It's been one week after the spring break and here is a section of my conference style paper in which I refer to the big artist statement. This paper discusses the contemporary sublime in relation to Micheal Fried's essay, as regards to the notion of presentness and presence as he discussed in his argument art and object hood. Let me elaborate in the paragraphs below.
Presentness and Presence in relation to the contemporary sublime
Can one acknowledge the contemporary sublime as Fried’s notion of Presentness? What if the contemporary sublime is substituted as art, well it is art as well – technological art, and yet it cannot identify as presentness because it requires a physical contact to engage an individual. Michael Fried in his essay art and object hood, Pg. 832; In referring to Presentness as Grace he defines the later as ‘this continuous and entire presentness, amounting, as it were, to the perpetual creation of its self, that one experiences as a kind of instantaneousness. In the light of this, the contemporary sublime is not presentness because it cannot lead to the perpetual creation of itself, and one that cannot be experienced as a kind of instantaneousness. Thus, absorption is sacrificed and mindfulness cannot manifest because of an individual’s awareness of the viewing process and theatricality prevails. In correlation to my art objects, it is presentness and thus the function of this object is strengthened by the presence of the beholder.
What is the Contemporary Sublime?
Literally, the sublime can be described as an experience of grandeur greatness. Going back to the 18th-century formation of the art of the sublime, philosopher Immanuel Kant in his book The Critique of Judgment, established an argument based on Burke’s notion of the sublime as an experience incited from terror and pain. Kant argues that an experience can be terrifying and thus, sublime, without the beholder been afraid of it. In my opinion, our contemporary sublime is terrifying, without the contemporary beholder been afraid of it, especially the technological sublime. Eugenie Shinkle in her essay video games and the technological sublime argues that “Present-day formations of the sublime are routinely linked to the idea and appearance of technology. The Marxist literary critic and political theorist Fredric Jameson suggests that technology can only be theorized through the category of the sublime.
Technology, he argues, represents contemporary society’s other; it is a shorthand for ‘that enormous properly human and anti-natural power of dead human labor stored up in our machinery – an alienated power … which turns back on and against us in unrecognizable forms and seems to constitute the massive dystopian horizon of our collective as well as our individual praxis.’”
The technological sublime is a cultural condition; it is a banality which Eugenie Shinkle identifies in her essay video games and the technological sublime as the existential and material corollary excess. Bound with the material processes of commodity production, the banal goes hand in hand with superabundance, consumption, and waste… the alliance of the sublime and the banal is a consequence and a reflection of the ambivalent position of technology in contemporary culture. Technology is both a post-human other and a part of everyday life. For this reason, the individual becomes so attached to technology and this lessens mindfulness in the contemporary society. The next section will explain how my art objects become a getaway place for the contemporary sublime.
Presentness and presence in relation to my art objects in relation to the space of the viewers
Michael Fried states in his essay art and object hood that something is said to have ‘presence’ when it demands that the beholder takes it into account, that he take it seriously -and when the fulfillment of that demand consists simply in being aware of it and, so to speak, in acting accordingly. The role of my art objects is so that the beholder takes it into account. Because of the technological sublime, the traditional framework of painting would only strengthen the idea of the beholder’s attachment to technology, one that can be terrifying to the beholder and yet sublime. My art objects become a window where this attachment is disrupted, hence, there is mindfulness with Fried’s notion of presence.
The idea of presentness is inherent in the multiple layers of my art objects in relations to the space of the beholder within the context in which it’s displayed. Fried’s presentness is not dissimilar to my art object because presentness, as he states in art and object hood, is this continuous and entire presentness, as it were, amounting to the perpetual creation of its self- a condition that required continual renewal. From the inception of my art objects, every artistic decision is self-dependent in a way, whereby it functions as a window into our contemporary society.
In this paper, I have argued that my paintings function as a window considering the contemporary society -breaking down the barrier between beholder and mindfulness, which I believe is absent in today’s standards. This is because of the society’s attachment to the technological sublime which exists in our contemporary culture. Michael Fried’s notion of presentness and presence would only strengthen this perception of mindfulness in relation to the beholder’s presence in relation to the space of my art object, then the beholder can be mindful again.
