Michael Szpakowski
Since the beginning
Works in Harlow United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

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DISCUSSION

Re: Re: DATA DIARIES by CORY ARCANGEL on Turbulence


I wanted to have a think about what you'd written
here, Curt ,before I responded.
I haven't read the McCloud book and I'll try to and
I'm not sure about his schematization but I feel very
close to the territory that you're talking about in
your discussion of #1 and #2, except it seems to me
that every really great work is some combination of
these, which in a way is no more than the truism that
great art is a marriage of form and content; however,
like many truisms its worth revisiting because there
are depths behind it.
The reason that the "cry" at the heart of the late
Coltrane moves us so is because of the formal control
that is evident there, which articulates and presents
to us the heart of the "cry" -to feel deeply is
something that is available to all, to articulate that
feeling in something like "A Love Supreme" is
something that we acknowledge as very special;
likewise I think you're a bit hard on Miles - "ESP" in
it's entirety, for example, breaks my heart every
time! - the structure's there but there is emotional
substance and risk aplenty too.
Picasso also - I don't see him as a formalist.
Anyone who doubts the emotional power of something
like "Guernica" should ask themselves why it was
covered up during Colin Powell's speech to the UN.
Likewise many of the late works address very human
concerns about old age and declining powers ( oh and
so much else -there's a wonderful print in Sheffield
City museum called something like 'A Young Girl with
flowers leads a blind minotaur from a boat'- and it
speaks of so much -youth and age, the beauty of the
world, fear of blindness in general, an artist's fear
of blindness, what sight *means*, plus it's flawlessly
executed but without the glossy touches that a lesser
artist would feel compelled to insert).
But even formalism to some extent is a manifestation
of a very primal human urge both to order, and to
play.
Without going over it too consciously I'd always
thought of the two things ( your #1 and #2) as going
way way back -the "cry" thing as being shamanic -
crying to change things, to bewail or to celebrate
events, facts, birth, death ,love, both the beauty and
hostility of the world that are human universals. This
urge very quickly develops form to go with it -you can
see the process going on both in cave painting and in
popular music ( where individuals who are disconnected
initially from any official artistic tradition forge
new forms for their "cry" - punk being an example,
though I'm not claiming this springs from nothing).
But the other facet for me is the development of this
urge to form ( your#2) and with it the idea of
artistic "tradition", of a cultural memory which is
available to each of us but which goes beyond each of
our lifetimes -and I don't see this as stultifying
tradition but as something nourishing that we each of
us both draw on and reject parts of.
That's an attempt to flesh out some of the assumptions
I'd bring to commenting on a specific work.
Where of course I absolutely agree with you is the
primacy of #1. As Primo Levi put it in the final
sentence of his 'To A Young Reader':
"Oh, I forgot to tell you that in order to write, one
must have something to write."
best
Michael

