Friday, September 20, 2013

WEEK FOUR: Appropriation, The Pictures Generation, our first collage project!

 quotation, excerptation, framing, re-framing, stagine, re-staging, re-evaluation, variation, version, interpretation, imitation, approximation, re-enactment, prequel,  pastiche, paraphrase, parody, homage, mimicry,  echo, allusion, 

said Douglas Crimp,
in his seminal 1977 catalog essay PICTURES, in an attempt to describe contemporary artists' new postmodern relationship to images. An overview of many works from this period in multiple mediums were seen at The Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC in 2009 in an exhibition called The Pictures Generation. Their works challenged ideas of originality, drawing attention to relations between power, gender and creativity, consumerism, commodity value, the social sources and uses of art, the idea of spectacle over lived lived experience, i.e., the relationship of the simulacra to reality. Appropriation artists use many strategies to borrow or recycle elements of media and human made visual culture.  Inherent in our understanding is the concept that the newly created work often successfully recontextualizes whatever it borrows from. 
We ended the lecture by watching Dara Birnbaums landmark work in the history of video appropriation Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman  from 1978.

The main event this week was our first class critique on the 2D COLLAGE project!

by Raziel Scher

“Abandoned from context makes things hard to read” by Alicia Ramirez

I began the process by looking through my bedroom for sources. I found cardboard, purple fabric, some sketches of mine, an American Cinematographer magazine, and a HOME magazine. I cut the cardboard with a knife and with scissors, glued the piece of fabric to a piece of cardboard and then began flipping through the American Cinematographer magazine. The photos in the magazine were mostly movie stills so I cut the people/actors out of the stills and began arranging them with the sketches of people that I had done. I found a mirror in my room as well and decided I wanted to incorporate it. I used a hot glue gun for most of the pasting.
The original concept was to structure the collage from bottom to top as The Home, The Backyard, and The Heavens. I incorporated a map from LACMA with photos of beds I cut out from the HOME magazine. The beds represent dreams, which represent the subconscious, uniqueness or inner being of a person. The map was cut up, disorganized, and pasted amongst the beds. The idea was that mapping a person’s inner being, uniqueness, or subconscious thoughts would ultimately get you lost. One characteristic of modernism is that the artwork was an extension of the artist or in other words believing in the idea of authorship and originality. But the postmodern approach is that unavoidably artists will be too influenced by the other art and ideas around them to claim complete authorship over the works they create. Therefore, mapping the origin of the idea, the image, the lyric, or the thought is going to be just as difficult as trying to map out the origin of a person’s uniqueness. In “The Ecstasy of Influence” Jonathan Lethem explains how any one creation can have a complicated ancestry that does not lead back to a specific and certain moment of birth.  Lethem also expresses that humanity has pooled their ideas into a giant melting pot in which we continue to consume from making it even more difficult to trace anything back to it’s rightful birthplace. The only way our consumption has not used up these ideas is because we do not just walk away once we have consumed them. We digest and then expel these ideas back into the giant melting pot.
This image influenced my arranging of The Backyard. I have three figures with different items coming out of their rears. The woman on the left has hot air balloons below her rear representing the “full of hot air” expression. Is her “excretion” just an empty contribution? I placed a woman handing a man what looks to me like her clothing, but the photo is too nondescript to say, beneath the butt of the man in the middle. Essentially I wanted it to look as though whatever the woman was handing over to the man was actually the excretion from the man above. The woman on the right has sunlight coming out from her butt, which is shining on the garden below, representing the cyclical process of photosynthesis. This refers back to the melting pot as a place for us to plant ideas, fertilize them, and pick them.
The Heavens incorporates the mirror in which all the figures are going towards or reaching for as a way to show the importance that the audience and viewer hold in relation to the work. In The Gleaners and I one of the men interviewed, Jean Laplance, values the anti-ego, the other over the self, and the connection between the other and the self. It is never just about the self. I wanted the viewer to see their own reflection in the collage in order to place them directly in the mess.

On a side note, I now understand what I missed in the assignment. Appropriation has to do with critiquing the contexts that we are forced to believe in. I was not considering, but instead ignoring the context in which my sources began. I was too caught up in the world that I was trying to create on the cardboard that I just used the figures and images to fit in with MY story. There was no critique of the original sources that I was using, but instead just a lot of complicated representations and symbols of ideas influenced by the class. Overall my concept became too complicated. I was slightly aware of this while I was making the collage, but ignored the thought and became highly aware of it once class was over. It’s all a learning process.

             This collage is a collection of images appropriated through scanning and internet searching, which speak of the sublime experience.  The template of Jan Van Eyck’s altarpiece, “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” was used in order to bring together works from differing time periods and movements into one cohesive piece. Various Photoshop techniques were used in the collage, but mainly the magic eraser and the selection tool.  The concept of “The story of how you don’t exist,” is that abstract expressionists such as Rothko, figurative artists such as Haring, Chagall, and Guston, and contemporary artists Cattelan, Turrell, and Nick Cave are all telling the same story:  the story of how you don’t exist.  Ironically, the original Ghent altarpiece is telling the story of how you do exist as it captures Adam and Eve, Christ’s birth, figures from Heaven, and other biblical mythologies.
            Perhaps no piece of writing better encapsulates the idea of the absence of identity as Roland Barthes’, The Death of the Author.  Barthes writes, “Writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin.  Writing is that neutral, composite, oblique space where our subject slips away, the negative where all identity is lost starting with the very identity of the body writing.”  I think that art exists in the same timeless and nameless space as Barthes’ description of writing.  The identity of the artist is secondary as is shown by the cohesiveness of the collage despite that the artists lived in different parts of the world at different times.  Images and ideas are used over and over again throughout history and belong to nobody in particular.  As is proposed by Agnes Varda in the film, The Gleaners and I, “You pick ideas, you pick images, you pick emotions from other people, and then you make it into a film."  Art gives birth to more art, and so on.  In 1936 Walter Benjamin spoke about how the earliest art work was made to enable ritual, and that mechanical reproduction in art was a movement away from art’s “dependence” on ritual.  Artists such as Nick Cave, whose work is a combination of costume and performance prove that in spite of (and perhaps because of) accelerated mechanical and technological reproduction, ritualistic art is as relevant today as in the early 1400’s, when Van Eyck created the much recycled and appropriated “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb.”

