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questions

Post #588 • July 25, 2005, 1:45 PM • 233 Comments

1. What language is this written in?

2. Would there be any interest in Artblog.net swag, specifically, the CafePress White T-Shirt, Jr. Baby Doll, and/or thong with a design involving "Artblog.net" and the kitties?

3. Does Craigfrancis know what's going on with the sudden removal of Gordon Laurin from his position at The Rooms?

4. Is it just me, or have recent dustups in the news about so-called controversial art concerned pieces that really suck? (Via an alert reader.)

Comment

1.

alesh

July 25, 2005, 2:18 PM

1) Indian or something?

2) Can we have funny ones, that say, like, "I got my ass handed to me on Artblog.net" ??

3) Franklin wants art-world gossip. Nice.

4) (By the way, I think you're a verb short of a question.) This is the sort of crap you get when you ask for "art about politics." Bad political cartoons, and republicans freaking out. By the way, why DID that nice lady get fired? Seemed like the Daily Show was mainyl tryint to make fun of that one fat artist baffoon; did she do anythign wrong? (It was pretty funny when she refused to talk about that sculputure and stalked off, though, but still?)

2.

Kathleen

July 25, 2005, 2:24 PM

Indonesian/Javanese

3.

Kriston

July 25, 2005, 2:31 PM

4. I like Amy Wilson's work, which sparked some First Amendment-style controversy, but otherwise you're totally right—it was an observation I'd been meaning to post. Dreadful, dreadful art.

4.

Kathleen

July 25, 2005, 2:40 PM

I was thinking that the folks who don't want to be outed probably won't wear artblog branded stuff, so you'd have to rely upon those of us who use our real name and those of use who live out of town. And I've never bought a cafepress item, so . . . I probably won't. Sorry. Also, I'm pretty sure that thongs are not cool. Boy-style underwear for girls is the thing.

5.

Cat

July 25, 2005, 3:27 PM

Hats or caps are well suited for Florida sunlight.
( Get the blog out of your crotch.)

6.

oldpro

July 25, 2005, 3:41 PM

Yes, an artblog baseball cap with nice strong graphics & typography would be nice. Or one of those lazy floppy fishing hats.

The "US in the toilet" controversey is a bore. The whole idea of "controversial art" has become a bore. The art and the motive to do it and the publicity surrounding it should all go in the toilet.

I tried to watch the Jon Stewart video on someone else's machine but it ran badly and I couldn't really figure out what was happening. Like Alesh, I was left puzzled.

7.

sam

July 25, 2005, 4:26 PM

artblog panties might be kinda sexy, sorta like a secret club thing, lol...do you have a logo in mind?

8.

sam

July 25, 2005, 4:26 PM

how about some boxers?

9.

sam

July 25, 2005, 4:27 PM

besides the kitties

10.

sam

July 25, 2005, 4:29 PM

also, what kind of volume do you plan on moving, some handmade screenprinted shirts might be a nice way to go, realisticly i dont think youll be selling a thousand shirts a week.

11.

Matty

July 25, 2005, 4:33 PM

1. At a wild guess, I would have said hindi, but after reading Kathleen's confident "Indonesian/Javanese" post, I will defer.

2. I don't know Craig Francis or Gordon Laurin, and have never heard of "the Rooms" (and me, a Canadian), but I do suspect that graduates of NSCAD suffer from institutionally imposed artistic confusion, so Laurin's dismissal might not be all bad.

3. I think t-shirts and hats are the way to go... although my favorite type of swag is always the free kind, I might be pursuaded to by a hat if it was all for a good cause

4. (Re: post #1, I think the verb alesh missed is "concerned"). No, it's not just you Franklin. These 'artworks', if printed on a bumper sticker or t-shirt (or thong, or boy-style underwear)), would contain the same message, but would hardly raise anyone's hackless enough to make the news. The art featured in the Daily-Show piece werebumper-sticker sentiments too, presented in the guise of art.
To quote myself from an earlier page on this blog, "The Media generally don't get excited about art unless it is sold for a large amount of money, or can be seen to shock or offend polite sensibilities, or has something to do with someone famous. "
At least 'controversy' like the 'US in the Toilet' flap gives us all more glaring evidence that Republicans actually envy regimes like the Taliban and their repression of dissent.

"I don't know why we need to tolerate the cheap artwork of a gadfly with a world view that is so offensive to a majority of the people," said Karen Hanretty, a spokeswoman for the California Republican Party.

Well Karen, the reason is because you live in a free country... you don't have to like it.

12.

Franklin

July 25, 2005, 4:37 PM

This just proves the importance of market research. Hats... there's an idea... how about coffee mugs?

We're one up and two down on the thong. I was kind of kidding about that anyway.

The design will depend on the object. The shirt was going to be a closeup on the kitties (eliminating that picture on the right, although it could wrap around on a mug). I haven't decided on the copy, but I'll see about white on a black bar like on the site.

We can have funny ones. Any other nominations besides Alesh's? How about the kitties and Artblog.net on the front, "Beating up PoMo since 2003" on the back?

The whole idea of "controversial art" has become a bore. Furthermore, I just can't get my dander up over censorship when it involves art this bad.

13.

Matty

July 25, 2005, 4:42 PM

I've got enough dander for both of us Franklin....hmmm, maybe I should go wash my hair.

14.

Matty

July 25, 2005, 4:54 PM

"I don't know why we need to tolerate the cheap artwork of a gadfly with a world view that is so offensive to a majority of the people," said Karen Hanretty, a spokeswoman for the California Republican Party.

First, the artist isn't expressing a "world view", he's expressing his view of the United States under Bush's leadership. And as a spokesperson for the California Republican Party, Hanretty is only refering to, and speaking for a majority of California Republican Party members. Most of the rest of the world, I think, would agree with the sentiment expressed, regardless of the Republican desire to limit freedom of expression.

15.

oldpro

July 25, 2005, 5:40 PM

Please, no thong. If I wore a thong, you can be sure no one would would get close enough to read what was printed on it. Besides, how do you print anything on a thong anyway?

Wit extreme apologies:

ARTBLOG:

NO MO PO MO

THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE, BUT IT WON'T MAKE YOU ANY FRIENDS.

FRANKLIN SAVES

PISSING OFF THE ARTWORLD, ONE PERSON AT A TIME

IF YOU CAN'T SAY ANYTHING NICE, SAY IT INTELLIGENTLY

PARANOIDS SURVIVE

YOU DON'T KNOW NOTHIN'

A DAY WITHOUT ARTBLOG IS LIKE A DAY WITHOUT SPOT REMOVER

IF YOU CAN'T REASON WITH THEM, CONFUSE THEM

DO UNTO OTHERS

TO ERR IS HUMAN, TO BLOG DIVINE

WE HONOR REALITY CHECKS

THE BEST PLACE TO GET WORD-WHIPPED

A LIGHTHOUSE FOR THE BLIND

MENTAL FLOSS FOR TRUTH DECAY

ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTER HERE

OFTEN WRONG, BUT ALWAYS REASONABLE

IF YOU OPEN YOUR MOUTH, WE WILL CLOSE YOUR MIND

16.

Elizabeth

July 25, 2005, 6:00 PM

Matty; welcome back , how was BC?? heatwave here in TO.
OldPro; there are no words to express after reading ur list ........Im still processing the image of any man in a thong (since I dont have the benefit of knowing you that personally)
Franklin; hats work and coffee mugs also...but drop the butt floss, no room to write anything on it !

17.

mek

July 25, 2005, 6:21 PM

my vote --mental floss for truth decay-- as tag line. can do logo if you are interested. have done maybe a million in my brief lifetime thus far..... think you should do some banner ads and internet advertising to reach proper audience. just my 2cents. i have more than 2 pennies worth as i am an oldpro in the advertising biz.

18.

mek

July 25, 2005, 6:28 PM

i will be mia for a few weeks as i am partnering up with a marketing firm and am taking on a new client. growing the business as they say. will check in periodically as time permits. will surely miss the exchange.

19.

George

July 25, 2005, 6:49 PM

What's this?

WE HONOR REALITY CHECKS

sum kinda wellfare for de artiste?

Darn funny OP!

20.

Franklin

July 25, 2005, 7:00 PM

I think my fave is PISSING OFF THE ARTWORLD, ONE PERSON AT A TIME.

NO MO PO MO is up there too.

I also thought of YOU CAN HAVE MY MODERNISM WHEN YOU PRY IT FROM MY COLD, DEAD FINGERS.

21.

Jack

July 25, 2005, 7:45 PM

I have nothing useful to add to the merchandising brainstorming, probably because I'm not the right customer for such merchandise. I still don't see how people put that kind of stuff on their cars, let alone wear it. It doesn't matter if I agree with the sentiment expressed; I just can't deal with the look-at-my-car, look-at-me business. It feels too exhibitionistic, too indiscreet, even faintly vulgar. I was probably English in a former life.

As for the contrived "controversial" art (cough), having to resort to such blatant, crass and calculated "shock" tactics to get attention is a seriously pitiful admission of artistic bankruptcy.

22.

oldpro

July 25, 2005, 8:19 PM

These messages are for your thong, Jack, not your car. You can always keep it discreetly hidden.

23.

craigfrancis

July 25, 2005, 8:20 PM

hi all. sorry for my prolonged absense, but i have been checking things out here when i can without commenting, for which perhaps some of you are thankful.

Franklin, i know a whole lot about what went down with gordon laurin and the rooms and have written something about it on timothy comeau's goodreads.ca website. it's a very good example of how many of those in positions of power want to keep contemporary, underground practices from getting any kind of foothold in established institutions. you can also check out the cbc.ca site, and recent editions of the Globe and Mail. also, thank you for being such a well informed, concerned and curious person... this blog was the last place i expected to be reading about Laurin.

as for you matty... i can only guess you're from Toronto, and if you're not, then you should be duly insulted. if you don't know laurin or what went down, then you should keep your fucking mouth shut. what this blog, the art world, and indeed the entire world needs less of is idiotic windbags like you mouthing off about that which they know nothing. it's really fucking frustrating.

oh yeah, and i happen to be a NSCAD graduate, but your little shot about that school isn't even worth responding to.

peace out

24.

craigfrancis

July 25, 2005, 8:26 PM

no i changed my mind:

matty, saying laurin getting fired from the Rooms is a good thing based merely on the fact that he graduated from NSCAD twenty years ago is beyond stupid. i suggest reading to help you with your little problem.

(with apologies to franklin)

25.

oldpro

July 25, 2005, 8:58 PM

I haven't got a clue what this is all about, Craig, but i think what Matty said was "graduates of NSCAD suffer from institutionally imposed artistic confusion", which is certainly a negative characterization, but does not seem that extreme. Why the extreme reaction?

26.

Elizabeth

July 25, 2005, 9:46 PM

OldPro; anything coming from the east coast is looked down upon by canadians....but thats just my impression.

27.

Elizabeth

July 25, 2005, 10:02 PM

Franklin; NO MO PO MO is perfect..short and sweet and catchy, but only artists would 'get it'... and OldPro; I still cant get the image of a man in a thong out of my head thanks to you....be more careful of what u write here plz. ...(thinking of pretty flowers)

28.

ahab

July 25, 2005, 10:36 PM

So craigfrancis sent us to goodreads.ca to read his letter and the dirt on Laurin.

Regarding your comments to Matty, craigfrancis, it seems that the pot has just called the kettle black. Your thoughts about Wanda Mooney were at least as presumptuous. Like me writing off your opinion because you teach clown workshops.

Regarding the hearsay about Calgary's vibrant art that you cited in your second letter on the same page ( http://www.goodreads.ca/stjohns/ ), my own fairly-informed opinion is that art in Calgary suffers from the city's influx of cash rather than getting better because of it. Of course, the Alberta College of Art and Dollars is right in there with "controversial art pieces that really suck;" and the city's commercial galleries are thriving on "touristic kitsch." All throwing good money after bad.

Nice slight on Toronto, ever been there?

It's good for the rest of you flamingos to leave Miami every once in a while, eh?

29.

Elizabeth

July 25, 2005, 10:47 PM

Ahab; Torontos not east coast ..eh!

30.

ahab

July 25, 2005, 11:08 PM

re: Franklin's questions:

1. The mystery language may no longer be. I quite dislike the photomontages and installations on the page; but surprise myself by kinda liking the gold-plated shopping cart about halfway down the page. The round mirror-plinth under it doesn't help though.

2. I'm not really interested in the swag. Unless there were a non-white t-shirt with "IMAGINE ME WITHOUT A THONG" on it. I might wear that.

3. I'm not craigfrancis, but no I don't think he does.

4. So much expressing going around. With so many wannabes so preoccupied with expressing their personal agendas it's no wonder that the work really sucks - how good can the agenda of a wannabe be? And in the end, stuff that sucks isn't all that controversial. But the truly controversial art is still the so-called "abstract stuff [that] doesn't float [the cafeteria manager's] boat."

31.

ahab

July 25, 2005, 11:14 PM

Elizabeth, my TO comment was directed to craigfrancis' cut on Matty (which I thought you might have taken exception to): "as for you matty... i can only guess you're from Toronto, and if you're not, then you should be duly insulted" (#23).

32.

oldpro

July 25, 2005, 11:24 PM

Well, I guess we have the Canadian Branch of Artblog now, hashing out their grievances.
We are slowly becoming truly international. Now we need some disrorder south of the border.

Sorry to have saddled you with that indelible image, Elizabeth. It is all Franklin's fault for suggesting it in the first place, of course.

33.

craigfrancis

July 25, 2005, 11:29 PM

ahab: uh... what? listen... you can rest assured that i know much more about wanda mooney than matty knows about gordon laurin. after all, he said he didn't even know what the rooms was, or who Laurin is. at least I looked Mooney up before dismissing her. my teaching anything (clown workshops, art history, drawing, video editing) has nothing to do with it.

what makes your opinion on calgary "fairly informed"? i hope it's something more than that tepid attempt at criticality: Alberta College of Art and Dollars? try brian flynn, david diviney, mark clintberg, tim dallet, donna wazonick, peter fleming, donna akery, robin moody. those are some of the artists who are or have been in calgary recently with whom i've talked about what's happening there. so i guess i'm "fairly informed" as well, if proof of something is what your looking for.

but really, i didn't think my responding to Franklin's request for information about Laurin's firing would require my defending myself from such innane attacks. and yeah, i've lived in toronto, dude... and i actually quite love the city... so uh yeah i can still dislike toronto centric commentors who are probably really from scarborough anyway. can't i?

yikes.

OP: if a friend and colleague of yours was unjustly terminated from a job and you overheard some uninformed asshole saying it was probably not all bad anyway considering that he went to that (gasp!) conceptual school in the early 80s, you'd probably react extremely too. but point taken... i do fly off the handle occasionally.

oh, and with the likes of ahab and matty around, i can't believe i ever complained about you or jack. sorry.

34.

craigfrancis

July 25, 2005, 11:41 PM

ahab: AND furthermore, who are you to make ANY defense of wanda mooney anyway? you know NOTHING about what's happening here, and you know none of the parties invovled. jesus christ help me and preserve me, i'm almost sorry i responded in the first place.

35.

oldpro

July 26, 2005, 12:17 AM

Well, i am relieved that Ahab and Matty make me look like Mr Rodgers.

And anyone with the glorious name of Wanda Mooney certainly cannot be all bad.

36.

ahab

July 26, 2005, 12:27 AM

Of course you don't have to defend yourself, craigfrancis. You just have to defend your comments. Just the comments. Dude.

I apologize for bringing up Calgary when it wasn't on topic here at artblog.net. Admittedly, I didn't refrain from commenting on the page craigfrancis referred to (#23). And true, I got caught up in the sarcasm that was flying like fur in a one-cat fight - I thought it should fly both ways, I suppose.

It's just that Calgary hits so close to home. Ostensibly (though I prefer 'ironically'), the theme of the current Alberta Biennial of Contemporary Art is "Where is Art Going?" Two artists included in the spectacle, whose names are dropped by craigfrancis above, really are exemplars of the area's art scene.

David Diviney: http://www.edmontonartgallery.com/images/subimages/ABDiviney.jpg

Mark Clintberg: http://www.edmontonartgallery.com/images/subimages/ABClintberg.jpg

37.

craigfrancis

July 26, 2005, 12:44 AM

holy fuck! i can't believe it. you sure are a class act, ahab. i wonder if you'll ever drop your real name here, or is it too dangerous to go around slagging people if there's a chance you might get called on it in real life. i'd be more inclined to take you seriously, sweetie, if you actually had something coherent and critical to say that wasn't just trash talk. i'm not holding my fucking breath.

38.

ahab

July 26, 2005, 12:56 AM

I half-ass apologized for slagging you, craigfrancis. I'll bump that up to a full apology. Anonymously even.

I don't think I slagged anyone else, though. Did I? Where? If you're thinking of ACAD, they don't need me to scrape and bow.

