Is Modernity our Antiquity? History is a cultural concept, it is not natural, but it is a very strong concept of the Modernity.
It reminds me the movie « Disneyland, my native village » by Arnaud des Pallières that makes a parallel between Paris and a new Disneyworld… The Eiffel Tour or Parisian monuments are becoming the Mickey’s of the new millenary. France is spending so much money to preserve its patrimony that there is very few money left for the creation. Patrimony is the first department of the French cultural budget.
We are far away from putting the same amount of budget in the field of research. It seems to me that in France, our “post-modernity“ consists in preserving our antiquity.
And it is not surprising too that France is one of the first voice to say that new media art is ghettoized from the whole contemporary art world because it focuses too much on the techne. It seems even like “old fashioned” to say nowadays that you work in the new media art field.
Perhaps it is because digital art sounds so bad in French?
What we can say for sure, is that this discourse has political and economical consequences, by denying a specificity to new media, in France we have:
– less and less budgets for this “art that doesn’t exist” or this “art that we won’t give a name to”
– in the last main contemporary exhibitions in Paris, only 2% of this kind of art practices were shown
– No production center for new media
– No press
– Few art critics
– Very few initiatives to rely research and art
If there is such a need for new media to reconnect with the art history to give a value to emerging creations, I guess that it is because the modern concept of art is still going on.
During my studies, what I preferred the most was cultural sociology, because it deconstructs everything: religion, history, culture, and state power…
What I criticize is the ghetto of constructed tools that I must use if I want to be part of the circle.
Marcus Winamps, social circles is really interesting for me in that sense. As is the book « the anarchist banker » of Fernando Pessoa. Every society is a social fiction, you can change it by a revolution but you are going to construct a new social fiction.
What could be the question is: who are the new clericals of our informational age? And why is there such a separation between people, art world and theoricians?
Where lies my freedom of thinking?
I guess that my way of thinking comes from my personal experience when I was 8/9 years old, one of my brothers was student in a fine art school in Bordeaux and he was also the assistant of Sol Lewitt for few months. Then, with my other brother, they created “Quais” a free newspaper dedicated to contemporary art. I remember really well that time (80′), round discussions of galleries, artists, speaking together, so happy to be the very happy few to be able to understand. As a child, I felt that these discussions were very far from the real life, and almost sounded like a foreign language to me.
I guess that my position is a reaction to that today, so Marc is right, there is no zero ground. I am perhaps just from the generation who reacts towards a certain conceptual art or to the modern conception of art, “une vision sacralisée de l’art” that cutted art from the people and the masses.
My work as a curator or event organizer is only a question of feeling and meetings, I just try to learn and understand the different technologies, the influence of each technology on the aesthetic and then, I try to travel a lot to meet as many artists and artworks as possible. Hopefully many things happened in the underground or at the margins of white cubes!
I have a good example of what you said, Marc about net.art. In 2002 I launched a net.art competition on the theme “audio games” for the first biennial Villette Numérique. 20 artworks are still online. I was attacked on the main French mailing lists because it wasn’t pure net.art, according to the posts; it was a shame to call it a net.art gallery, because there were web documentaries, VRML, flash animations, games done in Director.
Which was “true”, my background at that time was gizmoland (online from 2000 to 2001), a French portal dedicated to digital culture that was also a gallery of digital artworks downloadable by pay per view (short films, games, screen savers, interactive applications, fictions, moving images…)
Ok, not pure net.art as it has been defined. I understood the critics, I Realized that I didn’t know very well all this part of the web creation and a month later, I was in Belgrade at Nicola tosic’s place on the road for turkey for the event “meet in a nice restaurant” and I discovered the book of Vuk Cosic, netart per se. I decided that it could be a good idea to invite him to Paris in order to listen to the true story of net.art, and I was surprised to see that it was far away from the definition the French lists gave to me! But still, we were talking about a “dead” object.
Responding to Saul, you are absolutely right, it is not because something is new that it is valuable, but again, isn’t it an alternative?
I would love to be very positive and to believe that thanks to our modernist evolution our way of thinking is going to enlarge itself. That our consciousness is going to be more and more able to understand the complexity of reality. But what I see is reaction, fair, closing instincts, protectionism, and mysticism
We can’t keep a positive view about the modern concept of evolution, we just repeat and repeat, and that’s why working on the idea of memory is so important for me.
And that’s also why I still believe that there is perhaps an alternative in using other tools than the classics and that more access to entertainment would perhaps avoid monsters.
