[NetBehaviour] As if it were

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Wed Jan 6 07:36:47 CET 2016

Hi Johannes, thanks; what I mean is that the digital is already 
conceptually constituted through protocols, etc., and a program is itself 
already a mapping from electron flows through various protocol layers 
(assembly language etc.) - and that these mappings lend themselves too 
easily to other mappings, for example stockmarkets to musical sound, 
various character relationships in literature to relational diagrams, etc. 
what the box means, for me, is a kind of messiness in an interaction with 
the physical - gain Rosset's idiocy of the real, the obdurate of materials 
as opposed to the kill or abort or delete commands (all representing an 
implicit but symbolic violence, which has been analyzed itself to death); 
in my own work, I try to undermine that cleansed mapping, for example the 
recent 'cybersexual' materials which contain disturbing/abject but 
unclarified imagery placed within shuddering objects in virtual worlds 
after re/presentation in Poser's clean interface. The ambiguity by the way 
seems to me more complex in the box, which focuses on the noisiness and 
ambiguity of carpentry (as opposed to machinic fabrication); it's not a 
performance except in the deep sense that every object _has been_ a 
performance in its making, and every object possesses a _lineage_ of 
performance; the tools that were used in its construction were made by 
other tools, one might say for the most part, all the way back, from stone 
tool to hands and then what? it's a long time, resonating with evolving 
organisms for millions of years; now gene splicing promises many things of 
course but also undermines this trajectory, as the planetary environment 
is extinguished by plastic trash itself. it's all interrelated, and the 
binary premise of the digital is, I think, inherently problematic in this 
regard, seemingly promising mastery, which is also where mapping comes in 
- as if the knowledge, say, gained by mapping stockmarket to sound is 
somehow a deeper knowledge, etc. it's late at night, apologies for sloppy 
thinking here, but I feel you know where this is going, even if spelled 
out badly. in a faulty recapitulation, if formal art of the 20th century 
were characterized by white walls / white box of museum or gallery, that 
of the 21st to day is characterized by digital mapping which is everywhere 
at once, and by which we're timing ourselves out of existence.

- Alan

On Wed, 6 Jan 2016, Johannes Birringer wrote:

> dear all
> best wishes for a creative and peaceful new year!
> On January 1, Alan posted a commentary, see at bottom, on a piece called "box-with-the-sound-of-its-own-making"
> and he gave us a link. I had a look at the box, and at another Morris piece called "Site" [1964] which I found even more interesting.
> http://www.wikiart.org/en/robert-morris/site-1964
> the description..:
> <<{...} Morris maneuvered the boards around the stage, until finally 
> using them to again conceal Schneemann, all the while the sound of a 
> jackhammer played repeatedly in the background. Site recalls Box with 
> the Sound of Its Own Making through its use of an audio recording and 
> focus on the banal (de)construction of a wooden structure, but here the 
> situation is more complex and ambiguous; it is unclear whether the 
> anonymous masked Morris or the nude Schneemann, whose pale skin and 
> white backdrop discourage attention, is the focal point of the 
> performance-an ambiguity that prompts the viewer to consider the 
> relative importance of the artistic process versus the resulting artwork 
> itself...]>>
> that's interesting, but I remember a disgruntled Carolee Schneemann 
> telling me once that she detested that piece.
> What I wanted to ask Alan, or everyone, is whether we could discuss the provocative comment made in the post, namely that
> conceptual works of this nature are an easy and also conventional trap..
>>> realize that it's easy to produce _conceptual
> traps_ of this sort, rather than otherwise, and that such traps
> in fact constitute the very nature of art and its mappings
> within the framework or aegis of the digital>>
> I may not fully undestand what you are after, Alan. Please elaborate.
> ps.
> As I write this, I remember a visit to Houston's  Contemporary Art Museum
> and the exhibit "Compilation" by Jennie C. Jones, an artist who mixes sculpture, painting and sound
> in remarkable ways (>>the act of listening, as well as the modes thereof, become in and of themselves
> part of her practice, which has evolved from literal references to music in early drawings and collages
> to more nuanced and multifaceted installations that engage the viewer visually and aurally>>)
> do you know her work?
> regards
> Johannes Birringer
> ________________________________________
> From: netbehaviour-bounces at netbehaviour.org [netbehaviour-bounces at netbehaviour.org] on behalf of Alan Sondheim [sondheim at panix.com]
> Sent: Friday, January 01, 2016 8:57 PM
> As if it were Robert Morris'
> http://www.alansondheim.org/clicks.png
> and the box w/ the sounds of its own making, whereas in this
> case, registration of computer clicks producing the image
> measuring the registration or the image registering the
> production of its (digital, imaginary) needle sway or spectral
> imaginary of the registration of computer clicks; since the
> digital is always conceptual, always conceived along code and
> protocol lines; realize that it's easy to produce _conceptual
> traps_ of this sort, rather than otherwise, and that such traps
> in fact constitute the very nature of art and its mappings
> within the framework or aegis of the digital; all that remains
> to be done here is to acknowledge the entities that produced the
> (linux) operating system and its (now and current) attendant
> apps; so it's as if it were Robert Morris but without the labor,
> the physicality of the world, which has been replaced by the
> coupling of finger-strokes within the closed apparatus of the
> computer, just as the Morris box, if I remember correctly, was
> constituted by a taped recording within it, the sounds evident
> through a speaker, to one and all, the audience within a gallery
> somewhere on a street in a city in the world, people milling
> about, wars, holocausts, nations, in the midst of what would be,
> at best, a relatively quiet sound, a moment away, within, of
> silence, even, something thought, something dwelling, among
> you, something _there._ *
> * but among the slaughters as well, the sounds of their own
> making as well, and just as well
> ----------------------------------
> http://www.wikiart.org/en/robert-morris/box-with-the-sound-of-its-own-making-1961
> Artist: Robert Morris
> Completion Date: 1961
> Style: Minimalism, Conceptual Art
> Genre: installation
> As its title indicates, Morris's "Box with the Sound of Its Own
> Making" consists of an unadorned wooden cube, accompanied by a
> recording of the sounds produced during its construction.
> Lasting for three-and-a-half hours, the audio component of the
> piece denies the air of romantic mystery surrounding the
> creation of the art object, presenting it as a time-consuming
> and perhaps even tedious endeavor. In so doing, the piece also
> combines the resulting artwork with the process of artmaking,
> transferring the focus from one to the other. Fittingly, the
> first person in New York Morris invited to see the piece was
> John Cage-whose silent 1952 composition 4'33" is famously
> composed of the sounds heard in the background while it is being
> performed. Cage was reportedly transfixed by Box with the Sound
> of Its Own Making, as Morris later recalled: "When Cage came, I
> turned it on... and he wouldn't listen to me. He sat and
> listened to it for three hours and that was really impressive to
> me. He just sat there."
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