[-empyre-] Messing around a bit with this science and validity of art thing
Forgive your moderator's long riffs here, just shooting from the hip...
From the middle of the nineteenth century and throughout the 20th century,
the science 'card' trumped (as in poker) the other cards in Western culture.
It was popularly supposed to be 'true'. But science as taken to mean a
powerful form (gestalt) of ideological power is different from its identity
as method. Many horrors in the 20th century came about because of seeking
scientific validity to justify terror and death. The classification of
physiognomies as racial categories, or 'data' to 'prove' superiorities and
inferiorities, following the work of Sir Francis Galton, was used by the
Nazis, an obvious example. Coco Fusco's performance work on the maquiadora
workers and household workers along the border of Mexico/California looks at
and enacts the terrible price paid for the efficiencies of scale that the
economic ideologies of Taylorism have brought to human lives-- again, an
ideologty of oppression that resorts to a trumped up reference to
'scentific' verification or validity. The ideologies surrounding scientific
culture as a source of power and validation are explored beautifully and
disturbingly in Foucault.
We must be very careful here.
At a core level, the fundamental process of science may not directly concern
truth as idealogy, but rather, interests itself in a problematizing of truth
as "method." A process involving linear differentials of decision, a garden
of forking paths: hypothesis, design experiment, collect data, make
observations; then prove, disprove or modify hypothesis; then develop
another design from the modified hypothesis, and so on.
The scientific method itself does not lay claim to the kind of absolute
validation. Indeed its origins lie in revulsion to ideological truth.
Science fundamentally involves testing and discovering verifiable
processes. If results are accurate, they can be reproduced in another lab.
Conceptually based art process could not be more alien to this. The core of
art practice is cultural production (if you stretch a marxist/ Frankfort
School view around a bit).
That means that as an active, intelligent agent (to borrow from Patrick
Lichty) conceptual art practice creates new phenomena from within and
simultaneously at the margins of culture and nature. The key is on
conscious action and invention and intervention in unique and non
reproduceable circumstances. Digital culture teaches us this: there is no
more 'reproduction'. There is no copy.
It doesn¹t matter whether the 'cultural producer' is working out of his or
her own poetic sensibility, or from empirical observation, or from political
engagement. The product of the action is art, an unverifiable, unprovable,
unrepeatable narrative. Its validation is implicit within its own
intelligent action. The action communicates or transmits meaning to other
agents in culture whether they are active (as 'artists') or inactive. That
is because culture is a force field made up of conscious agents, like a
latent, pervasive power, or zone of 'Real' (a la Lacan). Art makes itself
known, e. g., it becomes 'real ' or 'true' as it changes or reconfigures the
field, and it cannot help but do that. "I feel a disturbance in the force"
(Darth Veder). Art practice is a choice of action not a predisposition.
To return to the word "method", conceptual art practice develops a different
method for every single new project. There is no one method. The process
is one of engagement of the cultural producer in a critical trajectory, that
engages multiplicity and subjectivity. The method is the process, unlike
science, wherein the process is outside the content being studied. Yes,
there is the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, but that principle doesn¹t
distort data results very much in the scale of scientific work outside of
qulantum mechanics; perhaps nanotech will be an exception to this.
Precisely in the cut/stain/mark/slash of the engagement is where art is,
or better, where art is moving. There is no objective veracity because the
trajectory of the intelligent agent in its engaged response to a milieu is
in itself, true. it makes little difference whether the cut or trajectory
is through data mapping from a generative code scripting or if it is a slice
or edge through competing media like photography or painting (Eric Fischl,
Gerhardt Richter). ]Nor is there need to resort to any predisposition of the
artist, as Simon Biggs observed on this list recently. Since the cultural
production is based on a unique engaged , unverifiable process, its validity
is subjective, whether the subject is human or cyborg. If culture may be
imagined as a vast array of layers of material intelligent experience, then
the trajectories through those layers communicate meaning. The trajectory
or cut illuminates or articulates these layers of culture.
Even in the case of data and landscape as in my project Slipstream Konza,
the interpolation of data as an aesthetic process is in itself a kind of
truth, one that departs fundamentally from the kind of truth that science is
That's why it's exciting. Science can't address my question, does the
Earth(Gaia) have a voice? But, in collaboration with scientific data and my
global climatologist partner, I can. But my question is not the
climatologists question. The work that comes from this project, even if
the minimum generative coding is done by me at the beginning, is an
expressive communication from within the cybernetic field). It's not about
whether the earth has a voice. It is about listening to that voice. The
project requires no 'outside' verification to be real.
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