39.

oldpro

July 26, 2005, 1:02 AM

Oh, man. Round #3 coming up.

What is "slagged"?

Craig, we discourage the "Use your real name, chicken shit" approach.

40.

Elizabeth

July 26, 2005, 1:07 AM

OP; to slag is to demean ...Im pretty sure...I think....um maybe...

41.

ahab

July 26, 2005, 1:08 AM

slag: to defame; to slander; to pour salt in a wound; to add insult to injury; to hurt one's feelings

42.

Elizabeth

July 26, 2005, 1:09 AM

I dont understand the fear of using real 1st names....even Franklins not afraid...hehe

43.

Elizabeth

July 26, 2005, 1:16 AM

unless ur a criminal or create some real bad art ...or both !!

44.

oldpro

July 26, 2005, 1:27 AM

Elizabeth - we went throught the whole anonymity question in detail a while ago (I should keep a record of these discussions, I guess). The idea is that a person should be invisible - as much as possible - so that discussion has as little to do with identity and as much a to do with what is said as possible. Anonymity is like a secret ballot; it allows a person to speak completely freely without any concern for real-world caution. It is part of blog culture and a very necessary one, in my opinion.

45.

Matty

July 26, 2005, 1:28 AM

Craigfrancis:
I can only guess you're a Republican, and if you're not, then you should be duly insulted.
Actually, I'll ignore craigfrancis's little tirade towards me here as the rantings of a humourless spastic for now, but since reading the piece he directed us to on goodreads.ca, I must admit, although I still don't know him very well, I've gone ahead and drawn the conclusion that he is also a hypocrite, and a bit of a scumbag as well. But, I'm probably bound to have many disagreements with the brilliant video-artist who came up with the 'seminal' masterwork, "I Think About You When I Masturbate" (I haven't seen it, but I'm sure it's Powerful)... considering how seriously craigfrancis takes himself, maybe I'll just call our debate a draw, and resist the urge to ridicule him further (crazy fucker's liable to challenge me to a duel, or some shit like that).

More importantly, thanks for asking Elizabeth, BC was lovely, with perfect weather for most of the week.

As for taglines:
NO MO PO MO is a winner for sure

How about...

POST-ANYTHING

READING ARTISTS' MINDS

THE LEFT BANK WITH THE RIGHT HOOK

ONLY ARTISTS WOULD GET IT(sorry Elizabeth, I stole that one)

IDIOTIC WINDBAGS LIKE YOU (sorry craigfrancis, I stole that one too)

or, my favorite, with apologies to Franklin,
YOU CAN HAVE CRAIGFRANCIS' HEAD
WHEN YOU PRY IT FROM HIS COLD, DEAD ASS.

46.

Matty

July 26, 2005, 1:33 AM

Fuck craigfrancis, you're out of control.
The thinly veiled homophobic taunt of 'sweetie' to ahab is almost too much. I think your mommie needs to get you into your NSCAD jammies, administer your ritalin, and put you to bed.
Maybe come back to the blog when you've come down from the glue.

47.

Elizabeth

July 26, 2005, 1:36 AM

canucks are supposed to be peacemakers.....well thats shot now...Im ducking for cover........

48.

ahab

July 26, 2005, 1:42 AM

I like POST-ANYTHING for an art blog byline. I still wouldn't want it on a shirt - I'd have to beat back the guys who post just any old thing on any old post.

49.

Matty

July 26, 2005, 1:47 AM

AHAB,
Nice job with the post of work from the AB biennial by Clintberg and Diviney... art certainly does speak for itself (and in these cases, a severe speech impediment is clearly involved)

More taglines...
Artblog.net:

MAKE ART, NOT WAR

MAKE FRANKLIN HAPPY

I think you might also want to consider using the popular graphic of Calvin Peeing, but instead of Ford or Chevy getting soaked, Duchamp's "Fountain" would be the obvious choice.

50.

Matty

July 26, 2005, 1:56 AM

Artblog.net

SITE FOR SORE EYES

AN EXERCISE IN PERSPECTIVE

10% INSPIRATION
90% MASTURBATION

That's all for now.

51.

Elizabeth

July 26, 2005, 1:57 AM

I just took a look at the AB Bienniel.......now all I could see is one example from each artist....so on that note; I say shoot me now or can someone shoot me back in time to the abstract expressionists??

52.

Elizabeth

July 26, 2005, 1:59 AM

ps excuse any spelling errors ...always happens when its late

53.

ahab

July 26, 2005, 2:02 AM

Or...MOSTMODERNISTS MAKE NONTEMPORARY ART BEST

54.

ahab

July 26, 2005, 2:10 AM

That's enough expressing-myself-abstractly for one day. But I look forward to the storm I forecast for tomorrow morning.

55.

George

July 26, 2005, 6:58 AM

Must be the heat...

Matty et al,
Craigfrancis has been regular commentor here. In my opinion he is a standup guy.
Some of his comments may appear controversial, primarily because he honestly speaks his mind and often looks at the opposite side of the coin.

Attack the topic, not the writer.ˇ

56.

Franklin

July 26, 2005, 7:26 AM

Ah! I see a doodoostorm rolled through during the night.

Eventually I'd like to see commenters get to the point where they can respond to out-and-out nastiness here by, yes, following the guidelines. Even I neglect to do this sometimes, but the best response to "Fuck you!" is "Thank you for sharing!" and to get back to the topic.

My interest in the situation at The Rooms has to do with my recent thoughts on regionalism. I was wondering if a local institution had resisted the international magazine style, but it seems equally likely that someone's provincial tastes got offended, and until someone deigns to comment to the public from either side of the dispute we can't know. Any thoughts?

57.

help me howard

July 26, 2005, 7:32 AM

Hurry (pause) hurry ahab (comma) get your six to eight slides and your C.V. together and turn it in before the first of next month arrives.

58.

lol

July 26, 2005, 8:34 AM

MOPOMOSOWHAT

59.

oldpro

July 26, 2005, 9:33 AM

Matty, George is right, we are encouraged to get mightily pissed off at one another but discouraged from personal characterization and name-calling. Anger needs to be confined to the subject at hand as much as possible.

I had an extended debate here a year ago with (I will say it now) a major league asshole who succeeded in making me feel truly murderous, but taking his arguments one by one, cracking them open and showing they were hollow was ever so much more satisfying and effective than calling him an asshole. He crawled away eventually and has not been back. (Too, bad; it was fun!).

60.

craigfrancis

July 26, 2005, 9:37 AM

wow. a republican, homophobe, and bad artist to boot.

pry my head from my ass... what? mommy tuck me in? challenge you to a duel?
are you fifteen?

i'm surprised (i suppose i shouldn't be) but throughout all of this shit that's been spewed by you both, neither has really addressed what i said in my post here. you've just attacked me and my art and my writing and the work of people i know with absolutely nothing to back up what you've said. that might be fine on a blog, boys, but it doesn't cut it in real life, which is maybe why you're here.

oh and i stand by my work and the work of clintberg and diviney, and that won't change until i hear an intelligent critique that convinces me it's bad.

thanks george for your kind words.

peace out ya'll. and please god let's change the fucking topic.

61.

Elizabeth

July 26, 2005, 10:11 AM

Ahab; re the comment on TO........its all good because everyone in canada is jealous of toronto......we have dealt with that for ages and so I just ignore.

62.

ahab

July 26, 2005, 10:16 AM

Well, craigfrancis, I haven't seen your "...Masturbation..." so I can't rightly give you an intelligent critique on it.

The only argument I read in all of your own rants is: "what went down with gordon laurin and the rooms [...] is a very good example of how many of those in positions of power want to keep contemporary, underground practices from getting any kind of foothold in established institutions" (#23, again). It was hard to find in the onslaught of your own "let's get personal" attacks, which I hadn't bothered to point out til now. But I won't make a list.

I will only speak for my region, not for one coast or the other, not the nation or continent, never mind the world. But the Clintberg and Diviney examples in the Alberta Biennial (#36, or check out the entire Biennial by tweaking the url), would seem to suggest to me that "contemporary, underground practices" of the kind you prefer are the only kind that have any value in established institutions.

Somehow, only "fun," "technological," "issue-related," "spectacle-like" and yes "controversial" art has a place in a "snapshot" of Alberta's artist's studios.

63.

ahab

July 26, 2005, 10:22 AM

Catch y'all on the flip-side of dinner. I'm off to my above-ground studio to work on some really not very contemporary art.

64.

ahab

July 26, 2005, 10:23 AM

It's left over from yesterday.

65.

Kathleen

July 26, 2005, 11:41 AM

Matty, you need to cool it.

Craigfrancis is good. Stop slagging. He and Oldpro used to have thier tiffs, and it could get ugly, but now they are like an old married couple (note to homophobes: this is not a backhanded insult, not even a reference to sexual preference in fact, just a type of human interaction, and besides, there is nothing insulting about gayness anyway). Oldpro throws his dirty socks in the urinal and there's not much which can be done to change his habits. I think it's eventually going to be like this with you guys; you can hurl filthy insults all day and night, but nobody's going to change thier mind, so let's just skip ahead a few chapters to the part where you've given up on the hope that insults are a valuable tool of transformation.

Besides, as one of the few participants who is keen on Contemporary art (hey I know it's a generalization, but I'm not game for a position statement right now), I need Craigfrancis to participate. Sometimes I imagine that I'm part of a team, and I think Craigfrancis is on it. I also want to pick George, and definitely Kriston, whenever he shows up. Alesh, too. Also, I think mek might have come around, but I'm not entirely sure. Hovig, though Hovig may be too much a bhodisattva; I mean, he's never called anyone dumb, to my knowledge. Oh, and if Bill ever comes back, he's so picked. And the Technological Hamster, wherever she is . . .

Back to reality. The US in the Toilet painting is so bad, probably the worst art ever considered at Artblog, so bad that I am going to cross over to the darkside and say categorically, that it is so bad it does not even count as art. That goes for the boots too.

Now, Craigfrancis and Ahab. Those two images, hm. I'm guessing that there is a component of the works which is not visible or apparent on the web. I can't say whether they are bad or good; I can't tell. The buckets work does remind me of Austin, TX, circa 1996, which is not necessarily the best thing to think of in 2005, but would not prove anything to the local Modernists, as they assert that artwork which makes one think of things does not necessarily equate good art. I assume that artwork which makes one think of things does not also necessarily equate bad art. Though for me, thinking about tattoo/auto-detailing-type flames never seems to take me anywhere worth thinking about. But that's just an observation, not a statement on the work, as I haven't seen it in person and can't therefore make a worthwhile assessment.

66.

jake

July 26, 2005, 11:42 AM

as for the language, my only guess is as good as everyone else's with the addition that it might be adapted to the english phonetic based keyboard, making it look weird

And now the product line-what's this about. reasons for this would be helpful in deciding it's "launch". Is it money?is it advertising/dissemination? or is it the publicity?

i would have to agree that the graphics at top are the cherry to the site. Truly good stuff, and in context. and this goes back to posting paintings.

Posting a painting, especially ones so rich in texture, and probably sensitive to size and viewing distance, is simply not in cointext-it was not made to be presented on a computer screen

these b/w strokes (i assume) were made for this space. It's funny, i was thinking about this yesterday. And they are quite effective here. clever, simple, and there is just something about the back of people's head (this is a whole theme right here). And, in context. (a link attached to these would be nice).

to take these and just put them on stuff, well, fine, do as you will,and these are great images. I like them, and the thought of them on t-shirts does seem quite appealing.

as for the tags-keep the printing simple and homebased and you wont have to choose, you can do em as you wish, and varied infinitely. If you are going for a clubhouse sameness, then i would suggest something like, public archives on private thoughts, or the like. Problem with a lot of the ones i read, i have read elsewhere,so might have authorship problems.

as for what happens with canada, hello-local? i mean, not that it does not matter to me, but it does not matter to me. It might matter to me, since canada is very high on my lists of would like to live there a bit, but, this is way too rumorish

and why does stuff that suck get the limelight? well, consider the audience. I know this is going to come off terribly, but it is a virtue of the very situation i will describe.

you like what you can identify with-and i think most of us agree that art appreciation en masse is not well educated, founded, or generally even allowed to reject(emperors clothes), so what we get , got there through mechanisms other than merit.

67.

Kathleen

July 26, 2005, 11:50 AM

I just realized that I called the trash cans buckets. Here is the reason: we have one such item in our house, and we use it to store our daughter's stuffed animals, as she has a HUGE amount of stuffed animals. Therefore, we are careful to call said container a bucket, lest we inflict trauma upon her deveoping mind.

It may have affected my interpretation of the work.

68.

Kathleen

July 26, 2005, 11:53 AM

That's developing. My keyboard is whimsical in its production of letters, having suffered from one too many a beating by small hands.

69.

Kriston

July 26, 2005, 11:55 AM

Well, it's always nice to be picked before last. I'm better at commenting than kickball, it would appear.

70.

tom

July 26, 2005, 12:45 PM

franklin... if you do decide to do shirts, one of my former students with a studio/warehouse in little haiti does screen printing

71.

oldpro

July 26, 2005, 12:59 PM

Kathleen, calling Craig and me an old married couple, even figuratively, is too much of a stretch. I have no use for the way he has been conducting this battle with his compatriots any more than I have for theirs. And anyone who can be talked out of an honest gut reaction to a work of art by an "intelligent critique" gets no respect from me.

I do not, also even figuratively, "throw my dirty socks in the Urinal". That is an inept image. My dirty socks go into the washing machine. The Urinal gets only my contempt.

72.

oldpro

July 26, 2005, 1:18 PM

The Alberta Biennial can be seen (very insufrficiently) at edmontonartgallery.com.

From what i could make out it is pure academic arttrend, as cold and dry and derivative as it gets, and not very good at that. I like Clay Ellis's work but I could get no idea of the work from the photograph. One sculptor - Wade? - had a brightly colored geometric piece that seemed like a good try.

Another bone to pick, Kathleen. Please do not characterize yourself as being one of the few on this blog who "like contemporary art". We all like contemporary art. It's just that some of us wish it was better.

73.

Elizabeth

July 26, 2005, 1:47 PM

OldPro ; Im on your team rah rah rah.....is Kathleen puking yet??
and yes that coloured sculpture was an attempt that didnt quite make it and the rest........BORING.

74.

Hovig

July 26, 2005, 2:01 PM

Kathleen - You totally made my day. Blessings upon you, I guess. (PS: It's all about control. Once you realize you can't have it, you stop trying to acquire it.)

Oldpro - You missed Jon Stewart at the end of the "let's look at this like abstract expressionsts" video, showing a Jackson Pollock work on the screen (above his shoulder like a newscaster), but speaking a reference to De Kooning. Having just finished the new de Kooning bio (which I much enjoyed), I thought Stewart's flub was funnier than anything which preceded.

Matty - Calvin with Fountain would be very cute. "Nomo Pomo" could be the defiant caption. (Confused tourists could be told it was an irreverent ad campaign for a new premium species of imported hybrid Japanese-Italian apples; tho we might want to avoid wearing the shirt in Northern California).

Franklin - Maybe you could produce a "limited edition" T-shirt with a custom drawing on it, a new drawing every year.

75.

oldpro

July 26, 2005, 2:32 PM

I think I missed a lot in that video, Hovig, but from what littlel know about Stewart I wouldn"t be surprised if the flub was deliberate.

76.

Franklin

July 26, 2005, 2:39 PM

No flub, Hovig. He says that "we're doing very well, paving the way for DeKooning." That's a fair remark about the Pollock drip pieces.

77.

Kathleen

July 26, 2005, 2:48 PM

OP, you're just irascible!

You and Craigfrancis have made a peace of a sort, even if it is like the Lockhorns. As have you and I, for example. You tell me not to make assumptions about you, I tell you not to use me in your schtick, etc. I wouldn't say we like each other, or agree, but there is an acceptance. Kindof. At least it's not a flame war.

And, I said I was generalizing about the contemporary art bit! I thought you were tired of statements of position!

The artblog faction likes "good" art, especially abex and modernist, with a strong emphasis on European and American art (traditional Asian too), unless it involves urinals, and dislikes most art having to do with video, scupture, concept over image, sound (probably), or art by women (as a matter of consequence due to primary interests). The rest of us simply like art, and don't have so many rules.

Was that a better generalization? I'm sure it wasn't.

Awaiting your ire.

78.

catfish

July 26, 2005, 2:58 PM

Kathleen, the "artblog faction" does not have ANY rules. It does have demanding, take-no-prisoners taste. There is a big difference between rules and taste. Rules can be charitable and kind, taste cannot.

79.

Franklin

July 26, 2005, 3:24 PM

...dislikes most art having to do with video, scupture, concept over image, sound (probably), or art by women (as a matter of consequence due to primary interests).

This grates on me personally, but as Wendell Berry sagely pointed out, no defense of one's personal life is possible. I have learned from this blog, unfortunately, that anyone sufficiently determined to label you as a sexist will not let a lack of supporting evidence or a surfeit of contrary evidence stop them.

