Is THAT art?!?!?! I mean a child could have done that?

February 20, 2008

I have much to say and engage with in regards to these two questions and I do not plan on writing it all down now, or even get close to addressing all the problems with these two questions but I wanted the conversation to start. So I have been doing some Saussure reading lately, for a class mind you, I don’t think I could do it for myself yet in life, and well more specifically I have been reading his Lecture Notes from the University of Geneva, 1906-11, compiled and published by his students after his death. Okay that all being said the part of these notes I want to draw attention to is the three ways in which a word, a linguistic sign, is arbitrary. The three ways come from first breaking up the sign into its two parts, signifier (the sound) and signified (the idea or concept). For example when we say “chair”  the sound associated with the concept of a device for sitting on are not inherently combined, that’s easy enough to understand when one travels to a place where one’s native language is not practiced. Try saying chair somewhere where they don’t speak English and see if they understand you. So with these two aspects defined what is then arbitrary? Well as is suggested above the relationship between the signified and the signifier is completely conventional, why call a chair a chair and not a table? It is just what we have chosen. Second the sound itself is arbitrarily defined, why not chairy or chaaaair? Lastly the concept is also arbitrarily defined. A stool and chair are separate in our language, not all languages and a desk chair and table chair both use the word chair, in other languages they don’t have the same signifier.

We can spend all day talking about Saussure but the only thing important for the art question is the arbitrariness of language.  given that I want to know bring up C. S. Pierce who studied sign. Pierce, 1839-1914, defined three different signs: Icons, resembles what it points to, Index, related to its object through forceful interaction, and Symbols, anything that requires information to form the connection. Language as it is arbitrary and conventional falls under that third category. Renaissance paintings fall under the first category and photograph falls under the first two, as it is both representational of what it points to and it is a consequence of it (that’s why photos can be evidence and paintings can’t, for the most part).

Okay NOW back to the question at hand, what is meant when someone says “a child could have done that?” that’s what I am now going to address:

So last weekend I was at our university’s annual sculpture show and had a wonderful and exploratory time observing and being part of the exhibitions. But of course, with the art being student created (ie experimental) there came a slew of questions or rather comments regarding the validity of the art. For example when looking at one of the more hidden pieces that was made up of plaster, grocery bags, hot glue, wax, and a globe it was stated that the piece was not for sale. The response of one individual to that knowledge was “why would someone even be interested in that? they could get it at a supermarket for far less, hell it comes with your order at a supermarket” he was obviously referring to the enormous number of plastic bags used int he sculpture’s creation. So therefore the question becomes creatability? I guess you could say, or rather that he and many others were measuring the “artistic merit” of the works based on how “easy” or “accessible” they were to create. Here is where I bring up Saussure, to remind us that our “conventions” for what is easy and hard, and what is beautiful and ugly, and especially what is and isn’t art is NOT based on any fundamental truth, for there isn’t one, but rather it is based on our own arbitrary definitions. One may be able to easily translate beauty linguistically between English and French but you’d be surprised at how the term may be applied very differently in the two cultures. I bring this up to suggest that when we talk about certain elements that “should” be striven for in art, those elements have no universality in them and furthermore are completely relative based on what we define them as not.

Okay then so let’s briefly talk about what is implied with that child statement. First let me say that I am not going to take the time here to debate it but rather just understand it, later we’ll debate it. So typically the “a child could do that” statement applies to the works of art that appear to have no talent applied during the creative process. One that I always think of in this argument is Kasimir Malevich’s Black Square or Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain. In either case the artistic object is not something that requires a mastery of representational ability. By that I mean to suggest that when this statement is applied to either work the implied meaning of it is that neither work achieved the same level of representational, iconic, achievement that say the Mona Lisa did. So in the end I bring this up now to ask, do you think that what is implied by this statement is a comparison with Renaissance art? After all nothing can be defined independently, everything is always negatively defined. Therefore for this to be slated with being less than art, what other artistic objects are being conjured up to mark this objects failure? Furthermore I want to bring up the question of “talent” and to suggest that we are applying to this word an age old convention of something physical. That the talent required to be a superior artist is some sort of mastery over representational, some kind of ability to recreate life through a medium. I would argue that it requires the SAME amount if not MORE talent to produce something so iconistic as to go against convention. Why seek only to use convention when defining art?

