"One standard DJing trick that can often lead to a log jam
of beats is setting up two records running (supposedly)
in time then cross-cutting between them. The fact that
this party piece seems to be performed exclusively by
DJs who have a pathological inability to get the two
records playing in time in the first place is a mystery I
shall never hope to solve." (Jones, Claire Morgan.
"misadventures on the wheels of steel." DJ. May 1996: 98.)
Languages are not symmetrical systems. One cannot directly plug one into the other. For instance, take a English-German and German-English dictionary. The two volumes do not directly reflect one another. The German words don't accurately convert into English and vice versa. It is impossible to establish a set of conversion rules where one would be able to directly translate one into the other. The differences are more extreme when contrasting the languages of visual art and literature. It's with these differences that I intend to begin my operation. I plan on taking advantage of these differences.
Breaking down languages
In order to understand how the two languages interact, one must first dissect each side and analyze it. A word, part of an image and a body movement alone cannot communicate the concept. How these parts connect and operate in context is what communicates the inherent concept. Breaking down written and spoken language to its smallest reasonable parts results in words. Take away all functional possibilities of context and the word is almost neutral. These words can be put in a dictionary. Dictionary-making is a mechanical, unnatural metalinguistic activity. This is not natural because we speak with utterances. When expressing a concept, a single word would not suffice. Organized combinations and patterns are needed to express and communicate thoughts and feeling. This can also be mechanically applied to visual art. A picture can be mechanically broken down to simple elements, so that each part becomes disjointed and relies on the union of other parts to communicate. This mechanical act for visual art can be accomplished on a computer with a rector based program such as Adobe Photoshop™. Each individual pixel would constitute for the disjoined syntactical unit.
An example how I intend on mechanically pulling at the levers of language is the following: I will present the viewer with a phrase. If the phrase is said out loud, it's different from what's written. (i.e. Duchamp used this sequence, "my niece is cold" / "my knees are cold") An image place with this phrase has the possibility of depicting both readings of this phrase. Another example is the Fresh Widow, also by Duchamp. The object presented is a french window with the panels blacked out. The words "Fresh Widow" are written on the ledge. Now if you take that phrase and delete the "s" in "fresh", add a "n" In place of it and add a "n" in "widow"; the result is "French Window." I intend on incorporating this type of manipulation into my works.
I am the war general directing both sides of a war. The opposing forces are different forms of language such as visual arts, dance and written and spoken language. I will develop a series of strategies that puts these systems in disarray through the mechanical treatment of language.
By breaking down each type of language, I establish a commonalty among these different forms of communication so they may interact with each other more efficiently. "It is always easy to begin a war, but very difficult to stop one... Anyone, even a coward, can commence a war, but it can be brought to an end only with the consent of the victors." (Sallust. Jugurtha, Sec. 83.) In my artwork I set off many possible interpretations feuding against one another. The viewer will not be able to decide which one is the victor, because there is no definite final interpretation; therefore, the conflict in the artwork will live on and the artwork will ironically never die. I say ironically because the battle continues, because there are many possible interpretations and the viewer cannot decide on one. The more battling themes means more interpretations which in turn means more life and more war.
Marcel Duchamp manipulated language mechanically. He devised mechanisms to push and pull at language. Duchamp liked dictionaries because they are mechanical treatments of language. Duchamp wrote about a visual dictionary.
with films, taken close up, of parts of very large objects, obtain photographic
records which no longer look like photographs of something—with these semi
microscopies constitute a dictionary of which each film would be the representation
of a group of words in a sentence or separated so that this film would
assume a new significance or rather that the concentration on this film of the
sentences or words chosen would give a form of meaning to this film and that
once learned, this relation between film and meaning translated into words
would be striking and would serve as a basis for a kind of writing which no
longer has an alphabet or words but signs (films) already freed from the "baby
talk" of all ordinary languages. —Find a means of filing all these films in order
that one could refer to them as in a dictionary.
This shows how Duchamp wanted to break down the visual language and reassemble it. I can picture Duchamp utilizing the computer to break an image apart for various manipulations. One is a visual dictionary (I don't plan on pursuing this) Another reason on breaking this down is to manipulate the language to give various possible meanings.
I intend on carrying though some of Duchamp's ideas with a computer to break the languages down for viewer to reassemble the pieces.
My multiple interpretation postulate was heavily influenced by Jorg Immendorf.
Use of wit and humor may be involved in one of the readings. Allan Kaprow once said of Duchamp:
Wit, from a Duchamp perspective, is the condition and consequence of keen
thought. If you see things clearly, really clearly, you've got to laugh because
nothing's been accomplished. There's a Zen Story about one of the great patriarchs
who was asked what it felt like to be enlightened. His answer was, "I
found out that I was just miserable as ever.'