I will make one correction, though: the good art that I like is good, without scare quotes.

80.

oldpro

July 26, 2005, 3:30 PM

The "Artblog faction" is just as critical of AbEx and Modernist art as it is of anything else, as for example the Serra discussion recently. However AbEx and modernist work is pretty much sorted out by now, so we are not pelted with all sorts of bad examples to talk about. This is not the case with the other species of art you mention; they are indeed contemporary, and it is what we talk about, and most of it is bad more or less by default, just as was the case with AbEx and Modernist work when it was popular. Please make yourself aware of the salient facts of a situation before you generalize.

As for not liking "art by women" - whatever "as a matter of consequence due to primary interests" means - that is just indefensible.

81.

ms quoted

July 26, 2005, 3:53 PM

I would buy a OLD PRO'S FAN CLUB tanktop.

82.

Jerome du Bois

July 26, 2005, 4:28 PM

Franklin:

About #4: Does it suck because of content or technique? How about a toilet made by Robert Gober and a beaded flag made by Liza Lou and her crew? I know I'm paranoid, but isn't this at least the third time you have pointed to anti-Bush or anti-American art while waving your hands about another subject? It's not about politics, it's about art, dammit! Uh-huh.

Oh, I have a slogan for your t-shirt: I WAS THERE WHEN FRANKLIN JUMPED THE SHARK.

Really, man: swag? Val Prieto's got swag, too, but it's about Cuban freedom. What's yours about? The kitties are kute, but they're kitsch.

JdB

83.

Hovig

July 26, 2005, 4:54 PM

... to be illustrated by Franklin leaping over a Damien Hirst work....

84.

Franklin

July 26, 2005, 6:03 PM

Hovig, thank you.

Jerome: Both. The technique is miserable, and the content is a one-liner. Anyone can throw a tantrum. I'm not sure where you're going with the Gober/Liza Lou thing.

Since you ask, this is the second time I've pointed out some anti-American art. The first was accompanied by humor at the artist's expense, the second by derision. Today I posted about some pro-American art, accompanied by praise. You're welcome to make of it what you will.

85.

George

July 26, 2005, 6:18 PM

Jerome, you need to chat? Why don't you open up the comments on your blog? I'm sure you will have many interesting discussions.

86.

Kathleen

July 26, 2005, 6:55 PM

I probably should have diagrammed that sentence. I assumed that the word "most" would also stick to the "art by women", so that I wouldn't be accusing the faction of not liking all art by women, as I know that it is not true.

I meant that by having interests primarily rooted in abex and modernism, one would by default not be able to like most art by women, as the opportunity was slim compared to the number of women who are professional artists today.

Let's see. Lee Krasner, Susan Rothenburg, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Agnes Martin, Diane Arbus, Louise Nevelson, Georgia O'Keeffe, Bridget Riley, Anne Truitt, Nancy Kienholz (not Ed), Lee Bontecou, Alice Neel, Eva Hesse, Elizabet Ney, Tamara de Lempicka, Tina Modotti, Dorothea Tanning, Sonia Delaunay, Kathe Kollewitz, Imogen Cunningham, Frida Khalo, um, Camille Claudel, Mary Cassat, more somebody? I know I don't know them all . . . (and that list is a mishmash of styles spanning a huge chunk of time--also, this is using OP's expansive definition of modernism).

Merit Oppenheim, Remedios Varo, and Leonora Carrington are more surrealist . . .

Do Charlotte Moorman and Carolee Schneemann count as a Modernist or Postmodernist ? What about the feminist women artist/activists of the seventies like Judy Chicago, Eleanor Antin, Rebecca Horn, Hannah Wilke? Modernist, postmodernist, contemporary?

Versus women who are contemporary sculptors, video artists, sound artists (also photographers, performance artists, and painters) . . . . Joan Jonas, Janet Cardiff, Racheal Whitread, Ann Hamilton, Vanessa Beecroft, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, Kiki Smith, Ana Mendieta, Anne Chu (hey, you like her!), Elizabeth Peyton (hey, you don't like her!), Laura Owens (hey, you don't like her!), Marlene Dumas (hey, you don't like her either!), Kara Walker, Wangechi Mutu (hey, you didn't go to her opening!), Yayoi Kusama (hey, you don't like her!), Yoko Ono, Mariko Mori, Vija Clemens, Reineke Dijkstra, Meredith Monk, Barbara Kruger, Jenny Holzer (a soft spot!), Bettye and Alison Saar, Traci Emin, Marina Abramovic, Orlan, Louise Bourgeois, Judy Pfaff, Janine Antoni, Laurie Anderson, Nancy Rubins, Mary Ellen Mark, Annette Messager, Dara Birnbaum, Adrian Piper, Sophie Calle, Linda Montano, Annie Sprinkle, Jeanne-Claude, Sherrie Levine, Coosie van Bruggen, Magdalena Abakanowitz . . . . and these are just some of the bigger names. Maybe not Wangechi Mutu, but she is locally topical.

I know that what I called "the faction" doesn't stick cleanly to the modernist equlas good art equation. The problem is that the faction does stick to the pomo equals bad art equation. And part of that problem is that not everything you think is pomo is post-modern.

Look, what I wrote was a tongue-in-cheek generalization, and I knew it. I thought you guys would too.

And as for calling someone sexist, I'm not afraid to do that outright, so don't get your thongs in a twist prematurely.

87.

oldpro

July 26, 2005, 7:08 PM

i think what you said was less tongue-in-cheek than foot-in--mouth, Kathleen. If you are going to call me sexist you better damn well have a better reason that finding some female artists I don't like. That is just stupid.

So is making lists. I don't like the work of most of those you listed, male, female, modernist, postmodernist, whatever, and it is only because I don't like the work, nothing else, nothing to do with age, sex, styles, color, religion - nothing. If I don't like the work none of it matters. If I do like the work none of it matters.

You are the one who brought up categories, you are the one thinking in categories and you are doing your damndest to pin categories on me.

No thanks.

88.

George

July 26, 2005, 7:09 PM

You missed Elizabeth Murray one of the better post 60 painters regardless of gender. >

89.

Kathleen

July 26, 2005, 8:28 PM

SIgh.

I haven't called you sexist.

But your indignant insistence that I have sure is something.

90.

oldpro

July 26, 2005, 8:54 PM

The dots represent a lot of missing words, I know, but the long sentence does boil down to:

"The artblog faction...dislikes most art ... by women."

That is sexist, and it is directed in part at me, unless perchance I am not one of the "artblog faction".

Sigh.

91.

Matty

July 26, 2005, 9:06 PM

Humourless art-bastards,
I've come to learn that there are many would-be sharp-tongued devils out there who can dish it out but can't tak it when it comes back at them, and many otherwise literate people who still have difiiculty in reading as closely as they should. Thanks again for the reminder.
My initial tongue-in-cheek slag of NSCAD (I mean, what's the fun of getting divided up into factions if you can have rivalries?) at least was qualified by words like "I SUSPECT..." and "MIGHT not be..." Hardly enough to earn the carpet F-bombing I've endured. Whatever. I'll let it drop.
Treading carefully in this Rooms debate, and speaking in general terms, and from my experience, Canadian 'Provincial Museums' seldom see "fine art' in their mandate, and tend to focus on natural and social history (showing art is for public 'Galleries'). These museums tend to be run by well-meaning ornithologists who, while vaguely understanding the value of 'culture', they personally find that, as far as art goes, pretty much everything after Impressionism leaves them cold... this goes doubly for the 'cutting-edge' stuff that fills the contemporary art mags. (craigfrancis, this is about the only olive branch I can offer you).
Folks in the "artblog faction" don't want these guys in charge of exhibiting contemporary art any more than you folks in the craigfrancis faction ("The Anti-artblog faction, the post-artblog faction... ah, you guys are the ones who like labels so much, you can name your faction).

92.

Matty

July 26, 2005, 9:15 PM

Re: Ms. Quoted post #81
I would buy a OLD PRO'S FAN CLUB tanktop.
Would you settle for a satin Jacket?

More taglines:

CLEM 3:16

IT'S REALLY FUCKING FRUSTRATING

WHEN WE'RE NOT MAKING ART, WE'RE MAKING ENEMIES

NOTHING IF NOT CRITICAL (with apologies to Shakespeare, by way of Robert Hughes)

WAKE UP

GREAT ART SPEAKS FOR ITSELF... FOR THE REST, THERE'S ARTBLOG

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU LOOKING AT
(this one'd be great on a t-shirt)

93.

Matty

July 26, 2005, 9:18 PM

It only sounds sexist, oldpro, because she forgot to also mention that the 'artblog faction' dislikes most art made by men too.

94.

Elizabeth

July 26, 2005, 9:47 PM

Matty and OldPro; it seems 'we' are a faction...now all we need is a name that doesnt suck like most of the art thats out there.
and yes ..its not rocket science to understand Oldpro's very articulate comments; "so is making lists. I dont like the work of most of those you listed ..etc etc...If I dont like the work none of it matters. If I do like the work none of it matters."
why cant you see that your just trying to justify bad art by saying we dont understand or are closeminded...I would say quite the opposite ...we SEE the crap for what it is and are not afraid to say that great art or even good art doesnt need to be explained away with bullshit art talk. IT JUST IS GOOD ART AND NEEDS NO DEFENSE. AND IF ITS CRAP ITS CRAP!! JUST SAY IT!!

95.

George

July 26, 2005, 9:47 PM

It's the heat... How about belly paintings ??

96.

Matty

July 26, 2005, 9:57 PM

It's pretty cool where I am, but yep, I'd say the heat is getting to some people out there...

97.

Matty

July 26, 2005, 10:02 PM

I for one don't share the dislike of sculpture so supposedly characteristic of the 'artblog faction'... even if the sculptor happens to 'suffer' from testicular deficiency.
Anyone like Deborah Buttefield's work?

98.

Elizabeth

July 26, 2005, 10:18 PM

I like sculpture very much Matty ..its just a matter of whats good or not...sadly alot isnt worth anyones time. Its a matter of taste and having a good eye....you must know what I mean .......lets forget about the politics of art here (especially in canada) and just start by saying that most of whats out there is crap crap crap....I wish it wasnt but it is.
I still love that blue sculpture u did....reminds me of david smith, another favorite of mine for along time...ur work has a real playfulness to it. But that blue really gives it an extra overall visual kick...kindof like the zips.

99.

Kathleen

July 26, 2005, 10:48 PM

OP, I already told you that that was an enormous, tongue-in-cheek generalization! It was meant to be farcical humor.

Effing eff eff!

I even prefaced the thing by saying this: "You tell me not to make assumptions about you".

I made the list on my following comment to see, by that point, how the "art by women (as a matter of consequence due to primary interests)" generalization panned out. I thought it was interesting! There were a lot more women artists in the abex/modernist category than are generally recalled by the public memory (um, mine in the early evening, before a cup of tea). What is lame about the list comment is that the "hey, you don't like x" interjections seem to point to Franklin, and I didn't mean that. I was thinking "y'all" and writing "you" while defaulting to Franklin's opinions because they were a little more positive than some others.

"The faction" was a part of the generalization as well, one which seemed to fall apart because of lazy quotation habits. And also probably because I talked of a team feeling today, for the first time, even though others routinely "swing for the fences".

And the category thing? I'm not the one with all the pomo/modernist slogans.

Franklin, I didn't call you sexist either; I really thought you would see through that. I feel pretty bad that you took it so hard, but I can't apologize for something I didn't do. I am sorry, however, that you felt I personally attacked you. That was not my intent.

OP, I (ughghghg) am sorry (choking sound) that you felt insulted by me as well.

100.

ahab

July 26, 2005, 11:00 PM

I don't think the blue (colour or texture) is as good in real life as in the photo. Matty will know what I mean. Don't get suckered on the photo, Elizabeth. It is sculpture after all; and as poorly as a painting is reproduced on a computer screen, a decent sculpture is misrepresented to the power of 3. It's like expecting the picture of the inside of a car to give you an accurate feel of what it's like to sit in.

However, the Clintberg/Diviney things were fully represented by the web-images of them. There was nothing to look at that Kathleen couldn't see on her computer, but plenty to infer and type on about. Clintberg's is a constructed wooden stage with "Love Empire" stenciled on the upright and a mic with two speakers wired up for the spectator to get involved and declare his/er love. The adverb that applies to every verb in that sentence is 'crudely.' Oh, sorry, there was something you couldn't see under the stage - a crawl space and a sleeping bag for consumating said love. You see how much better it gets? Now that you know? How much 'cruder' it all is.

As an aside, why do all the video installations have to have such brutal wiring setups with orange extension cables hanging down the wall and duct-taped to the floor and with powerbars sitting in the open. And how come they're so plagued by glitches and are off, or don't work consistently. So technologically interesting, to see the intestines of the project all open for inspection, I guess. Like those new hotrod computers with their transparent cases flashing neon.

101.

Jack

July 26, 2005, 11:15 PM

Matty (#97), there is no bias or prejudice of any kind against scuplture here. That would be absurd and indefensible. However, if some cheesy Damien Hirst number is brought up, some of us will sneer at it, and if Richard Serra is discussed, some of us will decline to kneel with bowed heads in awed reverence. That's all.

102.

Franklin

July 26, 2005, 11:29 PM

Apology accepted, Kathleen.

Ahab, I'm glad I wasn't drinking anything when I read CLEM 3:16; that was freaking hilarious. I think we have a winner with WHEN WE'RE NOT MAKING ART, WE'RE MAKING ENEMIES.

WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU LOOKING AT is the new tagline.

103.

oldpro

July 26, 2005, 11:50 PM

OK, Kathleen, no problem. Perhaps I am irascible.

Matty, I like sculpture fine. I like yours. I just think Serra is overblown.
Some of your artblog slogans are excellent.

Ahab, I have made the same observation about gadgety art. It's as if they have to express contempt for "technical" and "craft" and "looking good", mundane things that pale beside the cosmic significance of the art.

104.

Elizabeth

July 26, 2005, 11:54 PM

Ahab; thanks, but I still like the blue and im not privy to the inside reasons u and Matty know about the colour......I'd like to think that I know what I like , lines colour composition etc, of course its not like standing in front of it...but Im not going out west anytime soon to have the pleasure of doing just that...I agree ...all paintings and sculptures lose when photograhed for the most part...I just think that after this many years of being in the game I know what I like and have a somewhat trained eye...as u do.

105.

Elizabeth

July 27, 2005, 12:01 AM

Ahab ; this is another example of the emperors new clothes, wires and orange cables = something really really realllyyyy important is happening and if u dont believe ..well just look at how many wires and cables and my goodness how complicated they are, so they must have deep meaning .

106.

ahab

July 27, 2005, 12:40 AM

Righto, Elizabeth. Wasn't trying to train your eye for you. Just spewing thoughts I think, which nearly no one else in my real world cares to know about.

Thinking about Kathleen's comment in #86: "...not everything you think is pomo is post-modern." I'm wondering what you mean. And I'm not "coming in hot." I've been wondering, what other possibilities there are for conceptually-based art, if any.

And I hear your criticism of the categorical slogans, Kathleen. It's just so hard being a non-entity, with no heading under which to explain oneself by.

107.

Elizabeth

July 27, 2005, 12:49 AM

Ahab; no worries.......plz describe your work or show examples if possible

108.

ahab

July 27, 2005, 12:50 AM

Matty, I like Deborah Butterworth's sculpture, but only one at a time. One horse at a time otherwise I get overloaded. I do like the one on Jasper, so much better than Fafard's.

109.

Elizabeth

July 27, 2005, 12:55 AM

Ahab; what do u mean by possibilities? new directions? new catagory?

110.

ahab

July 27, 2005, 1:39 AM

I have tons of photos on my computer, but am not equipped to put them on the web. Besides, I'm verging on fanaticism about the re-presentation of my sculpture in photos, never mind dodgy digital dotted screens. Either my work isn't very photogenic, or I don't take very good photos. But good in person, I like to believe. Though if you do a little sleuthing you can find me on the web.

About K's pomo that isn't pomo...I don't know. I am not any less contemporary in my art-making than any ideas-first-thank-you! artist. I am not ignorant of what it is they are doing. I'm not always sure they know that their message isn't embodied in their work the way they think it is. But when they steal names for things away from me, like 'installation,' and make it mean something other than what I do - creating and installing sculptures, as though no one had ever before thought to place their work carefully, and with regard to the site or the viewer - then I get indignant. It's enough to make me want to steal the word 'art' away from them and see how they like a little of the same. And they don't like it very much, they get very mad and call me names, very bad names.

So 'Modernism' to me means a whole particular way of approaching art - aesthetically. And I believe there is an experience which 'aesthetic' hints at but which no one is able to pinpoint very accurately, except when two people say "Yeah, I so totally know what you mean." But 'Modernism' to these others carries only negative implications which they spit vehemently any time the word comes up. I understand their critiques of 'Modernism.' But I fail to see a better-resolved option.

