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.
Man walks into a gallery.
“Just getting a bit o’ culture, eh?”
hmm. I don’t think culture = art. Culture is just life, and the way of it. So yeah, of course its streamlines with health?!
Deveron Arts recently took the opportunity to collate information and responses on the successes and failures of their Cultural Health initiative. Some Culture a Day Keeps the Doctor Away was organised in collaboration with Engage Scotland; it was a full day of discussion and exploration into the concept of cultural health and the role of the cultural health worker.
Participants were a varied group of doctors, community health workers and other medical professionals, alongside artists, writers and art workers. This mix allowed a sharing of knowledge and experience regarding the correlation between culture and health.
Food is a co-participant in our world.
Jane Bennett argues for the political recognition of things, both human and non-human. In acknowledging the Thing Power of food, the fluid nature of materiality comes to light.
You are what you eat.
In eating, the border between out and in is mixed. You aren’t what you eat. Well you are, but what you eat is you also. And together that is a thing too.
You are an assemblage of matter and everything is always Becoming; nothing is Being.
Nietzsche tried to tell me I’d be depressed without fish.
But Thoreau jumped in, “I believe that every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher or poetic faculties in the best condition has been particularly inclined
to abstain from animal food”.
Later that day I googled a guacamole recipe on BBC Food and went to Asda to pick up Artichoke Hearts, with the intention to preserve and progress some creative faculties.
They led me to the fish aisle.
I got depressed and could not preserve.
A blog post in which I question representation and relate tourism to a work of art.
I went to Paris in 2010. I was in 2nd year at art school and hadn’t yet discovered Ceal Floyer or scrutinised An Oak Tree. I was more interested in purchasing a beret and wearing it to saunter around the Pompidou, with a sophisticated belonging of course. And then I came back to Dundee and the 31st of the month arrived as it often did, and with it, the time to discard a pair of scratchy contact lenses for fresh ones.
Think of what they had seen, though. An entire trip, a life moment. Alas, no. It could not be done.
I spent the next year or so in the studio exploring this phenomenon of stowing nostalgia in objects. But I think I may have overplayed the role of irrational sentiment.
I wanted to write a review of Jim Campbell’s Indirect Imaging. But the show actually ended up feeling quite personal. ” I enjoyed it.”, was the simple sentence I relayed to my peers. Some pointed out a few criticisms. “Yeah,” I did agree, “but, I enjoyed it”.
Art criticism today is stylistically flattering. But I had hoped to be a little objective, a little critical.
I enjoyed it though. I hadn’t been in a gallery for over a month, or a city for three weeks, so there are contributing conditions. I mean, I don’t easily remember the last time I walked into an exhibition and my face lit up, (for real, Campbell’s work is LED sculptural installation).
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. (!..?)
A work of art requires affirmation from an audience. Without reception, and the means for reception, there is a very ‘tree falling in the woods’ situation. In considering the artwork as a network of effect, the light switch is a vital element. Formalist theorists prefer to think of the artwork as an independent unit expressing specific autonomy with no reliance on the beholder. The 1970s saw the dawn of conceptual art and with it, the proclamation that a communicated idea was of more value than a self-sufficient art object. An artwork is a fluid and changeable entity made up of many components in an active network. The artwork, and indeed the object, is an event in which there are many counterparts. The value of an ordinary object, a light switch within the gallery, will be considered to argue this.
“Phone Voice: I wanna play a game.
Casey Becker: [crying] No.
Phone Voice: Then he dies right now!
Casey Becker: [screaming and crying] NO!! No!
Phone Voice: Which is it? [serious tone] Which is it?
Casey Becker: [crying] Well… what kind of a game?
Phone Voice: Turn off the light. You’ll see what kind of game. Just do it! [Casey walks to the light switch.]
Steve Orth: [muffled] No, Casey! No! No! [Casey switch off the lights.] NO! CASEY!!!”
It is common in the horror movie genre for the light switch to be a pinnacle object. To turn on the lights ensures safety in illumination, whereas the darkness of lights off signifies uncertainty and danger. Scream, 1996, is a self-referential horror movie utilising, and making aware of, many conventional tactics of the genre. The characters in Scream are themselves fans of horror movies. When Casey Becker turns off the lights at the request of the phone villain, dubbed Ghostface, Steve Orth knows she will perish.
Semesters’ Thoughts. (click link)
This evening, the Talbot Rice Gallery hosted a public discussion on the artist Bruce Naumen, as part of the Artist Rooms Cafe des Artistes. Ruth Burgon gave an initial summary of Naumen’s work, in particular his affinity for breaking the rules and challenging the institution. This was followed by an interpretation of his performative work and within this his need for control, by Dr. Catherine Spencer.
This image was put on screen and we were asked to talk amongst ourselves addressing questions such as;
Is Naumen being sincere/should we take this seriously?
and What is an artists duty?
I was very uncomfortable.
“If you take bowling shoes out of the alley, are they just shoes..?“
“Like, if you apply Goffman’s Frame Theory(1) to – -“
*sigh* “Why do we let the theory students work in the studio?”
(1)“Goffman (1975) argued that much of our behaviour is cued by expectations which are determined by the frames which constitute the context of action.” Miller, D. Materiality: An Introduction. 2005. Available at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/anthropology/people/academic_staff/d_miller/mil-8
The structure of having two students speak amongst their peers in a comfortable environment generates much discussion at the end of the session.
It is beneficial for artists to talk about their work, but also to listen about it and around it.
Earlier this year, during my residency at Timespan, I picked up a publication surrounding Corin Sworn’s Unsettling Provenance work. Interests fit into specific timelines sometimes. I’ve read this book previously, but it only resonated this week.
While in Helmsdale, Sworn organised Breakfast events.
This involved an invitation for members of the community to attend Timespan, bringing their own bowl, to dine together. Sworn had previously been involved in excavation activity in the area and was fascinated by the fragments of culinary objects uncovered. In Unsettling Provenance the artist photographs the towns people’s bowls as if they are archaeological finds. By placing the objects against black backdrops and giving them such attention of the lens, Sworn creates a ‘white cube situation’. She creates a context in which these objects can be perceived as valuable historical artefacts by the viewer.
They might well deserve this. A bowl is still a commonly used object and there’s obviously interest to be found in this concept, as well as the aged pieces. Cultural narrative is identified in the everyday and not only in what we deem a ‘relic’. When does an object become an artefact, then? And, what about the bowl?
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?
First Talk: Tuesday 21st October. 1-2pm. Room JO3, ECA
Tuesday Talks is a weekly event that allows students to present work to their peers in an informal environment and receive research and skill tips. Every week two artists will present their talk, followed by a short Q&A session. All students are welcome to attend.
If students are interested in presenting a talk, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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.