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A critical essay

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Terrible jack
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Re: A critical essay

Post by Terrible jack » January 19th, 2016, 11:31 am

Here is part two of the critical essay. In fact the title of the two part essay is Context Provocation Mythogram - part 1 above on 'Lost' by David Shrigley, and part 2 on 'The Messenger' by Bill Viola.
I'm sorry not to have been able to include a photo of either work (new member) - Terrible jack (aka stan bonnar)

In 1996, the church of England's chaplaincy to the arts and recreation in north-east England, commissioned the American artist Bill Viola to make a work in response to Durham Cathedral. The building of this great cathedral was begun in 1093, and it is considered to be one of the finest examples of a Romanesque-Norman architecture in Europe. Viola's artwork is a video entitled 'The Messenger', and this is how he describes the piece:

"A large image is projected onto a screen mounted to the great West door in Durham Cathedral. The image sequence begins with a small, central, luminous, abstract form, shimmering and undulating against a deep blue-black void. Gradually the luminous shape begins to get larger and less distorted, and it soon becomes apparent that we are seeing a human form, illuminated, rising towards us from under the surface of a body of water. The water becomes more still and transparent and the figure more clear on its journey upwards towards us. We identify the figure as a man, pale blue, on his back rising up slowly. After some time, the figure breaks the surface, an act at once startling, relieving and desperate. His pale form emerges into the warm hues of a bright light, the water glistening on his body. His eyes immediately open and he releases a long held breath from the depths, shattering the silence of the image as this forceful primal sound of life that resonates momentarily in the space. After a few moments, he inhales deeply, and, with his eyes shut and his mouth closed, he sinks into the depths of the blue-black void, to become a shimmering moving point of light once more. The image then returns to its original state and the cycle begins anew."

The scandal which ensued the installation was eagerly grasped by the national press. This response from John MacEwan in the Sunday Telegraph:

"On press day, journalists arrived to find to the Dean and Chapter in a flap. They had been legally advised to protect themselves against indecency charges by getting police clearance. Screens were being hastily arranged to hide the film from the general view, because the police had warned that the sight of 'appendages' might upset the public. As the Dean explained: A child who had been sexually abused might come into the cathedral and be disturbed by a large image of a nude male.

"The Dean praised the film: I only saw it this morning, but I think it is a great work of art. Canon Bill Hall, who commissioned the work, added to general approval that it was regrettable it could not be seen as conceived, in full view at the west end of the nave.

"Such verbal support cannot conceal the fact that by admitting the film can cause offence, the Dean and Chapter immediately put themselves in the wrong. To add humiliation to lack of judgement, they have also bowed to the secular authority of the police on a matter they claim to be spiritual. The ensuing mess is no more than they deserve. By turning a blue movie into a Blue Movie, there does indeed seem very good reason for an outraged member of the public to take them to court. The heavy breathing of the soundtrack is now far more scandalous than the screened-off nudity."

Viola's intention had been to make The Messenger: "...have this resonance with, hopefully have a dance with - on the positive side, - on the negative side maybe a conflict with this incredibly powerful place." But although he hopes that the work will have a perceptible interaction with the place, somewhere between dance and conflict, the result was off the scale. In Durham the messenger will inevitably be remembered as screened and censored, so it is worth trying to understand what happened.

It should be noted at this point that The Messenger was also seen in art spaces around the country. I saw the work in the South London Gallery, and although the space was quite dark, being illuminated only by the video projection, there was little resonance with the building itself. I approached the work from this location. Under normal circumstances, the time that the cycle takes, would have involved the terminal expulsion of breath while underwater. This technological stretching of time could be viewed as a subversive commentary on the breath, the voice, and the spiritual dominion of man - a deconstruction of representational purity, glimpsed through an image of the very invincibility of man in fortress 'metaphor'. The authenticity of this view would be signalled by abject desperation, the symbol of a search for the means of linguistic suicide. But although the man is said to be desperate, there is nothing in his body language to suggest despair. That Viola's man is not distressed by any technological dislocation from the meaning of his image, might suggest a utilisation, rather than a critique of metaphorical language.

If this is true, it suggests that the messenger does not address the problem of time and language to the extent that's possible in video artworks. It may be that the water is a metaphor for the subconscious in unity with its physical surroundings, and that this is evidence of pluralistic thinking; but the apparent ease with which he uses metaphor, means that the image as an ideal narrative object, cannot be wrested away from a dominating subject. Because metaphor is essentially derivative and linguistic, its viability as a tool for use towards a greater understanding is in doubt, immediately understanding attempts to dig its way out of representational language. Viola stops The Messenger from drowning through the use of metaphor.

Although Viola reintroduces the human body into the Christian spiritual equation after its exile for centuries, he fails to convince the Sunday telegraph art critic, that The Messenger is nothing more than "... yet another example of body art, its concentration on the physical the reverse of spirituality." Yet surely, as one so involved in the mystical aspects of religious thought, it could be expected that an exploration of mind as body would be central to his project, and that the messenger's body would not be isolated from its own abject but nevertheless potentially ethical reality, by an envelope of spiritual consciousness. Nevertheless although bathing in a linear model of time, The Messenger is the catalyst that causes the very foundations of Durham Cathedral to shake.

