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  #51  
Old 02-06-2009, 12:00 PM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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Originally Posted by cheesepaws View Post
IMO - Installation art is primarily concerned with the art reacting to a specific environment (a gallery room, an outdoor site, etc.) in a manner that acknowledges its structure, history or other peculiarities.
Couldn't it be just the opposite and still be installation art? The opposite being a lack of reaction to a specific environment (and here I would argue that art doesn't react - tha act has already been played out and you are looking at a snapshot of the final scene - the reaction takes place within the artist). There could be a complete lack acknowledgement for the environments structure and history and still be an object formed with intention to be art.
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  #52  
Old 02-06-2009, 12:52 PM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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Dang it! I missed the jury call. Are the polls still open?
Sorry, they closed in 1942 when someone gave Duchamp a mile of string and a bottle of scotch.

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Couldn't it be just the opposite and still be installation art? The opposite being a lack of reaction to a specific environment (and here I would argue that art doesn't react - tha act has already been played out and you are looking at a snapshot of the final scene - the reaction takes place within the artist). There could be a complete lack acknowledgement for the environments structure and history and still be an object formed with intention to be art.
Hmmm? Not sure I follow. My spidey senses start a-tinglin’ when I hear phrases like “the reaction takes place within the artist”. Can you elaborate or give offer a real example?
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  #53  
Old 02-06-2009, 01:29 PM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

I was trying to pose the posibility that installation art goes beyond your definition of it: that the very nature of installation art can exist without any real notion of history or place. But I think I am wrong and it is the very notion or antithesis of this notion that underpins installation art.

I do agree with your notion of immersion-based sensory experience but the contextual meaning comes from placing the installation in situ and not always through some historical or enviromental sympathies but sometimes an attempt to be unsympathetic

There is a sense of novelty in installation art. A play in contextuality with aspects that are set to challenge our preconceived notions of what is and what belongs. e.g Tracey Emins unmade bed. Not particulalry unusaul, very little historical context, and not in itself (as a bed) any reaction to the environment. It is the actual placing of it in an unusual location that would arguably make it unusual and challenge out pre-conceived notions of context.


If the above sentences get out of hand cast your spiderman web over them and beat the s**t out of them.

Green Goblin out!
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  #54  
Old 02-06-2009, 02:27 PM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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IMO - Installation art is primarily concerned with the art reacting to a specific environment (a gallery room, an outdoor site, etc.) in a manner that acknowledges its structure, history or other peculiarities. Installation art is typified by the used of multi-elements, multi-media, non-mediating display devices (pedestals or plinths, etc.) and supports an immersion-based sensory experience rather than a strictly observational one.

Well, it seems your definition is really of 'site specific' work here (sentence 1), and that CAN be sculpture too. Site specific would not be necessary to the definition of installation art (to site-specific installation art, yes!). The immersion-based sensory experience, I think, makes sense, although I note that Antony Caro has been making sculptures like this for 20 years....

I'm also interested in the extent to which installation art works with media/materials that had their own aesthetics prior to their use in the installation, and which then combine in a collage-style manner towards a structuring IDEA (not an aesthetic at all).

So I still want to know where the art is? Is the aesthetic as unhistorical as the media used? Are trad aesthetics just not 'edgy' enough for installation artists? If you cannot talk about the aesthetic structuring or form of this type of work, is it art at all? Have these 'artists' left art behind, and perhaps belong more to a traditon of anti-art, that sees aesthetics as bourgeois, effete and decadent?

Attached: a stunning piece of installation art, with an aesthetic I entirely understand, and perhaps conforming to Cheesepaws' definition as well.
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Last edited by Portoro : 02-06-2009 at 03:04 PM.
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  #55  
Old 02-07-2009, 02:17 AM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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So I still want to know where the art is? Is the aesthetic as unhistorical as the media used? Are trad aesthetics just not 'edgy' enough for installation artists? If you cannot talk about the aesthetic structuring or form of this type of work, is it art at all? Have these 'artists' left art behind, and perhaps belong more to a traditon of anti-art, that sees aesthetics as bourgeois, effete and decadent?
Some interesting ideas packed into this sentence Portoro (artist fomerly known as Cantab).

