The End of Performance Art as We Know It
Marina Abramović wearing the model for her eponymous Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art (all images courtesy OMA)
“To me, when you die, you can’t leave anything physical — it doesn’t make any sense; but an idea can last for a long time,” she said. The embodiment of the idea, she explained, is the Marina Abramović Institute for the Preservation of Performance Art, which will function as a museum, archive, school and theater, and also as her legacy — all of which sound quite physical.
The institute will cover all different types of performing arts, including theater, dance, performance, music and video art, and not surprisingly, it will focus on Abramović’s MO: long-duration artworks, projects that could last anywhere from six hours to 365 days. “In the 40 years of my career, I’ve learn that only long-durational works of art have the potential change the viewer and the performer,” Abramović said. “Our life is more and more busy, so our art should be longer.”
But the institute isn’t just for performance artists; Abramović wants to teach the public how to see and appreciate durational work. Visitors will be schooled in the Abramović Method, which blurs the line between audience and artist by turning spectators into performers themselves. Upon arriving at the institute, visitors will don white lab coats, check their belongings, sign a contract — “Give me your word of honor that you’ll spend two and a half hours in the exhibit,” is how Abramović explained the current version, at an exhibition at PAC in Milan — and then move through the different experiences and rooms, receiving a certificate of completion at the end.
(via-Is Marina Abramović Trying to Create a Performance Art Utopia?)
As practiced by Abramović and her peers (those mentioned above, along with Chris Burden, Linda Montano, Lorraine O’Grady, Carolee Schneemann and Ana Mendieta among many others), Performance was born of ideas unbound by traditional media, that could be expressed only through the human body.
Taken to its logical extreme, that art would live and die with the body of the artist who made it. This is essentially the step that choreographer Merce Cunningham embraced when he planned that his company would disband two years after his death: it was a decision that understood the fatality, and the beauty, of the irretrievable moment.
Recent social and affective neuroscience research shows that a computer is an inadequate and misleading metaphor for the brain, and this research is going to be the focus of my blog. Humans, along with other organisms with brains, differ from computers because they are driven by emotions and motivations. The brain is much too hot and wet to be represented by a computer. The brain is electrical, but it is also driven by fluids (blood) and chemicals (hormones and neurotransmitters). Most importantly, the brain is part of a body which it drives to action, and research from an embodiment perspective also shows that the whole body (not just the brain) affects emotion, motivation, and other psychological processes.
So, how can we replace the computer metaphor with a metaphor that more accurately represents the brain of an emotion-driven, motivated organism such as a human?
"As a curator in the 21st century, if I put together a show with all one gender (especially a large group show) I have to know that the show is therefore going to be about gender, whether I like it or not. If I do it by accident, then I am missing a big piece of what it is to be a curator. If I do it on purpose, then I have to own it in the curatorial premise of the exhibition. As an artist, if I am curated into an exhibition of all-women then I ask the curator, ‘Why all women? I don’t identify specifically as a female artist…what is this show really about? Maybe it’s not really the right context for my work.’"
It’s important for male artists to be similarly sensitive about how their work is contextualized. Unless you’re an artist specifically working in the “dude art” genre, it’s best not to have your work identified by such an easy trope.
This unwillingness to accept the responsibility of curation is not becoming. These shows tell a story about the participants of net art; that half of them are left out means that the show is worthless as a historical document. These aren’t exhibitions organized around a conceit so tightly bound that the curator only has a few artists to choose from, they’re large group shows centered on a loose premise. There’s no reason or excuse for the disparity.
Gender equality doesn’t sideline art; we know that from the work of any number of digital art curators who manage to include women. Lauren Cornell at Rhizome and Lindsay Howard of 319 Scholes both consistently produce smart, gender-balanced exhibitions, and that track record isn’t an accident. It’s the result of a kind of professionalism that not only demands curators carefully consider how the content of a show may be received, but possess the self-awareness to make sure that happens.
“Is it okay to take digital art ‘offline’ to give it value,” asked Mr. Johnson rhetorically. “No. It’s not okay. That’s a ridiculous way to monetize net art.”
Mr. Johnson and Mr. Miller were referring to a video that first piqued their interest in exploring the valuation of net-based work. They saw the video “How Do You Sell an Animated GIF,” which showed Rhizome executive director Lauren Cornell talking about selling the quirky computer animations that could be taken “offline” and enjoyed “locally” by collectors. While the conversation about limiting access to digital artwork or imposing restrictions on their display and transfer was not new, it forced people to have an opinion about the issue one way or another, including Mr. Johnson and Mr. Miller.