I sometimes think I'm more pomo than any of them because I am so free from convention that I can even make use of quality as a principle, even though (because?) it is as deconstructed as it is. But they can't breathe without their novel thoughts - hardly as free as they're all screaming to be. They won't even allow their idea-generating frenzy to be considered qualitatively since they've got 'objective' and 'subjective' all confused with each other.

What is there to reconcile us? If not quality, what? I thought Kathleen might have been hinting at something.

Effing eff, these lonely posts get long. Sorry y'all.

111.

Kathleen

July 27, 2005, 2:14 AM

OP and F, thanks.

Ahab, the Clintberg work sounds more interesting to me after your comments. Do you happen to know if anyone did declare or otherwise act upon their love at that exhibiton? The weakest part may be the painted text. Otherwise, it is kicking a very rocknroll, Vito Acconci x Rirkrit Tiravanija thing.

I've made some work crudely before, and suffered for it, but it didn't stop me from feeling that the work needed to remain crudely made. And I had a good craft training, to boot.

I looked at all the photos of the works in the bienial link, and thought that some of the video art seemed interesting, though without actually seeing the video, who can know? What I did like about the works as a whole is that they seemed different than Here. There's one for Regionalism.

On Matty's sloganeering: I liked WHEN WE'RE NOT MAKING ART WE'RE MAKING ENEMIES, but I also really like HUMOURLESS ART-BASTARDS. That's the stuff I'd wear.

On "jumping the shark": I had to look that expression up. I had no idea what it meant. For anyone else who doesn't, it has to do with the point at which the TV show "Happy Days" headed on the decline, precisely being the show in which Fonzie waterski-jumped over a shark in a tank. Franklin. You have just been compared to Fonzie. That is the best image of the day(s). That times Hovig's suggestion that you are jumping over Damien Hirst's work is awesome. The power.

Not to avoid the political: if somebody wants to make bad art criticizing the President, that's their right to do so. Ditto making bad art in support of the President. I can't get over how bad that "US in the Toilet" art is. I don't think that lawyer even took the time to attend painting class at Pearl Art. He didn't even go for the "crude technique is integral to the work" approach that I mentioned being a fan of above. I'm not one to cry crap, not me, but dude. I wish someone would hook him up with Robert Gober and Liza Lou's numbers. At least cop a urinal. Come on.

On Elizabeth Murray: beauty painting; not my style, eh.

On Deborah Butterfield: I've seen her work in person a few times and I feel nothing. I think of Susan Rothenberg. The latter's horses move me more, but I am in favor of women doing large-scale sculpture.

On video art wiring: why pretend that you are in Sound Advice or DisneyWorld? Why cloak the cables? Everyone knows the cables are there. Cables are very modern, thoroughly woven into our lives. I like a nice, snakey line of cable.

Coda: were I to actually call anyone sexist, I would be unambiguous about it and I would not feel sorry about any hurt feelings.

Un-Coda: Ahab. Effing eff! I thought I had my long post/nightynight all tucked in, but then I refreshed during preview, and . . . eep!

About pomo not being post-modern: well, here's this. I don't know anyone who considers themselves a post-modern artist. I think of it as a specific movement which is over. Most people I know do too. Most people I know who use the term PoMo speak as if the movement isn't over. And that is confusing.

I don't suspect that anyone actually stole "installation" from you. It's likely still been yours. It is a wonderful word, which always has had lovely connotations. It just also happens to be a term which is very useful in describing sculpture which does not look like horses to the general public. It is extraordinarily handy in describing sculpture which requires a high degree of activation on the part of the viewer. Viewers can be lazy fools, neglecting to think of a work in relation to their body, especially if the work looks like a horse, or a head, or a whatnot gizmo.

Also, I don't crack on Modernism. I don't revile it. It used to be my favorite period, back in high-school. I was Queen Eliot. It has its drawbacks, as does pop, postmodernism and baroque, among others. From this side of the fence it looks like all the modernists are cracking on me and my pals. So, the way I see it, it's probably all an enormous miscommunication, where the teams have been picked, and the players think it's skins vs shirts or thongs vs hats or whatever, but in reality its skins vs shirts vs thongs vs hats, AND skins and thongs vs shirts and hats AND skins and hats and thongs vs shirts, AND skins and shirts vs thongs and hats, AND EVEN skins and artichokes vs shirts and pies vs thongs and pasta vs hats and ribs, which makes the teams all moot, because we're all playing together anyway.

112.

alesh

July 27, 2005, 4:41 AM

Ahab~ I think the term 'installation' has two very distinct meanings; in one sense, any art that is on display is 'installed.' But the term 'installation art' refers to something distinguished from 'sculpture.' I'm not quite sure exactly where the line is drawn, but it's a a line worth drawing.

My favorite t-shirt line (Matty's): MAKE FRANKLIN HAPPY.

Thanks for the info on "jumping the shark", Kathleen. I read past that with nary a thought, not realizing i was being subjected to a very special combination reference. wow.

One more night of A/C-less insomnia. Gar!

113.

Franklin

July 27, 2005, 4:45 AM

Credits for cleverness in #92 wrongly attributed to Ahab in #102 - they were meant for Matty. Nice work, Matty.

114.

George

July 27, 2005, 6:03 AM

Better photos of the Alberta Bennial can be found here

115.

George

July 27, 2005, 6:16 AM

And...here

116.

George

July 27, 2005, 7:36 AM

It seems to me that all this ping pong action between POMO and MOD is a sure sign something is drawing to a close, for what it's worth I think 911 did it. I would also associate the current Alberta Biennial with a similar feeling. No doubt the curators wanted to be on the cutting edge but somehow I came away with that second, maybe third generation feeling. Everything felt derivative in the sense that the groundwork for the apparent "radicalness" was well established by other artists in the past twenty years. Radical just slid into the realm of the comfortably familiar, blunting its sharp edge with dulling references. Kathleen mentioned something regarding video art wiring, that cables are very modern. Well yes, but as a case in point, this is another mannerist solution drawn from a Crate and Barrel list of art tricks.

Same goes for critical think...

"Works that share a provocative look at the built environment. They ask the viewer to reconsider their relationship to the world around them…While diverse in their approaches, their work builds relationships between nature and culture, and proposes that our assumptions about both may not be so straightforward…Reflecting on spectacle, entertainment, the media, and popular culture they delineate alternative ways to negotiate our information-saturated visual culture."

Uh huh, uh huh, uh huh.

And "..It could be argued that art has become a wing of the entertainment industry"


Segway, for a T shirt or hat slogan:

Oh No

Don't get stuck in somebody else's rut.

I don't wanna be on a team.

117.

oldpro

July 27, 2005, 8:52 AM

Whenever the big terms like modernism and postmodernism get thrown about in confusion, has they have on this page, it helps one's state of mind to remember that art works come one at a time and they are there to be enjoyed or not. I think it is fun and interesting to yak about art, but this experience is the root and source, and just referring back to this fact can be soothing amid the chaos of chatter.

I haven't had time to think about "tag lines" (what is a "tag line", exactly?) but these popped into my head when I woke up:

ARTBLOG: HOME OF POMOPHOBIA

ARTBLOG.NET - THE SEEING-EYE BLOG

And, apropo of nothing at all, but there it was:

WITH A THONG IN MY HEART

118.

Cat

July 27, 2005, 10:18 AM

Umbrellas or parasols are also a useful option for South Florida.
MAKE ART, NOT WAR will be a good slogan after the draft is reinstated.
Put it on the back burner.

119.

Hovig

July 27, 2005, 11:04 AM

Matty - I love Butterfield's work. MFA Houston just got one, and I spent a long time looking, trying really hard not to touch. (I don't know if it's a loan or an acquisition, but I hope it stays on display a long time. MFAH shows a Susan Rothenberg horse or two from time to time as well, so seeing the Butterfield there was a nice surprise).

If we're talking about female sculptors, I'd mention Bontecou too. Before anyone swears at me, I first saw her work just before her popular resurgence last year, so I was perplexed as to why I'd never heard of this artist, since I thought the piece was so interesting. People see violent sexual overtones in her gaping wall works, but frankly my first thought was more like Buck Rogers. (Sorry, Lee, wherever you are). Maybe I'd have made that connection if it'd been displayed nearer a De Kooning Woman, dunno.

Does Judith Schaechter count as a sculptor? Probably not. But I mustn't forget Maman. I don't care much for Bourgeois's soft sculptures, but I do like her metal work, even if I resist worrying too much about the psychological overtones. I like what I've seen of Eva Hesse's work too, even if it's only been mostly archival photos.

120.

ahab

July 27, 2005, 11:22 AM

I appreciate your response Kathleen, except for telling me that if I espouse Modernism I am still hormone-addled ("It used to be my favorite period, back in high-school."). I recognize that I am using worn-out cliche'd terminology to try to come to 'terms' with my immediate Now. I don't think I'm stuck on them, necessarily; and I don't think any of them stick to me. But since this is a place for bandying words so I thought I would try to hash them out. So we're doomed to call this period the "Contemporary" period for all time - in 50 years it will have been "Contemporism." Contemporize: to make contemporary.

Terms are the first thing that get overhauled when a new topic in a given scientific field is being studied. Why not the same careful word-smithing in art history? Why must all the verbalizations be so muddy? Rhetorical, but not closed to comment.

But "installation" is mine, mine you hear me. And how could you know my own work is quite crude.

I do continue to make the work in order to let the studio activity allow me to come to some intuitive, sometimes emotive, resolution of the still-kicking conflict between things modern and things contemporary.

“Art is a matter strictly of experience, not of principles, and what counts first and last in art is quality; all other things are secondary.” Clem3:16 (Clement Greenberg via BK)

To the studio then...

121.

Jack

July 27, 2005, 12:30 PM

“Art is a matter strictly of experience, not of principles, and what counts first and last in art is quality; all other things are secondary.”

Yes. However, it may be better to say that "other things may also be very important, but they only matter if the quality of the work as such, as art, is sufficiently high."

122.

oldpro

July 27, 2005, 12:33 PM

I guess at this point in the life of the blog one gets what is usually mislabelled "deja vu".

First I told Elizabeth that the anonymity question had been hashed out here long ago, then I see a mention of Lee Bontecou, whi was discussed at length some time ago, and now the Clem quote, which I think I posted verbatim way back when.

Butterfield has always left me cold (because I don't like sculpture, horses, and art by women, obviously)

Ahab, the reason there is sloppy verbalization in art writing is because precision and clarity are outdated European white male hegemonic hierarchical colonialist Fascist concepts, and should never be mentioned in any progressive academic context.

123.

Matty

July 27, 2005, 2:15 PM

I was kidding about the "dislike of sculpture so supposedly characteristic of the 'artblog faction'"... considering that there are at least two of us on here who are sculptors, and considering some of the best "modern art" has been sculpture, I thought it was the strangest of Kathleen's characterizations in her post #77(although now that I look back on it, she actually mentioned "scupture", which may be a new art form I'm not aware of.

Elizabeth, I'm glad you haven't let Ahab talk you out of liking the blue...

Ahab, I agree... you are " verging on fanaticism "... it doesn't quite seem fair to say that art you don't like (and that I don't like either, by the way... the painted text is the STRONGEST part of that stage-piece) is "fully represented by the web-images of them", but sculpture you do appreciate is "misrepresented to the power of 3". I think it'd be more fair to say that reproductions, especially little glowing ones on your monitor, invariably are a reductions of the original work.
I'd go along with Elizabeth's "after this many years of being in the game I know what I like and have a somewhat trained eye"... sure, I'd never base a wholehearted critique on something I've only seen reproduced, but if photos are useful enough for me to say that the Clintberg piece (despite the fact that it also has a smoke machine which emits a purple haze, and that the plywood used in its construction is produced from trees only found on the Galapagos Islands) blows, then surely I can, at least provisionally judge good works through photos as well.
(how's that for shirt vs. shirts!)

I like the Butterfield sculpture that Ahab refers to as well, but haven't seen other works in the flesh, so I've developed the suspicion that she might be a one-trick-pony (or, maybe her career is a many-pony-trick?)

Kathleen, Glad you picked out HUMOURLESS ART BASTARDS... there're a ton of great inadvertant slogans hidden in these posts, I'm sure. I kinda like I AM IN FAVOUR OF WOMEN DOING LARGE SCALE SCULPTURE (But maybe that's just because I have so much large scale sculpture lying around)

On video art wiring: why pretend that you are in Sound Advice or DisneyWorld? Why cloak the cables? Everyone knows the cables are there. Cables are very modern, thoroughly woven into our lives. I like a nice, snakey line of cable.
Wow Kathleen, I think this is the first time I've ever seen a modernist, 'truth to materials', aesthetic argument in favor of video art. Nice going!

I'm with Ahab on the "installation" question... ersatz 'installations' are no more installed than any other art form you might find in a gallery... the distinction remains soley one of quality. Same goes for performance art: musicians, dancers, actors are all performance artists, but ersatz 'performance artists" are simply those people who do those same things, but don't do them well enough to get into a band, or a theatre or dance troupe, so they take their 'act' to the galleries instead where 'standards' have been thrown out (thank god) in favour of plurality.
(see oldpro post above, in relation to "presision" and "clarity")

124.

craigfrancis

July 27, 2005, 2:30 PM

well done Kathleen.

125.

Matty

July 27, 2005, 2:50 PM

Hey CF,
I hope we're done with the rank animosity from yesterday.
One question... are you congratulating Kathleen for the same thing I just did?

126.

ahab

July 27, 2005, 7:21 PM

Kathleen, about your comment that pomo is "a specific movement which is over," how is it over, when did it happen? What no longer happens now that was observable in its heyday?

Also: "From this side of the fence it looks like all the modernists are cracking on me and my pals." I thought the Modernists were slagging pomos, but you think they're slagging you, but you don't consider yourself a pomo - I agree that a simple polarized dialectic like pomo vs. mod is not accurate or helpful. So how do you pomo-non-grata types characterize yourselves in relation to the best experiences of making or getting art?

And: "What I did like about the [AB Biennial] works as a whole is that they seemed different than Here. There's one for Regionalism." Funny you should say that because at the critic's panel that accompanyed the curator's tour of the show the editor of Canadian Art magazine said that he'd just come back from the Venice Biennial and that the provincial version had artists making work that was a lot like the international stars, just more "made." The so-called critic's panel is a whole other point of contention for which I'll just have to have the discussion in my head.

Respectfully.

127.

Matty

July 27, 2005, 7:28 PM

Didn't you read the news, Ahab... Kathleen is one of those new neo-modernist-post modernists... she likes video art not despite, or even separately from all the cords and cables... she likes it AESTHETICALLY, because of all the cords and cables!

128.

oldpro

July 27, 2005, 7:49 PM

We went over the "difference" issue (deja vu all over again, again) in some detail here recently and it was pretty much decided that there is no regionalism, The only region we have is the art magazines. It is all the same everywhere, worldwide.

That is, with the possible exception of sculptors like Matty & Ahab up in the frozen north. That, somehow, is, in fact, different, simply by virtue of the fact that it is evolving within the modernist tradition.

129.

Elizabeth

July 27, 2005, 8:16 PM

OldPro; we're not frozen alllllllll the time u know....sheesh...

130.

Matty

July 27, 2005, 10:13 PM

What I want to know is (and maybe this should have/did come out in the regionalism debate, but I mostly missed that one), are you Miami paint-pushers 'regional', or are you lone voices in the wilderness? I sort of take it that the difference between 'regional art' and 'voices in the wilderness' is one of critical mass: if there were a few less of us (Ahab and I) up here, then we'd simply be lone voices, but because there's a few of us up here, "evolving within the modernist tradition" together, we count as a 'regional movement', if you will.
And if there isn't the critical mass in Miami to turn a few voices into a 'regional movement', could you perhaps be considered part of OUR regional movement, geography be damned?

131.

Matty

July 27, 2005, 10:14 PM

Uh oh, the sled dogs are barking outside my igloo... better go see what's up...

132.

Elizabeth

July 27, 2005, 10:25 PM

Matty; wait up.. I need to get my parka on .....hahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa

133.

Franklin

July 27, 2005, 10:32 PM

Elizabeth, I'm glad you're enjoying yourself, but those long text strings are pure hell on the page layout. Please don't do that.

134.

Elizabeth

July 27, 2005, 10:33 PM

franklin; a ok ...no more strings...just a short sweet haha.

135.

oldpro

July 27, 2005, 11:20 PM

We feel like voices in the wilderness, mainly because there is a "silent majority" out there that does not speak up. When I gave a talk about the destructive consequences of dropping basic foundation courses from college curricula at a large art conference recently I was beseiged with requests for copies of my talk and was emailing them out long after the conference. There was plenty of the expected "we agree with you but we gotta keep quiet" response that came along with the requests..

