Creative Research 7

In this weeks lecture we were talking about chance in artistic practice, whether it is necessary to create good art or if control exists in creativity at all. We were asked to listen to the music of James Hoff and consider it in reference to his artwork, and consider how chance and a lack of control applies to his artwork. We were then given a set of questions to answer.

How do you perceive the relationship between chance/accident and intention/control in the work discussed? If possible describe elements of the work and its process of making that relate to each term.

James Hoff certainly relinquishes some control at the beginning of his pieces, corrupting imagery and sound to open a door for Hoff to step through and take further, to refine. His techno nature is based in the ‘happy accidents’ that can be produced in the hands of mechanical processes, in a way it is quite poetic. He intends on creating a result in a certain process, he may not have full control of that one step of the process but overall, the process is in his hands, the technological manipulation may be its own step but it is within his medium, as much as the quality of canvas is to a painter.

How might you make aesthetic judgements about work that has been created using chance procedures? Do different criteria apply in these instances?

As I said before, although the process may be dependant on chance, the artist created the process, perhaps to a certain extent the final result is not the artistic part but rather the method used to create it, the ideas and the medium used is not a mistake, an accident, or left to any kind of chance. It is up to the artist to create the process, although even within Hoff’s work, he has even more control because he uses the chance aspect of the process as a way to inspire and kickstart ideas that he then takes further, so although the work is based on a lack of control, there is intention and then further development, ultimately making very unique art.

How much control (or lack of) do you exert in the making of your art?

It really depends, in general my art is very controlled and I rarely leave anything up to chance, even going as far as to trace sketches to preserve the stylisation of one drawing that I might be happy with, however that said I often go on sort of artistic rants with pens and inks, and the work that results is seemingly very random, using an abundance of ink and water lets it flow and smudge and generally the experimental work is based on a lack of control or even intention, and then trying to learn to control the aspects I find I like once the drawings are complete. I feel the meaning behind my pieces exist in the subconscious, and I only develop the meaning of a piece either once it’s done or really starting to take shape, but to me the meaning of a piece is 80% of it. The thought means a lot to me but as an artist, I go into creating a piece not thinking anything. I certainly think that applies to chance.

How did you make use of the Oblique Strategies card?

My card said “Take away the elements in order of apparent non importance” and I am absolutely clueless. Take away the elements could mean to strip away the essential things in my life, which could result in apparent non importance, which in a way is kind of inspiring, in a very nihilistic way it’s saying that the things that make up my life are indeed important, thus making life important, which although may be in theory common sense, people certainly need reminding. That is awfully deep for a fine art lecture task.

Creative Research 6

For this weeks lecture we talked about the idea of community within art practice and the benefits it may provide as well as the drawbacks of working with others. We were asked to answer the follow questions.

SEA: Socially Engaged Art

What might be the benefits of engaging with others in art practice?

It is always beneficial to communicate ideas and methods with others even just for the sake of feedback. Art as a concept is about social connection either way so surely it makes sense to engage with others in art practice? Although what does that mean? Does this mean collaborative work or inviting people to see work prior to exhibition, because collaborative work in art can be troublesome mainly down to the fact that people have different artistic visions, and art is about passion so people passionately chasing their own ideas can cause conflict and a lot of the time it can be difficult for people to compromise. That said, it is always an excellent learning process, observing and absorbing other peoples methods and influencing future outcomes, not to mention developing a greater point of view and having the final piece become something more than a single persons world view. I think it makes for a good experiment but the overwhelming pressure of learning and compromise makes it a tough thing to set a standard to.

What might be the disadvantages of SEA as a way if practicing?

As stated above, there is often conflict amongst people with different artistic visions. It essentially comes down to the artists integrity and stubbornness, Their willingness to learn can influence whether or not they will play well with others, even if it’s not a shared practice and more of a feedback system, people with more closed minds will be much more critical and not be open to understanding the work in front of them. Then it comes down to a question of demographics, is this hypothetical person within your target audience? If not that, do they share the same artistic vision as you? If neither of these then their company in the context of art is useless unless you are aiming to expand your works appeal.

Do the principles of SEA have a role to play in your own art practice? If so, how?