It could be argued that what was being censored was not the nudity of the messenger, but the idea of ecstatic love as a way to God. Bill Viola writes that his work is based in unknowing, in doubt, in being lost, in questions and not answers, and he relates to the role of the mystic because of this. He is fascinated by the ancient Christian teaching called the via negativa, the basic tenet of which is an unknowability of God, who can only be approached in love - through the body as much as through the mind of the individual. By love, the soul enters into union with God, a union not infrequently described through the metaphor of ecstatic sex. The via negativa was eventually dominated by the more familiar via positiva of today, a method of affirmation that describes positive, human attributes such as Good and All-Knowing to the image of a transcendent God. But there is also an other aspect to ecstasy.

In his book Being and Time, Martin Heidegger disclosed ecstatic temporalising as primordial to the commonsense sequence of 'nows' we recognize as everyday time: "Temporality is the primordial 'out-side-of-itself' in and for itself. We therefore call the phenomena of the future, the character of having been, and the Present, the 'ecstases' of temporality."

He also disclosed temporality as the ontological meaning of care, and care as Being-towards-death, from which one might assume that ecstasy, both ontological and colloquial, encounters death in a way that would be threatening to the infinite linearity of English ecclesiastical time. In other words it could be argued that it would be necessary for the clergy to censor this aspect of ecstasy, even more so than the sexual aspect of the image.

Nevertheless, the attempt to censor many intimate moments of divergent thought, backfired, causing what might have been a gradual evolution of understanding, to become one of a least intended, catastrophic change, that plunged the people, the clergy and the shaman into an abyss of controversy.

To remember an important dream, is to begin to make sense of its symbols. Although these are events in time, what is important in a dream, is the way in which its images are patterned by the brain. This gives a symbolic picture of the subconscious state, and introduces a potential energy for change. To tell about the dream, is to make word signs that represent its symbols. In Durham, The Messenger may have inadvertently threatened the temporal power base of the Church, and provoked an abject dislocation in its language structure; nevertheless, because this is a shared experience, the first thing to change in light of this dream, might be the very language used to tell it.

The Messenger works because Bill Viola is immersed in the same linguistic structure as the church. He is able to open up this meaningful dialogue in a common language, that results in the spontaneous transformation of the situation. This is the only criterion for success. Most important though, is the need to recognize that it's not an artwork entitled The Messenger that people are standing around questioning, but it's their own ideas of what happened, that they are standing among as part of.

When Canon Bill Hall says that The Messenger is great art, he is defining great art within its context. This is close to what Donald Judd meant when he said, "if someone calls it art, it's art." Within that frame of reference, art becomes word to use, to contextualise an act, to locate it in a social structure of the same name. Here there is a problematic difference of perspectives on art, from two structures that lay claim to ownership of the messenger. When the Dean refers to this as great art, he sees the entire situation at the cathedral as something that's going to profoundly affect his life. He no doubt is very sensitized to the abjectness of the whole situation. On the other hand, when The Messenger is viewed in the isolation of art, a sense of the abject that might signal an intention to bring death into the linguistic equation is missing.

Viola is happy for the work to be shown in art galleries around the country, because he also belongs to an art world structure. But here the problem centres on the definition of something as art. As long as this uni-dimensional conceptual pattern of a specialized social system called art, persists, it will place a barrier between an intention to deconstruct, and any functioning social system which that deconstruction intends to be part of. In this case it forestalls the necessity for art critique to delve into the contextual background of the work, which would reveal the situation as being truly subversive for its context, the Church. This seems to raise the question as to whether it would in fact be counterproductive to place artists-in-residence in such institutions.

To paraphrase Joseph Kosuth's earlier statement, an artist, being a thinker now, means to question the nature of functioning social structures. If one is questioning the nature of art, one cannot be questioning the nature of other functioning social structures. If a thinker accepts art, they are accepting the tradition that goes with it. That's because the word society is general and the word art is specific. The art world is a kind of functioning social structure. If you make art, you are already accepting (not questioning) the nature of society. One is then accepting that the human image can only really be reflected by art, and disseminated as such to society.
Nevertheless, art exists, and a defining factor of deconstruction is that it operates on the periphery of its own linguistic structure. It could be argued that if something is art, then by definition it can only deconstruct the languages of art. To be sure it filters through eventually to a broader church, as minimalist style, but to whose benefit? Although much of contemporary deconstructive art is difficult to commodify, it still submits to an art objectification, which capitalism would no doubt see as its last line of defence. If it is this linear, linguistic, capitalization of physical things that threatens to be erased by deconstruction, then capitalist thinking would need to maintain the Object, in order for its languages to be able to predict an infinity of its own presence. This objectification is a technological distance that corporate interest must proliferate to survive; but it means that people forget what proximity is for.