To me trying to equate installation art with more traditional aesthetically driven types of art is a bit like trying to equate a circle with a sqaure. They are both geometric shapes but both defined by very different principles. Its like saying 'well the cricle is just not edgy enough to be a square'. Which leads me to the similar questioning of is it art at all? Well that depends on your definition of art - and I'm not going there....or am I

Even if we were able to articulate and catergorise what installation art is and how it fits into a wider notion of a general definition of art - would that actually change the installation art? Does it become something else? If it does then this too should become part of the definition: that it is the use of language and terms of reference as well as enviromental context that define art. - not really sure where this is going....this has got me thinking, though not in one straight line.

As for the last part of the quote above I would argue that installation art is far more bourgeois, effete and decadent. They tend to be intellectual, concept driven, utilising space in a far more indulgent manner with a view to challenge our preconceptions. In many cases it is misunderstood and even overlooked by the masses. Often (but not laways) residing within the establishment (the art world) itself. Maybe some of these questions may help to frame it.
  • How many households own installation art?
  • Is there a market for it?
  • How do they get funded?
  • What happens to them when the space they occupy is required for some other purpose?
I'll stop pontificating now
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  #56  
Old 02-07-2009, 02:47 AM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

What I've found, do enough work over time for a client and it all adds up. Installation art by default. It has happened to me a number of times and I didn't even intend it. I made everything to stand alone but relationships between pieces developed anyway. The same goes for anyone putting on a show in a gallery. The pieces end up talking with one another and become a work of installion art by accident.

Now, if I think a body of my work is going to be grouped together, I try to lessen the accidental factor. Actually think about how the work relates to its brothers and sisters. Installation work happens.
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  #57  
Old 02-07-2009, 08:27 AM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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They tend to be intellectual, concept driven, utilising space in a far more indulgent manner with a view to challenge our preconceptions.
That is a good observation of what I was referring to in an earlier post as "intellectual vanity". The premise is taken by the artist that the viewer needs to have their "preconceptions" challenged by the superior consciousness of the artist who has transcended those lowly, limited little preconceptions of the viewer.

So, taking what was provided here as an example, I'm curious to know what I would gain by challenging my preconceptions about seeing a glass box containing thousands of flies and a cow's head. Would staring at this exhibit in a zen-like trance, shutting down all thought and opening myself to the moment until some enlightened new view of the world appeared ...be likely to result because of anything the (artist?) did here?
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  #58  
Old 02-07-2009, 08:51 AM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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That is a good observation of what I was referring to in an earlier post as "intellectual vanity". The premise is taken by the artist that the viewer needs to have their "preconceptions" challenged by the superior consciousness of the artist who has transcended those lowly, limited little preconceptions of the viewer.
Not superior - that is your supposition - simply "other". It is in no way different than the "challenges" presented by an author, chef, film director, choreographer, or any creative professional. It is a rare thing that any work of art has a singular "point". Let go of the paranoia that you might not "get" a work of contemporary art and take away from it what you can. If that means you occasionally cannot find qualities (be it formal or conceptual) that appeal to you - then fine - chalk it up to personal taste - but I would urge you to not to dismiss any movement, genre or single artist based on one piece or your assumptions about the "vanity" that drives the work.

Certainly showing a bit of tolerance for what is so obviously appreciated by a wide swath of art professionals and the general public (as well as your colleagues here) could do no harm.

