[NetBehaviour] .jpg mid-residency report (it's a long one!)

rich white rich at counterwork.co.uk
Thu Jul 14 01:02:41 CEST 2005


ok.
I was going to write a mid-residency report anyway, and since michael,
marc, ken and others have been asking lots of questions I'm going to try
and answer them here along with my (sort of) planned round up of the
residency so far.

first of all, ken - 'massaging the psychological existence...' kind of
like massaging the figures in your accounts, making them look 'better'.
I feel that our opinion of a work can be influenced by others, by media
representation and by our own mis-remembering.
paul annear wrote in an earlier post 'this is leon of c6.org. There is a
difference.' and he has a point. if a person who is perceived as being
an expert in a particular field expresses an opinion about something,
you are inclined to take that opinion seriously, it has weight behind
it. we may alter our opinion due to more emotional matters. we may wish
to be seen to be liking something in order to align ourselves with a
particular group.
we may see images of a work (in a magazine, on the tv etc...) and really
like it. then on witnessing the actual work we might not like it so
much, we might prefere the media images.
we might remember a work incorrectly, go and see it again at a later
date and prefere our mis-remebered version.
what I'm trying to say here is that there is a version of the work that
exists in our mind, the one we bring to mind when we think about it.
this has been influenced and altered by a number of factors (some of
which mentioned above).
this is were the deleting/removing comes in - deliberately taking away
in order to try and provoke a memory response. back to this later...
I can't explain the philosophy behind net.art (though I think the term
might be in the plural -  'philosophies behind net.art') as I don't
really consider myself a net artist - I'm an artist who uses digital
media, and often uses the internet as a means to deliver this work. I
believe (I might be wrong though, please correct me on this folks) that
net.art involves using the network/internet in some way, and this use
being inherent to the work. the net.artists' concerns are with the
medium of the internet and it's boundaries. I'm interested in this work
(and am using it to an extent in this project) but it is not my primary
method or concern.
oh, and painting, like all media, does have bounds - paint. software may
rule net.art, but software can be bought, borrowed, adapted or created
from scratch. paint can be bought, borrowed, adapted or created from
scratch. I don't think we get anywhere by arguing over which is best or
which is 'purer' or any of those other little discussions because they
just go round and round. they are mediums in which artists work, and we
have choices as to how we use them. niether is better than other unless
you use it badly.
phew.

right, marc. deleting things... and where this came from.
the earliest this appeared was in 'counterwork' funnily enough - a work
produced during my degree in 1998. this work was an implied performance.
it was created as follows: I got all dressed up in overalls, cricket
pads and masks I had made from plaster. I got a sledge-hammer, a tv, a
video camera and some other props. I filmed myself for half an hour,
posing and moving around. I played back the tape and, at various points,
photographed from the screen a full reels-worth of pictures. I destroyed
the video tape. I chose a number of these stills and made a book out of
them. the book also included some text which vaguely described what may
have occurred during the 'performance'. all texts were written by me but
two of them were written under pseudonyms, one a dr, and the other with
a flamboyant name. (this refers to the idea mentioned above about
weighty peoples' opinions). the book was then placed in the uni library
with the other performance art books.
the initial inspiration for this work came from looking at joseph beuys
and paul mccarthy books. I was intrigued by the idea that we most often
see the stills from these perfomances, and are left to create, for
ourselves, any movement that may have occurred by linking images on the
page. I thought 'I wonder if I can invent a performance without actually
doing one?' although there is a question mark over whether what I did
infront of the camera was or was not a performance. it was not seen by
anyone though.
this came from a time when I was exploring ways of creating art without
the actual, accepted artwork being present. the idea being that I would
remove/destroy the artwork and transfer the value of the work to a
secondary item. in counterwork's case the performance is never seen and
all you can see is the documentation. through this I can create all
kinds of contexts for the work and also allow the viewer to imagine for
themselves what may have happened. another work involved making a mould,
casting an object from this mould, destroying the cast (whilst filming
it being destroyed) and exhibiting the mould with the film of the
destruction of the 'artwork'. here, again, the emphasis is on
transfering the value, or attention, of the work from the accepted
artwork to something associated with the artwork. other inspiration for
this work came from such things as turner's palette exhibited in the
tate.
so here I deleted the artwork in order to turn attention to things
connected with the work. trying to control the value of the work and
also allude to ideas of myth creation - trying to falsify background
stories to the works in order to bolster their perceived value and
importance.
after this comes the censored books project, which is currently ongoing
and to be exhibited in october this year. the project was intially
formulated around the same time as the above-mentioned works but didn't
commence until 2003. this consists of censoring artists' monograph
books. I black out where ever the name of the artist of the book
appears, where ever a picture of them appears and where ever their
artwork appears.
obvious connections here with stalinist russia and george owrell etc...
what I'm interested in with this work is trying to provoke memory. on
looking at one of the censored books you may be able to fathom which
artist the book was about. titles of works are left intact so as you
look through the book you will come across works (blacked out) that you
recognise by title. you then recall the work. do you remember it
properly? how many different versions of the same work will be created
in the minds of the viewers? I'm trying to create a space where art does
not exist (although through an artwork) and explore the ways that
artists can construct or deconstruct the value of art.
at the same time as this I also produced some censored net.art for my
furtherfield residency create/remove in 2004.
more recently come the glimpsed and skybox works - digitally manipulated
photographs where large areas of the image have been removed to create
abstact images of recognisable things. these images are more about
making a work that reflects how I see the world and imposing my
perception upon the viewer. in this there are also ideas about making
the removed imagery more conspicuous by it's absence (e.g. roofs and
chimney shapes in skybox pictures).
I feel that this is quite a powerful idea. much of my work is about
trying to get the viewer to do some of the work - to think, imagine,
create... by removing things and enticing people to fill the gaps I am
trying to involve the viewer in the creative process, and hopefully
through this involvement the work will be more engaging.

