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Art and Anti-Art


I was remarking to Kevin Clarke(he has an opening tonight at Sara Tecchia's, 529 West 20th street), that much of my work has been relational in nature.  Kevin said I should make a book about my work so that people can see the range and get some sense of what I've done.  Here's something  I wrote in 1993 in one of the original forums of the thing bbs;

Let's say that you are an artist.  You've gone to art school and learned how to make art. You decide to make something using all the things you've learned about art making. When you are finished, you show your work to  a friend. He doesn't recognize it as art.  You are in a dilemma. What should you do? You can go back , taking your friend's criticism and make something that looks more like art. This is traditional art practice. Make something that looks like art. You can also insist that what you have made is art and then try to convince as many people as possible that it is indeed art. This is the position of anti-art. This sets up an ongoing dialectic between art and anti-art. Since the moment that anti-art practice is accepted as art, it is no longer anti-art and as such can be incorporated into the canon. But let's say there is a 3rd way. Let's say that you make the work and it doesn't look like art or isn't percieved as art-like and you don't change it to look more like art. You also don't try to convince people that it is art. You simply let it exist as it is.  

 In Art Dirt Redux I've made an art work that isn't readily recognizable as art. If I were to insist that it is art and then try to have it accepted as an artwork, I would be taking an anti-art position. That position is to include more aesthetics experiences and relationships under the term "Art."  This is also the position of relational aesthetics. Or rather it pushes beyond the art/anti-art dialectic into the arena of aesthetic relationships. Framing reality and positioning a viewer in reality are as important to asthetic discourse as the art objects produced. 

My HDV morph databases are a different tactic. They  look like art. They hang on a gallery wall as a discreet object but they are something else. They are a series of digital files being otganized into a random playlist by bit of code. The still photos of objects are classic art they look like any of a number of well known photographs or oil paintings or drawings. Some are specifically set up in cliched positions for example, water in a glass or vase with sunlight filtering through it is such a cliche. Yet, because of the action of morphing one object to another we are looking at something that is totally new and visually unique. It sets up our aesthetic expectations and then presents a different way of seeing.  there's a sense of subversion in these pieces. This is because they look so much like art and yet they go someplace new. They are not videos although they use digital video for display. They are not painting or drawing yet they borrow techniques of compostion from these previous forms. they are not photography although I use a camera and create photograph-like images.  At every step one process is  substituted for another.