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  1. #11
    jstraw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by juan View Post
    Also, intelligence is frequently measured by verbal ability, or at least popular acceptance of intelligence.

    I wonder, from the description of Eggleston, if he might be somewhere on the autistic spectrum - maybe Asperger's Syndrome. A lot of Aspies think in pictures, and are uncomfortable in expressing themselves in any kind of social situation. Sometimes I think I have it.
    juan

    Interesting though. I have a friend, a videographer by profession...his son has Ausbergers...and I've been considering whether my friend might as well...the more I learn about Ausbergers the more sense it makes.
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  2. #12
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jstraw View Post
    Sadly, one aspect of receiving a fine arts education in an art school or the art departments of higher education, at least in this country, is to train students to bridge this gap and thereby placing an onus on artists to satisfy critics. I attribute this to the fact that arts academics occupy a troublesome middle-ground between artists and critics ("teachers and critics all dance the poot").This is in part due to the fact that higher ed has succeeded in making the transfer of this language one of the keys to the kingdom they protect and sell. Partly this comes from a sincere desire to professionalize and legitimize the arts but something is lost. It never occurs to anyone that no one ever asked Rembrandt to write an artists statement.
    Indeed, I'll take an example from what I know: my former roomate is a photographer, and he's starting quite an interesting trajectory. I like what he does, and I think he's doing something really unique. But he is also the product of the university arts system education, having both a BFA and an MFA in photo, and working on an art history PhD right now. That's a lot of higher education for an artist, but it's becoming more and more the norm for someone wanting to become established in the artworld.

    While his photography is immediate and arresting, his writeups are incredibly obscure and theoretical, combining all you want from the academic wordbook. It's not that I can't understand it--I'm also in the academic world and know how to deal with the obfuscations of cultural scholars--but it's more that I see it as a barrier and a vicious circle, as you do:

    1. Critics explain deeply and profusely the work of past artists
    2. New artists coming in want to top their forebears, but do so in the terms of the critics, not in the terms of the artists
    3. They themselves become scholars of their own work (literally: the final thesis paper of the MFA is about your own work), acquainted with the apparatus of the scholars and critics, and build their own work on top of it, thereby making it more scholarly.
    4. As a result, an artist who does not talk the talk will not be let in to walk the walk, and anyone doing boring stuff that talks the talks gets gallery space.

    It's not an all black/white situation between academic and non-academic artists (let's note that in the modern context, this has a different meaning than was commonly applicable to "academy" painters!), and there is a lot of very interesting work coming out of it, but as someone who is distrustful of the intellectual validity of a lot of what is said in academia, I find it annoying.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  3. #13
    jstraw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv View Post
    Indeed, I'll take an example from what I know: my former roomate is a photographer, and he's starting quite an interesting trajectory. I like what he does, and I think he's doing something really unique. But he is also the product of the university arts system education, having both a BFA and an MFA in photo, and working on an art history PhD right now. That's a lot of higher education for an artist, but it's becoming more and more the norm for someone wanting to become established in the artworld.

    While his photography is immediate and arresting, his writeups are incredibly obscure and theoretical, combining all you want from the academic wordbook. It's not that I can't understand it--I'm also in the academic world and know how to deal with the obfuscations of cultural scholars--but it's more that I see it as a barrier and a vicious circle, as you do:

    1. Critics explain deeply and profusely the work of past artists
    2. New artists coming in want to top their forebears, but do so in the terms of the critics, not in the terms of the artists
    3. They themselves become scholars of their own work (literally: the final thesis paper of the MFA is about your own work), acquainted with the apparatus of the scholars and critics, and build their own work on top of it, thereby making it more scholarly.
    4. As a result, an artist who does not talk the talk will not be let in to walk the walk, and anyone doing boring stuff that talks the talks gets gallery space.

    It's not an all black/white situation between academic and non-academic artists (let's note that in the modern context, this has a different meaning than was commonly applicable to "academy" painters!), and there is a lot of very interesting work coming out of it, but as someone who is distrustful of the intellectual validity of a lot of what is said in academia, I find it annoying.
    I think you and I are on the same page. I quit art school in part because of the premium that was placed on what I termed "the B.S." I worry about it now because I have a sibling at RISD.

    I decided that for myself, I was fully willing to try and explain what drew me to a certain image or subject...I was fully willing to explain the mechanics of how I worked...and while I did/do strive to make something akin to visual poetry, I simply decline to play the game, through secondary use of written or spoken language, any discussion of "meaning" or "significance."

    First of all, I wouldn't want to impose notions of meaning on a viewer. If I succeed, I'm eliminating the capacity for meaning to be evoked in the viewers mind, unencumbered and if I fail, I sound self-important and pompous.

    Second, "writing about music is like dancing about architecture." Yep, Twyla Tharp can probably dance about architecture but for most of us, using one medium to describe another is at best a fools errand and at worst an admission that the work can't speak for itself. This is why I'm so averse to creative rather than merely descriptive titling. If you need to hear me talk about a photograph then the photograph is a failure by the standards I set for myself.

