Dyske Suematsu
Since the beginning
dyske@dyske.com
Works in United States of America

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BIO
I think, theorize, and write about highly irrelevant matters.
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DISCUSSION

Re: On the profound and meaningful (was A Posteriori art)


> Ultimately, this is where this kind of critical writing takes
> you... having
> arguments that are only for people who agree with you. That's not an
> argument its a clique.

Hi Jess,

I think it would be misguided to think that ANY arguments or critical
writing can achieve anything else. Any effort to communicate with others
must rely on the willingness of the other to understand and accept. As
theoretical or critical as any piece of writing may be, you are still
writing with a certain amount of faith in others. Anything can be counter
argued if you wanted to. In this sense, there is no difference between
fiction and nonfiction.

As I have said before, I only speak to the converted. I write, because it
helps me to clarify my thoughts. I often read for the same reason. Getting
exposed to different ways of thinking helps me to align my thoughts on
issues that I already feel and understand intuitively. I share my writings
with the world because 1. they can help others who share my views to
articulate their feelings, and 2. any feedback I get from sharing can
further encourage me to articulate what I'm feeling. If someone who
disagrees with me changes his mind through my writings, that is great, but I
don't expect it, nor is it what I aim for.

I do not buy into the notion that critical writing can prove something right
or wrong definitively, and that some sort of indestructible system or
structure of theory can be built. I am not engaged in this type of activity.
If you want to call it "clique", yes, that's what I do.

-Dyske
http://www.dyske.com

DISCUSSION

Re: On the profound and meaningful (was A Posteriori art)


Hi all,

My arguments are for those who share similar views with me. By no means, I
intend to propose a definitive explanation of what happens to all artists.
If you do not agree, you just don't. I have no interest in trying to argue.
I could only try to correct or elaborate points that I feel were
misinterpreted or not communicated.

As I said before, what matters in the end is that something is profound and
meaningful to me. I cannot speak for others. Although what is profound and
meaningful varies person to person, it is a common practice by artists to
seek profundity and meaningfulness. I am not arguing about what is profound
or meaningful; I'm discussing the problems associated with pursuing it
(whatever "it" may be). And, their pursuits often are for something that can
be perceived by the art world to be profound and meaningful, even if what it
takes to achieve it is to create something absolutely meaningless. In many
ways, calling yourself an "artist" implies that you want other people to
know and recognize your pursuit of meaningfulness and profundity. Pursuing
alone is not enough; you want others to know that you are pursuing it. This
is all fine and well, but there is a danger here of alienating yourself.

If my arguments sound like naive gibberish of a college student, then so be
it. This is not a theoretical thesis. It is written only for those who share
my views--even if that's no one else.

-Dyske
http://www.dyske.com

DISCUSSION

Re: A Posteriori Art - follow-up


A few things to add:

In terms of supporting any activities that are yet to be "art", I must
emphasize once again that my criticism is more towards the artists
themselves than towards the institutions of art.

Your own ideas need your own support too. There is only so much time in a
day, and in your life. You need to define priorities. For an "artist", any
activities that do not appear to have much profound meaning are pushed
towards the bottom of the list. The same process will occur at the
institutional level as well. The unfortunate thing about this process is
that we often achieve great things if we didn't intend to achieve great
things. If we try hard to attract someone, we fail, but when we have no
intention of attracting anyone, we end up attracting someone. When we try to
be funny, we fail, but if we stop trying, we naturally become funnier. Our
intentions are overrated. We accomplish much greater things if we just let
it happen; if we didn't sensor ourselves with intentions.

Many famous artists live miserable lives. The only solace that they can
find, what keeps them going, is the notion that they are doing what they
love. It is not that they are truly doing what they love, it is the idea
that they are supposedly doing what they love, is what gives them the
comfort and pride. Meanwhile many of these established artists are slaving
themselves to the market that demands and expects a specific brand of
products from them. All they do is to churn out what is expected, like
factory workers, because their concerns are more with preserving their
status as artists than with doing what they love. Granted, there are many
happy artists too, but it should strike you odd that in the field where
people are supposed to be doing what they love, they are just as depressed
as people of any other fields. I personally see this as a result of
alienating themselves for the sake of being "artists". They suppress what
they truly want to do for the sake of what could give them the title of
"artists".

Supposed you are an artist, but you find that you really enjoy cooking.
Since you have a very little chance at achieving something profound with
cooking, you suppress this desire, or keep it moderate, not to take too much
time away from making "art". In this fashion, your true interests and
passions get pushed down to the bottom of your priority list, because, as an
"artist", your priority rests on creating something profound. A healthier
approach would be to simply follow your passion, whatever it is. If
something profound and meaningful comes out of it, that's great, if not
that's great too; at least you didn't alienate yourself. However, this
approach does not get much support, neither from yourself nor from your
community, because there is no real grounds on which the meaningfulness of
your activities can be justified.

