The Future of the Image | Week 5 | The Art of Nothing: Different approaches to the ‘non-object’

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The Art of Nothing: Different approaches to the ‘non-object’

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  • http://mehreenmurtaza.tumblr.com/post/43023836725/1-the-worlds-first-computer-art-is-an-image-of-aLast week’s film touched upon an ‘understanding of the growing symbiosis in man- machine relationship’, whichcharacterises ‘the advanced technological culture’ at large…This week, in order to answer some key questions regarding art in the 21st century that keep resurfacing, I want to concentrate on different approaches to the ‘non-object’…There is the potential to create work that is not possible on a paper canvas.What remains as an art object in the artist’s head once the project or the installation has finished and exists no longer. What kind of object is left to present for posterity? The works stem from an initial first idea and what is displayed here is the residual essence of the concept.
  • This lecture will:Explore the relevance between forms and ideas in an age of project making
  • This lecture will also:Examinethe space for artistic production, and its potential as a transformational context for dialogue, exchange, critique, happenings, performance…
  • The 1960s and 1970s mark the first time contemporary art opposed modernist art. Formalist strategies that privileged the art object were displaced by discursive, administrative and conceptual approaches that emphasized relationships, and connoisseurship gave way to the demands of the growing research-industrial complex. The concept of creativity partially shifted from a traditional craft function to intensive means of research, production and exhibition as seen in the emergence of land, environmental and ecological art, conceptual and performative practices, and spatial installations. However, in entering the information and systems age, which supplanted the industrial and machine age, art struggled to maintain (or willingly ceded) its materiality, which became divorced from message, as did content from expression, reinforcing philosophical dualisms."We have eliminated the real world - which world is left ? The world of appearances ? Not at all. Together with the real world, we have eliminated also the world of appearances" (NIETZSCHE
  • There are two hypotheses. The first one, is that the lost universe of appearances has not given way to an objective world - the world relieved from truth and appearances becomes a fable.Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, whereas all of Los Angeles and the America that surrounds it are no longer real, but belong to the hyperreal order and to the order of simulation. It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality (ideology) but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real, and thus of saving the reality principle.”― Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation
  • The second hypothesis, is quite simply the fall, the collapse of the world into reality. Once the world of truth is lost, together with the world of appearances, the universe becomes a real one. It falls into reality in a kind of telescopic collapse. It falls into reality as a rest, as a residue, as a definitive reduction and deconstruction of the enchanted world of illusion, one which no longer even needs to be true. The world becomes real to such a degree of reality that is bearable only by the way of a perpetual denial of the type :"This is not a world" (echoing the famous "This is not a pipe" of Magritte, as a surrealist denial of the evidence –This double impulse of the absolute, definitive evidence of the world and of the equally radical denial of this evidence dominates the whole trajectory of modern art, but not only : all our perceptions and imagination of the world are affected.
  • According to Baurillard, in order: To turn reality itself into an art object, you just need to make a useless function out of it. And this may be extrapolated to the whole production of material or immaterial things. As soon as this production reaches a critical level, a critical mass, where it can no longer be exchanged for anything in terms of social or individual achievement, it becomes a kind of gigantic surrealistic object, seized by the aesthetics of the performance, and virtually inscribed in a sort of irresistible final process without finality.Instant museificationof the whole technical environment, but also of the existential environment : for example in We Live in Public, Josh Harris is filmed 24 hours a day on the Internet – his, behaviour or acting recreates exactly Duchamp's gesture of the ready-made, he transfers his everyday life into the frame of the screen just as Duchamp transfers his fountain into the frame of the museum. He doesn't make a narrative or a fable out of his life, only a clone of it, a factual stereoscopy, an hyperrealistic transfer - a virtual ready-made.http://www.egs.edu/faculty/jean-baudrillard/articles/integral-reality/
  • The revolutionary idea of contemporary art was that any object, any detail or fragment of the world could exert the same attraction and raise the same questions as those formerly restricted to a few forms called works of art. That was democracy : not just in the access of all people to the enjoyment of art, but in the aesthetic uprising of an object-world where, to quote Warhol's famous formula, each object, without distinction, would have its 15 mins of fame - and particularly those banal objects, images and commodities. All are equivalent, everything is great - universal ready-made. Reciprocally art and the work of art are also transformed into objects - ready-mades without illusion - art as a merely conceptual acting-out, a generator of deconstructed objects that deconstruct us in turn.
