[-empyre-] Wrapping up, thoughts about this month

Daniel Lichtman danielp73 at gmail.com
Wed Aug 1 05:14:07 AEST 2018

Hi list,

Here are some concluding thoughts on the month, by way of answering Shu Lea
Cheang and Aviva Rahmani’s questions about selection of artworks and the
curatorial frame.

Selection of artworks

I chose works works that, one way or another, use a multiplicity of bodies
and voices to create narrative. The works employ a diverse use of cameras,
images, sound, humans, non-humans, narrators, unreliable narrators, etc, to
present ‘multiple bodies and voices’. This month’s project has been an
exploration of how the many and varied contributors on this list use
language to create meaning around artworks. The theme of multiple voices in
the artworks mirrors the exploration of multiple voices on the list. This
theme also happens (not incidentally) to be a focal point of my own
artwork, research and teaching.

Exploratory frame

I wanted to use this month’s format to experiment with what types of
meanings are articulated by an accumulation of language produced by a
variety of contributors. Obviously this is always what happens on the list
to some extent, but with this project I wanted to draw specific attention
to this function. As a widely dispersed written medium, this list was a
good venue for such an experiment. I pushed for language to stay very close
to the form and material of the artworks themselves, and the respondents’
experience of the artworks, rather than addressing either the artists’ or
the respondents’ research interests. This is because I wanted the language
on the list to revolve around artworks rather than people who make or view
them. Furthermore, I thought that this accumulation of language would be an
interesting new form archiving a series of artworks’ meaning——one that
partially records the multitudinous ways in which the works, separately and
together, make meaning among a population of viewers.

Curatorial summary / Brief reflection on the experiment

Within the rubric of multiple voices and bodies, the artworks operate in a
variety of ways an serve a variety of audiences—I don’t think it’s easy to
draw conclusions about the experience of this group of artworks as whole
(this grouping may not have worked as an exhibition!). For example, Asta
Gröting’s silent video Touch documents a sculptor shaping a face out of
clay—this video might be shown on a monitor in a gallery (I first saw
Gröting’s work at the Wellcome Collection in London). Beny Wagner and
Jessica Tsang’s videos, both of which have some filmic elements of a
story-line or plot, might cross-over into a experimental section of a film
festival. Liat Berdugo and Emily Martinez’s work might be viewed online.
Each work, however, hopefully prompts the viewer to make sense of a network
of voices speaking within the work, and to examine their relationship to
those voices. Hopefully the specifics of how each work functions, in
relation to the theme and otherwise, were at least partly explored and
documented by the responses!

I think the most interesting thing about this month was not only to watch
and notate the artworks, but to see how each respondent views the work and
articulates their experience—this ties together the theme of multiple
voices in the artworks and the experiment of collective response in this
month’s format. Approaches to the responses varied: Lee Tusman narrated a
personal experience of trying to make sense of Johann Arens’ work and how
the work positioned him as a viewer in relation to a mysterious environment
and mysterious collection of prosthetic body parts. On the other hand I
tried to enumerate the formal characteristics of the work and question how
they functioned. Among other types of reflection, Helena Haimes listed
general cultural references that works reminded her of (“renegade You-Tube
videos”, “reminiscent of IVF”) as well as other artists (ex. Roni Horn). In
discussing Ciaran Ó Dochartaigh’s work, Robert Rapoport referenced the
history of film (Bresson) as well as the subject position of the camera
person in the video (“sad quality of the ego shooter”).

Hopefully the accumulation of this varied sort of language by a group of
respondents, and the archiving of this language, successfully began an
exploration of one way the list can function as an archive of how artworks
make meaning within a group of people. And hopefully the focus on artworks
that represent a variety of voices and bodies themselves helped tie the
experiment together!

Though there is little time left this month, of course I would welcome
anyone’s responses to the project as a whole.

Best wishes,

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