Route 66 is the quintessential American road trip. No other road has captured the imagination and the essence of the American spirit. It has inspired musicians, filmmakers and writers, from classic literature (John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath) to Pixar movie Cars and video game Grand Theft Auto. The highway’s soundtrack, (Get Your Kicks on) Route 66, written in 1946 by Bobby Troup and first recorded by Nat King Cole, has been covered by more than 50 musicians, from Aerosmith to the UK Subs.
Works of Korean photographers presented in Korea Week have some remarkable visual creativity and their vision in photographs that are striking and intellectual challenging. Myoung Ho Lee’s Photography-Art Project is to introduce natural sceneries intervened by installing a white canvas as a metaphor of the re-presence and re-produce; Jeong Lok Lee has created a mysterious…
For some reason, it’s not embedding properly, I occasionally get this problem with Rapidweaver.
The footage covers the circa 40 minutes from Rosko (Roscoff) to An Uhelgoad (Huelgoat) in Brittany. I’ve been thinking about a longer video, covering the whole duration of a visit whilst travelling (battery life would prevent the lull when we’re not out and about).
Tonight’s debate with Tanya is over... I think it went ok, but I guess I was talking too quickly sometimes (sorry to Ines and Monika if I was talking too quickly to follow). I was arguing for appropriation, and whilst, on the whole I do agree with this standpoint, there are exceptions. Exceptions I tried to brush over, but Tanya picked up on.
I’m not adverse to working the Appropriation Art trope. I’ve appropriated films, using them as a source material, transforming them visually and conceptually. I’ve worked with the ideas of others, Stephen Shore’s and Ed Ruscha’s photographs (albeit indirectly) and Andy Warhol’s soup. I’ve even photographed others images within my own image, notably in Speak My Language which includes a number of books, posters and the like. I wouldn’t take an image and leave it unaltered or without real context, which Prince flirts with. Yes, there’s slight transformation, but not a huge amount. Similarly, Koons but at least he (or his people) put some craft into what they’re doing... Prince’s recent portrait series I’m not so sure about. I suppose you could argue that anyone can do that (put a comment and some emoji on Instagram), but then anyone could turn a toilet on its side and sign it. One is art, the other is scandalous. Will we think differently of Prince’s work in the future? It is after all rooted in the Internet zeitgeist - is this an example of Post-Internet art? I’d not thought of that before...
Would I object if someone appropriated my work and transformed it? No, I don’t think I would. If someone just used a photograph without altering it for commercial reasons, then yes. Or if they passed my work off as their own... Yes, again I would. On my landing page copyright statement (yes, my work is copyrighted) I say “Please don't use my stuff in any commercial way without permission”. A “collaboration” though, where my work is used? How could I take offence if I do similar things myself?
It’s a muddy subject, one where right and wrong answers are bound up in copyright law, something that is not really suitable today in the format it stands - there was a good quote somewhere on this, but everything is everywhere in my studio space at the moment... It was probably Cutting Across Media, but that’s pretty irrelevant if I can’t remember what the quote was! The wealthy artists will get sued and fight their corner, sometimes winning other times not. Poor artists will more often roll over and remove the work from show, destroying it or whatever.
But of course, appropriation art is not just about stealing (or even using with permission) other works of art, symbols or intellectual property. It’s about detourning something from its original state into something new. Now that I do completely agree with.
A whistle stop tour of Les’ thoughts on context in terms of exhibiting work - 49 quick fire slides that got straight to the point but served to trigger more thoughts on my behalf. Some of it so blatantly obvious it shouldn’t need stating, but now it has been stated how does it change what I thought about it? A bit like when Neo broke the vase when he saw the Oracle... Sort of. What follows are bullet points because that’s all I really got chance to make...
Slide 2: How is the work experienced? > think about rooms, about the journey to the room. How is the work informed by them? Does the room change the way the work is received?
3: Where is the work experienced? Is there some form of informal social contract? Do national stereotypes take hold? The behaviour of the location (do not cross the line... talk in hushed tones...)
4: Context frames understanding - work may be received differently in a white cube gallery than if displayed in the open, etc.
5: Items take on different meaning depending on use; fishing nets or cricket nets for example.
6: Towels can be used for drying and as markers for ownership...
7: Mats on sale in a store are different to one behind a door - the context changes what we expect of it.
