Takeuchi/Nonaka - Social Ecology of Art - Wilden/Bateson

To continue this line of thinking, we now turn to Anthony Wilden's explication of logical types. In the essay "Nature and Culture" which is found in the book System and Structure: Essays in Communication and Exchange, Wilden writes:

"...every 'phenomenon', must be dealt with both in terms of its own level of logical typing and in terms of the higher synchronic levels of logical typing which make it possible. The relationship between higher levels of organization and higher levels of logical typing is inverse: the higher the logical type, the lower the level of organization (complexity). Similarly, the lower the level of organization, the more preponderance structure has over system..."

In all of this material we see the framework for understanding how multiple processes within individual and social learning systems are enmeshed in complex feedback loops that operate recursively to shape each other. In extending Takeuchi and Nonaka to art practice, we see how tacit knowledge (or the concrete practices of material production) can be formalized, or even "dematerialized," into theoretical, explicit knowledge that becomes a shared conceptual horizion for art discourse before being, ultimately, reabsorbed into individual material practice.

Wilden, who we did a rather poor job in summarizing, provides a way to explain "intuitive" decisions in art practices. Intuitve choices are choices made without access to the higher logical type that governs the decision. One might see that the choice "makes sense" without being to explain fully why. One of the functions of critiques and or critical writing is to try to establish a frame of reference for describing the higher logical type that constrains the decision making in a work.

Bateson's model provides a way of seeing how all of this plays out at the level of an "individual mind." The scare quotes are necessary because Bateson's notion of an individual and of a mind are not straightforward. They are, to some degree, just stable nodes in autocatalytic feedback loops, and thus not the usual humanist categories.

Placing each of these together we begin to build a map of how material practices, abstract systems, individual identity formation, discourse networks, critical feedback, constraints, etc. form a social ecology of art. A change in any component creates a series of recursive descriptions and re-descriptions that alter both individuals and their contextual environment.

To use Adam Skibinski's more general description (from Metalogy:
A Commentary on Mind, Recursion and Toplogical Inference), but one which is easy to see applied to our narrower focus:

"Establishing oneself in a network of exchange with others, in relations within any local population and its environment, results, gradually, ontogenetically, in self-discovery of myself as a person...What appears with an advent of language is socially constructed, inter-relational self, embodied in communication practices in populations as networks of exchange. We might claim that language exchanges produce and re-produce both a person and a social system. [Emphasis ours]"

Queer - Zines - Archive

The Dilettante Ventures Crew just returned from making a presentation in Milwaukee for the Digital Arts and Culture Program at UW-Milwaukee. While there we met many interesting people and we were made aware of QZAP - the Queer Zine Archive Project. Here's their mission statement:

The mission of the Queer Zine Archive Project (QZAP) is to establish a "living history" archive of past and present queer zines and to encourage current and emerging zine publishers to continue to create. In curating such a unique aspect of culture, we value a collectivist approach that respects the diversity of experiences that fall under the heading "queer."

Check out the tremendous resources available, make a donation, or submit your material to the archive.

"Next Blog" Lottery

Then, miraculously: http://5qs.blogspot.com/

Wilden/Bateson - Tacit/Explicit - Nonaka/Takeuchi

In this post, we were sketching out the implications of the interrelationship between abstract systems and concrete practices for art discourse. We're looking to extend this using some work from the field of organizational studies, specifically the work of Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi. In their book, The Knowledge-Creating Company: How Japanese Companies Create the Dynamics of Innovation, they develop a four point model of organizational learning. To summarize:

1. Socialization - the transfer or sharing of tacit knowledge.
2. Externalization - tacit knowledge made explicit.
3. Combination - building concepts by sharing explicit knowledge.
4. Internalization - explicit knowledge made tacit.

Tacit knowledge is - situational, personal, knowing how. And explicit knowledge is abstract, theoretical, knowing that. Michael Polyani wrote extensively about tacit knowledge.

