[-empyre-] old media cycles to new: Signal Culture and Jason Bernagozzi

Murat Nemet-Nejat muratnn at gmail.com
Thu Feb 12 06:04:40 AEDT 2015

"This points back into the issues around an artist exploiting a technology
(like a proprietary software app) while being in conflict with the dominant
system of practices around it. With the dominance you get potential access
to a broader audience, a potentially easier path to preservation, and even
the opportunity to pose as the dominant media while simultaneously
subverting its dominant practices."

Ben, your description above seems to fit perfectly with the position of a
number of directors (e.g. Orson Welles, Alfred Hitchcock, etc.) within the
Hollywood system or Ozu for instance in Japan. But, as I see it, there is a
contradiction in your analysis when applied to computers as a tool. Film
has a well defined place in society. One either goes to the theatre or sits
in front of TV or your lap top or your cell phone, you name it, to watch
it. But computers as tools are all pervasive, affecting every activity of
human behavior. It is no wonder the term "ecology" has entered the language
in relation to digital tools. Your idea seems to fit when working against a
language/style/convention within an industry; but how can you do so when
the tool in question is not really a tool; but a technological system of
thought, of calculation (algorithm, as I see it, is not a tool but a
system) that has incredibly promiscuous areas of application? Don't you
constantly have to create "sub-sytems" to isolate yourself, to gain some
air to perform your subverting act? In other words, don't you have to
achieve a certain amount of invisibility to function as an artist?

As usual, a brilliant post. Thank you. By the way, my essay *The Peripheral
Space of Photography* deals exactly with how photography gradually
realized, achieved its own independence in its early years as a medium
against the onslaught of experts, "art critics" who saw it as a weaker
sister of painting, consequently, as a medium of representation. These
presumptions never died down. *The Peripheral Space* is an extended review
(later published as a book) of The Metropolitan Museum exhibition "The
Waking Dream" on the first hundred years of photography. The curators of
this exhibition heavily framed almost every one of several hundred amazing
photographs in it. My essay discusses how these frames undercut and go
against the nature of the experience one has looking at them. The essay
discusses what that experience is and how it defines the nature of
photography as an independent medium totally different from paint. Here is
a passage from it:


   ... "Art," in capital letters, huffs and puffs all through "The Waking
Dream" exhibit. It reinforces the 20th century modernist prejudice:
photography is art if only seen as art, a visual art invested with the
aesthetic values of contemporaneous painting. This Talbotian prejudice
distorts the photographs, either in the way they are framed or selected.
For instance, why is Talbot the first major voice of photography? Were
there no other practitioners who were less self-conscious of what they did?

   My expectation to find, at the beginning of its creation, photographic
language in its purest form, was partly an illusion. This exhibit is for me
the story of a new medium to find its own language against the imposition
of a given one. The signs of this new language, from its inception, are
everywhere, and my pleasure is gleaning them out. By focusing on why I
liked certain photographs and others dissatisfied or annoyed me, I realized
that my pleasures had nothing to do, were inhibited, by the aesthetic
principles imposed on them. In fact, the description of these experiences
required a new language, paralleling the new language of photography. This
essay is an account of this discovery:  1) the forces creating the
photographic image are democratic. The photographic language lies in, is
created by the conflict, the friction between the lens and these forces. 2)
Photography is not really a visual/plastic medium associated, though
different, from 19th century painting; it is a medium of reflection
(reflection as image and as thought), intimately related to language.

3) photographic "seeing" is steeped in a Platonic epistemology  - seeing
reflected images on a cave requires a source, a numen...."




On Wed, Feb 11, 2015 at 8:18 AM, Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu>

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Dear
> Jason and Ben,
> Ben you
> wrote: Ben you wrote: ³ For me, the really interesting place is at the
> intersection of the two where my intentions and cultural values mix with
> the
> assumptions of the tools and contrast with the dominant media practices.
> Unimplemented ideas and exploiting existing media practices are not very
> interesting to me. The Dreaming Machine is not meant to create a perfect
> illusionary representation of the world, nor is it supposed to project a
> prescribed structure into the world; its meant to find a place in between
> the
> two.²
> Jason you
> wrote of Gary Hill:  "For example, I think Gary Hill in his book
> "Art of Limina" hits it right on the head when he describes himself
> as a "principle-based" artist and not a conceptual artist. This does
> not mean his projects themselves have no concept, but a conceptual artist
> has
> an idea that is applied to various media. There has been some great works
> springing from conceptual art, and it is the premier model for postmodern
> art
> practice and pedagogy. That being said, this is also a very presumptuous
> model
> that does not always play well with new technological forms.²
> Your
> discussion of the relationship between ³conceptual² or ³principled² as Gary
> Hill has described his own work has been interesting and helpful.  As an
> artist trained in fibers and installation and then printmaking, my shift to
> technology and art came about only twelve years ago.  My interest and
> consequent heavy reading in theory began long before my shift to the
> technological but it has been linked to my making.  That said the idea or
> the concept usually comes first, however I find working through with
> materials
> helps me to develop the conceptual premise.  The making and the thinking
> are in tandem. Then as the tension between the making and the theoretical
> develops there is a criticality that ensues.  That criticality helps me to
> figure out if there are political or social consequences in the work.  In
> September of 2007 Tim Murray and I hosted a month on -empyre called
> Critical
> Spatial Practice. For the first post I wrote: "Critical Spatial Practice
> entails the claiming of social responsibility at the intersections of art,
> geography, architecture, and activism. How might critical approaches to
> space
> and place empower creativity, enhance artistic activism, and encourage
> artistic
> practice and collaboration? The alignment of criticality with cyber
> configurations of space permits especially creative skins of networks,
> resources, and discussions whose resulting configurations range from texts
> and
> performances to buildings and installations.²  I am thinking now about
> Ricardo Dominguez¹ work and his Immigrant Border Tool.
> Jason you make me think about Sol Lowitt and his writing of Conceptual Art
> in Artforum in 1967 with this quote: "In conceptual art the idea or
> concept is
> the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual
> form of
> art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand
> and
> the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that
> makes
> the art.² If using Lowitt¹s definition than most definitely conceptual art
> may be a bit presumptuous as you write Jason, but I would much rather
> think about the model we
> proposed back in 2007, a Critical Spatial Practice one where there is a
> give
> and take between the two and where criticality comes into play in the
> development of the implications for development, use, or influence.
> I think now of Jean Francois Lyotard who wrote so much about art and
> philosophy. In his
> writing he used art and technology to think through the conceptual and
> philosophical matters he was writing about especially in his exhibition at
> the
> Pompidou ³Immaterials.²  I did a video piece
> http://www.renateferro.net/anamnesis.html inspired by the work he was
> doing
> back then and a chance meeting during that time period.  He taught me that
> thinking and making are critically connected and because of that early
> lesson
> the all toggled together in complicated ways.
> Heavy teaching this week and getting ready for College Art Association
> delayed this
> response.  For that I apologize.  Anyone on -empyre going to NYC to
> the conference?
> Renate
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Assistant Professor of Art,Cornell University
> Department of Art, Tjaden Hall Office:  306
> Ithaca, NY  14853
> Email:   <rferro at cornell.edu <mailto:rtf9 at cornell.edu>>
> URL:  http://www.renateferro.net <http://www.renateferro.net/>
>       http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net
> <http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net/>
> Lab:  http://www.tinkerfactory.net <http://www.tinkerfactory.net/>
> Managing Co-moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/
> >
> _______________________________________________
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> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
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