8: Packaging keeps its contents neat until they are discarded when empty and become rubbish.
9: Christo and Jean-Claude used nylon sheeting to create art in Running Fence, a 24.5 mile long installation, similar sheeting is used in the building trade to surround building sites/scaffold. Intent changes the material, even though it is the same...
10: An Issey Miyake installation with the same material on manikins (clothing) and on the floor... Changes in purpose causes confusion.
11: Whilst context frames the reader, it also frames the makers understanding of the work.
12: Modern life is very much mediated through the screen - the MA course happens through one for a start. How is the work to be viewed without a screen? Something to be aware of.
13-16: A series of slides of fishing nets; bundled, stretched out, in glass cabinets, in an anthropological scene. All coming from an exhibition by Susan Vogel - the same object viewed and interpreted in different ways because of the manner it was displayed. Context is everything...
17: Museums - they collect things for the future, preserving and cataloguing from antiquity.
18: Libraries - a place for knowledge and learning. They’re going through their own change at the moment (books on paper to books on PC). An outdated idea based on trust? People come back every few weeks = audience.
19: Galleries - have their rituals, a slow and hushed walk around, reading of labels and statements...
20: Hanging work - not from the wall, but in space - not suited to all work, obviously, but more possibilities can arise and helps give a sense of temporality or flight.
21: The floor - Is work more “honest” if it’s displayed on the floor? It’s no longer on a pedestal so is there less preciousness to it? Can you walk on it? (I thought about printing on flooring tiles some time ago for Speak My Language)
22: The wall - This is the obvious choice for 2D art, but where about on the wall - hanging lower than expected can cause discomfort and can be appropriate (as with Pete’s work from [( 6 )] - he is a wheelchair user, but the gallery moved it back up after we’d hung it and left). A piece of Lawrence Weiner’s art was to remove the plaster and show the wall beneath...
23: The plinth - elevate things physically and conceptually, makes things appear important.
24: The spotlight - used to direct focus, what is valued in terms of worth looking at. It also plays with light and dark. (Kohei Yoshiyuki’s The Park was displayed in pitch darkness, with the audience being given small torches when they entered)
25: The vitrine - the glass case can change viewers thoughts, from art to museology. They provide protection and block access. What are the politics of protection?
26: Other glass boxes give different ideas - the style of the vitrine can affect the impact... (Wattage Yukichi’s A Criminal Investigation was displayed in glass topped cases at Le Bal, it made you look down, as if searching for clues)
27: The table - provides a domestic vibe, it’s familiar and accessible...
28: The shelf - is not a table (clearly). They provide a more private viewing experience than something on an open table. It’s not far removed from staring at the wall.
29: Online - There is a connectedness to the work, and can allow direct feedback (blogs/comments, etc). it’s available 24/7, but only to those who have Internet access, and also know where to find it...
30: The home - open house, domestic by nature, small gatherings.
31: Other systems - includes parish notice boards, fetes, car boot sales, even camp sites... (I’m actually working with community notice boards for TYB, putting photographs on them around the region)
32: National Trust land - Orford Ness in Sussex was a military site now open to the public. Work displayed in areas previously used for other means can give it an air of something else - Orford Ness has links to atomic warfare, but is now a bird sanctuary...
33: The artist book - understood in its basic form, but can be so much more... It’s also portable, intimate and democratic (until they become filthy expensive collectors items).
34: Live transmission - changing practices... outside broadcast, etc.
35: Video/DVD - the packaging for digital work becomes part of the art? Also memory sticks and similar.
36: Monitors - the type of monitor might be important, and if so it will anchor the display in time/history.
37: Digital projection - where is the work? Is it on the screen? Or the projector? Or does it lie somewhere between the two, and is subject to interventions from outside influences?
38: New media - smart phones, tablets, VR headsets... can be live streamed, accessed via the web or available any time.
39: Photographs - are photographs the work, or are they of the work?
40 & 41: Documentation - photographs of the art, even video. Or other evidence, such as what remains of Christo’s fence mentioned earlier... Momentary events, performances, etc. recorded as documentation.
42: Process - can process be the work? The act of colouring, elements of scale (smaller and larger - Alice in Wonderland effect). Ideas of childhood - will this then include the slides at the Tate?
43: Performance - something that’s transient and gone at the end (unless documented somehow). Anything can happen...
