
    > politicized art of the communists. In a lecture delivered to a mostly
    >
    > Marxist crowd of Popular Front/anti-fascists, he basically stated
    > that experimentation should be considered more politically radical
    > than a reliance on subject matter-as-content, ala socialist realism/
    > propaganda (the whole "commitment" debate). While there is some
    > "mourning" that could be found in Benjamin's account, it's more
    > related to the context of the larger changes that occurred in the
    > experience of material culture in general, not specifically in visual
    >
    > art. it's a change in the relationship between cultural/material
    > producers and audiences that seemed important.
    > Digital art doesn't "defy the very, very notion of what Benjamin was
    > discussing," it pushes the argument further. Think about all the
    > discourse on gaming, communication and telepresence... this is a
    > clearly documented extension of Benjamin's concerns (not that he was
    > the originator of them). And the concerns of people working with
    > technology for its relationship to mechanisms of war were preceded by
    >
    > Benjamin's concerns that mechanization was a favorable condition to
    > war and dominant property relations.
    > To be critical of "mechanical reproduction" is not the same as being
    > nostalgic for a pre-mechanical past.
    > i'm not advocating the importance of Benjamin or his writing, i just
    > don't understand the consistent reference to a text, if what's
    > contained in the text really doesn't matter and just gets used willy-
    > nilly.
    > best,
    > ryan
  • Eric Dymond | Fri Jun 2nd 2006 10:39 p.m.
    Hi curt,
    I guess you're feeling embattled at this point. (good choice of metaphors)
    The fact that you put this out there is a good thing.
    Like Alexis I feel that aura=magic. And any good magician will tell you that the magic exists in the eye of the beholder. "Fool the eye" is the term, and no good magician belives in magic.
    But the Benjamin quote does help us focus on the use of art to create needless financial emphasis on objetcs. But if we don't make objects, we build on the infrastructure, then we have a freedom to loop, bend, altar and change the viewer without the necessity of getting approval from the ediface of ART. Blogs, podcasts, Vblogs, pirate radio all form the new focus of exchange. Is this exchange equal to the Isenheim ALterpiece? maybe, meyabe not. It will be along time before we know.
    Herbert Read wrote a great sentence (well I'm sure he wrote more that a few) in his contribution to The New Scientist Series "The World in 1984" edited by Nigel Calder.
    And I quote
    " It will be a gay world. There will be lights everyehere except in the mind of man, and the fall of the last civilization will not be heard above the incessant din".
    Makes you want to smile....

    Eric
  • curt cloninger | Fri Jun 2nd 2006 11:38 p.m.
    Offlist Alexis challenged me to stop referencing the usual suspects. I was just getting started, but OK. I want to interject some Badiou, because he's dealing with war, art, and what he identifies as the "trace" of artistic creation (a possible way to better understand non-object aura). I relate to Badiou because he's arguing for the return of an understanding of the human soul. As I read him, our contemporary war arises in large part due to a strict materialistic, bodily, ultimately animalistic understanding of the human, coupled with a kind of dictatorial anti-dictatorialism. Every world view is equally valid, except for those world views that disagree with the statement, "every world view is equally valid." Such world views are dictatorial, invalid, oppressive, and intolerable. They must be dictatorially intervened upon (all in the name of anti-dictatorialism, of course). When this kind of demand for "universal human (materialistic) rights" supplants a compassionate understing of our fellow human souls, it's pistols at dawn. (cf: http://www.radicalphilosophy.com/default.asp?channel_id!88&editorial_id175 ).

    So here we have a leading contemporary French philosopher (former colleague of Deleuze and Lyotard) who sees strict materialism and relativism as problems rather than the solutions.

    Below are some excerpts. 1st paragraph is on the the relationship of the "new body" (the work of art) to its "trace." 2nd paragraph advocates what I interpret to be a kind of incarnational artmaking practice which arises from a holistic integration of body and spirit. He argues against a practice totally identified with the material body (such a practice explores enjoyment via "death in life" -- think body mutilation performance art). Likewise, he argues against a practice totally identitfied with the transcendental spirit (such a practice explores sacrifice via "life in death" -- think jihad martyrdom).

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++

    What is a body? What is the construction of a new body? A new body in the artistic field is something like a real concrete creation
  • curt cloninger | Fri Jun 2nd 2006 11:55 p.m.
    Hi Eric,

    I don't mean "magic" as in "sleight of hand." I mean "magic" as in "mystical/spiritual." "Magic" is not a word I would choose (it has pejorative connotations). Simply put, I believe in a real spirit realm. "Real spirit" is not oxymoronic to me. I believe the best art traffics in this realm -- not exclusively, but to a substantial degree. Furthermore, it traffics in this realm regardless of whether or not the artist or the audience intellectually believes in this realm.

