Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Greta » January 20th, 2018, 4:58 pm

Burning ghost wrote:
January 20th, 2018, 3:18 am
I was thinking more along the line of 20 minutes of silence followed by 10 seconds of white noise.
Is this satire or are you referring to a particular piece? :lol:
Burning ghost wrote:My point being, here at least, that if we're going to call all noise music then why not just call music "noise"? There is a delineation and it may be illusionary. The greater the precision of the boundaries may lead to some new discoveries. One example one be the beginning of the "contemporary art" movement to give but one example.
I know you prefer normal prose in these chats, but in this case it seems easier to reply piecemeal, hopefully without buggering up context.

Timbre and atmosphere are all in noise music. They go directly for primal expression (entailing the irony of usually being entirely electronic), bypassing the "middlemen" of melody, harmony and rhythm. There's some primitivism and naive art (although many practitioners, like an online friend of mine, are legitimate musicians too). It reminds me of the famous line in the Castle by an inept lawyer, trying to argue a case to prevent his client's house from being knocked down - "It's the vibe of the thing" :)
Burning ghost wrote:What is fascinating to me is how these terms are "living" embodiments of current attitudes and that they morph and shift with the times. We may look back on some of these with fonder memories than others. Every generation grow up saying "That's not music!" when they hear Elvis, Captain Beefheart or Sami throat singing.
Yes, I remember Dad claiming that The Beatles were not music - this from a fan of Kay Kyser :lol:. At the other end of the scale, I would hear sometimes hear Stockhausen or Cage on Mum's radio, and I considered it to not be music. Then again, I was probably into Slade at the time ...

My own view is that if an artist - no matter how inept, idiotic, wicked or insane - is sincerely attempting to create art, then that is art.

If I was to guard the gate of art from any pretenders, it would not be sincere and innocent schmucks, it would be the cynical exploiters of art forms, producing factory-made, passionless and loveless product for quick turnover. While I'd like to draw the line between art and "stuff" based on intent and sincerity, strictly speaking it's all still art, even if cynical, derivative, formulaic, shallow and ugly. By the same token, cynical, derivative, formulaic, shallow and ugly humans are still accepted as human, as are the chaotic and insane.

Art expresses all of this, along with beauty, humour, warmth, inspiration, excitement, etc.

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » January 20th, 2018, 5:36 pm

Greta wrote:
January 20th, 2018, 4:58 pm
My own view is that if an artist - no matter how inept, idiotic, wicked or insane - is sincerely attempting to create art, then that is art.

If I was to guard the gate of art from any pretenders, it would not be sincere and innocent schmucks, it would be the cynical exploiters of art forms, producing factory-made, passionless and loveless product for quick turnover. While I'd like to draw the line between art and "stuff" based on intent and sincerity, strictly speaking it's all still art, even if cynical, derivative, formulaic, shallow and ugly. By the same token, cynical, derivative, formulaic, shallow and ugly humans are still accepted as human, as are the chaotic and insane.

Art expresses all of this, along with beauty, humour, warmth, inspiration, excitement, etc.
I agree, well said!

I'm here because I'm a practitioner. I've been doing performance and conceptual art for many years. I know it's a useful category of work, that it isn't a contradiction in terms. Like it or don't, it's ok by me.
fair to say

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Greta » January 20th, 2018, 6:24 pm

3uGH7D4MLj wrote:
January 20th, 2018, 5:36 pm
Greta wrote:
January 20th, 2018, 4:58 pm
My own view is that if an artist - no matter how inept, idiotic, wicked or insane - is sincerely attempting to create art, then that is art.

If I was to guard the gate of art from any pretenders, it would not be sincere and innocent schmucks, it would be the cynical exploiters of art forms, producing factory-made, passionless and loveless product for quick turnover. While I'd like to draw the line between art and "stuff" based on intent and sincerity, strictly speaking it's all still art, even if cynical, derivative, formulaic, shallow and ugly. By the same token, cynical, derivative, formulaic, shallow and ugly humans are still accepted as human, as are the chaotic and insane.

Art expresses all of this, along with beauty, humour, warmth, inspiration, excitement, etc.
I agree, well said!