Besides, Hirst stuff is just so much fun.
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  #59  
Old 02-07-2009, 09:29 AM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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Certainly showing a bit of tolerance

could do no harm.
Achievement coupled with high standards builds civilizations. Tolerance for anything and everything is what leads to the fall of civilization. It is called decadence. Check out the rise and fall of cultures and civilizations in Earth's history. It is an old pattern.
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  #60  
Old 02-07-2009, 09:55 AM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

Time is the ultimate judge of validity or pertinence, as the early cubists were ridiculed for making color puddles and the likes of Picasso served to separate the wheat from the chaff. I am not an advocate for tolerance in the name of the coterie, such as my instincts paint Hirst and similar contemporaries, but rather have some sympathy for their rejection of age old canons. On the other side of myself I argue that some hidden harmonies exist, which I have yet to fully realize or explore and for this reason I try not to be overly presumptive in my condescension.

Nonetheless; I am what I am and flies and cow heads (though they may serve as powerful reminders to liberate constraints from the authenticity police and their notions of "do's" and "dont's") do little more than make me sad... And I am not one for extended bouts of meloncholy. Perhaps it stems from some romantic notion of what IS art to me or perhaps I have yet to fall in line and join their ranks..

It wasn't always so that paintings outnumbered sculpture and before the days of electricity and lightbulbs it was comon to see reliefs and statues in darker rooms as they tended to pick up more ambient light than a flatty. Flies could not fly under torch light or oil lamps and it's quite clear that Hirst is merely celebrating the xenon bulb.
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  #61  
Old 02-07-2009, 10:02 AM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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Achievement coupled with high standards builds civilizations. Tolerance for anything and everything is what leads to the fall of civilization. It is called decadence. Check out the rise and fall of cultures and civilizations in Earth's history. It is an old pattern.
Tolerance - by definition - is inclusive.

Curious too that you turn to history to illustrate the evils of decadence but deny an art historical context that embraces installation art, conceptual art, performance art, and a whole score of other things I am sure fall outside your comfort zone. Is art history not "real" history or is it dismissed because it too doesn't fit your romantic vision of what is and isn't art?

Don't get me wrong. I would never try to get you to like something you don't. I do have some issue with sweeping dismissals of the very things that I embrace and get excited about in art (and perhaps because your judgment forces a dismissal of my work as well - resigning me to being a decadent underminer of culture or - at best - a farce).

I think a far more sociable stance, and perhaps a more enlightened one as well, is to either like or dislike a work of art on its individual merits.
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  #62  
Old 02-07-2009, 10:25 AM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

I dont know, I kind of enjoy being a decadent underminer of culture.
At 53, I am way too old to change now.

Reminds me of the old Jefferson Airplane song-

"We are forces of chaos and anarchy
everything they say we are, we are.
And we are very proud of ourselves".

I still sing that one periodically, whenever I feel myself getting stodgy.


And I just opened a show that has both individual pieces in it, and installations.
So drag out that ol rugged cross, and nail me to it!
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  #63  
Old 02-07-2009, 11:29 AM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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I think a far more sociable stance, and perhaps a more enlightened one as well, is to either like or dislike a work of art on its individual merits.
Believe it or not, that is entirely what I do. Looking at "art history" to support or justify what a dispassionate observer would dismiss as nonsense is in fact just the opposite. A careful reading of my post shows that it is the tolerance of anything that leads to decadence. I have not condemned the entire genre of installation art, nor do I find all things that should be within my "comfort zone", such as figurative sculpture and painting, to be acceptably non-decadent.

Olafur Eliasson is an example of an artist whose installation art I believe engages the mind constructively, and which does not involve the vapid qualities of posturing for the sake of spectacle as found in Hirst's work.

Ries, I respect your having the courage of your convictions, even if I don't find myself in sympathy with some of those convictions. As a person interacting with friends and clients, I am not known as stodgy...far from it. But if the choice becomes either stodgy or anarchy, I'll side with stodgy any day. I'm willing to admit that mob mayhem and anarchy are certainly outside my comfort zone. The things that I hold dear about great culture, past, present, and future, compel me to advocate on its behalf and resist the efforts to undermine it.
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  #64  
Old 02-07-2009, 11:56 AM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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(and perhaps because your judgment forces a dismissal of my work as well - resigning me to being a decadent underminer of culture or - at best - a farce).

