Monday, July 12, 2010

Group One Overview

After reading the essays of the first group (“Against Interpretation, Challenging the literal, Chaos, and Interview with Agnes Martin”) they all have a common theme of concepts within art, and the interpretations of them. In “against Interpretation” The author argues that art is now over interpreted and form is lost, while “Challenging the literal” states that interpretation is impossible anyways because of a difference in personal associations. Part of the fun of conceptual art is digging into the head of the artist, and part of the fun I enjoy in making art is leaving clues for the viewer to follow. In the art world it is common knowledge that everyone interprets things differently. Not that I am in argument of these essays I have to say I agree with both of them and enjoyed the message each had to say, but both were like beating a dead horse (simile: like a metaphor but using the words like or as) compliments of challenging the literal. These essays both had a reasonably clear point and made them well. I can’t say the same for the Chaos essay. it rambled and rambled about topics that did not pertain to the subject at all, to the point that I don’t particularly want to speak about it, so moving on to the interview. Agnes martin challenges the first two essays with her idea of inspiration. If art is made with her ultimately pure form of inspiration it cannot be misinterpreted. That is if we as humans all have the same root emotions and the same signals for them. She claims that her art is so pure that she does not have a hand in it at all, but that inspiration tells her hand where to paint and what to paint. There are no ideas behind her work. So while it contradicts both essays it also reinforces “Against Interpretation.” She is bringing back pure form and color to her pieces. Maybe Agnes and the author of the first essay should have gotten together and had tea they would have hit it off.

Interview with Agnes Martin, 1997

I’m pleasantly pleased to add Agnes Martin to my list of artists I enjoy. Her interview was a breath of fresh air. Agnes is an artist that works entirely with inspiration, specifically the inspiration that is without cause. The example she used was; when you wake up in the morning and your happy for no reason it is an emotion with no cause. Those are the emotions she paints about. An interesting thing said was her view on music, considering it the highest form of art. Music is the highest form of art because of the emotions it elicits. These pure emotions that inspiration should come from. Agnes enjoys a clear mind for thoughts to bounce around in. She has given up theory’s, and ideas with a belief that ideas simply clutter and confuse inspiration until the inspiration is no longer visible in the art. She also approaches her work in a humble manner explaining that the education system is wrong. Education tells us we can do anything, but Agnes believes that when you come in believing you can achieve anything, you can really only repeat what has been done. As a person one needs to let experimentation happen.


1. If you feel inspired by something should you continue researching the topic in search of more inspiration or will this cloud the initial response.

2. Are artists overly concerned with how their work is displayed?

3. Agnes states that artists do not deserve credit for their work that the inspiration does. Where does inspiration come from? I know what I believe.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Chaos, Territory, Art: Deleuze and the Framing of the Earth, Elizabeth Grosz 2006

In Elizabeth Grosz’s essay she begins exploring the origins of conceptual art from the view of a philosopher. Not a philosopher attempting to interpret finished work but to show the similarities within the processes of science, art and philosophy. She starts off her essay with the line, “Art does not produce concepts, it addresses problems”. I can’t agree with all of this. Yes its understood that concepts are not created they are more fallen into during ones life, and represented in the artists work. To say that art addresses problems is a huge umbrella to place over the entire art community. Much of art made today expresses nothing beyond form. She goes on to speak about art as the ability to create a sensation out of chaos. This first step is the framework of the art. Frames are represented in nearly all forms of art: music, painting, performance, etc…. Architecture in particular is a great example. We use frames, in forms of walls floor and ceiling to reterritorialize our world, creating for us a livable space out of chaos. These frames are also repeated in our windows, simple frames allowing the outside to come in the space, blurring the distinction between interior and exterior. Also in our furniture is the mimicry of our territory frames in tables, mirrors, and beds. Even before these frames emerge there is the root of art. Nature serves as the root of art it does not come from man itself. Being that I am an artist of nature I tend to agree, but a counter statement can be said of whether man also belongs to the broadened category of nature. I fully understand that Grosz has been studying philosophy for a good deal of time now, but this essay seemed to be reaching and over analyzing just to fill space. Of the entire essay I believe the last few pages were the most enlightening. “Art produces sensations never before produced,” This is a great line. Art is making visual the invisible, making audible the inaudible. Pulling from chaos a small portion of chaos to create a sensation. That is the talent of the artist.