Hi isabelle & all,
“that in each operson, there is a capacity to produce knowledge”
Each time something is repeated it possess a different context, even if it is similar to a project or artwork that was created in the past. Just like walking on a beach when stepping in the sand, water washes it away, and even when one steps in the same place it is not the exact copy, for the context and situation and its relations are completely different.
I have personally never been that keen on piling endless references to my words when discussing ideas on lists. I feel that it is important to do sometimes when someone else explains an idea in a cleaerer light. Yet, I think that sometimes academic language can be overly used a lot of the time, and it can cloud the more subtle intuitive forms of learning and understanding on a subject.
What is more regretful is when certain curators/writers rely repeatedly on certain canons of history far too often, when creating collections/exhibitions of art. I am much more interested in those who are exploring beyond the trad-paradigm of historicized/cultural captial and in such a limited process leave others out. This has happened regarding net.art, which I believe has contributed to almost killing it. There are those curators/writers out there, who mainly only promoted ‘the few’ net.artists, instead of working with a larger group of ‘net artists’.
Instead of actually consciously trying to create an environment which was including less supported net artists, we now have a history that deals with net art (or rather net.art), in the past tense – which is a shame.
Getting back to language and how it isolates the larger group, via protocols and signifiers of terms and peer related knowledge. Gradually, I am beginning to think that many parties are to blame as well here, they should not be allowed to escape this issue. It is not just academics and related types, some artists are also to blame in not wanting to explore intellectual concepts by others in a greater degree, as well as some academics equally not wanting to make the effort to try and communicate beyond their own peer-related languages.
>>why can’t we think from zero? is it really impossible?
I appreciate the question here, and I really would not wish for anyone to start at zero. For this idea seems rather absolutist and unreachable, because it touches upon a notion of purity, which as we all know- there is no such thing. It’s all mucky and things have various degrees of shades, like we all possess in our every day lives.
I am a great believer in self-learning, it does not matter whether one is connected to an institution or not. There is a big difference between intellectual argument and academic argument. Academic argument comes from a place of culturalized reference, high art, high science, or accepted and (supposed) informed knowledge that has been institutionally accepted. This means that if you use an academic argument, you are more likely to be agreed with by those who value such structures and theories. Because they instantly understand the triggers, signifiers being inferred. Thus, an immediate rapport occurs, a kind of mental handshake and recognition that one has equally gone through the same learning processes. This is of course a positive experience for those who wish to have their so called educational references re-affirmed, but it serves no solution to solve the issue or crux, that ‘Academia’ only serves the few.
Yet, of course this is not the whole story – for there are those who can switch between using ‘culturalized references’, as well as using a more hybrid set of words/terms/tags, with the aim to communicate beyond expected (concretized) paradigms. This active moving on from a more mono-cultural way of communicating and thinking, I feel, is a more contemporary way of dealing with such problems, crossing over the borders which have socially constructed our own lives to be who (perhaps) we are not (inside).
‘Both Isabelle and Marc talk about, starting from zero. Maybe the idea is to start from one and then expand the circle.”
Reflecting on this zero ground, (ironically, after nine eleven), I’d like to talk about my own practice, which develops out of using new media/multimedia as a tool for generative inquiry.
I spent 20 years painting and drawing layered architectural landscapes, on paper and canvas, before this. My life situation was such, that I started over, in a sense, from ‘ground zero’ , in 2000. I did this as a way to ‘mediate’ traumatic memory and violence in my personal history and to renew my life. And to try to use media as a critical form of inquiry as well as sensuous performance. I sensed that the ‘landscape of memory’ was a psychic field that could be expressed through electronic/tectonic forms, in large scale cinematic arrays. I responded Louis Kahn’s way of describing this, in design process, as “volume zero”. (see http://www.worldviewcities.org/dhaka/ philadelphia2.html and http://www.worldviewcities.org/dhaka/ philadelphia2.html
Wonderful things have happened because of this decision. Not least, our conversations here; also, the opportunity to bring work to places all over the world, from Australia to Germany, London to New York, while I go on working in the ‘outback’ of California.
Today I develop site studies of cultural landscapes, resistance, and poetics of memory within a performance ethos, for installations using video and multimedia photography and the net. In California, I try to bear witness to the x factor, the non site; seismic memory in earthquake country, the psychic space of the net as an aphasic terrain, the continuing trauma of mudslide and debris flow in coastal communities.
I wrote recently for Manifesta, the following response to the theme “What’s Left”:
“What’s Left”’ : the theme speaks directly to the poetics of absence and the problem of meaning in the wake of trauma, in landscapes that have been neglected or left to turmoil and destruction. Aftermath interests me, as much as the event itself. How artists may work at the margins of the media culture still with the tools of it but without the constraints.