I would say no, for me personally my art is very independent and I prefer to keep it to myself until the pieces are done, or the drafts of them are complete. I may explain the concept to someone but beyond that, I will only look for feedback from the final draft of my work. This is because my works message is best put across when the piece is finished, if I share that process with anyone else it likely would make very little sense. The messages I try to put across are very personal to me anyway, so trying to share that message would mean being incredibly vulnerable with someone else in order to honestly convey that feeling. At this point in my ‘artistic career’ I feel I am much better suited to solo work, although in the future I wouldn’t necessarily pass on an opportunity to find some insight into another artists processes and methods.

Creative Research 5

This week we didn’t have a lecture but we were asked to listen to an audio clip of Grayson Perry, and then to answer some questions about our own opinions on taste and popularity.

Grayson Perry:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03969vt

Are good taste and popularity mutually exclusive?

I don’t think so, but it’s certainly a close call. It’s very difficult to fall into one without the other, they essentially come hand in hand. Popularity is based around pleasure, the best clothes are usually the most popular, so to fall into the mainstream of anything, including art, you are joining the default in good taste and by default are contributing to the things overall popularity. See how it’s a vicious cycle? Despite this I think there are people that can trump that. Many people have become very popular without appealing to peoples taste, and by definition “good taste” would be appealing to the widest demographic, and yet they remain known to the mainstream. Actually thinking about it sounds quite paradoxical, and yet it happens. So no I don’t think good taste and popularity are mutually exclusive, however I think it’s incredibly difficult to maintain one and not the other, and it is far too easy to fall into both.

Where did you get your sense of taste from?

My taste comes entirely from my childhood and how/where I was raised. My early years were spent in a south London counsel house so I feel comfort in brutalist repetition and a bit of grimy concrete. I found a lot of escapism in superheroes and fantasy figure when I was young so have turned to comic art for comfort and clarity. There’s an incalculable amount of variables to consider, but it is for me (and I suspect many others) mostly based on my early life. It is also developed by what I have found myself to be naturally good at, I like to learn more about what I’m good at and then build familiarity and a more refined practice and therefore artistic taste. Maybe I’m blind to my other influences, but I see a lot of correlations between my taste in things now and what I was exposed to when I was younger.

How might your sense of taste impact on the art you make?

I’m not sure it’s as simple as one impacting the other, I feel like taste and art come hand in hand. Art is the expression of familiarity and inner thoughts, usually through a medium you are comfortable with. I am a fan of ink drawings, so I tend to be more fond of ink drawings than paintings, but I’m not sure what developed to that point first, my taste or my art. There was a time when I was much more fond of paintings and my practice was entirely painting, but one day I decided my taste had changed and I didn’t enjoy painting anymore? It’s a tough one to pinpoint because truly I think it’s easy to just flip, your taste changes with art because I think they may just be the same thing. We want to recreate what we like and we tend to like what we create, it’s kind of a tug of war between the two.

Creative Research 4

Why make art?

In theory quite a simple question right? In reality it couldn’t be more complicated, there are infinite reasons TO make art but why specifically do I make art? Is it because I want to make something beautiful, to send a message, or just because it’s something I’m good at?

I think for me personally it comes down to what you constitute as art. When I was about 9 I would make short films and animations, which led me to computer effects and then photoshop and digital art, then graphic design then painting and now where I am now. It’s a strange path I’ve gone down that led to fine art, but would you call little animations art? If you’re asking the reason I’ve ever made this stuff then it’s the same. It’s hard to pin point why exactly but I feel in my heart the same reasons, I want to express myself and point out the things that I might have a problem with or even just an opinion. I want to voice my opinions. Is that enough of a reason?

I’ve been drawing since I can remember, it always frustrated me that I wasn’t as technically good as some people around me (namely my father who is an excellent artist), but as I got older the appeal to improve on the technical side was more of a consequence of wanting to be validated in my expression. I suppose I spent a lot more time figuring out what I was trying to say before working out how to say it, which is likely why I didn’t take art in school, I was preoccupied thinking about it as opposed to doing it. Now I have much more of grasp on what I want to say and the opinions and satirical commentary I want to get across, I’m spending much more time trying to improve technically so that in the future people might value my opinion even if only based on aesthetics.

It’s therapeutic as well. I like being able to sit down and vent my thoughts through a pen, pencil or brush and be able to file it away or stick it on a wall. As a sufferer of severe mental illness I have a lot of thoughts I’d rather not keep in my head, so being able to channel them into a physical entity and deal with it with my hands I think is a great relief, which I imagine is why a lot of my art I keep very private and perhaps why I’m so self conscious when it’s being graded, it not only feels like my technical skill is being judged but also the validity of my thoughts and feelings.

