[-empyre-] tricking the public, relational aesthetics

>From Valerie LeBlanc on Thursday, October 10, 2002

Re: tricking the public (Mark Kristmanson?s relational

It is difficult to know where to start, as it seems a
discussion opens and meanders off into the maze and, I want
to follow but I have heard those other forks in the road
calling out.  I am speaking literally of the discourse
arriving daily through the Empyre digest, yet also of the
potentials presented daily through media arts and digital
technologies, and through the persistent encounters and
challenges of the physical world.  Travelling on public
transportation throughout the city environment is like
being immersed into an installation of social diversity,
the warmth of in-transit encounters, and the unraveling of
connections for people of all age groups.  In short, the
Internet has opened up many worlds to a few of us, and
there are still many more people out there who are drifting
in the swell of cultural shock.

>From Gair on October 5:      
? I think that the problem for curators with institutions
is summed up very well by what you say about curators being
the ones who take on the role of engaged spectator in order
to initiate and facilitate dialogue.  It?s the old problem
of lead times and responsiveness, and institutional needs
to have a show of x type inside y walls.  ? 

It is a wonderful thing if a Curator becomes interested in
your work, but if it doesn?t fit within the future plan for
the x type and y walls agenda, the frustration of waiting
for approval to carry on can be paralyzing.   During the
last few years, technological changes that opened up the
whole area of multi-media to affordable home-studio
solutions enabled a freedom to move ahead in the creation
of projects.  Waiting to pass through the gauntlets of
applying to galleries, for grants, or acquiring large
chunks of money to carry things through became a thing of
the past.  Being able to throw work out onto the web, being
able to produce videos at home has greatly improved the
quality of life for creators.  

So many borders have disappeared in organized culture; in
science, in commerce, in movement of peoples, that it
should come as no surprise to see the flux within the
previously known world of art.  As difficult as it is for
the faithful to grasp, it has become a more inclusive
environment through media and in the players involved.   No
matter what the Curators derive from the work, or censor as
non-relevant to the conversation, people persevere to
continue in what they have decided is ?their work?.  This
is the constant, whether the payoff arrives or not.

Video screenings offer the chance to reach smaller,
?usually interested? salon audiences.  Like television, the
medium speaks to the audience one on one.  Unlike
television broadcasts, video is often open to limited
diffusion.  The Internet on the other hand, permits the
same intimate audience contact, but has the potential to
reach many more people.  If the given statistics of current
Internet use around the world is reasonably accurate, then
the potential audience is small when compared with the
overall world population.  Even at that, the odds are far
better than those offered through traditional exhibition

It is rarely that the ?Public? enters any but the most
prestigious of galleries and I assume, those galleries
would be the official public museums, the space featured in
the in-flight magazine, among the top ten things to do
while visiting any given urban environment.  The numbers of
who usually attend smaller public galleries is made up of
the friends and family of the exhibiting artist(s), those
already informed, and those who support the individual(s).
 And indeed, of those same faithful, there is a large
percentage of their numbers that are not often prepared for
the ?street? experience, out of the gallery events, which
posit the viewer as participant.  While the Public is
equally unprepared for that same ?out of gallery?
experience, the difference being that the Public, innocent
of the ?set up? is better equipped to accept or to decline
the out of gallery experience.  That is to say, friends and
family might feel awkward to be seen on the street,
implicated in a fanfare, while feeling safe within the
confines of the gallery.  The Public can decide to humour
the presenter, take the further step of becoming involved
with ?this stranger, this temporary acquaintance?, or they
can hurry by and avoid confrontation.

It would seem easily possible for Gair and his associates
to have entered into an entertaining marketing campaign to
counteract the MOD presence.   Through use of any number of
advertising or performance mechanisms; citing examples of
war and peace philosophy; the value of human rights and
freedom; worthy statements printed on  t-shirts, coffee
cups, napkins, could shift the gaze of the MOD.  That
dynamic would also create the sure possibility of
alienating Gair and his associates from future curatorial
considerations.   I was not sure if the situation described
is on-going or if it was a one time prospect.  The
variation of possible solutions in either case would be
many.  In the case of having more time to plan, Gair could
certainly dedicate some attention to the problem.   

Being face to face with the power of military presence, in
what was assumed to be the safe zone of the gallery, does
function as an invasion of that environment.  It relates to
the basic mechanisms of the larger percentage of focus in
human organizations.  In truth, the gallery system betrayed
Gair and his associates while inviting them to the wedding
feast.  The trade fair of body bags, weapon sellers,
non-piercing syringes, washed down with the finest of café
service, placed them in a position of deciding if this is
their battle to fight.  

Leaving the building, to find new ground is one solution.
 Exiting the standards, creating your own system is a
difficult prospect.  I imagine Gair and his cohorts
surrounding the building, camping out to secure the
perimeter and waiting for an outcome.  In the meantime, I
envision this small occupying force carrying on the only
activities that would be possible in that situation;
building cooking fires to keep warm, huddling around in
small groups to talk and to perform, creating artifacts
through primitive firings of pottery and glass.  

In the end, however soon that might be, they would likely
be removed for causing a public nuisance and the MOD would
probably claim a larger percentage of space within the
building.  Given the situation, is it likely that the
Public will begin to value the art gallery more as its
institution becomes on par with the military through being
viewed in the position of sharing architectural shelter
under the same roof?    

Bye for now.
- Valerie

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