[NetBehaviour] On art and art-making: I do or do not make pictures.

Edward Picot julian.lesaux at gmail.com
Sun Jul 16 16:45:59 CEST 2017

This is a very interesting discussion!

I like Alan's 'art as an ongoing process' and 'art as a way of knowing 
the world' formulations, and I also like Aharon's idea about the alien 
who has been told that art is something humans do, and who visits earth 
asking to be shown examples and have them explained. I also like the 
gallery curator's response - "art's the stuff I choose to hang on the 
walls" - because in the post-Duchamp world, art can be anything, if we 
can be persuaded to look at it with our 'art' spectacles on.

However, if the alien came to me and asked me to define art and explain 
what it was for, I'd tell him to go and talk to some children. Because 
art is something all children do, something all children recognise, and 
something all children can identify as being different from other forms 
of activity and discourse. This isn't to say that children aren't 
dismissive or uncomprehending if you show them certain things like 
conceptual art or abstract paintings: but I think we tend to confuse 
ourselves by trying to define art in terms of what's on show in the most 
advanced galleries at the moment, what's making money or not, what's 
"in" and what's "out", what's being produced by the most cutting-edge 
practitioners, or what's being espoused by the most advanced theorists - 
instead of thinking about it in terms of its psychological origins, 
where the impulse to produce art and to recognise things as art comes 
from in the first place. Because all cultures and almost all human 
beings have those impulses. All children draw, or doodle patterns; all 
children tap out a rhythm or sing songs; all children tell stories, and 
like to hear them told; all children like rhymes and jokes; and all 
children, if you give them a bit of plasticine, will make something out 
of it and then start to play with whatever they've made. Children will 
also respond to something produced by someone else - a drawing or a 
plasticine model, a tune or a story, a rhyme or a joke. They'll either 
like it or dislike it, and if they like it they'll get a real sense of 
pleasure from it. And those are the most fundamental forms of art and 
engagement with art. So, I think it's got something to do with the urge 
to divert ourselves and educate ourselves through creative play, and the 
urge to create and recognise patterns. There's something deeply 
satisfying about those two things - creative play and pattern - that 
draws us to them, both as artists and as audiences.


On 15/07/17 16:08, Alan Sondheim wrote:
> 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 nothing perhaps.
> 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 presented.
> 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 resist...
> 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.
> - Alan
> On Sat, 15 Jul 2017, aharon wrote:
>> Hiyas,
>> 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!
>> aharon
>> xx
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