Our problem is really one of dispersal - people are physically too far apart and too beseiged by the middle brow mainstream to make the slow-maturing connections that make where you guys live such an outpost of shared art-making methods that actually go to making actual physical art. Your relative physical isolation, plus a little fortunate history, is what saves you. It is not "regional" in the sense that what you do originated from scratch where you are, it is regional in the sense of the medieval Irish monks who preserved the essence of western civilization by trranscribing manuscripts in the Dark Ages.

136.

Matty

July 27, 2005, 11:39 PM

OP,
I think I've read a copy of the 'talk' you speak of, and thought it was very good (as common sense truth usually is).
I think NeoDarkAges is probably as good a label for today's art as anything else.

137.

Matty

July 27, 2005, 11:43 PM

Franklin,
That wasn't a long text string... that was Elizabeth's Echo of Isolation...

138.

Elizabeth

July 27, 2005, 11:53 PM

Oh Matty is it that obvious....btw im being limited to only two haha's(

139.

Elizabeth

July 27, 2005, 11:58 PM

can you all imagine if we were in the same city and actually friends...wowowow....now that would make for some really interesting moments.

140.

oldpro

July 28, 2005, 1:29 AM

Matty, I think our sometime contributor Catfish said something very much like that on a recent page, to the effect that visual art has never suffered through a dry period like this one.

141.

ahab

July 28, 2005, 12:49 PM

Kathleen, I'd like to know. If pomo is "a specific movement which is over," how is it over, when did it happen? When the DH Shark was jumped? What no longer happens now that was observable in its heyday? How might pomo-non-grata types characterize themselves in relation to the best experiences of making or getting art?

I'm not looking for a position paper. And I'm not being snide. But if you won't/don't/can't speak to these questions I'll let it slide.

142.

Kathleen

July 28, 2005, 1:10 PM

Ahab, I made some comments a long while back about what constituted Post-Modernism as a movement (a mon avis). Maybe a year or more ago. I don't remember.

At the moment, I am not going to rehash them. Not out of rudeness, sincerely. Just a kind of mental fatigue at the idea of repetiton.

I also really meant to cut back on my artblog habit. I made way too many comments recently. I ought to be paying attention to other things.

A small remark about the regionalism thing: the Canadian works in question do not look like they are from here, but they do look like they use the contemporary vernacular. I think perhaps the works which speak most distinctly to me as Miami artworks are those made by women. There is a narrative of madness and sexuality, as well as agression, which is strong. Also, the way our tropical environment permeates and overcomes culture seems to be a big influence on many local artists, both male and female.

Franklin's work doesn't seem to be very Miami regional to me, seeming to be more akin to Bay Area Figuration, West Coasty. And OP's work seems to be a-local.

143.

oldpro

July 28, 2005, 1:24 PM

Old pro is a Miami yokel

Whose art is clearly a-local

The outlook is dark; it

is also a-market

and the only thing left is be vocal

144.

Kathleen

July 28, 2005, 4:06 PM

OP you could get an extra gig writing limericks for Wait wait don't tell me!

Just checking in. Artblog habits are hard to break. Also, Ahab, my mental fatigue at repetition is for pretty much any topic, any subject, not just the ones for which I wait a year or more to consider repeating. :) I thought that sounded excessively impatient myself! It's a personal issue; I really don't like having to say the same thing twice. Normally I can overcome it pretty well, but this particular topic makes me feel like I'm about to slog through molten lead. It's heavy, it's hot, and it's so toxic that it will make me dumber.

Um, and to save myself two comment windows, Franklin, congrats on that invite! Montreal should be fun, fun fun! Be sure to go to Santropol for the veggie grub. Hm. Also check out this site: http://www.madeinmtl.com/

145.

oldpro

July 28, 2005, 4:16 PM

It's a curse, Kathleen. I actually think in doggerel a lot of the time.

146.

ahab

July 28, 2005, 4:20 PM

My question wasn't, "what is post-modernism?" I wouldn't want to wade through your answer to that anymore than you want to formulate one (no definitive answer is possible anyway).

My question is, "how is Contemporary art not PoMo?"

I only ask because you said some people confuse the two. I just looked for your quote but can't find it.

147.

ahab

July 28, 2005, 5:18 PM

Okay, I will formulate a loose hypothesis. No guarantee that this isn't just more doggerel. If you're bored...too bad. Use any definition you wish for any term.

For the sake of argument, Christo is high-PoMo, and even his latest offering still operates within the 'de-constructs' of PoMo. Among his many intertwined issues is one of commodification. His idea is not for sale, but by selling the byproducts of the development of his work, he brings attention to the commercial nature of the workings of our society. No one here needs me to build a case for this, I presume. Anyway, it is for the sake of argument.

Contemporary artists and their art (say, the ThamesWater guy) are no longer pomo because they are only making work that is ostensibly about consumption and commodification. Instead, Contemporary works are actually tangibly commercial - they are a trade in ideas/issues from which the artist hopes to benefit. The idea is the commodity (like a 'tradable future,' mentioned by someone (George? Jack?) recently). Any finished product is redundant and disposable.

One might have reasonably expected art coming after PoMo to provide some conflict resolution between the Po and the Mo. However, Contemporary art has only further misrepresented the original ideals of post-modernism, which has to some significant degree developed its own ideals by misrepresenting modernism.

It occurs to me that this post is probably just as specious as I'm claiming Contemporary art to be.

148.

Kathleen

July 28, 2005, 5:46 PM

Ahab. I'll try a quickie as I sip my iced coffee. My brain is not up to speed between the hours of 3 and 6 pm, generally, which makes an office job a total bitch necessitating much caffeine.

My comments from an eon ago defined Post-Modernism as a movement, and would have been handy in showing how it is a "movement which is over", which in turn would be handy for describing how contemporary art is not "pomo".

I'm going to distinguish Post-Modernism from "PoMo" by writing PM vs PoMo, to save on the typing. I am defining PoMo as the movement as imagined by its detractors, and PM as the movement as seen more clinically.

PM as an art movement evolved out of theory and politics, specifically a lot of post-structuralist theory and identity politics. Typical catchphrases are "signifiers", "canon", and "marginalized". There was a lot of focus on "high" and "low" culture as well, but this was also a part of Pop art and cannot readily be localized in the PM movement. PM also made a strong showing in the field of architecture.

Contemporary art today (should I say "outside of academia"?) hardly touches upon theory, let alone post-structuralism. Identity politics has for the most part ceded to the politics of globalization, and generally, popular culture is now the cultural norm while "high" culture is the exception, so the juxtaposition of "high" and "low" culture just doesn't have the kick it used to. I'll even say that contemporary art these days deals with micro-cultures (goth, video game, tattoo, otaku, etc.) which are aesthetic subdivisions rather than divisions based on race, gender or sexual preference. Architecture has become more aligned with Design rather than Art, as Design has become more elevated in status due to the widespread embace of consumer culture.

What may be happening with those who see PoMo everywhere is that they may be mistaking the medium for the message. Installation and performance art, for example, are not indicitive of PM work, even though they were prominent during that movement. Ditto video art. Ditto crappy painting. And on and on and on.

Basically, once David Salle and Mark Tansey ended up on the skids, the movement was over. My apologies to both.

149.

oldpro

July 28, 2005, 5:48 PM

Well, for one thing, Ahab, it isn't doggerel, because doggerel is verse and should rhyme.

You can get all tied up trying to define something which came into use as a loose term for an attitude and never got defined in the first place. It's like kicking Jello; it just wobbles and splatters and doesn't go anywhere.

Original postmodernism was interesting because it looked at "big concepts" like truth and beauty and decided none of it was objective, it was all "constructed". I had always thought this anyway. and I liked the feeling of "making my own world".

But original Postmodernism was quickly and absolutely corrupted by the great intellectual whorehouse called Academia, the inhabitants of which decided to use the idea of relativity to attack useful, often vital, real-life constructions and conventions to justify what were often simple political (read "to my advantage") ends. My feeling was, OK, so it is relative, what can we build on that foundation? Their feeling was, OK, so it is all relative, how can I use it as a shotgun to rob the armored car carrying all these so called "human values"? And so, once again, an interesting idea is turned into dross.

Ideas are only "good" when the people using them are too.

150.

Kathleen

July 28, 2005, 5:55 PM

Ahab, the commodification stuff is tricky because Yves Klien was doing work about consumption/commdification long before PM, and he would fit into the Modern movement, per OP's definitions.

151.

oldpro

July 28, 2005, 6:14 PM

We must always keep in mind that all lumping and labelling is tricky, but we all do it because we like to generalize, it is part of the way we think. So we do it, but it is a good idea to always keep in mind that in the end it is all a big collection of real things and real facts and they each have their small secret antihomogenous character. Reality is wonderfully complicated and perverse.

Defining something undefinible like Postmodernism, pinning down the contents and components cna caricteristics, is like catching the wind from that one hand clapping Ahab refers to on the current page.

152.

ahab

July 28, 2005, 6:36 PM

OK, thank you Kathleen. Your thoughts are much more clearly stated than my own. But then I've only just now had my daily espresso and didn't have the benefit of the caffeine to help me hypothesize.

oldpro, my use of 'doggerel' isn't so far off the mark, though I get that it wasn't how you meant it. "No guarantee that this isn't just more doggerel" (M-W definition: loosely styled and irregular in measure especially for burlesque or comic effect; also : marked by triviality or inferiority). You think I'm all tied up, eh?

Just trying to fathom my place in this upside down world. Don't like getting robbed of my values (an accurate description of how I feel), but unwilling to lay down and accept it all existentially.

I am in agreement with the suggestion that capital-C Contemporary art is theory-challenged in a way that PM was not. I would go so far to say that it is also medium-challenged, and message-challenged as well (which Kathleen hints at in her second-last paragraph of #148). This is what I meant in #147 by expecting a resolution of medium-heavy and message-heavy art making, and getting instead a case of consumption from the Contemporarians.

Makes me wish I could just re-subscribe to some externally-developed prescription of dogma-treatment.

153.

oldpro

July 28, 2005, 7:03 PM

Some kind of mental laxative ought to do it.

ex-lax for non-facts.

154.

ahab

July 28, 2005, 7:33 PM

Jello is a laxative, no additional treatment necessary. It will pass with time.

155.

Kathleen

July 29, 2005, 8:31 AM

Aha!

Thanks to OP, this realization:

PoMo is "undefinible".

Post-Modernism is very definable.

I think the former is seems to be undefinable because it is an imagined entity.

Seriously. It is impossible for Post-Modernism to be undefinable. Modernism is definable, Pop is definable, Neo-Concrete art is definable. The only way for Post-Modernism to be undefinable is if it is either a) not a real art-movement or b) something still in process.

Though Post-Modernism has altered our world/art outlook since Modernism (duh, I suppose, given the name), it is no longer in process. Much like Pop art, for example. The world of images has been irrevocably transformed by Pop, but it would seem near-idiotic to gripe about all the careless Pop artists showing shoddy work hither and yon. Clearly, one can analyse art made today using a Pop-art framework, but that does not make the work Pop art.

156.

oldpro

July 29, 2005, 11:48 AM

Well, define it then. 25 words or less.

When you say it is impossible not to be able to define postmodernism You are confusing definition with existence. A thing can be very real and alive but remain undefined for a long time.

You use the example of Pop Art. We both know what Pop Art is, but making a definition of Pop Art - and of course when I say "definition" I mean a fully workable, useful acceptable definition - takes some working out. I am sure you and I could talk about it for at least a half hour before we came to a really good, concise, inclusive definition we both accepted. This is what lexicographers get paid for.

Postmodernism is much bigger and broader than Pop Art, operating in may other places besides art. It is still very much in use and in flux. While writing papers I have looked for such a definition, on the web and elsewhere. The ones I found varied a lot and were all unsatisfactory.

Eventually pomo will recede into history and the complexities will be smoothed over and we will have some kind of fairly precise definition, probably consisting of characteristics (I personally feel that it is basically an attitude). Then you will be able to look it up and get a satisfactory definition

157.

Matty

July 29, 2005, 12:33 PM

The only way for Post-Modernism to be undefinable is if it is either a) not a real art-movement or b) something still in process.

Answer: a) not a real art movement.

Postmodernism is in fact a protest-movement against Modern Art. This is its relation to art... not making it, but protesting it. The fact that these protest have come in the form of material objects, and performances, and other formed or formless forms, has meant people have mistaken it as an art movement, but that mistake doesn't make it so.

158.

oldpro

July 29, 2005, 12:59 PM

Your point is a good one, Matty. Unfortunately things called art ,like the unmentionable ceramic conduit, are accepted under the label of postmodernist art, so, literally, there is postmodernist art.

This is because the protest grew like Kudzu and swallowed everything up . Not only Duchamp but the later Pop Artists were very surprised when what they did took off like it did. While it started as a protest it continued as an assault on the very idea of "high art" which successfully managed to asuage the market and everyone's sensibilities by allowing just about anything to be art. It is kind of like giving kids candy continuously until they are sick and disoriented. That's where we are now.

159.

Matty

July 29, 2005, 1:44 PM

Sorry, I just don't buy it. Postmodernism is a Big Lie.
Literally, there is no "post"modernism, as the label begs the question of Modernism's demise (of course, activists love to announce the death of their adversary before it happens). This is why I argue (against the wind) for a clarification of the term, to anti-modernism (or, neo-academicism, if you prefer). Some ersatz postmodernism is actually Modernism, but executed with such misunderstanding that it seems like a different animal. Being "modern" came to be defined as art which pared everthing down to just its essentials... some took this to mean getting back to flat canvas, but some took this to mean getting back to language, word-use, to what calling something 'art' meant. Both try to reduce art to 'essentials', only the 'pomos' picked semantic, as opposed to material, 'essentials' to deal with (and their descendants now go around complaining about art discussions that revolve around 'semantics').

'Postmodernism' is undefinable because it is logically indefensible.
Why should anybody believe that we got this labelling thing right on the first try (things never work like that in the studio)? I think its time we tried again, and maybe get it better, more right, the second time around.

160.

catfish

July 29, 2005, 2:05 PM

Matty, the reason God made labels is so they could be attacked. It is child's play to show how they are "wrong" because it is their nature to be wrong. But being wrong does not mean they are irrelevant. On the contrary, they are relevant because they are widely used and even if you deny them, you can't avoid the effects of wide use. Harold Rosenberg pointed out that ignoring them can separate one from the deepest aspects of some art movements, and I agree. In the case of postmodernism, I'd change that to the shallowest aspects because shallowness is the crux of the postmodernist circumstance, but that does not really deny Rosenberg.

The world does not proceed according to logic, especially the art world. Every time you point out flaws in logic as if the world is logical, I am reminded of Sisyphus.

161.

Matty

July 29, 2005, 2:50 PM

catfish,
I'm not sure that I understand your point... I'm also not sure that you understood mine.

How does my arguing about being precise with labels imply that I think they're irrelevant? I would think that it implies the opposite.

And I never said the world was logical, or that even art was logical... What I would say is that discussion and classification should be logical, otherwise it's just wanking.

Anytime someone points to the 'magical world of art' and tells me that 'logic just doesn't apply here, thank you very much', I regognize it as intellectual laziness, mythoLOGICal stories be damned.

Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a bunch of big rocks laying around, and they're not gonna push themselves up any hills, that's for sure...

162.

oldpro

July 29, 2005, 4:01 PM

Yes, Matty, but the big rocks will roll down them hills all by themselves.

Let's just go back and start at page one, the "basic reality" page.

During the 20th century something happened in art that came to be called "Modernist" and something happened that came to be called "Postmodernist". Like many words, these are merely tentative acceptances of phenomena. Neither is a comprehendable "thing" in the sense that a rock is, for example. Their mode of existence is essentially conglomerative, terms invented and used to lump together certain related phenomena under a label.

Postmodernism's "logical indefensibility" need not affect its ability to be defined because It does not need to be logical nor defendable to have existence, and if it has existence then it can be defined. By the same token, the fact that it can be considered illegitimate or specious has nothing to do with its definabiity. We do not even have to understand the basic substance of something to have a word for it with a definition ("God" for example, or maybe "art", for that matter). It is my opinion that the term "postmodernist" is not at this point unitary enough to be properly defined, but this is a lexicographic problem, not a logical one.

That being said I do think that you have the basis of a good argument there, but it is futile to argue it from the standpoint of definability. The argument is more interesting if taken from the standpoint that what is now called Postmodernism is bad for art, is antiart. I think that Postmodernism in practice, in visual art, is simply a degenerate form of Modernism that eliminated one convention too many: the convention of esthetic value. I would probably go along with any assertion of its illegitimacy or illogic, at least as it is currently used. But I sure as hell don't want to be the one that has to take a well-reasoned (that is, long and exhaustive) position on the subject.

You are a young guy, Matty. You do it.,

163.

George

July 29, 2005, 4:51 PM

Ok, somone, anyone, make a point.
List out some specific points about postmodernism that you think are false.
Then we can look at them one at a time and see what the problem is.