Well let's face it, 50 years ago flies and a cow head would have earned the title farce and nothing more. Today it is propped up and celebrated as genius as we tend to celebrate child "prodigies" because at age 7 they can play a Chuck Berry song or some catchy melodie. "Oohh, he's going to grow up to be a genius".. Sigh,,... With earlier genres, cubist, impressionist etc.. Formal training was a given and rather than reject it, perhaps they surpassed it, which is how I would characterize Picasso. I do not feel that same trajectory in play with Hirst or similar cultish figures, but rather a circumnavigation and a celebration of the child "prodigy". In that sense, the word farce is justly applied and the word underminer takes on a more significant meaning. At what point does installation art become little more than the interior decorating of a mad man? Looks around,.. On second thought, don't answer that.
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  #65  
Old 02-08-2009, 06:37 AM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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Believe it or not, that is entirely what I do. Looking at "art history" to support or justify what a dispassionate observer would dismiss as nonsense is in fact just the opposite. A careful reading of my post shows that it is the tolerance of anything that leads to decadence. I have not condemned the entire genre of installation art, nor do I find all things that should be within my "comfort zone", such as figurative sculpture and painting, to be acceptably non-decadent.
Thanks for the clarification – although, after a careful re-reading, I think you will find that your posts have implied a much more dismissive attitude than you might think (starting with the sarcasm of post #2!).

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Olafur Eliasson is an example of an artist whose installation art I believe engages the mind constructively, and which does not involve the vapid qualities of posturing for the sake of spectacle as found in Hirst's work.
Again we return to sweeping statements. I like some Hirst works and am less thrilled with others – the same way I feel about most artists. I have never bought in to the popular criticisms that might support his “posturing for the sake of spectacle” and find that a weak justification for not liking a work of art (or dismissing a body of work). The piece in question has both some nice formal/compositional and conceptual qualities. I especially like the way that time plays into the work with the suggestions of the temporal spanning the generational (the life cycle of the flies), the momentary (the frenetic actions of the flies themselves) and the immortal (with the still-life referent of the cow’s head). Hardly vapid – but, perhaps, simply not your cup of tea.
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  #66  
Old 02-08-2009, 07:00 AM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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Well let's face it, 50 years ago flies and a cow head would have earned the title farce and nothing more.
I really beg to differ there. You would have to go all the way back to a time before public collections to reduce most Hirst works to mere "farce".

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Today it is propped up and celebrated as genius...
I have never heard Hirst referred to as a genius. He is exceptionally popular - perhaps for producing work that is both controversial and shocking to a general population and engaging (for various reasons) to the art community.

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With earlier genres, cubist, impressionist etc.. Formal training was a given and rather than reject it, perhaps they surpassed it, which is how I would characterize Picasso.
What makes you think Hirst has rejected his formal training? Personally, I find he wears his academic training on his sleeve - such conventional display devices and traditional adherence to art historical notions of object/spectator relationships.

Also, Hirst and Picasso are not so dissimilar as self-marketers.
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  #67  
Old 02-08-2009, 08:04 AM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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The piece in question has both some nice formal/compositional and conceptual qualities. I especially like the way that time plays into the work with the suggestions of the temporal spanning the generational (the life cycle of the flies), the momentary (the frenetic actions of the flies themselves) and the immortal (with the still-life referent of the cow’s head).
Do you have a random critique generator at work under your pillow while you sleep at night? I think you should tweek it to a more obtuse setting, like this:

I especially like the way the glass walls modify the position of the spectator to re-evaluate issues of inclusive/exclusiveness, the flies create a second degree of seperation between the instinctive/distasteful and the learned/artistic appreciatory by their placement in the context of an exhibit. The cow's head reflects the human condition of displaced and caged in the work environment,i.e. the glass box...the flies representing the pressing demands of the socio-economic strata, engaging the work-mind cut off from the concerns of the body.
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  #68  
Old 02-08-2009, 01:26 PM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

Dull, unimaginative, and commonplace.
Prim or pompous; stuffy: "Why is the middle-class so stodgy so utterly without a sense of humor!" (Katherine Mansfield). See Synonyms at dull.
Indigestible and starchy; heavy: stodgy food.

we cant move sideways.
let the flies fly.
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  #69  
Old 02-08-2009, 02:06 PM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

Hey Glenn, maybe you're getting the hang of this!

