Having just written 12,000 of them, I have few words to say at the moment.
Perhaps once you’ve read it, I’ll have thought of one.
Bog II (an homage to Bog)
iPhone, bog sign, recollections of Bog.
About ten months ago I was sitting at GI Festival’s Hub desk. I think it was an early Sunday morning and we were quiet. This was a voluntary gig so I figured I could peek at the copy of Frieze on the desk to fill half an hour. Sam Thorne’s ‘What’s the Use?’ has been pacing my minds-mind since that day. And perhaps now, more than ever.
Art. Use. (?)
Use Art. (!..?)
“Feel sick. But in that good way (I think), things are happening (I think)”
And they did happen. It’s exactly a year since I started this blog. My first post was a tentative stare at the year ahead.
A nice bow was put on 2014 when I found out I’d been accepted for an internship at Deveron Arts for the first three months of the new year.
I’m thinking about objects. As I often do.
Igor Kopytoff’s explanation of commodization has provided a refresher on The Social Life of Things.
Kopytoff articulates the concept of exchange spheres comparing the often non-monetized trade of African tribes with Western consumerism. He describes objects as culturally constructed entities, endowed with meaning and classified into value-categories.
The object can be commoditized, decommoditized and then, yes, recommoditized (that’s when my notes get messy). The text is very clear though and uses a lot of examples which is useful when trying to grasp a concept, such as this, which can become so circular. Examples of slavery are used, and the stigma against abortion, to demonstrate social commoditization and how a person can become a commodity.
The thingness of a person leads me to questioning the personhood of a thing.
Vital materialism is described by Jane Bennett as the capacity of the commodity to not only impede the will of humans, but to act with trajectories and tendencies of their own. Her writings on the Force of Things surpass Kopytoffs reasoned argument that objects have a social history and are impacted/impacting culture. She talks of the active powers issuing from nonhuman things and creates a vivid picture of an energised objecthood.
I’m still coming to terms with it. Upon first reading I found if difficult to move away from out-there notions and silly literal depictions. My previous writings on the supposed ordinary objects ability to be seen as an artwork have been largely centred on the white cube and contextualisation. I have largely ignored the audience in my research and must now turn attention to the object itself and this circular relationship between people and things.
As a sentimentalist, I am a believer that we bestow value and significance onto the ordinary. But that is perhaps too simplistic. I need to consider vital materialism and the draw of the object itself. Why do things affect us and where does the personhood of the object begin?
It usually ends up in a ramble or word jumble. So lets try and straighten this out a little this semester.
Does an object have agency?
This is hilarious.
And this is excruciating.
I was working at the Kelvingrove today with G.I.
My contemplations for the day were decided at 10.39 this morning, when the first visitor approached Simon Martin’s work.
The elderly gentleman, who was accompanied by his young grandson, asked me to explain it to him.
Having learned more about the work, I launched in:
(Man in bold.)
The Kelvingrove dates back to the Victorian era, when it held a very dry presentation of objects. Today it boasts a remarkably bizarre curatorial approach. In an attempt at a more socially engaging display, modern and everyday objects are dispersed among the historical relics. One can see an African votice doll displayed next to a 21st century packet of lemsip. These two objects are linked by their attributes denoting healing and medicine. The lemsip is a recognisable object and therefore allows accessibility to its partnered relic.
Simon Martin acknowledges this strange curation in his ‘Untitled’ work and inserts the everyday–
“But he’s just gone and placed a lemon over that nice image of an African sculpture. Now I can’t see the image!”
Ceal Floyer is a favourite artist of mine. But I don’t like to look at a lot of her work at once. Every few months I’ll look into a piece. And I’ll think about it for a while.
Light Switch is my most recent source of splendour. I’d heard about this piece, but had never really thought about it.
A projection of a light-switch is shown in Light Switch. Floyer sums up the the ability of the white cube to render an, otherwise functional object, useless. By positioning objects in isolated space, framing them, and labelling them with ‘do not touch’ instructions, the art object is created.
Floyer’s 2D static image of a light switch epitomises this removal of use. A light-switch is a useful fixture to a room, Light Switch as an art object has no function and serves only for it’s aesthetic attributes.
The manner of display is humorous, in true Floyer style. Apparatus heavy, the work is self aware and self mocking in its showing of gallery illusion.
It’s hard to put into words, what is done so neatly by Floyer in Light Switch. I guess I don’t need to, she says it all and gets to the point fast.