164.

ahab

July 29, 2005, 5:12 PM

You worry me George. Yours is comment #163 and there have been plenty of "points" made about postmodernism. Pick one.

165.

ahab

July 29, 2005, 5:49 PM

I think you've lumped the naming of a thing in with the definition of a thing, oldpro. Or at least underemphasized it.

A something exists, we perceive it, we name it, we check our perception and name against others and, best case scenario, the resulting argument resolves itself as a definition. The thing changes, or our perception of it changes, and the name has to change too or be confused with the earlier resolved definition.

The thing that needs naming now, I think, is the change taking place in contemporary art. Kathleen perceives a noticeable difference, but can't very well name what that is. Matty wants to re-consider post-modernism's name in light of it's perceived evolution, or his evolution of understanding. catfish figures the term is not rightly up for change because it has been cemented into place by democratic consensus. oldpro is slippery as ever. And George won't say anything until someone calls the spade a spade.

166.

George

July 29, 2005, 6:03 PM

Ok, what I was getting at in a round about way...

List out some specific points which you think could correct the flaws in postmodernism practice. A more proactive approach would be to look for a way to attack the flaws. My original question was intended to elicit specific responses so a counteractive approach could be formulated.

167.

oldpro

July 29, 2005, 7:23 PM

Oldpro is as slippery as ever? Good grief! I went to a lot of effort to clarify the difference between names, definitions and reality above. You may disagree, but it was hardly slippery.Your saying that I lumped naming with defining indicates to me that you simply did not understand what I said. First you get phenomena, then you get names, then you get definitions. That is the process.

George, Postmodernism is really an attitude toward art making. If it can be argued that accepted characteristics of that attidtude are inimical to art that could be interesting. I think it would get closer to what Matty was talking about in the first place without the "definition" tangent getting in the way.

168.

Matty

July 29, 2005, 8:23 PM

Sorry, all, for my own imprecision, which I think is leading us down a dead end... I never meant to imply I was interested in definitions.
I wrote, in post #159, that "'Postmodernism' is undefinable because it is logically indefensible." I should have written that it 'resists' definition, as in oldpro's #151Defining something undefinible like Postmodernism, pinning down the contents and components cna caricteristics, is like catching the wind from that one hand clapping
To get back to my point, take George's request:
List out some specific points which you think could correct the flaws in anti-modernism practice. A more proactive approach would be to look for a way to attack the flaws.

Notice that since I've replaced the (one might say purposely) misleading term POST-modernism, with the more logically correct term ANTI-modernism, it becomes much easier to understand what we're talking about, and come more easily to a useful answer.

169.

catfish

July 29, 2005, 8:26 PM

Matty I understood that you attempt to apply sophisticated rules of logic to art. Art is not magical, it is irrational, has its own agenda, which is to be good. Nothing else matters. If incorrect logic gets it to that place, that's fine with art. If correct logic does not get it there, it becomes irrelevant.

In your case, I took it that applying labels precisely was something you value, not "irrelevant". My point is that the precision you seek is not important to art. It will lunge forward, if possible, using up whatever it finds and can use in anyway it wants, to get where it wants to go. As participants in that process we generate labels that are useful, even though academic logic can refute each and every one of them as "untrue", "incorrect", "wrongly classified", and so on.

You can recognize me as intellectually lazy if you like. What I've learned about the art beast is from my experience of it, not by thinking, not by constructing rules that art ought to obey.

I'm not sure I disagree with what you are saying, I just don't think it will get anyone very far who wants to grapple with art.

170.

Matty

July 29, 2005, 8:30 PM

DISCLAIMER:
(I don't include architecture in these thoughts on 'modernism' and 'post-modernism'. Those terms, when concerning architecture, carry clear meaning. Most terms, in most other disciplines, carry clear meaning. Art and politics seem to be the exceptions, rife as they are with confused jargon and 'codewords')

171.

ahab

July 29, 2005, 8:39 PM

1. No slag intended, oldpro. I was simply unable to characterize your stance in the discussion with a simple phrase, as I felt able to with the other charaters here.

2. You did state: "...if it has existence then it can be defined" (#162). Not necessarily, as your own examples of "God" or "art" affirm. I would argue that neither of these is definable - based on the vast number of possible, and oppositional, meanings for each. They undeniably have existence, in idea at the very least, but having a name does not ensure a definition, reputable and defensible, or otherwise.

Or maybe I'm wrong. Maybe now I'm confusing 'definition' with 'meaning.'

3. What I said was: "A something exists, we perceive it, we name it, we check our perception and name against others and, best case scenario, the resulting argument resolves itself as a definition" (#165).

What you said was: "First you get phenomena, then you get names, then you get definitions. That is the process" (#167).

From the order of these statements, which I would think mean more than approximately the same thing, I did understand your earlier comments. You hinted at the naming of the thing by calling 'words' "merely tentative acceptances of phenomena." But I felt more emphasize could have been put on the post-perceiving and pre-understanding act of naming.

172.

ahab

July 29, 2005, 8:45 PM

Especially the naming of "accepted characteristics of that [Postmodernism] attidtude are inimical to art;" which "could be interesting."

173.

Matty

July 29, 2005, 8:48 PM

catfish,
I'm sure that I don't disagree with you entirely (I think our positions would be closer if we used telepathy, rather than clumsy ol' english), and am not calling you intellectually lazy (I was addressing the writing, not the writer... I'm learning), but calling what I characterize as appeals to the airy-fairy side of art, in an attempt to avoide critical, logical evaluation, laziness.
I am totally with you regarding your personification of art as the untamed beast who will do what art needs to do. I don't seek to shackle the beast. I do want to be able to talk meaningfully with other people about the beast though, and that requires logic. No getting away from that.
catfish writes:
As participants in that process we generate labels that are useful, even though academic logic can refute each and every one of them as "untrue", "incorrect", "wrongly classified", and so on.

Fauve is a label for a kind of art. Postmodern is a label for a kind of art. Fauve means 'savage' or 'wild beast' or something like that. Postmodern means 'after modern'.
I am not arguing that we need to rename Fauvism because Matisse was actually quite a gentleman. We all know what we're talking about when we speak of the Fauves. But we can't all seem to come to the same agreement when we ask what 'post-modernism' is. Labels for art periods and movements have rarely been decided by the artists within them, and have always been open to re-examination. What do we have to lose?

174.

ahab

July 29, 2005, 8:51 PM

Maybe, for clarity, and so that anyone joining battle with you in the future will know what you mean by anti-modernism, Matty, you should call it p-anti-modernism.

175.

Matty

July 29, 2005, 8:56 PM

Truth be told, I think Neo-academicism is closer to the truth (and hooks the pomos onto a tradtion PREDATING modernism, which you'd think they'd be all over), but since they're so dead-set on being though of as a secondary offshoot to modernism, anti-mo seems like all we're 'logically' left with.

176.

Matty

July 29, 2005, 9:03 PM

Oldpro post #162
I think that Postmodernism in practice, in visual art, is simply a degenerate form of Modernism that eliminated one convention too many: the convention of esthetic value.

Testify, brother. Say it loud and say it, um, with a hint of regret.

177.

Jack

July 29, 2005, 9:10 PM

Here's a thought:

The relationship of postmodernism and modernism is analogous to someone cutting off his head to spite his nose.

Discuss.

178.

ahab

July 29, 2005, 9:15 PM

The nose being postmodern, Jack?

179.

George

July 29, 2005, 9:20 PM

Matty, postmodernism is just a broader term applied to all areas of critical theory not just art, I'll continue to use it.

Has anyone here ever considered how we got from "A" to "B". In my opinion, postmodernism came into existence as a response to the accelerating changes in the culture starting around the early 1960's. The rapid development of mass media flooded the culture with images and information in a way which started to call into question the very structure of how we view the culture itself. Philosophical and critical analysis responded by "deconstructing" the structures, in a sense atomizing meaning allowing for a way which could incorporate the rapid expansion of cultural information. This is at the core the flaw in deconstructive analysis, it entropic. Culture, society, and human existence are, on balance, anti-entropic, they create order from chaos. War, famine, disease etc. are entropic, causing disorder and putrefaction.

It is my view that postmodern philosophy attempted to deal with the changes as best it could but it has reached a point of impasse by creating so many entropic random paths the truth gets lost. It was one way to approach the problem but the analysis led us away from the truth towards an infinite number of possible truths. Well, this is clever thinking but it does not fit the whole of reality. The scientific method is a big problem for postmodern philosophy because it is based on the incremental discovery of truth. Truth which is backwards compatible with previous scientific discovery. In other words, the scientific method is anti-entropic, it orders knowledge. Entropic (postmodernist) vs. anti-entropic (the scientific method) which makes more sense?

The current moment in history, this post 911 era of terrorist random chaos is the perfect postmodern moment. We know the problem, do we wallow in confusion and accept chaos? I don't think so. What will flow from the current socio-cultural moment must be an attempt to rediscover meaning and order at a higher degree of granularity that what existed 50 to 75 years ago.

180.

Matty

July 29, 2005, 9:32 PM

George, if postmodern works for you, groovy. I won't take it away.
Me, I'm ditching anti-modernism... I think I like the sound of Entropicism better.

Have you read Harry Frankfurt's essay "On Bullshit"? It is a great, highly logical piece which, in its conclusion, touches on the notion of the goal of 'correctness' becoming replaced with the goal of 'sincerety' (which then points back to the understanding that one person's sincerity is another person's bullshit).
I recommend it.

181.

Matty

July 29, 2005, 9:33 PM

If we compare post-modernism and scientific method for results, the science geeks are kicking pomo ass.

182.

Franklin

July 29, 2005, 9:55 PM

This may relate.

183.

George

July 29, 2005, 9:57 PM

I don't think the terminology matters all that much, so I just choose to use the accepted word.

Awhile back, I wrote out, in free verse, my thoughts on entropy and postmodern thought. For what it's worth, it was a boring night, so I wrote in free verse for fun, not because I was blasted. I stand by what I wrote.

Also, Jake answered my query on a word for anti-entropic which is syntropic and I would like to thank him for that.

I think Oldpro raising the issue about the "convention of esthetic value" is a solid place to start. However, I don't think we will necessarily agree on what constitutes "aesthetic value" because it contains a component of the personal, and we are all different. Never the less it is as good a place as any to start.

Matty, regarding the scientific method. Awhile back I speculated that there might be a philosophical structure similar to a programming language. Programming languages are an outgrowth of logic, a topic of philosophy. The problem with the current philosophical discourse is that does not function like a programming language which is repeatable and testable (and since we are human, buggy too) There is no reason why philosophy cannot determine truths, even if it is to show that the truth is indeterminate. Postmodern philosophies question the truth as unknowable. Since this can be proven to be false for some subset of experience the entire philosophy must be called into question. Just because someone "creates a meaning" through some deconstructive process does not necessarily mean it is true. This kind of flawed thinking is what is causing the consternation among many here.

184.

Franklin

July 29, 2005, 10:09 PM

I just thought of something here. George has brought up OOP as a possible method for dealing with all this before but we've never gotten far with it. Let's try this:

The basic idea behind OOP is that classes contain objects and methods. (Specifically, variables and functions.) This might relate to objective and subjective components in art, respectively; objects being material facts about art, methods being our responses.

Take it away, George.

185.

George

July 29, 2005, 10:18 PM

Franklin, that was a good idea, it was worth rereading what you wrote. I continue to believe that there may be considerable value in analyzing the historical moment, as a component contributing to the models of thought, utilized in the period. I recently made a painting with Wilbur and Orville Wright. The first self powered human flight was greeted as a spectacular event and as an event it permeated all parts of the culture (Picasso called Braque, mon cher Wilber, and the "glider" in Duchamp's large glass looks just like the landing gear) Whatever events force themselves on the culture are absorbed by the culture. Is it any surprise that DaDa came when it did? My point here is that I suspect whatever path is taken, it will be intimately (but not necessarily obviously) linked to or historical moment. If one understands the zeitgeist, you'll know which way the wind will blow.

186.

catfish

July 29, 2005, 10:25 PM

Clement Greenberg was fond of saying that art should be described, but not given prescriptions. The application of logic to its movements is too much like a prescription for me to not be suspicious of it. Most processes in life are not logical, so why art? Any insistence that its movements can be tested with logic and other forms of reasoning does amount to a prescription. It is imposing one of the limitations of our minds on art. Art has a will but I'm not sure it even has a mind.

Matty, I'm intellectually lazy and proud of it. Like most commentators on art, my intellect is often rendered useless in the face of art, so I don't trot it out any more often than absolutely necessary.

I enjoyed revisiting the discussion Franklin pointed to in #182. No need to repeat that stuff here. Just go read it.

187.

George

July 29, 2005, 10:39 PM

Franklin, re OOP. In dealing with a humanist philosophy, as opposed to a logical or scientific philosophy, I think one will find it's a lot messier.

The basic thought I had was that the philosophers (not me, I'm a painter) should first look for a way to isolate the "variables" which become the memes or objects. For example, a painting is an object, it possesses "qualities" such as size, shape, material etc and may spawn subsets of itself which are derived from the basic form. This is simplistic, but the concept can be applied across the board. We can define things with qualities and actions they can take or which may be applied to them. I realize this is obtuse but the basic idea is that one can essentially create a dictionary of "things" and "actions"

When properly applied it would be possible to create a method of analysis which could encompass just about anything. Such a process could keep graduate students busy for years building a new testable order on the rubble of postmodernism. Some would be "original thinkers" and others would be "academics" melding earlier original thinkers like CG into the fold.

What is interesting about programming languages is that by using an abstract set of concepts it is possible to model a vary large and varied set of circumstances. Philosophy needs a linux.

188.

George

July 29, 2005, 10:53 PM

Regarding programming...

Draw a zig zaggy line sloping upward to the right. Use a ruler and find the slope by connecting the two lowest protruding points. It's a no brainer but try to write a code snippet to efficiently do the same thing, not so easy.

For what it's worth, I'm not interested in developing it out.
I am interested in what the culture is doing, it is the existence of the debate on Mod and PoMo that is interesting, not the positions themselves. I'm more interested in the cultural forces, the cultural currents, which bring these issues to the forefront. So I think about it as an exercise.

189.

oldpro

July 29, 2005, 11:16 PM

Ahab, yes,we were saying the same thing in the instance you mention in #171. Blogs do not have rules of order and responding can get confusing.

In response to the lack of clarity in the definition of PM Matty mentions in #173 P, once again, I think it is at least partly due to its closeness in time.

George, re #183, we can describe the process of experiencing "esthetic value". I don't know how to approach the question of "what constitutes esthetic value", I suspect you were saying there is no way to prove what's good, but you weren't quite saying it. Also, Postmodernism is already rubble. Rubble is what you get when you break everything down.

Yes, Matty, science kicks ass more than art these days. I find myself reading all the science stuff in the Times and hardly ever more than glance at the art section, what there is of it. The science news is simply way more interesting. It deals with facts and things.

This page is not a thread, it is a braided tangle. It is giving me a headache. Indeed, read the page Franklin links in #182.

190.

ahab

July 29, 2005, 11:40 PM

Yes, a headache here too, but I think I had a good time.

Read (past-tense) the linked post on self-criticism. I think Franklin's lead post was really well-written and clearly reasoned, with a nod to the lesson of the Sisyphian trials of philosophizing this stuff.

I can hardly follow the OOP line of thinking at this moment.

Since I can't reality-dose myself in the studio over this long weekend, I'll be dosing myself camping in the mountains for a few days. Y'all have left me more than enough to think about out there.

Thankyou, and goodnight.

191.

Kathleen

July 30, 2005, 12:38 AM

So, Ahab, that stuff I said about a year ago about Post-Modernism? Well, I said it in January, apparently. I suppose I have been on stress x 2 mode lately. This is from the post to the right of the "self-criticism" post. Here's what I said back then, so long ago . . .

Thursday 20 January 2005 7:47 pm

I, too, was going to point out that Post-Modernism and Modernism have lives outside of the visual arts.

I consider Post-Modernism to be predominantly a movement concerned with a re-evaluation of critique and canon itself, not specifically with the works produced. Artworks were more secondarily Post-Modern than Primarily so. That is to say, arts created during what we conisider to be the Post-Modernist period did not so much draw on the idea of the Post-Modern as they did various concepts such as semiotics, simulacra, narrative, post-structuralism, and even the older structuralism and formalism.

"Post-Modern" architecure and design got a lot of play becuase they were such large and visual representations of what was happening in terms of that canonical re-evaluation, and in the change in anaylsis of the creation of works of art.. Because of the canonical re-evaluations, a more diverse sampling of artistic outputs was shown, some of which stood in sharp aesthetic contrast to what is more traditionally approved to be representative of an "art" aesthetic. I think it is a fallacy to suppose that works were produced across the board to capitalize on a "non-art' look, perhaps some were, but the supposition is rather ethnocentric.

For the first time, non-white, non-male, non-european artists were getting play, (because of the reconsideration of both the canon and critical perception) and it should have been no surprise that works were perceived not to be aestheically appropriate, nor appropriate in terms of subject matter.

