Art and Instructions
MoMA talk 1
Themes of the week
As the French sociologist Pierre Bordieu wrote, one can learn more about the world around us by looking at networks and connections, rather than by simply looking at images.
In our first time together let’s think together about the following.
What and where is the experience of art?
What is to purchase a work of art and see it here in the museum?
What is to do you think collect works of art?
How does a critic talk about a work of art?
Why do we care about art?
Where do we begin? Here we are, not only at MoMA but with ourselves, what we don’t know, what we wish to know.
Welcome As we are here at the MoMA – we should talk a bit about its inception – its raison d’etere – as we know, one of the outstanding issues for the Museum of Modern Art is how to present its collection. How to tell the story of Modern Art. There is no absolute way. No one way through the story.
a concrete assemblage of heterogenous elements
montage nuanced and unpredictable
(What drives all this is the artists. There work. The modern has been driven by intense self-reflection, interrogation, towards an expression of the moment, of life, of living, of form, of shape. At one point, art was synonomous with painting, when one mentioned art there talking about painting.
From the outset MoMA and its founder Alfred Barr had a broader sense of art and thought of the arts as
Painting and Sculpture, Prints and drawings, Film and Media, Photography, Design
A pattern, a rhythm, a gesture that puts on the now.
a new understanding of the universe is required for better use of the environment; gyorgy kepes on ‘art and the public environment’ which called for appreciation of modern industrial man’s need for aesthetic satisfaction in the environment.
They say that a computer does not feel like a toaster or a vacuum cleaner; it feels like a medium that is now taking its place beside other media like printing, film, radio, and television.
Work described includes interactive computer pieces, Web sites, film animation, digital photography, virtual reality pieces, performance, video installations, interactive video installations, and art generated by computers themselves using formulae provided by the artist-programmer.
How might a generation take hold of art and make it their own, to express themselves in it, by it, through it.
Computers 4 defining qualities: procedural, participatory, encyclopedic, and spatial properties
The memex and the potato garden
This, by the way, is an excellent example of the Deleuzean distaste for essentialism: you’ve never going to be able to come up with a set of necessary and sufficient conditions to define “courage”: much better to investigate the morphogenesis of warrior and soldierly bodies and see if there are any common structures to those production processes. How are the warrior and the soldier different actualizations of the virtual multiplicity linking political physiology and geopolitics?
Deleuze shows in great detail how Ideas have a complex internal structure, being composed of series of singularities. The triggering of a bifurcator is called by Deleuze an “Event,” which unleashes an “emission of singularities,” that is, that provides for a new set of attractors or patterns of behavior. The self-differentiating process by which Ideas spread throughout the virtual, is named differentiation by Deleuze, in contrast to differenciation, which names the process of actualization, for example, the “incarnation” of the Idea of “a” society in one particular actually existing society. The series of singularities in an Idea are arranged in “inclusive” disjunctions, so that they are “compossible,” even those that when actualized would be “incompossible,” that would preclude each other. Thus actualization or differenciation is the construction of “exclusive” disjunctions, the selection of a series of singularities whose actualization precludes the simultaneous actualization of others, which would then have the status of the “road not taken.”
The signifier is not the determinant of what is signified, for the significations of the text change with the placement of the text in con-text.
Let us now see how the 1960s Deleuzean terminology can provide the basic concepts for a transcendental geophilosophy. We can see that an actual system might, say, oscillate at one frequency within a certain range of parameters, and at another frequency within another range. The actual behavior of the system, its oscillation at frequency #1 or #2, would be a trait, while oscillation frequencies #1 and #2 would be the actualization of virtual attractors, a selection of a divergent series that actualizes a certain set of virtual singularities, and the transition between #1 and #2 would be an Event, an actualization of a virtual bifurcator, the selection of a different series of singularities.
