Journal of Visual Art Practice

Published by Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Print ISSN: 1470-2029
Mature theory construction in design research has been hampered by ill-considered ideas. The notion of research by design is such an idea, conflating practice and research in ways that make explicit theory development difficult. This article examines some of the problems associated with the notion of research by design. It also examines the roles of tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge in theory construction, while clarifying the role of explicit knowledge in reflective practice.
This article was first given as a conference paper for the symposium of `As Painting: Division and Displacement', at the Wexner Center for the Arts, Colombus, Ohio in May 2001. It is concerned with the way three French painters, Daniel Dezeuze, François Rouan and Christian Bonnefoi have, since the end of the 1960s, proposed in their work alternative models of `non-composition' and with a background of a dominant modernist heritage (the monochrome, the grid, the series, specific objects). Collage and tressage bring Rouan and Bonnefoi to a way of thinking about the `thickness of the surface' (l'épaisseur du plan) nourished through such references as cubist collage and the works of Mondrian and Pollock. Dezeuze also shares such techniques when he uses tarlatan gauze cut-outs which dismantle the unity of the picture surface becoming three-dimensional and sculptural and opening up a critical approach in terms of questions of the mode of production of the works as well as their modes of occupying space and exhibition. The research around the practices here is resituated within a theoretical context typified by the thinking of Jacques Lacan, Michel Foucault and Louis Althusser where notions of division and displacement enter into a resonance with those of the division of the subject and the deconstruction of structure and ideological apparatuses.
Between 1953 and 1958, ARTnews in the United States included a series that focused on a particular contemporary artist who was interviewed while making an artwork. Amongst the artists, usually American, were de Kooning, Gottlieb, Diebenkorn, Mitchell and Lippold, and the series title used the artist's name, followed by paints a picture or makes a sculpture or some variant. Interviewers/writers included Fairfield Porter, Frank O'Hara, Thomas B. Hess and Irving Sandler.As well as providing an informative survey of contemporary art practice in New York, the series was innovative in that it provided an insight into the artist's work in progress and his/her thoughts about creativity. The format enabled the artist and commentator to talk about a particular work in terms of its aims, theme, preoccupations and interpretations, and for the commentator to provide not only a formal analysis, but also to describe some of the decision-making processes of the artist why the artist had made a particular decision and rejected other alternatives, and to what effect. Furthermore, a certain amount of detailed technical information about materials and methods was disclosed, as well as information about the artist's working environment, such as the size of the studio, whether the artist worked close-up, and whether the work stood on an easel or lay on the floor.The overall result was to create a series that gave a reasonably intimate insight into the everyday creative processes of artists in the United States in the early to late 1950s. Rather than romanticizing the creative act, so giving yet another breathless account of the intuitive, inspired or tortured genius, the making of art is demystified by an openness about the making process, and a making explicit of what is usually tacit knowledge.This article examines one of the ARTnews series Fairfield Porter's 1954 article on Larry Rivers's Portrait of Berdie I, 1953, and evaluates its contribution in terms of a better understanding of how artists think about works they are creating.
This article presents the guest editorial for the special issue of JVAP on New Knowledge in The Creative Disciplines, which contextualises the proceedings of the first Experiential Knowledge Conference 2007, held by the University of Hertfordshire in collaboration with London Metropolitan University in June 2007. The conference was concerned with the nature and role of experiential knowledge in creative and practice-led disciplines, and its significance for the emergence of new knowledge and understanding in both research and practice. The issue presents a selection of the conference papers which fall into three areas: Experience and Knowledge in Research and Practice, Knowledge Management in Art, Design & Media, and Education & Knowledge Communication.
This article explores how process is narrated in artists' life history recordings. An artist's identity is entwined with his/her processes and the work. Talking about process, therefore, is also an identity story constructed under the rubric of the life history. I use the term life history in this instance to denote an audio recording that broadly spans family background, education and professional practice. Life stories refer to the bounded narratives that occur in the life history, while narrative itself, in this article, refers to the process of narration and the text it produces. This article explores how oral history interviews elicit stories which enable artists to situate the meaning of their creative processes in relational contexts arising out of events, and characters encountered in their lives. With its focus on the spoken word as the story telling medium, artists engage in making verbalized sense of their actions not only to the listener but also to themselves. It must be made clear, however, that life histories, like autobiographies, are here problematized as deeply mediated texts that do not transparently reflect their authors' intentions, nor present any immanent truths, nor construct a unified subject. The article opens with a discussion of how life histories in the visual arts are situated in a cultural context as a set of relationships, following on with a discussion of the concept of the individual relational self as a narrative strategy of identity in stories of process and making.
This article discusses Tony Cragg's Laibe (1991) in the context of fine and applied arts practice of the time. Just as many British crafts practitioners were concerned with using the vessel as an iconic starting point to explore sculptural ideas, Cragg's Laibe, which conflates the vessel form with the suggestion of a loaf of cut bread, brings together the necessities for sustaining life in a metaphoric use of form and material. The obvious hand marks, while using industrial clay, at once suggests the long history of thrown pots as well as contemporary practices. Like many artists who have used clay as part of a broader range of materials, Cragg collaborated with a ceramicist, in his case during a residency at the European Ceramic Work Centre in the Netherlands. Laibe was shown in A Secret History of Clay: From Gauguin to Gormley (2004), and the article discusses the critical and exhibiting distancing of art from craft, in spite of the overlaps of concerns.