I'm here because I'm a practitioner. I've been doing performance and conceptual art for many years. I know it's a useful category of work, that it isn't a contradiction in terms. Like it or don't, it's ok by me.
I dabbled in noise a little myself for a few years. I find the form simply very direct, bypassing much of the ritual and frippery that we like our artistic concepts presented in.

Have you seen YT clips of Merzbow, a Japanese noise artist, in concert? I could not believe it when a friend sent me a link; it was a lot like any rave party except that the artist and audience were giving a hearty FU to convention by responding directly to the power and timbre of the sound, bypassing rhythm and melody - and their air is filled with utterly brutal electronic noises. Is it music? Does it matter when fans at the concert would surely be enjoying a powerful and exciting experience?

Merzbow and other such artists aim at the very core of what many modern music fans respond to in as extreme a way as possible. It's both very modern and very primal.

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » January 21st, 2018, 12:15 am

Cool. Merzbau is a Kurt Schwitters made up word. He's a dada collagist (1920s-30s) and Merzbau was his name for large constructed environments.

I know Anthony Braxton and Albert Ayler. Merzbow, harsh! thanks for the tip, has a beat.

I have a friend who is in an extreme guitar duo. Pure noise. He's doing the music for a puppet show I'm doing in March. Should be interesting.
fair to say

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Burning ghost » January 21st, 2018, 2:08 am

Maybe I have conflated the idea of "good art" and "bad art" with the idea of "art" itself.

I still find "conceptual art" to not be "pure" art. I see it as an admixture; this is not to say I don't see value in it, only that I class it as something less like art and more like a weird kind of symbolic philosophical proposition or thought experiment.

My friend pointed me in the direction of a documentary on this subject. There was a women who flew to Spain and stole part of someone else's 'conceptual artwork' and then brought it back to England and displayed it in a gallery. She then emailed the artist and gallery telling them that she'd stolen it and printed out the email replies and put them on the wall around the piece she'd stolen.

In the documentary there was one guy that really struck me. They asked him what a certain aspect of his work meant ... he had no words and seemed equally confused by it himself. There is something of the exploration of interpretation and the meaning of meaning right at the heart of "conceptual art," but in more conventional "art" there is usually more consensus on the general thematic presentation even if there isn't consensus on the position on the particular spectrum of said theme - I guess this is the distinction I put on "conceptual art," it dabbles between spectra rather than within any particular set of spectra.

I actually get what she wished to express in this and it is an interesting ethical and aesthetic question to present to people. I just don't see it as anywhere in the same category as people like Monet or Gaudi.
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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Greta » January 21st, 2018, 6:33 am

3uGH, I found it fascinating to see the young 'uns responding to Merzbow as if it was a rave (which it was, really). I also find it interesting that young people take stimulants at dance clubs so as to keep pace with tireless machine music. No breaks, no silence - just the relentless factory pounding of the music machine, driving participating humans on to greater efforts. It feels a bit like a microcosm of modern industrial capitalist society, with people working longer hours, competing futilely with indefatigable machines.

If you know Anthony Braxton and Albert Ayler you are in illustrious company, although I personally find free jazz much more enjoyable to play than to listen to, although a few pieces like Ornette's Lonely Woman are incredible. I find jazz is generally like that - often hard to listen to but occasionally sublime.

The guitar duo, I expect, will be something like Metal Machine Music or Pat Metheny's Fear of Music - brutal :)


BG, is "pure art" like a true Scotsman? (just joshing you :)

"in more conventional "art" there is usually more consensus on the general thematic presentation" expresses the situation well.

As things stand, bot art and music are on the way out - increasingly a fringe concern compared with multimedia storytelling, be it passive film watching or active gaming. The art and music is included in the packages as background. Each form is increasingly ceasing to be "arty" and tending more towards decoration and social lubrication. There will be no long and deep tales told by musical instruments. The aesthetics are increasingly simple and unrefined while the technological invention and achievement increases, with the focus very much on explicit linear narratives rather than abstract expressionism and intimation that leaves space for the art consumer's imagination.