“We’re resistant to attempts to create value or applying a paradigm that exists for physical objects,” said Mr. Johnson who was seated next to Mr. Miller behind a table and partially hidden by an open laptop. Behind them was a large screen which displayed bright green vintage-like computer graphics. “In treating digital works as a physical work, you’re neutering the power of those works.”
They also passed around a flash drive and encouraged anyone with a computer to download all of the work that 0-Day has ever released.
“This might seem disrespectful,” said Mr. Johnson. “We have ultimate respect for the artists’ intentions.”
“I can’t reconcile your saying you’re trying to be respectful,” said a young man in the audience later, “when what you’re doing is not respectful.”
“If you’re anyone and you’re putting anything online,” said Mr. Johnson in response, “and you expect to control it, you’re delusional. I don’t see how holding a mirror up to someone’s delusions is disrespectful.”
the talk, streaming: http://artmicropatronage.org/talks
this is really great
Best known for her photographic and sculptural investigations of language,SHANNON EBNER has long been interested in exploring both visual and textual modes of representation.
For her first web-based artwork, Language Is Wild,commissioned by Dia and made in collaboration with New York-based designers KLOEPFER-RAMSEY, EBNER has composed an interactive sequence of still images prompting exploration of various combinations of language and image. Utilizing the cursor as a means to “rest” and “unrest” images moving continually across the screen, Language Is Wild asks us to negotiate with the work using a simple binary: “YES” or “NO. The project is online since April 12, 2012, here
(via We Find Wildness)
Social meanings of eye contact
Eye contact and facial expressions provide important social and emotional information. People, perhaps without consciously doing so, probe each other’s eyes and faces for positive or negative mood signs. In some contexts, the meeting of eyes arouses strong emotions.
Mutual eye contact that signals attraction initially begins as a brief glance and progresses into a repeated volleying of eye contact, according to Beverly Palmer, Ph.D. and professor of psychology at California State University, Dominguez Hills.
In the process of civil inattention strangers in close proximity, such as a crowd, avoid eye contact in order to help maintain their privacy.
The effectiveness of eye contact
When two or more individuals talk, the person that talks is used to being looked at. Therefore, making eye contact is making other people expect conversation.
Eye aversion and mental processing
A study by Phelps, Doherty-Sneddon, and Warnock concluded that children who avoid eye contact while considering their responses to questions are more likely to answer correctly than children who maintain eye contact. According to Doherty-Sneddon:
"Looking at faces is quite mentally demanding. We get useful information from the face when listening to someone, but human faces are very stimulating and all this takes processing. So when we are trying to concentrate and process something else that’s mentally demanding, it’s unhelpful to look at faces."
Contrariwise, Doherty-Sneddon suggests that a blank stare indicates a lack of understanding.
"To me, the idea that our dominant contemporary aesthetic is one that explores “a way of seeing that seems to reveal a blurring between ‘the real’ and ‘the digital,’ the physical and the virtual, the human and the machine” was kind of a no brainer. We’ve been covering projects that tackle this physical/digital grey area for years, but the recent proliferation of this aesthetic in mainstream culture is what seems to give it new weight and, according to Sterling, the makings of a new avant-garde."
"There really is no excuse for being technoculture illiterate if you’re under 40 and living in the Western world. You can plead ignorance of the technological specifics, but not of the cultural effects produced by the gadgets and interfaces that have invaded your life. Technology is not something that happens to other people, nor can you escape it by hiding out in “the humanities.” To be human is to be technological."
"The New Aesthetic isn’t Impressionism or Cubism. Revolutionary art is not shocking and provoking society, as it did in the case of Monet and Picasso. The New Aesthetic, as it exists in drone technology and Google Maps imagery and data surveillance, represents a ground-level change in our existence. Instead of shocking society, New Aesthetic art must respond to a shocked society and turn the changes we’re confronting into critical artistic creation. Artists are only just starting to take the raw material of the New Aesthetic and aestheticize it in a conscious, intelligent way.
What we need to do now is to go native, to stop gathering data points and start making things in the intrinsic language of New Aesthetic. Here’s my forecast for fulfilling the potential of this new medium: We will not just observe how machines act and perceive, but integrate how they act and perceive into our own sensory experiences and creative processes. As the digital and the physical move closer and closer, that combination will eventually look less like a hybrid and more like a united whole, the new aesthetic reality.”
