MFA Contemporary Art Theory

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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.

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Some Culture a Day Keeps the Doctor Away

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. Continue reading

Edible Matter

Edible MAtter

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.

Continue reading

Picture Postcard

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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. Continue reading

(In)direct Imaging

IMG_1505I 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). Continue reading

On

The Lightswitch Object

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!!!”
Scream

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.[1] 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.

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This sentence is not true

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.

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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.

Continue reading