the basic elements of my practice are space and perception, and in
particular our perception of space. the manipulation of space, whether
it be filling it (blacking out) or emptying it (removing) can allow the
artist to control how this space is perceived. I usually incorporate
these elements in my work in some way - whether it be net.based,
photography, drawing or installation.

to see any of the above-mentioned works just type the title into the
textbox on my website.

and now, on to .jpg.
so far so good. people seem to be pretty spot on with their perceptions
of the project. it has been revealed (to me also) that it is quite
tyranical. I feel like a mildly benevolent dictator who, although isn't
particularly mean, demands regular offerings from his subjects and does
with them what he pleases. I feel that the term 'collaboration' is a
little misused here although I still insist we are collaborating to an
extent.
I definitely feel challenged by the submissions, which was my intention.
to create a cohesive image from the mix of imagery, whilst retaining
parts of all the submissions, is difficult. the
erasing/deleting/blacking out/whiting out that occurs on these works is
part of the process of making sense of the images. I choose parts that
interest me (this might be a form, a connection between lines, a colour)
and try to emphasise these parts in a way that creates a pleasing image.
I'm quite obviously using an abstract expressionist approach to the
visual style of the images. this was intentional as I'm attempting to
create images which do not look like recognisable things yet are still
aesthetically functional. this is similar to the removal processes
mentioned above in asmuch as I am trying to remove the things that
provoke memory responses.
michael mentioned the strangeness of the situation, how I am inviting
your particiapation and then ripping apart what you've done. yet people
still send things in in order to see what it is I am going to do with
their submission. I'm glad I have managed to cause this kind of interest
as it creates an intriguing situation, a kind of love/hate;-) plus it
keeps the project going.
the project is also experimental, at least for me, as I am experimenting
with drawing on a computer. I am questioning myself, and my own ability
with the medium. at the moment I'm not entirely convinced by the
results. I am enjoying it but I'm not sure it's going anywhere yet? the
spin-offs are good - sim's bcast, the way that some submissions are
being altered by other list members. I also like alan's suggestion of
the exquisite corpse, although this would take a little more thought and
setting up I think? it's another project...
I want to continue as we are going at the moment, with one request - to
up the ante on the difficulty for me! micheal's 'real world' submission
was excellent and I want more of, as he puts it, the 'fuck you' feel to
the submissions.
it might be a little unfair to ask as this requires more work on your
part. but look at it this way - the more work you each put in, the more
work I have to put in per submission!!!

right at the end here I'd just like to say thanks to everyone who has
submitted and commented so far. this project would not work without your
help.

cheers

rich

http://www.counterwork.co.uk
07812444612





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