    Eric Dymond wrote:

    > Like Alexis I feel that aura=magic. And any good magician will tell
    > you that the magic exists in the eye of the beholder. "Fool the eye"
    > is the term, and no good magician belives in magic.
  • Eric Dymond | Sat Jun 3rd 2006 12:12 a.m.
    curt cloninger wrote:

    > Hi Eric,
    >
    > I don't mean "magic" as in "sleight of hand." I mean "magic" as in
    > "mystical/spiritual." "Magic" is not a word I would choose (it has
    > pejorative connotations). Simply put, I believe in a real spirit
    > realm. "Real spirit" is not oxymoronic to me. I believe the best art
    > traffics in this realm -- not exclusively, but to a substantial
    > degree. Furthermore, it traffics in this realm regardless of whether
    > or not the artist or the audience intellectually believes in this
    > realm.
    >

    so do you believe their are Shaman on the internet?
    Eric
  • curt cloninger | Sat Jun 3rd 2006 8:10 a.m.
  • ryan griffis | Sat Jun 3rd 2006 10:44 a.m.
    On Jun 3, 2006, at 12:38 AM, curt cloninger wrote:

    > 2. Art cannot merely be the expression of a particularity (be it
    > ethnic or personal). Art is the impersonal production of a truth
    > that is addressed to everyone...
    >
    > 9. The only maxim of contemporary art is not to be imperial. This
    > also means: it does not have to be democratic, if democracy implies
    > conformity with the imperial idea of political liberty.
    >
    > 10. Non-imperial art is necessarily abstract art, in this sense :
    > it abstracts itself from all particularity, and formalizes this
    > gesture of abstraction.
    >
    > 11. The abstraction of non-imperial art is not concerned with any
    > particular public or audience. Non-imperial art is related to a
    > kind of aristocratic-proletarian ethic : Alone, it does what it
    > says, without distinguishing between kinds of people.
    >
    > 12. Non-imperial art must be as rigorous as a mathematical
    > demonstration, as surprising as an ambush in the night, and as
    > elevated as a star.
    >
    > 13. Today art can only be made from the starting point of that
    > which, as far as Empire is concerned, doesn't exist. Through its
    > abstraction, art renders this inexistence visible. This is what
    > governs the formal principle of every art : the effort to render
    > visible to everyone that which for Empire (and so by extension for
    > everyone, though from a different point of view), doesn't exist.
    >
    > 14. Since it is sure of its ability to control the entire domain of
    > the visible and the audible via the laws governing commercial
    > circulation and democratic communication, Empire no longer censures
    > anything. All art, and all thought, is ruined when we accept this
    > permission to consume, to communicate and to enjoy. We should
    > become the pitiless censors of ourselves.
    >
    > 15. It is better to do nothing than to contribute to the invention
    > of formal ways of rendering visible that which Empire already
    > recognizes as existent.
    >
    > (from http://www.lacan.com/issue22.htm )
    >
    > +++++++++++++++++++
    >
    > Again, I like that he forwards an ethical requirement to make non-
    > imperial art, but the way in which he describes such art
    > distinguishes it from a lot of overtly tactical political art.
    > It's not my goal to bash tactical political art. I'm just positing
    > a precedence for a kind of creative artmaking which effects peace
    > yet is not overtly political.
    >
    > Plus thesis #12 freaking rocks the poetic manifesto block. awe &
    > wonder city.

    Curt, i'm totally with you on your like of #12... Craig Owens made
    some very similar statements from a very different perspective. one
    thing that bugs me about this manifesto however, is how closely they
    resemble the tenets of the intellectual branch of the New York
    School... especially someone like Motherwell, who i kind of still
    have a lot of respect for. Their response to Surrealism, Dada and
    geometric abstraction, i think, was totally about the "non-imperial"
    that Badiou names above. But look how it became a component of an
    imperial program. Perhaps that's how one arrives at #14 & 15?
    i think part of the problem of this universalization is where it
    assumes a humanism that places one subject position as a total
    metonym for all of humanity. something i think you point to curt, in
    your brief mention of the problem of "universal human rights." this
    for me, is the problem with abstraction... that it can be assumed to
    operate "without distinguishing between kinds of people." it's about
    flattening difference in favor of the dominant subject position. Not
    that i don't see the merits of the arguments for it.
    This preference for abstraction as experimentation and innovation
    were exactly the position of Adorno and Benjamin that i mentioned
    earlier... the argument against socialist realism. But, Brecht, whom
    Manik thankfully brought up, i think, found a space between
    abstraction and realism-as-subject matter. Brecht's position was a
    "committed" one, but one that was committed to ambivalence,
    engagement and complexity as political.
    i don't think there's a formula for making non-imperial art. and i
    don't think it's a relativist position to say context matters... it
    just isn't a position that ascribes universal values to aesthetics.
    anyway, these are just my quick and imperfect thoughts at the moment...
    best,
    ryan
  • curt cloninger | Sat Jun 3rd 2006 12:49 p.m.
    I love the idea of a commitment to ambivalence.

    It goes back to my locus #3 -- locating the aura in the boundaries of context. It's also quite Debordian. Disorientation as a pre-requisite for self-reorientation. Less "smash the state" and more "disrupt the spectacle." http://lab404.com/misc/debord_refutation_of_all.jpg

    In all fairness to Badiou, his use of "abstraction" has a kind of specialized philosophical meaning. I read it as something akin to "universal applicability." He's not necessarily talking about formalistic abstraction vs. formalistic realism.

    ryan griffis wrote:

    > But, Brecht, whom
    > Manik thankfully brought up, i think, found a space between
    > abstraction and realism-as-subject matter. Brecht's position was a
    > "committed" one, but one that was committed to ambivalence,
    > engagement and complexity as political.
  • Eric Dymond | Mon Jun 5th 2006 9:40 p.m.
    curt cloning wrote:

    > I love the idea of a commitment to ambivalence.
    >

    before we let this thread lie to bed, I came across a text from the introductory notes on Virilio's Negative Horizon. Substitute the greater "Sovereign" with art and we have lift-off. I was going back on older networked art and thought, " how dependent these works are on the browser acting as interpreter ". Then I felt humbled, what if all our works are rendered outside of the environment: Netscape 3-7 (which altars my own work in so many ways www.edymond.com/door1.htm), fall apart. The original doorway renders well in most browsers, but fails in Safari. Jodi suffers an ignoble fate during the browser wars. Where then is the aura? I hope it still exists now, whereas I felt ambivalent I am now concerned. Well at least... *I am engaged*. Could i be ceding to the other side , evil though it might be?
    Read the following text from the Translation of Virilo's Negative Horizon, in fact spend the 5 dollars and read the entire text before you respond.
    Eric

    Minute 1

    What does one experience when the bell tolls? What is the experience of shock and awe? Certainly the absent-minded haze evaporates, but what replaces it? Is one thrown back into, or upon oneself? Does one take possession of himself in the moment? Or in all fairness, should we not better ask: can one really take possession of oneself, of one's self; Can one take possession of one self? Or does not the Sovereign rather feel himself somehow apart, both from himself and from the others? No longer really among them as before, he sees an other worldly aura about the children.Or is it rather the aura of the inner world?A certain aura, or halo, about each of of the children in the field of his experience as he continue it is there -da - among them.
    But is there any there there, any Da da?

    Eric
  • marc garrett | Tue Jun 6th 2006 6:50 a.m.
    Some thoughts on relocating aura.

    I have read almost all of the mails and found them interesting, and have
    enjoyed much of it - whether I agreed with someof the wordings, concepts
    or ideas around it or not.

    Getting to the question of whether there is any Da Da? I think that
    there could be an argument that there is no way of telling, and probably
    just as much Ga Ga, as Da Da.

    My first feeling regarding this is, did we ever loose it, and if so, did
    we ever have it? The other thing is perhaps if we did have the 'aura',
    may be it moves around sometimes like a meme or a virus, appropriating
    different countries, peoples, places, kinds of practises, at different
    times - or perhaps not.

    There is no obvious demographic to refer to, in respect of tracing its
    where abouts, especially when we are still not actually sure what an
    aura is, and on who's terms do we appreciate it or see it on? Because,
    you can be sure that once someone or certain people, decide that they
    have, or they know whereit is and who has it, they will pitchup their
    own flag. Put a patent on it and sell it, Just like the (disgusting)
    claiming of 'our', 'humanities' and the world's, genetic code - we will
    be faced with more ugly and (empty) people, trying to make a quick and
    expensive buck by selling us back our own auras. And in a way, this is
    my perspective and argument, in regard to anyone trying to pitch up a
    flag and claiming cultural or spirtual agency over something as
    (presently) untouchable as an 'aura'.

    In contrast to what many may believe in respect of myself - I do believe
    that there is some kind of soul within us all but, not necessarily
    implanted by a conscious omnipresent (or omni-non present being). Much
    of what many call 'existential angst', is not an emptiness in the
    literal sense but, more of a deep refelection (which could contant
    self-honsety) of a crisis regarding one's own authentic state of being,
    in relation to others, the other, and personal relevance in the greater
    and micro scheme of things.

    To impliment a a type of art that represents more specifially, a
    consciousness towards the 'aura', or conceptions of it, is not a new
    concept and does not have to be new, of course. Yet, human behaviour (in
    art or outside it) is more expanisve in its spirit, and surely cannot be
    limited by the function of closing down (certain) creative avenues, and
    tagging it with any (re-modernist or mono-cultural) genre, which may
    seem to support its meaning or presence, but only on the surface. This
    would act as a kind of containment and political stance, claiming
    territory over the artist/individual creative voice, or the creatives',
    own inner state of inherited, and discovered consciousness - working at
    merely appropriating what signifies, or what is assumed and deemd as
    'right' or 'wrong' via 'higher than though' protocols, instigating yet
    another excuse for censorship, and controls over what we do as content
    and context providers, whatever the work is.

    Perhaps part of the 'aura', is not necessarily the outcome but, more the
    process of engaging in the making of art, not what it looks like, not
    even the message that it gives - and this can go for the experience of
    people sharing it via experiencing it, whatever it is. To limit any
    creative act or motion, to a specific genre or arena of art is to trap
    the voice and resonance of the whole wider thing, culturally, creating a
    mono-culture and thought police - that's why many artists (not all) get
    bored with references, that are continually regurgitated from history
    and implimented canons, because it does not realistically embody, what
    they personally believe relates to their own explorative perceptions of
    their own work and ideas.

    I am happy that the word is not easily definable by words alone, or even
    experience alone - measuring things is such facile and male way of
    knowing something, sometimes...

    A 'sense of wonder' has no patent attached to it, and art is not
    (thankfully ) the only dipsensor of it - if there is and was an aura
    that is...

    Recently, I have been meeting people who work with Amnesty
    International, and some of them are religious and some of them are not -
    yet they all possess something to what may come close to what may be an
    'aura' - and that is beautiful, not because they consciously decide to
    have an 'aura'. Many of them have a sense of wonder about them, about
    the world around them and what is happening to it and those in it, which
    encourages some of them to carry on doing what they are doing, because
    they believe in life above the shallowness and easy option of murder and
    control over other people's lives. I value this, and believe that art
    can sometimes, seem a pretty cheap thing and a selfish activity, when
    compared to those who make an effort to actually change things in the
    world. As in, engaging in it and bothering to make a positive
    difference, in contrast to the (ambigious) urge by those lesser beings,
    who prefer to continue to support or fund such senseless killings - who
    as far as I am concerned, lack 'soul', within themselves...