--- curt cloninger <curt@lab404.com> wrote:
> Michael S. wrote:
> good?...
> steve reich, howe gelb, will oldham,wim
> vanderkeybus, david foster wallace, primo levi, w.g
> sebald, richard ford. & loads more...
>
> What makes all the above notable for me?- engagement
> with the human and with the human being in society;
> high degree of technical ability ( and a willingness
> to undertake drudgery) sometimes bordering on
> virtuosity but not to an obsessional extent & rarely
> entirely for it's own sake; universality -
> relatively
> independent of context -even though often very much
> of
> it's time nevertheless it resonates for us now..
> ..and I think I'd want to argue that somewhere in
> there lies a framework for what justifies art as a
> human activity.
>
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> curt responds:
> Scott McCloud describes the artistic process in 6
> stages:
> 1. idea/purpose
> 2. form [what might be called "genre"]
> 3. idiom [what I would call "style"]
> 4. structure
> 5. craft
> 6. surface
>
> He says artists start at #6 and work backwards as
> they mature. (Sadly, a lot of net artists skip
> phases 6-3 entirely.) McCloud says the great
> artists in the end are going to focus on either #2
> or #1. Picasso chose #2. Van Gough chose #1.
> Miles Davis chose #2. John Coltrane chose #1.
> Those who choose #1 lock onto a form that will carry
> them where they want to go, and then they start
> drilling down.
>
> Personally, I want to see more artists who choose
> #1. So much net art is so formalistic. Which is
> not invalid or wrong or any of those things. But I
> personally don't want "more of everything." To me,
> it's not "all good." I'm glad I don't have to
> choose between Miles and Coltrane, but if I had to
> choose, I would choose Coltrane from '64-'67 over
> Miles Davis' entire catalog. And that's really
> saying something, because I own and love and listen
> to about 15 Miles CDs, from the the early 50s to the
> mid-70s.
>
> But there is something at once blindingly elevated
> and painfully ravaged about those late-era Coltrane
> recordings that signify them to me as more valuable.
> It's music yearning like a god in pain. And Davis,
> smooth and clever and masterful and genius as he
> was, never achieved that.
>
> Probably he didn't have the chops or the personal
> depth to achieve it. Probably he wasn't even
> interested in achieving it. But at least he didn't
> fail to achieve it for fear of ridicule, or for fear
> of failure, or for fear of trying.
>
> I think a lot of net art is impersonal and
> obligatorily formalistic because --
> 1. artists don't really have anything personal to
> say (other than making clever general observations
> about the medium vis society, which doesn't really
> count as personal)
> 2. artists were raised in a system where "artist as
> hero" was the taboo faux pas to avoid at all costs.
> 3. artists are afraid to be anything other than
> safely cynical (or politically vocal, as long as it
> accords with the latest approved cause --
> anti-corporate, anti-occident, anti-masculine,
> anti-gallery, etc.)
>
> Something like Mark Napier's internet flag is a
> pleasant exception. Although not autobiographical
> by any means, and certainly not unaware of form, the
> project is still concerned with #1 (idea/purpose)
> more than #2 (form).
>
> Regarding Cory's work, he's into the retro-tech
> fetishism, which is necessarily formalistic, but I
> don't think he's doing it to be chic or because he's
> afraid of tackling other things. That's just where
> he is and what he's into.
>
> I'm not trying to mandate anything, but I do have a
> personal opinion. I would like to see us get over
> our infantile fascination with the medium in and of
> itself and begin using the medium to plumb topics
> deeper and more resonant. Clever ideas are a dime a
> dozen. I had one on the toilet this morning. Music
> yearning like a god in pain is something else
> entirely.
> + ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
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DISCUSSION

A small new piece of work


A small new piece of work:

http://www.somedancersandmusicians.com/breathe/breathe.html

michael

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DISCUSSION

Re: DATA DIARIES by CORY ARCANGEL on Turbulence


Hi Ivan
good?- ( including honourable failures) - this last
year on the net- jorn ebners 'lee marvin toolbox',
david crawford's stop motion work, lewis lacook, lot
of Eryk Salvaggio's work, lot of jess loseby's stuff,
lots of other small delights.
Elsewhere: bruce nauman, bartok, shostakovich,brecht,
shakespeare,beethoven ,picasso,hopper.
some of shirin neshat, cornell, joan
brossa,kitaj,harry callahan,william
kentridge,francesca woodman, berio, steve reich, howe
gelb, will oldham,wim vanderkeybus, david foster
wallace, primo levi, w.g sebald, richard ford.
& loads more in both categories ..but with the
reservation that nothing on the net yet matches for me
any of the second category,
which quite possibly could mean that I'm a dinosaur.
What makes all the above notable for me?- engagement
with the human and with the human being in society;
high degree of technical ability ( and a willingness
to undertake drudgery) sometimes bordering on
virtuosity but not to an obsessional extent & rarely
entirely for it's own sake; universality - relatively
independent of context -even though often very much of
it's time nevertheless it resonates for us now..
..and I think I'd want to argue that somewhere in
there lies a framework for what justifies art as a
human activity.
Maybe we have a semantic problem here -what I meant by
relativism is the belief that valuations are and can
only ever be relative - absolutely true in a trivial
sense (in the long run we're all dust) but not in the
historical, hundreds of yearsy medium term scale which
is the only really graspable and meaningful one for us
humans- us and our culturally preserved memories - in
this light Mozart undoubtedly wrote more important (
and better) music than Salieri &c.
Of course it's a complex area and full of
philosophical pitfalls (and I'm certainly don't claim
immunity here) but I think it's terrain worth
contemplating and contesting.
best
michael

--- Ivan Pope <ivan@ivanpope.com> wrote:
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Michael Szpakowski <szpako@yahoo.com>
>
> > why?- do we just have to be endlessly relativist?
> -
>
> Well, I don't want to get too literal about this,
> but you used the term
> 'artistically and
> > intellectually bankrupt'. To me that implies that
> the piece had run out of
> artistic and intellectual credit, i.e. positioned
> against those works that
> still had artistic and intellectual currency to
> hand. That's a relative
> argument to me.
>
> > -it seems to me
> > it is worth arguing about what constitutes "good"
> in
> > art and why.
>
> ok, point taken about polemic. I'd like to see you
> set out what you consider
> 'good' (which is of course another relativist
> concept).
> Also, did you consider Cory's piece to be bad art or
> not art at all. Your
> original statement that it is 'artistically
> bankrupt' implies that it is
> art, but art that has gone bust.
> Cheers,
> Ivan
>