Use of a sense of humor can put everything into perspective. Or the humor can reach a point where the viewer doesn't know whether to consider it literally or regard it as parody.
Each individual subject taken by itself is not as important as the overall structures. If the subjects in each work are analyzed separately, the structures will outrank them. One must stand back and look at the larger view. The subjects will not fit into a neat narrative, but will seem to be governed by a certain seeming incoherence and chaos. I create the situation where the viewer ties the things together in their own personal manner.
Possibilities of interpretations—architecture metaphor
The atmosphere created is similar to architecture. I create the space for the viewer to work and live in. The viewer can do whatever they please in my house. My house is complex enough so that there are many interpretations possible—the viewer can stand in one spot and that view will be interesting; the viewer can walk somewhere else and also find another part provoking. Yet I want my spaces to be specific enough so that there is some focus. The design of my structures manipulates the activities of the people who inhibit its spaces yet it's open enough to let people walk around.
Possibilities of interpretations—potato metaphor
Each person brings their own baggage when viewing artwork. My work would be able to speak to different types and levels of audience. As Jorg Immendorf would say, the work would "assume the function of the potato." Most people have eaten a potato and knows what it tastes like. In that sense it is a universal metaphor. In some historical and social contexts, the potato is an essential ingredient to live. The art serves some purpose. Viewers of the work can receive something from the work no matter how much experience one has with art (or with potatoes).
John Cage said, "Duchamp showed the usefulness of addition (mustache) Rauschenberg showed the function of subtraction (de Kooning). Well, we look forward to multiplication and division." With the multiple layering of images and different possible readings, multiplication is possible. Division would occur when one stands back and cuts down the noise and feels the underlying structures.
More possibilities for interacting systems are visual arts and dance. Dance can be mechanically altered in a similar fashion as visual art and literature. This mechanical structure for breaking down motion already occurs in motion films. Motion film is a succession of pictures taken at quick, consistent intervals; and when shown back in this same sequence and time, motion appears to be occurring. I will use an individual frame the same way I used a word and a pixel. The still frame does not directly explain the motion, this explanation occurs only when viewed with the other pictures. Time plays a important role here. I'm not exactly sure how I'll utilize that, but I think I might incorporate that into some of my works.
The issues of technology must be addressed when utilizing it in artwork. It is important to be aware of the interface involved. The interface of art traditionally values immediacy, spontaneity of inspiration and extension through gesture. Technology on the other hand, tends to remove the artist's hand from the work since the basic operations of the computer is mathematical and beyond the comprehension of most people. The interaction between viewer and digital artwork is highly scrutinized. The transparency of the interface becomes crucial. There must be a reason for using technology to express the content. The quality of interaction between medium and meaning must be examined — how the medium has influenced what's expressed and how the content has affected the use of the medium. A problem with computers is that the viewers can't kinestically experience a work done on the computer. Ella King Torrey, president to the San Francisco Art Institute, says in response to this, "Different types of intelligence and coordination are required by electronic media and the challenge for an artist is to understand what those unique qualities are, not to replicate drawing or painting or printmaking but to explore the special qualities of digital art making." ("Art Education." Artweek. March 1996, p. 13) One of the reasons for my use of digital images is to mechanically play with languages and structures in order to create a plane (battlefield) on which visual arts can interact (combat) with written, spoken and body languages. If hand drawn images are incorporated with the digital images the notion of war is further pushed. As with any war, there are victors and attempts to conclude the war by settling differences (usually by a forced settlement) and coming to an understanding. But I say let the war go on.
Sidebit on technology
On a technical level, the grid (and polygonal constructions within the grid) radically limits the possibility of constructing organic, amorphous forms... When resolution of the grid moves below the threshold of vision, the problem of organic form will ironically disappear. Ironic, because the increase in resolution that puts the mind at rest is an expression of an increase in power of the technology; however, no intrinsic philosophical change has occurred." (Simon Penny. "Virtual Reality as the Completion of the Enlightenment Project." Culture on the Brink, 1994.)
I want to focus not on things, but on the relationships that bind them. Laszlo Moholy-Nagy said, "structure becomes transparency and transparency manifests structure."
This is a theme that has been running with my works in the past two years. I t will still be evident in my work today and in the future. Life is rhythm. Everything that is alive has some sort of rhythm. i.e. heartbeat, sun rising and setting, walking, breathing, patterns of behavior, etc. Rhythm is the union of two opposites. The two opposites work together to form one whole. Rhythm can be evident in subject matters, contents, and mediums.
back to menu
back to home