The Foundation has Formed

March 24, 2008

Now that the Thesis has concluded the team here at Literature’s Next Frontier has decided to redesign ourselves in the hopes of establishing ourselves in our true search, one of artistic endeavors not tied to any one medium. Therefore…

WE HAVE MOVED. please join the continued discussion at the Comparative Blogging Foundation.

Thank you,

Huysmans

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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


What is art, a deuxieme manifesto on the dissisitudes of modern day epistemology?

December 23, 2007

Books are art, the glass over there is art.

I defined it as such.

 

This is art, when bought for $3.36 in british money that’s just a little more than a dollar fifty.

 

Second grade is art. There is art in you and on this ticket.

 Algerian is art ART Duchamp was an artist and guilty of it. Hey Pomp stop selling those pins, he isn’t innocent. Dali was a sell out and an artist, but Disney was the Pope! Guns aren’t art, we don’t won’t them not the futurists, they can take their automobiles and leave.  BYE Sans art Le gouvernement français est art.  Il n’y a rien d’art ici, sauf tout ce qui est art.  Germany lost world war two.  The Large Glass has another name. The Seven Dwarfs was a German story. Mickey Mouse represents an alliteration, art.  Art is in the paper, art is in the pen, art is on the tv, art is in the den, art lives in you, art comes from me, art sings to all, art’s done by a bee, art is something dumb, art is something fun, art is sometimes alive, and art is relentlessly a pun,  art can breath change, art can be thrown away, art can cause tears, art is here to stay.  That was a really dumb poem. This is war! You still owe me that $4.56                                                             I STAND FOR ART Tristan hurry up and come back to us before countless more go to art school. Hanz we have failed, and Earnst if you hadn’t painted Ubu, he would have gone unnoticed in today’s world.  We want NO violence, we are not the futurists or the idiot Dadaists who cried for such stupidity.  But should you see Mr. Ubu (he is no longer a king) KILL HIM! That is all! Free those confined by the trap.  R. Mutt I Salute You! Huysmans.


Revisiting Journalism with Documentaries

November 22, 2007

For a second post on Thanksgiving I want to expand on the conversation of Journalism and Art. Specifically I want to add a conversation on Documentaries. What is the role of a documentary today and how does that role interact with art and journalism? What is interesting to me is the word itself, I believe it is only applied to film and then when we think of the equivalent in literature we fall into the “nonfiction” category of biographies, historical studies, social studies, and so on. So we have touched upon the artistic value in journalism that it may be art through the way in which this “information” we receive on a daily basis is transmitted to us. That basically journalism and especially photojournalism becomes art because of the way it (being the “information”) is interpreted by the journalist. Well the same can be said about documentaries and I bet one would be hard pressed to find a documentary film director who would disagree with the idea that what they are doing is art. After all it was Buñuel’s film, Las Hurdes, which highlighted the fundamentally paradox of documenting: by observing you alter and therefore influence.

So by this same argument can nonfiction literature be art? I guess the most ironic example of this would be the publication art criticism or history. Is André Bazin an artist like Jean Renoir? The truth is, and I believe critical theory will back me up on this that it is impossible to comment on society without influencing society, therefore all critical thought and philosophical theory plays as much a role in shaping society as it does in describing it. So one could argue that it is the way in which André Bazin writes as well as how he chooses what to write that makes him an artist. But then does art become about form rather than content? Are we suggesting that he, along with journalism, is artists because of how they create rather than what they create? Basically I return to the fundamental question: Is the newspaper a work of art?

 

I expect answers, have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

 

Huysmans


Everything becomes nothing?

November 18, 2007

When describing art as having the potential of being anything, by defining it as an interaction between an observer and an observed, one is met with a statement:

“If everything can be art, then nothing is art.”

Funny enough this has its roots, well at least for today, in The Incredibles, the Pixar animated film, where the villian’s plan is to make everyone a superhero so that no one is. Well I do not take any belief in this. First, I believe that we can all be superheroes and when we all are, then the world will be a better place.

Second and more importantly, everything has the potential of becoming art; everything is not just simply art. Therefore I will state now loud and clear:

EVERYTHING CAN BE ART.

And still we will have art. Thoughts?

Huysmans