Self Possession Of The Devil : Glory Of Formalism

Posted by Edwin VanGorder | Fri Aug 13th 2010 2:56 p.m.

Technologies of emerging practice interrupt formalist tendencies and that is all to the good as far as that goes and is politically correct ...yet in observing the formula- human interest curating good, artistic ivy tower elitism bad, I enjoy in Rhizome a more balanced and would enjoy as much an even more balanced reporting on the broader scales of interest that play into the spectrum inclusive of (horrors-gasp) formalism. The recent article on Mungo Thomson succeeded in a very funny way although possibly by accident but I will resume to that...
I worked running prints for some time at Gwathmey Siegel Architects ("definitely" formalists and their mantra is "design development")For National Blue print (Rauschenberg had the same job, did some experiments with the paper and was famous, I tried a few things on the paper and was practically arrested) and the kickoff architectural show at the time and at the Museum Of Modern Art was I think called Decontructist Architects and Eisenman in particular was awesome. The context for deconstructionism was presented in the context of many of the architects working with wrapping paper the idea being the packaging of imagery that is our modality for better or worse or worser as the singer puts it...

More currently an article in the British drawing zine/site Tracey proposes more "spit" in drawing digitally for example , meaning inner conluence or identification to "the mysterious fluide of life" as it were... and bringing I suppose closer to the digital surface the worn color sense of Tibetan prayer flags and such....
I see in my minds eye a not so hypothetical artist I call Quaker Oats who realizes the appeal of older imager but modifies the way it comes accross so it makes it to the contemporary visualiztion zone of comfort and likewise ages the look of contemporary modes to give the middle ground zone of comfort...the middle class adores him....nothing wrong with that, in their better moment they used to adore Morandi- no thats not true Morandi is an artist's artist I almost forgot.... somehow I see an 18 century comedy of manners but at the constume ball one person is dressed in contemporary coat and tie and is talking about oil spills and a few "capital ideas".... Anyway- could a new formalism find genuine energy without going fascist? I definde formalism as resolving approaches to philosophic concentration and the love of knowledge that is more than just love of technology.
The recent article on Mungo Thomson in Rhizome which concerns a very old school conceptualist approach on Thomson's part similar to Asher in its sympathy for formalist inspiration discloses Thomson's approach of husing dust largely human cells that settle to celluloid when he invents the video negative and the dust of the archive environment that has gathered....anyway its a kind of gentle cannibalizing of Morandi's dust...People often miss the point that Thomson is making enormous fun of the often fatuously espoused principle of human context per deconstructionist mores while also staying very serious and true to his principle of editing which is what I mean by old school... for example his project to edit the Road Runner from the landscapes that enclose him or Art Forum articles from the advertisements that surround them ("cut to the chase and quick") the project being perhaps a Quaker Oats mix of Morandi and Roadrunner....
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