Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Just Thinkin'

Like all the rest of the 241 people signed up to attend the Fourth Annual Encaustic Conference at Montserrat College of Art, I am getting ready to immerse myself in all things encaustic. Part of that readiness for me is preparing my talk about art blogging - The Why, How and Who of Art Blogging. So I'm thinking even more than usual about blogging.

I am preparing my talk not in Power Point (dumb-dumb bullets) but in the form of a blog. So after my presentation on June 16th, I'll link to that blog on this one and you can see the results of my extraordinary concentration.

Meanwhile, I'm thinkin' about:

Finding me a patron like Christian Boltanski did. You've probably read about his show "No Man's Land", which is not a feminist separatist colony, but an exhibition at the Park Avenue Armory consisting of a huge mound of recycled clothing and a 5-story crane that continually picks up and deposits bites of clothes from the piles. A soundtrack of a human heartbeat accompanies the action. Boltanski means the work to refer to the futility of trying to hold onto anything in life and the impossibility of ascertaining the meaning of life itself.

I'm sure the piece is impressive because of its enormous scale and the repetitive motion and sound, but what most interested me in the review was the paragraph on page 2 that described the deal Boltanski has with an art collector and professional gambler named David Walsh. This uber-patron has agreed to pay Boltanski $2500 per month FOR LIFE to permit a video camera in his studio to document his "working life." Truly Art in the Studio, the video footage will eventually be transmitted 24/7 from a museum in Tasmania that Walsh plans to open in 2011. The gamble for Walsh is that Boltanski will die soon and reduce the price of the artwork, whereas Boltanski is banking on his life continuing. “Of course,” Mr. Walsh added, referring to the value of the work, “It would be absolutely great if he died in his studio. But I don’t think it’s ethical to organize it.” (quote from the linked NYT review). Such a deal!

Hoping my brain's not turning to mush the more I surf:
From the C-Monster blog, a report from Wired magazine by Nicholas Carr headed "The Web Shatters Focus, Rewires Brains" about how online reading and hypertext linking are affecting the human brain. It seems that online reading makes us read faster, more shallowly and with less retention than reading a text. Is it because we are distracted by the embedded hyperlinks or because we're thinking about the next blog or website we're going to visit or is the boss looking over our shoulder? This is a pretty interesting article that also talks about so-called "working memory" versus long-term memory.

My cognitive load is shattering

Working memory (also referred to as "cognitive load") is used as a scratch pad for holding onto information until it can be stored more permanently. But, like a computer's temporary storage for copied and pasted material (whose name I can't recall due to a flaw in my long-term memory), items in the working memory only stay there until they are transferred or replaced by something new. When we are distracted, the working memory is unable to retain the information and transfer it into permanent storage where we can draw on it for use in deep thoughts of a complex nature. (Something beyond what the Kardashians are up to this week.)

So when we skip around through all those links or multi-task, we are dropping our cognitive load - sort of like Boltanski's piles of clothes. No wonder I feel like my brain is a sieve sometimes; it is!

Having my brain turned to mush by trying to decipher artspeak:
From Sharon Butler's Two Coats of Paint blog (see how many blogs I'm reading!), an item about Gerhard Richter being pissed off about being by-passed for the 2011 Venice Biennale in favor of a performance artist named Christoph Schlingensief. Curator Suzanne Gaensheimer says that she chose Schlingensief (now there's a mouthful of names) because he "challenges both the content and the form of decidedness while transgressing borders." Excuse me, but WTF is that supposed to mean? Why it means, "I view his work as a contribution to discussions about the deterritorialization of the arts and to questions regarding the social relevance of art," she says. So is all art going to be on Facebook?, I ask. Are we going to deterritorialize and social network it into nothingness?, I ask.

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (Abstract Painting)," 2009, oil on canvas, 84cm x 84cm

I know, I know, I'm a dinosaur who thinks painting and sculpture are far more important than (at least most) performance and video. That stuff is all so impermanent and fleeting - far too internettish and not a permanent load for my cognizance the way a Richter is.

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (Abstract Painting), 1994


Leslie Avon Miller said...

I love reading your blog Nancy. You make me think!

Anonymous said...

You made me LOL on the commuter trai! I totally agree about Richter... thanks

Nancy Natale said...

Hi Leslie - That's the point, isn't it?

I'm glad you had a moment, Lynette. I hope the other people on the train didn't move to the other end of the car!

Matthew G Beall said...

Hardly a dinosaur!