Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Theories of Originality

Jean Baudrillard. “The Hyper-Realism of Simulation”

Rosalind Krauss, “The Originality of the Avant-Garde”

Artists of the avant-garde seem to strip their practice down to a core of originality. This core is composed of a grid, which appears to be the most basic non-referential starting point for a piece of art. A grid is a concept that is derived from originality emerging from repetition and recurrence. The creation of an avant-garde work of art is a starting point that can be considered a birth of a new form that is void of reference. The artist can’t refer to a reality while working in a format that is in refusal to speech and narrative. The art itself is contained in a series of closed boxes that barricades itself from the outside world, which becomes freeing for the artist. The freedom is a result of the grids so-called aesthetic purity. If a grid has no referent, then logically it is purely original. I noticed a parallel in Baudrillard’s essay when he compares the real to hyperrealism. Baudrillard defines the real as that for which it is to provide an equivalent representation. So, if hyperrealism is beyond representation because it is a simulation, and simulation has no secure reference to reality, does that mean that hyperrealism is purely original? Maybe my logic on this matter is a bit too literal, but Baudrillard finishes the paragraph by writing “hyperrealism is an integral part of a coded reality, which it perpetuates without modifying”. That sounds similar to the Krauss’ explanation of the grid in which artists “from the time they submit themselves to this structure their work virtually ceases to develop and becomes involved, instead, in repetition.”

The grid does however represent the canvas surface by being a mapped out infrastructure that, through its network of coordinates, becomes a metaphor for the geometry of the field. Krauss mentions some “texts” that are represented by the grid on the canvas. The representational texts would be of the type that configure a spatial perspective in three-dimensional models or a type that grids out a two dimensional picture for duplication. Since the grid represents a canvas surface and refers to these modes of image making how original is the grid actually. The grid is being reduplicated which in turn keeps signifying itself. So the artist that works in a grid, much like Rodin and his sculptures, is working in a “system of reproduction without an original.”

Using Baudrillards logic in relation to the grid could you say that the grid while trying to escape the crisis of representation it loops itself in pure repetition. A repetition found in pop art and neorealism that tries to exterminate “all subjectivity and psychology in order to render a pristine objectivity.” I can’t help but to compare this to the neorealist filmmaker Roberto Rosselini. The Italian neorealist filmmakers wanted to get away from the style of filmmaking prior to that of WWII, which were referred to as the “white telephone films” (nobody in Italy had white telephones, only the rich people in Hollywood), and show a realistic version of what was actually going on in Italy. These directors wanted to produce a “meticulous reality” as Baudrillard stated. A description of the world they actually lived in. This clip shows a shell shocked village in Italy and the interaction between a drunk hopeless American soldier and a young boy. The young boy hardened by the war is going to steal from the soldier in his drunken state.

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