These political processes through which art appropriates, commodifies, and neutralizes the ethical impulse of deconstruction, thwart even the most determined attempts at linguistic suicide. To be art, it must have at some stage controlled unpredictability for its own pre-diction as art; it must at some stage in its own future, be able and willing to look back on proximity, as something that happened before it became art. And yet it is that very unpredictability of proximity that allows fluid discourse to find its own democratic level. Deconstruction seeks democracy in the silence of the artists voice, but this is inevitably only a demonstration of how to deconstruct. If art is to transcend its own objectification, a new art tendency must be conceptualised from which the whole of art can be deconstructed. If the whole of art could be viewed by the whole of the population, from the multitude of tiny intimate moments in time that would motivate such a tendency, then the silence would be intense.

To begin to recognize what factors might characterise this tendency toward democracy in art, we might refer to Simon Critchley's book, The Ethics of Deconstruction, Derrida & Levinas. In this work, Critchley draws on Emmanuel Levinas' thinking on ethics.

"...Levinas is preoccupied with the possibility of an ethical form of language, the Saying, which would be irreducible to the ontological language of the Said, in which all entities are disclosed and comprehended in the light of Being... the Saying is my exposure - corporeal, sensible - to the Other, my inability to refuse the Other's approach. It is the performative stating, proposing, or expressive position of myself facing the Other. It is a verbal or non-verbal ethical performance, whose essence cannot be caught in constative propositions. It is a performative doing that cannot be reduced to a constative description."

A tendency towards democracy in art might germinate in this spatial relation to the other. Language opens up the issue of HOW being in relation to the human other is articulated, ethical or not, but prior to language is the Saying, as the "...sheer radicality of human speaking... as the very enactment of the ethical movement from the Same to the Other", as the very unnameable of the of the trace. Art might raise the issue of its own transcendence in this space, as a performance in the unpredictable proximity before the Other.

At issue here is a tendency within the ontological language of art, to say 'Yes' to the unpredictable Otherness of the Other. If as Levinas states, the Saying is my corporeal and sensible inability to refuse the Other's approach, then it makes sense to perform art in a space of maximum unpredictability. This does seem to suggest that the whole of art might best be deconstructed in public spaces that are unrestricted, and in which the Other is not a predictable object in the artistic field of vision.

Unrestricted public space is full of people, who come close in an unpredictable way, but who are nevertheless capable of forming the 'we' who can in this present moment, demanded justice, or take a political decision for the justification of any issue. Art is such an issue, but deconstructive art, as a signification that raises the question of signification, could be a means to rediscover the sheer proximity necessary to democracy.

I want to refer back to the mythogram, but now as a clearing for the writing of stories who symbols spell themselves pluri-dimensionally, and as a deconstructive continuum for ethico-political decisions. A tendency to open democratic space.

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Re: A critical essay

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » January 19th, 2016, 4:09 pm

Terrible jack wrote:But how do you find what's lost, when you don't know what you're looking for?
Hereandnow wrote:Your observations carry the day. Shrigley provides the vehicle, you do the work. My criticism of Shrigley is really a general criticism of modern art: The work itself serves a catalyst only and the real art work lies with the interpretation.
You're right, I do the work, but it is effortless. I encounter an artwork unexpectedly, it is intriguing to me as it was to Jack. I can smell the pathetic incongruity! As I take it in, as it makes my day, there is no language involved.

I only drag out these wordy artifacts in order to explain and tell. I know I wrote that "meaning" paragraph but the encounter has none of that. My response is formed of impressions and feelings of delight and wonder, gratitude. The explaining and justifying (yes justifying) is dull stuff. In fact this catching and converting, approximating the feelings into words kills the experience somewhat.

I think Clive Bell tried to encapsulate the joy he felt with his "esthetic emotion" and "significant form" ideas. He tried to formulate a universal rule describing the joy he felt. Our experience of art can't be contained, explained in this way, but the joy is there if you want it.

-- Updated January 19th, 2016, 3:11 pm to add the following --
Hereandnow wrote:Art appreciation is a tough business. One has to be savvy and in control of language and its nuances.
No!
fair to say

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Re: A critical essay

Post by Hereandnow » January 19th, 2016, 9:06 pm

3uGH7D4MLj:

You're right, I do the work, but it is effortless. I encounter an artwork unexpectedly, it is intriguing to me as it was to Jack. I can smell the pathetic incongruity! As I take it in, as it makes my day, there is no language involved.

I only drag out these wordy artifacts in order to explain and tell. I know I wrote that "meaning" paragraph but the encounter has none of that. My response is formed of impressions and feelings of delight and wonder, gratitude. The explaining and justifying (yes justifying) is dull stuff. In fact this catching and converting, approximating the feelings into words kills the experience somewhat.

