In response to/expansion of Priyanka's claim in class that "art cannot be grounded in sentiment"
*by "DS" I refer to the woman and her painting that we discussed in class.
I think it is important to recognize that cultural institutions and public spaces are always political spaces. And as political spaces, I completely agree that regarding museums in particular, those who call themselves "artists" and put "art" in these museums MUST be brought to bear social and public responsibility. Some practicing contemporary "artists" recognize this and introduce intentional, thought-provoking, and sensitive, kickass content that inspires awareness and dialogue (like Kerry James Marshall's 2016 exhibition at Met Breuer). We've already discussed some examples in class that certainly inspire conversation but more because it is a disappointment than it is kickass, so I wont get into that here. I will acknowledge that we struggled with the notion that in inspiring rage and controversy, that perhaps even crap "art" is of value.
I've been putting "art" in quotation marks. While I think contemporary art can be exciting, and I love how it must be contextualized and therefore understood in a socio-political realm, I also recognize that this is one of the qualities that makes contemporary art inaccessible and elitist. Contemporary art is unable to speak for itself, and is often situated in spaces of limited accessibility for all.
We spoke briefly of the paradox that is the function of philosophy. Something about (roughly paraphrased) "the function of philosophy being to critique language, but in critiquing language reinforces the very same structure of that language which it critiques." Contemporary art and its politically conscious agents are guilty of this ironic perpetuation of what it seeks to dismantle. It is an awkward cyclical loop in the game of capitalism. One model of such an awkward circle may look like this. : hip, politically conscious makes work critiquing something inherent to the institutional --> relies on institutional structures for publicity + profit/ funding --> relies on profit/funding gained from recognition through institutional structures to continue making activist art?
Even as they critique the institution, they stand to benefit from it. To that end, there is a need for rupture.
That rupture is Art as grounded in sentimentality. To be sure, I agree that at the Whitney Biennial, sentimentality cannot be given space. In our current sociopolitical context, and due to its presumably varied and large audience, sentimental art would be too personal, too self-centered, too much about someone's own personal journey which is frequently wrought with delusions and ignorance that other people with different experiences and more clarity might not have time for. To impose one's self unto a mass of strangers to whom this said self cannot listen to in turn, is rather unfair,crude, and when done apolitically, irresponsible. I agree that since "art" has become a cultural institution (profitable and political), in cultural institutions sentimentality and the like belong in the 20th century or way before that. Contemporary art and its audience must require that with great power of celebrity / microphone, one should bear the great responsibility to make work that further dissects public assumptions in order to arrive at truth of things.
And because contemporary art is increasingly dictated by politics and audience, it cannot be given exclusive right to the use of the word "art." Sure, this is an opinion. I personally do not consider most contemporary works in museums today "art." I am sorry to say that while DS' work in the biennial is inappropriate and mediocre, if DS had truly been meditative, I would consider it art. Again, this is all just my opinion, but in stating my opinion I mean to highlight the importance of NOT relegating all that does not fit into contemporary art parameters by leftist standards as not-art or unbelonging in museum spaces.
I think a rupture may look like a flooding of sentimentality in institutional spaces because institutions, bureaucracies, and the state notoriously have no space or time for such things. I admit my own bias and will say that if I were to curate this rupture in a museum space, I would leave out DS and let this rupture to be a flooding of sentimentality of the oppressed. The oppressed do not need to be merely "represented" in institutional spaces. We need to be heard, seen, and felt. How can this be if the art is not grounded in sentiment?
KJM at Met Breuer was great because his work spoke of his love for black people. It was great because it was situated in the upper east side where a lot of rich white people live. It was great because it was free for anybody to come and admire, if they could find the time, if they had heard about it.
A letter from a soldier to his mother on display at a small university history museum in Korea is great because it is an artifact, an art, that history textbooks filled with dates and anthropological notes on exactly how Korean people made kimchi could never tell you. It is universal and relatable because it is sentimental, even if you cannot understand the language, you might still be able to read the art. The humanity of the object makes it possible for its sentiment to be felt across cultures and identities. What is more political than an artwork capable of unifying people? or having people feel?
A rupture of this sort in an institutional space would ultimately mean the demise of the institution and I don't see it happening anytime soon, but I do see it happening all the time in real life, on the streets, in private spaces, in interactions. And we must recognize it and elevate it as such. Encourage art in all forms. And most of all, encourage sentimentality, because I think our world is too unfeeling and to take sentimentality out of art is no art at all.