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » January 21st, 2018, 9:15 pm

Greta wrote:
January 21st, 2018, 6:33 am
If you know Anthony Braxton and Albert Ayler you are in illustrious company, although I personally find free jazz much more enjoyable to play than to listen to, although a few pieces like Ornette's Lonely Woman are incredible. I find jazz is generally like that - often hard to listen to but occasionally sublime.
I just meant I know and appreciate their work. Although, I do know somebody who knows Anthony Braxton.
Greta wrote:
January 21st, 2018, 6:33 am
The guitar duo, I expect, will be something like Metal Machine Music or Pat Metheny's Fear of Music - brutal :)
I can't wait til the first rehearsal. I'm convinced it'll be ok, they're more atmospheric. Soundbarn, https://www.thomaslailstudio.com/soundbarn
fair to say

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Greta » January 22nd, 2018, 8:45 pm

Ah, I see. Well, I know someone who was a fan of Anthony Braxton, although I preferred David Sanborn :)

The duo is more listenable than expected, the music reminding me of a soundtrack for Australian outback scenes.

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Atreyu » January 25th, 2018, 12:10 pm

Hereandnow wrote:
July 17th, 2017, 6:42 pm
So what is wrong with conceptual art, as art? For one thing, if it's a concept, then it belongs to the world of ideas, not art. An explanation is not a work of art. And the less there is a taking up of a physical medium and the more there is a thesis, the less it is art, and the more it is theory and idea. For another, it contributes to a trivialization of art as so much that is produced as conceptual is, as far as the physical medium goes, foolish or vacuous. One finds one's self saying, " Well, why didn't the artist just say as much? Why go through the bother with a physical medium if all along, it was just a thesis?"

Arthur Danto writes in The Art World that art lies in the interpretation. Oh look, it's a cloud; no, it's a camel. The camel side of this illustrates the essence of art. If this is true, and there is interpretation at the heart of all of art, what does this say about a negative criticism of conceptual art like mine?
This idea is quite false, as I illustrated in another post in this forum when I explained the difference between "subjective" and "objective" works of art.

What you are calling "conceptual art" is similar to what I have called "objective art", and there is nothing improper about it. In fact, I would also use the terms "true" or "real" in place of "objective". Of course, this is assuming that the ideas expressed in the work of art are real and not fantasy.

In "real" or "true" or "objective" art, the whole point is to express an idea, a concept. But then you ask, "Well, why didn't the artist just say as much? Why go through the bother with a physical medium if all along, it was just a thesis?"

The reason for "going through all the bother" in this type of art is because the artist is dealing with concepts that cannot be elucidated in the ordinary way - via text, or words, or books. The concepts here are best conveyed via the emotions, rather than the intellect, so art is used rather than writing a textbook.

The idea here is that not all ideas are best expressed via the intellect - via words or books, i.e. through the intellect. Some ideas, particularly more abstract ones, are best expressed via the emotions - via works of art.

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Hereandnow » January 27th, 2018, 10:05 pm

Atreyu:
This idea is quite false, as I illustrated in another post in this forum when I explained the difference between "subjective" and "objective" works of art.

What you are calling "conceptual art" is similar to what I have called "objective art", and there is nothing improper about it. In fact, I would also use the terms "true" or "real" in place of "objective". Of course, this is assuming that the ideas expressed in the work of art are real and not fantasy.

In "real" or "true" or "objective" art, the whole point is to express an idea, a concept. But then you ask, "Well, why didn't the artist just say as much? Why go through the bother with a physical medium if all along, it was just a thesis?"

The reason for "going through all the bother" in this type of art is because the artist is dealing with concepts that cannot be elucidated in the ordinary way - via text, or words, or books. The concepts here are best conveyed via the emotions, rather than the intellect, so art is used rather than writing a textbook.

The idea here is that not all ideas are best expressed via the intellect - via words or books, i.e. through the intellect. Some ideas, particularly more abstract ones, are best expressed via the emotions - via works of art.
Concepts conveyed by emotions? Well, if that is all there is to it, then it would seem all visual art has been conceptual art. Why would David paint Oath of Horatii if he could just have easily have told the tale of the Roman legend? And Da Vinci's Virgin of the Rocks? A Bible story. But these are as you say works that convey by emotion, and narratives can't do this in the same way as paintings. Paintings have visual form, dramatic presence and contrasts, and so on. But these are not conceptual pieces. These are, to use Clive Bell's concept, objects of significant form and aesthetic rapture.