This paper addresses the topic of creative practice research degrees by looking at the role concepts play in the creation and appreciation of art. The nature of the relationship between conceptual judgement on the one hand and aesthetic experience on the other has been a central topic for discussion throughout the history of Western philosophy. Unfortunately, the greater part of that history has given us arguments which try to wedge the two apart. However, the phenomenological tradition within recent continental philosophy sets out to remove the opposition between the conceptual and the aesthetic. Two aspects of phenomenology are important here: 1) its interest in writing, and 2) its emphasis on our condition as beings immersed in and actively engaged with the world, as opposed to being detached observers of it. The two come together in the claim that the concept - any concept - is not something which confines or reduces experience but an action through which the speaker brings to light new aesthetic possibilities. By tracing these points through the writings of Kant, Nietzsche and Sartre, I show how the descriptions we employ in aesthetic judgement a) can stand alongside the physical gestures of the artist as constructive interventions in the development of an artwork, and b) can bring new perspectives to bear on the theoretical framework employed by the practitioner in their research.
This article discusses the training of actors, which entails assisting the performer in the development of such abstract competencies as are appropriate to that activity; maintaining a character, establishing circles of attention, delivery of text, stage presence, and conveying the illusion of naturalism. Some of these activities are incredibly subtle and detailed, and involve the shaping of multiple simultaneous actions. The successful delivery of such actions is dependent upon the smooth functioning of both the actor's body and also their body of knowledge. This particular learning activity is interesting because it involves a complex mix of practical and intellectual knowledge which the competent actor needs to integrate into a unified competency. Drawing initially on the language of artificial intelligence research, specifically approaches to the development of artificial intelligence ( AI), which have been referred to as top-down and bottom-up, it is suggested that certain aspects of actor training aimed at the construction of such a unified competency correspond to the top-down approach. It is argued that the equivalent of this approach is found in techniques which allow the transfer of appropriate metaphors which give cognitive structure to the imparted knowledge. These structuring metaphors influence and organize action, and are therefore necessary for the optimization of performance and the development of excellence. It is also suggested that in cases where new knowledge is less well supported by metaphor than older knowledge then the older knowledge will tend to persist in language and practice.
The article reconsiders the relationship between art practice and art theory within a hermeneutic framework. It draws out the work of an artwork from the perspective of aesthetic experience by emphasizing the formative role of conflict between the sensuous and the conceptual in the process of bringing its meaning in(to) sight. In this context the important role of mediation of the artwork through language is being critically looked at.
Minimalism, Subjectivity, and Aesthetics: Rethinking the Anti-Aesthetic Tradition in Late-modern ArtMinimalism is routinely interpreted as anti-subjective, anti-expressive and anti-aesthetic. This paper challenges this interpretation by closely examining two accounts of minimalism: Rosalind Krauss's article of 1973, Sense and Sensibility, and Thierry de Duve's amplification and refutation of aspects of Krauss' argument in his 1983 article, Performance Here and Now. Each believes that minimalism presents a model of subjectivity, and each produces an account of subjectivity that is both embedded in the work and yet produced by the viewer's interaction with it. Krauss and de Duve do not agree on the theory of the subject that Minimalism enacts, despite agreeing that a model of subjectivity is what is at stake in minimalist art.One can clearly see here the revival of Hegel's claim that the task of art is to present man with himself as well as a renewed focus on the nature of aesthetic reception. It is my contention that aesthetics allows us to see more clearly what is at stake in the refiguring of art that these two groundbreaking accounts of minimalism trace. Thus, although minimalism is often argued to mark the beginning of an anti-aesthetic tradition in art practice and art criticism, its radical achievements are best understood through aesthetics.This crucial link between subjectivity and late-modern art has been all but lost in the subsequent literature. A phenomenological approach to minimalism, such as Krauss's, is now simply shorthand for attending to the motile and perceptual experience of art and its context. This approach is then neatly historicised and believed to be dispatched by subsequent art with a more politically attuned concern for context. To resuscitate her theoretical concern with models of subjectivity, as De Duve does, upsets this foreclosure, while also creating an opening for other ways to trace the progress of late-modern artthe overall aim of my paper.
The attempt to describe a particular sensation often, if not inevitably, requires us to draw metaphorical comparisons with another sense, for example, a bitter, lemon yellow and the sound of a trumpet is scarlet, with the end result that metaphors of the order colour is taste and sound is colour are produced. I argue that the distinction between literal and metaphorical language is bound up with the history of classification and, in particular, the classification of the senses. The two main competing epistemologies in the debate are, on the one hand, Locke's empiricism, which argues for the importance of literal language and the discrete nature of the senses and, on the other, Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology, which emphasizes the positive role played by metaphor in cognition and asserts that the senses are interrelated aspects of our bodily engagement with the world. This article (1) outlines the two epistemologies, (2) demonstrates how they lead to different conceptions of our sensory contact with the world and the cognitive value of metaphor, and (3) indicates how my analysis of Merleau-Ponty's aesthetics leads to a reappraisal of the visual and epistemic status of art practice.