Poor people are not going to suddenly start having time to go to museums. But we can encourage a culture where we make art all the time, for each other, in the form of letters, trinkets, paintings for the dishwashing room in the back of restaurants, to janitor’s closets, to hospital hallways, doctor’s office, dentist bathrooms, subway windows, laundromats, etc. And also to encourage a language that recognizes art as such where it exists. Art doesn’t have to mean studio space and a name card that says “artist” on it and an MFA to prove it. To buy into this singular narrative without acknowledging life as art is capitalist and entraps you in that unfortunate feedback loop. A rupture would mean an explosion of art from its elitist bubble into its practice as normalized and integrated and recognized as a naturally occurring part of all realms of life, and this happens when we emphasize the value of the private, the small, ephemeral, and sentimental. Things that might not receive publicity, and therefore make no money.
Final word on *interventionist art *: Interventionist art is simply life activities that has been labeled and categorized but this is just a way of packaging of lived life for consumption and processing in the art world proper. Interventionist art plays with and depends on the specifics of time and space and interaction for impact. Its publicity beyond those agents involved in interactions has twofold intentions a) to spread awareness of the action as an idea to be proliferated so that the opportunity it provides can be offered elsewhere and b) give history, name, archive and credential to artist.
A is great. B aligns itself with norms of contemporary art culture as situated in capitalism. It is the in-between of the two extreme ends of art I have described above, the first being contemporary art in institutions proper, and the second being art as lived, shared, and loved in all aspects of life, in human interactions and lonely moments of reflection.
I think interventionist art shows us the seams at which rupture can occur but is not rupture itself. Rupture must be en masse, by the people for the people.
Re: Focault's What is an Author
and Barthes' Death of the Author
What is the significance of the author's death in art education praxis?
(Other than its implicating Ranciere and the perpetuation of the notion of authorship in academia vis-a-vis constant footnoting and referencing of the likes of him as being a clear demonstration of what Foucault posits is "author as principle of thrift in the proliferation of meaning" (Foucault in Aesthetics, Method, and Epistemology translation of "what is an author") which in turn makes real and palpable the inaccessibility and elitism of academic discourse that often have to do with people on the outside such as "urban youth" (code word for colored students by [white]* people on the outside afraid to talk about race) and artists, activists, and politicians.
[*I'm referring to internalized 'whiteness' as well.. evident in the language choices of even POC academics.]
There are a lot of fun things to pull from both articles and I will do so in the next weeks to come as I intend to reread the two articles to better articulate/respond to all that came up. But immediately, I am able to talk about what struck me most, which is the gap between philosophy/theory and real-life context and application.
I value the "death of author" concept for its exaltation of The Idea. It's not the who, the self-made person, the romanticized artist, the stand-alone, the immortalized hero / tragic figure, that is important, but the words, the ideas they signify in and of themselves.
When applying "death of author" concept to even our bodies/birth , ie the author of my body being two parents (or a sperm and egg), it may do two things: 1) decontextualize our bodies from its ancestral origins. 2) rupture the notion of exclusive nuclear family (structurally enforced by capitalism) and provide potential for an embrace of a specie-al-family, or even inter-special family. The Body, to me, is an Idea, as it was God's when God first thought human and created human. Bodies are living embodiments of ideas, just as words are, and when the Body lacks an author (specific mom, dad), the Body then begins to represent itself as itself (as with words without author). And what that Body is as an idea is anybody's guess, but the most prevalent Idea of Body (given the most popular world religions) is the Body as Holy, Body as Dirt, Body as Idea of God, Body as Image of God. In this respect, Body without author(s) become God. If we begin to view our Bodies as such, Body is embodiment of Love (for God is Love) and this postulates the notion of universal compassion, which ruptures the modern notion of nuclear family in all its competitiveness, preferential status, compartmentalization, etc (for nuclear family unit rose in within the capitalist economic model that promotes survival of the fittest).
The flip-side of Body as God is Body-with-no-God, or godlessness. This is effectively the same as number 1, in that body-without-author de-contextualizes our bodies from its ancestral origins.
This decontextualization of our bodies in this age of post-colonial diaspora is violent.
In the same way to kill the author when it comes to recognizing voices of POC, womyn, LGBTQi, immigrants, non-colonial language speaking worlds and other marginalized peoples is violence.