I think Clive Bell tried to encapsulate the joy he felt with his "esthetic emotion" and "significant form" ideas. He tried to formulate a universal rule describing the joy he felt. Our experience of art can't be contained, explained in this way, but the joy is there if you want it.
Hmmm Now, you actually read this second essay on Bill Viola's "The Messenger"? And the first? I ask because these essays are precisely a case in point against what you say above regarding words killing the experience. It's not that i don't appreciate what you're saying, and you're right in this regard: much in art is a yielding to the sensual experience. The impressions encountered can even bethe better part of what aesthetic there is. The beauty of the sublime , the romantic; I'm thinking now of the Hudson River School, William Turner, Jackson Pollack, lots of others as paradigm examples. But you are not going to understand even these blatantly sensual works of art without a body of implicit understanding under your belt. Do you, consider, really think you could begin to apprehend what Shrigley, Damian Hurst, the Durham Cathedral or anything you can think of in the West aesthetic canon if you were, say, a Sulu warrior? Granted, line and color would be perceived in some manner aesthetically, but in a way we cant really imagine. The difference that makes for the familiar aspect that gives Durham Cathedral its majesty in antiquity and the moral zeitgeist of the 11th century is the understanding purveyed by culture and language. And This is inherently cognitive.

But just read what stan bonnar/terrible jack writes about art and its "theoretical/conceptual aesthetic" (my words). He brings Heidegger and Levinas into his exegesis, two rather intense philosophers. He is in full throttle spelling out the exegetical expansion of the art work:
To paraphrase Joseph Kosuth's earlier statement, an artist, being a thinker now, means to question the nature of functioning social structures. If one is questioning the nature of art, one cannot be questioning the nature of other functioning social structures. If a thinker accepts art, they are accepting the tradition that goes with it. That's because the word society is general and the word art is specific. The art world is a kind of functioning social structure. If you make art, you are already accepting (not questioning) the nature of society. One is then accepting that the human image can only really be reflected by art, and disseminated as such to society.
Nevertheless, art exists, and a defining factor of deconstruction is that it operates on the periphery of its own linguistic structure. It could be argued that if something is art, then by definition it can only deconstruct the languages of art. To be sure it filters through eventually to a broader church, as minimalist style, but to whose benefit? Although much of contemporary deconstructive art is difficult to commodify, it still submits to an art objectification, which capitalism would no doubt see as its last line of defence. If it is this linear, linguistic, capitalization of physical things that threatens to be erased by deconstruction, then capitalist thinking would need to maintain the Object, in order for its languages to be able to predict an infinity of its own presence. This objectification is a technological distance that corporate interest must proliferate to survive; but it means that people forget what proximity is for.
The artist, being the thinker!; functioning social structures; references to the art world (no doubt he has Arthur Danto in mind, and he holds an unmitigated view of art's theoretical contextualization as essential to interpretation). There are things i get and things I don't, frankly. But what is clear, the talk MAKES the art in its essence.



is a body aesthetic thoughts and feelings implicit, always, already in place that

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Re: A critical essay

Post by 3uGH7D4MLj » January 19th, 2016, 11:50 pm

Hereandnow wrote:Hmmm Now, you actually read this second essay on Bill Viola's "The Messenger"? And the first? I ask because these essays are precisely a case in point against what you say above regarding words killing the experience. It's not that i don't appreciate what you're saying, and you're right in this regard: much in art is a yielding to the sensual experience. The impressions encountered can even bethe better part of what aesthetic there is. The beauty of the sublime , the romantic; I'm thinking now of the Hudson River School, William Turner, Jackson Pollack, lots of others as paradigm examples. But you are not going to understand even these blatantly sensual works of art without a body of implicit understanding under your belt. Do you, consider, really think you could begin to apprehend what Shrigley, Damian Hurst, the Durham Cathedral or anything you can think of in the West aesthetic canon if you were, say, a Sulu warrior? Granted, line and color would be perceived in some manner aesthetically, but in a way we cant really imagine. The difference that makes for the familiar aspect that gives Durham Cathedral its majesty in antiquity and the moral zeitgeist of the 11th century is the understanding purveyed by culture and language. And This is inherently cognitive.

But just read what stan bonnar/terrible jack writes about art and its "theoretical/conceptual aesthetic" (my words). He brings Heidegger and Levinas into his exegesis, two rather intense philosophers. He is in full throttle spelling out the exegetical expansion of the art work:
You're right, I can't penetrate Jack's writing. I don't think he expects me to.

But about your Zulu warrior, I wouldn't argue for the noble savage, I've studied this stuff my whole life -- still enjoying parsing it out.

-- Updated January 20th, 2016, 10:58 pm to add the following --

It was the "lost" artpiece that caught my eye.
fair to say

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Re: A critical essay

Post by Terrible jack » January 21st, 2016, 12:15 pm

Many thanks (if that's appropriate) to the people above for these fascinating insights. I offer these two essays in reply - which are the texts from two more recent video-text works. (Stan Bonnar on Flickr)

(i don't normally use capitals unless i'm talking about OURSELF and its constituents - but the algorithm insists.)