Recent advances in our understanding of the cognitive neuroscience of perception have encouraged cognitive scientists and scientifically minded philosophers to turn their attention towards art and the problems of philosophical aesthetics. This cognitive turn does not represent an entirely novel paradigm in the study of art. Alexander Baumgarten originally introduced the term aesthetics to refer to a science of perception. Artists' formal methods are a means to cull the structural features necessary for constructing clear perceptual representations from a dense flux of sensory information in conscious experience. Therefore he interpreted artists' formal methods as tools for studying the structure of perception, and art as a field whose interests overlapped with aesthetics. In what follows, I examine three approaches to cognitive science and aesthetics that rest on a tacit assumption of Baumgarten's program. I argue that, whereas this new research can explain how viewers perceptually recover the content of artworks, it does not explain what makes that content aesthetically interesting. Therefore, the challenge for cognitive science and aesthetics is to tie the perceptual practices of artists and viewers to their more narrowly construed aesthetic, or artistic, practices. What is needed to establish this link is an interpretation of Baumgarten's original definition of aesthetics that treats attention to the way the formal structure of an artwork works to perceptually convey its content as a source of aesthetic interest. Unfortunately this interpretation is not transparently established by explanations of the perceptual practices of artists and viewers. Therefore, I conclude that it remains an open question whether this research can contribute to philosophical aesthetics.
The AHRB paper on practice-based research, published in September 2003, as a response to the RAE consultation exercise declares that creative works cannot, of themselves, be considered as valid research outputs. The paper suggests that the works need the equivalent of a scholarly apparatus. The author argues that this position needs to be stated more moderately in order to recognize the realities of the research dimension of the artwork.
The essay offers a close reading of a series of photographs by Alejandra Riera, the subject of which is the traumatic legacy of a revolutionary event: the Parisian Commune (1871). The fundamental problem addressed by Riera's piece is how we can ever have access to historical events that have become repressed or even erased. Her aesthetic proposal is a relational system based on colour and form that engages the viewer's unconscious memories in order to forge affiliations between the known and the unknowable. This ambiguous logic of affiliations is further explored in the essay as a model for anti-humanist exhibition-making.
Critique takes a key role in the political economy of contemporary art's marketization. It gives substance to a moral involvement in contemporary art that is operationally central to the distinction between its primary and secondary markets. In so doing, critique serves to maintain the grip of the primary market over contemporary art. Accounting for the distinction between markets in terms of a spirit of capitalism shows furthermore how, even though the primary market disparages the encroachment of neo-liberal marketization in its field of activity, in its reliance on critique it nonetheless serves to legitimize the social re-organization of capital accumulation by neo-liberalism. Critique is then identified as an alibi for marketization qua neoliberal capital accumulation. On this basis, the heightened cultural and market interests in contemporary art at precisely the moment when neo-liberalism has been a dominant economic model have to be understood as something other than just an effect of inflated asset prices and cheap credit.
The context: Originally written in 1998 for the monograph Guillaume Paris, selected works, 19881998, ISBN 2-95141444-0-4, under the pseudonym J.D. Layton, the following essay was an attempt to define and theorize the notion of dispositif, a termed I venture to use in order to define a signifying strategy resolutely different from the historically determined notion of installation. The essay was written out of necessity, in order to create a critical context for the reception for my own work, which at the time, did not seem to exist. It is interesting to note that, ten years later, the term dispositif is very frequently used in the lexical field of both social sciences and art criticism in France. In that context, the notion is mostly derived from Michel Foucault's usage of the term.Although written in English, I maintained the French word in the text for its conceptual specificity, which I found impossible to translate. In order to establish key issues pertaining to notions of non-closure (an intentional critical positioning with regards to dialectical closure), I quoted freely from Franois Jullien's analysis of immanence and sinuosity in classical Chinese thought and culture. I found that it had a lot to do with the approach I was trying to define which is, of course, what I have endeavored to implement in my own artistic practice.The method: The essay was written under a pseudonym (J.D. Layton being, we were told a film-maker based in Amsterdam whose latest film Italics Mine will be released in the fall of the year 2000) so as to re-enact within the text and the catalogue the sinuosity under discussion and at play within the work at large. The monograph in which it first appeared featured three other texts by fictitious authors, creating a heterogeneous chorus of non-converging voices, a textual analogy to the work's semantics and its unfolding in space.
Recent accessibility to biotechnology has given rise to bio art, an art form that operates within the process of life itself on a genetic or transgenic level. Works include Eduardo Kac's GFP Bunny (2000), a genetically modified fluorescent rabbit, and Marta de Menezes' manipulated butterflies (1999). Simultaneously, artists have begun to use dead animals in their work, with duo Snaebjornsdottir/Wilson tracing the cultural afterlife of stuffed polar bears (nanoq, 2004), and Andrea Roe creating automata from animal skin and motors (e.g. Seagull, 2004). These trends, animal life and animal death at first seem diametrically opposed; however, this article argues that they cannot be separated. Together, they represent a preoccupation with the appearance of animals in contemporary society. Where bio art seemingly moves beyond the surface to manipulate life, it also collapses the surfacedepth distinction by working within the realm of appearances, i.e. it is the skin of Kac's rabbit that glows and the wing colouration of de Menezes' butterflies that has been altered. The use of taxidermy in art similarly investigates appearances, with skin being a metaphor for the separation of human and non-human animals. Writing about objects rather than animals, Anzieu suggests that there is something pathological about the projection of skin onto non-human entities, about the need to reify those skins. It is a projection that stands, for him, as testament to the unfinished formation of human subjects who, in order to confirm the coherency of their subject-hood, must continually reaffirm their own skin-borders. This article examines the animalization of the skin-border, with skin the use of skin, the showing of non-human animal skin playing a vital role in the complex interrelation of zoe, natural life, and bios, political life, and addresses, more specifically, how these issues have been taken up by contemporary artists.