  • Conceptual objects generated not by art itself, but by the idea of art. No body, no face, no gaze - just organs without a body, flows and networks without substance, fractals and molecules. No more judgment, pleasure or contemplation - one gets connected, absorbed, immersed, just as within force-fields or networks.According to Baudrillard:There is no object anymore - just the idea of the object. And what we enjoy in it is not art itself, but merely the idea of art. Thus we are no more in the space of forms, but in the space of ideology.
  • Image-feedback ("retour-image")induces everything to focus on itself, to duplicate itself in advance, cutting short the process of representation - a phenomenon particularly noticeable in the field of photography, where very few images, be it a face, an event, a human being or a landscape, escape that image-feedback. Most of our images mask themselves with a con-text, a culture, a meaning, an idea of themselves Everything we perceive on the screen is nothing but an image-feedback producing a reality-effect through a simulacrum of exchange.
  • Now the question is : how to break this circularity, this vicious circle of integral reality - how to think beyond truth, how to look beyond TV, how to live beyond reality ?
  • In complicating and extending the ontology of art, this more conceptual mode of thought has given rise to what John Johnston characterizes as “two conflicting cultural narratives, the adversarial and the symbiotic,” in which humans either lose control of their environment at the hands of technology or merge with technological systems.[1] Either option creates fear and alienation because humans are denied active participation in creation. With the machine, a discrepancy between technics and culture opens up, because humans are no longer “tool bearers,” but rather subjects gradually devolving from active to passive operator, reduced to a small a part of a larger system.He is suggesting a total loss of control or complete assimilation in the face of technicization,John Johnston, The Allure of Machinc Life: Cybernetics, Artificial Life, and the New Ai (Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2008), 12.
  • The hallmark of postmodernism may well be skepticism, even despair, over technology's role in shaping our world.There is a tension that the machine has been sought out to replace the handwork of a person to make work easier or more productive, and the so the argument goes, that less knowledge or skill is required.
  • However, the use of new technologies throughout history has always affected the way artists create their work. Technologies present the possibilities of how to create new forms and processes.“Our cognition becomes more imaginative as twenty-first century computers and art will provide humankind with an unlimited landscape for exploration, and unparalleled aid for the imagination.” ClifffordPickover
  • The ever important function of creating an art object by hand has long been diminished by science and technology.
  • Rather than seeing technology as a force that intervened between the individual and reality, has the machine become a way of creatively ‘deforming’ reality, even mastering it? Technology has certainly long become a creative force for the artist by being defined as a new ‘screen’ or ‘filter’ through which the world is experienced.Key to exploring the relationship between art and technology and the gallery is an:understanding that incorporeal materiality (having nomaterial existence) is materiality nonethelessThe focus in no longer to free concepts from their materiality but shift materiality away from familiar objects to the techno-sciences and post-modern notions of space
  • Paradox; art wants space; yet art’s condition today is post-spatialexplore ‘space’ as an open-ended term, ranging from personal space of one’s self and domestic, intimate surroundings, the Internet, TV broadcasting, the streets, web-based online curating, abandoned buildings and even art venues, including the imaginary space of reflection preceding these presentations.
  • Jack Burnham suggests that conceptual art marks such a disembodied presence, devoid of the materialist trappings of canvas, paint, stone and metal associated with conventional art objects.Burnham linked technological shifts in the late 1960s and early 1970s to an accompanying paradigm shift in thinking and creative practices in which conceptual art became nebulous information rather than defined thing. Formalist art objects were countered by “unobjects,” defined as “either environments or artifacts which resist prevailing critical analysis.”It is also work noting that:“unobjects” and “immaterials” remain distinct from the dematerialization of art associated with conceptual movements and institutional critique
  • Burnham continues, “The specific function of modern didactic art has been to show that art does not reside in material entities, but in relations between people and between people and the components of their environment.”