It may be hard to recall in these days of extreme globalization, but back then the Gap (subsitute other corporately promoted culture here at will) was not the cultural Lingua Franca it seems to be now.

192.

oldpro

July 30, 2005, 12:45 AM

Kathleen, this would be impossibe to comprehend at 9:30 in the morning, much less 12:30 at night. Time to retire.

193.

George

July 30, 2005, 7:03 AM

For establishing a point of reference on Postmodernism, I would suggest read this, Postmodernism. from Wikipedia. Then if you're brave, also this link on deconstruction from Wikipedia.

Op, [189] As you noted, I suspect that there is no one way of "proving what is good" so I would be skeptical of an argument specifically along those lines. However, I do believe that the primacy of the visual is the dominant characteristic of painting. I would fight from there.

The first line in the Wiki pomo link is Post-modernist architecture rejects the rigid geometricity of modernist design in favour of radical, often asymmetrical, forms What should be passing as a philosophical position comes down to nothing but an expression of taste. A choice of the asymmetrical over the symmetrical. With a few very gifted architects, this view, can and has produced some great buildings. Unfortunately we might be doomed to live among a rash of crooked structures produced by the mass of lesser architects. It's harder to screw up symmetry.

194.

George

July 30, 2005, 7:46 AM

re [191] . Again, consider the cultural environment. The post industrialist, information saturated global village. Flight and telecommunications shortened distances, literally bringing people and cultures together, to a degree and at a pace not possible a century before. It is "a disturbance in the force" a disruption to the concept of the nicely perceived orders in the prior age. It is a radical change, with radical implications and dangers present in the paths taken by future cultures.

I would suggest that postmodern philosophy (the wiki kind) is attempting to comprehend the implications of these changes. The problem occurs when an "either or" approach is implemented. The flaw here is discarding aspects of past philosophies which remain valid. What is necessary now is the "reconstruction" of order and meaning, a movement towards rational truths in a global age.

If you thought the atomic age was scary, wait until you see what comes next.

195.

Franklin

July 30, 2005, 9:13 AM

I think it is a fallacy to suppose that works were produced across the board to capitalize on a "non-art' look, perhaps some were, but the supposition is rather ethnocentric.

For the first time, non-white, non-male, non-european artists were getting play, (because of the reconsideration of both the canon and critical perception) and it should have been no surprise that works were perceived not to be aestheically appropriate, nor appropriate in terms of subject matter.


I find postmodernism's arguments for its own political progressiveness to be unconvincing in the extreme - a trope that gives up on its aesthetic usefulness as an art-making strategy and tries to shore itself up as a correction to social ills, something for which it deserves no credit.

European appreciation for non-European art has been going on since time immemorial, and you need only see a Dutch still life painting of Chinese blue-and-white porcelain to verify this. In fact, you need only look at Greek Severe style, which borrowed heavily from Egyptian sculptural conventions. Non-white and non-European artists were getting serious play within their own scenarios, and to suggest they started getting it because of Postmodernism is ethnocentric. Meanwhile, women spent those millenia getting slighted on all levels, nearly across the board, globally. Things were no great shakes for women in Europe, but Europe had no tradition of obliging a woman to throw herself on her husband's funeral pyre, which was the case in India, or of making a woman walk six paces behind her husband, as in a few Asian cultures, or of androcentric polygamy, allowing multiple wives but not multiple husbands, a tradition that continues to this day in Africa.

Changes in the status of women and non-white groups in America took place because of people working bravely in the political sphere, and they accomplished these gains in advance of postmodernism, in some cases by decades. Meanwhile, many of the nihlist tendencies within postmodernism generated from the efforts of white males. A non-art aesthetic exists as a tendency within postmodernism, and describing that observation as ethnocentric defies all the facts involved. Women and non-whites came increasingly into prominence in art because they were normalizing into all areas of endeavor in this country.

Confusion about who did what and why in the progressive movements of this country have been brutal to contemporary liberalism, a fact not lost on Alan Sokal when executed his brilliant hoax:

**Politically, I'm angered because most (though not all) of this silliness is emanating from the self-proclaimed Left. We're witnessing here a profound historical volte-face. For most of the past two centuries, the Left has been identified with science and against obscurantism; we have believed that rational thought and the fearless analysis of objective reality (both natural and social) are incisive tools for combating the mystifications promoted by the powerful -- not to mention being desirable human ends in their own right. The recent turn of many ``progressive'' or ``leftist'' academic humanists and social scientists toward one or another form of epistemic relativism betrays this worthy heritage and undermines the already fragile prospects for progressive social critique. Theorizing about ``the social construction of reality'' won't help us find an effective treatment for AIDS or devise strategies for preventing global warming. Nor can we combat false ideas in history, sociology, economics and politics if we reject the notions of truth and falsity.**

And if you'll notice, liberals haven't been doing so well in the political sphere these days. I insist that the reason these woolly ideas persist in art is because everything else (politics, engineering, etc.) has to work. Art can break with no consequences except bad art, so it has ended up becoming the refuge of weak philosophy. This does art no good and I'm happy to beat it up where I see it.

196.

oldpro

July 30, 2005, 10:09 AM

Franklin, these were my inchoate sentiments as I quit the field in weary frustration at 12:30 in the AM (#192).

No reason to add a thing now. Excellent. Thank you.

197.

Kathleen

July 30, 2005, 3:10 PM

Franklin,

That's funny. That's the same bit of my comment you responded to in January.

This is a sad moment. I feel forced to play my hand, knowing that this is the point of no return, the point beyond which I wil be attacked and you will be angry.

Your response showed a poor understanding of colonialsm, post-modernism, and the economic and social ramifications of art thoughout history. Sure, you have a good grasp of philosophy and aesthetics, but you are mistaken to think that it translates.

Post-Modernism was not merely an aesthetic restructuring, but a vast rethinking of structures across the board, touching upon all aspects of human production, consumption and cultural identity. To discuss Post-Modernism only in terms of art making and "appreciation" will be to travel the wrong path, and could account for much of the troubles several of you have with Post-Modernism in general.

European "appreciation" of non-european art forms throughout history has long incorporated subjugation, exploitation, and disassociation. For example, a Dutch painting depicting a Chinese bowl may have been a lovely scene, but it would have been mostly disassociated from the trade relationship between Holland and China, which not only allowed for the import of porcelain, but also the transport of opium, which was the more lucrative of the two commodities. At the same time, the Dutch were in "posession" of Indonesia, much to the Indonesian people's consternation. Dutch control was characterized by the same racism and opression that was exercised by other European nations over the Americas. The "appreciation" of the arts of indiginous peoples under colonialsim in all cases was more a matter of the dominant culture enjoying the spoils of oppression. That painting which depicts Chinese porcelain is showing the affluence of the Dutch household, not Dutch appreciation for other cultures. In the case of China, which was not under Eurpean control, the typical ethnocentric slurs were in full effect: the Chinese were called "inscrutable" and "yellow" by Europeans, among other things. So to suggest that a love for Chinese porcelain and its representation in Dutch art is "appreciation" for Chinese art and culture is pointedly ignorant. Additionally, one Dutch guy's love for Chinese porcelain, no matter how fervent, would not redeem Dutch cuture of the era from its market-based exploitation and colonial legacy.

As for Greek appropriation of Egyptian sculptural conventions, are you supposing that they appropriated the work only because it was pretty? Not because it was part of a larger cultural and social assimilation? More complicated than the above examples for sure; first the Egyptians were dominant, but eventually, the Greeks were. Artistic style surely played a part in this. Also the fact that Ptolemy, a Greek General, ruled in Alexandria. Importantly, to this day, many people are uncomfortable with the assertion that Nefertiti was Black, because of course, her grandfather, Ptolemy, was Greek, even though there is no mention anywhere of her grandmother's race, nationality, or effing identity. So, the Greeks "appreciated" Egyptian culture because they appropriated it? Or because they flat-out ruled it?

This sentence:

"Non-white and non-European artists were getting serious play within their own scenarios, and to suggest they started getting it because of Postmodernism is ethnocentric"

is asinine. It suggests that the real reason non-white and non-european artists gained larger cultural prominence was because they rose to the top of thier own cultures and that the logical next step was what? The attention of white europeans? It depends on how you are using "own scenarios" here. Perhaps you are suggesting that they didn't in fact gain larger cultural prominence, and that attention focused on marginalized cultures by post-modern theorists and critics was ethnocentric? This simply makes no sense.

Your discussion of various patriarchal traditions in non-european cultures is a red herring. It is an ethnocentrism which is not modified by saying that european women have had no "great shakes" either. You are saying that the European patriarchal system is so much better than the third-world patriarchy, obviously.

And here's another:

"Women and non-whites came increasingly into prominence in art because they were normalizing into all areas of endeavor in this country"

Please pay attention to your use of the word "normalizing" here. Until women and non-whites were "normalized" what were they?

The tenets which you put forth in your above comment display an ethnocentric, self-important view, so intoxicated by privilege that you appear to be blind to it. Here you may claim that I don't know you, I don't know whether or not you have benefitted from any privilege system, and hey, by the way, you are oppressed too. To that I can only say, do you call yourself a feminist? a racial activist? Is it integral to your identity? No? Then you are comfortably ensconsed in european patriarchal privilege. Period.

198.

George

July 30, 2005, 3:51 PM

European "appreciation" of non-european art forms throughout history has long incorporated subjugation, exploitation, and disassociation.

Here, Elizabeth is referring to a Chinese bowl, I'd like to use Japanese prints as a substitute but with the same intent as she presents.

The deconstructed view goes from Van Gogh's appreciation of Japanese prints to the exploitation of a colonial country. This is "the discourse" what is called "critical thought" What we now have, is the realization, that the Japanese print is tainted by the history of the historical acts of a colonial power. No longer are we focusing out attention on Van Gogh's appreciation for the aesthetic beauty of the Japanese print with its remarkably skillful drawing and color. No we are now asked to go from the specific to the general and consider all the ramifications of this particular print, once admired by Van Gogh solely for its beauty, from a global view. This shifting of focus from the specific to the global is inherently entropic because it dilutes the topic at hand which was Van Gogh's appreciation for the print and his appropriation of its stylistic qualities into his "western" paintings.

If an artist appropriates the stylistic qualities from "other world" art today, it will fall under the aegis of the postmodern discourse as appropriation or irony. If a particular artist is actually from the "other world" it is celebrated as the new found freedom of globalization. Here's a little secret, it is still all about colonial exploitation but it's happening at an individual level (finer granularity) where there is less backlash than say the political exploitations for natural resources.

This entropic focus from the specific to the general is only a different frame of reference. A frame of reference which is totally dependant on the correct historical data and its analysis. It is a broad swath analysis which loses or ignores individual details. Frame of reference is everything, if it leads you away from your point of focus, you have to decide whether or not to change your focus (surely an option) or your frame of reference.

No doubt, in the last 50 years there have been positive social developments in the areas of gender and ethnicity. While these changes are ongoing, I do not think it is a result of postmodern philosophical discourse, rather postmodern discourse had to incorporate it into its analysis

199.

Franklin

July 30, 2005, 4:16 PM

Faced with the difficult choice of responding to #197 point-by-point or going off to a pool party, I'm deciding in favor of the latter, but want to address a few things briefly.

The above is a fine illustration of the postmodernist method of argument: assume a political basis to all other concerns, and assume character failings in the opponent. Notice the presupposition about my ignorance of colonialism et al., disdaining to consider that I may indeed understand the parameters you mention and have decided that they don't carry water.

Briefly, Kathleen, you should have heard how the Chinese were talking about the Dutch. But more to the point, Chinese porcelain ended up in those paintings because it was pretty. The Dutch already had porcelain. Beautiful porcelain. But when the Dutch saw what the Chinese had, they wanted it. The only difference between them was stylistic. Ding! Art. That painting which depicts Chinese porcelain is showing the affluence of the Dutch household, not Dutch appreciation for other cultures. Wrong - it shows both of them. This idea that the former negates the latter is simply an intellectual bias, and one I don't share.

Please pay attention to your use of the word "normalizing" here. Until women and non-whites were "normalized" what were they? The tenets which you put forth in your above comment display an ethnocentric, self-important view, so intoxicated by privilege that you appear to be blind to it.

What were they? They were forced into roles that generally wasted their talents - exceptionalizing them, if that's a word. Creating subcategories for these people to exist in to makes them exceptions from the general run of culture; normalizing them is when they're taking part as full participants and no one thinks about it. As it should be.

The reason postmodernism is losing ground in all fields is because it depends so heavily on the bad faith you display above. I'm off to the party, and if you'd like to clean up some of nastier assumptions above in the meantime, it will take the edge off when I return later to refute them.

200.

oldpro

July 30, 2005, 5:40 PM

George: I am almost always in accord with any criticism of the weakness of excessive generalization, of going from the specific to the general. I agree wholheartedly with your point. (In general, at least!). Keep on hammering it.

Kathleen: All cultures, throughout history, large and small, when they were sufficiently strong, oppressed other cultures. We have come to the point of recognizing this is not such a great idea, and we are working on it fitfully.

But what is the point of wallowing in it? Isn't this just eating ourselves up from the inside? I have always felt that inside all this grandstanding and soapbox rhetoric lives a spoiled, whining, passive child.

And. aside from a massive act of appropriation, what does all this righteous bellyaching have to do with Postmodernism? As Franklin accurately pointed out, the people who change things go out and change things. They don't sit around and talk and make ineffective art and feel sorry for themselves and condemn the culture that nurtured them

201.

oldpro

July 30, 2005, 5:41 PM

Hey - 200 comments! we may be approaching a new record.

202.

George

July 30, 2005, 7:27 PM

Slightly oblique to the topic at hand, but interesting from the standpoint of examining colonialism. PBS has been running a series Guns, Germs and Steel based on Jared Diamond's book. Highly recommended.

"At the heart of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel are the stories of apparently commonplace things, such as wheat, cattle, and writing. Diamond believes the uneven distribution of these simple elements shaped the course of global history and played a vital part in the epic story of continental competition.

Diamond also focuses on the physical geography of the world in which we live. For instance, natural impediments such as mountain ranges or bodies of water created isolated civilizations.

He argued that continents which were easily traversible, such as Europe encouraged trade among different people and stimulated development." [PBS]

What was fascinating was how geographical areas which had good sources of domesticated animals for protein (the golden triangle) fared much better than other areas (New Guinea) Also, very interesting was the roll disease played in conquering civilizations. The outnumbered Spaniards defeated the Peruvian indians, not militarily, but because western diseases wiped out the indians who had no resistance. It seems that a source of the diseases is found in the animal-human interaction, the Europeans had different animals and eventually built up resistence to the diseases which killed the indians who had different animals.

So it seems that there are a large number of factors which can affect how one civilization interacts with another. A modern example would be the cocain trade, while not strictly a disease, it is an addiction spread from one continent to another. Also the Opium wars.

203.

Elizabeth

July 30, 2005, 9:40 PM

George; if you think the past is something, just wait till this fall...they are now predicting a world wide pandemic that will kill travel and kill millions if not more, all thanks to the bird flu. I watched on american news how they discussed the very logistics of innoculating 300 million americans.
And all this because people in China had to be so unclean and get up close and personal with their poultry. It has made the jump from animal to human ....China is the jumping off point as with all the other flus.
Good luck everyone!

204.

Elizabeth

July 30, 2005, 9:41 PM

cocaine is the least of our worries George.

205.

George

July 30, 2005, 10:24 PM

Elizabeth, This is what I was alluding to in the last line of comment #194.
I had originally ended my comment #202 with: I fear that sometime in the next 50 years we will have a worldwide pandemic, with a staggering mortality rate. I felt it might be viewed as alarmist so I edited it out before posting.

206.

Elizabeth

July 30, 2005, 10:51 PM

George; you are not alarmist, Im sorry to have added that comment ..it doesnt really have much to do with art...but we are very sensitive to these kinds of things here in Toronto after the SARS outbreak, also from the orient!! The politicians will again act too late and like they did here...say what if what if....
Im sure all of these unknowns that are 'hiding around corners' will reflect back in all forms....art , politics etc...

207.

George

July 30, 2005, 11:18 PM

I backspaced through my word doc, what I wrote exactly was

On a more distressing front, I fully expect a pandemic disease to wipe out 10% of the worlds population sometime in the next 50 years. Watch China, it seems to be starting there.

All this might bear on why postmodern theory developed. I would say the preceeding philosophies were more positivist, that modernism still expressed some hope for the future. As we moved into the last half of the twentieth century it became apparent that the rapid pace of growth in technoloy, especially information technologies could be a source for an apparent breakdown in the prior socio-cultural ordering. I think postmodern thought arose in response to this. Overwhelmed by so much information, the response was to break it down into smaller pieces for analysis. This is what I refer to as a finer granularity, hit a rock with a hammer until you get sand. Unfortunately it is also entropic, the rock is lost like humpty dumpty. All this was great fun for the less gifted "critical thinkers" as they glee.fully beat on the rocks of culture, turning them to a sand of obscure dialogue.