This text presents a reading of Lucy Gunning's video work The Horse Impressionists (1994), in which five women are filmed whilst neighing like a horse. I will suggest that while this artwork comes dangerously close to reconfirming traditional Western beliefs that women are closer to the animal kingdom, and more prone to hysterical mimetic identification, it also raises questions about the extent to which contemporary art practices can stimulate and manifest `becoming'. By deconstructing traditional psychoanalytic accounts of subjectivity, I will explore the interface between two concepts of becoming; Luce Irigaray's and Deleuze/Guattari's in relation to The Horse Impressionists. I will propose that Gunning's video opens possibilities for art practices to work towards corporeal philosophies which pay attention to gendered embodied subjectivity. Philosophies such as these employ mimetic identification strategically and recognize that bodily `symptoms' have validity in and for themselves and need not always be translated into sequential language frameworks.
Several unique concepts arise from artists' engagement with animals and from audiences' and critics' encounters with such art. This oblique primer will introduce and explore select concepts including surface, animal phenomenology, cross-species contact zones and fragility. Animals are said to live on the surface. What is meant by this phrase throughout centuries to our present day is that animals do not have the depths and privileged interiority found in humans. We distinguish ourselves from animals by our high degree of self-consciousness and capacity for recursive thinking. A range of contemporary animal art allows us to imagine an inversion and twisting free from such privileging of human interiority. By inversion, art poses the question of how animal surfaces are productive and how such production differs from reason and meaning located in privileged human interiority. While traditionally surfaces are less constructive than depths, a recent re-valuation of surface in art and philosophy has re-invigorated the site of animal surfaces. Second, through such difference in surface and depth comes a twisting-free in which artists ask what unknown interiorities and depths manifest themselves on the surface of the animal body. In other words, what is an animal phenomenology and how could we ever approach it? A frictional and productive site opens where the human world bumps up against the opaque and tenacious world of animals. In this contact zone, animals mark and re-mark upon our imposition into their worlds. As artists enter into such a space and develop a cross-species pidgin language, they help us to think not of our sovereignty but of human fragility as a mode of engagement with animals.
Cross section of stratigraph and corresponding Harris Matrix diagram.
Locative Packet design as represented by Jo Walsh (2003).
Print-out of 'Stratigraphical Event' visualization, author and cat at home, Helsinki, December 2009.
Close-up of 'Stratigraphical Event' visualization, sample December 2003-February 2005, Helsinki, January 2010.
This article introduces the subject of interpreting experiences in multiple contexts over time as a reflective research problem for practice-based artistic research. The innovative approach taken to give overview and make sense of the activity borrows a stratigraphical data-recording method as used in archaeological excavation recording. The article presents the production of a reference artefact is presented that uses a graphical programming language called DOT, manual printouts of the visualization and hand-drawn annotations. An account of the documenting and charting follows, presenting the process involved.
This paper explores the similarity between the practice of art and the practice of the psychotherapist. Both demand a commitment to risk and a high tolerance of excitement. The artist goes into his studio and isn't sure what will happen. In the same way the therapist enters the consulting room and something completely unexpected happens. Both artists and therapists have been very highly trained but this training has to be put to one side, at least at the conscious level, for that training to be effective. This paper challenges the idea that artists are daydreamers, a charge which psychoanalysts have frequently leveled at them. The paper makes use of the early stages of psychosexual development, and in particular explores the role of orality and anality in the creative process. It is only by turning attention to the process that we can understand the result.
This article seeks to encourage further debate about the value of a critical and regionalist approach to art education; one which would explicitly link such education to both environmental and architectural concerns. It is currently the case that, in large measure, the agenda in art education is rooted in the unquestioned assumption of a cosmopolitan orientation as the natural basis for a contemporary art education. This assumption of the pre-eminence of cosmopolitan attitudes to art and art education needs to be questioned, and from a basis which is neither reactionary nor provincial. This is a matter of some urgency as British art education becomes increasingly oriented by a European Union in which sophisticated concepts of regionalism play an important part. In what follows I will define the basis for an alternative approach to that of the cosmopolitan mentality, one based on an explicitly critical regionalist thinking.
In this paper I analyse some examples from contemporary art and describe the role of museums as a situational media, through which a special kind of sociality is produced. In this context, I want to draw attention to the so-called new institutionalism, which seems to be the current denominator among different fields within the art world (including both art institutions and contemporary artists). New institutionalism refers to a recent resurgence of interest in the influence of art institutions on the production and reception of art. It generally understands art in terms of the ideas of openness, networking and process.Consequently, the reception of art should not be perceived only as a private contemplation by an individual, but must be understood also as a form of social, collective experience. According to French sociologist Michel Maffesoli, art is more and more experienced and interpreted collectively. It is experienced in a temporal and social process, which is similar to urban everyday experience. It is based on random events and occasional encounters, which in their own logic reinforce a sense of togetherness and social collectivity.This creates an economy which is, in a specific sense, essentially un-productive. Neither in the example of the open discussion in the Stockholm gallery about an incident implicating Israel's ambassador to Sweden, nor in the case of the events of the Art Project by the Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto does art aim for a specific end product (exhibition, artwork, cultural programme, correct interpretation, etc.). The implication is that art practice should be more about creating situations, encounters and interactions, which are in a constant state of process, than about creating art objects. This makes everything in and around the art equally relevant and important. In this way, art practice offers to society a plurality of values and promotes the enjoyment of this plurality, i.e. the mobility and choice between different, parallel truths.