 Fredric Jameson, Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, London 1991, p.38
 Ibid, P. 35
Michael Fried, Art and Objecthood Essay, Institutions and objections, Pg. 822-833
Kant, Immanuel. The Critique of Judgment. trans. James Creed Meredith. Forgotten Books, 2008, p. 68-75
Eugénie Shinkle, 'Video Games and the Technological Sublime ', Tate Papers, no.14, Autumn 2010, http://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/14/video-games-and-the-technological-sublime, accessed 19 March 2017.
The ambitious nature of painting can be very overwhelming. Sometimes I want to work so largely on my paintings because it reads about space, meditation, and the sublime and other times the practicality of these paintings in a tiny studio becomes the reason why my paintings are created within a specific size ratio.
Presently, I am working with image transfers and kind of find it difficult to create an archive of my momentary pause, which will be needed in the progression of my recent projects. I grow very unhappy with this challenge every day but this keeps me in the studio all day which is a plus. On days I got really stressed searching for images I just ignore the stress and read art books/magazines which mainly focuses on the contemporary art of today. Patience is key, a myth which I'm no longer pay attention to or maybe I am, clueless.
Jose Parla, Ashland to Baltic, Acrylic and plaster on canvas, 2015
This weekend, myself and some Colleagues took a trip to Savannah, a relatively close city in the state of Georgia. It's pretty much a tourist center and a place for the arts. More so, there is an art college situated within the city (SCAD) and also this college runs a museum know as the SCAD Museum of Art. It's a really inspiring location to get away from my studio drama -aka challenges with creating an archive of momentary pauses. One interesting work that got my attention was that of Jose Parla, a Cuban-American artist. Initially, I was familiar with his paintings but in a non-conceptual way. The non-conceptual way means my experience of his work was mediated through screens and books. I paid more attention to the artists surface through my conceptual experience of the artists work. I will describe it as a moment when everything makes sense, mostly especially the process in which Parla layered paint atop paint. It became a gratifying experience for me... wow! The monumental scale of Parla's project made me ambitious again, this made think about the role of scale in sharing one's opinion of time and place- this is the fundamental idea of Mr. Parla's painting.
Obviously, I'm not going to spend my time being a cheerleader.
This is the content of Jose Parla's project as he states in his statement,
"I then embarked on a journey to search out in detail the dialogue of decaying walls, the marks on them, and what it all means to me. This has led my paintings to become memory documents. As a result, these works are time capsules, mixed documents of memory and research; part performance, as I impersonate the characters that leave their marks on walls. Time is a part of these paintings as their creative process simulates the passing of time on city walls and their layers of history with layers of paint, posters, writing, and re-construction. This process, like meditation, affirms my everlasting devotion to art as a form of spirituality, which exists in the present and pays homage to those who leave their traces behind."
In my Opinion, I'm interested in the idea of how Mr. Parla's meditation-like process affirms his everlasting devotion to art as a form of spirituality. That is the key statement to comprehending his grandeur paintings.
Have a great week.
This week I'm working on the techniques of incorporating image transfer in my body of work. My images are photographed copies of paintings that were made earlier last week and the reason for this is to introduce an element of surprise in my body of work. These surprises are momentary pause found in landscape which I'm hoping to utilize in communicating the idea on what is tranquil. In the end, the goal is to make what is been displayed draw the viewer closer.
In addition, this weeks artist is Stas Orlovski who works with the process of image transfer, specifically the xerox transfer technique. I'm also intrigued by how well these transfers are done by Stas. Here are some images of his xerox image transfer.
Kazimir Malevich, a pioneer of geometric abstract art. In his famous work, the seminal Black square which was the first form in which non-objective feeling came to be expressed, he described the square as feeling and the white field as the void beyond this feeling. Artist George Rousse uses the visual qualities inherent in Malevich’s work but does both artists share similar ideas?
George Rousse is a French contemporary photographer, in his works are painted alterations of an existing three-dimensional space which flattens out space and in the end, they appear as photographs. His photographs become an optical illusion of these spaces, as a viewer, one is challenged by the verisimilitude of the memory these images create in context with its flatness. George’s approach of imposing a solid shape on top of these spaces help call attention to the form here, one experiences the rhythm, balance, perspective flattening and pictorial record of these spaces. To illustrate, there is a quality of the yang theory in George’s photography, it’s the dark versus the light which calls our attention back to Malevich’s idea of feeling versus the void beyond feeling.