Judd Schiffman, September18, 2013

Thank you everyone for all your thoughts and works!

PS. Here is our new text RECYCLED IMAGES (1991) written by William Wees, 
after which our course is named. Please read and maybe pay special attention to the interview with Bruce Conner!

PPS. new book alert!!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

WEEK THREE: COLLAGE: Papier collé & Cut-ups

We begin at the beginning of our synthetic 20th century, with the word "collage" from the French word for GLUE, coined and developed as a technique of visual art  by
Picasso "Still LIfe with Chair Caning"

Braque "Violin and Pipe-Le Quotidien" !

We watched the exciting and comprehensive Germany-DADA, An ABC of Dadaism, a 1969 documentary  by Helmut Herbst, an inventive work of collage itself, that gives us a portrait of the extremely active DADA period for (anti-) artists, writers, letters, ideas, materials, collaborations, theatrical hijinks and politics.  The framing device of the film is a backwards alphabet of participants, as well as a Sothebys auction of the library of Dada founder Tristan "poetry is for everyone" Tzara , and a features  the  radical Dada artists Raoul photomontage Hausman&  Hannah Cut with a Kitchen Knife Hoch .


Jump ahead 50 years --shift cut & tangle wordlines with Brion Gysin's invention of CUT UPS, developed in collaboration with author William Burroughs, who was inspired by Tristan Tzara and utilized this radical technique in many of his novels such as his 1962 The Ticket that Exploded .

For our first in class workshop we explored these techniques of Tzara, Gysin and Burroughs, perpetrated upon the New York Times (the paper of record) . 
"When you cut into the present the future leaks out." said Burroughs, suggesting that to engage in cut-ups might be a way to decode the written material's implicit content, to discover a truer meaning of any given text, or perhaps even as a form of divination. 
We made our own experiments and with constraints, recombinant meaning, anti-authorship, and though the results were uneven they were definitely unpredictable, somewhat destabilizing, and quite surprising.  
I'll post our class poem pulled form some of the differnet groups cut-ups at teh end of our workshop pictures.

Next week: APPROPRIATION!! Read up on all those texts from our Appropriation textbook and I look forward to your first assignments in 2D collages next week.

Maya and Lotem build a cut-up assemblage, with twizzler.
Judd and Zac cutting and pasting



Crossed out spy situation you.
7 miles per gallon modernity
Last month the universe, ew,
the planets surface and its core anyway.
If the voice sounds distinct, the credit cards.
Internati-attacks. A tax
reigns this existential copyright childhood.
An old friend, since the early human being. 
Associated fingertips.
How does 2 new iPhones re-heartbeat?
Again surveillance power blooming.

&bonus track:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

WEEK TWO: Originality & Authorship, or, Benjamin, Barthes & Banksy oh my!

We dug deep into our readings this week, and inaugurated our expedition into the ideas in Walter Benjamins classic text  by watching Keith Sanborn's  1996 The Artwork in its Age of Mechanical Reproducibility by Walter Benjamin as told to Keith Sanborn by Jayne Austen 1936, which he calls "an attempt to problematize ownership and authorship in the age of digital reproduction". Special thanks to Michael for leading us thru some of the many concepts, especially  aura.
Authorship of course was taken up by Roland Barthes in his Death of an Author article and though we merely mentioned it in passing, get ready for me to ask you  what he means by this on Wednesday!  We started thinking about authorship in terms of  'readymade' art objects with Marcel Duchamp's Fountain, R.Mutt 1916 , and with a found object film by  artist Hollis Frampton that he called Works and Days (1969) . In his statement on this film he remarks upon his relationship to authorship  by citing the precedent of Chinese vermilion seals as marks of the connoisseur , like so:
We ended the evening's explorations by watching B-movie , a short documentary of 
the-graffiti- artist -known-as-Banksy. ;)

Nice work on the Lethem responses  last week--oh and by the way I meant to bring your attention to one of Jonathan Lethem's projects inspired by his research on open source culture,  called The Promiscuous Materials Project, just in case you need a story to adapt into a film or something, check it out.

Our next topic is collage and cut-ups so catch up on all your readings so you can be awesome in the discussions, and please comment below on The Synthetic Century: Collage from Cubism to PostModernism, especially people who haven't tried their hand at QCQ format yet !
 (ps. I will be checking them on Tuesday night)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

WEEK ONE: The Gleaners and I (2000)

"I'm not poor, I have enough to eat," says the filmmaker Agnes Varda, "but there is another kind of gleaning, which is artistic gleaning. You pick ideas, you pick images, you pick emotions from other people, and then you make it into a film."

HERE are ten things gleaned from The Gleaners and I, posted by a reviewer on the independent film streaming site FANDOR

and here are our very first readings :

We will be discussing the classic Benjamin text as a class, but please post your comments on the Lethem article (and anything else you'd liket o bring up) below!!