    If one was to embark in the (conscious or unconscious) activity of
    creating works that are inspired by the belief or passion in engaging
    via the process of intuitive reasoning, in connection with the 'aura', I
    would of thought that it would be quite essential and productive to, at
    the same time question whether what they are creating is a personal
    'impression' of the subject or experience. For we all know that a road
    to delusion is an easy path, and critical self-evaluation and shared
    dialogue with those who do not immediately support such things are
    useful, especially for challenging one's possible deceptions.

    I do value and feel close to certain writers who touch upon
    spiritualness, such as 'James Hillman' and 'Idris Shah'. I remember
    once, when I did an interview for an organisation once, about Net Art,
    and instead of mentioning some historical group, or movement or an
    institionally inserted reference as a cannon, to justify my thoughts and
    ideas, I mentioned a poem from a Sufi writer, which I felt encapsulated
    where I was really coming from - they just could not cope with it and
    never got back to me after the interview. It seemed to confuse them in
    some way.

    "Idries Shah's writings greatly extended the western knowledge of the
    Sufi teachings. He had profound influence on several intellectuals,
    notably Doris Lessing. His definition of Sufism was liberal in that he
    was of the opinion that it predated Islam and did not depend on the
    Qur'an, but was universal in source, scope and relevance. He maintained
    that spiritual teachings should be presented in forms and terms that are
    familiar in the community where they are to take root. He believed that
    students should be given work based on their individual capacities, and
    rejected systems that apply the same exercises to all. In his own work
    he used teaching stories and humour to great effect."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idris_Shah#Works

    I have a few books written by Idris Shah, one of them only had a forward
    in it (a few pages), and some didactic and poetic texts - the rest of
    the book, up to about 200 pages - were empty. Many followers of idris
    Shah, would of expected the content of the book to possess much meaning,
    knowledge and 'aura', and complained that he was having a joke on them
    them. Perhaps he was, yet I felt that he was questioning our desires, as
    insecure humans in, always trying to contain and measure uncontrollable
    and matters of the other, in giving them labels or finding reason where
    there is no reason, just air and life. I used it as a sketch book in the
    end...

    respect from marc

    >curt cloning wrote:
    >
    >
    >
    >>I love the idea of a commitment to ambivalence.
    >>
    >>
    >>
    >
    >before we let this thread lie to bed, I came across a text from the introductory notes on Virilio's Negative Horizon. Substitute the greater "Sovereign" with art and we have lift-off. I was going back on older networked art and thought, " how dependent these works are on the browser acting as interpreter ". Then I felt humbled, what if all our works are rendered outside of the environment: Netscape 3-7 (which altars my own work in so many ways www.edymond.com/door1.htm), fall apart. The original doorway renders well in most browsers, but fails in Safari. Jodi suffers an ignoble fate during the browser wars. Where then is the aura? I hope it still exists now, whereas I felt ambivalent I am now concerned. Well at least... *I am engaged*. Could i be ceding to the other side , evil though it might be?
    >Read the following text from the Translation of Virilo's Negative Horizon, in fact spend the 5 dollars and read the entire text before you respond.
    >Eric
    >
    >
    >
    >Minute 1
    >
    >What does one experience when the bell tolls? What is the experience of shock and awe? Certainly the absent-minded haze evaporates, but what replaces it? Is one thrown back into, or upon oneself? Does one take possession of himself in the moment? Or in all fairness, should we not better ask: can one really take possession of oneself, of one's self; Can one take possession of one self? Or does not the Sovereign rather feel himself somehow apart, both from himself and from the others? No longer really among them as before, he sees an other worldly aura about the children.Or is it rather the aura of the inner world?A certain aura, or halo, about each of of the children in the field of his experience as he continue it is there -da - among them.
    >But is there any there there, any Da da?
    >
    >
    >Eric
    >+
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  • curt cloninger | Tue Jun 6th 2006 6:04 p.m.
    Hi Eric,

    I had a similar experience when an earlier build of Safari no longer supported tiling animated gifs. A lot of http://playdamage.org was suddenly tweaked. They've since fixed the problem, but it got me thinking and I wrote this article:
    http://www.intelligentagent.com/archive/Vol3_No2_radical_cloninger.html

    When it comes to those who output ephemera (which is basically all that graphic designers have done since the mid-1800s), then the aura has to be embedded in locus #2 -- In the perpetually enacted and iterated act/stance/position. I stream therefore I am.

    peace,
    curt

    Eric Dymond wrote:

    I was going back on
    > older networked art and thought, " how dependent these works are on
    > the browser acting as interpreter ". Then I felt humbled, what if all
    > our works are rendered outside of the environment: Netscape 3-7 (which
    > altars my own work in so many ways www.edymond.com/door1.htm), fall
    > apart. The original doorway renders well in most browsers, but fails
    > in Safari. Jodi suffers an ignoble fate during the browser wars. Where
    > then is the aura? I hope it still exists now, whereas I felt
    > ambivalent I am now concerned. Well at least... *I am engaged*. Could
    > i be ceding to the other side , evil though it might be?
  • curt cloninger | Tue Jun 6th 2006 6:33 p.m.
    Hi Marc,

    I agree that the aura is ultimately nebulous. That's what makes it aura instead of "psychic affectivity" or "relational aesthetic." In a way, this is why I take issue a bit with Alexis saying that I want to create a "religious object." I think I know what she means, but that's too confining a definition. If my didactic agenda is to create a codified "religious" object, then I'll never court the aura.