Personally, I think that some of the things you herald as civilazation are probably over-rated. There's an assumption there that indicates that if you don't know about it, it probably wasn't worth knowing about. Your loss.
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  #70  
Old 02-08-2009, 02:15 PM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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Do you have a random critique generator at work under your pillow while you sleep at night? I think you should tweek it to a more obtuse setting, like this:

I especially like the way the glass walls modify the position of the spectator to re-evaluate issues of inclusive/exclusiveness, the flies create a second degree of seperation between the instinctive/distasteful and the learned/artistic appreciatory by their placement in the context of an exhibit. The cow's head reflects the human condition of displaced and caged in the work environment,i.e. the glass box...the flies representing the pressing demands of the socio-economic strata, engaging the work-mind cut off from the concerns of the body.
Ha, good one G.

A quick re-read however will reveal that there was nothing random about my comment. Apart from being relatively free of “art speak” – I merely linked my visual observations with the conceptual ideas behind the work. Don’t be scared off by a few commas – I just listed a few simple and connected thoughts.

I am curious to see what kind of language you will use when you finally get around to critiquing this Hirst piece.

Just as a courtesy reminder – a critique acknowledges what the artist was (or appears to be) attempting to convey in their art and relies on visual analysis to illustrate to the particular successes and failures in a work. (Whoa…that was a bit of a long sentence – you still with me? Good.) Linking the visual to the formal elements at work in a sculpture or evaluating the conceptual notions that inspired a piece is the most fundamental way to experience art beyond “I like it/I don’t like it”. Question “why” and you might end up somewhere you didn’t expect. Again, simple.

If you do decide to up the ante and discuss this work – not the supposed personality/celebrity of the artist and free of the obvious bias toward the genre of art – then, perhaps, you might even find qualities that you respect or (gulp) even like in this piece. That alone is more than enough justification for the work’s existence and a credit to the artist.
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Old 02-08-2009, 04:08 PM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

See why this game is a house of cards? I did in fact look at the work and try to inject some meaning into it, and came up with what I thought was an equally plausible analysis as yours. But, NOOOO, my interpretation is not good enough! Somehow, you have the magic insight into the artist's intentions here, and I don't. Maybe I did not spend enough time getting my mind skewered in college art classes to be able to pull this off.

At this point, I'm willing to concede that you have a better grasp of the deeper meanings to be found in such works as cow heads and flies in glass boxes.

I guess I will leave the befuddledness to others and go back to my safe zone of loving beauty, harmony, and all that old fashioned stuff like the human figure.

Last edited by GlennT : 02-08-2009 at 06:09 PM.
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  #72  
Old 02-08-2009, 06:10 PM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

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t old fashioned stuff like the human figure.
i would have designed it better.
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  #73  
Old 02-08-2009, 07:56 PM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

Come on G. That’s no way to end this. Be fair – your “equally plausible analysis” was prefaced (quite humorously) with this response to my read on one part of the piece:

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlennT View Post
I think you should tweek it to a more obtuse setting, like this:
and followed with this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by GlennT View Post
I especially like the way the glass walls modify the position of the spectator to re-evaluate issues of inclusive/exclusiveness, the flies create a second degree of seperation between the instinctive/distasteful and the learned/artistic appreciatory by their placement in the context of an exhibit. The cow's head reflects the human condition of displaced and caged in the work environment,i.e. the glass box...the flies representing the pressing demands of the socio-economic strata, engaging the work-mind cut off from the concerns of the body.
Now – I can actually buy the bit about the flies creating a “second degree of separation between the instinctive/distasteful and the learned/artistic appreciatory” - or rather that the unexpected (read: non-traditional) use of live flies in an art work both instinctively repulses and demands our attention equally - but in your read on the cow’s head you clearly don’t udderstand the more widely accepted referent to moo-dernity.