  • Cybernetics, in other words, constituted an epistemic shift in which technological progress became informational rather than material or energy.Norbert Wiener, the founder of cybernetics, writes, “Information is information not matter or energy. No materialism which does not admit this can survive at the present day.” Part of a utopian view of information, messages here have no material presence, acting as pure pattern, distinct from energy, remaining immaterial until encoded in print, electrical pulse or digital bit.
  • Les Immatériaux,,an exhibition curated by Lyotard, functioned as a kind of model for the postmodern condition. It showed us how familiar ‘material’ aspects of experience dissolve, when mediated by techno-scientific data, into an infinity of processes and relations that cannot be grasped in perceptual or imaginative terms. Infinity is inscribed in the familiar.Lyotard’s turn to immaterials has a history with which as a philosopher he would certainly have been familiar. Immaterialism has its eighteenth-century advent in Bishop Berkeley, whose metaphysics held that there are no material objects, only minds that apprehend.Berkley stated “To be is to be perceived”
  • Immaterial for Lyotard takes on a different meaning. He writes, “The relationship between mind and matter is no longer one between an intelligent subject with a will of its own and an inert object. They are now cousins in the family of ‘immaterials’.”The exhibition reveals the means by which our sense of reality has been defamiliarized and rendered insecure through technoscientificimmaterialization.The postmodern condition is one of an artifice for which there is no longer any original nature to oppose, or in which the artifice-nature distinction is blurred.
  • Beyond the dematerialization of the art object, the Pop art problem of irrealities and issues related to the techno-scientific and digital revolutions, Lyotard was concern with the artificialization of life beyond the museum.
  • Space of Curating ImmaterialityThe site of curatorial production has been expanded to include the space of the Internet and the focus of curatorial attention has been extended from the object to processes to dynamic network systems.The importance of computers has lead to communication technologies that allow for the quicker exchange and distribution of the means of production. Dematerialisation of the artwork has lead to immateriality, where it is no longer the object but the social relations that are measured. “The ‘immateral’ surrounds the inhabitants of this [postmodern] society in all direction, even if it is, strictly speaking, ‘unrepresentable’, and installation art functions as an embodiment, and a vehicle for the communication of, this immateriality. The postmodern landscape, in other words, is invisible and imperceptible but not unreal.
  • Critic, Jack Burnham“Change emanates, not from things, but from the way things are done.”That is to say,Technology offered new formats as well as new materials that enabled artists to go beyond an institutionalised context and instead conceive of and work with reality - directly and comprehensively; not as a number of autonomous objects but as a field of interrelated and complex systems calling for analysis, criticism and experimentation.
  • A lot has changed since Benjamin wrote his manifesto on the effects of mass production of art (The Work of Art in the age of mechanical reproduction). Art can now be viewed with the click of a mouse because the internet is saturated with images of art. This development does not mean, however, that original works of art have lost their authenticity just because they can be seen virtually anywhere in the world via the internet. The originality of art comes from being in the presence of the artwork itself, not from viewing a mere replica. On the other hand, what if the original were produced in the same way that the replica was produced. In this situation the only thing that differentiates the original from the copies is the amount of time and contemplation that the artists put into the original, and even then the work may not actually exist. Therefore, the value of originality does not specifically refer to and art object, but only to its theoretical enquiry.An object’s virtual representation, can have stakeholders. For instance, it makes more sense to own shares of a company than it does to own a physical piece of the company.
  • The art image as non-tangible representation then poses the question of whether artistic enquiry itself can be a valid form of art. This question implies that artists do not necessarily need to produce or make objects, but rather that they must contemplate and inquire about the true meaning of art and its relationship to art objects. Indeed there is a growing tendency for artists to regard their work as an enquiry, an open ended activity that does not aim at producing an object but nevertheless provides a defined statement.Any finished work of art stands secondary to the process of art. As mere objects they are simply objects of the past that have historical (and also aesthetic) value as records of our past intentions and attitudes, they can instruct upon how someone might have created their own vocabulary (reality), as artefact they show how culture is changing.
  • This draws attention to the "Immateriality question": What is art?, or more to the pointWhere actually is the art?Is art in the moment or is it in its re-presentation? Can art ever be an object?