    I don't want to co-opt the aura or limit it (not that I could do that anyway). I just want to figure out ways my own art can better court it. Ultimately, this will be discovered experientially in the making.

    I'll leave off Badiou and Benjamin and return to the philosophers of my youth:

    "Don't need no woman, I won't take me no wife
    I got the rock and roll and that'll be my life
    No page in history baby -- that, I don't need
    I just want to make some eardrums bleed"
    - Spinal Tap

    "This is it / This is mystical shit"
    - King Missile

    peace,
    curt

    marc garrett wrote:

    There is no obvious demographic to refer to, in respect of tracing its
    where abouts, especially when we are still not actually sure what an
    aura is, and on who's terms do we appreciate it or see it on? Because,
    you can be sure that once someone or certain people, decide that they
    have, or they know whereit is and who has it, they will pitchup their
    own flag. Put a patent on it and sell it, Just like the (disgusting)
    claiming of 'our', 'humanities' and the world's, genetic code - we will
    be faced with more ugly and (empty) people, trying to make a quick and
    expensive buck by selling us back our own auras. And in a way, this is
    my perspective and argument, in regard to anyone trying to pitch up a
    flag and claiming cultural or spirtual agency over something as
    (presently) untouchable as an 'aura'.
  • marc garrett | Wed Jun 7th 2006 6:51 a.m.
    Hi curt and all,

    >I agree that the aura is ultimately nebulous.

    "What had been forfeited in this process, were the 'aura' and the
    authority of the object, scarred, yet also embellished with the patina
    of time and prismatic with the marks of human endeavour. It was the aura
    that contained within it the values of cultural heritage and tradition.
    Even though for Benjamin, the loss of the aura meant the loss of the
    original, the transformation or liberation of the art object to the
    ordinary represented a gain. For Benjamin, what had then replaced the
    original at that time was the illusion of the moving image, and the
    duplication of the photograph. For post-modern society, it has become
    the digital image. While Benjamin celebrated the magical aura that had
    been forfeited as a liberating phenomenon, one cannot help but speculate
    whether there is still a need for a space of wonder or enchantment in a
    technological world. Perhaps society still craves such a space, now more
    than ever, and seeks it in extraordinary places, such as in the museum.
    If so, then can this lost aura be compensated for or reconstituted in
    any way in a virtual environment in a networked society?" The Virtual
    Aura - Is There Space for Enchantment in a Technological World? Susan
    Hazan. http://www.archimuse.com/mw2001/papers/hazan/hazan.html

    In his book Real Presences/ Is There Anything In What We Say? George
    Steiner says "The aura is of an otherness, an awe-fullness whose source
    is felt as the Maker. And it is a transcendental source not just in
    music but in other arts too, although they seem to be less adequately
    underwritten by the sacred. Rationality dictates that this is no more
    than presupposition. It is clearly a wager; the postulate cannot be proven."

    So, in the world that we are all caught up in today, a networked society
    and (possibly) networked consciousnesses (not as in telapathically) - to
    assume, especially now - or take for granted (which you do not of
    course), that art possesses, the presence of aura because it says it
    does, or because someone else says it does - does not necessarily make
    it true or real in actually possessing it. Which has to be said,
    regarding the context and potential of a future representaion of the
    aura by artists etc..

    >That's what makes it aura instead of "psychic affectivity" or
    "relational aesthetic." In a way, this is why I take issue a bit with
    Alexis saying that I want to create a "religious object." I think I know
    what she means, but that's too confining a definition.

    And to propose that a specific genre, style or intention within art,
    whatever it may be, is more valid due to a cultural coding of 'given'
    spiritually, related 'values' or entwined, (fine art) connected
    aesthetic, is much more likely to come down to whatever feels right at
    the time. The re-enchantment or exploring, partaking in the process of
    re-discovering what some perceive to be lost, as in the 'aura' - is not
    a facile or useless adventure, after all, much of art is useless. And
    dialogue from these discoverers may offer new interpretations about
    ourselves, our cultures and our practises in different ways, and we
    could learn from this.

    Anyway, I'll stop now - thanks everyone - I have enjoyed this one :-)

    marc

    >Hi Marc,
    >
    >I agree that the aura is ultimately nebulous. That's what makes it aura instead of "psychic affectivity" or "relational aesthetic." In a way, this is why I take issue a bit with Alexis saying that I want to create a "religious object." I think I know what she means, but that's too confining a definition. If my didactic agenda is to create a codified "religious" object, then I'll never court the aura.
    >
    >I don't want to co-opt the aura or limit it (not that I could do that anyway). I just want to figure out ways my own art can better court it. Ultimately, this will be discovered experientially in the making.
    >
    >I'll leave off Badiou and Benjamin and return to the philosophers of my youth:
    >
    >"Don't need no woman, I won't take me no wife
    >I got the rock and roll and that'll be my life
    >No page in history baby -- that, I don't need
    >I just want to make some eardrums bleed"
    >- Spinal Tap
    >
    >"This is it / This is mystical shit"
    >- King Missile
    >
    >peace,
    >curt
    >
    >
    >marc garrett wrote:
    >
    >There is no obvious demographic to refer to, in respect of tracing its
    >where abouts, especially when we are still not actually sure what an
    >aura is, and on who's terms do we appreciate it or see it on? Because,
    >you can be sure that once someone or certain people, decide that they
    >have, or they know whereit is and who has it, they will pitchup their
    >own flag. Put a patent on it and sell it, Just like the (disgusting)
    >claiming of 'our', 'humanities' and the world's, genetic code - we will
    >be faced with more ugly and (empty) people, trying to make a quick and
    >expensive buck by selling us back our own auras. And in a way, this is
    >my perspective and argument, in regard to anyone trying to pitch up a
    >flag and claiming cultural or spirtual agency over something as
    >(presently) untouchable as an 'aura'.
    >+
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    >
    >
    >
  • curt cloninger | Wed Jun 7th 2006 11:57 a.m.
    Hi marc,