Seriously though, a symbolic reading of art - from antiquity to today - is a huge part of the challenge and reward garnered from a good hard look. You my not find a beauty that you can relate to in Hirst’s A Thousand Years piece, but I suspect you will find some elements of harmony and balance, as well as some symbolic overtones, that will at least allow you to not be completely repulsed by the work.


PS - Oh..I don’t think the Cow’s head is even real. I remember reading that it is a model that secretes sugar water somehow. Can anyone back this up?

PPS -
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Somehow, you have the magic insight into the artist's intentions here, and I don't.
Not at all. I don’t care about his intentions. I do my best to interpret the work. If he has done his job we will arrive at the same place. If not - then he is just wrong.

PPPS - and it still isn’t an installation.

PPPPS -
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Maybe I did not spend enough time getting my mind skewered in college art classes to be able to pull this off.
Just wanted to say this was a nice touch. I was almost baited into writing a completely different rant.
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  #74  
Old 02-08-2009, 08:51 PM
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

No worries Glenn, I've had my mind skewered plenty, and have been responsible for some skewering...and I wont relent and permit this Hirst charade, nor any of the others. It is well within the rights of an elevated considerer of aesthetics to simply dismiss obvious shenanigans. There will often be examples of written-down or hyped or published or lectured validation - but this shouldn't cloud your assessments. Use the unique sensibility that you've achieved through continuous and strenuous contemplation to warn you of offending intrusions. Its not hard to form a phrase or two to justify ANYTHING...a nimble mind will get you there. But it will take a confident and fortified WILL to own up to your real feelings about things that wish to be Art in YOUR world. Cheese is just flexing some academic muscles - and improving with the scribbling I might add. Perhaps he is indeed as impassioned-over and as willing to accept as he seems about this Hirst fellow and others. I am willing to say that the fly thing can be art...just not to me. Thats all.
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Old 02-09-2009, 06:44 AM
Portoro Portoro is offline
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Re: So, who makes installation art?

By the way, the issue of the realness of the cow’s head in ‘A Thousand Years’ – yes, it IS real. I was at one of the early exhibitions in London, and it is actually quite important to the piece that it is real. The effectiveness of the whole piece as art depends on the contrast between the life forms that occupy it and the man-made box/context, the latter being what casts the life forms into art. This contrast is central to the piece’s complexity – this is panoramic art, offering a view of a series of generations of a life form sealed in its art-cubicle (as life is sealed in your landscape painting or piece of statuary). The thousand years reference, I presume, arises from the fact that the flies use the dead cow’s head to lay eggs and to create multiple generations within the boxes, the dead generations littering the floor of the piece and the new generations winging it. Within the exhibition time-frame the equivalent of a thousand human years is seen to pass?).

Also: this piece is a work that only exists when it is installed in an exhibition space. When not on show it is a pile of glass and metal framing in some warehouse…..

I’m inclined to agree with Cheespaws now, though, that this may not in fact be installation art. I still do not REGARD it as sculpture, perhaps conceptual art may apply better. I recognise that the definition of sculpture has expanded (Cheesepaws), but I see no point in expanding definitions when creating new ones would serve us all better (Installations being a case in point).

The superiority of the point of view of the artist. I entirely agree with this superiority – the serious artist committed to the consciousness-expanding model of art practice unavoidably stands for something finer, better. These artists are the antithesis of the culture of insensitivity all around us, to the mind as processing unit, to thought that is all ‘front of the brain’. I come back to my culture/civilisation thesis – some people are only nominally members of these phenomena. They never had to pay a price for membership - they got in just be existing. People should have to pay a price for occupying the same space as artists, 'scribblers', professors and all the writers and poets who have made life bearable, better, even safe.
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