44: installation - Beuys, the meaning of place. Installations where everything is relevant, from the lights to the floor to whatever else is there...
45 & 46: Interventions - where something is added to a situation, be it graffiti or whatever. Layering is another angle. Doing something as a performance (artist biting her nails...) during an intermission or similar.
47: Site specific - work that would be the work if it were somewhere else...
48: Relational art - Nicholas Bourriard was mentioned (pdf downloaded, need to read it)
49: Mel Chin’s interventions in Melrose Place, the American soap. Hidden messages and the like - “Free Tibet” written in Chinese on the takeaway boxes, AIDS drug gene coding on a quilt...
After that, there were audience relationships to consider. How the maker, the work and the audience (and other factors) interact, from simple relationships such as the maker makes the work and the audience sees the work, to interactions, feedbacks and other things altogether more complex. This is how I envisage my interactions with my audience with the TYB exhibition:
In The Wake of Richard Prince and Instagram, Revisiting Copyright Law, Appropriation and History
In the three decades since artists Sherrie Levine and Richard Prince first exhibited their provocatively infringing appropriated photographs, inexpensive reproduction technologies and distribution systems have further thrown established conventions of authorial control into disarray, and at a seemingly exponential rate. Reactionary focus, then, to both the legal regulation of image production and the prosecution of violators has been rigorous. “Intellectual property” now figures significantly as a cross-over category between legal and cultural discourse. Within the domain of art, appropriation since the Pictures generation might have been determined by artists to be a very risky endeavor. But while there has been the occasional lawsuit, there is nonetheless no doubt that the practice of appropriation in contemporary art is alive and well. There is a lot of copying going on, with, as scholar Martha Buskirk describes, “The types of copies that appear in contemporary art…as varied as the materials artists have employed.”
"I don't think we've even seen the tip of the iceberg. I think the potential of what the internet is going to do society - both good and bad - is unimaginable."
Source: David Bowie predicted the internet's impact on music and society
The video was filmed in 1999, but much of what he said is pretty good. One thing that really especially resonated with me was his discussion about Duchamp and then the audience finishing the work, and grey space that exists in the middle of the art and audience... (around the 10 minute or so mark). Without the audience, there is no art, it's truly meaningless. The audience interprets, give the art that meaning that maybe the artist wanted, maybe its something else. The author has died, just as Barthes might postulate...
And he wore stilettos and a dog collar to meet the PM. Magical!
Many thanks to Tanya for highlighting this video for me, enjoyable in the midst of a time where I do feel the loss.
He stole ideas from everywhere and was a great collaborator, pushing almost everyone he worked with to do their best work, but Bowie was always unmistakably Bowie, adding his own distinctive sense of style into the mix.
I've been a huge Bowie fan since I can remember music, I own every album he recorded up to the late eighties/early nineties, some of his music from that point was conflicting too much with my new found goth tendencies (my own reinvention of myself).
I've seen him live (I was the only goth at the Tin Machine concert in Brixton), I've read books and watched films and documentaries. Ziggy Stardust was also my karaoke debut in a small bar in Kyoto. His lyrics have meant much to me, even when that meaning is far and away from what was intended (I read today that Station to Station was a reference to the Christian stations of the cross...).
He was a chameleon, a re-inventor and a thief. Yes, according to the above from the Guardian, he stole his ideas, or at least some of them. How can I put this into my ethics debate?
I suppose the more important thing to take from the above quote though is that Bowie was always unmistakably Bowie.
Fijalkowski's lecture was an interesting one. Some of it resonated directly to the Provocations debate I'm in the middle of planning on appropriation. Other stuff echoed around some of the things I read a few years ago in terms of commodification and the economics of art. There was a lot of information here. A lot of questions to consider too, grist for the mill that is the asynchronous seminar.
What is the "art world" and who controls it?
How does art relate to value and economy?
Is making art a practice, a system or an industry?
These questions are the start of the Value - driver of the art world forum discussion. I've set things rolling with:
Just to kick things off, I suppose there are a number of things that are at play.
Commodity value (art is without doubt a commodity that is traded, just like stocks and shares) is what is important, rather than use value (ok, it can be nice to look at for a while) or production value (cost of materials and time).