    Doh! Hazan actually uses the word "wonder," takes Benjamin to task for celebrating the loss of something that we now miss, and speculates about ways to relocate the aura in non-object art -- and all this in 2001! It makes me feel two things: 1. I'm not so crazy or off-center for re-reading Benjamin this way and trying to explore all this. 2. I'm not as original a thinker as I thought. 3. There's never enough time for reading!

    I need to read Hazan's entire essay, but already I take issue with the phrasing of the term "virtual aura." I know she means "an aura which surrounds a 'virtual' non-object space," but the phrase "virtual aura" reads as if she's describing the aura itself as being virtual. Which is a big "duh." It was already "virtual" pre-Benjamin in the era of the art object. Plus I hate the word "virtual." It's so 1989 Jaron Lanier VR goggles techgnosis. I would at least rephrase it as "aura of the virtual."

    Physicists will get into endlessly niggling, paradigmatic, largely theoretical details about quantum theory vs. string theory (and receive top dollar grants to do it), because the nuances they are discussing can blow physical stuff up. Sub-atomic physics is "real," not because they "really" know what's going on down there, but because the models and paradigms they construct for what's going on down there are verifiable in terms of whether or not they can be used to blow up "real" (read, "physical") stuff.

    Yet we artists (especially those who don't believe in a spiritual realm) have an almost impossible time discussing the nuances of something like "aura," presumably because it's not "real." Which only means it's not physically verifiable. For example, if my paradigm of the aura is more accurate than another artist's paradigm of the aura, and I build an art bomb based on my paradigm, and she builds an art bomb based on her paradigm, there's no "real" way to judge the effectiveness of either art bomb, because neither "really" blows up any physical stuff. [note to MTAA: build a conceptual art project that really blows up physical stuff.]

    http://www.banksy.co.uk/indoors/images/flowerchucker.gif

    As an aside, I think one of the reasons politically-motivated activist art is so appealing to materialists is that the "accuracy" of its underlying rhetoric is at least (ostensibly) objectively quantifiable in terms of the social impact the art has. Of course, in "reality," its impact is largely unquantifiable, since "social science" is the quintessential oxymoron of our era. But at least you can quantify how many people signed your online petition or voted for your candidate of choice -- similar to counting how many people came to your gallery opening.

    This is a great Rothko quote: "The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions.. the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. And if you say you are moved only by their color relationships then you miss the point."

    I remember going to hear the Kronos quartet when I was a junior in college. I was a Christian, but I wasn't really living it, and I didn't go looking for a spiritual experience. I actually wanted to hear their version of "Purple Haze" live. Right before the break, they played Arvo Part's "Fratres." I began weeping uncontrollably, and I couldn't speak (physical manifestations of something "really" happening spiritually). I was with friends from our groovy college radio station, and with my girlfriend. All during the break, I tried to shake it off, but I couldn't stop crying and I couldn't speak. It was an experience of spiritual conviction. It presaged a change in my life.

    I don't need this experience to be objectively validated, psychologically reinterpreted, or explained away in order that someone else's world view may remain intact. The CIA did not pay me to cry. Nor do I want to be a minimalist Russian Orthodox composer. Nor do I want my art to make people cry. Still, as an artist, having had such experiences, and knowing what art is capable of, it makes not want to settlle.

    you gotta go for what you know / make everybody see,
    curt

    marc garrett wrote:

    "What had been forfeited in this process, were the 'aura' and the
    authority of the object, scarred, yet also embellished with the patina
    of time and prismatic with the marks of human endeavour. It was the aura
    that contained within it the values of cultural heritage and tradition.
    Even though for Benjamin, the loss of the aura meant the loss of the
    original, the transformation or liberation of the art object to the
    ordinary represented a gain. For Benjamin, what had then replaced the
    original at that time was the illusion of the moving image, and the
    duplication of the photograph. For post-modern society, it has become
    the digital image. While Benjamin celebrated the magical aura that had
    been forfeited as a liberating phenomenon, one cannot help but speculate
    whether there is still a need for a space of wonder or enchantment in a
    technological world. Perhaps society still craves such a space, now more
    than ever, and seeks it in extraordinary places, such as in the museum.
    If so, then can this lost aura be compensated for or reconstituted in
    any way in a virtual environment in a networked society?" The Virtual
    Aura - Is There Space for Enchantment in a Technological World? Susan
    Hazan. http://www.archimuse.com/mw2001/papers/hazan/hazan.html

    In his book Real Presences/ Is There Anything In What We Say? George
    Steiner says "The aura is of an otherness, an awe-fullness whose source
    is felt as the Maker. And it is a transcendental source not just in
    music but in other arts too, although they seem to be less adequately
    underwritten by the sacred. Rationality dictates that this is no more
    than presupposition. It is clearly a wager; the postulate cannot be proven.
  • marc garrett | Wed Jun 7th 2006 8:01 p.m.
    Hi Curt,

    >Doh! Hazan actually uses the word "wonder," takes Benjamin to task for
    >celebrating the loss of something that we now miss, and speculates about
    >ways to relocate the aura in non-object art -- and all this in 2001!
    >It makes me feel two things: 1. I'm not so crazy or off-center for
    >re-reading Benjamin this way and trying to explore all this. 2. I'm not
    >as original a thinker as I thought. 3. There's never enough time for
    reading!