OURSELF - a strategy for councils

Every thing is cultural. There is no ‘thing-in-itself’ as such. For every thing of meaning there extends an infinitely entangled environment of cultures - its means of meaning.

But this is not merely a philosophical point - this is physical. Every thing which has meaning for us is an alter-universe - a universe of sheer otherness, which moment by moment we create and are created by.

We have seen from quantum physical experiments such as the ‘double slit’ experiment, that at subatomic scale, things can be arranged so that they are entangled - their effective relatedness is instantaneous. when one thing is shown to have a certain known characteristic, so instantly do we know the relative characteristic of the other. no matter how distant they are, time and space do not exist for entangled things - nor for their entangled observers.

What the phenomenon of quantum entanglement implies is that although we seem to inhabit this universe, our natural state is actually pure singleness, which we and other things create and cultivate as the realities of things around us. i call this pure singleness of difference ... OURSELF*.


A strategy for creativity

Our creativity is prior to our cultivated-ness as a physical thing. creativity is prior to culture; and before we can make a new strategy for culture, we must make a strategy for creativity. therefore the aim of any cultural strategy should be to open a space for universal and knowing creativity - unlimited by any preconception of creativity as somehow belonging only to ‘artists’ or ‘creatives’.

Inasmuch as we are OURSELF entangled, creativity is quite literally universal. the idea of councils’ support for creativity should be to directly enable every person to experiment with their sensing and manipulation of everyday things and environments - to be creating a new idea of OURSELF.

Contextual artists - people who instinctively and intentionally create new ideas of place - know what must be done. they know how to deconstruct and de-centre the logical concretions of what is here and now established. they know how to work for and with the other, to create new ideas of place. but this intimacy of common purpose should be without the glare of public knowledge, although it may well be in public space. for new ideas cannot be produced to order.

It is a most sacred human right and responsibility to extend in knowing creativity with other things.

But this moment of sacred creativity is being usurped by a mandate for success, by the need to be seen as a successful product, to be the sign of a successful economy. but creativity cannot be produced, systematised, categorised, wrapped up, bigged-up, box-ticked and sold off. creativity is life, it is the basis of cultures and economies. it is beauty, and if we look at it directly it will disappear.

For these reasons i place this idea before you - that it is CREATIVITY which must be fostered directly by the council. it must be fostered for its own sake - indifferent to ‘outcomes’. there should be a small creative group set up within the council… located between cultural and technical services… perhaps referring to the expertise of both when needed, but answerable to neither. this group would be answerable only to the democratically elected members of the council. it would be the remit of such a group to foster CREATIVITY. but it would have no targets, nor would it tick boxes to show successful outcomes. it would simply work with people and other established groups to disclose that which is hidden.

stan bonnar 2015

*multicoloured in the video-text



WISH YOU WERE HERE

One evening in late October I was sitting on a bench in a park in the far west of our region. I was watching the sun setting over the sea and the ways that the clouds seemed to bend. I was remembering all the years I had spent as a door operator on the ferries, and I was wondering how Jimmy was doing.

I looked down at my watch, and so I didn’t see the seagull and the crow until the last few moments of their flying; one out the corner of each eye so to speak, directly towards each other and me from opposite directions, four feet above the straight tar path, with a closing velocity of 80 knots.

It all seemed to happen so slowly. the crow and the seagull meeting in mid air about a foot above my knees. There were feathers, there was muscle, there was blood. There were assorted bits of beak and claw, and webbing from a foot; and stinking portions of rabbit and of cod, and all kinds of eyes.

SILENCE

Drenched in bird remains like some strange coloured camouflage or costume, I jumped up in shock and whirled round to see where I’d been sitting.

The bench bespattered, but for the gap made by my body - old, green painted timber. suddenly the sun was gone and a chill wind rose out of Arran.

I was walking down the path (with my legs a bit apart because of the mess and the chafing) when up came this person. They asked me if I was alright, and as we walked back to town, I told them what had happened. They didn’t seem that surprised, so I asked them what they did. They said they were a county artist, so I asked what that was. They said they had just been working with parents from the parent and toddler group.

I asked them what that had to do with art, and they said that the mums & dads had just made a huge column out of dirty nappies for the middle of the traffic roundabout.

I asked them if they got paid for that sort of thing, and they said “Yes, the council pay me to empower contextual art”

We walked on, but we didn’t say any more...

Stan Bonnar 2015

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Re: A critical essay

Post by Hereandnow » January 22nd, 2016, 10:48 am

Interesting, Jack. Your stories are like Hemingway's, indirect, suggestive, often brutal. And that was his style because that was his thinking: The world a brutal, offending place.I liked the essay on the Messenger for the brutality as well, but it's redemption! As you note, it could have gone differently: The breath could have exploded beneath the water and the messenger's face could have sunk, gone pale in the depths.