  • ‘What is intangible Art?’ The question has continually defied being answered in part due to the elusiveness of the content itself. The intangible is a state, a condition, a thing, which cannot be directly possessed in its own possibility, perceived, or traced. Intangible art, therefore, can not be held, seen or reproduced directly for an indefinite amount of time nor can it be bought and sold, bartered, traded or gifted.

Transcript

  • 1. The Future of the Image Week 5: The Art of Nothing:Different approaches to the ‘non-object’ Deborah Jackson
  • 2. Art After Space• Explore the relevance between forms and ideas in an age of project making Olivia Plender Information, Education, Entertainment (2007)
  • 3. Art After Space• Examine the space for artistic production, and its potential as a transformational context for dialogue, exchange, critiq ue, happenings, performa nce etc Francis Alÿs Paradox of Praxis 1 (1997) Alÿs pushes a block of ice through the streets of Mexico City until itmelts; serving as a way to mark time and measure existence.
  • 4. The History of the Future"We have eliminated the real world - which world is left ? The world ofappearances ? Not at all. Together with the real world, we haveeliminated also the world of appearances” (NIETZSCHE)
  • 5. HyperrealThere are two hypotheses.The first one, is that the lostuniverse of appearanceshas not given way to anobjective world - the worldrelieved from truth and Disneyland is presented as imaginary in orderappearances becomes a to make us believe that the rest isfable. real, whereas all of Los Angeles and the America that surrounds it are no longer real, but belong to the hyperreal order and to the order of simulation. It is no longer a question of a false representation of reality (ideology) but of concealing the fact that the real is no longer real, and thus of saving the reality principle.” ― Jean Baudrillard, Simulacra and Simulation
  • 6. Jean Baudrillard Integral RealityThe second hypothesis, is quitesimply the fall, the collapse of theworld into reality.The world becomes real to such adegree of reality that is bearable onlyby the way of a perpetual denial ofthe type : "This is not a world”(echoing the famous "This is not apipe" of Magritte, as a surrealistdenial of the evidence)Craig MulhollandThis is not a message(2013)
  • 7. Jean Baudrillard Integral Reality “To turn reality itself into an art object, you just need to make a useless function out of it” • Instant museification • Virtual ready-madeWe Live in Public(2009)
  • 8. Art and the Everyday The revolutionary idea of contemporary art was that any object, any detail or fragment of the world could exert the same attraction and raise the same questions as those formerly restricted to a few forms called works of art. All are equivalent, everything is great - universal ready-made.Jeff Koons
Acrobat (2003–09)
  • 9. The Conspiracy of Art According to Baudrillard:• There is no object anymore - just the idea of the object• And what we enjoy in it is not art itself, but merely the idea of art• Thus we are no more in the space of forms, but in the space of ideology Dave Sherry (2013)
  • 10. Image Feedback Retour-imageEverything we perceive on thescreen is nothing but an image-feedback producing a reality-effectthrough a simulacrum of exchange.
  • 11. Image FeedbackNow the question is : howto break thiscircularity, this viciouscircle of integral reality -how to think beyondtruth, how to lookbeyond TV, how to livebeyond reality ? Ross Sinclair Real Life painting show (2006)
  • 12. The Allure of Machinic LifeJohn Johnston characterizes“two conflicting culturalnarratives, the adversarialand the symbiotic,” in whichhumans either lose control oftheir environment at thehands of technology ormerge with technologicalsystems. Olivia Plender Machine Shall be theJohn Johnston, The Allure of Slave of Man but weMachinic Life: Cybernetics, Shall Not Slave for theArtificial Life, and the New Ai Machine(Cambridge: The MIT Press, (2008)2008), 12.
