Archive for the 'quotes and text extracts' Category


dOCUMENTA (13) :: a wall text



“dOCUMENTA (13) is dedicated to artistic research and forms of imagination that explore commitment, matter, things, embodiment, and active living in connection with, yet not subordinated to, theory. These are terrains where politics are inseparable from a sensual, energetic, and worldly alliance between current research in various scientific and artistic fields and other knowledges, both ancient and contemporary. dOCUMENTA (13) is driven by a holistic and non-logocentric vision that is skeptical of the persisting belief in economic growth. This vision is shared with, and recognizes, the shapes and practices of knowing of all the animate and inanimate makers of the world, including people.” C.Christov-Bakargiev



aaron schuman and charlotte cotton :: what’s next? : on future of photography

Aaron Schuman: One thing that I find fascinating about what’s happening right now – and I suspect that this will gain importance in the future – is that rather than photography represents the capture in culmination of something, it’s becoming a form of investigation. For me, the most interesting works coming out right now even if they’ve been formalized in the form of a book, an exhibition, a print or a website – represent the beginnings of something. They’re not simply an end result, or the remnants of somethings that has past and been preserved in silver gelatin, emulsion or ink; they’re starts, sparks or seeds from which many other things might grow.

Charlotte Cotton: Perhaps that’s something that could be credited to this digital phase in our culture – not just in terms of the web, open-sourcing, or crowd-sourcing, which all present dynamics that offer participation – but even on a rudimentary level. For photographers no longer have to self-censor or edit themselves because of analogue limitations, such as the number of frames on a roll of film or the cost of a sheet of film. The endlessness of digital capture is actually loosening photography up and allowing it to be lots of different things, rather than simply a culmination or condensation of something.

Aaron Schuman: Absolutely. The technology has shifted, but also the way in which people encounter and engage with photography has shifted. Rather than there being a limited supply of information and images, there’s this overwhelming torrent that we all have to sift through on a daily basis and the process of editing itself is becoming internalized by everyone. Just within the last years, there have been so many incredibly complex and original photographic projects and books, rather than simply more typologies and traditional narratives. Photographers are cobbling together loads of information in really intricate and often open-ended, non-linear and puzzling ways, but they’re not solving these puzzles for the reader or viewer; they’re entrusting their audience with that power. I was so excited, and surprised, by the recent success of a number of these very challenging projects. The fact that these kinds of works are being embraced indicates that there is a burgeoning audience for these sorts of photo-involving puzzles, which I find incredibly encouraging.

Charlotte Cotton: I think that we are finally getting over the notion that photography is democratic.

Aaron Schuman: Could you explain why do you think that photography is democratic?

Charlotte Cotton: One way that you could define photography in terms of democracy is that anyone can make a picture; billions are made every year, so it’s clearly very easy and I’m happy to admit that photography is very democratic in terms of its rendering. But as a meaningful cultural force it should not be described as being democratic, because culture is a process of defining what’s good – what’s resonant – and that’s not determined by a democratic or even an empirical system. So I’m not happy with the idea that, just because it’s easy to render a photographic image, anyone can make a great, culturally resonant photograph. These processes are not democratic; at some point there is an elitism involved and I think that such elitism is only a problem if you think in terms of its high-art version, in which there are millions of reasons why you might not be allowed entry into that world. But a group of people who all really get the same thing whether it’s photography form of collective culture – if that’s elitist, it’s in an entirely different league. It’s about self-elected elitism rather than the elitism of an establishment. ( … )

Edit from Aaron Schuman and Charlotte Cotton’s dialogue which is published in WHAT’S NEXT? publication from FOAM (Fotomuseum Amsterdam) as part of their recent project that critically examines possible future in the field of photography. More info on WHAT’S NEXT forum.

Related post: Joan Fontcuberta’s essay for ‘What’s next?’ forum


Dieter Roelstraete :: What you see is what you get

The creation narrative of photography – and, consequently, both its mission statement and its meaning – is a matter of pure and simple etymology. “Photo-graphein” equals “writing with light” – or: writing at the speed of light, as the artistic ideology of the snapshot/the singular moment, courtesy of Henri Cartier-Bresson and the like, would have it. The speed of a single defining and by definition creative glance – one brief and utterly powerful barrage of photons: the camera flash. Photography as the quintessential art of the instant, this instant here and now, one moment in time – the proverbial twinkling of the eye. If ever an art form has been immersed in the conceptual apparatus of the temporal, it surely has to be the art of photography: writing with light and writing in time, the art of photography presents itself as the one art form fully – and desperately – aware of its fleeting temporality, its unalterable transience, its total and utter impotence versus all attempts, so achingly typical of so many other art forms (the more traditional media of painting and sculpture in particular seem to ground their essence-as-existence in an ambitious claim to permanence), to record a certain state of wilful eternity. Short-lived but real. The art of photography may well pride itself on being the most sincere of all art forms exactly because of its fateful modesty: unable to grasp more than this one futile moment in time, the photograph finds itself “closer” to the experiential nature of reality than any other art form known to man.