 

But I must also add that by bringing up Saussure we are going down a path of arbitrariness that may conclude with that unnerving realization that art itself is arbitrary.

 

Let the discussion begin,

Huysmans

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Politically art that drives me

February 6, 2008

Song & video by Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas.
Inspired by Barack Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’ speech.

This inspires. I don’t mean to bring politics into my blog, well no, I do, but I bring this also as a work of art. Yes, you can call it propaganda and to many it probably is. But I believe it, I remember the speech, I’ll remember where I was when it was given (New York City) and I will look to it and this video when needing courage and hope in that better tomorrow for this country. I support Barack Obama!

Thank you Dipdive for giving this to the people.

YES WE CAN!

(I had to find it on youtube to be able to host it here. Does anyone know how to embed on wordpress from the original site, dipdive.com, so I don’t have to find it on youtube?)

Ps. what is of relative value to this blog is the artistic merit of such a video. Is this art? Is this just propaganda? Or better yet is it just an advertisement, and therefore should not even qualify to be art as its “purpose” is not artistic. But is that so true and furthermore who defines an “artistic” purpose. In looking at this (and I know it is very hard for me to separate my own political bias from it, so I do understand that that is in this next statement) I believe it is art. It is raw emotion, harnessed by the creators and yes it does support a politician but it also supports so much more. I see real heart in this and would argue that the emotional energy used to create and give this project to the world places it squarely in the realm of art, perhaps a subgenre of political art, but art none the less.

Happy Super Tuesday everyone!

Huysmans


An afternoon cup

January 23, 2008

While this is a little off topic I do believe the attention given to this device as well as the culture around the perfection of the product can and does constitute an artistic endeavor. What am I talking about? Coffee!

My friend Mark, who has commented here a few times, has introduced me to a NY times article on the newest machines designed for coffee brewing. The article outlines two new approaches to coffee brewing, the first and more expensive one ($20,000) hails from Japan and is called Siphon brewing while the second and less expansive option ($11,000) was designed here in the states and is called Clover.

This video taken from youtube demonstrates how Clover works:

Described in the video is the brewing process and we are informed about the specificity this machine can get to when dealing with a cup to cup process. The article adds in addition to this that the machine has the ability to go online and catalog specific orders and styles for different beans and roasts.The second machine uses a much more involved process and appears to be much more complicated to master.

First for anyone who fins this post I must ask if you have tried either of these machines and what is this experience like?

But more importantly and what allows me to place it in the category of artistic discussion is that I am one to believe and argue that there is an art to this. An art that is extremely temporary and fleeting yet requires an intense amount of patience to master. A film that best describes this sensational euphoria achieved with good culinary work would be Ratatouille. The scenes and visuals used when Remy, the main rat chief character, describes eating are so perfect. Anyway as you all know I love looking at the art in things that aren’t necessarily artistic and so have arrived here.

What I see here is a process for preparing a beverage that is widely enjoyed here and abroad taken to the level of expression. These devices allow the berristas to really find their special brew, their expression of coffee.

Hail to the cup as I go get another and dive back into the thesis.

Huysmans


What will come of the book

January 15, 2008

In working through aspects of this thesis I have come across a fair amount of literature on the future of the printed book. I knew going into this project that I would find such discussions but what is curious to me is our desire to weigh in on such a what if conversation. Yes the book in its printed form has been a fundamental tool to our society since its inception and yes today for the first time in history that which the book offered can now be offered by something else. But this new technology, right now culminating with the Kindle I guess but I have yet to see this new device in action, can it really replace the book? Or rather is this really a conversation worth having. Now I know that I have defended the value of this artistic conversation and in so doing have met many individuals who believe the entire conversation of defining art has no value and ultimately hurts art in our culture, I obviously disagree with that sentiment. But with the discussion over the plight of the book I really see no value. This new medium will create a new art, not a new platform for the same art. So the better question is will the old art die? I don’t think so either, writing has not died out after typing became available, and with that I don’t think print will go out even if this Kindle and its super screen that doesn’t strain eyes really does work. 