To add to the mix, we'd like to make another quick summary of Gregory Bateson's Logical Categories of Learning and Communication found in his book Steps to an Ecology of Mind (which we mentioned here):

Learning 0 - direct experience.
Learning I - making generalizations from experience.
Learning II - discrimination of contexts for generalizations.
Learning III - resolution of Level II paradoxes, radical shift in character/perspective concerning Level II insights.

Note that both of these models involve recursive feedback between levels. They are hirerarchical in terms of logical typing, but feedback is not limited in communicative direction.

In a later post we'll throw in a little Anthony Wilden and try to explicate how this connects with art practice, and ways of describing or theorizing it.


MacGyver - Bricoleur - LeisureArts

We thought it might be nice to take another look at the bricoleur - a French term you'll probably remember from reading Derrida, or maybe Levi-Strauss. The bricoleur is, essentially, someone who "makes do." The bricoleur is a cultural hacker, a tinkerer, a jack-of-all-trades, someone who builds (in all senses) using the material at hand. To engage in this process is bricolage.

LeisureArts is largely an enterprise in bricolage, or a dilettante venture. Although these terms have already passed out of theoretical vogue, no new concepts have come along to replace them. We've posted many times before about the inadequate critical tools brought to bear to discuss so-called "new art practices." As we've said, we might be better served to abandon the framework of art and flesh out a new field. Rather than artists, we have bricoleurs, and rather than art, we have bricolage.

Bernard Herman writes in his essay "The Bricoleur Revisited" from American Material Culture: The Shape of the Field - Ann Smart Martin and J. Ritchie Garrison eds. :

"Thus we can imagine the bricoleur standing in the scrapyard of experience and through a process of sorting and low-tech assemblage creating compelling, meaningful narratives out of seemingly unrelated objects and events. The bricoleur, working with the detritus of myth and history, of artifact and experience, defines the project by the means and materials at hand. The bricoleur's discovery of meaning is always imaginative and personal: the sense and communication of meaning is inescapably contextual and always about the relationships established between people and their environments in all of their many intimacies."

This sounds very much like it could be describing any number of people currently being offered under the banner of "relational aesthetics."

So we are pushing for re-thinking the field, for finding other ways to critically negotiate, and promote the work of cultural MacGyvers. Robyn Stewart, in the October 2001 issue of Text, writes in her essay "Practice vs. Praxis: Constructing Models for Practitioner Based Research:"

"It is not easy being a bricoleur. A bricoleur works within and between competing and overlapping perspectives and paradigms (and is familiar with these). To do so they must read widely, to become knowledgeable about a variety of interpretive paradigms that can be brought to a problem, drawing on Feminism, Marxism, Cultural Studies, Constructivism, and including processes of phenomenography, grounded theory, visual analysis, narratology, ethnography, case and field study, structuralism and poststructuralism, triangulation, survey, etc."

It's not easy to write about them either, as it requires challenging available orthodoxies, an equally at-ease disposition with regard to switching conceptual domains and categories, and the flexibility to leave one's critical assumptions behind. It's not easy, but we believe it's worth the effort to find a way out of the dead end of contemporary art criticism and into more fertile and dynamic discourse, even if that means going back to the 80s and reviving MacGyver alongside bricoleur...

Death to the fascist insect that preys upon the life of the people, or Chris Klein must've been at home watching The Magician.

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Concept Trucking - STH - MySpace

STH meets Concept Trucking.

Abstract Dynamics - MySpace - Concept Trucking

Looks like Abstract Dynamics called it right in this post we mentioned previously. The Fox Interactive Media marketing jackals are being unleashed on MySpace.

From the NY Times article linked to above:

"The bigger opportunity, however, is not so much selling banner ads, but finding ways to integrate advertisers into the site's web of relationships."

And now from the Abstract Dynamics post:

"Imagine a new friend request, good looking person, same style, likes the same books and movies you do, never met them but sure you say yes. Something maybe a touch off, a touch cold, robotic maybe. But they are in your network, in the conversation churn. But slowly they push in odd ways, push certain products, certain activities, push for more info. The future of marketing just might read the same zines as you, buy the same punk 7" as you, watch the same YouTube as you."

To quote my MySpace friend Miller Lite, "Good Call."