    When I figured out the very "talk the talk/walk the walk" equation that you describe I became unspeakably disillusioned. And I say this as someone that can do the verbal gymnastics without breaking a sweat. My B.S. detector is just to finely calibrated to put up with all that.

    None of this is to say that there is no place for scholorship and historical perspective but that really should all be reactive to the workings of art itself and when the tail wags the dog, as it now constantly does...it's troublesome.
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  4. #14
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jstraw View Post
    I think you and I are on the same page. I quit art school in part because of the premium that was placed on what I termed "the B.S." I worry about it now because I have a sibling at RISD.

    I decided that for myself, I was fully willing to try and explain what drew me to a certain image or subject...I was fully willing to explain the mechanics of how I worked...and while I did/do strive to make something akin to visual poetry, I simply decline to play the game, through secondary use of written or spoken language, any discussion of "meaning" or "significance."

    First of all, I wouldn't want to impose notions of meaning on a viewer. If I succeed, I'm eliminating the capacity for meaning to be evoked in the viewers mind, unencumbered and if I fail, I sound self-important and pompous.

    Second, "writing about music is like dancing about architecture." Yep, Twyla Tharp can probably dance about architecture but for most of us, using one medium to describe another is at best a fools errand and at worst an admission that the work can't speak for itself. This is why I'm so averse to creative rather than merely descriptive titling. If you need to hear me talk about a photograph then the photograph is a failure by the standards I set for myself.

    When I figured out the very "talk the talk/walk the walk" equation that you describe I became unspeakably disillusioned. And I say this as someone that can do the verbal gymnastics without breaking a sweat. My B.S. detector is just to finely calibrated to put up with all that.

    None of this is to say that there is no place for scholorship and historical perspective but that really should all be reactive to the workings of art itself and when the tail wags the dog, as it now constantly does...it's troublesome.
    I haven't gone through art school, but I would dread it now from what I know. Academia is enough already for me.

    There is a big thing that happend in academia that I don't think was that beneficiary for either literature or the visual arts: semiotics. Semiotics is supposed to be the science of all signs, but in fact it's just the application of structuralist linguistic methods to everything. What it means is that there is always the hidden assumption that photography or painting fuctions as a language. But that's a huge mistake: it's confounding conventions with linguistics. Many pictures are understandable only under knowledge of certain conventions, but they have in no way the internal logic of a spoken language. Yet, that's part of the assumptions that are left unchecked.

    As to the artistic statement and the rest, I think it's a mistake to rely only on the artist to explain the siginificance of one's art. We all know about failed intentions: "in this picture I was trying to show the insufferable lightness of being, but in fact that's just an underexposed roadkill." Someone able to take a solid critical position can explain what works and what doesn't in a proper manner, and that's not necessarily the artist. Up to a point, it explains the "discovery" of artists, in the sense that the artworld is revitalized by the work of someone who did not participate in it, and thus bends the critical apparatus in another unforeseen direction.

    Oh, and "creative criticism", let's not even touch that with a ten foot pole! It's more like someone wanking over someone else's work and pretending it's an "encounter" with it when in fact it's just a spill on it.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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  5. #15
    jstraw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mhv View Post
    As to the artistic statement and the rest, I think it's a mistake to rely only on the artist to explain the siginificance of one's art. We all know about failed intentions: "in this picture I was trying to show the insufferable lightness of being, but in fact that's just an underexposed roadkill." Someone able to take a solid critical position can explain what works and what doesn't in a proper manner, and that's not necessarily the artist.
    I agree with this and it's what I was getting at when I talked about it being reactive and the problems of the tail wagging the dog when the artists attempt to co-opt the role of the critic, scholar or historian.

    I'm not sure what to say about the artist that really feels that they have big ideas that they feel compelled to articulate. Some creative professionals, as a practical matter, must explain intent. Screenwriters, archtects, the makers of major, commisioned works, grant-seekers...anyone that needs to get someone to open the purse.
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  6. #16
    erikg's Avatar
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    "I'm not sure what to say about the artist that really feels that they have big ideas that they feel compelled to articulate. Some creative professionals, as a practical matter, must explain intent. Screenwriters, architects, the makers of major, commissioned works, grant-seekers...anyone that needs to get someone to open the purse."

    I think this thread makes a lot of great points. It has often struck me that person who gets the grant is most often the person who can frame their pictures with prettiest words. The verbal rules the roost. I recall the snide and superior attitude the writers had towards the photographers at the newspaper where I once worked. The photogs were seen as just ignorant slobs who couldn't get anything across without the help of the writer's great prose. I think the truth is that newspapers would find it too frightening to print a photograph without a caption below it to lead the reader by the nose to the desired meaning. Even the simplest of photographs can be far too ambiguous for comfort. That is what makes this medium so endlessly fascinating
    As for art school, most of the folks I know who have been through it talk about the need for a period of time after to clear out all of the junk before they start making "real work" again. I think that fits my own experience. Not to say it wasn't worthwhile.

  7. #17

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    Anyone else live in austin? Eggelston exhibit is in town, check it out! Lora Rey gallery.

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