The term "art" is completely arbitrary. There is no substance that the word
points to. Its definition is utterly biased and culturally dependent. Yet,
we fund and support "art" based on this arbitrary grounds. For those who do
not see the arbitrariness of the term "art", funding on the grounds of "art"
seems perfectly sound. To me, it is as meaningless as funding someone
because she is 27 years old. This is not to discourage funding. It's a
positive thing, but I do not believe that funding "art" is any more
meaningful than funding 27 year olds.

-Dyske
http://www.dyske.com

DISCUSSION

Re: A Posteriori Art


Hi Pall,

If what you are suggesting is that if something meaningful was created
accidentally, it is not art, nor is the creator artist. This is semantically
true, at least to a degree. It is like calling a shot when playing pool. The
idea in art is not to create something meaningful, but to create something
meaningful intentionally so that the creator can be properly credited. This
is a rather Western definition of art where, ultimately, it is about
authorship, about credit, about art being an assertion of self. So if the
artwork cannot be traced back to the name of the creator, it is not art.
This goes back to my argument of identifying oneself as an "artist" being
the primary drive of art. If the artist cannot be properly credited, if the
meaning cannot be traced back to the artist's intention, then everything
loses meaning.

Suppose someone keeps creating something beautiful and profoundly meaningful
to the viewers, but he does not know what art is, and had no intention of
creating something meaningful. Technically speaking, his work will not be
considered "art" especially in the era after Duchamp. From time to time I
come across things of this nature where I have no idea who made it, what
his/her intention was, but was profoundly meaningful to me. In fact, I do
not make much distinction between the beauty of nature and the beauty of
man-made objects. After all, human beings are part of nature. I'm simply
interested in letting beautiful things happen. Whether it can be properly
credited to an "artist" does not particularly interest me. In the end,
meaning is something that resides in me regardless of anyone's intentions to
be meaningful. In this sense, I am the artist in everything I perceive to be
meaningful, whether you made it or I did.

Dyske
http://www.dyske.com

DISCUSSION

Re: A Posteriori Art


> I don't understand why this discourages experimentation
> nor why it forces artists to plan everything in advance.

Hi Pall,

Artists are "artists", because they make art. Their products are art because
they are "artists". Art has evolved into a highly self-conscious act. When
we call something "art", we expect some form of profound meaning in it.
Suppose an artist says, "I'm going to make art." This is something most
artists do on a daily basis, whether they literally say it or not. What does
it mean to say that you are going to make art? It means that you are going
to create something profoundly meaningful. So, even before you pick up your
brush, you are assuming that you are creating something profoundly
meaningful. If you think about it, this is quite conceited, but our current
art world essentially requires you to do this. By "art world", I don't just
mean the institutions of art, but everyone in the art world including the
artists themselves.

Because artists want to be "artists", because they see themselves to be
artists, what they make by default must be profoundly meaningful from the
get-go. This leaves out certain possibilities. Say, an engineer made
something fun for himself. It was a big hit among his friends, so he decided
to make more of them to give them out. They started using his device daily,
and eventually had a profound impact on their lives. One day the engineer
realized that what he had created was something more than a piece of device;
it was something more profound and meaningful. He decided to call it "art".
The current art world does not have any means of supporting, or even
recognizing, activities like this. The intentions of any activities in the
art world must be to make "art". I feel that this is quite limiting. As a
modern artist, you must be able to explain why what you are about to make is
profound and meaningful. Otherwise you won't be able to get any support or
recognition.

Again, the institutions of art are not to be blamed for this, because the
artists do this to themselves. They want to be recognized as "artists", so
they would only do something if it can be profound. They would not waste
time with something in which they can't see any meaning in advance, even if
they felt that it could be fun or interesting. If they are just doing
something for fun by following their own passion, they won't be recognized
as "artists", and that is not something that they want to accept. First and
foremost, they want to be called, and be able to call themselves, "artists".
And, there is a price for that.

Interactive art, especially when the interaction is with other people, your
message as an artist is often the medium itself. That is, the artistic
meaning is not in the content of the interaction, but in the way the medium
influences the way people think, feel, and live. Mediums like radio, TV,
transportation, cell phones, email, and the web had profound impact on our
lives, but it was not always clear how these mediums were going to change
our lives. A medium that was invented for one purpose often ends up being
used for an entirely different purpose. Where you thought it would have
meaning, end up having more meaning elsewhere.

Today with the help of technology, we can create a medium that can be used
by millions of people without getting millions of dollars in funding. That
is, a medium no longer needs to be a physical device. A piece of computer
software is a medium that is entirely intellectual, and can have an enormous
impact on our lives. Although most applications are written with specific
profit-making goals, one could build an application that has a potential to
create a profound meaning. However, as with any medium, whether it achieves
that goal or not is not something you can accurately predict. The only
guidance you have in this endeavor is your gut instinct, curiosity, and
passion. If your primary concern is with being called an "artist" or being
able to call yourself an "artist", then you are probably better off not
pursuing something like this.

Dyske
http://www.dyske.com