Texas Community College Bans MySpace.com
MySpace: The Movie
MySpace Merchandise

Curator - Elitist/Populist - Plumber

Zane Fischer, a columnist for the Santa Fe Reporter, has a small piece posted on the Santa Fe Center for Contemporary Arts' website under the artMuse heading. It puts an interesting twist on elitist vs. populist debates and partially undermines our own arguments around art professionals.

Fischer's main argument is that the idea that judgment and opinion are arenas preserved for a cultural elite is false:

"There's a false dynamic in the world that suggests that judgment and opinion is meted out by the elite, while Joe Public is more tolerant and less picky. But in fact it's not elitism that breeds judgment, but familiarity. Who resists praise or critique of NFL or NASCAR?"

Fischer moves on to a comparison of a plumber evaluating an artwork and a curator evaluating plumbing. The notion is that each can learn from the other, and that neither should feel like they can't express their dissatisfaction with a particular work be it plumbing or painting.

She closes:

"Contemporary art is everyday, equally important, equally banal, plumbing for the soul. If it refreshes, say so. If it cleanses and renews, say so. If it smells bad, leaks or has inadequate pressure, say so. No special skills required. If no one complains, nothing improves. Be judgmental."

We admire the attempt to radically flatten the discursive fields between these two occupations, but there's a bit of trickery here. While it's true that the world of sports talk radio is radically populist in its acceptance of all manner of opining by "Joe Public," the art world does not share this sensibility. We wish there was an art world equivalent to the Jim Rome show - "Have a take and don't suck." Maybe LeisureArts will host a Jim Rome style "Smack-Off" in the future. The argument abruptly drops the sports analogy and takes up plumbing seemingly in order to make a comparison between two professional fields, although certainly differently positioned in terms of cultural prestige.

This leaves us with two more problems. The first problem is that we are no longer comparing a lay person's opinion vs. an expert's, but two experts of different fields commenting on each other's work. The second particularly devious problem is comparing an opinion about water pressure, to one about art. Although what level of water pressure is pleasing is subjective, the actual pressure is objective. In fact, most plumbing problems that a lay person can offer dissatisfaction with, are objective issues - the toilet either flushes or it doesn't. The same is not true of art, and thus the insidious comparison leads us to accepting that the curator, by virtue of their professional training, can offer "deeper understanding" of an artwork in the way a plumber can concerning water pressure. Unfortunately, Fischer's argument perpetuates the mystique of professional judgments issued by curators rather than really challenging it.

To summarize, LeisureArts believes a plumber can be a curator, but a curator can't be a plumber.

MyCrimeSpace - Concept Trucking - MyDeathSpace

Concept Trucking has been featuring MyDeathSpace and MyCrimeSpace for some time now. These sites, along with recent news from Kansas, reiterate the complex blend of identity formation, public/private tension, spectacle, community building, goofiness, technological sociality, career networking, marketing, and performative sexuality that MySpace embodies.

See our earlier post for more context.

Untitled [For Ivan Illich]

[Image by Paula Scher for NY Times]

MFA - Curatorial Studies - MBA

High Low & In Between recently posted about the art/market relationship. In fact, many blogs have been buzzing about this due to this NY Magazine article.

High Low & In Between touches on, again as many people have, the glut of MFAs being produced in the U.S.

"We are churning out 'masters' to the tune of 10,000 a year in the US alone. With so many artists - for those that can find a way to sustain a studio practice - there needs to be an expansive retail mechanism. Its simple, supply requires demand."

In addition to these MFAs, we now have curatorial studies programs (another symptom of the stranglehold of professionalism in the arts - we'll expand on this in a future post) popping up that add to the pool of people trying to access the economic pie of the art market. It seems that the only real solution for those that care about the survival of the art market is to encourage more of these programs to shut down. They should be telling the people enrolling in these programs - if you care about art, get an MBA, make some serious money and become a collector. What we really need is a Collector Studies MBA/MA that teaches people how create capital streams for investment in art. Rather than increasing the demands on art market resources, the goal needs to be growing the economic pie. We were recently emailed this proposal which is a different approach to achieving the same goal.