But then, the repetition is not redemptive at all; and the cycle of suffering-this is who we are. Not unlike Schopenhaur's happiness as a series releases against a backdrop of misery.

The breathe is a powerful symbol. We are so hungry for oxygen. So repetitively desperate for it. So hungry.

Levinas would say it's in the face of the messenger we find God, our true self, otherwise absent. What is God sending us through this messenger? The Cathedral: perfect. It has the heft of Cathedral tunes, the heft born out of the dark majesty of the nave.

teh Messenger is a great work of art. My little verbal sketches only serve as a reminder: Great art is philosophical art as it brings the conscious mind closer to the extraordinary experiences of its foundations. Contextualizing first requires decontextualizing, and philosophy's true mission is the dismantling os grand and pretentious systems of familiar thinking. Here: far better than a urinal. or a scrap of dung. I say this because i am convinced that we are grounded in redemption, so to speak. Being here is inherently redemptive, not just locally so, as the pragmatists would have it; but beyond what being here can say.

Just a silly sentimentalist, I suppose. So were Levinas and Buber. And Kierkegaard.

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Re: A critical essay

Post by Terrible jack » January 23rd, 2016, 4:32 am

Hereandnow wrote:Contextualizing first requires decontextualizing, and philosophy's true mission is the dismantling os grand and pretentious systems of familiar thinking. Here: far better than a urinal. or a scrap of dung. I say this because i am convinced that we are grounded in redemption, so to speak. Being here is inherently redemptive, not just locally so, as the pragmatists would have it; but beyond what being here can say.
I'm with you on this, but would prefer not to use the term 'redemption' which seems unnecessarily ambiguous. From my perspective, if we start with a clean slate of pure singleness - which we can argue is provided for us by the physics of quantum entanglement - and admit that it is OURSELFhuman being who are limited by our way of understanding as 'the difference of things in time and space', then the first moment of spacetime of a thing is the presentation of each as the other - the sheer extensive understanding of the one with the Other as the Other. In this way worldly things like philosophy, art, science, cricket bats, religion, redemption and omnibuses can come into being by degree, depending on the way you happen to comprehend that basic understanding of things.
Hereandnow wrote:Levinas would say it's in the face of the messenger we find God, our true self, otherwise absent.
Indeed, and offer you this in reply...

Mythogram - 292 walls

DATE: 1999

INTRODUCTION: This proposal was made for an artwork to coincide with the opening of the new Scottish Parliament in 1999. The artwork would involve Stan Bonnar travelling for that year, in a straight line between the House of Commons in London and the new Scottish Parliament House in Edinburgh. In the event, the required funding for the work could not be achieved, but the proposal involved the considerable effort of contacting all the local authorities and councils en route to apply for partnership funding; local and national press, and preparing an application for lottery funding. In all, local authorities were happy to commit to donating 30% of the required funding, with the Arts Council (as administrators of millennium lottery funding) declining to provide the rest.

The artwork was ostensibly to be a public critique of democracy, especially at the time of devolving power to Scotland. However, the main underlying aspiration of the work was to devolve art power to people, by opening a democratic space in which the artist needed constantly to justify his actions. On the face of it, the action needed some justifying, as the following press release from 1998 might show!

1998 PRESS RELEASE: 292 years have passed since the union of the Scottish and English parliaments in 1707. In the following months, before and after the opening of the Scottish parliament, artist Stan Bonnar will make a journey, on which he will paint 292 acrylic paintings on synthetic silk.

Mapmakers will define the straightest possible cartographic line between the Speaker's chair of the House of Commons in London, and the site of the new Parliament house at Holyrood in Edinburgh. (The line passes through Camden and Barnet London Boroughs, Luton, Bedford, Rushton, Corby, Bradford Radcliffe on Trent, Mansfield, Shirebrook, Aston, Rotherham, Barnsley, Wakefield, Morley, Pudsey, Leeds, Haltwhistle, Hawick, Bonnyrigg & Lasswade and Edinburgh.)

Starting at the house of Commons on January 1st 1999, Bonnar will follow this mapped line to Edinburgh. Wherever it passes through the wall of a significant building, he will set up an artist's easel, and from a viewing distance of 1 metre, will make a representational painting of a small square section of that wall.

In cities, towns and villages, the walls of government offices, multi-national companies, large stores, financial institutions, television and newspaper offices, cinemas, galleries, churches, large farms, small businesses, and private houses will be represented. The walls will be chosen because of the public-ness of their location, and to sitmulate local interest in the project.

On the journey north, each completed painting will be removed from its frame, and sewn to the others already completed. In this way, a huge patchwork flag, similar to the Saltire of Scotland, will emerge from the walls. It will be unfurled in Edinburgh in the first minute of the new millenium.Population difference means that this 'other' flag of Scotland would be created by more people in England than in Scotland. It will be an anxious Saltire, a symbol as much for the democratic aspirations of its English Other, as it will be for Scottish democracy.