Recording no more than this one futile moment in time – and supposedly doing so in the interest of posterity. This one futile moment in time, recorded for us to return to time and time again: a remembrance and souvenir of things and times past, but also a slice of things and times past made present every time we take another look at it. A gateway to a moment long gone but far from closed down/off, the photograph offers us a possibility of endlessly revisiting the spiral of time, discovering “new” things, things unseen, unsuspected or simply forgotten, every time we lay eyes upon its image. Think of a photograph as a means of circumnavigating the trappings of superficial first impressions: we can always go back to what we saw or, better still, didn’t see.

Through the lens of the camera, we get a chance to actually peer through the treacherous simplicity and seeming transparency of representation: taking recourse to the univocal evidence of the snapshot, we can actually try and learn to cure ourselves from the deeply ingrained visual addiction to “love at first sight” and “taking things at face value”. Photography equals the chance of a second glance: deeper, more closely focused, longer, in the relative seclusion of a brief moment out of time, as we take one step back into time. Photography is out there to explore – lighten up – the dark side of sight – all the things we thought didn’t matter, or simply forgot to look at in our habitual hurry to consider the world a fully known and explored place. Stepping back into the momentary space of the photograph, we can actually revive the one moment we thought we’d seen it all – only to find ourselves deceived by the so-called “naturalness” of the glimpse: so many things we always thought “to be” now resurface “to seem”.


Joan Fontcuberta :: what’s next : on future of photography

“What is commonly understood as art has become a mere genre of culture, a genre aimed at the production of artistic merchandise and ruled by the laws of the marketplace and entertainment industry. It is a genre in the way that any other cultural form such as design, fashion, film or advertising might be.

There is another art which does not draw the spotlight or walk the red carpet, but which, from the most clandestine dissidence, proposes to fight the laws of the marketplace and the entertainment industry at precisely the same time as it reinvents itself as art. It’s an art which rejects the splendor of the museums and biennials and any other efforts at subjugation.

We live in a world saturated with images: we live in the image and the image lives in us and makes us live. Since McLuhan in the 1960s, the preponderant role of the mass media has been confirmed and the iconosphere can be considered the model of the global village. What changes has brought now is not the immersion in new communication frameworks (digital formats, internet, social networks), but the degree to which this extraordinary flow of images is found accessible to everyone.

We are therefore passing through an age of access. It is an era that crowns a process of secularization of the visual experience: the image ceases to be the domain of magicians, artists, specialists and professionals. We all produce images as a natural way of interacting with others. On the other hand, the consolidation of new work and behavioral habits (such as cloud computing) will catalyze many more dynamic cultural stages on a large scale (cloud imagining, cloud living).

This situation implies substantial changes for photography and the image in general that in the near and medium term will only increase. This will be its decalogue:

1 – ON THE ROLE OF THE ARTIST: no longer a case of producing works, but of prescribing meanings
2 – ON THE ARTIST’S BEHAVIOR: the artist merges with the curator, with the collector, with the teacher, with the art historian, with the theorist … (all facets of art have become chameleon like and authorial)
3 – ON THE ARTIST’S RESPONSIBILITY: an ecology of the visual, which will penalize saturation and encourage recycling
4 – ON THE FUNCTION OF IMAGES: the circulation and management of the image will prevail over the content of the image
5 – ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF ART: discourses of originality will be delegitimized and appropriationist practices will be normalized
6 – ON THE DIALECTIC OF THE SUBJECT: we will find greater camouflage of the author and reformulation of the models of authorship (co-authorship, collaborative creation, interactivity, strategic anonymities and orphan works)
7 – ON THE DIALECTIC OF THE SOCIAL: further advances in overcoming the tension between the private and the public
8 – ON ART’S HORIZON: more play will be given to the ludic aspects and less to the solemn and the boring
9 – ON THE EXPERIENCE OF ART: creative practices which accustom us to dispossession will be privileged: it is better to share than to own
10 – ON THE POLITICS OF ART: not to surrendered to glamour and consumption but rather to embark on the act of agitating consciences

It is a matter of greeting a new visual culture able to prepare us for resistance, which trains us not just to live in the image, but to survive the image.” Joan Fontcuberta

Published in WHAT’S NEXT? printed publication 2/4 from FOAM (Fotomuseum Amsterdam) as part of their recent project that critically examines possible future in the field of photography. More info on WHAT’S NEXT forum.

“In fact the question is about far more than just the future of photography. It is about the future of a society directed by visual media, a society in which people primarily communicate with technological tools that are developed and made into consumer products with great speed, a society in which every layman can and will be a photographer, sharing his experiences with newly made online communities, a society in which the time and space have drastically changed. In short, What’s Next? is a debate about the future of a medium and of a society in transition.” (edit from FOAM website)

Click here to read Jim Casper’s article about Fontcuberta’s photographic work, where he also included an audio interview with the artist.