"death of author" is an ideology useful for metaphorical application and to propose as end goal in the revolution, particularly in America where "independence" means having a giant Ego, which enacts forms of violence we do unto others and ourselves. The romanticization of the writer in isolation and artist alone in suffering is not inspiring but dangerous in an era where communication, collaboration, and sharing resources are the only ways to build resistance. The "death of author" renders the current status and position of 'writer' and 'artist' obsolete and makes possible for everyone to act a writer and artist.
Killing the author makes possible greater interconnectivity on the basis of ideas alone, and because no Author means no principle authority thrifting the proliferation of meaning.
However, in practice we're not there yet. Making visible marginalized communities and their stories relies on the existing principles of authorship. What ultimately looks like a fair practice towards social justice in Education and otherwise TO ME is selectively murdering certain authors AND SIMULTANEOUSLY selectively making visible certain authors. This means:
a) making typical canonical white-male "authors" of literature and philosophy invisible by emphasizing the idea content of their writing. This does not mean excluding or ignoring white man's contributions but instead of emphasizing importance of the who, emphasizing whatever important idea is being extrapolated for understanding and analysis.
b) reading and re-contextualizing these ideas as re-imagined and responded-to by victims of the British empire. EXAMPLE: The Japanese took western philosophy and ran with it. By that I mean in less than 100 years, Japan transformed itself COMPLETELY into a formidable enemy of Western imperial forces, and her intellectuals accomplished phenomenal work: not only was everything possible translated from german, french, italian, etc to learn from, but much was contributed in addition to and because of this exchange. How come no one is reading the perspectives of the colonized on colonizer's ideas? My favorite is Keiji Nishitani's Religion and Nothingness , an original piece that incorporates / responds to western ideas/concepts of nihilism, existentialism, religion, etc.
c) exploring non-white* authors. (non-white here means anything beyond the scope of white, hetero-patriarchal, capitalist privilege).
Related to media literacy is the imperative for every citizen (of earth) to educate themselves on media, consumerism, and resulting Big Data algorithms that systemize and self-justify injustices in large-scale implementations. Re: Weapons of Math Destruction. Even more enlightening is the debate it spurs (re: Amazon reviews on Weapons of Math Destruction)...
I'm thinking about:
perspective and personal experience vs. collective patterns not necessarily correlating to personal experience/perspective.
Project 1: Talking Back
Hi guys. Remember I had two ideas?
1) re writing the genesis, which I will do. Not sure in what form it will take but also, I dont have the time to think, play it out and re-writing the whole world is serious so I want to devote more time to it than my life currently allows. so I will not be doing this right away.
2) menstrual positivity. I feel like most girls are taught to celebrate their periods because it means they are now officially "women." In sex ed., being a woman means you are biologically capable of poppin' babies.
that the menstruation cycles exactly mimics the rhythm of our moon's monthly cycle in the sky is barely noted culturally, at least not that I am aware of. 28 days, both. That people used to feel the stages of the moon intuitively in their bodies is no longer remembered or known. It used to be essential information for the livelihood of our fisher[wo]men, sailors, mermaids, and divers.
Menstruating signals the equivalent of New Moon in our bodies. Like In the Beginning, complete darkness. Renewal. Our bodies hormones fluctuate in such a way that during menstruation, we literally may heal ourselves of bacterial and yeast infections (I can personally testify) (by the way, i read somewhere on the internet that semen causes yeast infections and that is honestly just as well.)
In a sense I'm not talking back to anything, more like I'm trying to fill in the void of knowledge and physical understanding of what a woman's menstruation period really is, a once-a-month magical purging of the old.
I think I'm going to extend this into a research project. Ways to take care of our vaginal healths have also been lost to colonialism aka the process in which aggressively imposed industrialization and Christianity of the west unto everyone else violently erased indigenous knowledge of everything ever.
(I'm aware that not all of our cultures' pasts are sparkly, holy-glory. Nasty stuff like genital mutilation was/is real. But that's not to say there is no wisdom to be had at all in the ways of our ancestors. Progress is a myth. We did not start off from The Worst and continued to get better and better. Humanity's been through several golden ages, and things were beautiful and ok at times even without all the technology that so greatly benefits our lives currently.
Technology may enable us to bring ourselves back to the beginning, full circle. And one of the ways it will do so is by aiding me in my research lol.)
I want to tap into the ways in which our bodies have been celebrated and share this celebration with others.