What makes this
art historical notion of period style – applied to the practice of connoisseurship
a period style is a special form of coherence
style conceived as being generated collectively and unconsciously
Style as defined by Roland Barthes in ‘Painting Degree Zero’
Style as defined by Deleuze in ‘Proust’
What is the relationship between Event – Style – Event is a similar thought as Barthes puts forward as writing –
Barthes here clears the ground for his subsequent research, which would be a history of writing, a history of literary language that is never reduced to the history of language or to the history of styles but instead explores the historicity of the signs of literature
The details of style–word choice, syntax, punctuation–are simply surface manifestations of something already going on at a level hidden within language. Such multiple levels of language, as well as the increasing import of stylistic significance, are exemplified in Barthes’s own style. Whenever Barthes encounters a word with double meanings, says Michels, he retains both meanings in the word, much as Derrida does with deconstruction. Michels sees this, however, n ot as a deconstructive move but as a move toward experiencing reality (which is not behind words so much as hidden by them). It is, says Michels, as though “both meanings were winking at the other” (159). Unlike Derrida, Michels believes Barthes is attempting to get at that meaning; it exists, however, not in the language itself but “in that wink” (159); it is a meaning inexpressible through words. As the term wink implies, we can catch only a momentary glimpse of this multiple meaning. Barthes refers to this transitory moment as a “momentary escape into Being” (160). This escape into Being is what Barthes means when he talks about style–not the unique signature of a specific author, but the “pleasure of the text” that transcends language. “Language experienced at this level,” adds Michels, “produces the ecstasy of an immediate encounter with reality” (156). Language becomes not the reflection of reality, nor, as postmodern theory is often interpreted as claiming, reality itself, but, rather, the ecstatic ex perience of reality. At this juncture, Barthes’s argument–if not his style–has transcended the initial question Kimball and Michels separately address: whether postmodern writing is representational–that is, a mimetic recreation of reality–or simply a self-referential exercise in nihilism. The experience Barthes postulates, the pleasure of the text, is neither that of a reality beyond the text, nor of an abstract discourse, but the reality of the text itself.
M. conditions of possibility
It is composed not of units but of dimensions or rather directions in motion. It has neither beginning nor end, but always a middle (milieu) from which it grows and overspills. It constitutes linear multiplicities with n dimensions having neither subject or object, which can be laid out on a plane of consistency, and from which the One is always subtracted (n-1) … The rhizome operates by variation, expansion, conquest, capture, offshoots. … the rhizome pertains to a map, that is always detachable, connectable, reversible, modifiable, and has multiple entryways and exits and its own lines of flight.
“complexity theory,” to use the popular name for scientific research into self-organizing material systems.
In analyzing the material formation of dominating bodies in terms of their formation of “territories,” domesticated areas in which stereotyped reactions can be implanted and procedures developed to exploit them, the empirical geo-philosophy of Deleuze and Guattari aims by contrast to summon forth “a new earth,” a new relation to the creative potentials of material systems to form free bodies.
‘While the general context of the art-experience is set by the artist, its evolution in any specific sense is unpredictable and dependent on the total involvement of the spectator.’
Roy Ascott, ‘Behaviorist Art and the Cybernetic Vision’
Setting up patterns of behavior, emotion and thought that are unpredictable.
Modern Art takes a turn to initiate a dialogue
He is searching for new ways of handling ideas, for more flexible and adaptive structures to contain them; he is attempting to generate new carrier waves for the modulations of contemporary experience and he is searching the resources of technology to expand his repertoire of skills. Roy Ascott, ‘Behaviorist Art and the Cybernetic Vision’
Turing helped pioneer the concept of the digital computer. The Turing Machine that he envisioned is essentially the same as today’s multi-purpose computers. He described a machine that would read a series of ones and zeros from a tape. These ones and zeros described the steps that needed to be done to solve a particular problem or perform a certain task. The Turing Machine would read each of the steps and perform them in sequence, resulting in the proper answer.
This concept was revolutionary for the time. Most computers in the 1950’s were designed for a particular purpose or a limited range of purposes. What Turing envisioned was a machine that could do anything, something that we take for granted today. The method of instructing the computer was very important in Turing’s concept. He essentially described a machine which knew a few simple instructions. Making the computer perform a particular task was simply a matter of breaking the job down into a series of these simple instructions. This is identical to the process programmers go through today. He believed that an algorithm could be developed for most any problem. The hard part was determining what the simple steps were and how to break down the larger problems.
For example, interactive media technologies transform the viewer of art into the user of art and allow for new constructions of meaning that Foucault could have never imagined.
Inversely, if an analog artwork, such as a sculpture or a building is planned and designed on a computer before it is crafted, is not the final artwork, even in its analog, physical form, at least partially digital? With the introduction of computers into the production process of art, much artwork becomes a digital/analog hybrid. The act of digitizing an artwork may occur at any point in its production. Digital art is always already a reproduction, thus the appellation (re)production.
From cave paintings to multimedia exhibits, artists have always applied technology to present some meaningful symbolic form. Thus, art and technology have always been in some way entwined.
