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)


Judd said...

“Collage destroys the effectiveness of the idea…that art’s highest achievement is not simply to create an illusion of life, but to function as a kind of representation of it. Life can be directly referenced-directly incorporated into art…Collage also destroys the idea that life is a stable whole.” – Donald Kuspit

Kuspit’s quote introduces an important concept into last week’s conversation about aura. Everything that is used in a collage or assemblage has its own aura or its own previous life. By combining it with other elements, the aura of each element is changed and the grouping becomes a new entity with its own aura.

Is the function of art to be an illusion or reflection of life, or does art itself have the intrinsic qualities of being alive? Does using things that were created previously by another human being or from nature mean that it is no longer depicting something, but is something with its own qualities and aura?

Alexander Bozzy said...

"Collage is appealing largely because of its accessibility. Through its inclusion of recognizable, real life elements, collage offers a natural entree into what is often a quite abstract composition"

Collage demonstrates the creative process in an extremely palpable and demonstrative way. The illusion that art is created from the void of the artist's soul and his knowledge, is put to rest when one is confronted with the visual parallel of a collage.

Isn't all art ,whether it be writing, painting, filmmaking or poetry, merely a collage whose cut outs are obtained from the mind rather than the material?

eric stewart said...

“in the mid- to late nineteenth century such artists as Eduard Manet, Georges Seurat and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec relished the depiction of “low” culture......'The principle of collage construction itself collapses the distinction between high and low by transforming the totalizing creative practice of traditional painting into a fragmented consumption of already existing manufactured images'...”

The 19th century paintings described present “low” brow activities through the lens of high art. Collage collapses the distinctions because it lacks the critical distance of representation, instead of being about mass culture- it is of mass culture. A new aesthetics pushing towards a new semantics. Even the fragility and impermanence of the media resist commodification. Commodification in the realm of art objects being the key indicator of what “high” art is.

Ultimately these objects because of their historic novelty have come to be considered “high” art. Despite the collapsing of “high” art into “low”, the distinctions still exist. What practices might be employed in the contemporary moment to Further collapse or make irrelevant these distinctions?

Michael Davis said...

"for Braque and Picasso, such concerns about what was or was not a suitable fine art material were irrelevant."
I suppose that If I had to classify my work as any one thing it would most likely be collage. which is most likely why this slight passage in the reading caught my eye the most. I don't care about "low" or "high" art or whatever posterity. I use what I can scrape together to create what I need to because it is my existence. I have had discussions on the "right" and "wrong" materials to create film (or art). However at the end of the day we must remember that no matter how noble the goal, art is somewhat a selfish undertaking (some would say a neurotic one also) and if the artist is content who are we to judge validity. regardless of the fact that each one of us will no matter what rank and classify.

Lotem said...
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Lotem said...

"Wood, paper, cloth, leather, glass, string, oil-cloth, majolica, tin and all metals, colors, glue, etc... etc... will enter as most legitimate materials in our present artistic constructions..."

This section reminds me of the time Julianne Moore in Short Cuts said that her old art professor would only allow them to use natural materials to paint, such as wood or mud or something like that. It makes you think that maybe art can be separated from the constraints of a materialistic society, in that the materials used are not very rich. The conflict however is that even if natural materials are used to create a collage that artwork is considered a material possession to be valued. So I guess even with Julianne Moore's pure intentions to create something natural, free of civilization, the artwork can take a life of its own and will "enter as most legitimate materials in our present artistic constructions".

Can art ever be separated from the ideals of society and become organically "natural"?

felix levy said...

Page 3 first paragraph:
    "What was also at issue for the Cubists was how to reintroduce color into their monochrome compositions without investing color with the connotative or emotional import it had for the Impressionist, Neo-Impressionist, and Symbolist artists who preceded them."

This quote comes from a section discussing the beginning of collage art. Braque's and Picasso's first works in this medium were not intended to spawn new artforms. They were taking a shortcut (artistic shortcut) in their Cubist works by applying re-fabricated materials to their pieces.
In last week's terms, he used the aura of these pre-made things and added them to his work: the aura of one incorporated in another.

Why was avoiding 'connotative' color important for collage Cubists? There is value in all meanings behind one color or another.

Alicia Ramirez said...

"Collage provides even the individual most unfamiliar with modern art a tangible, identifiable element from the real work-a way to get beyond the abstraction and toward a deeper understanding of the work as a whole."

This positivity in this quote reminds me of last week's reading, "The Ecstasy of Influence". Overall Lethem thought it important to be influenced by the melting pot of culture and language. He made it clear that there is so much "sharing" going on between artists, musicians, writers, etc. and that this sharing is inevitable as its been happening for so long anyways. If we are all eating this soup from a melting pot of culture then we might as well do something with the excrements... Because each and every one of us has our own unique way of digesting this stuff so we may as well use that process to shit out something new so to speak. Going back to the quote, collage has the opportunity to provide multiple ways into the meaning of the work. Collage is opening doors for those who can't open these doors themselves.

So on one hand collage acts as a positive and productive mode of learning, understanding, filtering, and recreating. But there's no avoiding the other hand, the bad side. What are the repercussions of collage?

R_Sch said...

"Decontextualized from its original function, a collage element also presents the viewer with a new way in which to perceive the world."

Collage offers a form that allows for juxtapositions of materials and photograph elements that often creates a more fluid and dynamic context than the original materials themselves contained. This degree of combination and fluid construction certainly could influence the viewer to perceive completely new connections and have novel perceptions in regards to this clash of ideas. Similar to Burroughs' cut up method with words, collage creates new meanings which can oftentimes seem to have a depth that was lacking in the source material. Collage as a medium seems to make use of the associative mechanisms of perceptions that we naturally have, that is, elements that are seen as a part of a whole are automatically associated in our perceptions.

Does collage uniquely access this ability to modulate the way we make connections between ideas/images/concepts?

zac rice said...

"The principle of collage construction itself collapses the distinction between high and low by transforming the totalizing creative practice of traditional painting into a fragmented consumption of already existing manufactured images"

With all the new forms off media created within the last century has created an even larger rift for collage to fall into between high and low art. With all the new forms of media for art creation now more people have the ability for themselves to attempt to create high art.

Could some ancient greek poems like the odyssey be considered a collage of literature?

Asa Lotterhos said...

"the very medium of collage undermined the process by which works of art themselves inevitably become commodities in the modern world."

Commodification has seeped into all the cracks of contemporary consciousness. Everything has a price and virtually all objects are made to be bought and sold, bought and sold, bought and sold. All objects denote the materialization of labor. By taking objects already in existence and either repurposing them or taking all purpose out of them is a way to undermine an objects value as a commodity. Collage dissembles essentially someone else's work/labor/money within the culture industry and displays it in a different context.

If collage is able to undermine the process of art as commodification, how does this change the way we view the power of the culture industry to sell us the new thing?

Asa Lotterhos said...
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