Each small section of the flag will be a symbol for the discussions that take place in the street about its painting. The more public interest there is in this 'painting of hidden views', the more potent will be the symbolic value of the flag. The work aspires to open a democratic space, and it seeks this by asking for its visual language to be questioned. To question the justification for these acts of painting is to create this work of art - the democratic voicing of a new symbolic language, that might germinate in the space between the painting and the question.

CONCEPT:

'Democracy does not exist; that is to say, starting from today, and every day, there is a responsibility to invent democracy, to extend the democratic franchise to all areas of public and private life.'
Simon Critchley
'The Ethics of Deconstruction'

A dichotomy exists between the letter and the aspirations of our systems of art and democracy. Democratic thought is ethical thought, but because of the voracity of modern spoken languages, which appropriate physical things as objects, the ethical impulse of the democrat is always diluted by the flow of her own words.

However, by the same token, democratic thought seeks to deconstruct the language structure in which its aspirations are voiced. It lays its own practical democratic structure open to the unpredictable proximity of the other. This is the democratic aspiration.

In recent years, through deconstructive practice, artists have sought to interrupt the limits of functioning social structures, and to interrogate the totality of their languages and timebase. Paradoxically however, this ethical activity has been hampered by its linguistic determination as Art, which impedes deconstruction and inhibits art thought from finding a viable public form.

This experimental work, Mythogram 292 walls, will seek to open a continuum in which people can take a step back from Art. In opening an environment for a public debate, it might be possible to graft the democratic and ethical aspirations of deconstructive thought into Art, by mediating the voracity of public speaking with the artist's anxiety for the object. This type of art (no capital) may initially be encountered as once was expected - as an artist at work, a painter sitting at an easel - a traditional public representation of artist and art object. This initial objectification might quickly give way to curiosity about the apparent dislocation of the artist from the view that lies behind a wall! The natural question 'what is going on here?' asked by any passer-by, would open dialogues at 292 locations, questioning the question 'What is it?'.

By questioning the question, 'what is it?' painting becomes an act of linguistic signification that raises the issue of signification for public debate. The paintings of Mythogram 292 walls are not Art objects that point to their own linguistic dysfunction, for if this were the case, they would easily become prey to appropriation or capitalisation by the Art language structures they seek to interrogate. The paintings are part of an art act that is itself part of a tendency towards democracy in art, and they exist only to deliver a public space in which the democratic decision can be aspired to. The artist has called this tendency a mythogram, a clearing for the writing of stories whose symbols spell themselves pluri-dimensionally. A deconstructive continuum for ethico-political decisions. A tendency to open democratic space, and to see beyond the walls of monolithic or immanent social structures.

In a mythogram, all language structures are vulnerable to the unpredictable approach of others - democratic art thought enables this. By publicly raising the issue of signification, art submits Art to the justice of public debate; but by the same token, the scope of such debate will also cover all similar social structures that present themselves in the breath of the debaters. Because the content and aesthetic of each painting is exterior to the frame, the painting can be made to symbolise the debates which it gives rise to. It carries these deconstructive decisions forward in itself as the meaning of its democratic aspiration. When these are sewn together to create a grand and almost monumental flag, the degree to which the graft has taken will be marked as the very anxiety of this public art object. The flag is not the Saltire of Scotland. The diagonal cross is rather the foreboding shadow of totalitarian politics on the democratic aspiration, cast when democracy is allowed to stagnate, and when power has no reference to the other.

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Re: A critical essay

Post by Belinda » January 23rd, 2016, 7:33 am

I haven't seen The Messenger, but suppose it's a son et lumiere installation. I have read about it though, and the description as supplied by Terrible Jack is vivid. As a wandering and questing outsider to religiousness I do regret the lack of support coming from the churches and other religious sects, and would like to join a church if I thought that it would support creed-free religiousness and encourages individual exploration without attachment to traditional forms of worship.

Art is the best cultural practice for such a quest, but it needs to be more accessible to the hoi polloi of which I am a member. In the case of The Messenger the fact that the Cathedral authorities were unable to resist the 'decency' demands of the police is regrettable, and is a sign that the Christian establishment is moving away from the Christian ethic of people before rules and regulations, at least in the UK. I note that the US Anglicans support homosexual people more than do the UK and West African Anglicans.
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Re: A critical essay

Post by Hereandnow » January 23rd, 2016, 11:29 am


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Re: A critical essay

Post by Terrible jack » January 24th, 2016, 5:27 am

Belinda wrote:As a wandering and questing outsider to religiousness I do regret the lack of support coming from the churches and other religious sects, and would like to join a church if I thought that it would support creed-free religiousness and encourages individual exploration without attachment to traditional forms of worship.

