[NetBehaviour] On art and art-making: I do or do not make pictures.
sondheim at panix.com
Sat Jul 15 17:08:56 CEST 2017
I want to thank aharon for the below, and Ruth, also, who wrote me,
asking about other humans, of course, in the network and media; this is
also a question of community and audience for me, for whom is one making
art, beyond navel-gazing? In relation to aharon, an art also then of
So this relates on one hand to improvisation and music, which exists in
its moment or as a recorded after-effect, on one hand; and to an internal
process on the other. I described what the internal process is for me;
even in the midst of others (for example working in the Eyebeam community
in NY), one is working an interior, through and within an interior
consciousness. Part of sport and music is to place that consciousness on
hold, to live and abide in the audible and physical, and the same for
dance and I think theater as well. Things begin within; when elsewhere,
without, they become part of production and then enter the seriation of
art or the network. But too often for me, they are created for that
seriation, as product; and too often, perhaps (and this is all a matter of
taste), they're created with data as a kind of mapping of one phenomenon
onto another, for example stock-market and clouds onto a system of lights
and smoke. I'm more concerned with the somatic within, and then what
emerges is art that, like dance or sport, has an uneasy relationship with
the object? I see the same thing in Michael's and aharon's rides/maps
which beautifully emphasize the lived experience, beautifully present that
experience to others. But the imminent is the experience which is
Lived time has something to do with this.
I'm reading Angela Nagle's Kill All Normies, Online Culture Wars from
4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right, and here of course is art/lit
- if it be such at all, based fundamentally on the network, on exteriority
- she writes, for example, "Do those involved in such memes any longer
know what motivated them and if they themselves are being ironic or not?
Is it possible that they are both ironic parodists and earnest actors in a
media phenomenon at the same time?" (p. 7)
I think of so much work I respond to (yes, this is a kind of connoisseur-
ship) as being an inversion of this exteriority, drawn out not by the goal
itself, but by questioning in the first place, problematizing. If I gave
the impression that I'm not interested in audience or reception, I didn't
mean to, just that audience or reception are in relation to thinking
through in a different way. Think of a novelist for example; s/he writes,
is immersed perhaps in the diegesis of the world she is writing; if she
has an aside to a reader, that is also within the diegesis, etc. Mikel
Dufrenne described this. This is different than, for example, political
writing which is goal-oriented, drawn out by the appearance of the world.
The two intermix.
Everything I'm writing here can obviously be contradicted. I see the novel
and its world as also a form of network and networking, in a very
different way of course. Austen writes of and in networks.
So there are artists who are immediately engaged, like Barbara Kruger and
Kara Walker; there are artists who are working with interiority; and in
every case, what one knows of what they're doing is the relationship
between their art and its modes of presentation. If I hear a solo by
Ras Moshe, who I've played with, it's going to be a different world than
if I see productions designed for a gallery. They're different forms of
being productive, different inhabitations, different habitus. And for me,
too often production tends, after the fact, to canon/genre/etc. which
restricts as much as it opens up.
In terms of what Ruth is asking, I do think about the appearance of what I
create, how it's received; this is critical to me, and comes about in
post-production to a limited extent; I'm influence by cinema (Agnes Varda,
Godard, Antonioni, Leslie Thornton) for example and think (and have
taught) cinematically. But if I don't begin from the interior, somatic,
somatic-political (terror, displacement, anguish, lines of flight), I feel
I've failed, and then end up riding on another surface...
Aharon brings up sharing, and sharing, and being shared with, and entering
into the creation of sharing and its communality, is most important; on a
personal level, it's what creates a sense of despair in us, being in
Providence, where communities aren't welcoming, are tight-knit, and where
so many creative people, even since we've been here (3 1/2 yrs) end up
leaving. So here at least, I'm more than dependent on the network; it's my
lifeblood, and a lot of my work early on (dealing with traceroute and the
access grid etc.) was based within it; I imagined, and still do, an
enormous skein with its resonances as basic to the digital planet. At the
same time, Nagle's book points out what I've seen all too often, that the
network is usually the body-at-a-distance, and this kind of deflection
works well in war-zones, both physical and virtual; there are many ways to
I feel heavily jetlagged still, these thoughts are twisting and turning
around in me, but I wanted to write back now while I'm more or less awake
and hope I'm not too far off the mark.
And thanks so much, aharon and Ruth, for your responses.
On Sat, 15 Jul 2017, aharon wrote:
> Thanks Alan for bringing up the question of - or from - art making
> processes. Perhaps at a time when art is linked with The artworld, and
> perhaps artworlds (as one with the T and the alternatives:
> http://www.plausibleartworlds.org/ )? Or when people have some
> double-takes on questions linked with art by claiming they use "art" for
> a certain contextual ease, yet indeed whether whatever is done might be
> art or not, is rather inconsequential - perhaps art-making, as a
> processes is a question to elaborate and articulate?
> Beuyes claimed something to the tune of "we haven't done art yet", hence
> art was to be continually re-defined. This, in my mind seems slightly
> linked with 20th century art-linked negations of any given other
> negation, and so on - but am probably wrong on that level. What seems to
> be interesting for me is that when an activity is unpolished and does
> indeed go not-entirely-perceived-wisdom, or
> not-entirely-common-place-imagination - when we get a sensation from
> such as: "oh, i didn't know i could imagine this and that this way" - we
> get the term art invariably popping up effortlessly. (when "this and
> that" are stuff like an object, a process, an activity and so on..)
> Am saying that cause some years back i used to go into art-linked places
> and ask something like: "so.. i see here all sorts of objects. but where
> is the art around here?" A question that was perceived aggressive and
> had to change if it was to remain honest. So nowadays the question is:
> "lets say i was an alien. i was told humans do art. i was told here in
> this gallery/museum/house/field there is this art thing, how would you
> help this alien?" The replies vary in terms of focus and content. They
> vary by people, from a guard saying art is the stuff i should not touch,
> and a curator claiming art is the stuff she put up.