That is what they should say mind you. At LeisureArts, we prefer, like Gilbert+George, art relaxing to art work - "...with art-relaxing art comes to you with a greater simplicity clearness beauty reality feelingness and life."

Claire Bishop - Aesthetic/Ethical - Critical Modalities


We've mentioned Claire Bishop's article "The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents" in the 2/06 issue of ArtForum in a previous post. We are revisiting it here to continue to develop our position. In the essay, she critiques the turn to ethical criticism over aesthetic judgments when writing about socially engaged work. She specifically critiques Maria Lind's essay "Actualisation of Space: The Case of Oda Projesi" in Contemporary Art: from Studio to Situation edited by Claire Doherty as an example of the focus on the ethical dimensions of work rather than on its "conceptual density" or "artistic significance."

Bishop is especially bothered by the latter, "...Lind downplays what might be interesting in Oda Projesi's work as art [emphasis hers]..." She registers the same complaint in referencing Grant Kester's book Conversation Pieces and Erik Hagoort's Good Intentions: Judging the Art of Encounter, "In each of these examples, authorial intentionality (or a humble lack thereof) is privileged over a discussion of the work's conceptual significance as a social and aesthetic [emphasis mine] form."

Bishop is pretty succinct with her position in the earlier part of her essay when she writes, "...I would argue that it is also crucial to discuss, analyze, and compare such work critically as art [her emphasis]." She proceeds to lay out two poles in a "standoff" in debates around social practices between the "nonbelievers" and the "believers." She offers (a point of which we were reminded by a comment on the earlier post):

"The former, at their most extreme, would condemn us to a world of irrelevant painting and sculpture, while the latter have a tendency to self-marginalize to the point of inadvertently reinforcing art's autonomy, thereby preventing any productive rapprochement between art and life."

Now we've really arrived at the crux of the matter for LeisureArts and we will develop our position in the post here: Maria Lind - Tactical/Agnostic - Ted Purves

Maria Lind - Tactical/Agnostic Artist - Ted Purves

To extend on the Claire Bishop - Aesthetic/Ethical - Critical Modalities, post and as a continuation of sketching out new critical modalities, we'd like to address Maria Lind's contextualization of Oda Projesi relative to the art world as it intersects with Ted Purves' "Blows Against the Empire" which appears in his edited volume What We Want is Free: Generosity and Exchange in Recent Art.

It is helpful to start with an excerpt from IC-98's website in which they explain the rationale for their activities within the domain of art [full quote is available on their site and in our previous post]:

"...as a reaction to the restrictions of academic writing...In practice, the world of contemporary art has proved to be the most flexible environment for diverse projects, being a free zone of experimentation within the society at large...[it] offers possibilities to put forward ideas without the preconditions of academic work ...the market...or activism...the projects are labeled art only for strategic reasons – the strategy works as long as the concepts of art do not come to dominate the discourse. The same applies to the individuals working in the group: you call yourself artist, just because it is institutionally convenient, [emphasis mine] because the very concept of ARTIST is obscure."

We see here another option outside of Claire Bishop's believer/nonbeliever dichotomy - the agnostic. Lind writes of Oda Projesi, "They have loose connections with the art world and are less occupied with discussing what is and is not art; it seems to suffice that art offers a method and a zone for certain types of activities." This is strikingly similar to IC-98's "free zone," and points to the tactical utilization of art structures and institutions that we believe gets mistakenly interpreted as art by design, rather than convenience.

Ted Purves offers yet another complication for us in writing about the San Francisco Diggers. The Diggers were an eventual splinter group from the San Francisco Mime Troupe in the 60s. They offered free food to people in Golden Gate Park with only one requirement, they had to step through a wooden frame which represented stepping into a "free frame of reference." Purves is struck by the fact that they "...made an actual doorway that people had to cross over." He notes that the Diggers' activities "...reveal a shrewd conceptual bent that would certainly brand [them] as 'relational artists'..." if they placed themselves in that context.