This all feels quite an informal ramble so I apologise, but I think when a question like “who do I make art?” is raised then it’s going to get quite personal, and ultimately I think for me, art is the most personal thing in the world. I am laying my soul on a bit of paper and showing it to people, it is a tamed reflection of the goings on in my mind. From that perspective then maybe it’s crucial that I make art, maybe I can’t quite live without it. I don’t know. I want to be understood and appreciated, as I expect all people do.

Creative Research 3

Institutional Theory of Art & The Artworld.

The text given to us this week was a synopsis of different institutional theories surrounding art and what constitutes art, primarily based on Artworld attitudes. The Artworld is a network of unknowing contributors with credible and valid opinions that go on to give credibility to an artist and/or their artwork. It is described throughout this text as a network of institutions (many of which are no gaily professionalised and careerist) that provide the structure of symbolic capital, be it prestige, artistic integrity or general value, that can be translated to society as monetary value.

It’s a fascinating phenomenon, particularly in this day and age of instant global opinion through the echo chambers of social media, art has never been more judged. Considering the Artworld is the shared opinions of a network of peoples throughout society, having such an interconnected populous around the world has made the Artworld a much more fleshed out and refined nature resource in human nature, which is certainly required more and more given the ever growing over saturation of the online art community, and the relenting torment people go through to receive credibility in an online environment.

The first question we’re given is as follows:

“In this theoretical model, what defines an artwork?”

This is fairly complicated the deeper you look into it as there are a countless amount of variables to take into consideration, but I believe it is all done subconsciously within the ‘Artworld’. Although the opinion of the Artworld certainly matters, on a fundamental level “an artwork” is defined by a handful of determiners. It is an original artefacta set of aspects of which has had conferred upon it, the status of candidate for appreciation, by some person of persons acting on behalf of a certain social institution (the artworld). This is George Dickie’s first attempt to contrast an institutional definition of art in 1974.

Although it was later revised in 1997, I feel the core beliefs are the same, boiling it down to… an original piece following a set of rules created by someone with credibility for the purposes of presentation to members of the Artworld.

I feel this can be argued but I could write an essay about it so I’ll save it for now and instead move on to the next question.

“Do you think this definition excludes any things you might call art? If so please give some examples.”

I think art should not be defined by the credibility of the artist. There is every chance I am misinterpreting this synopsis and I think it’s likely worth reading further into for a deeper understanding of what they are trying to say, but it seems that the artist and the art are cursed to be linked forever, whereas I think of course they can coexist, but they should exist as separate entities, the art stands alone and the artist carries on. Art should speak for itself, the credibility of the artist themselves shouldn’t have a say in the value of the piece. However with the overwhelming celebrity culture we are surrounded with, it is human nature to wonder who’s mind the piece came from and whether or not that adds value to the artwork. I think this aspect of the Artworld and modern art culture bothers me, I think art as a concept should be predominantly faceless unless the artist is the one trying to convey message, but if they’re not doing that through the art alone then how they came to be a celebrity artist I have no idea.

“What do you think might be the implications of this model for your own practice and identity as an artist.”

It is nothing new to me to have somewhat of an identity crisis as an artist, I am constantly adapting and changing and my practice is far from defined so to make a comment that involves an evaluation of my artistic identity I think would be too big an ask, however my feelings now are that the art system we have in place certainly has its issues. I have always made art that I would appreciate and enjoy, based on other works I enjoy, this including works outside of the fine art community. I figure if I enjoy it there’s bound to be someone else like me out there that will enjoy it too, which is quite a loose and risky way to play with the idea of being a professional artist, but this institutional theory of art is, almost by definition, is economical and driven by commerce and monetary value. It is a money game as any profession is. The issue with fine art is that it’s very much a ‘go big or go home’ world. You rarely come across casual work as a fine artist, so you have to focus very hard on the commercial aspect to fit in with Artworld values, and that, quite frankly, is a bit sickening. Children don’t draw for money, they draw for joy, and regardless of the dark themes I might explore in art, I try to maintain that childlike enthusiasm in my practice, which is simply not compatible with commercialism. For me to be a professional artist I will have to work in passion projects, which in itself is momentous ask for the universe but there is every chance it will deliver. I would love to somewhat of an exception to the rules set in place by these institutional theories, but to be popular you have to be made credible and valuable, and so we all fall into the trap.

