Wednesday, February 24, 2010

12 Steps and Bourriaud

I tried to step around Bourriaud’s comments on cinema and tweak it to discuss a low brow cinema of sorts. This may be a stretch.

12 steps by Alex Kopps answers the issues of relational aesthetics as posited by Bourriaud. Considering the transitivity of the work itself and the manner in which the film directly interacts with the viewer, the defined assemblage of artist, object, action and beholder creates a ‘specific sociability’ providing an immanent “conviviality” (p28). The work provides a mirror for artist and beholder, creating an internal dialogue, a reflection on practice within a social network, as well as a guide for the beholder towards further invention.

Kopp’s own practice is defined through the film itself – outlining a simple manner of creating yet another piece of art. If “An artist’s artwork thus acquires the status of an ensemble of units to be re-activated by the beholder-manipulator […] The principle act(s) as a trajectory evolving through signs objects, forms, gestures” (P20) then the construction of the art suggested by the film is actually threefold: the construction of an animation, the construction of the film itself, and the assumed production/construction by the beholder.

Culturally, the film speaks to the ability of the everyman to create art. Couched in a 12 step program, popularized by groups such as AA in order to deal with addictions, the resources used by Kopps are accessible to the everyday person. This provides for the beholder the possibility of artist production — a sense of immanent art. Each step is laid out in its own simplicity — riding the bicycle to the store, the deconstruction of the screen, the banal commentary, the fact that the film is a tracing on multiple levels.

The relations of the artist (and assumingly the beholder) to the consumer society within which we operate are present on the surface, as well are various simple ways of subverting that same system. The superficiality and simplicity lend themselves to a cultural criticism that evokes social networking and a collective intelligence. Kopps use of the bicycle to procure the monitor is an example of this subversion: it is a simple alternative to the car, accessible even to the underprivileged; the deconstruction of the monitor lends itself to the deconstruction of the computer and technology saturated society — or alludes to the strength of usage versus nascent consumption.

Bourriaud states that, “It seems possible, in our view, to describe the specific nature of present-day art with the help of the concept of creating relations outside the field of art (in contrast to relations inside it, offering its socio-economic underlay): relations between individuals and groups, between the artist and the world, and by way of transitivity, between the beholder and the world" (p26). The DIY culture of the Internet, and the collective intelligence of it’s arts and crafts community where this video has been posted and reposted across the blogosphere, is made deeper through this commentary. It’s reposting adds to its cultural capital and reinforces the production and consumption cycle. This is further anchored in the use of grayscale, which adds a feigned “historicity” to the film image; and the use of the computer generated voice – taking away, in essence, the artist’s own voice, relying on the beholder to fabricate their own interpretation of what is actually being said and what they are being instructed to do. Kopps accomplished this in a low-brow instructional film that both deconstructs and constructs, providing for what might be made to be a plane of immanence.

--Mike vW

1 comment:

  1. Mike, what is nice about the Kopps piece is how deceptively complex it is, which you nicely articulate here. I wonder though how well it fits Bourriaud's notion of "relational aesthetics," since it involves a mediating object to construct a (virtual) community, whereas Bourriaud sees the work of the artists he describes as focused on the actualized relations between a group of people instantiated through each successive viewing/performance. If there is a object – such as Gonzalez-Torres' posters or the food consumed at a Tiravanija exhibition – its role is to facilitate an encounter in the here and now. Might this be one of the differences between Deleuze and Bourriaud? In the latter, the object serves only to establish an intersubjective relation (with subjectivity understood here to be a property of humankind). In the former, the object itself has the ability to establish a relation; the object itself enters into a relation. The spectator/viewer enters into a relation with an entity that is more-than or less-than human; the spectator/viewer enters into a relation with the non- or in-human.