I’m so happy
Ordering a pizza to a person you follow on tumblr in exchange for art.
I’m so happy
Ordering a pizza to a person you follow on tumblr in exchange for art.
Anonymous asked: Just wanted to thank you again for answering my questions about the BA interview, they were really helpful and I got an offer
Well done! How did the day go for you? I was going to help out but I had an essay deadline that was too close.
Due to the my own college project becoming very much rooted in the role of the archive within the world of photography, I’ve become dependent on the collection as a format for keeping my interest in a project. Experiences that I’ve had where something unfolds over time, how rewarding that can be, is why I find the archive system as possibly the most fulfilling of any form.
But this focus on the body and the role of the series has devalued a lot of contemporary work for me. The onus is no longer on developing a project over time. Instead, we are implored through social media to share everything as it happens, including artistic works. Few use this system effectively. It’s possible to show a project being constructed over time but that option is rarely activated. The current trend in photography is to create the single image, and rely on the instant gratification that comes from attention online to keep an artist making work.
As such, the role of project based art photography has achieved minority status. Not including posthumous collections of miscellaneous snapshots and simple genre-categorisation, the artist has simply lost it’s value of building a thematic or issue based body of work.
So what role does the archive have now? Surprisingly, though not generally undertaken by artist themselves, they have found a new home in the pastime of the daily blogger. With the decrease in popularity in making a series of work, the archive has flourished in the form of secondary curation. The Tumblr format of blogging has given everyone the opportunity to be the tastemaker. Somewhat disregarding the external status of accomplished collectors, curators and archivists, the blogging system has built it’s own hierarchy of respect in the form of ‘internet celebrities’ and art critics. The user controls the archive, the user defines the structure and the user can build anyone up to be influential and seemingly important.
The single image has popularised this form of instant curatorial strategy, as the user poses the question ‘Will this look good on my blog?’ and within an instant can acquire the image for their own personal web gallery. Meaning and issues arising from projects are condensed and become easily digestible for the single image. More importantly, they become adaptable depending on the context of the webspace. The respect gained from being featured on certain places, such as Winslow Laroche’s Je Suis Perdu or Canadian trend-setters Blood of the Young, can be transferred into other areas such as personal website hits, professional opportunities and inclusion in physical exhibitions worldwide.
What has occurred is simply a foreshortening of the photographic process and a broadening of it’s inherent inclusion barriers. The ability to craft effective single images is the number one lesson to learn for contemporary artists. The disposability of the image is a major flaw that is worked around through consistent updates and a dependency on the nature of ‘reblogging’. The series has lost it’s place at the forefront of the medium and it terrifies me to no end.
Personally, I find it difficult to judge an artist on the single image. It says nothing of their work ethic, their intentions, their direction or identity. It’s possible to view the entirety of single image artists as one stream of work. The individuality that comes from project based work is irreplaceable but the value of a work and the efficiency of it are two different things. Right now, we’re figuring out the preference of the everyday user.
‘The series has lost it’s place at the forefront of the medium and it terrifies me to no end’
A very apposite take by Alex Sinclair on the situation of contemporary internet-based photography / exhibition. Particularly the observation ‘the ability to craft effective single images is the number one lesson to learn for contemporary artists’. Though I have to say that far from being ‘terrified’ by the diminished authority of the archive or series, I feel liberated.
Anyone who’s talked to me irl will know I fully subscribe to the post-structuralist views of people like Roland Barthes; that the meaning of an artwork is made by the viewer and the context of reception, not by the context of its production. The transference of significance from artist to viewer isn’t a new concept or method, nor is it avoidable. It’s simply been intensified and recognised thanks to the endless and inherent capacity of the Internet to reproduce and decontextualise imagery.
To submit a photograph to part of a series is to limit the possible meaning of that image. To allow the photograph to be removed from the series (deterritorialised through reblogging, and so on) and recombined in other series is a liberatory act, a freeing of personal expression. Clearly, the deterritorialisation of meaning makes judging the work ethic, intentions, and identity of the photographer harder, but this is my point; the biographical details of the artist are not necessary to understanding the significance of the image, as the meaning derives from the viewers own experience - they cannot be told by the artist or the critic how they ought to feel.
By removing a photograph from a series we do lose the temporal development. But the significance of temporal development can be discounted as the site of meaning is moved from production to reception. The only way to approach this is rhizomatically; instead of asking ‘is it art’ by tracing the creators’ development of the work, we ought to ask ‘what is this art for’ by looking at the relationship between works - how the photographs are used by viewers in their role as ‘personal curators’ / ‘tastemakers’ / and so on.
It’s by asking ‘what is art for’ that we can end the solipsism of much contemporary art, and begin applying a critical eye to the wider world. In short, the role of the critic as tracer of biography and development needs to be rethought.
The artists Peachy ‘n’ Keen are currently posting are fantastic, it’s early days but I’d genuinely love to see an IRL exhibition of their work.