"The fact that your laptop is arguably “less intelligent than a goldfish” does not stop us from collaborating with machines to access new experiences and augment our creative capacity. Interacting with computers, with the world of information and each other through these interfaces has irreversibly transformed us.
The tools we make shape culture. The culture of technology is a human culture and a human experience. Reconciling with our inventions, we embrace the stylized pixel-goo as a reflection of ourselves. An aesthetic based on computational systems and their associated visual memes has become fashionable and beautiful, indicating a broader acceptance of digital prostheses as essential to contemporary life. That integration of visual technologies into our cultural lexicon will only continue.”
“New Aesthetics is not simply an aesthetic fetish of the texture of these images, but an inquiry into the objects that make them. It’s an attempt to imagine the inner lives of the native objects of the 21st century and to visualize how they imagine us.
Moreover, as Object-Oriented thinkers, New Aestheticians are interested not just in the significance of face detection algorithms, surveillance drones, gesture recognition systems, image compression techniques, CCTV networks, book-scanning operations, satellite maps, and digital fabrication schemes for humans but they’re also obsessed with how these new 21st century objects impact the things we design and cohabitate with. They want to know what CCTV means for social networks, what book scanning means for iOS apps, and what face detection means for fashion. And again these objects are not just interesting to each other as a set of constraints and affordances for the objects’ human makers but for the hidden inner lives of the objects themselves throughout their existence.”
“The growing use of the term ‘curator’ in other fields, while misleading to many, fools no one who is actually in the industry and knows about the scope of activities that a curator undertakes. The use and abuse of the term outside the field indicates how opaque the contemporary art world and its processes may be to the rest of society, but perhaps we should welcome this as a teaching moment, where what curators do can be discussed and illuminated in a broader context.”
Kristen Hileman, curator of contemporary art and department head of the Baltimore Museum of Art, says that while she wasn’t overly aware of the definition creep of “curate,” she’s fine with one field borrowing terminology from another: “In fact, it is intriguing to think there is something so evocative in the vocabulary describing my job that others want to use it to articulate their own abilities or services. One of the legacies of 20th-century art has been a thorough appropriation of the everyday, so how could one object to the non-art world stealing something in return?”
The word “curate” could be attractive because of its implied prestige, suggesting that objects, experiences or people are being chosen and presented by an expert best equipped with the necessary knowledge and experience. Hileman says, “In short, I can see the appeal of a knowledgeable specialist making selections or recommendations in an information and image-saturated culture.” She adds, “I would also speculate that, in time, the use or overuse of the term might rob it of some of its preciousness, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since contemporary curators bring other skills to the table beyond connoisseurship.”
The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto (and a published novelist), has proposed that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.” Fiction — with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions — offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings.
It’s generally pretty well known that if you identify a sound change in progress, then young people will be leading old people,” said Mark Liberman, a linguist at the University of Pennsylvania, “and women tend to be maybe half a generation ahead of males on average.” Less clear is why. Some linguists suggest that women are more sensitive to social interactions and hence more likely to adopt subtle vocal cues. Others say women use language to assert their power in a culture that, at least in days gone by, asked them to be sedate and decorous. Another theory is that young women are simply given more leeway by society to speak flamboyantly.
The wonderful thing about belief is how uncritical it is of its surroundings. Take amulets, for example. These can be man-made (coins, dominoes, glass beads) or naturally occurring (fossils, shark teeth, mole paws), but in general an amulet’s physical attributes are worth much less than the faith placed in them.
Amulets can be held for an almost infinite number of reasons: for good luck or for love’s satisfaction; for protection against disease or for defence against malignant personalities; for wind or to safeguard against storms. However, all amulets have one salient characteristic: they’ve got to be able to fit in your pocket. For although amulets communicate with forces beyond our ken, their range is limited. They must be carried close to the flesh in order to work their magic.
in looking at the photographic image, what we are doing is, in a sense – or, if you will, in the manifold senses of sense qua the sensational – beholding by way of our eyes (that is to say, receiving visual information through ocular means that could be construed [if we are, for a moment, to put aside Wittgenstein’s reluctance to define his own position – though not withstanding his extant ((that is to say, documented)) definitions – regarding the ((as opposed to [[though also aligned perpendicular with]] ‘a’)) phenomenological] by our brains as what I venture to hereby term as ‘seeing’) a document-of-the-world-that-is-not-the-actual-thing-but-looks-really-realistic-almost-as-if-you-had-been-there.