    >I need to read Hazan's entire essay, but already I take issue with the
    >phrasing of the term "virtual aura." I know she means "an aura which
    >surrounds a 'virtual' non-object space," but the phrase "virtual aura"
    >reads as if she's describing the aura itself as being virtual. Which
    >is a big "duh." It was already "virtual" pre-Benjamin in the era of the
    >art object. Plus I hate the word "virtual." It's so 1989 Jaron Lanier
    >VR goggles techgnosis. I would at least rephrase it as "aura of the
    virtual."

    I think that the intention of the writing offers an interesting
    perspective, especially about the subject of the 'aura' which is, or was
    being discussed here 'contextually' with others, as well. Her use of the
    word 'virtual', I feel is probably old-hat now, and is one of those more
    commercially orientated terms, a buzz word that seemed attractive at
    that time. It sold films ;-)

    I think that 'virtual' probably means something a little more
    dysfunctional now, and less positive - in reference to us all being
    displaced in many ways culturally and emotionally. It may connect more
    to the circumstance of us being caught up in Hyper Reality.

    "Today's avalanche of powerful new representational electronic tools has
    created a dramatic change in the premises for art, calling into question
    the way we see, the way we acquire knowledge, and the way we understand
    it. Contemporary artists face a dilemma unimaginable even at the
    beginning of the twentieth century when photography and cinematography
    created a crisis in existing traditions of representation. Electronic
    tools and media have shattered the very paradigm of cognition and
    representation we have been operating under since the Renaissance."
    (Lovejoy 13) Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age.

    In regard to many of us dealing with expanding our way of working when
    using technology, and contemporary thought and practises - we have
    become controllers of our own creative noise, via a pact of being what
    we desired to be. Perhaps we are now too self aware, and need to loosen
    our presumptive mind maps so to enable a more 'inner' subjectivity, that
    transgresses, expectations of the medium that we are all so well
    connected with.

    One of the interesting things about Net Art, (not net.art) was that many
    people were discovering not only their own limitations in respect of
    capabilities with the use of the technological, medium itself but, also
    the 'self limitations' of the content, and what it was to be in its own
    right. The wonder of coming to terms with a fresh way of working, and a
    more fluid, networked sensibility offered a spurious and strange space
    for a less critical nuance, and potentially more playful reflections and
    experience about one's own creative involvement with such a new medium.

    I'm not trying to suggest that we have lost our innocence, but in
    biblical terms - we have happily chewed on the apple, and perhaps some
    people might be coming to terms with this technological apple, as being
    rotten to the core. I don't mean us - I mean, the whole world, and the
    Internet rolled in with it. Various utopian connected scenarios have not
    come to be, and have got lost on the way-side, in which those who have
    been in control of our nations - have paid no mind to the real potential
    of transforming our world for something more progressive (don't mention
    the war).

    And surely, with many of us being so readily connected to 24 hour
    information via satellite and the Internet, it has given us a more
    'aware' (relatively) and 'sceptical' view of the world, in which we are
    part of. Perhaps, we have not lost our innocence in the biblical sense
    but, more in a humanist sense. Us human - have grown up, and this sense
    of awe, our once interpreted notion of what was once perceived to an
    'aura', is now more hidden, within our selves, and is not necessarily
    just about looking outside, as in the 'other' or the 'sublime', but it
    is closer than we originally imagined.

    Perhaps, this 'aura' has changed shape - it no longer fits into the
    older container of what we once (as humans) required it to conform to.
    That we no longer need what was traditionally acquainted, and created by
    geniuses, and because we are literally reshaping paradigms without even
    being conscious of us doing it sometimes, due to the hybrid nature of
    our practises - that, we need to adapt in a way that is not more
    informed intuitively. Actively making re-connections to certain parts of
    our lives that we swapped, for what we are now.

    So what I mean in respect of the aura not being the same shape that we
    originally thought (hoped) it to be is, that we have grown and mutated
    in so many different ways, and due to this, perhaps certain aspects of
    our inner selves have not grown accordingly, at the same rate. This want
    of an 'aura', is very much to do with a non material sensibility, and
    art is not really a problem here - I think that it is a bigger thing, or
    things, strongly linked to ourselves and how we wish to recognise what
    really matters in, the greater scheme of things. And I am not just
    talking politics here, I mean social things, people stuff.

    >As an aside, I think one of the reasons politically-motivated activist
    >art is so appealing to materialists is that the "accuracy" of its
    >underlying rhetoric is at least (ostensibly) objectively quantifiable
    >in terms of the social impact the art has. Of course, in "reality," its
    >impact is largely unquantifiable, since "social science" is the
    >quintessential oxymoron of our era. But at least you can quantify how
    >many people signed your online petition or voted for your candidate of
    >choice -- similar to counting how many people came to your gallery
    opening.