The point, of course, is that they did not contextualize their activities as art. Just what it was is a matter of debate. Art or not art? It's a debate art critics love to have, but one we think is somewhat trivial. What new generative social possibilities do these activities create? How do they interface with broad political and philosophical themes? Are they fun? These are questions that seem infinitely more useful than, how they function "as art."

This brings us back to Bishop's argument in "The Social Turn: Art and Its Discontents." She's right to ask that these activities be judged by their "conceptual significance," but the real reinforcement of "art's autonomy" is not from the so-called self-marginal impetus of these activities, but from accepting the very notion that they are marginal if they ignore the trappings of art or use them as IC-98 says, "because it is institutionally convenient."

The discussion continues in this post: Grant Kester - Artforum - Claire Bishop

Official Condiment - LeisureArts - HP Sauce

We already enjoyed dipping our fries, err, chips in HP sauce, but after seeing a photograph of Gilbert+George sitting in the Market Cafe with a bottle of it on the table, we decided to make a formal declaration:

HP Sauce is the official condiment of LeisureArts.

Escape Artistry - Richard Roth - LeisureArts

The notion of escape artistry, vis-à-vis Kaprow's un-artist, is a central thematic of LeisureArts doctrine. This is excerpted from The crit - play by Richard Roth which originally appeared in the Spring '99 issue of Art Journal, and can be found here.

"Holly Stolz: I totally fucking agree. The best artists today are engaged in finding a way out of the art world. Escaping . . . with flair . . . is the art of our time.

A.R.: Escape artists!"

Daughters: #1 Song/#1 Enemy 1986

Claire Doherty - Studio to Situation - Finn Smith

At Mute Magazine, Finn Smith reviews Contemporary Art from Studio to Situation - Claire Doherty ed.

The book merits some consideration and has been on the LeisureArts "do something with this" list for a few weeks. For now, we'll just focus on the Smith/Doherty exchange. What I find so interesting about the review mentioned above is that Doherty responds to it in the comments section. She makes an articulate and well targeted defense of her work. She is especially good at taking Smith to task for tired complaints of "name dropping" and accusations of scenesterism. In response to another charge about cultivating the "cult of the individual," Doherty rightfully responds:

"On the contrary, I would argue that this book moves beyond an internationally sanctioned list of 'usual suspects' to offer readers a combination of views and opinions on the ways in which artists respond to a variety of contexts through strategic, collective, collaborative and direct action. Is Smith really arguing that the combination of Charlie Gere and Rod Dickinson on Crop Circles, Catherine David and Irit Rogoff on Contemporary Arab Representations and Becky Shaw's project with an Alzheimer's patient is a simply a process of art-world list making?"

Smith deserves credit for tackling a complex book and devoting a good deal of energy in laying out a critical framework for engaging the book, but the review doesn't really ask any interesting questions. Instead we're mired down in pointless requests for definitions that are beyond the scope of the book or would needlessly fill it with addenda. For instance:

"Where is the evidence that this leads to increased opportunities for long-term engagement and what is actually meant by ‘engagement’ and ‘long-term’? Why should ‘long-term’ be positive?"

To this sort of thing we might well ask: what is meant by 'evidence?' what are 'opportunities?' and how do we know if they're 'increasing?' You get the picture.

Doherty's summary is a pretty accurate description of the book:

"This book is just one contribution to a broad and contested field of enquiry. It considers situation as a term which releases us from the scripted meanings of 'public art' and 'contextual art', which provides us with a terminology for appraising and exploring artworks which increasingly emerge from intersections of social interactions and encourages an interdisciplinary consideration of contemporary art in context."

We hope to come back to this book, not to review it in its totality, but to address Maria Lind's Essay on Oda Projesi (a LeisureArts Final Four participant). The essay ties into the ideas being sketched out in this post.