In this article, I argue that the question of what works of art do is inextricably bound up with an ontological question of what it is that is doing the doing. In others words, the question of what is being done by the artwork cannot be answered without answering what the agency for that action is. First, I introduce the problem of medium in art after modernism. I argue that the terms end of art, postmodern and postmedium are commensurate, and that all require a rethinking of concept of medium in art practice. I then argue that Niklas Luhmann's account of medium (in his sociologically grounded systems theory) provides an answer to the question: What Work Does the Work of Art Do? My argument is that the work of art gives the medium form, configures it and thus actively constitutes it as a medium. As a concluding example, I turn to Pierre Huyghe and Phillipe Parreno's collaborative project No Ghost Just a Shell (19992002) and demonstrate how Luhmann's account of medium/form can be used to explain the work.
Visitors to an art museum are traditionally introduced to the collections and the individual works of art through art historical knowledge although it is well known that this kind of information rarely leads to a proper art experience. An experiment with four different kinds of introductions to the same work of art is described in this article. Before they entered the gallery in which the work of art was exhibited, participants were asked to choose between recordings of a musical introduction, a poetic introduction, a child's response to the work of art in question, or a dialogue between two art historians. Phenomenological analyses of the following interviews reveal a number of influential qualities of each of the four introductions. Personal factors such as spontaneity and expressiveness seem to facilitate personal involvement, whereas instructions and guidelines, especially when presented with authority, inspire cognitive activity and inhibit an existential perspective.
Alain Badiou's writing on art has achieved a certain visibility recently as part of a wider debate on the new forms of sociability in art (relational and post-relational aesthetics). Its resistance to these new forms of politicization is based on a renewed commitment to art's negation and autonomy. In this, his writing takes its distance from the participatory and dialogic ethos of the moment, emphasizing art's powers of small-scale disclosure or subtractive difference. Yet he is no conventional modernist. His writing on art is intimately linked to a politics in which the subtractive negations of art are the precursor of, and a precondition for, the revolutionary destruction of capitalist relations. In this article I draw on Hegel and Adorno to reveal the weaknesses of this model of autonomy (Badiou fails to fully render art as a socialized category under capitalism) while defending the centrality of negation for any adequate theory of art's autonomy.
This article examines tropes such as exoticism and heterotopia in relation to the beach. Discussing these issues from a practitioner's perspective and with reference to his own work, the author explores the extent to which the beach might offer a way of rethinking boundaries and categories. His paintings deal with the beach as exotic space and with how issues such as alterity and Otherness manifest themselves in the gaze of the beholder. The article explores the ambiguity of the site of the beach and how this is reflected in a variety of contexts. These often contradictory meanings, worked through in his paintings, reflect not only on the diverse interpretations of the beach, but also on the characteristic ability of the beach to unite opposed elements. Finally, the article investigates the possibility of creating by destroying as an intrinsic aspect of the beach. In the analysis of his paintings and aspects of the beach in relation to its ephemeral character of creation and destruction, this article shows how categories such as creation/destruction can be problematised. The article seeks to propose the beach as a model for a new understanding of this apparently contradictory visual economy.
Across Europe there are signs that art's relationship to work is changing in a way that calls for new analytic categories. The era of art's autonomy is on the wane as artists increasingly pursue practices involving work in the world, where not so long ago they favoured doing art's own work.This article establishes the grounds for those claims. First, it looks at art's autonomy (via recent theory from Jean-Marie Schaeffer and Michael Lingner) in order to assess the nature of the work done by much of twentieth century Western art. Then, taking the work of the Danish (art) collective, Superflex, as typical of these new practices, it analyses how autonomy is being rejected. Deciding that Michael Lingner's concept of post-autonomy is helpful in describing and thinking about such work, it concludes by referring uses of that term to the notion of relative autonomy.
The aim of this article is to present ways of thinking about the visual arts from a wide perspective. It is a theoretical paper with important implications for those interested in understanding the deeper processes at work in art creation and art appreciation. It deals with issues such as complexity and information and goes on to show how they can be circumscribed under the general concept of relationships. It is maintained that making and reading art is essentially a search for relationships, which may be found in the form of the image, or the symbolism for which it acts as a stand-in. In dealing with the concept of form, special reference to two modes of form: the material form of the image, and the mental form of mind that the image instigates in the viewer. It goes on to show the interrelationship between sensitivity and skill, and the part they play in art creation and art appreciation. It ends by pointing out that as an activity given to seeking and resolving relationships, art can therefore be classified as a manifestation of intelligence.
This editorial to a special edition, devoted to the documentation of artists' processes, acts as an introduction to the debate and its generation in relation to the articles in this edition. It outlines problems related to the methodologies and ideology of documenting creative processes within the visual arts.
Cultural geographers have recently argued that landscape is experienced in an embodied way through a complex weave of senses: including sight, sound, smell, touch and social organization and experience. This has led to calls for a reassessment of hearing as a way of dwelling. The article focuses on music to question Lucy Lippard's 1997 book The Lure of the Local: Senses of Place in a Multicentered Society - seen by many as a key text in relation to the interaction between visual art, social activism and cultural geography - asking why, in its 292 pages, there are no more than half a dozen references to music. Lippard's claim that place is for her the locus of desire is rendered problematic because, as Janet Wolff demonstrates, the music that we listen to, particularly in our teens, plays a key part in locating us in the life world. Given Lippard's deliberate weaving of her own experience into the text, what might the absence of music suggest? Using the work of Rebecca Solnit, the article offers a hypothesis about the underlying orientation of Lippard's text with regard to a politics of listening. It then takes up points raised in relation to Lippard and Solnit in the more specific context of a recent AHRB-funded project. The aim here is to suggest ways in which our understanding of landscape might be extended by working between a sense of sight and sound as a means to deploy what Richard Kearney refers to as the testimonial imagination.