  • 13. Technology and Postmodern PessimismThe hallmark ofpostmodernismmay well beskepticism, evendespair, overtechnologys rolein shaping ourworld Mike Nelson
Coral Reef, 2000
  • 14. The use of new technologiesthroughout history has alwaysaffected the way artists createtheir work. Technologies presentthe possibilities of how to createnew forms and processes.“Our cognition becomes moreimaginative as twenty-firstcentury computers and art willprovide humankind with anunlimited landscape forexploration, and unparalleledaid for the imagination.” Cliffford Pickover
  • 15. The ever important function of creating an art object by hand has long been diminished by science and technology.A landscape painted on DavidHockneys iPad
  • 16. The relationship between art and technology to the galleryIncorporeal materiality (having nomaterial existence) is materialitynonethelessNo longer serve to free conceptsfrom their materiality but shiftmateriality away from familiarobjects to the techno-sciences andpost-modern notions of space Martin Creed
Work No. 845 (THINGS (2007)
  • 17. Art After Space Is arts condition today post-spatial? • explore ‘space’ as an open-ended term, ranging from personal space of one’s self and domestic, intimate surroundings, the Internet, TV broadcasting, the streets, web-based online curating,Martin Creed abandoned buildings and even artWork No. 79 
Some Blu-Tack venues, including the imaginarykneaded, rolled into a ball, and space of reflection preceding thesedepressed against a wall presentations
(1993)
  • 18. ‘UNOBJECTS’Disembodied presence, devoidof the materialist trappings ofcanvas, paint, stone and metalassociated with conventional artobjects“unobjects” and “immaterials”remain distinct from thedematerialization of artassociated with conceptualmovements and institutional Karla Blackcritique Venice Biennale exhibition 2011
  • 19. “The specific function ofmodern didactic art has beento show that art does notreside in material entities, butin relations between peopleand between people and thecomponents of theirenvironment.”Burnhan, Great Western Salt Works:Essays on the Meaning of Post-Formalist Martin CreedArt, 15. Work No. 370 Balls (2004)
  • 20. Cybernetics“Information is information notmatter or energy. No materialism which does not admit this can survive at the present day.” Norbert WienerPart of a utopian view of information,messages here have no materialpresence, acting as pure pattern,distinct from energy, remainingimmaterial until encoded in print,electrical pulse or digital bit. Olafur Eliasson The Weather Project (2003)
  • 21. Lyotard’s Les Immateriaux ‘Material’ aspects of experience dissolve, when mediated by techno- scientific data, into an infinity of processes and relations that cannot be grasped in perceptual or imaginative terms.“To be is to be perceived.” George Berkeley
  • 22. “The relationship betweenmind and matter is no longerone between an intelligentsubject with a will of its ownand an inert object. They arenow cousins in the family of‘immaterials’.”Jean-François Lyotard, Les Immatériaux, ed.Reesa Greenberg, Bruce W. Ferguson, andSandy Nairne, Thinking About Exhibitions(New York: Routledge, 1996), 165.
  • 23. Richard Hamilton Just what is it that makes todays homes so different? (1992)Beyond the dematerialization of the art object, the Pop art problem ofirrealities and issues related to the techno-scientific and digital revolutions,Lyotard was concern with the artificialization of life beyond the museum.
  • 24. Space of Curating Immateriality The postmodern landscape, in other words, is invisible and imperceptible but not unreal.Craig MulhollandPeer to Peer (2008)
  • 25. “Change emanates, not from things, but from the way things are done.” Jack Burnham System Esthetics (1974)Keith FarquharPlastic Wood (2009)
  • 26. An Internet of ThingsA lot has changed since Benjamin wrote his manifesto on the effects ofmass production of art. Art can now be viewed with the click of a mousebecause the internet is saturated with images of art.
  • 27. Immateriality - Art as ProcessAny finished work of art standssecondary to the process of art.As mere objects they are simplyobjects of the past that havehistorical (and also aesthetic)value as records of our pastintentions and attitudes, they caninstruct upon how someonemight have created their ownvocabulary (reality), as artefactthey show how culture ischanging. Dean HughesFilling up puddles on a day that it didnt rain (2010)
  • 28. The immateriality question• Where actually is the art?• Is art in the moment or is it in its re-presentation?• Can art ever be an object? Martin Creed Work No. 610 (Sick Film) (2006)
  • 29. Post-materialismThe intangible is a state, acondition, a thing, whichcannot be directlypossessed in its ownpossibility, perceived, ortraced. Intangible art,therefore, can not be held,seen or reproduceddirectly for an indefiniteamount of time nor can itbe bought and sold,bartered, traded or gifted. Anthony Schrag Restore the Natural Order: Lecturing sheep about the Highland Clearances (2013)
  • 30. The Tyranny of VisionYou can’t tell art just by looking