Untitled [For A+K]

Matthew Stadler - Red76 - Jeff Jahn

LeisureArts missed this whole debate due to a problem in comment notification on this blog. What is striking about Jahn's "defense" of Red76, particularly their engagement with art history, is that he cites Duchamp as "the prototype for Red 76's activities" while he simultaneously offers their "public declaration is a clear statement of intent." He is referring to their Free Art History project in which they use the bulletin board flyer model to "educate" the public about art history. This is supposed to be his "gotcha" moment in setting the record straight on Red76. The irony here is that Duchamp, in his talk The Creative Act, problematizes the whole notion of an artist's intention with regard to what a work means and how it is judged by posterity. He speaks of an "art coefficient:"

"...the personal 'art coefficient' is like an arithmetical relation between the unexpressed but intended and the unintentionally expressed." [emphasis mine]

This unintentional expression exists quite independently of an artist, or of their defenders. Of course, Barthes, and Foucault also provide solid theoretical counterpoints for Jahn's decrying that he wishes to "resist turning artists into a kind of ventriloquist act." Stadler's "ventriloquism" is really an enactment of Duchamp's analysis, something Jahn should be happy about given his interpretation of Red76 as an extension of Dada/Duchamp. Again, Duchamp says:

"...the artist...will have to wait for the verdict of the spectator in order that declarations take a social value and that, finally, posterity includes him [sic] in the primers of Art History."


"...the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world...and thus adds his [sic] contribution to the creative act."

So when Stadler says, "They do their work — they make the art — and I do mine, which is writing." He is just the sort of ventriloquist Duchamp says creates Art History.

Lane Relyea - Bad at Sports - Theory

Bad at Sports Episode 32 features an extended conversation with Lane Relyea. Much of the talk centers on how Chicago is positioned in the global art system. The conversation evolves into a minor confrontation with Richard Holland (one of the Bad at Sports team) over the value/place of theory in contemporary art. In a nutshell, Holland believes it is too prevalent, and Relyea believes theory is dead. What I find strange is that Relyea seems to offer a linear/progressivist model of art theory. That is to say, writers of a certain era are only relevant to that era. We (as a community of critics/artists/etc.) must, and do, move on to new ideas (merely for the sake of newness, it appears) according to him. He offers that the theorists cited and promoted by the October crowd "are all dead," as if this somehow negates the usefulness or relevance of their work. I find this odd because I don't think Relyea believes this, but it certainly seemed implicit from his comments.

As to whether theory is dead, I suspect that the definition of theory is important. Relyea offers that theory is no longer to be found in Art Forum and cites the proliferation of top ten lists and "what's hot" sorts of articles as proof of this. While I despise Art Forum nearly as much as I despise the October crowd, I think again, that he is being a bit flippant, or hyper-specific about what "theory" is. LeisureArts cited a recent discussion of "relational" art criticism in Art Forum that could easily be offered as "theoretical." Our real contention, however, is not really in disputing the examples set forth by Relyea or Holland for that matter, but to point to material left out of the discussion. Cabinet magazine is a shining example of where theory has gone in contemporary art discourse. Many artists are still operating in the context of theory, but I suspect that in addition to a definition of theory (which is beyond the scope of this post), we also need to establish which art world "theory" is absent from. The art-market-world (the world of Frieze, Art Forum, Tema Celeste, and others cited by Relyea) may have dispensed with it, but the "fringe" art world that we inhabit still engages the "big ideas" Relyea says don't exist anymore (and really, just what was all of that "base and superstructure" talk Gareth James was laying out at Relyea's Post-Post-Studio discussion if not "theory?") .

As a side note, Relyea was making a historical comparison of how the Los Angeles art scene in the early to mid 80s is analogous to some degree to the current state of affairs in Chicago. A couple of things that don't fit into that (interesting) comparison are the role of podcasts and blogs in creating and augmenting an art culture. We recently ranted about this, and would like to offer that creating multiple "economies of conversations" (zines, blogs, podcasts, journals, panel discussions, etc.) is another dimension to creating a vital art culture.

Criticism - Chicago Art Bloggers - Insecurity

For an example of truly fragile egos, check out this display of thin skinned whining by Chicago art bloggers. If being criticized by a STUDENT newspaper even registers a second thought, you really should get out of the blogging arena. Memo to Erik Wenzel: Saying, "I average about 500 hits a week. So I must be doing something right." undermines some really valid points you make about the nature of blog readership. Your blog is good, and offering a lame numbers based defense is unnecessary.