To give art a use value, it would be low. What's the difference between an original and a reproduction? In terms of photographic art, is there even an original? If a print was made by Cartier-Bresson, and has a CoA, is it really any different to a mass produced copy in terms of "use"? No, it's not. The same goes for the production costs, with a slight variation for economies of scale. The photographic print in its own right is a fairly low value item. What is of value is the name, the authenticity provided by the CoA, the exclusiveness... the owner becomes important because they own... self gratification...
Of course, some items are different, the above is a crass simplification. Hirst's platinum and diamond skull clearly has material worth in the parts, etc.
Then there's economic determinism - supply and demand and the desire for more of the same...
Where do I sit...? hmmmm. Of course there's a bit of the "collector" in me, it's human nature. I don't have the money to make any inroads into that desire. Will I feed anyone else's? I'm not sure, but I can dream...
It's not a direct answer to the questions above, but a response to the start of the seminar. We'll see where that leads.
In Fijalkowski's notes there was a list of actors on the art world stage. None of them are totally surprising, but it's worth listing them again, just to let them sink in...
Museums and galleries
Art fairs and Biennales
Critics, curators and historians
Magazines and publishing
Funding bodies, local, regional, national and international networks.
Above all though, you have to remember that art can be absolutely anything, it just needs conceptualisation, contextualisation, strategies and some form of organisation...
More will undoubtedly follow over the coming weeks.
I will have had some work from Ruscha’s Gasoline Stations Revisited on display at LACDA in Los Angeles over the Christmas period (December 10, 2015-January 2, 2016) - obviously I didn’t get to see it, so I can only imagine how awesome it looked... It’s one for the CV and also makes them aware of my work...
Last month, when I was in Iceland, I went to see Magnús Sigurðarson’s Process & Pretenseat the Reykjavik Art Museum (Hafnarhús). The exhibition consisted of several parts: some large scale drawings of mountains made up from huge numbers of rectangles, impressive in the amount of work required and something I found appealing to the engineer in me (I used to do technical drawings). It was the video piece I found really captivating though.
Four large screens, tilted from the viewer, showed four different views of the same action sequence. Filmed in the Hallgrímskirkja church, home to a 25-ton pipe organ, the organ features in the piece, with one video stream being of the organist playing. Another two streams show a body-painted Sigurðarson rotating on a turntable located in the centre of the church, largely static and “harmonising”. The final stream is of a drone, flying around the church, one of Iceland’s tallest buildings.
The statement on the Hafnarhús website states:
Magnús Sigurðarson has made the analysis of the obvious the subject of his art. On this occasion he focuses on a number of fixed points in reality which are found both in nature and in culture. Various creations and works of art have acquired significance in the human quest for the sublime. They bring together apparently contrasting qualities: on the one hand they are spectacular, overwhelming, and affect us by their sheer scale; on the other hand they are modest and symmetrical and appeal to us by their simplicity. Magnús sets out to break these assumptions down into their component atoms, in a quest to find some kind of nucleus – while at the same time asking himself, and us, questions about the internal and external reality of the individual, and his/her attitude to a Higher Power.
Did I get this? Some of it from the symmetry and simplicity of the drawings, yes. From the video? No, I didn’t. The attitude to the “Higher Power” can be taken from the filming location within the church, of course there are religious connotations that can be drawn from that, together with the harmonising (sort of “monk-like” I imagine). And yes, there are different “components” (video streams), but do I get it? No. I don’t. I did really enjoy it though, away from the context of his artist statement it was captivating, and I watched it several times, looking through the different perspectives and video streams. Is the context where the “Pretense” of the title comes in?
Whilst in France I started making some initial enquiries by phone with the various mairie (Ty Ker) offices that I’ll need to get onboard for the exhibition. They want everything in writing, with examples...
My initial reaction was that this was typical French bureaucracy going mad, but to be fair I should have expected it. French copyright law is such that everyone who appears in a photograph has to give their permission for each and every usage of that photograph, so they need to know what they’re agreeing to show on their notice boards as effectively they’ll be endorsing it. To a much lesser degree, property permissions may also be needed if the use of the property. From 2004 onwards, the owner of a property or object doesn’t have exclusive rights over images of the property from public spaces, although they can oppose the use if such use causes them an “abnormal” problem (according to the Photo This & That website).
I’m now in a position where I will need to write a series of letters with sample images and some clear background, including links to associated websites and all the stuff that normally goes with a submission and post them off to them. A bit of extra cost, possibly a slight delay but hopefully everything should be pretty smooth once they have that...