Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"yes yes"

I've finally got around to reading
Tyler Green answering these few questions as linked to by HL&B in part of his discussion of disintegration. (actually i just finally got this little Q/A to download.) Anyway the thing that leapt out at me was this:

What’s the best way for an artist to gain the attention of a critic?
I’m sure this sounds trite, but: Make good work and show it as widely as you can. A website helps. A blog isn’t a bad idea – I’m surprised more artists don’t have blogs.
Funny. I have ranted and raged against artist's websites for ages now. I really hate them. That hasn't changed. And sometimes when things are quiet here it is because, like an artist's studio, a blog might be plagued with self-doubt and self-conciousness.

I think there are loads of snide, cynical reasons why there are not more artists' blogs. Those prima-donnas can hardly think as it is, not to mention the PR expert's caution against saying anything for fear of looking like some kind of Tom Cruise. But these are not the interesting reasons.

The real reason it seems to me is that, if one is part of a school of thought, one has to be able to defend it when the doors are flung open and the masses come in. And it is just damned easier to pretend to be (or to really be) part of the whole art-as-entertainment industry. Now nothing I think or write here is likely to make that school of thought go away. I am not sure it is a school of thought.

But I am convinced it is one of the most devastating trains of thought for culture to follow in the western world. Reading the very positive Charles Simic review of the MOMA Dada show today, I was struck, again by the following:
Dada's genius was that it refused to define itself and become an art movement in an era of proliferating avant-gardes. All that its artists had in common were a few ideas about going beyond pictorial conventions, freeing art of its history in order to discover it elsewhere, as well as a sense of humor.
And while we have no limit on the number of cliched attempts to imitate this, we also have seemingly very little success. Dada refused to define itself in an era of proliferating avante-gardes. What was lost when Dada refused to define itself was the ability of artists and intellectuals to get together, even temporarily, around a common understanding and push it further. They've done so a few times. Abstract expressionism, the other movements since then. But that now seems like it was all so much modernism.
The real problem with blogging now is doing it in an atmosphere of state sanctioned and industry sacralized Dada. Dada hopelessness all the time. Outside of the Ivy-Leagues it is Dada nihilism as far as the eye can see.

Playing at imagery, making it, reveling in it is damned satisfying work. I've illustrated this post and my whole other blog and a good part of the rest of this blog with the ridiculous, the unfinished, the unfinishable. Things that fascinate me for their incompleteness and their readiness to be engaged with a ready world that is bleak and falling apart. I'm wholly against art on the internet just as I am wholly against incomplete and half-assed blog posting - though I do that too sometimes.

So perhaps I will sound like some kind of fanatic when I say that museums and galleries should not be competing with amusement parks and cinemas for entertainment dollars. I don't go to those places to get engaged. I do read blogs to get engaged. I go to Six-Flags to forget. Usually I watch movies to forget (there are exceptions). I am happy with both kinds of movies. The real competition for museums should be churches, for that is where art has always been most prescient and yes, useful.


  1. You've illustrated the power of the unfinished painting. Thanks for the reminder, I needed that. I do, however, argue the value of an artist's website. Today, an artist is severely handicapped without one.

  2. "I'm wholly against art on the internet just as I am wholly against incomplete and half-assed blog posting"

    Hhmmmm. . .

    Are you not championing something like an e-zine? Different than a web-log? I feel the blog's virtue is in its journal-esque qualities. I rather enjoy the more personal "ridiculous" and "unfinished". Too a point that is. I got a little nervous when I felt that my blog is "incomplete and half-assed" and yet. . . I sense some cycles within the blog, completing and informing itself. Growing and mutating, making up the agenda on the fly. Manifesting the Dada lack of definition.

    I think there is something revolutionary in showing that the artistic process is about dealing with "self-doubt and self-conciousness". Things might change if we demystified the whole shootin' match. I'd like to take the notion of "passion" away from the fanatics.

    ps. Someone should research the moment in our history when newspapers put Arts, Enterainment, and Leisure in the same section.

  3. there was someone at MOMA who said very specifically that the museum was competing with other entertainment venues for every families entertainment dollars. i believe that was in the late 80s or early 90s. probly would be so hard ot figure out.

    Part of the reason I so hate art on the internet is because i would never consider anything i do finished until it is in active interaction with someone else and that just can't happen on hte internet. i am all for glimpses, but it is sadly incomplete to think that these are actual experiences of art.

    I guess if you want to consider this space more of an e-zine that is ok. i hadn't really thought about the distinction much but yes, more passion, less hype. i am all for that.

  4. Your 72 dpi ghosts have engaged and communicated something to me. However incomplete, it is more than what I would I have received without the internet.

  5. Undoubtedly, and undoubtedly more and differently than a well crafted sentance might have. Please don't think I am decrying the internet as a mode of communication. the problem as I perceive it, is that the internet is very good for communicating written info, and for translating other media like photography into a format similar to written information. But people remain stubbornly analog and we perceive things thru means other than merely by glancing at them. My protest is that painting is always done at a scale that relates to the body, is mounted on walls and perceived at a distance that is as much a part of the work as is the experience of architecture or sculpture. those things, types of perception, are not raced across the internet the way a series of words or a photograph can be. It is a long argument i am always spelling out further. But thanks for the compliment and I am glad some glimmer of my intent finds a recipient.