If you’re a photographer, or a girl, then it’s probably worth following this promising collective.
Anonymous asked: Thank you very much for answering, those links were really helpful to read and they've made me feel more confident as I haven't studied the subject before. I'm not particularly nervous for the interview but I'm not expecting a place either. How much did they ask about your personal statement?
No problem at all, I’m glad to have helped.
I’m a cynical person, but I think expecting a definite outcome is never a good thing to do.
They asked relatively little about my personal statement, but they clearly match your interviewers to what you said; because I wrote about my interest in modernism I was given two lecturers who specialise in early 20th Century art. Other people who wrote about their interest in the renaissance were assigned to renaissance tutors etc.
If you see me about during the day then do say hi.
Anonymous asked: Hi! I really would like to apply for the courtauld ba in art history (even if I'm terrified just by thinking about it) do you know if it is too late as supposedly the dead line was in January... And I'm Italian and live in Italy, do they accept a lot of foreign students? Thanks! :)
Unfortunately the deadline has already passed for courses starting in 2013. And yeah, there are loads of foreign students here, so you won’t be alone.
Anonymous asked: Hi, I really enjoy reading your blog and I have an interview for the Courtauld BA course coming up and I was just wondering if you could give any tips or give a brief overview of what they asked you? Many thanks
I can’t remember exactly what I was asked. But basically it’s not a test of knowledge, but rather for them to see whether you’re genuinely interested in the course. The last thing they want is for someone to quit after a week or two.
How are you feeling about the interview? Have you studied Art History before?
Ai Weiwei’s documentary ‘One Recluse’ (2010). This dvd was given by Ai Weiwei to my dissertation tutor, who lent it to me.
The film covers the incidents surrounding the trial of Yang Jia, a man who killed six police officers after abuse following an arrest.
I’m watching it as it’s tangentially related to my dissertation, and I just enjoy documentaries anyway.
Formally the film is very simple, shot on a single camera with no external microphone, intertitles occasionally display excerpts of Ai’s blog posts on the incidents, and there is no narration. I often prefer this style though, it’s highly reminiscent of some of the great short films featured on Current TV.
Jurassic Park was the most technologically advanced theme park on the planet. Dinosaur DNA was extracted from the blood in preserved mosquitoes stomachs, reconstructed from fragments via synthesis with the DNA of genetically similar frogs, and artificial insemination allowed the cloning of cryogenically frozen embryos. It was the Post-Fordist theme park par example.
The aim of the park, in John Hammond’s words, ‘was not built to cater only to the super rich. Everyone in the world’s got a right to enjoy these animals’. This makes a number of ideologically steeped assumptions: a future of adequate holiday time, of cheap flights, of jobs that remunerate well. The park was then operating at high cost but the reduction of costs was a key aim of Hammond, a process achievable only by reducing the cost of labour in the park.
Throughout the film the absence of workers is palpable. Of course, the park isn’t fully completed, however bar a few characters — the vet, the civil engineer, the head warden — there is no one. The tour cars are self driving, the narration is automated, the dinosaur egg incubators are highly advanced — the robotic arm is able to carefully take an egg out of Malcolm Grant’s hand — the geneticists, relatively few, use virtual simulations and computers (their work of course is one of low returns). The central control room allows a single terminal commands all aspects of the park with a slick GUI.
In such a technological environment, high Organic Composition of Capital is expected. In Jurassic Park, no doubt as part of John Hammond’s cost reduction, this is taken to the extreme. The entire IT system of Jurassic Park (including security, network management, and presumably robotics repair) is controlled by one man: The unappreciated, overworked, underpaid, immaterial worker, Dennis Nedry.
In a complaint to his boss, Hammond, Nedry points out that he is tasked with structuring the entire island’s network, as well as other IT projects, such as single handedly debugging 2 million lines of code.
‘I am totally unappreciated in my time. We can run the whole park from this room, with minimal staff, for up to three days. You think that kind of automation is easy? Or cheap?’
Conditions of precarcity and Post-Fordist employment are visible in the shots that establish Nedry’s character. The very fact these shots focus on his workplace is important. His leisure time and work time condensed to a desk of cheap fast food - unable to dine on the fine cuisine enjoyed earlier by Hammond and the others. His cluttered desk is an example of a slow and lazy worker, not a man who is over-tasked and constantly being moved from project to project by his demanding superior. Later on, his good-practice of securing and encrypting his computer is held out as an example of sabotage - the other workers becoming enraged when they are unable to access his system (they forgot to say the magic word). These shots establish Nedry as the lazy, unhealthy, egotistical nerd (immaterial worker).
Like so many immaterial workers, Nedry is fully aware of his exploited position, though clearly without union representation. His main gripe is with his poor pay, seemingly the conditions of his work will be accepted as long as he is adequately remunerated. Hammond unwilling, Nedry uses his position and the materials and knowledge available to him to earn extra money through industrial espionage. This process further entails an instance of industrial sabotage, as he codes a ‘bug’ to disable the park security. Though we cannot simply assume that this was merely a utilitarian act. There must be an emotive element to his actions, a big ‘fuck you and fuck your shitty accent’.