At the end of the day we are all constantly being judged. Some rules by nature are inescapable, you have to be popular to be a credible artist making valued work, as much as I may despise of the financially oriented attitudes set in place by fat cat art collectors, what is satisfying (in any way) will always be desirable, and yet also under scrutiny.

Creative Research 2

 

This week at uni we were asked to discuss Marcel Duchamp’s speech ‘The Creative Act’.

It can be listened to here: https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/08/23/the-creative-act-marcel-duchamp-1957/

After reading it through and making notes I have a lot of thoughts. His views were surprisingly radical if you really think about it, particularly for the time. He essentially explains that in his view, the artist is a means for the art to be expressed rather than the other way around, intention is not always a conscious effort in the creation of great art and it more or less boils down to instinct. With this in mind I will proceed to the first of the three questions we were asked to answer.

1: In what ways does Duchamp’s view challenge widely held ‘traditional’ perspectives on the significance of the artist in determining the meaning of the artwork?

People commonly expect the art to be the refined brilliance of a creative mind, a conscious effort to say something and put across emotion or a message of some kind. Duchamp totally goes against this by saying that not only is the intention of art usually unconscious for the artist making it, but either way it will be realised and received differently to the spectator, people will always interpret art in their own way regardless of what meaning the artist puts into it. As I said before, Duchamp seems to suggest that the artist is a means for art rather than art a means for the artist, so if art is the ruling factor then the artist inevitably becomes irrelevant.

2: How does his view fit with your understanding of the roles of artist and audience?

The roles of artist and audience from my perspective are pretty standard and I’ve never put much thought into it. The artist makes the work, pours their heart and soul into the piece and the audience comes to interpret the piece as they please and try to decipher what the artists intention was. This applies more for contemporary art than anything.

Duchamp however states that the artist makes the art by unconsciously channeling emotion through their medium to create a piece, then it is up to the verdict of the spectator to determine its social value, meaning that the validity of the art and by extension the artist themselves in the realm of art history rests solely on the opinion of the audience, which certainly is true. It seems like quite a bitter pill to swallow but to make it in the world of art, as Duchamp rightly points out, your success is in the hands of the people, you are asking to be judged. This is all information I was previously aware of so I suppose his views fit quite well with my own, but the way he states it makes it sound a lot more extreme and in a way more realistic of a situation than I may have truly realised prior to reading this text.

3: How might this argument impact on the ways in which artists (including yourself) make their work?

I am not enough of a refined artist for this kind of view to be entirely relevant in my life just yet, it is good to be aware of the audience being the judge of your work considering art is made to please, but if anything reading this text has taken a weight off my chest. It may or may not be a bad thing but Duchamp essentially relieves the artist of responsibility, he says that good art comes from the mind not the man, so we are unconscious to our “genius” as artists until we assess our own work. Duchamp makes it very clear that art is art whether it is good, bad or indifferent.

“Bad art is still art in the same way that a bad emotion is still an emotion.”

So ultimately it us up to the man to refine the skill, the mind to determine the intent and the spectator to have it realised. This puts the conscious man responsible for only a third of the process, which as a practicing artist putting in the hours to refine my craft is a quite a relief of stress. It is a huge burden for most artists I’m sure to make an effort to know that their art means something, it certainly is for me, so to be able to put this theory into action and let my unconscious mind take control (which I have certainly done before to good results) it is a lot of pressure taken away.

The role of the artist is a difficult one, but the burden of creation, in Duchamp’s view, is divided between mind, body and spectator. He takes into account the entire process of artistic creation, from conception to its place in art history and I feel his views, although quite radical, to be very accurate. He obviously had keen mind and an observant philosophical nature to be able to sum up such a complicated system.

I will go out with a quote from John Cleese that I find to be incredibly relevant.

“Your creativity comes from the unconscious,
If creativity came from logic
and intelligence then all the logical intelligent people could do it– But they can’t
It all boils down to getting in a playful and relaxed frame of mind.”

– John Cleese (2014)

Creative Research 1

So I’m back to uni! My second year and I’m very hopeful. My first was a little rocky as I’m sure many peoples are but I’m back and feeling more secure in my practice. For my theory work I need to do a blog about various things in my creative research so that’ll be this. Lots of text but you gotta do what you gotta do.