How we are both in utter poverty of spirit, having lost any hegemony of power and voice as we are subsumed like everybody into the global mix; and yet, how we still make work. What is this persistence, this resistance to giving up, to letting go, to forgetting? I may be aphasic, but I still speak: I may have to give up drawing for electronic media in order to communicate across borders, but I still draw. I have tried to develop conversations on related topics internationally on -empyre- throughout 2003-2006 (see www.subtle.net/empyre) including such themes as Neural Topologies of the Net, Border Crossings, Sites in Translation, “Whispering in the Dark” (on rematerialization of protest), inviting guests into the mix whose work and commmitment is to reaching across borders. It is an honor and a responsibility to participate in this discourse and with these artists because their work is witness, temoinage. Witness is the way of speaking to and of something incommensurate and sublime, through a visual or performative act, a kind of improvised ritual through its flat=out risk taking and direct approach. …something to do with the degree zero of performance as witness.
Perhaps a way into my practice methods and theory is to offer you the remit for my current site study, a cinematic and photographic La Conchita mon amour (2005-2006) — now interactive and in progress
(the site requires quicktime 7 and flash 6 or above, fast connection as it has a lot of movies in it).
La Conchita is a community in north Ventura County whose inhabitants have been subject to massive debris flow mudslides in 1995 and 2005, and persist under the threat of continuing and inevitable recurrence. The most recent event on January 10, 2005 caused the loss of ten lives and the destruction of a central part of the village. Since last spring 2005 I have been documenting the site of the mudslide through digital and medium format photography and digital video. My interest is to create a multivalent site study of the topology of disaster and trauma.
La Conchita remaps the problematic of living with disaster in California in immediate, raw terms, since the trauma is always already here. There is no escape, save leaving the place, a choice few seem able to make, since their properties are impossible to remortgage or sell. Conditions are likely to become even more precarious as global warming intensifies winter storms. You find everywhere spontaneous creation and maintenance of vernacular shrines to the dead on the site of the mudslide, quite massive and not cleaned up.
Chain link fences surround the extensive site of loss, where the rubble of roofs and play yards, swing sets and crushed cars alternates with spontaneous shrines to the ones who died in the flow. These are continually being rearranged, and embellished. The memorials are in a continuous condition of sublation, such that just as the remains are hidden by the debris mound, at the same time their presence and meaning is evoked through a persistent maintenance.
The works of art in this series consist in layering of multiple modes of information, as a palimpsest, within which alterity and disjunction integrate diverse kinds of visual information within a documentary series of site observations.
Thanks to the trust of people at La Conchita, I as a non-journalist, non-politician, am admitted to hidden spots, hard to access, places that are a kind of gift. A performative use of photography and video observes but perhaps also alters the lush life between ‘fact’ and subjective response: my presence is active, not neutral, partly trusted, partly suspicious, as I move through the town’s ruined spaces, once private, now partially exposed to the ravages of the public eye and to the weather.
The spirit of an always-already endangered space is glimpsed at the margins of endless views of the disintegrating houses, the omnipresent slide debris, and the poignant gardens, topped with an illegal squat, a teepee, and defiant signs calling the Governor to task. When you combine these with geophysical mappings and sequence them in time, the landscape of data loses all neutrality. Sometimes the community seems to be closed up like the little shell of its name.
The presence of an impossible to fathom, yet starkly obvious threat, in the mudslide aftermath, makes La Conchita a prime site for exploring the sense of the sublime using layers of data, as a palimpsest.
At La Conchita, grim geologic realities subtend the vernacular gestures of prayer and remembrance. Perhaps there are no terms of rapprochment with La Conchita’s ineluctable precariousness and impossible future, yet people keep trying to make it right, to make it a place of life, a place that matters. As do I, following in their trace. This paradox suggests a ritual site and reflection on documentary as performance.
Does art simulate, or stimulate, a zone of return — moving across the site’s chain link fences? Performing its own becoming, and at a remove? Is shooting the evidence like the hanging of a thing onto another thing, like a prayer flag with a heart onto a chain link fence at La Conchita?
Compulsive, futile, and generative all the same, this is the process of performing a site as you study it. “Wherever buildings are broken…their damaged states …suggest new forms of thought and comprehension, and suggest new conceptions of space that confirm the potential of the human to integrate itself, to be whole and free outside of any predetermined totalizing system” (Lebbeus Woods).
Ritual involves actions through intentions to nurture a belief or value of something that you hold precious. As an action
of retracing the action, one further maintains that belief: it is through the recursion of the action that the ritual holds
power. In what sense is there a spirituality of La Conchita?
