[Fwd: long Re: CHECK THIS OUT!]

From: Steven Pollack (themissinglink@eznetinc.com)
Date: Mon Feb 15 1999 - 21:10:09 EET

attached mail follows:

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


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

end quote:

And if you've read all this, You get a prize!!


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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