Having said all of that I think the idea of chaos needs to be addressed. Chaos is an idea of opinion, and something that I do not believe exists. As an artist I seek to represent the magnificence expressed in nature around me. I do not feel I am plucking out a slice of chaos to represent as it has not been represented before. I aim to take the awe I feel and translate it into art. That awe I feel does not come from chaos it comes a divinely engineered environment.

Three Questions:

1. Does combining Art and Philosophy over complicate art?

2. Should all art create a sensation?

3. Why are artists credited with being able to pull basically comprehensible ideas and images out of chaos? Is that not what our eyes do anyways everyday?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"Challenging the Literal" Daniel Chandlers, 2002

Daniel Chandler gave an extremely thorough grammar lesson in chapter four of his book, and a new way of looking into things. He speaks about the impossibility of universal language, the improbability of two different phrases having the same meaning, and defining the differences between metaphors, synecdoches, irony, and metonyms. These tropes could be easily translated into art speak, and aid the artist in their quest for universal concepts or towards the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Chandlers speaks both in a literary sense and a visual sense using photography and advertising as his examples. A truer statement could not be said that when something is seen it must resemble something. Every time there is a critique of artwork, especially abstract works the words, “It looks like …” nearly always come up. I had never stopped to think that literary devices could translate directly into visual ones, something I should have known since I make art in English, and metaphors plague my work. They are inescapable; completely ingrained into our world. As mentioned in the essay even when I call someone bright it is simply a substitution for intelligent that many take for granted. At the same time a metaphor like that one will not always translate to other cultures. This is the idea behind Connotation. Connotations are the personal and cultural associations to a metaphor. An example of this is in America the car is a sign of freedom, but of all these metaphors, a synecdoche will be my personal favorite. A synecdoche is a type of metonym where only a portion of said object is used to represent it. An example as mentioned in “Challenging the Literal” would be the use of the word sails to replace ship (“we have ten sails on the water”). This has got to be a literary device that translates the most into the visual arts. When a picture is cropped your mind uses that one portion of the image to fill in the rest. Freshman year I was told not to use metaphors in my work, that it was over done and old hat. This essay politely states the impossibility of that task. coming away from this essay I feel that metaphors should be studied further, and a sharp eye kept out for metaphors within your own art that you might not catch, but a viewer will.

From this my three questions:

1. Because metaphors are so easily mistranslated or over analyzed should we as artists worry about their meaning beyond our own experiences?

2. Is the use of metaphors within art destroying its original meaning beyond the literal object.

3. As a culture we are now over saturated with imagery. Is art being over interpreted because of our ready memory bank of visual associations?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

"Against Interpretation," Susan Sontags 1964

After reading through this essay with a dictionary I whole-heartedly agree with everything Susan had to say. The function of art has changed a great deal since its conception. In some cases it is still used as a ritual/magical tradition, but modern art has evolved into a theoretical monster. This theoretical monster is causing artists to defend themselves as well as their work putting content in the front seat and form on the back burner. So much so that we as artists search out content in pieces that have none, completely choking out form and furthering the idea that all art must have some underlying secret idea. Art is a powerful tool in evoking emotion. By forcing interpretation on everything it is made manageable, comfortable, tolerable by the viewer. What happened to the sensory experience of art? I particularly enjoyed Sontags statement on an old movie scene of a tank rolling down an empty road. “Those who reach for a Freudian interpretation of the tank are only expressing their lack of response to what is there on the screen.” Since the turn in art to become all about content there has been a movement to avoid it. Susan says art isn’t running but it really is. With abstract, pop, and even minimalist art they want no interpretation beyond the literal. A shift needs to be made that all art can be appreciated again from the transparence of the piece.

From this essay I raise my three questions:

1. Why almost 50 years after this article was written are we still struggling with over interpretation?

2. I take a question straight from the essay: is it possible to make art just what it is?

3. Since interpretation is not law, and varies from viewer to viewer, why was it ever elevated to the status it is today?