A quick comparison of NYC art blogs (Art Fag City, Art Soldier, Edward Winkleman, From the Floor, Notes and Queries, Deborah Fisher, and on and on and on) relative to Chicago ones will quickly demonstrate how weak Chicago art blogger production is. Although folding chair is a blog we like, we have to say that a team of FOUR people that manages to post sporadically with a week often separating their posts is pathetic. As much as it might seem like an attack, this post is really meant as a call to arms (such militaristic lingo!). Chicago art bloggers, give the city the vibrant discussion and activity it deserves.

Thanks to Houndstooth for providing the impetus for this post.

Beautiful Privacy - Kaprow - Fame

This is a nice passage from Jeff Kelly in the Acknowledgements at the beginning of Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life by Allan Kaprow:

"Sensing the obsolescence of his newly invented art form [happenings] as early as 1961, Kaprow wrote: 'Some of us will probably become famous. It will be an ironic fame fashioned largely by those who have never seen our work.' He was right. Happenings soon became a species of mythology, the subject of rumor or gossip. Hoping to prolong his experiment into the meanings of everyday life, Kaprow reconciled himself to letting go of the avant-garde genre he'd become identified with, confessing: 'I shouldn't really mind, for as the new myth grows on its own, without reference to anything in particular, that artist may achieve a beautiful privacy, famed for something purely imaginary while free to explore something nobody will notice.'

"Indeed, as the century draws to a close, one still hears the question, 'What ever happened to Allan Kaprow?' Life has happened to Allan Kaprow, his life, 'something nobody will notice,' and it has happened to him as the subject matter of his practice as an artist."

Kaprow was so prescient to see that even though he had largely abandoned "happenings" by the early 60s he would forever be identified by them. He, similar to Duchamp, used his fame tactically to explore a truly radical break with art. For forty years after making that break, he plotted an alternate course for art practice, one that confronted the specter of "professionalism" and "careerism" that has come to dominate art making of the last half century or so, even among those who appear under the art/life banner. With many of these forms, the art side of art/life still prevails falling short of Kaprow's speculation "...that art and all its resonances may one day become unnecessary for today's experimenter..." It remains to be seen if that threshold will ever be crossed given how entrenched art is with commerce, but we can dream of the days when "beautiful privacy" prevails.

A much better obituary than the one linked to in the previous post can be found here.

Kaprow - Unartist - Legacy

Devasating news for LeisureArts - Allan Kaprow (1927-2006)

This obituary is woefully inadequate, but is somehow fitting given how inadquately his work/writings were engaged. "He was primarily a painter and sculptor working with found objects." - Wow, what a terrible disservice to his legacy.

We will do our best in future posts to honor the profundly radical challenges offered by Kaprow that have never been sufficently addressed.

Mark Twain - LeisureArts - Michelangelo

"I never felt so fervently thankful, so soothed, so tranquil, so filled with blessed peace as I did yesterday when I learned Michelangelo was dead." - Mark Twain from Innocents Abroad

LeisureArts Manifesto [Christmas 2004]

Manifestos are boring, but we like them. We are average people tired of the sterile world of museums and galleries. We are lazy. We love to shop. We love to eat. We like to talk with friends about reality television and drink coffee with silly names. We mean what we say until pressed too hard, then we start to drift into daydreams of garage sales and glossy magazines. We're too smart to care. We've read enough fancy books to justify our existence, but we don't bother. We'll have a party soon, so think of a gift. We're slackers, and we believe that LeisureArts is the highest art of all...

Critique - Pedagogy - Project Runway

Gerard Brown engages an important set of questions in this post.

What was going to be a quick comment on his blog, turned into this on-the-fly post here:

Saul Ostrow will be leading a College Art Association panel on this very topic in 2007.