So for the first task we were set we’ve had to look at a piece of text and answer two questions about how our work fits into categories in art and whether it follows generic standards, but let’s start with the text.

The text describes the human nature of categorisation, how it is a basal instinct to put things into group and it takes a very fine tuned mind and understanding of social language to accurately categorise things in a way that everyone will agree. This is true and untrue. I feel it certainly works for things that have a factual standing of categorisation, rules that can be followed and are above human opinion, but such rules have been made and remade, only to be broken once more by the power of progressive art.

Art is subjective, what constitutes art is subjective, what makes an artist an artist is certainly subjective. Any form of creative expression ultimately comes down to opinion, although it is often quite easy for people to agree on what bad art is. Art is, in its most basic form, about relation and emotion. If you can relate to the experiences being portrayed in a painting and it stimulates an emotional response from you, it is more than likely that you will consider that good art, people art attracted to familiarity and this is the basal problem with the categorisation of arts. Not everyone is familiar with the same thing.

We all lead different lives so different things will affect us in different ways, some people respond to certain things very differently to others, this is the definition of opinion. If art had a logical process and reaction then any logical person could do it, but they can’t. Perhaps this is why creativity will always be a man maintained industry, you can’t program creativity.

There are too many variables to take into consideration when trying to sum up whether or not a piece of art is actually art. The simplest way I have come up with when trying to determine the difference is looking at three main points.

  1. Effort
  2. Thought
  3. Intent

All art should have effort put into it. Not necessarily skill, but just the action of sitting down to draw the piece is putting in that effort. Thought is vital as art is made to say or express something, and that cannot be done without putting thought into it, even subconscious. And finally intent, I feel as though this is the most important. People can make anything and if they intended it to be art, I feel it is within their right (given that they’ve put in the effort and thought already) to call it art.

Of course there are bound to be exceptions, but this is the simplest way I’ve thought to categorise it. And there it is… categorise. It is instinct to organise things, to split things into groups and give some order to the ever growing entropy in the universe. At a certain point it can be too much because it bleeds into the world of generic art. Which brings me onto the first question of this assignment.

Is the art you make prescribed by generic conventions? If so, what are they? If not, how do you understand it is art?

The short answer is I don’t know. Over the summer I’ve come to realise that I really have no clue who I am as an artist, especially a fine artist. I want to work towards surrealist illustration is a fine art context, so by very definition working towards something means following generic rules and guidelines, so I suppose as my art progresses it’ll come in waves? The comic page art I was doing certainly followed some kind of structure, whether that was a globally understood one or one I made up it was generic to me, and the art style itself followed a lot of artistic rules, so I suppose as I progress I would like to break those rules a bit more.

Defining art is hard, especially when it’s your own. It’s strange that I like to think the stuff I make is art, although I’m often uncomfortable referring to myself as an artist. Maybe I don’t follow enough of the conventions to think I fit in with other artists, or maybe it is precisely the opposite. Either way I often feel I am on one end of the spectrum, whether that be making art that’s very generic and nothing special with only that hint of trying to break the rules, or making art that is breaking so many rules and ignoring many basic principles of this practice that it barely even qualifies. It is far too much to think about so I think I may move on having essentially come to no conclusion.

Can you describe the art you are interested in? Is it generic? Medium specific? Does it relate to a movement, Avant Garde group of particular period? Give visual examples.

Art I’m interested in is often very similar. I love the works of Halfdan Pisket, who works in various mediums but most notably ink, digital and printmaking. His work is more or less illustration, presented as individual pieces, and as he’s a fine artist it qualifies as fine art (this is something I would like to explore more of in the future), his work is incredibly inspiring to me, and the stories and messages he conveys really speak to me, but I wouldn’t say he’s a generic artist. It is typical of comic art, but much of his art would be very out of place in a comic, despite the fact he has actually made comics.

I think the issue here is that there isn’t a clear definition of what is meant by generic. Art is deeper than style, even a piece with generic style can tell a very compelling story which would make it very much out of place amongst other generic pieces. Piskets work may be generic in terms of practice but subject matter and the deeper levels are certainly not, and I think that certainly qualifies.

 

Ultimately my conclusion is there is more to art than meets the eye, as literal as that phrase can be. The deeper thought and story that goes into a piece is just as, if not more, important than the visual language telling it. I fear being a generic artist, but then again.. it’s all subjective anyway.