Heidegger, in his essay, “The question concerning technology,” attempts to uncover the essence of technology, which is not itself technological. In doing so, he discusses the relationship between art and technology. For Heidegger, art and technology are unified in the notion of techne (Heidegger 1977). In techne, technology is a poesis, or a bringing-forth, a way of revealing modes of being. However, in modernity, techne is separated from art, becoming technology. The essence of modern technology is enframing, or calling-forth (challenging), the ordering of the world through technology. We come to see the world as standing-reserve, to be used for technological purposes, i.e., coming to see things in the world, especially nature, as being at the service of some instrumental activity. Thus, challenging-forth is the act of seeing nature as standing-reserve for use by technology. “Enframing means the gathering together of that which sets upon man, i.e., challenges him forth, to reveal thereal, in the mode of ordering, as standing-reserve” (Heidegger 1977, p.20). The result of enframing is realized in the modern application of technology in the separation of art and technology. “Enframing conceals that revealing, which, in the sense of poiesis, lets what presences come forth into appearance” (p.27). In other words, art is removed from means of revealing; i.e., art is disassociated from the process of bringing Truth out of concealment. The ultimate answer, for Heidegger, is to reunite art and technology in techne. The creation of technology then becomes reunited with the creation of art, restoring revealing to a means of discovering Truth. Thus, in essential ways, art and technology are entwined historically. However, as Heidegger notes, this relationship has changed over time, as modern technology has become the dominant means of revealing, through enframing and art is relegated to a secondary position of revealing modes of truth.
The Art “Electronic art conveys a notion of reality, nature, space, and our existence in these which differs absolutely and qualitatively from the tradition” (Claus 1999). Animation was one of the first applications for computers. Huitric and Nahas (1999) outline their personal experiences with the development of computer technologies dedicated to art. Beginning in 1970, the authors became involved in using computers for creating artwork. Early computers had poor resolution. The authors recall using a computer in 1975 whose resolution was 70 x 56 pixels (or 3920 dots) (Huitric and Nahas 1999). By comparison, the computer on which I am currently working has a resolution of 1024 x 768 (or 786,432 dots), which is 200 times the resolution. Aside from technical progress made within the field of computer animation, this medium is qualitatively different from analog forms of moving pictures. Moving pictures work through the rapid sequence of still images, the transition between which the eye cannot perceive. Cartoon animation operates on the same principle. Many stills are drawn and photographed in sequence. Digital animation reduces the frames to the changing color of pixels (dots) on the screen. As stated earlier, a contemporary computer may have 786,432 dots on the screen. Computer animation is thus the rapidly changing the color of each dot. The frame is no longer the entire screen, now the screen contains hundreds of thousands of frames, each one a pixel, so small as to be indiscernible to the human eye. The images are thus deconstructed into myriad tiny frames, which change at speeds indiscernible to the human eye. This alters the way animated features are produced. The image is no longer as important as the motion. As Benjamin (1968), describe photography and film as the fragmentation and reassembly of an image as a new logic of frames, digital images represent a radical extension to that logic: the image is dissected into hundreds of thousands of discreet fragments, reassembled according to the logic of pixels-as-frames.
**“The digital image unites the possibilities of painting (subjectivity, freedom, irreality) and of photography (objectivity, mechanics, reality)” (Weibel 1999).
Conclusion The logic of digital (re)production of art is qualitatively different than the logic of mechanical or manual production of art. Digitization transforms the ontological status of art from analog, physical entities into digital, symbolic representations of art that are virtual. As analog art forms become mechanically reproducible, they begin to lose their “aura.” Digital artworks are replicable, produced to be reproduced ad infinitum, without degradation. The logic of digital (re)production insists that digital and digitized images are interactive and infinitely reproducible and manipulable; they never had an “aura.” The painting exists in space and time; it is a physical entity; matter constitutes it. The new media exhibit exists out of space and time; it is a virtual entity; bits constitute it. Analog art is representation with a referent. As a sequence and algorithm of ones and zeros, digital and digitized art is representation without a referent. The addition of computers into the production process of art has implications for its content as well as its (re)production. While digital technologies applied to the production of art open new doors of creative possibilities, they close others. In adopting computer technologies, the artist transforms the production of art from a skill-based endeavor into a knowledgebased endeavor. Artistic vision becomes enframing.
It’s a matter of highspeed feedback, access to massive databases, interaction with a multiplicity of minds, seeing with a thousand eyes, hearing the earth’s most silent whispers, reaching into the enormity of space, even to the edge of time. Cyberception is the antithesis of tunnel vision or linear thought. It is an all-at-once perception of a multiplicity of view points, an extension in all dimensions of associative thought, a recognition of the transience of all hypotheses, the relativity of all knowledge, the impermanence of all perception. It is cyberception that allows us to interact fully with the flux
and fuzz of life, to read the Book of Changes, to follow the Tao. In this, cyberception is not so much a new faculty as a revived faculty. It is us finding ourselves again, after the human waste and loss of the age of reason, the age of certainty, determinism and absolute values. The age of appearance, the Romanticism of the private, solitary individual – essentially anxious, alienated, paranoid. Indeed paranoia, secrecy and dissimulation seems to have been embedded in all aspects of the industrial age. In our telematic culture, instead of paranoia we celebrate Telenoia: open-ended,inclusive, collaborative, transpersonal networking of minds and imaginations.
From here let’s return to the pleasure of being here, and where art once was.