This article reports on the issues arising from the AHRC Research Review: Practice-Led Research in Art, Design and Architecture, published in February 2008 by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. These include the continuing question of defining activity in the field, the underdeveloped scholarly infrastructure, and the nature of the contribution to knowledge made by the artefact or designed object. The article also draws upon an analysis of completed doctorates in art and design made possible by the Art & Design Index to Theses (ADIT). This earlier project, which set up a scholarly resource for the research community, enables the growth of doctoral activity in the fine art field to be measured and the range of approaches to enquiry to be evaluated. The analysis of doctoral work to date indicates the extent to which professional practice has begun to be incorporated into doctoral projects. An uncritical revisionism or relabelling of activities within the realm of professional practice and doctoral study is evident in the data consulted in the two studies, reflecting the continuing prominence of the exhibition as a means of disseminating the outcomes of creative practice.
This article addresses two linked questions. The first question is, Is there an art school critique? The second question is, How is the possibility of an art school critique bound up with the characteristics of art and design speech? In addressing these questions, I identify a barbarous aspect to speech in art and design that produces the persistent problem of a division of language, manifest in current divisions of theory and practice. I trace the origins of this barbarism to the historical inclusion of art and design within the signifying structure of an educational metaphor, which bound the utilitarian wish for a bourgeois revolution in pedagogy to the social relations of nineteenth-century capital. One of the radical possibilities introduced by this wish for a pedagogical revolution, was the potential for a specific form of art school critique. It is the failure to sustain this critical position within the contract between the art school and commodity capital, that has determined the subsequent fate of art school critique. I locate the high watermark and the fall of a specifically art school critique to the same moment, namely the brief and antagonistic encounter with capital and commerce adopted by Henry Cole and Richard Redgrave in their so-called Chamber of Horrors exhibiting Correct Principles of Taste at Marlborough House in 1852. The significance of Cole's Chamber of Horrors is that of a moment of critical antagonism that was not repeated, because the relationship of the art school to commerce, capital and the commodity evolved differently from that moment on. Precisely because it was not repeated, we are compelled to remember this critical moment in a dissimulated form, through the inertia and deadlock of theory and practice.
This essay investigates randomness and indeterminacy as art and design research methods. A brief survey of contemporary notions of design is presented. There is a review of randomness and indeterminacy in the works of artists such as Jean Arp, Marcel Duchamp, Andy Warhol, and John Cage as well as in design research methods such as brainstorming and synectics. The author argues that the techniques in which these phenomena are implicated, make use of a reflection in action (or epistemology of practice) where a desired outcome is the methodical quest for the new.
Caption: Social Map 1 (Front Side) and some digital photographs. The reader can appreciate labels: A: Bakery; B: Food shops; C: Drainage chamber; D: Drainage chamber; E: Play space; F: Small house; G: Building; H: Drainage water (Big Sever Line); I: Photograph showing small houses in the foreground and buildings in the background; J: Photograph of a small house; K: Photograph of a drainage chamber; L: Photograph of a street showing work being done on a drainage chamber.
Caption: Social Map 1 (Back-Side) indicating labels used by the participants.
Caption: Social Map 2. The reader can appreciate labels A, B, and C stand for drainage chamber. Label D indicates the big sewer line.  
This article is based on the findings of an ethnographic field research conducted at Sudarshan Layout, an urban slum in Bangalore, India in February 2009. The research was participatory in nature and was conducted in collaboration with Ambedkar Community Computing Center (AC3), a group consisting of local youth of Sudarshan Layout. Various visual research methods such as a 'self-documentation' exercise, involving the creative use of a digital camera, and 'social map-drawing' exercises were employed. These methods led to the creation of various visual artefacts such as hand-drawn social maps and digital photographs. In this article, I argue that these visual artefacts (hand-drawn social maps and digital photographs) acted as boundary objects, enabled a dialogue and promoted negotiation of meaning between the participants and me. In the article, I describe how these visual artefacts facilitated the participatory research and assisted in collaboration, communication and cooperation between us.
Analysing Walter Benjamin's 1919 dissertation The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism, this paper questions definitions of artistic research that require textual support. In an attempt to investigate alternative definitions of artistic research, the paper follows Benjamin's theory and places reflection, critique's underlying concept, within artistic practice. A number of secondary texts are used, most importantly Winfried Menninghaus' book Unendliche Verdopplung, in order to focus on the formal character of Benjamin's argument and to avoid repetition of metaphysical assumptions embedded in Romantic philosophy. A formal and systematic approach promises that a coherent argument can be made towards an alternative definition of artistic research that does not require a discussion of Romanticism's shortcomings. As a result, a definition of an essentially reflective artistic practice is sketched out that operates beyond the practice/theory divide and for which concepts such as beauty or intuition are irrelevant.