But what about works of art that are all concept, or darn near? Granted, there are in this genre works that possess a great deal of significant form, and I would argue, notwithstanding what critics say, these are not particularly conceptual. Just peruse the internet and you can find them. My complaint begins with so much of it that is mere trivial presence: a stone on a cardboard slat, a scarred baseball sitting in a glove, a chair....no, just the chair.

I am saying that when an observer turns her interpretative gaze to the object and it is NOT an aesthetic response that is elicited, or, intended to be elicited, but a strictly conceptual one, a kind of curiosity as to what the ball and glove are doing there and the explanation delivers no more than explanation, then it is not art, or, it is at best, aesthetically trivial. Arguments that insist such things are art will be challenged to explain why every object and its explanatory associations are not art.

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » January 29th, 2018, 4:00 pm

HAN, can you give us an example of a conceptual art work so we can better tell what you're referring to? thnx
fair to say

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Hereandnow » January 29th, 2018, 8:26 pm

Here is something I came across that, I think, really makes the case. I found it here: http://www.theartstory.org/movement-con ... .htm#pnt_1

Much that is here hits the mark. This sticks out:

Artwork description & Analysis: A physical chair sits between a scale photograph of a chair and a printed definition of the word "chair." Emblematic of Conceptual art, One and Three Chairs makes people question what constitutes the "chair" - the physical object, the idea, the photograph, or a combination of all three. Joseph Kosuth once wrote, "The art I call conceptual is such because it is based on an inquiry into the nature of art. Thus, it is...a thinking out of all the implications, of all aspects of the concept 'art.'" One and Three Chairs denies the hierarchical distinction between an object and a representation, just as it implies a conceptual work of art can be object or representation in its various forms. This work harks back to and also extends the kind of inquiry into the presumed priority of object over representation that had been earlier proposed by the Surrealist Rene Magritte in his Treachery of Images (1928-9), with its image of a pipe over the inscription "Ceci n'est pas un pipe" (This is not a pipe).

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Burning ghost » January 29th, 2018, 11:11 pm

And that is why I say it is not "art." Mainly it's just pretentious nonsense expressed by someone to lazy or incompetent to actually study about any particular subject. It is a lazy, noncommittal to the investigation of life.
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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by Greta » January 30th, 2018, 12:33 am

Again, Mr Ghost, it is only art that you dislike due to its low aesthetic and visceral content. I think the chair installation is an excellent idea, that would have provoked as much thought as disdain.

My criticism (based on the above) is it could have taken the subject further; I would have wanted a chair on a video screen, a holographic chair, maybe chair visual data converted into sound, the smell of mahogany or wicker - a smell that might be roughly associated with a type of chair etc. Then I'd experiment with the arrangement of items so that particular effects tended to be evoked by the transitions as a viewer moves between the different interpretations of a chair.

BG, you would be horrified at some of my edgier musical experiments. You would surely proclaim, as Dad did when he heard the Beatles, "that's not music!". Then I would reply, no, it is actually music, just not good or pleasant music :)

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Re: Conceptual art: an oxymoron?

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » January 30th, 2018, 12:44 am

Hereandnow wrote:
January 29th, 2018, 8:26 pm
Here is something I came across that, I think, really makes the case. I found it here: http://www.theartstory.org/movement-con ... .htm#pnt_1

Much that is here hits the mark. This sticks out:

Artwork description & Analysis: A physical chair sits between a scale photograph of a chair and a printed definition of the word "chair." Emblematic of Conceptual art, One and Three Chairs makes people question what constitutes the "chair" - the physical object, the idea, the photograph, or a combination of all three. Joseph Kosuth once wrote, "The art I call conceptual is such because it is based on an inquiry into the nature of art. Thus, it is...a thinking out of all the implications, of all aspects of the concept 'art.'" One and Three Chairs denies the hierarchical distinction between an object and a representation, just as it implies a conceptual work of art can be object or representation in its various forms. This work harks back to and also extends the kind of inquiry into the presumed priority of object over representation that had been earlier proposed by the Surrealist Rene Magritte in his Treachery of Images (1928-9), with its image of a pipe over the inscription "Ceci n'est pas un pipe" (This is not a pipe).
I like the Kosuth pieces, and Rauchenberg's erased deKooning is genius. I don't know what the difficulty is but like I said, different strokes. If you can't get any joy or poetry out of these works, so be it. (It's still art)
fair to say

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