Making with an Eye to Viewing

Yesterday, I spent the morning working with Larain (my Aletheia Art Collective colleague) on the triptych of willow branches on ash ply panels, which I think look great. I was particularly pleased with the panels Larain had prepped and the cuts I made to the branches that were neatly in line with the edges of the panels: –

Larain’s Studio work bench showing the 3x panels with the fixed branch sections

Larain has since photographed the panels individually from which she will paint them. We agreed that she would crop the images so that the overhanging twigs aren’t shown in the paintings, making them more uniform. 

Today we discussed the theory and I continued to research Mick Moon’s body of work alongside Joseph Kosuth’s.

While driving home from Larain’s I was thinking about the theory of the exhibition and the visual references. We’d previously mentioned Joseph Kosuth One and Three Chairs (1965) and I wanted to research this further to ensure a full appreciation of the work to support our exhibition’s theory. I’d assumed it was based in semiotics, and the work of the Structuralists but I wanted to confirm this.

The first google search came up with this, which I thought was perfect: – 

© ARS, NY and DACS, London 2020
Mention CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 (Unported)
Clock (One and Five), English/Latin Version (1965) Joseph Kosuth http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/T01909

It also supported Larain’s idea of printing out the text and pinning it to the wall. In addition this work acknowledges more than one reading of a thing… 

Possible words to define:-

  • Concept = “Aletheia” the revealing of something present-at-hand when a faulty condition arises
  • Effect = “cracks”
  • Casual Function = “Transpiration Steam”
  • Thing = “Willow tree” or Larain’s preferred “Salix Tortuosa” [Latin]

During my research I found a new definition of Aletheia – Thummim from the Hebrew – truth, and later brought in to catholicism also meaning truth. Many scholars now believe that came from Urim and Thummim, Urim (אוּרִים‎) simply derived from the Hebrew term אּרּרִים‎ (Arrim), meaning “curses”, and thus that Urim and Thummim essentially meaning “cursed or faultless”, in reference to the deity’s judgment of an accused person; in other words, Urim and Thummim were used to answer the question “guilty or innocent”. Which could explain the use of my kinetic sculpture Unequivocating (2019) in our exhibition e.g. Judgement!

A YouTube video of me interacting with the sculpture.

Mike, Larain’s husband speaks Hebrew, so he’s going to investigate this further for us.

Beyond the semiotics of Kosuth I also found this: –

The viewer’s role

“When we look at One and Three Chairs, we are not drawn to admire its beauty, nor are we presented with a relatable story or a figure to be admired. Rather, we are invited to consider the concept of what a “chair” is, as well as the nature of visual and linguistic representation itself—fundamental questions that Plato asked more than two thousand years ago. And like the ancient Greek philosopher, Kosuth focuses on the idea of a “chair,” rather than simply its physical representation. But he also reveals the importance of the viewer’s role in the function of conceptual artwork. It is not until we approach pieces such as One and Three Chairs and begin to engage with them intellectually that the actual “artworks”—the concepts—emerge. In this sense, conceptual art can only exist in tandem with its audience, and is created anew each time we view it. This emphasis on the participation of the viewer was also important for the related movements of performance and participatory art, which gained momentum as well beginning in the 1960s.

One and Three Chairs stripped art of its outer casing and celebrated, instead, the importance of the conceptual for both the artist and the viewer. Importantly, it also stripped the artist of his or her role as a romantic and existential agent of personal expression (an aspect of art that was increasingly important from the nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century). The conceptual artist appears, instead, as a philosopher questioning the nature of reality and the social world in which art and audience reside.”

Folland, T (n.d.) “Joseph Kosuth, One and Three Chairs” on Khan Academy.
Available at: https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-1010/conceptual-and-performance-art/conceptual-performance/a/joseph-kosuth-one-and-three-chairs

This article introduces the idea that the artwork demands work of the gallery goer, who will need to participate with the work in order to gain anything from. Although, to some degree, art stopped being purely passive a long time since. However, this concept leads on to the invisible ink panels work (see Instagram feed #jlsignpost). It also relates to their interaction, whether voluntary or not, with the scales.

Further it develops the idea of the self-referential.

And then there’s the tautology…

I’m now trying to source copies of Kosuth’s articles “Art after philosophy” parts one and two, that were published in Studio International (1969), which seem to be extremely pertinent. The UEL Library is requesting an inter-library digital loan from the British Library for me.

Today I spent tidying the garage to create a new space to work. I built a pair of new work benches out of some old pallets.


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