    Well, may be 'politically-motivated activist art', especially in respect
    of media art, actually has stronger links to a more immediate,
    contemporary form of symbolism. What I mean by this, is that we are now
    in a culture when words and terms and events can mean many things at
    once, and less about a singular, mono-cultural, or mono-theist notion,
    or state of belief. Things are more tightly connected and related,
    bleeding over the 'supposed source' or intended meaning of things - thus
    creating 'tagged', meanings by associations. We are semiotic without
    even knowing that we are. We are so closely connected to events and
    issues happening around the world, not usually in a aphysical way but,
    in a distant way - we have become tourists and part of an
    overly-mediated, set of networks. Everything is second-hand, not quite
    solid, not quite where we think it should be, everything is shifting all
    of the time. Our perceptions are no longer reliable signifiers of the
    real, we have only personal assumptions as guides out of the darkness,
    our own notions of what is real - comforts us. Whether they be authentic
    or not...

    >Yet we artists (especially those who don't believe in a spiritual
    >realm) have an almost impossible time discussing the nuances of something
    >like "aura," presumably because it's not "real." Which only means it's
    >not physically verifiable. For example, if my paradigm of the aura is
    >more accurate than another artist's paradigm of the aura, and I build an
    >art bomb based on my paradigm, and she builds an art bomb based on her
    >paradigm, there's no "real" way to judge the effectiveness of either
    >art bomb, because neither "really" blows up any physical stuff.
    [note to MTAA: build a conceptual art project that really blows up physical
    >stuff.]

    May be it could have something to do with the context of so many
    contemporary artists growing up in a world that does not value the inner
    depths of life, in art, or anywhere in fact. And organized religion has
    not really done a good job at promoting that they know anything of
    worth. Of course the same goes for most things really, I think
    contemporary culture is a bit shitty all round really - and material
    sensation at least creates a sense of attachment in some way - that
    other things have failed to do. I'm referring to physical sensations
    here, like sex, drugs and flower arranging (joke).

    If I was to be asked, what I consider one type of 'aura' may be, and
    presuming that there is a possibiltiy that it is not a singular or
    mono-essence - I would choose the 'imagination' as an 'aura', that is
    also my freedom, and when I am confronted or introduced to other
    people's creative imaginations, in their various forms, expounded or
    released via their imagination - the experience it can, give me, a sense
    of wonder- we cannot touch it but, it can touch us :-)

    marc
  • curt cloninger | Thu Jun 8th 2006 12:14 a.m.
    Hi Marc,

    It will be a happy day when the majority of networked art is *not* about the network itself. That's what I was making fun of here: http://deepyoung.org/current/dyskonceptual/ . I think media can change us if we expose ourselves to it, but I live in out here in the woods. The local paper mill is the technology that most radically effects the lives of my neighbors, or the technology of farming, which hasn't changed much.

    I'm suspicious of the assumption that advancements in media inherently and radically redefine and evolutionize every single person on the planet. I dig McLuhan's tenet that media alter sense ratios pan-culturally, but I think it happens to greater and lesser degrees. Like William Gibson's observation that the future has arrived; it's just not evenly distributed. Urban dwellers and 24/7 media junkies can fall into a kind of parochial trap and think that their world is *the* world. This can lead to some pretty tepid, myopic art. It is politically incorrect to lump "the orient," but nobody has a problem talking about "our contemporary culture." As you point out, simply watching someone on television doesn't make them part of "our contemporary culture."

    peace,
    curt

    marc garrett wrote:
    In regard to many of us dealing with expanding our way of working when
    using technology, and contemporary thought and practises - we have
    become controllers of our own creative noise, via a pact of being what
    we desired to be. Perhaps we are now too self aware, and need to loosen
    our presumptive mind maps so to enable a more 'inner' subjectivity, that
    transgresses, expectations of the medium that we are all so well
    connected with.
  • marc garrett | Thu Jun 8th 2006 8:53 a.m.
    Hi curt,

    Well, that just about rounds it up I reckon - next subject!

    marc

    >Hi Marc,
    >
    >It will be a happy day when the majority of networked art is *not* about the network itself. That's what I was making fun of here: http://deepyoung.org/current/dyskonceptual/ . I think media can change us if we expose ourselves to it, but I live in out here in the woods. The local paper mill is the technology that most radically effects the lives of my neighbors, or the technology of farming, which hasn't changed much.
    >
    >I'm suspicious of the assumption that advancements in media inherently and radically redefine and evolutionize every single person on the planet. I dig McLuhan's tenet that media alter sense ratios pan-culturally, but I think it happens to greater and lesser degrees. Like William Gibson's observation that the future has arrived; it's just not evenly distributed. Urban dwellers and 24/7 media junkies can fall into a kind of parochial trap and think that their world is *the* world. This can lead to some pretty tepid, myopic art. It is politically incorrect to lump "the orient," but nobody has a problem talking about "our contemporary culture." As you point out, simply watching someone on television doesn't make them part of "our contemporary culture."
    >
    >peace,
    >curt
    >
    >
    >marc garrett wrote:
    >In regard to many of us dealing with expanding our way of working when
    >using technology, and contemporary thought and practises - we have
    >become controllers of our own creative noise, via a pact of being what
    >we desired to be. Perhaps we are now too self aware, and need to loosen
    >our presumptive mind maps so to enable a more 'inner' subjectivity, that
    >transgresses, expectations of the medium that we are all so well
    >connected with.
    >+
    >-> post: list@rhizome.org
    >-> questions: info@rhizome.org
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