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DISCUSSION

Re: DATA DIARIES by CORY ARCANGEL on Turbulence


Hi Ivan et al
<At least we are arguing about art for a change!>
absolutely
< I would say one thing that is just not worth
claiming is that something is
'artistically and intellectually bankrupt'.>
< This obviously works for a lot of people and is
withing a long and honorable
tradition (as was the lights on/lights off piece for
the Turner prize).>
why?- do we just have to be endlessly relativist? -
the longer tradition is one of polemic in art- I'm
glad for them if people like the piece -I can't see it
at all myself.
Duchamp and Cage in their time were quite interesting
sideshows on the fringes of art - to try to quarry the
same terrain today seems to me to be indicative of a
deep poverty of ideas and a deep disconnection from
the world.
Gareth Gates 'works' for a lot of people, Big
Brother 'works' for a lot of people and the Daily
Sport 'works' for a lot of people - but we can go
deeper than that!
Naturally I'm expressing an *opinion* here - I'm not
in a position to *stop* work like this nor of course
would I want to, but I think in terms of an attempt to
foster critical dialogue an appeal simply to let a
hundred flowers bloom doesn't cut it -it seems to me
it is worth arguing about what constitutes "good" in
art and why.
So - one concept,which has to be explained to us in an
intro, some vaguely attractive patterns and perhaps a
feeling that "we're in the loop". Thin fare!
best
michael

> It's bankrupt to claim an absolute position in
> relation to art.
> I just love to see this sort of work come into the
> world. I'm glad there are
> people who bother to do this.
> More of everything, please.
> Cheers,
> Ivan
>
> + ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht ym tup
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DISCUSSION

Re: DATA DIARIES by CORY ARCANGEL on Turbulence


What can I say -I'm glad it does it for you.
I found it utterly trite. I'm not interested in
arguing whether it's net art or not ( who cares
whether it's this or that critical category).
I meant poverty in the sense of artistically and
intellectually bankrupt.
michael
--- "Marisa S. Olson" <marisa@sfcamerawork.org>
wrote:
> "data diaries" is one of the most beautiful things
> i've see on the
> net in quite some time and, in all honesty, it's
> restored some of my
> recently lost faith/enchantment with net art.
>
> {of course, one may argue that it is not "net art"
> because arcangel
> is not a "net artist," per se, but it's rendered in
> a way that bears
> site-specificity/-reflexivity, given that it's
> encoded for a
> primarily internet-based video medium/channel and
> is, afterall,
> presented on the internet...}
>
> "poverty"? arte poverte this is not, if only because
> it clearly has a
> very specific content (to bracket medium-specific
> issues). if
> "poverty" refers to a certain aesthetic void, i
> would strongly
> disagree. the work is far from static and is
> visually stunning--yes,
> i said stunning... nonetheless, some of history's
> greatest painters
> gave us work that might also be called "wallpaper"
> but their blue
> boxes, white on white, image loops, pinstripes, and
> swaths of
> camouflage remain rich in both content and poetics.
>
> to me, this trumps the work currently being called
> "net art" simply
> because it exists on the net, without awareness of
> network conditions
> or which simply caters to a darwinian-"evolutionary"
> lust for higher
> technologies, resulting in self-congratulatory
> didactics.. two main
> pitfalls in much contemporary "net art," as i see
> it. this is another
> reason that arcangel's interest in "defunct' media
> and dirt-style
> design are refreshing, if not downright
> nostalgia-inducing.
>
> marisa
>
> > > DATA DIARIES is <...>
> >..but of course that's not what we see at all.
> There's
> >no way the viewer can know that what is on the
> screen
> >has some connection to Cory's this and that except
> by
> >way of the artist statement.
> >Take the 'concept' away and the poverty of the
> thing
> >immediately becomes apparent - if the artist simply
> >constructed the images we see we might say, OK
> that's
> >vaguely interesting and attractive in a kind of
> >wallpaper way for about 2 seconds but 11 hours
> >...please!
> >By far the most interesting thing about the piece
> is
> >the neat lo fi handwritten bubbles and the general
> >presentation of the piece, but then maybe that took
> a
> >little bit of craft.
> >michael
>
> _________________
> Marisa S. Olson
> Associate Director
> SF Camerawork
> 415. 863. 1001
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