Just like the Emperor's new clothes, much recent visual art practice, according to Peter Campbell (2005: 24): became famous without necessarily being seen. People felt they knew the tent, the bed, the shark, the fly-infested cow's head, whether they made it to the gallery or not. The concept was more telling than the reality. When you saw the pieces in an exhibition (and very large numbers of us did) they turned out to be more banal than you expected. This article proposes an art school pedagogy which addresses Peter Campbell's critical observation by advocating that the degree of balance between conceptual intrigue and perceptual intrigue in contemporary visual art be considered as a main criterion of quality assessment. It is suggested that the perceived imbalance between the two, alluded to by Campbell, might be remedied by addressing the long-standing aversion to theory demonstrated by many art school lecturers; an aversion often justified by citing Barnett Newman's famous quip denigrating the relevance of visual aesthetics theory to artists. The article effectively debunks Newman's false logic.It is argued that students' practice would be empowered by a pedagogy which integrates, rather than denigrates, the theoretical bases of visual art practice especially those of visual perception and visual communication within the curriculum, and which provides the means to understanding the socio-political contexts in which contemporary visual art is produced, positioned in the public domain and evaluated: a twenty-first century version of the Artworld first identified by Arthur C. Danto in 1964. The article ends with five theoretical premises upon which a curriculum for the art school of the future might be constructed.
This essay emerged from an exhibition in 2006 in which notions of the Wunderkammer became central in the curation of the show. It brought together work by Anna Boggon, Silke Dettmers and Helen Maurer, three artists employing the language of what one could call the contemporary surreal (The Wrong End of the Telescope, Three Colts Gallery, London).The history and concept of the Wunderkammer is critical for the argument pursued in this article, which calls for the re-instatement of wonder and the idea of the marvellous. These are vital ingredients for visual arts practice but are unacknowledged in today's art academies.It takes on board the current debate of visual arts practice as research and extends the argument of authors such as Sullivan (Art Practice as Research, 2005) and Barone, by demonstrating conventional academic definitions of knowledge and artistic practice to be irreconcilable.
Regardless of whether 3 or 100m deep; sandy or stony; wild or manicured; beside a noisy road or remote, the beach conjures up an imaginary space which, as a liminal encounter of nature and culture, orients our vision in, and view of, the world. Furthermore, how and where we position ourselves in and along the no-man' s-land strip reflects the degree of our immersion in the natural and cultural, and thus explains why the beach has a peculiar place in our imagination and visuality.We look out from the beach onto a broader, open vacant space; a space wherein nature is realised as the distant, the untamable, the ineffable. Horizon on the one hand and vertical height on the other represent the volume of space at the beach in tension with the grains of sand structuring its overall form. Within these differential scales and proportions, the rhythmic flood and ebb of water, the clearly visible times of day and seasonal periods extend the dimension of time into a spatial form. Taking Victor Shklovsky's notion of defamiliarisation as our point of departure we explore how these spatial and temporal aspects of the beach can be metaphorically understood as paralleling the condition of art. For this state of knowing nothing, characterized by defamiliarisation and feeling is the initial vessel in which new thoughts and images are free to develop.
Despite the illusionary training of the senses, the beach will always remain the line of tension which confronts the orchestrated order of the horizon and the audible imminence of chaos. Consequently, it is our goal to enlighten how the beach can be conceptualized as threshold, as a result of the correlation between its atmosphere and its material. Noronha da Costa emerges here as the secret expression of the beach and its auratic effect, revealing through his paintings the narrative dimension of the seashore.
The article addresses ethical issues concerning spectatorship and art practices. It explores an alternative to both modern institutional authority and postmodern nihilism by referring to the concept of creative fidelity developed by the French existentialist philosopher Gabriel Marcel. Contemporary radical reactions against the excesses of modernity in the western world have led to profound mistrust in the idea of subject/object, and have as a result favoured attitudes which tend to dissolve such a dichotomy. These attitudes, by expressing the contingency, indeterminacy, or groundlessness of meaning, have triggered the disappearance of the self, authorship, authenticity and insight. In art, both spectators and practitioners have left the modern cage of institutional sitedness to behave like nomads in the jungle. The question therefore becomes: How is it possible to perceive, make, or even teach art in a meaningful manner without imposing frameworks, closures, boundaries or perspectives? This, it is argued, can be achieved by understanding the vital complementary relationship between innovation and faith, creativity and fidelity, renewal and availability.
This article introduces a new modality of interaction for art that produces meaning through cognitively inclusive sensorimotor capacities of the user. This application, which builds upon the psychophysical capacities of biofeedback interfaces, explores the potentiality of technological feedback for the affection and evaluation of the user. Through this the concept of the 'cognitive feedback loop' will be applied in order to produce more effective aesthetic experiences. This proposal will be exemplified with the affective environment of the Mind Cupola. Finally, the article anticipates that such a cognitive-driven approach to interaction might serve to enhance self-awareness through self-regulating processes. The core investigation of this article emphasizes a rigorously trans-disciplinary approach (Nowotny at al. 2003; Gibson 2008), drawing on philosophy, aesthetics, cognitive sciences and technology, that investigates an emerging issue in art and technology. It takes an experimental approach to technology, with a critical perspective on scientific approaches, that often subject users to limited interactions with computers. As a proposition responding to this issue, it will take a phenomenological approach to interaction that attempts to comprehend the user through a technological analysis of his or her psychophysical action (Andreassi 2000). As such, it tackles the philosophical problem of the body?mind nexus, and aims to understand the correlation between the extracted information of the body and cognitive states. In order to present a potential solution, this investigation launches an aesthetic enquiry into user experience, which serves as the foundation of the presented practical outcome of the Mind Cupola. It will be suggested that this aesthetic enquiry into the user experience might produce a more comprehensive cognitive-driven model of the user.