Here is one image from this conceived project. I think i'll just make copies and start putting them in bathrooms. wouldn't you feel happy sitting on a toilet changing your diva cup/[tampon/pad/sometimes i just let myself bleed on my underwear] while reading this?
This is the company Trump hired to mine peoples info/data/profiles to win
view their 2 minute intro video on the main page
will ask in class but what did yall gain from this introduction? (not rhetorical, this is a sincere question. It was really hard for me to absorb her writing for some reason which may not be entirely due to her writing or even content, but just from the fact that i feel BURNED OUT help) I didn't gain much.. I liked it as a follow up to the 'technium' reading because she acknowledges/touches upon the nuances of the material/social reality in which the internet/technology is experienced, which is to say unequally and with similar forces of power oriented towards profit at play.
also i'm glad there are good people out there keeping up with this stuff and fighting on this front cuz I'm a bit confused tbh. if yall can provide a more succinct summary of her finer points, I'd much appreciate the reiteration.
RE: Our Special Ed. course. Disabilities as a byproduct of modern conditions. Made better by progressing technology to fix caused disabilities--> technium's natural tendency, ad infinitum.
RE: Caitlyn's presentation:: Lisa Bufano
This post is just notes and thoughts// will write up more on some works that intrigued me including Njideka Akunyili Crosby's painting, Andrea Caspo's Parabiosis: Neurolibidinal Induction Complex. Fucking loved them both. Also of interest: Jack Pierson's self-portrait.
Transcribed notes/thoughts from Whitney's Human Portraits/Dreamlands,
"Who we are and how we perceive and commemorate others"
White Box ("old media") VS Black Box ("new/digital media")
"In a culture in which the fashion industry, cosmetic surgery, and digital editing have made physical appearance more malleable"
"to explore invented personas and darker psychological states"
Imposing experience VS interpretation/intention/what manifests
Whitney museum costs $17, good thing I go to a 50K/yr elite school that gets me free admission. Who sees this work? I have the privilege of access. What are my advantages? What do I gain from this show personally? How can I/might I incorporate the ideas I intake, the beauty I witness within these exclusive white and black boxes towards outside, the rest of the world, the working class? (re: current events. thinking of my immigrant parents, who won't understand any of the english in this museum? my grandmother, who's whole world is a rapidly disappearing agrarian countryside in south korea? what do these black box gimmicks have to do with the people I love and respect the most? )
What is expected of the audience? To gain from any work is to contemplate them for a good chunk of time, it's impossible to truly intake and appreciate all the works in this museum in one visit. Most people who, even if they could afford the price, can't make time for second or third visits.
I think art is important. But I tend to approach art in museums, especially those that can only be experienced in museums at a price like dreamlands, critically: what do i gain from this (as a person, artist, educator)? what might the world gain from this? how can its ideas be beneficial, socially? Besides that, I personally look for new ideas, philosophy.
Response to Intro + Concluding chapters of Kevin Kelley's What Technology Wants
I'm writing this approximately 1 week after I've done the reading. My thoughts and feelings were fresher a week ago, but it took me a day to process the latter half of his conclusion.
I don't have much to say about the first part of chapter one, I enjoyed his analogies of technology to natural systems, and the educational discourse on how humans had begun to differentiate between "tech" and "art", etc.
'What does Technology want?' is an interesting question, especially given the word choice 'want' as opposed to 'need.' Kelly did not get into the epistemological differences and varying interpretations and analogies that springs from thinking about what technology wants vs what technology needs. Regardless, it's unconventional, fun, and challenging to apply 'want' to machinery. I wrote notes on the side. I ask myself: 'What is my want? Beyond my body.' If the technium is an extension of ourselves, and thereby our wanting, isn't it important to first be able to answer what our collective want is? Is it really simply "more possibilities" as Kelly suggests? This goes back to human existentialism. But Kelly remains grounded in manifest reality with regards to these questions.
Kelly argues that "a good choice is to increase choices" and that's ultimately what the technium wants. The justification being that to increase choices means "more opportunities, more connections, more diversity, more unity, more thought, more beauty, and more problems." He asks us to think of what would have been if Van Gogh were born before the invention of oil paint, of Mozart before the piano, etc. I think that argument is nice and dramatic but not convincing of technology's absolute worth. I wonder if our innate talents and creativity are so specific to existing technologies. Can not have Van Gogh's same creative energies manifested else-how using what was available at the theoretical time of before-paint technology? Is it such a tragedy if his talents had manifested through other mediums, which may have been equally as great? Does it matter if art goes unwitnessed? (If a tree falls in a forest and no one's there to see or hear it... does it matter?(does this work?lol)) This retrospective seems too romanticized / contrived to support his argument that more is better.