I guess the point of this post is to get that out, I’d rather these authors focus on what makes internet writing unique and new rather than waste time describing it as an improvement to the book. TV is not an improvement to film and VHS did not replace the cinematic experience. But on the flip side I don’t think those comparative arguments work either, because radio I do believe is on the out thanks to the internet and soon TV will follow. 

 But both of these mediums never established themselves like the book did and that may be its saving grace. It is part of our history and its tangibility along with its content is what makes it unique. 

 

So here I am complaining that this argument is occurring in these texts and by doing that I too am contributing to the discussion. Oh well back to the thesis…

 

Huysmans  


Thesis Update

January 13, 2008

So I finally cracked into the writing part of this and have secured an introduction, well part of an introduction. I still want to discuss intermediality in today’s world and look more closely at art productions such as The Pillow Book and the multimedia characteristics of the digital medium. But that will come once I finally watch The Pillow Book. Next I am going to move onto the first of three sections of my thesis, the blog and its dynamics. Here as I mentioned in my outline I will focus on describing the blog as both a new medium of artistic expression and a genre of literature. So before I begin crunching the words I wanted to give you all, the blogosphere, one last chance to submit to me blogs that may fall under the following category:

A blog that the author is using to publish creative content that would normally or rather historically be published in lit magazines or journals or books. The content does not have to be all that they publish but I am looking for in general blogs that use the blog medium to publish literature.

Or a blog that performs in what I guess is the traditional sense of a blog, a blog that acts as a public diary or journal for the author, well written and established blogs of this sort will help to describe how the blog may have developed an entirely new genre of literature.

Thanks in advance and expect an artistic discussion post soon, I recently got a Wii and well needless to say it has distracted me,

Huysmans


We’ve got blog

January 8, 2008

I am finally back from vacation and have finished the collection of essays titled We’ve got blog: how weblogs are changing our culture. It was a very interesting collection, very diverse, and will be very helpful in understanding more of the specifics in regards to the history of the blog. However the funny thing about anything in print in regards to this topic is that it becomes immediately dated. All the essays in here are from the late 90s through 2002, which makes sense since the book was published in 03 and for a book that’s recent. But still in regards to the “A-List” blogs they talk about in the book, well many don’t update anymore.

 

But the important part is that it gave me some good perspective on the blog’s development. It’s interesting to me, but yet not surprising, that it started as a filter, as a collection of interesting links within the internet, one could say that that purpose is still around today, in fact most probably would, if not through the posts and tags then through the blogroll, but the blogroll isn’t updated regularly like the original weblogs were. I know from the book that the debate on which is a real blog still exists, or at least it did then.

 

Something I find rather interesting about this collection of essays is that there is no discussion of art in the blogs, these writers don’t identify as authors, many as journalists and probably a few as strictly writers or bloggers, but what is interesting is that they don’t see their work as art.

 

Something that I have been toying with is the idea that the public journal aspect of a blog, the type of blog that has become the most popular form of blogging today is in fact a genre of literature, a theme for writing if you will. I believe that it is a hybrid of an autobiography with the essences of a collaborative work such as the Surrealists would do. I know or rather can imagine that there are bloggers out there that honestly write what really does happen to them in that given post but they are still adding opinion, interpretation, hopefully artistic exaggeration, and lets not forget style and format, all of which are artistic and literary themes so therefore I would almost venture to say that these blogs if they were to be found in say a Barnes & Nobel they would be found under the section of Blog Journal, which would be next to Magical Realism and Autobiographies.

 

Just my thoughts and I know it’s a week late but.

 

HAPPY NEW YEAR and good luck in ‘08

 

Huysmans


The Holiday Post

December 29, 2007

So I am on vacation and will probably not be posting much for the next week but I do plan on working on my thesis (I have never brought so many books with on vacation before).

Anyway I have two important statements to make before leaving.

First: I am in Disney World. So the following statement has to do with that fact. Disney World is a work of art, but it is not an interactive collaborative work of art like a blog is, it is the extreme of a performance work. But IT IS ART. (period)

Second: Happy Holidays!

And if the National Treasure team make a third film, I want the treasure to be the search for Walt Disney’s frozen body (and the Disney Vault Treasure). I think that’d be a good mystery I mean all the clues will be in the Disney parks.

Anyway happy holidays all and I promise to return full throttle by the end of next week.

And lets all remember

It all started with a mouse.

Huysmans