Places contain metaphoric or symbolic meaning that goes beyond the surface appearance of a particular landscape or architecture. Sometimes, we realize that the society is one huge influence on how transformation occurs in a place or space. For George, he tends to use spaces that are inspired by its history or social events.
“…His raw material is Space: the space of deserted buildings. Taking his inspiration from a site's architectonic quality and the light he finds there, he quickly chooses a « fragment » and creates a mise-en-scène, keeping in mind his ultimate goal, creating a photographic image. In these empty spaces, Georges Rousse constructs a kind of utopia that projects his vision of the world - his imaginary universe.
His creation both expresses his artistic intentions and resonates with his impressions of the site, its history, and its culture. Finally, it results in a photograph, a flat plane, so the shapes he paints and draws, and the volumes and architectural constructions he creates in those massive spaces seem fractured or split on different levels. His photo masterfully brings together painting, architecture, and drawing. It carves out a new space in which the artist's fictive world becomes visible.
At the heart of this questioning the definition of art, his work deals with our relationship to Space and Time.
In his photographs, Georges Rousse compels us to read architecture as static, images as immobile, then gradually transforms our perception of Space and Reality. The final photographic image perturbs our visual habits and convictions by presenting three kinds of space: the real space, where he makes his installations; an imaginary utopian space, which the artist invents and then carefully builds at his chosen site; and a new space that is visible from only one spot when he clicks the camera shutter, and exists only in the photo.”
In the light of this, the concept of feeling versus the void beyond the feeling is somewhat relative to my concept of tranquil and chaos. The feeling of the chaos and the void as the tranquil, also, the hidden representation hidden in my paintings as a static imagery of an experience of momentary pause and this is inherent of landscapes. Often, I create new places by transforming the imagery from the momentary pause I experience, likewise, these imagery and spaces are not tied to occurrences rather they are metaphoric and symbolic.
In the previous week, I started working on miniature linear landscape sketches which will serve as a reference for the subject of tranquility in my paintings. Basically, it’s a work in progress and I’ll be posting more on finished paintings in the subsequent post.
Have a great week.
So it’s a new semester only one week in, I’m am sitting in my studio listening to Yiruma trying to be more profound in writing.
Also, It’s been a while I posted about my view on the art world, in fact, all this time helped in my understanding of the art world because I got to learn about more contemporary artists’ in diaspora; how they see the world through art, there was a good progression on my body work and I was opportune to show it to the world and I experienced some of my favorite art from contemporary artists’ one on one while I was in Miami for the Art Basel fair. At this fair which takes place once a year, I became the judge of what I wanted to see which made my trip awesome. For instance, an artwork is successful when it is not a total mirror of the society but shares the same intensity as the society visually. I’m intrigued by a work of art when it is ambiguous, this makes me ask questions as a viewer and a maker. In addition, these are the choices I make when approaching a conceptual art and an aesthetic art, I tend to spend more time on the former than the later not because it is better than the later but because it engages my mind as a viewer.
During this period, I commenced the act of looking back into art history where I was fascinated by Michelangelo Merisi de Caravaggio. Caravaggio was a big influence on the baroque and early renaissance era, his art greatly influenced artists’ that practiced after him during this era. Also, Caravaggio’s style of pictorial composition was quintessential to his era and even now; this is because “he wanted the canvas he worked on to define the limits of pictorial space; he wanted to create a real presence in his own real space.” (Working space, Frank Stella, pg. 23.)
In the light of this, my projects were centered on the notion of creating a real presence of an artwork in space, transforming my canvas into an object so the viewers become more aware of these objects. To illustrate, in Caravaggio’s painting “supper at Emmaus (c. 1600 – 01)”, the painting does more in relation to the pictorial space, it becomes part of the viewers own real space because of the artists’ use of space. Likewise, in my projects, the sculptural form I use creates the presence of the artwork in space.
This term my work is going to progress on using this notion of a painting as an object to explore more on my subject of the tranquil and chaos. How do I achieve this? Hmm!!! I would definitely experiment more. Sit tight and enjoy the ride.
Happy Founders Day!
Hi there, I'm an MFA candidate at Georgia Southern University. I enjoy creating and when I'm not, cycling is the therapy. Have a good time reading.