The rapid pace and information overload presented a challenge, a challenge essentially marked by an increasing granularity, not by an increasing entropy. Cultural markers became more complex and numerous, they required a new approach to achieve an understanding of their order and character. I suppose it was inevitable that the path of deconstruction was chosen, after all mid century minimalism was based on a search for an atomic truth. Unfortunately, in a period of increasing granularity, a better approach would be just the opposite, a search for aggregation and the strange attractors of order.

I spent nearly ten years studying chaos theory starting with the original technical documents from UC Santa Cruz. Much of the work I made in the late 80's was an outgrowth of this research. I wrote a lot of software programs to explore chaotic orders (unfortunately these are now lost) and made several so-so paintings based on the theories and finally ended up with the bent metal pieces I am working on now. These surfaces are fractals with a dimension somewhere between 2.1 and 2.3.

At the time it was cutting edge stuff, now a lot of it is available in print or on the web. I came to conclusion that the computer stuff should stay on the computer. I know it appears I am wandering from the topic at hand here, but I am leading to the second conclusion I came to from studying chaotic systems.

Man has an incredible ability to find predictable order in complex systems. Rather than give in to the increasing granularity with the despair it can never be understood, we must seek out the nature of the order which defines the matrix holding the parts together. Why? Because in spite of the techno-info-glut society continues on, it is not breaking down into a gray conceptual information ooze and any doctrine which suggests this is the case is just not accounting for reality

208.

Matty

July 31, 2005, 5:07 PM

excerpted from Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit:
The contemporary proliferation of bullshit also has deeper sources, in various forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality and which therefore reject the possibility of knowing how things truly are. These "anti-realist" doctrines undermine confidence in the value of disinterested efforts to determine what is true and what is false, and even the intelligiblity of the notion of objective inquiry. One response to this loss of confidence has been a retreat friom the discipline required by dedication to the ideal of correctness to a quite different sort of discipline, which is imposed by a pursuit of an alternative ideal of sincerity. Rather than seeking primarily to arrive at accurate representations of a common world, the individual turns toward trying to provide honest representations of himself. Convinced that reality has no inherent nature, which he might hope to identify as the truth about things, he devotes himself to being true to his own nature. It is as though he decides that since it makes no sense to try to be true to the facts, he must therefore try instead to be true to himself.
But it is preposterous to imagine that we ourselves are determinate, and hence susceptible both to correct and incorrect descriptions, while supposing that the ascription of determinacy to anything else has been exposed as a mistake. As conscious beings, we exist only in response to other things, and we cannot know ourselves at all without knowing them. Moreover, there is nothing in theory, and certainly nothing in experience, to support the extraordinary judgment that it is the truth about himself that is the easiest for a person to know. Facts about ourselves are not peculiarly solid and resistant to skeptical dissolution. Our natures are, indeed, elusively insubstantial - notoriously less stable and less inherent than the natures of other things. And insofar as this is the case, sincerity itself is bullshit.

209.

oldpro

July 31, 2005, 5:24 PM

Well, one has to accept some well-stretched conclusions in the first paragraph to accept the second, but I like it, and anyone who can reason out the conclusion "sincerely is bullshit" is OK in my book.

As Wilde said "A little sincerity is a dangerous thing, and a great deal of it is absolutely fatal."

210.

Elizabeth

July 31, 2005, 5:26 PM

Matty; Im taken with the sentence; 'Rather then seeking primarily to arrive at accurate representations of a common world, the individual turns toward trying to provide honest representations of himself.' and then in turn being true to owns own nature....My impression is all great art is created when the artist has truely looked into himself.

211.

George

July 31, 2005, 7:46 PM

Spent a nice Sunday afternoon at the MET. The Matisse: The Fabric of Dreams exhibition was a marvelous suprise. There were more paintings than I expected, including a grouping of 10 works from 1929 &1937 which were among the best paintings I have ever seen.

This absolutely stunning show is up through Sept 25th, see it if you can.

212.

George

July 31, 2005, 7:55 PM

Re #208 Rather then seeking primarily to arrive at accurate representations of a common world, the individual turns toward trying to provide honest representations of himself.
"On bullshit" sounds silly to me.

What was interesting about the Matisse exhibition was the inclusion of the fabrics and costumes which appear in his paintings. Comparing the fabrics with the paintings, you can see how he abbreviated the patterns. Did this aesthetic liberty reduce the accuracy of the representation? Define accurate representation, is it photographic correspondence? When? In what context. The Matisse paintings create a believable context without strictly depicting reality, does that make them some form of self indulgence? I don't think so.

The flaws in these arguments are a result of a creating a polarized bias. If it's not accurate representation then it must be a representation of the self. Why can't it be both. Why can't both be failures? How do we know all great art is created when the artist has truly looked into himself? I am not so sure this is true. What does "looked into himself" mean?

213.

Elizabeth

July 31, 2005, 9:51 PM

George/ re: Matty

"On Bullshit" seems to be missing an essential argumentative piece, that is that it relies upon an assumption that when recognized as false breaks the line of reasoning. That essential B in the A + B = C equation is that if we only were to exist in response to other things we would be mere pawns in a game; moving through one role to another without defining ourselves. We would simply "become" the role. It is essential to define ourselves in relation to our roles in order to appropriate not only the role, but our 'sincerity' as well. "Looked into himself" refers to the defining of the self within the roles we adopt. Therefore, if we were to accept the essays conclusion that 'sincerity' is bullshit, we must also accept that we are shells without substance. It is exactly because there is substance (that manifests through a relationship between the self and the world) that an artist is able to "draw" (no pun intended, I swear) from their substance in the act of artistic creation.

214.

oldpro

August 1, 2005, 12:18 AM

Yes, Mr. Frankfurt himself is a master of bullshit, but it is a nice wiry, lawyerish sort of bullshit that I can appreciate, almost like an art form, especially when I am suckered in by the stated opposition to "anti-realist" doctrines, which are a currently esconced and dangerous kind of bullshit.

He says, in short, that the response ("one response") to the loss of belief in verifiable objective truth is turning to "honest representations" of ourselves, to being "true to our own nature".

Unfortunately believing that there is objective truth and being "true to oneself" are not only two entirely different species, or uses, of "truth", there is no bridge to convince us that one leads to the other and no indication why the might not easly exist in the same person simutaneously, as I am sure they do. The argument is very soft and porous.

He shifts somewhat in the second paragraph (which is careless in itself), to knowing the truth "about" oneself - yet another kind of "truth" - and argues this rather more successfully. Unfortunately that argument is based on the fallacy in the first, so it is of no consequence.

"Sincerely is bullshit" may be worth the wait, but I vastly prefer Wilde's aphorism (#209), which puts it all in a nutshell and amuses at the same time.

George, my wife is just back from NY and has seen the Matisse and also the Cezanne/Pissarro show, among other delights. Friends are emailing me about these shows. I am very envious.

215.

Elizabeth

August 1, 2005, 7:44 AM

George; the show looks wonderful, he has always been a favorite of mine. The colours, the patterns, all just stunning....your very lucky to see it....Im also envious.

216.

George

August 1, 2005, 10:36 AM

I put up some links to the Matisse paintings here on the Money Makin page

217.

ahab

August 1, 2005, 9:27 PM

This discussion regarding sincerity and correctness seems analogous to leftbrain/rightbrain, or imagination/reason, dialectics; and potentially, to more generalized ones like Po vs. Mo. To reduce a written expression of the whole human experience to a dialectic, even a polarized one, is not wrong. It is just a reduction.

I think Frankfurt himself uses sufficient doses of both sincerity and correctness in the quoted excerpt and he gets to a decent overall understanding of how to talk about ourselves and our preoccupations in spite of the unavoidable conflict of interest we have in such a discussion. Or maybe he is utilizing some other less common method of describing how it is that we know what we know (truth) that does not simply occur at some point on his proposed spectrum - less definitive and more holistic. Maybe like the way that we sense umami, the lesser-known fifth taste, which is at once more profoundly all-inclusive and less easily understood or appreciated than the common four (sweet, salt, bitter, sour).

"The dream of reason produces monsters. Imagination deserted by reason creates impossible, useless thoughts. United with reason, imagination is the mother of all art and the source of all its beauty." Fransico Goya y Lucientes

218.

mek

August 1, 2005, 10:23 PM

I just want to say that I appreciate Kathleen's contribution to the blog and usually agree with her on each topic. (thank you Kathleen). I do not have the time to explore each issue in depth, but I read most of what is said. I hope to contribute more as time permits.

219.

Jack

August 1, 2005, 10:39 PM

Ahab (#217), that is "the sleep of reason," as in, when reason is asleep.

220.

oldpro

August 1, 2005, 11:19 PM

Don't get hung up on this stuff Ahab. The excerpt didn't stand up. When you beak it down it just breaks down.

221.

oldpro

August 1, 2005, 11:21 PM

MEK, please do contrubute more. Kahtleen needs some help.

222.

ahab

August 1, 2005, 11:29 PM

I didn't translate the version I quoted, Jack, and I can't say who did - I don't know which of 'sleep' or 'dream' is the better translation. But if translation is what you do do, then I believe you.

A little oxymoron here or there never hurt anyone, might even work better than a cliche once in a while.

223.

ahab

August 1, 2005, 11:39 PM

I was going for a little deep-thoughts-by-jack-handy (SNL) kind of reasoning. I thought 'umami' was a nice free-association touch. I'll be careful to stick to clear reasoned logic from now on. Promise.

224.

Matty

August 2, 2005, 1:48 PM

Sorry all... I didn't expect the excerpt to get such a critical parsing... I suppose I should have known better.
Reading this essay recently though, I felt it had a certain resonance with the situation of contemporary art, and the turn away from art that represents a common experience (objective), to art that represents personal experience (subjective). I had hoped to share this with you all without too much confusion... so, in an attempt to clarify:
Frankfurt is Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at Princeton, and his essay deals with arriving at a logical definition of "bullshit", as distinguished obviously from "truth", but also as distinguished from straight-out "lies" as well. Not only are the two paragraphs from 'On Bullshit' presented here out of their original context (there's about 20 or so pages of reasoned argument that preceed them, none of them mentioning the word 'art'), but I see now that they can take on a new, slightly confusing connotation when put here in an art context (especially when words and phrases like 'anti-realist' and 'representation' are used, relaying specific meanings to some here that Frankfurt surely was not implying in the original piece).
As I understand it, "forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality" are at the heart of pluralism. And "disinterested efforts to determine what is true and what is false", looked at in an art context, could be understood as the artistic effort to determine good from bad. Again in an art context, "a retreat friom the discipline required by dedication to the ideal of correctness to a quite different sort of discipline, which is imposed by a pursuit of an alternative ideal of sincerity", could be understood as a retreat from universality to singularity, or, again, objective to subjective. In this sense, "accurate representations of a common world" can be understood not as a reference to photographic realism, but akin to Greenberg's notion of representing the species over the individual, as the effective goal of great art.

George, Diamond's book is a good one, which I think needs to be read by many people who will unfortunately never read it... glad to hear they've made a TV series out of it. And I'm with you on the call that a scholarly essay titled "On Bullshit" does sound silly... but it's not really.

Elizabeth, if we were to accept the essays conclusion that 'sincerity' is bullshit, we must also accept that we are shells without substance. On the contrary, he is arguing that we are made of 'substance' that is more complex, more open to misunderstanding, than the substance which makes up the rest of the world, so therefore any argument which suggests that 'truth' about the world around us is 'unknowable' must also argue that 'truth' about ourselves is even more 'unknowable'.
My impression is all great art is created when the artist has truely looked into himself. I think the reality, however, is that great art is produced through, not an overwhelming self-interest, but rather through supreme disinterestedness with the self.

Oldpro, I think you'd get more out of the essay in its original form (it has been published by itself in itty-bitty book form... a great stocking-stuffer).

p.s. Anyone have recommmendations on MUST SEE's in San Francisco?... I'm headed out there next week.

225.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 3:49 PM

Matty, critical parsing is what you will get around here. That is what gets all the yahoos and dodos so pissed off.

Like you, I am all in favor of the general idea Frankfurt is advancing. Bullshit is serious (and dangerous) stuff and deserves serious analysis, but when an argument is logically constructed it is subject to "critical parsing" all or in part. "Out of context" is not an excuse. It is like the proof of a mathematical theorem; no holes are allowed.

On the other hand, an argument like "I like it and if you don't like it you can shove it" may need some context, and will not submit to much parsing.

"Forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality" can be convincing. I am rather enamored of the idea that experience is all we can have. The problem with this notion is that it leads to all sorts of self-serving, illegitimate conclusions which do not take into consideration the real world (or what we perceived to be the real world) and the way we relate to it, such as "anything we cannot prove is worthless and unusable" and the like. This is where the bullshit comes in , and this is where I would start if I were writing a book about it. It is an interesting and complex subject.

Your idea that great art is produced not through self-interest but rather through a radical self-disinterest is both sound and seldom said. I constantly tell students to get themselves the hell out of their art.

226.

Matty

August 2, 2005, 5:36 PM

OP,
I was kind of kidding about the 'unexpected critical parsing'... what I meant was that I hadn't anticipated the way in which you and others would find flaws in the argument, since I have the benefit of basing my understanding on the whole text of the piece, which would probably help clarify the misunderstanding of the points made in those two paragraphs I quoted. Giving the conclusion to his essay 'out of context' makes a HUGE difference, since, without tpresenting he argument that leads to his conclusion, it is of course very simple to disagree with just the conclusion. I would regret posting it because of this misunderstanding but, like you said, the general idea is a good one (and that's what I wanted to get across).


"Forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality" can be convincing.

True, bullshit can be convincing, and that, as Franklin says, "is a fact not lost on Alan Sokal". But to my understanding, this is what we are trying to resist. Bullshit, according to Frankfurt, is a greater threat to truth than even falsehood is, as even the liar has to know the truth (or believe they do), whereas to the bullshitter, truth is irrelevant.
But, rather than my paraphrasing (and perhaps mangling) his ideas, read the essay for yourself (I'm sure you'll enjoy it more than my comments on it).

227.

Matty

August 2, 2005, 5:38 PM

I think that artmaking and scientific method are closer than many people (artist and scientists) would like to think, precisely because of that importance of disinterestedness.

228.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 6:12 PM

Sure, bullshit can be seen to be a greater enemy than lying, because lying presupposes truth.

When I said "Forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality" can be convincing. I meant that i myself find them convincing. Better brains than I have think so (not that this proves anything) and I like to also, sometimes. I also like to entertain the opposite. I think we need to be able to juggle contradictions. oftten they turn out to be two sides of the same coin.

229.

Matty

August 2, 2005, 6:28 PM

I know that's what you were saying, oldpro.
To boil it all down, I'd say that Frankfurt's idea of 'correctness' is analagous to our notion of 'goodness'. In the past, artists could disagree as to which art, which artist, was more 'correct', more 'good'. Now, we've (I mean THEY've) thrown out the possibility of knowing correctness or goodness, or of at least saying they're irrelevant.

230.

oldpro

August 2, 2005, 6:58 PM

Yes, I would say they are equivalent.

231.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 1:20 PM

Ok, just a couple more tag-lines:

JUDGEMENT IS INESCAPABLE

and, since a lot of these lines only seem appropriate for the "Artblog Faction", here's one for the post-moderns:

PO MO MO FO

232.

Matty

August 4, 2005, 1:27 PM

oldpro,
"Forms of skepticism which deny that we can have ANY reliable access to an objective reality" can be convincing.

Scientific method is one form of (for the sake of argument, lets say equals =) reliable access to an objective reality

Forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any scientific method, therefore, clearly should not be convincing.

233.

oldpro

August 4, 2005, 1:54 PM

Damn, Matty. I had buried this thread.

For the sake of my sanity and the rest of the day I am not going to get deep into this. Let's just say that the scientific method is a rational approach to the business of making sense of what we perceive to be reality. (The Pomos will say that it is a construct of white European males and therefore subjective, but that is just political horseshit.)

But further than that? I am uncomforttable with certainty. It is so much fun to take a proposition and proceed from it. Right or wrong, i couldn't care less. Who's to know? I even like the Flat Earth Society.

Suppose I am a real religious type. Why can't I just say that God, for the fun of it, just keeps a little bit ahead of the scientists. He might say "Oh, for Christ's sake (sorry, son), now they have come up with evolution. Now we will have to plant more dinosaur bones."

Or "As long as thay believe that expanding universe, Big Bang crap we can relax".

Or, "The real threat is those types who think experience is the only reality. We have to keep them from being taken seriously"

There are real smart serious people who do think exactly that, including some heavy-duty scientists, and me, or at least, I like playing with the idea, for the hell of it. it's fun, and fun is better than certaintly anyday.

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