Marcel Duchamp :: THE CREATIVE ACT

THE CREATIVE ACT by Marcel Duchamp
Published in ‘Robert Lebel: Marcel Duchamp’, Paragraphic Books ( New York 1959) pp. 77/78

Let us consider two important factors, the two poles of the creation of art: the artist on the one hand, and on the other the spectator who later becomes the posterity.

To all appearances, the artist acts like a mediumistic being who, from the labyrinth beyond time and space, seeks his way out to a clearing. If we give the attributes of a medium to the artist, we must then deny him the state of consciousness on the esthetic plane about what he is doing or why he is doing it. All his decisions in the artistic execution of the work rest with pure intuition and cannot be translated into a self-analysis, spoken or written, or even thought out.

Millions of artists create; only a few thousands are discussed or accepted by the spectator and many less again are consecrated by posterity. The artist may shout from all the rooftops that he is a genius: he will have to wait for the verdict of the spectator in order that his declarations take a social value and that, finally, posterity includes him in the primers of Artist History.

I know that this statement will not meet with the approval of many artists who refuse this mediumistic role and insist on the validity of their awareness in the creative act – yet, art history has consistently decided upon the virtues of a work of art through considerations completely divorced from the rationalized explanations of the artist.

If the artist, as a human being, full of the best intentions toward himself and the whole world, plays no role at all in the judgment of his own work, how can one describe the phenomenon which prompts the spectator to react critically to the work of art? In other words, how does this reaction come about? This phenomenon is comparable to a transference from the artist to the spectator in the form of an esthetic osmosis taking place through the inert matter, such as pigment, piano or marble.

But before we go further, I want to clarify our understanding of the word ‘art’ – to be sure, without any attempt at a definition. What I have in mind is that art may be bad, good or indifferent, but, whatever adjective is used, we must call it art, and bad art is still art in the same way that a bad emotion is still an emotion. Therefore, when I refer to ‘art coefficient’, it will be understood that I refer not only to great art, but I am trying to describe the subjective mechanism which produces art in the raw state – à l’état brut – bad, good or indifferent.

In the creative act, the artist goes from intention to realization through a chain of totally subjective reactions. His struggle toward the realization is a series of efforts, pains, satisfaction, refusals, decisions, which also cannot and must not be fully self-conscious, at least on the esthetic plane. The result of this struggle is a difference between the intention and its realization, a difference which the artist is not aware of.

Consequently, in the chain of reactions accompanying the creative act, a link is missing. This gap, representing the inability of the artist to express fully his intention, this difference between what he intended to realize and did realize, is the personal ‘art coefficient’ contained in the work. In other words, the personal ‘art coefficient’ is like an arithmetical relation between the unexpressed but intended and the unintentionally expressed.

To avoid a misunderstanding, we must remember that this ‘art coefficient’ is a personal expression of art à l’état brut, that is, still in a raw state, which must be ‘refined’ as pure sugar from molasses by the spectator; the digit of this coefficient has no bearing whatsoever on his verdict. The creative act takes another aspect when the spectator experiences the phenomenon of transmutation: through the change from inert matter into a work of art, an actual transubtantiation has taken place, and the role of the spectator is to determine the weight of the work on the esthetic scale.

All in all, the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualification and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. This becomes even more obvious when posterity gives a final verdict and sometimes rehabilitates forgotten artists.

* * *

In 1949 Robert Lebel came up with the plan of devoting a book – both biography and catalogue – to Marcel Duchamp, a book that he would complete in 1958. It was followed by about twenty articles on Duchamp, Picabia and Duchamp, de Chirico and Duchamp, Breton and Duchamp, Man Ray and Duchamp, etc., but only some of these articles would be picked for inclusion in the completely redesigned edition of 1985.


paul auster :: white spaces (quote)

Something happens and from the moment it begins to happen, nothing can ever be the same again.

                                                    * * *                                           

Something begins and already it is no longer the beginning, but something else, propelling us into the heart of the thing that is happening. At each moment we are no longer where we were, but have left ourselves behind, irrevocably, in a past that has no memory, a past endlessly obliterated by a perpetual motion that carries us into the present. And whoever tries to find refuge in only one place, in only one moment, will never be where he thinks he is.


Zephyrwood :: blues for Jack Kerouac

“They danced down the streets like dingledodies and I shambled after as I’ve been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”. J.Kerouac On the road


brancolina :: unmeasurable distance

photography:©brancolina, all rights reserved

“Horizon is the perfect mix between reality and abstraction. It’s reality and abstraction at the same time. It’s three-dimensional and flat at the same time; it’s mathematical and romantic. It’s just what you make out of it. And it’s a very mysterious line, besides the fact that it’s actually a curve. It’s something you see and believe, but at the same time if you look at it, you really can’t believe that it’s there. So, you have no grip of it, you can’t catch it; the only way to catch is to photograph it, but the photo is unreal as anything else. It’s a make-believe reality, it’s the ideal form where you can have intuition and mathematics mixed together. That’s exactly the reason why it’s so attractive.” J. Dibbets

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