> Nothing to do with stuff being particularly visual, but aspects of how
> stuff is being, or came to be. Artists do not seem to need to be making
> pictures or even have a visual link even in the desert. Asking someone
> in a desert near jericho if she knew an artist in the city, she said
> that as far she knew there were none. After I met a painter in Jericho
> who indeed claimed to be the only artist in town, it turned out to be
> they were both neighbours. Asked the 1st person how come she didn't tell
> me about the painter, i was told that the Quality of painting - not the
> fact they were paintings - made her think it wasn't art. When in
> nicosia's UN controlled airport area's dog rescue centre, the local dog
> artist did not make images but was said to imagine "differently".
> However, perhaps the question can also be slightly re-shaped? The idea
> of production, of making. One might not make something visual, but
> produce something. (I know duchamp had a bit of a friction with that
> question of making, in the sense of having years/time when he considered
> himself to not be doing stuff, or not producing. If anyone has
> illuminations about that..?) When recently in Rio, I hooked up and
> collaborated with Lara-that-does-nada. Doing nothing is her research.
> The question of doing as a production, as a burden and over requirement
> being placed upon people. Nada is ofcourse an impossible. One breaths,
> one produces excrements, one is a witness to the other. One has
> frictions. One is a live and moves in time and at others in space. Nada?
> Nothing? What else is there to do? I can be Your imagined gaze. I can
> wait for you? Wait with you? Wait linked with you? Maybe together we can
> make a queue?
> Question being is how we can share. Share nothing. Share that that seems
> like nothing? In my mind, perhaps wrongly, this nothing idea links to
> european oriented art-linked image making from the earlier part of 20th
> century when it became more common to leave white spaces on a canvass.
> Spaces of nothing seemed a controversial idea despite the fact it was
> widely practised in south-east asian art-linked image making. However,
> perhaps the white spaces the untouched are part of an object size rather
> than doing nothing? I recall, while in Nairobi noticing the prevalence
> of Bollywood cinema, i was surprised as communication is based on
> translation. So asked how come its so popular, i was told that for the
> same amount of money one might pay a Hollywood film, one can get twice
> or even more film-time! The enlarged object?
> Reading the occasional interview with sports people, I noticed that for
> some - in my mind the more successful ones - the focus of Making is not
> the time and occasion of performance, but keeping up the practice.
> Current wimbledon pricked an interest with the issue of sexism, language
> and money. I noticed one of the players was slightly dissed by the
> writer for claiming her success was due to years of work - of making her
> - rather than her recently appointed ex wimbledon champ. I think her
> point was somehow similar to Alan's - focus on the processes, not the
> show. However, this is precisely kind of a magician's nightmare. If
> people managed to view and review the processes employed, "magic" will
> be uncovered.
> Is this linked to art? In german, as far as i seem to understand, Kunst
> is indeed linked to magic. But check this.. In polish, art is always a
> piece. The object is always a bit of some other stuff. sztuka. In Czech
> sztuka is a ceiling ornament. In arabic the word for art sounds like Fun
> - which takes us back to english and a sense of fun? Art as a thrill?
> Being a thrill or is it making a thrill? Having to produce a sense of
> fun - or some other sensation - or being that very sensation? Making as
> a kind of performing? Performing as a kind of being?
> Here's another little story before I shut up. A story from a different
> culture to the one i tend to experience in "the west" and perhaps laced
> in misreadings - but here you go.. Brazil 2017 is a post coup brazilian
> life. Post coup, for example, means that people that could survive
> somehow around a years ago - can not anymore. Post coup brazil is stark
> and violent. Now.. Here I am.. I am skateboarding between brasilia and
> rio. doing some abstract 040-language stuff along the way. Stuff that
> when I asked goteo.org to get a croudfunding campaign for - i was told
> its not possible because there is no viability for people. However, I
> was surprised by hearing from people i met something to the tune of: OH!
> This is Precisely what we need here and now in brazil! Yes I thought
> sometimes my leg is being pulled, and at others i asked to record the
> conversation, while at all cases I did try to critic. (eg suspiciousness
> about people claiming that if x occurs, then surely Y and Z will
> follow.. Which is, to be honest, precisely not what http://ifxyz.xyz
> languages are..) However, the point remains and remained - I think -
> that the "just being", simply going on and doing-that-which-a-person-is,
> seems to have been, to a certain extent at least, possibly taken as a
> common understanding of art. There was no need to produce images, nor
> sounds, words, nor performances for the practice to be taken as some
> kind of art. (I am not entirely comfortable with that, but perhaps its a
> different question..)
> So yes.. For me this kind of making process by Alan, is Uber inspiring
> before Uber might have been imagined as an occupying venture... Perhaps
> indeed, there are, these are, dynamics. Knowledge? Of knowledge? A
> knowing as a sensation of knowledge? As a non-knowledge? the time before
> a knowledge becomes known? Before any clear image comes?
> Perhaps there is a process, a category or a search, a direction or a
> movement, a gesture that is in and from itself? Not "pure", but requires
> else but itself? Does love need an image? Does a need for help requires
> anything else but? Does a movement of a body asks for other stuff but a
> chance to be? ..and a chance to be while it is being - how is it shared?
> As a witness? As a story? As an image that is other than a body?
> Pictures do not make art, but art can, at times, make pictures along its
> way? Art as a species? a category?
> Well.. I hear doors open for questions of specificity and forms..
> Hopefully there are other opinions, maybe even written clearer and more
> succinctly that I just managed.. ;)
> Have fun!
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