[Fwd: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!]

From: Steven Pollack (themissinglink@eznetinc.com)
Date: Mon Feb 15 1999 - 21:10:47 EET

attached mail follows:

Check this out!

(please read the following as passioned debate and not any sort of attack, I
enjoy this discussion)

So what you are saying is that art is enmeshed in the intent. Take three
identical objects. One was made by a traditional artist as a sculpture with
all the attendant metaphysical meanings behind the piece. Another was
simultaneoulsly produced by an overseas company for mass production as an
interesting gift item in five and dimes across the world. Finally the third
piece was created in an RP environment as a fitting in a highly complex piece
of machinery. It was just by fate that all three pieces were made at the same
time in the same material and the same design. You are saying that one could
be considered art, one craft, and the third machinery based on the known

My gut feeling is that art was more useful in earlier times and is having a
hard time redefining itself. Before photography, paintings were jusdged on
their likeness to reality. The same is true of the crude prehistoric statues
we find in art museums around the world. Then came photography and the art of
painting suddenly shifted to abstract and metaphysical. I think the reason
behind this was to escape the trap of comparison with photographic reality.
By making art something to be argued about, analyzed as to intention, and
defined in cultural terms, it was somehow elevated from the crafts from which
it came. RP seems to be doing the same to sculpture. So long as the
definition of art is elusive, we create a specialized field of art critics to
make these judgement calls. Personally there is not differnce between art and
craft and I stick by my one of a kind definition. That creative people strive
to make that which has never been seen before is the reward to society of
supporting the arts.

I also believe that artists never becoming known in their lifetimes is a
function of this searching beyond what society presently envisions. The
personality type of someone who can think out of bounds, is naturally
scary(and intriguing) to society as a whole. After they are dead, society can
enjoy the artist work without having to engage their eclectic personality and


michael rees wrote:

> Brock Hinzmann wrote:
> > In the connection to RP and art, my friend Brian Clark
> > questions whether most of it is art or simply craft. What is art and
> > does the availability of a new technology really make anyone more of
> > an artist?
> Hey, publish a synpopses on the list. I'm not sure how it happened that
> its just us four.
> I want to responde to a coupleof points.
> Firstly, about rp art being just craft. As one can imagine, this is an
> enormous issue. At the same time, a reveiw of my show in December in the
> New York TImes, criticized my work for just that. Let me take a stab at
> this. It is true that the unexamined use of a material or technology
> becomes a craft or "how to" issue. Typically in art the way an object
> transcends this is by the criticality of its maker. By criticality I
> mean some reflective aspect of the production of the piece so that the
> work is not just a process but is rather indicative of larger concerns
> and issues, about art, about life, about utility and on. Brock, we've
> corresponded about Duchamp. His "readymades" were objects appropriated
> from industry and placed within an aesthetic context. This
> recontextualization of the industrial product brought volumes of issues
> to the fore for art, not the least of which was Duchamp's desire to
> claim or incorporate the systems of product into the work. This was then
> and is now controversial.
> At the same time, the intention one has for the meaning of the work is
> tantamount in art. This is problematized by the fact that there is no
> objective meaning associated to a form (one could also say this about
> language. There is no objective meaning associated with the word "word"
> for example. It is its context that defines it.) In that there may be an
> enormous expanse between the artists intention for a work, the meaning
> that its forms are designed to engender, and the way that intention, or
> the forms that are used to communicate it, is received. To take this a
> little furter, the form or its meaning must be accurately contextualized
> to give it its appropriate meaning. Like any specialized or niche
> language, the language must be learned. There are highly personalized
> uses of language, what you referred to as Art which pleases oneself, and
> more generalized languages, ones which refer to the history of art. It
> is these latter languages which are generally referred to as art to the
> art literati. But people who are not indoctrinated to this niche
> language of art, find it very difficult to incoporate these more
> historically based intentions especially when the period of history is
> defined as the last 80 years.
> Where does this leave us? Back where the rubber meets the road, I
> presume. That is, any work of art cannot be received with a proper
> contextualization of that work. This can happen in a couple of different
> ways--by the articles that critics have written, the statements of the
> artists, or by a life long examination of the problems of one artist and
> the viewers ability to see and assess this information against
> contemporary culture. This last point is more typically germaine, which
> is why it is so common that an artist is not appreciated until they have
> passed on.
> Much computer art, or to be more specific, much computer sculpture made
> with rp has been made against the gee whiz factor. "This technology is
> so cool", etc.,. As of yet, the critical or reflective aspect has yet to
> creep in except in the hands of some very unusual practitioners. People
> who have been tracking down the problems of their work for a long time
> now and who see the computer and RP as a tool to solve general
> aesthetic, formal, linguistic issues in the work. I would include myself
> in this latter catagory. RP solves problems for me about realizing
> content in my work.
> And here's a fine line, when is an artist solving genuine artistic
> problems, or creating genuine aesthetic problems and when are they
> either using the gee whiz factor or riding on the laurels of work that
> has gone before them. (In the latter issue, riding on the laurels of the
> work that has gone before them, this is also problematic. No one comes
> without historical context, it is almost impossible to do that. But the
> issue is to advance the historical context. Using computers and RP to
> remake Hans Arp biomorphic forms is not advancing the context, it is
> remaking the context in a different productive discipline). With that
> issue, strangely we come to credibility. Why and how do you believe that
> an artist has put forward something in the first sense, that of creating
> aesthetic problems instead of the second.
> To top all of this convolution off, two things can happen. Firstly,
> because an artist's work is not properly contextualized, original and
> interesting solutions are missed by the general public or by the art
> literati. Secondly, an artist can make a good argument for their
> incorporation into the art conversation only later to be rejected, in
> that their arguments were too localized, to much of that moment and not
> speaking to broader moments.
> I would also add one other thing to this craft debate. If indeed
> Marshual Macluans (sp?) famous line "The medium is the message" is true,
> then without recourse to emergent qualities how would it be possible for
> the way a thing is made to transcend that thing? This is a very big
> problem for me as an artist. Now, the secrets out of the bag, you all
> know that I sit around designing sculptures wondering "How does this
> form mean that thing?, Are there emergent qualities? If the medium is
> the message and the message is psychic anatomy, is psychic anatomy
> paralell or intrinsic in additive constrction?" and on and on... Which
> makes me either kind of a-social or abnormally obsessed.
> also you wrote:
> > Keith Brown, himself an RP artist, nonetheless questions a comment I
> > made about a new aesthetic and whether the availability of a new
> > technology really allows that. Has a new sense been added? he asks. My
> > only defense is that science and technology have indeed changed our
> > perception of the world.
> This is a major issue in science and in art. The issue of emergent
> qualities. Simply stated, can a system produce anything which is outside
> of that system, not intrinsic to it or implied by it, or does it only
> and simply produce all of the permutations and combinations inherent in
> it? What follows is a short text I gave at a panel discussion on this
> issue.
> Quote:
> Emergent Qualities
> Rees, 1 16 99
> The debate over emergent qualities is the new chicken and the egg. I
> have gone on record as saying that we are not in a new space but in a
> highly accelerated space. To this end, from the standpoint of quantum
> physics, what we really have is a different point of view. As we begin
> to approach the speed of light, certain things happen to time and space
> that until Einstein we did not anticipate. Although we may see these
> things as new or unusual or somehow emerging they may in fact always be
> present within the sum total of what we know as world.
> One might posit that what marks the new technologies are that they are
> all light based, or energy based. The light of the computer screen, the
> laser which draws the cross section of these sculptures, the laser which
> prints the pages, the light which exposes the photo paper. In this
> sense, the machines are approaching the speed of light. And I will
> repeat that the human organism is well in advance of what we can do, or
> what machines can do, or what we understand of it, especially in the
> sense that it might be an organism of light. For sure, as we approach
> the speed of light, things are looking quite strange.
> Emergent qualities within a mechanistic environment are also always seen
> as progress. This has its problematic moral implications. I have yet to
> be convinced that the values that we hold as dear in this cultural are
> superior to 8th century India, or some other time.
> At the same time, I have taken note of certain perceptual developments
> within myself as a result of my involvement with the computer. I
> wouldn't defend these observations as true or false, rather I would
> simply note them.
> Here are some of those things:
> I found Rothko to be less interesting than Pollock, where previously it
> was the other way around. I had previously been more interested in
> Rothko. The space that Pollock presents is most similar to the matrix of
> CAD space.
> Rothko = texture mapping, raster based imagery
> Pollack = structure modeling, or vector based imagery
> My sense that because the computer and the programs are based on more
> subtle energy (an energy which is closer to a final entropic state),
> that my own energetic intentions for the work affect the files, that
> indeed this energy comes through the sculpture. For sure there is
> something quirky and idiosyncratic about these sculptures, which can be
> chalked up to my strange design sense. Or, chalked up to the same
> premise as the butterfly effect in chaos theory (that the flapping of a
> butterflies wings can effect an entire weather system), that my presence
> in front of the screen and my participation in design, electronic
> transmission, etc., has some small butterfly like effect. This perhaps
> is not an emergent quality. The sense that one is psychically connected
> with their tools is not exactly a new phenomenon. And yet with the
> computer, I am getting the feeling that these works are closer to a
> direct projection from my mind than anything that I've ever worked with.
> All though these techniques are built upon renaissance technologies
> (technologies that artists have invented) I can't resist the temptation
> to conclude that some new qualities are present, or are present in a
> more available way, than ever before.
> I am aware of many of the ethical and psychological traps of defending
> the potential of emergent qualities and of denying that potential. But
> one thing is quite sure: Even though a video would participate in all of
> the compositional development of painting, it is decidedly not painting.
> A paint program on a computer is the metaphor of painting, not painting
> itself. The history that these sculptures are really crafted by light
> cannot be denied as the memory of its creation. To my knowledge this
> makes "Cakra Seuss" more like a tree, with its ability to
> photosynthesize, than it does like a Bernini. And that in a curious
> convolution, these technologies make the classical issues of how a
> sculpture is made irrelevant in favor of its content, the intention of
> the maker. These seem to be developments that are unusual, perhaps new.
> Denying emergent qualities is a little slippery. It is the alteration of
> phase and or scale changes between various modes as if they were the
> same quality. It is a massive scaleable enterprise. As of yet we have
> not succeeded in making that scaleable enterprise life like, instead it
> is the mirror of our own pretenses of intellectuality, not of our
> ability to create or recreate life. At this point I approach the edge of
> this problem where the image of it in my mind begins to mutate in
> various and fascinating forms. Emergent qualities or not, we are
> certainly presented with something that we previously have not
> entertained.
> end quote:
> And if you've read all this, You get a prize!!
> best,
> --
> michael rees SCULPTOR http://www.sound.net/~zedand00/
> 1212 w 8th St. Bldg B #2, 816 753 3020 voice zedand00@sound.net
> KC, Mo 64101 816 753 1542 fax

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