RE: [-empyre-] Re: Method Manifesto
In message <NFBBJIJOOLLMOMMACKAFIEPODJAA.firstname.lastname@example.org> "Jim Andrews" <email@example.com>
> > > Concerning Kosuth and the conceptual artists, it wasn't 'art for art's sake' but,
> > in the case of
> > > Kosuth, 'art as idea as idea', ie, his idea was 'art as idea'; reading his Art
> > After Philosophy
> > > and After (collected writings) one is struck by his somewhat Marxist points of view, and his
> > > vision of the place of art in philosophy and in society more broadly, as an active thing in
> > > society, rather than the more insulated vision involved in 'art for art's sake'
> > which was a much
> > > earlier slogan.
> > The art that Kosuth advocates in his essay "Art After Philosophy" is an
> > impotent, castrated art.
> I am not familiar with that particular essay singled out from the other work in Art After
> Philosophy and After. Though I did not get a 'castrated impotent' vibe from what I have read of
> his work, earlier or later. What I read was, first of all, very well written, from beginning to
> end, though sometimes he flags, later on, with rage and a certain desperate intellectual
> arrogance seemingly blurred by the increasing use of Marxist rhetoric, like an alcoholic
> slurring of words, at times. But he is at times brilliantly lucid throughout. I think I saw
> movement from dazzling cleverness to concern with the human significance of art, movement from
> "art as idea as idea" to the particulars of the ideas, and the ideas became more concerned with
> the place and consequence of art in the world. Art not just as idea (as his idea) but concern
> with why it might matter not just to artists and academics but in a world of wider consequence,
> full world context, as it were. The book traces his growth from a young man not too long out of
> art school to maturity. I recommend it highly.
I singled out "Art After Philosophy" because it is the place where he equates
art with tautological propositions, which Hideki seems interested in, and
because it is Kosuth's most influential and significant piece of writing on
art; through its repeated anthologizing it has become THE anti-formalist
manifesto of conceptual art. Let me be clear: I am a fan of Kosuth's
extraordinary work. Perhaps he alone of that group of conceptualists went on to
make, and is still making, innovative and important work (eg. his Freud Museum
piece and his The Play of the Unmentionable exhibition). But it is apparent
that he long ago abandoned the idea of tautology as a useful analogy (or
identity--the difference is blurred in his text) for art.
> > This is not the art that he makes or ever made. His
> > later writings may function as something of a corrective to his earlier
> > position, but the one put forward in that essay advocates an extreme (pure)
> > form of self-referentiality; an art that stands aloof from all actual
> > conditions of social and cultural production.
> Well, my copy of the book (Art After Philosophy and After is a book of collected writings) is
> several thousand miles away at the moment and a search on the Net has yielded nothing to speak
> of but the very early http://members.ozemail.com.au/~barberr/gems3.html .
> As I've said, there is growth and maturity in his book.
I did read it some time ago, and I believe you about his growth because it is
evident in the trajectory of his work. Although, as I recall, his writing does
at times descend into polemical point scoring against his critics. There was
a long running argument with Art & Language about who is more conceptual and
who was conceptual first. There was also something of a campaign against him by
the October critics in the early nineties, which he didn't take too well.
> > > I recall reading him say that if somebody calls something art, then it must be art.
> > He termed
> > > the contrary position "reactionary".
> > That also comes from "Art after Philosophy", but he was quoting Donald Judd
> > (or maybe Carl Andre). I don't recall where he uses the word "reactionary",
> > but it is probably from a later text.
> Could be.
> > > My feeling on the matter is that saying 'X is art' is a bit like saying 'This
> > proposition is not
> > > provable' since one arrives at a contradiction should one say it is false; no contradiction
> > > seems to arise if one says it is true, yet neither then is it provably true. Nor is
> > it an axiom
> > > completely independent of the rest of the language system, for if it were, its
> > negation would be
> > > an acceptable alternative to the proposition itself, but it is not. It is an unprovable
> > > statement that nonetheless must be accepted as true. Each new piece of art is thus
> > more like an
> > > axiom than a theorem.
> > >
> > > ja
> > It seems to me that the status of an object as a work
> > of art in any meaningful sense is dependent on more than the will of an
> > individual. After all, Duchamp's readymades were not immediately accepted as
> > art just because he said they were art. It took some time for his ideas to
> > become institutionalised. The idea that an individual can determine what is art
> > seems reactionary to me, since it constitutes an extravagant claim for dominion
> > over both social and subjective conditions of reception, reflecting a somewhat
> > authoritarian view that disingenuously obscures the power structures that
> > support it.
> > jsa
> Hmm, one could proceed in several directions from here. Let me think about that and get back to
> you later on, jsa.
> In the meantime, I should add that the above paragraph of mine relates to Godel's ideas about
> "undecidable propositions". An undecidable proposition (like "This proposition is not provable")
> is one that cannot be deemed false yet is not provably true. It is not independently axiomatic,
> either. The parallel postulate is an independent axiom of geometry: one can assume it or its
> negation (but not both) and arrive at different geometries accordingly. Not so with undecidable
> propositions; one is forced to deem them true, though they are not provably true like a theorem
> is. There is perhaps some larger independent axiom that is missing from the system which, when
> added to the system, would turn the undecidable proposition into a theorem? Or not?
> And if there were such an independent axiom, then its negation would be an acceptable
> alternative, and in that case, the undecidable proposition would have to be true (but perhaps
> provable in one case and not in the other or...?).
You're losing me a bit with Godel. I am not too familiar with it. My problem is
with attempts to reduce art to propositions or to functions of propositions.
> But my initial reaction to your point, jsa, is that nobody really knows what art is. And that
> isn't a matter of rectifiable ignorance, but something else in the nature of art.
Yes, I probably agree. The definition of art is the bugbear of anglo-american
philosophical aesthetics, which is where it should stay.
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