Art is the best cultural practice for such a quest, but it needs to be more accessible to the hoi polloi of which I am a member. In the case of The Messenger the fact that the Cathedral authorities were unable to resist the 'decency' demands of the police is regrettable, and is a sign that the Christian establishment is moving away from the Christian ethic of people before rules and regulations, at least in the UK. I note that the US Anglicans support homosexual people more than do the UK and West African Anglicans.
Very early one summer's morning, when the sun had just risen into a cloudless sky, I found myself walking alone on a golf course. I admit that i may have been dragging a set of clubs behind me, but anyway my head was down as I walked from the green of one hole to the tee of the next. On looking up from the manicured grass, my eyes were welcomed by the most beautiful sight that I have ever seen - really nothing much more than a few young birch trees standing in the first chill breath of a glorious summer's day. But the aura of golden light in which they and I bathed in that moment, made me understand how there is no space and time between us; and that as each moment, you create me and I recreate you. I still am them and they are me...

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Re: A critical essay

Post by Belinda » January 24th, 2016, 10:24 am

Thanks, Terrible jack. I know and love quiescent things like trees, light effects, and my naughty hound. Those don't provide a feeling of solidarity with real life other humans who are not averse to religiousness as a binding together and who are not going to be bound by unquestioning religiosity in either creed or practice. Especially the more boring or silly practices of the typical church and I guess mosques as well.

Hereand now, thanks for directing me to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7v_-SsAvENo. I watched and enjoyed. Actually, old Durham has a lot of atmosphere especially in dismal winter weather, and I'd like to have seen it for real.
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Re: A critical essay

Post by Hereandnow » January 24th, 2016, 6:47 pm

As to redemption, i have thought long and hard about it. I don't like using the term because it is a cup overfilled, and spills carelessly onto a page. But what is one to do?: It works. It draws one, willy nilly, to a level where one either mocks or stands in awe, and I stand in awe. I put my thoughts on that person, the medieval nobody, never recorded in the record, unnoticed by poetry and theory, altogether unseen. Yet s/he was thrown into an existence of impossible suffering. I lose sleep over this person.

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Re: A critical essay

Post by Belinda » January 25th, 2016, 5:22 am

Hereandnow wrote:
the medieval nobody, never recorded in the record, unnoticed by poetry and theory, altogether unseen. Yet s/he was thrown into an existence of impossible suffering. I lose sleep over this person.
One of the uses of history is to revive and celebrate the previously small and obscure. The Annales history movement is notable for this approach and has generated a lot of popular interest in social and local history.
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Re: A critical essay

Post by Terrible jack » January 25th, 2016, 7:32 am

BELINDA-HEREANDNOW-TERRIBLEJACK alter-universe
Belinda wrote:I know and love quiescent things like trees, light effects, and my naughty hound. Those don't provide a feeling of solidarity with real life other humans who are not averse to religiousness as a binding together and who are not going to be bound by unquestioning religiosity in either creed or practice. Especially the more boring or silly practices of the typical church and I guess mosques as well.
Hereandnow wrote:As to redemption, i have thought long and hard about it. I don't like using the term because it is a cup overfilled, and spills carelessly onto a page. But what is one to do?: It works. It draws one, willy nilly, to a level where one either mocks or stands in awe, and I stand in awe. I put my thoughts on that person, the medieval nobody, never recorded in the record, unnoticed by poetry and theory, altogether unseen. Yet s/he was thrown into an existence of impossible suffering. I lose sleep over this person.
Terrible jack wrote:there is no space and time between us; and that as each moment, you create me and I recreate you.

Let us imagine that a pure singleness - OURSELF - extends. We extend as space. Let us further imagine that because our understanding has the limitation of being differential, we understand always as a difference from alterity - from the other thing. However, if we OURSELF are pure singleness, then this differential extending is always with alterity (with the Other rather than from the other). We might call this moment of differential extending - time.

If such were the case, then the only reason we would see things around us, would be because these things constitute our very understanding with them; we see them because we are them - moment by differentiating moment. Light and space are one, difference and time are one. Pure singleness.

All this - as (is) our most fundamental understanding of OURSELF, which because we have brains, we grasp together as our comprehending of things. But our understanding-with alterity is always infinitely greater than our ability to comprehend our Otherness. So although it is the case that in our brains and body we understand the universe, we cannot comprehend it, let alone know it (for to know it would be to know our own pure singleness). Hence, I think, we are the unfathomable SELF, an essential deficiency - the void that must be filled.

We need to feel religious; to acknowledge - yes, in solidarity with others - the sheer vastness of that which we cannot comprehend. And yes, we need to acknowledge the debt of our existence in the bitter watches of the night...

But let us refuse to let our search be mistaken for weakness, and let us refuse to comprehend the will to power in any form.

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Re: A critical essay

Post by Hereandnow » January 25th, 2016, 2:57 pm

I'll look into it. I read an introduction by david Moon. Sounds like Foucault who thought history cannot, or should not, be measured apparent "progress" but is rather an arbitrary and disjointed process in which powerful people invented and selected modes of discourse, modes of analysis, and turned them into structures of control. In his History of Sexuality and Madness and civilization he does put attention on the lost and marginalized to make his point.

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