Something like a hope, that the world of art and of faith might share, that we are not alone. The whole town becomes a ritual site that desires to affirm “we are not alone.” Even when government fails to help; even beneath the agnostic skies of blazing blue sunny days and the fierce storms that hasten the crumbling rincons. People say to me, “I’m making this memorial because we want to do something good.” Remember the lost ones, redeem the site for the living, to assert an absolute freedom of spirit and body even in the face of a certain catastrophic future.
Meaning that I am not starting from 0 even if I never really read any art books, or theory… i guess that my way of thinking comes from my personnal experience when i was 8 years old, one of my brother was student in a fine art school in Bordeaux and he was also the assistant of Sol Lewitt for few months. Then, with my other brother, they created a free newspaper dedicated to contemporay art. I remember really well that time (80′), where all these galerists, artists were speaking together, so happy to be the very happy few to be able to understand. As a child, I also had the impression that these discussions were very far from the real life, and almost sounded like a foreigne language to me.
I guess that it formed my reaction today and my way of seeing al this , so Marc is right, there is no zero ground. i
am perhaps just from the generation who reacts towards a certain conceptual
art or to the modern conception of art, a sacralized vision that cutted art from the people and masses.
my work is a question of feeling only, what i really tried to learn is the influence of each technology on the aesthetic and then, i tried to travel a lot to meet as many artists and artworks as possible. hopefully many things happends in the underground or at the margins of white cubes!
I have a good exemple of what you said about net.art In 2002 i launched a net.art competition on the theme “audio games” for the first biennal Villette Numérique. 20 artworks are still online. I was attacked on the main french mailing lists because it wasn’t pure net.art, according to the posts, it was a shame to call it a net.art gallery, because there were web documentaries, VRML, flash animations, games done in Director,
ok, not pure net.art as it has been defined. I understood the critics, i realized that i didn’t know very well all this part of the web creation and a month later i was in belgrade at nikola tosic’s place and i discovered the book of Vuk Cosic, netart per se. I decided that it could be a good idea to invite him to paris in order to listen to the true
story of net.art.
Selon “G.H. Hovagimyan” :
I remember that when I was a young artist, everyone was trying to find something original to make or do that would distinguish them. This was a signature style or material that people would recognize as the work of “such and such.” The trouble was that we (younger artists) couldn’t think our way out of the end game/philosophical dilemma. The solution way not to be original. This was in the 1980’s when people decided that appropriation and simulation were a proper way to deal with this dilemma. In the 1993 I did a web art piece called “Faux Conceptual Art” It pushed this idea further. The idea was that part of the new corporate art system was the idea of project proposals. I decided to put up a project proposal online. Obviously, 13 years later everyone does this. The process of proposing an art work is the same as the art work.
If an art critic, does not want to use philosophy or theory to write about art that is pretty terrific I’d say. It means that he/she is not satisfied with the methods that have been used in the past. I think that is brilliant.
The questions you need to ask when you look at an art work are; “why is this here, what does this mean, how does this make me feel?”
On Mar 14, 2006, at 7:10 AM, email@example.com wrote:
Re: Moore N = c (G.H. Hovagimyan)
i think that we touch thepoint, what is funny is that at the same time on the list spectre, an artists decided to quit the list because of some too theoritical posts, and he said i quit : it is too much theory fro me! why can’t we think from zero? is it really impossible? every mode of thinking is a reaction to another, isn’t it possible to think from the ground, without quoting any ancestors or precient thinker? it seems that it is not possible. At school, our brains are transformed into computational machines, you are never asked to say what you are thinking about a particular point, the only think you have to do is to compute and repeat the informations given by somebody who
knows!!! “Nobody is interested in what you think, beginn first by learning the classics!” In the art world, that’s the same, right now in France, there is a debate about critics who don’t want to use philosophy or theory to write, it is denounced by all the critic world. “It is impossible to have a critical discourse without having the theorical tools!!” And if you try, good luck! that’s possible but, still difficult and you fall in an other problem you were mentioning before, you quote without knowing it other artworks, because what you did was already done before. It also happened in the Palais de Tokyo at the exhibition “Notre Histoire” sic!! with a big skelett sculpture that is a replic of another sculpture presented 15 years before somewhere else in France.
So it seems that even without knowing what happends before that we repeat it?
Would it depends on our way of thinking, is it natural or cultural?
i am still hoping that it is possible remembering an idea i really loved in philosophy with aristote, saying that in each operson, there is a capacity to produce knowledge,