But why is Nedry the villain? The standard answer is that his disabling of the network is what leads to the eventual escape of the dinosaurs, multiple deaths, and the downfall of the world’s greatest scientific / entertainment. The critical answer lies under the ideological facade of the film.
We could start with pointing out that the dinosaurs being let loose is nothing to do with Nedry’s sabotage, but architectural faults of the park. That the dinosaurs killing people is simply the result of their nature, combined with rational human panic. That the presence of dinosaurs in the first place is hardly his fault, but the fault of the Dr Frankenstein John Hammond meddling with science he doesn’t fully understand.
Nedry is set up by the movie as a ‘bad guy’ — or at the very least, a clown who the blame can be pinned on — long before the dinosaur incidents; when he meets with the shady Mr Dodgson of rival genetics company Biosyn. He is the villain because he violates the sanctity of intellectual and material property — the only inalienable right of capital.
His position as the exploited worker is subsumed by the film, which places the right of John Hammond’s ownership of DNA above that of the right to life a fulfilled life, to be paid, and to relax. It is assumed that without his industrial sabotage, no incidents would have happened. It absolves Hammond of blame. This is not a story of science gone wrong, but rather, a worker who disrupts the operation of the firm - of the flow of capital itself.
The ideology of the film places the blame for the industrial disaster that is ‘Jurassic Park’ on the precarious immaterial worker (often one and the same). They are exploited, the high use-value/low-exchange value of their labour is obscured as use-value is alienated, and exchange value assumes the place of value itself. This enables their greater exploitation as they are pressed to work longer, on more projects, for less pay, in order to chase the immaterial dragon of productivity. Their mental condition will be broken, their leisure and reproduction-of-labour time dissolved into the puddles of work.
They find that attempts to better their position necessarily entail disrupting the flow of capital. Further, that these attempts will be severely punished; if not found out by authorities, then by fate itself. Human justice is never enacted on Nedry, so it is only fit that he is killed in the most gruesome way. Not simply eaten, but poisoned and blinded before being devoured.
This is prescient for our position today. Many comrogues reading this know Nedry’s condition all too well. In those moments of employment, you lack adequate remuneration, are overworked & unappreciated, your lunch is at your desk, your work is on your phone. Jurassic Park is an ideological fable of the consequences of the refusal-of-work, demand for remuneration, and of industrial sabotage.
Related issues such as work-as-entertainement, and patents & licensing have been discussed in depth in “Jurassic Post-Fordism: Tall Tales of Economics in the Theme Park,” Screen 41:2 (Summer 2000), 139-60.
A brief feedback »
Last Thursday saw our inaugural ‘What Digital Future(s)?’ Symposium at the Firestation Centre for Arts and Culture. The day saw contributions from ‘Capitalist Realism’ author Marc Fisher, Aaron Peters of Novara Media, Malcolm Napier of TVRRUG, Federico Campagna of the Through Europe Collective, The Wine & Cheese Appreciation Society (of Greater London) and director and senior lecturer at RHUL, Victoria Mapplebeck.
The event was attended by 35 people during the day (not bad for a working day in Windsor) and watched by 76 folks via Ustream. The level of debate was high and the conversation hopefully useful.
After a conversation with Marc Fisher, the Firestation now intend to keep the conversation going. Our plan is to organise a series of Symposia/dayschools under the ‘What Digital Future(s)?’ moniker.
These will be thematically tighter than our first event- focusing in on one aspect or implication of Digital Technology at a time, rather than attempting to be all encompassing.
So hopefully that will translate into one day dedicated to ‘the implications for politics in the age of digital networks’, one day on ‘the psychological implications of an online life’, one day on ‘recent technological innovations’, one day on ‘security culture’, one day on ‘work in the digital age’, one day on ‘the future of privacy’ etc.
These days will see fewer speakers than before (a maximum of 3 to 4 per day) in the hope that the debate and discussions after each presentation will be fuller and more nuanced for the allocation of more time.
We are also proposing to publish our contributors talks as short ebook essays that will be available to download - Our idea is to collate and expand this content into a physical volume at the end of the year.
Details of our next event will be posted here in the coming weeks, alongside some video/audio content from our initial effort.
Once again we would like to thank all those who participated in the discussion (in IRL and online) and look forward to taking this forward together.
I went to this event a while ago, but haven’t found the time since to write up on it. I’ll definitely be following the project, and getting further invovled where possible.
it looks like I better rewrite my thesis,
because no matter how many times I see you
your aura is not diminished.
Happy Valentines Day.
even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element:
Happy Valentines Day.
Kicking Snow, 2013
Kennington Park Snowmen, 2013
Night time walk, 2013