Thursday, 4 December 2008

Jackson Webb would like to thank the British Council for their support on this project

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Coatings and aspects

Robert Morris finds a brilliant way of describing a relationship between objects and text, or art making and art thinking in his chapter Professional Rules 1997*:

'I would like to float out the notion of an interrogative space, questionable as this might be, so that when examples of the art appear they are coated or infected with a kind of questionlike aspect'

I love this - I love the idea that ideas and text can surround your work like a coating, as if they can form some kind of substance with which the objects are flavoured. I think we are always trying to think of ways to formulate the relationship of text to our images and objects, and trying to avoid the idea that one is generative of the other. We prefer to think of the relationship as adjacent.

For this show we are 'floating out' a blog, which functions somehow as a coating - it gives a context, but is not something from which we might proceed- it is a coating, it creates an aspect, but it does not create an object.

* from Have I Reasons: Work and Writings, 1993-2007, by Robert Morris, edited by Nena Tsouti-Schillinger, Published by Duke University Press, 2008

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Past Present Future animal

Ideas of temporality seem to be underpinning a lot of our thinking around the poem, and again, I'm connecting this to W.J.T Mitchell's thinking. For him, the image of the animal is connected to futurity - animals go before us in the hunt, in evolution, as subjects of experimentation. In other words animals have the capacity to predict the future. Or they are the future? In a recent lecture at the Royal Society of Arts he talked about early cave drawings as augury - images of the hunt were drawn out to invoke a picture/scenario (cin-ario?) of what was about to take place. Perhaps Mandelstam's image of the age as a beast which looks back, forward and at the present can be related to some of these ideas?

Thoughts on Hippos/The stare

I've been reading Mandelstam's The Age, Badiou's interpretation of it in Century, W.J.T Mitchell's What do Pictures Want, and thinking about them in relation to our own practice. To take a W.J.T Mitchell idea, it seems as though these strands of thinking/making are being 'plaited'* together to create a platform for the work for this show.

What seems to resonate with our practice is the ideas of animism and vitalism at work in Mandelstam's poem. The age (the 19th century) is seen as a beast - it's a living, organic being which, by the end of the poem is broken - looking back at the traces of it's own steps. It seems like Badiou chose the poem because, amongst other reasons, it is about the century looking at itself. This self-reflexivity seems relevant to our own practice, which is concerned with its own conditions of production. Furthermore the ideas of the 'face to face' ("Who will be able to stare into your pupils"), and of the beast looking back at itself, seem to map onto the issues in our own work about the stare, the facial, and the confrontation of the viewer with an (opaque) plea/command/non plea/non command.

The 'aliveness' of Mandelstam's age-as-beast connects to Badiou's methodology of examining how the (20th) century sees itself' and to Mitchell's idea about images that 'want' something. For Mitchell, there is a 'double consciousness' involved in how we see images - on the one hand we behave as if images/works of art have a life of their own, but on the other we demonstrate that obviously we don't really believe this to be the case. (This was the case for us when comparing Runge's interpretation of self-grown chemical images, with our own conception of Jackson Webb as a 'living practice' - we don't really believe that a third force is created between us, but we talk as if we do!) Mitchell states that 'The usual way of sorting out this double consciousness is to attribute one side of it to someone else, and to claim the hardheaded, critical, and skeptical position as one's own. There are many candidates for the "someone else" who believes that images are alive and want things: primitives, children, the masses, the illiterate, the uncritical, the illogical, the "Other."'

In our own work, it has been the hippo which stands in for this 'Other' - the image of the hippo, and it's placement in proximity to objects denoting logic/order/rationality is an acknowledgment of this double consciousness. The hippo stares back at the viewer, denoting the consciousness of the practice, but its ridiculousness, and mute quality denote the skepticism about its own status and position.

* At the Research Into Practice conference held at Royal Society of Arts, London Oct 31, Mitchell talked about the idea of plaiting as important in his own work

Mitchell, W.J.T, p7 What Images Want, Univesity of Chicago Press, Chicago and London 2005

Ideas of looking and being looked at are key here - we see a

Sunday, 9 November 2008


Proposal, 2008

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Indiana Street

In 'Have I Reasons: works and writings 1993 - 2007', Robert Morris starts the chapter 'Indiana Street 1993' with a quote from his seven year old daughter:

Daddy, I know I will look back on this time and remember it as the good old days

Monday, 20 October 2008

The Age

In his recent book The Century, Alain Badiou asks what the twentieth century thought it thought - he sets out to 'examine what this accursed century, from within its own unfolding, said that it was'. Badiou's methodology resonates somehow with our practice which is underpinned by a self-reflexive examination of it's own conditions of production.

In chapter 2 of the book, Badiou introduces a poem entitled The Age, by the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam. The poem is seen as an 'exemplary document' not least because it draws a picture of the century as a living beast, who starts out as vital and living, and ends up looking back at the traces of its own steps. For Bad Moon Rising we hope to examine the poem, and through this examination address some of our own questions about what it means to make art now.

Here is the poem, translated (as it is in The Century), by Steven Broyde:

My age, my beast, who will be able
To look into your pupils
And with his own blood glue together
The vertebrae of two centuries?
Blood-the-builder gushes
From the throat of earthly things,
Only a parasite trembles
On the threshold of new days.

A creature, as long as it has enough life,
Must carry its backbone,
And a wave plays
With the invisible vertebration.
Like a baby's tender cartilage,
Oh age of infant earth,
Once again the sinciput of life, like a lamb,
Has been sacrificed.

In order to pull the age out of captivity,
In order to begin a new world,
The elbows of nodular days
Must be bound with a flute.
It's the age that rocks the wave
With human anguish,
And in the grass a viper breathes
The golden measure of the age.

Buds will again swell,
A sprout of green will spurt,
But your backbone is broken,
My beautiful, pitiful age.
And with a senseless smile
You look backward, cruel and weak,
Like a beast, once supple,
At the tracks of your own paws.