The interdisciplinary study sets out to demonstrate that the blind man can indeed see in the sense of understanding; that he might understand differently from the seeing man, but that he shares with him the Anschauung, which the blind man may evolve from an ekphrasis given by the seeing man. The study is grounded in hermeneutic art history and contrasts ekphrasis with Gadamer's distinction between original, copy and picture. For Gadamer only a picture offers an increase in being compared to the original. While ekphrasis may mean being on-site for both the blind and the seeing man, the hermeneutical task the picture poses is that of insight, to transform the I see into an I understand. The article shows that vision can be a discursive construction through a discussion of three pertinent examples from the history of art based on the application of both art historical interpretative procedures and analogous psychotherapeutic/psychoanalytic procedures.
This paper considers the theme of materialism that emerged in the late writings of Paul de Man. Drawing on de Man's late essays and lectures, it outlines materialism as a factor of language that philosophical aesthetics must constantly resist or evade to ensure the stability of the category of the aesthetic. It focuses on de Man's still challenging and provocative antipathy towards the category of the aesthetic manifested in the imagery of bodily mutilation of the late writings. The essay then focuses on how these de Manian themes, summed up by the phrase aesthetic ideology, have been taken up in the writings on modernism of T. J. Clark. It considers two essays on Paul Czanne to highlight the iconoclastic role Man's elaboration of materialism plays in them. Clark's Freud's Czanne and Phenomenality and Materiality in Czanne see in Czanne's late painting a disruption or disarticulation of humanism and the body as founding principles of the aesthetic and are marked by a suspicion of the claims and espousals of embodiment of modernism's defenders. Given the strength of the critical-linguistic analysis of the category of the aesthetic encountered in de Man's late writings, this essay distances itself from the presuppositions of hermeneutical and phenomenological aesthetics.
This text asks if the notion of an avant-garde in art is viable today. It does this firstly with reference to recent (post-1967) theoretical and critical writing on avant-gardes in Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries; and secondly, more indirectly, via questions in radical philosophy on the possibilities for radical social change. Perhaps to expect radical change today, or to foresee contemporary art as contributing to it, is forlorn, like waiting for Godot. Perhaps Beckett's violent gesture at the end of Waiting for Godot, when the characters walk on the spot, is as much as can be said, which is almost to refuse to say anything. And yet, while there is contemporary art, even at the margins, which engages on issues of social and environmental justice, and sees these as integral to each other, the effort to recover something of the hope once expressed by Courbet that art can change the world may yet be worthwhile.
Paisley Livingston claims that an artist's intentions are successfully realized and hence determinant of the meaning of a work if and only if they are compatible and mesh with the linguistic and conventional meanings of the text or artefact taken in its target or intended context. I argue that this specific standard of success is not without its difficulties. First, I show how an artist's intention can sometimes be constitutive of a work's meaning even if there is no significant meshing between the artist's intention and his work. Secondly, I argue against the claim that the artist's intentions need to be compatible with the linguistic and conventional meanings of a text. Thirdly, I discuss a case that creates a particular puzzle for Livingston since the intentions of the artist concerned are not successfully realized, though they are compatible and mesh with all the relevant data. I conclude my paper by suggesting a solution to this puzzle.
Scepticism of creativity as a topic for philosophical aesthetics is posited. Arguments for this scepticism are adduced. The idea that `creativity' denotes a process of which we can have knowledge is resisted. What sort of knowledge is sought here? Some seminal accounts of creativity are not theoretical but are themselves fine works of literary art. Coleridge's distinction between a psychological curiosity and poetic merit is invoked and, following Margaret Macdonald, psycho-physical problems are distinguished from questions of poetic, or more broadly, artistic merit. The concepts of aesthetics are claimed to be allied with the latter. Finally a suggestion is advanced that creativity is more a local character of some particular art, especially Romantic, rather than a universal feature of art as such.
This essay is an account of the research Cath Keay undertook in Italy in 2009 when she was the Arts Council England's Helen Chadwick Fellow at the British School at Rome and Oxford University. During this time she traced former Colonie Estive buildings of the 1930s and gathered accounts from Italian people who recalled their childhood experiences of these startling and experimental buildings.
The article reflects upon the visual practice of the author. The term post-production is used to reflect on a particular quality of documentation, namely the practice of theory after an exhibition of the author's work. Hermeneutical aesthetics is drawn upon to ground this endeavour, as it enables us to see more of what has yet to be seen (Nicholas Davey). The concept of performativity is deployed to trace the cultural signification of the medium of printmaking in which the work has been made; the exhibition venue which represented a mixture between a workshop/studio and the white cube; the particular works in the exhibition; the role of installation and the place of the viewer. Special consideration is given to the hallucinatory quality of the work and the role of repetition with regard to the performative constitution of the viewing subject. It is suggested that the insights gained through such documentary post-production become the foundation for further practice, both for other artists and the author herself. This is equally true, whether post-production relates to the practice of theory or artistic practice, but ideally both.
Artists engage in the production of their work through a number of strategies. This written reflection investigates the methodologies of my practice as an artist, focusing on the development of an individual work, a single photograph. It explores a discussion of three fundamental elements of the photographic image: time, space and light. Reference is made to the critical writing of Marc Aug. Literary and visual influences are explored in the effort to locate the intentions for the work. The work's material form takes its cue from the underlying conceptual aspiration.This work was made in collaboration with the Visual Intelligences Research Project at The Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It was published as part of the exhibition Inspiration to Order first shown at California State University Stanislas' Gallery in October 2006.
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