October 2010 Archives





Copyright 2010 Malcolm Ryder

RePresentation as Innovation


Note: Roxy Paine makes gigantic, tree-like branching objects that amplify the familiar but less understood, into the newly understood but less familiar. 

NY Times, quote:

"As with Mr. Paine’s Dendroid series, these art-making machines and mushroom fields are based on analyzing the visual language of the thing he’s replicating, establishing a set of parameters, then finding as much variation as possible within those rules. "

Article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/17/arts/design/17roxy.html?ref=design

The "replication" referred to in the NYT quote results in exhibited items, but the items are not just replicating some other finished thing. In this case, the idea about re-production is that Paine finds the rules that generate what he initially saw, then he grows his own new things from those rules. The result can be understood as Paine's idea of new instances of the "genus" or "species", although he is all the while at liberty to use only the rules he is interested in.

For the moment, we're taking for granted the Times article's predisposition that Paine's sculpture is visual art (or at least that the art wants to be making its sense that way). Consequently, the fundamental question asked and answered by the labor of the current Paine sculptures is: how does the way something looks determine what it is?

It's a two-part question. The second part of the question addresses what we think the subject is of the exhibited item's presentation.The first part of the question addresses the effects of presenting the exhibited item under observation. These effects are experientially bundled into what we'll call the "presence" of the subject. The function of the presence is to attach the item to certain ideas while separating it from others. Due to the labor of establishing that presence with the exhibited item, the item is able to indicate the subject.

"Replication" is a catchy way to bring up the topic of representation. But a closer understanding of what is done by the "work" in the art work is that re-generation occurs in a presentation -- and to put a finer point on it -- in the presence of the exhibited item.

With all that noted, it is more likely that what distinguishes "representational" work from other work is a position on a line in a spectrum, not on one side or the other of a dividing line.  Towards one end, work takes conventionalized or at least prior rules of subject recognition as its basis -- but more importantly, recognition of prior acknowledged subjects. Towards the other end, In a different mode (non-representational by any name), the work begins with creating or at least discovering new rules as the basis, aiming towards proposing a new subject. Plenty of room in between those two poles. In fact, the situation is more like regions: new rules about old subjects, old rules about new subjects, new about new, and old about old...

The obvious thing that Paine's sculpture has in common with other visual art forms is that is poses the question, can visual expressions tell us something that we already know or at least that we ought to know?  

Of course we know that the answer is yes, but that is why we actually tend to start our "critical" assessment of the work with the question,"why are we being told this now?"

And in turn, as established through contemporaneous criticism,  the rise and fall of the "value" of the work-- in fact, of most new visual work -- tends to ride on this matter of "relevance", as much or even moreso than it does on whether the work is successful at what it tried.

What eye mind


A vision of the apocalypse as rendered during sundown by the remains of the MacArthur Ave Blockbuster Video, in glass, spraypaint, sunlight, and some random memories of Lord Of the Rings, while purchasing burritos and brandishing a Blackberry.

(copyright 2010 malcolm ryder)

Pimp my Ride




Engineering: the genius of life lines

 Copyright 2010 Malcolm Ryder