Saturday, April 26, 2014

"The important part of art, music, literature, theatre and film has always been immaterial, so it’s inevitable that the smart artist today would work with a medium in which the details of the final work are left up to circumstance. The same video played on three monitors will have three different colour schemes, but the specifics of any work are not what matter in the end. One point of refuge is the institution. If the work reflects on the structure it inhabits it can be contingent, devoid of concrete details and still cared for and looked after. The dematerialization of art is just an adaptation to contemporary conditions of production, which do not need to be seen as characterizing some millenial shift to the digital, but just normal and typical flimsiness. In distinction, there is work that is a real particular thing, that wants to be concrete and therefore specific and therefore unique."

To which I can only add, in the depictive arts, one consequence of what RL describes as the work's desire for concrecity and specificity is the underlying assumption that every aspect of a depiction counts toward some kind of cumulative effect, even if by undercutting or complicating that gestalt.  Each part of a depiction, even a so-called dumb photographic one, is presumably the result of an artistic choice. Handy example: Metzker's horizontal blurs.  Or the broad comedy of Baldessari's Wrong (1967), which I read as saying, All that matters is a snapshot's subject -- Hey, look at John over there! -- but the moment snapshot poetics start being evaluated for all-over cumulative-art-effect, something clearly goes "wrong."

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