Post-irony, as I understand Pallasvuo using it, as opposed to sincerity, is a strategy that still steeps itself in irony, uses it as a jumping off point. Therefore, “sincerity” is somehow something completely new and different in the context of art concerned with the Internet and our relationship to it. Pallasvuo suggests that “sincerity” is what will finally slaythe old and cold, bitter and dry net art and what might be the “new casualist” aesthetic in painting. Yet – obviously – nothing is 100% “sincere” / “authentic” and the creation of these categories is problematic. What is sincere is not opposite to what is ironic: many of Pallasvuo’s pieces, like much of today’s net art, leans heavily on a nostalgic affection for early 90′s internet and “folk” aesthetics (the title of his blog being DawsonsCreek.info). To me, constantly referring to a sort of overall objective nostalgia for the early Internet is yet another layer of distance placed between the artist and his intention. As viewers, we get in on the joke, which is a trademark move by ironists.
Some net art uses poetry and emotional content opposed to what I consider to be the predominant ironic, distanced, slick and surface-based aesthetic of the (art of the) “information age.” Perhaps as we continue to suffer from the Internet’s commoditization, alienating and distancing power over us, we are finding the positive parts of it. The parts that allow us to meet other people, and to be honest online about ourselves – or not. There is an extremely varied way of codifying our emotions online, and these artists emphasizing how we can defer our emotions through technologies, or at least face them.
I currently see performance in a very simple (yet useful) way: performance is nothing other than the process through which an object is translated into a version of itself able to be experienced by another object. By translatable object I don’t only mean a musical score, a theatre play, an idea, or even a person; rather, an object (like Graham Harman demonstrates) is anything that has an autonomous existence: from a person to a rock, from a shot of electricity fired by a neuron to a bankrupt financial institution, from a debt-ridden national economy to a melting iceberg. Performance is, in my view, that which allows for an object to manifest itself in the experience of another object by performing a double of itself. So yes, a performance is always performance and object at once. Because all objects that are given to us (or to any other objects) in experience are performances of other objects.
I’d say there are at least two different kinds of performance: the performance that brings forth an object’s double onto another object’s experience (the kind of performance I mentioned earlier) and then there is a particular second kind of performance, a performance that starts by being like the first one but that then becomes something else. It begins by translating an object into the phenomenological realm of experience but then, for reasons that, in my view, have to do with a change on the way objects engage with each other as audiences, it goes beyond the experience of the given sensual object to suddenly denounce the presence of the real object hidden behind it (even if it never really makes it known). I see it like the Brechtian Verfremdungseffekt, the defamiliarisation effect through which audiences realise the play they’re watching isn’t reality itself: they become aware of the fiction of theatre; the presence of the actor behind the character is denounced. If the first kind of performance gives us the experience of what graham Harman has called ‘time’ (by allowing us to perceive sensual objects and changes in their sensual qualities), then this second kind of performance gives us ‘space’, the sudden realisation that the real is much deeper than we had hitherto known. It is also this second kind of performance that is usually associated with the art object. However, in my view, it has nothing to do with the nature of the object being experienced but with the nature of the experience itself. If we are to truly support a flat and democratic object-oriented ontology, then we cannot divide the world into ‘normal objects ‘and ‘art objects.’ Art objects don’t exist ontologically. What exists is a particular kind of relation between objects, the aesthetic relation. The aesthetic relation can in principle exist between any two objects. If we think about it, that has already been the case since the first avant-garde. just think of Duchamp’s ready-mades: they are objects like all others; the only thing that changed was that they were placed in a context that triggered an aesthetic engagement on the part of the audience, that context being the so-called ‘art exhibition’. However we do not need art galleries to tell us when to engage with other objects aesthetically: I can be enchanted by anything around me as long as I allow it to myself. It’s almost like my teenage LSD tree-hugging trips. Didn’t ‘they’ say something about opening the doors of perception? Perhaps we are the new hippies but without their terrible sense of fashion. Anyway, I digress here. Let’s just say that in a world made of equal objects and ridden of anthropocentrism, there is no privileged ontological space for ‘art objects.’ Because if we allow the art object to be in any way privileged, then we are a step closer to getting back to anthropocentrism because if art is special, then so must be its creator (the human genius). There is no art; there is only aesthetic experience.