While I also enjoy Project Runway and Iron Chef, I wouldn't want to use them as models for critique. The fashion world is especially unfit, from what I've seen, given its imprecise/sloppy use of language (just count the number of times designers throw around the term "modern" and try to decipher what it actually means) and (by its very nature) superficial handling of concepts (Hussein Chalayan, Alexander McQueen and a couple of others are exceptions). I certainly don't see how either of these are counter-examples of critique as "justifying preference." To be fair, when it comes to matters of craft the fashion world/Project Runway and Iron Chef to some degree, do a good job.

Having said that, I think Brown is dead on in describing students' work as "too rooted in intuition and pleasure" to be able to withstand or invite critique. I'd like to argue that part of this is a structural problem of academic institutions. They (art departments, etc.) do a terrible job of making explicit what kind of artist they're trying to cultivate, and often don't seem to know themselves what sort of art world they're trying to prepare students for. The biennial/Art Forum world? The professional exhibition, but "second tier" city/gallery world? The Sunday painter/coffee house exhibition world?

These are simplifications of course, but these are often competing agendas and create headaches for instructors who are trying to prepare students who want to exist in one domain for a different one. Strangely, I guess I'm arguing that academic art institutions should be less inclusive, that is, if they are trying to create capital "A" art world artists.

A pedagogical problem is often at play in a failed critique. Finding ways to eliminate students' subjectivity (in the expressive, uncritically emotive, and issues driven sense) is imperative to create a sufficiently "neutral" set of work to critique (please, I use neutral very loosely here).

As far as offering models for art instructors to emulate, I can point to philosophy and architecture. In the critiques/discussions in those fields that I've encountered, I found them to be fruitful and stimulating. They have an advantage though, in that they have not inherited the expressive legacy of art-making.

Of course, maybe, as Ostrow suggests in his conference proposal, the era of critique is over…

2006 LeisureArts Art Collective Championship


And thanks to all participating collectives and fans.

Leisure - Geoffrey Godbey - Theory

A useful introducion to the LeisureArts way of life. A sampling of chapters and chapter sections:

What is Leisure?
Leisure Defined as Time
Leisure Defined as Activity
Leisure Defined as State of Existence or Mind
Problems With Conventional Ideas About Leisure
Leisure as Free Time
Leisure as State of Mind
Leisure as State of Being
Leisure as Activities








The future of leisure, is, of course - LeisureArts.

16 Beaver vs. Oda Projesi

If you love watching sweat dry, C-SPAN and the 12-disc DVD series on the history of Baroque Period painting, you'll love watching a replay of [16 Beaver] squeezing the Final Four life out of [Oda Projesi].

[16 Beaver] doesn't simply play defense, they roll you in bubble wrap, apply duct tape and send you home in an overnight package. It's about as sexy as Billy Packer in a Speedo, but it works. Gawd, does it work.

Remember that scene in "Titanic," when what's-her-face lets go of Leonardo DiCaprio and he slips into the darkness of the icy sea? That was [Oda Projesi]. And [16 Beaver] were the ones who tied cement Nikes to [Oda Projesi]'s ankles.

In the end, [16 Beaver]'s defense was the difference. It always is with [16 Beaver].

Now back to our regularly scheduled C-SPAN programming.

See bracket
below to see the road to the championship game.

MTAA vs. Instant Coffee

[MTAA] finally started acting its size. America's favorite underdog looked more like the mid-major it is instead of the spunky team that crashed the Final Four in a 73-58 loss to [Instant Coffee] on Saturday night.

[MTAA] missed dozens of easy shots inside, were dismal from 3-point range, and had none of the swagger and spunk that carried them through the first two weeks of the LeisureArts Tournament. A [duo] from [New York], [MTAA] had never even won an Art Collective Tournament game before this year. No way it could hold its own against the likes of [Rum46], [Mess Hall], and [Temporary Services]. But that's exactly what [MTAA] did -- and more. They knocked off all three powerhouses to become the first [duo] to reach the Final Four since 1979. They also were the lowest seed to reach the Final Four since 1986.

When the final buzzer sounded, the dejected-looking [MTAA] trotted off the floor, their magical ride at an ugly end.

See bracket
below to see the road to the championship game.