I understand the excitement over the expansion of opportunities into infinity. I think his enthusiasm is beautiful and joyous and it all comes through in his writing, and as a consequence I was reeling on pure energy for several hours before being able to verbalize my disagreements. It's hard not to be swept into excitement by such earnest narrative of technium's beneficial potential. I like his optimism, and I wish all of us the best when it comes to technology's rapid development and saturation into the hows of whats we do.
I don't know if he pays any attention to this in other parts of his book, but I think it crucial for him to acknowledge the dangers of abusing technology and its downsides alongside its positive potential. I equate abuse of technology as lack of mindfulness when engaging with technology which I am afraid more people are guilty of more often than not. I think the biggest thing to discuss when speaking of technology is not whether or not it's good or bad or scary, but about how we use it and become addicted unquestioningly, unaware of other realities we forego in the process.
As much as the technology creates more and more, it destroys just as much, just as fast. This loss is not necessarily a bad thing, sure, but I do believe we will not benefit if we do not reflect on this loss, and I don't believe we reflect enough, or are even able to, because at the rate of which our lives are changing due to technological progress. We can only truly be mindful of technology and its benefits if we are aware of what other realities are like without it. And we can't know what these other realities are if technology is destroying old opportunities, spaces, places, and times in which we might be able to experience alternatively. If we are not aware of its alternatives, we consequently become dependent on technology, which as kelly discusses, creates its own problems and require new technology to address those problems, ad infinitum.
That Kelly does not discuss technology's irreparable destruction of the old at unprecedented rates makes me uneasy. The imbalance of technology distribution in favor of first world countries (imperialist nation states such as the US and UK) makes this rapid destruction of alternatives (at the same rate at which it *creates* more) sociopolitically loaded. As a bi(or, at least two)cultural citizen of Western and Eastern sensibilities, a self-dubbed global citizen (I suppose), and citizen of the earth(this for certain), this directly involves my experiences, memories, and identities, parts of which are growing more null and inaccessible as technology *progresses* [or ravages countries and cultures whole].
This goes back to that testy subject of "hybrid" cultures. Sometimes what we call "hybrid" is really a culture in the process of it dying /being colonized. What is truly hybrid denotes both factors which are being hybridized have equal say/power in giving and taking, shaping and forming, changing and compromising.
In class yesterday, Sai touched on a topic I'll name and paraphrase here... I understood the subject to be about the decline of "direct"-artmaking (as opposed to mediated and created through the use of a computer). "No one's going to paint and draw anymore!" I think about its implications. If there is a body part I worship, they are hands. I know energy is a really abstract word sometimes abused by new age-y trend-speaks, but energy to me is very real and the word as a language tool is a very valid way to speak of all things.
Homecooked meals are not just about flavor or even context. It's about the hands, the intention, the experience of its making, the energy directly given into the making with intention (re: 'made with love' advertising gimmicks are trying to get at something very real) as when the baker molds their dough, or the chef sprinkles and stirs spices into their boiling cauldron. Better if its personal, hence homecooked. But definitely whether in restaurants or the home, food is decidedly a better feel cooked as opposed to microwaved, processed, or even mass produced (even if by way of hands, because perhaps it has something to do with the attitude in the making).
I dance and I massage, and even in my art-making I respond to my hands' energy directly.
There are degrees of removal from this primary energy source that are our hands. This is experienced in the differences between seeing art in person and seeing it digital.
Digital arts are impressive for their technical possibilities and creative content, but without either of these things, they lack something I can't name that I find in traditional hand-drawn cartoons, unlike most of today's tv shows for toddlers and young children.
I can elaborate but I just wanted to just summarize some brief thoughts here for further reflection later.
What are the implications of individuals + society given a normalization of several-degrees removed (referencing that vaguely defined energy source) artwork/art-making?
ALSO: My friend Esther writes. She writes most of her content by hand. She says when she writes with the pen, she can feel the texture of her words. That this word feels italic and the next word a little larger and another one pink. She says all this certainty and feels disappear when she starts transcribing it on Word. This doesn't bother her, she just accepts it in its new form, the words still valuable for their meaning regardless of how in tune or not she might be with their aesthetics and textures.
But it speaks directly to what I am trying to get at.