Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Relational Aesthetics and Other Expanded Feilds

The main points of the reading this week center on Bourriaud’s concept of relational aesthetics, post production and appropriation as a form of contemporary art making. Post production is an interesting way of describing this form of art making that is a direct result of appropriation. Artists aren’t working from raw materials but from cultural objects that are in circulation within the cultural market. The artist searches for their place amongst this onslaught of cultural objects and then must look for a new mode of production from it. In this case Bourriaud used the example of the internet, as being a tool for the artist to help sort through this chaos. Through appropriating, the artist doesn’t change the meaning of the original object but changes the objects relationship to culture and individuals. Instead of “What can we make that is new?” Bourriaud asks “how can we produce singularity and meaning from this chaotic mass of objects, names, and references that constitute daily life?” Bourriaud describes postproduction artists as semionauts who search out connections between things essentially different through signs to form new connections in our culture. The artwork isn’t the end result, it is the means to new opportunities.

This photograph from Hank Willis Thomas, Branded Head, portrays his seminautic practice combined with what the Situationist International calls detournament. He not only appropriates the Nike logo but misappropriates it to show a connection between past race relations and current black culture sutured by advertising modes of contemporary society. So convincing to the point that some viewers actually think Nike is sponsoring the event the artwork is shown. Art can sometimes leave the realm of representation and become part of reality itself. Thomas is working in the instance of post production, using culture as a toolbox to form new relationships between logo, capitalism, race relations, history, and culture. Postproduction artists try to navigate through the cultural chaos and create work that fits into this new expanded field, all the while “highlighting those aspects of our environment that still bear imprint on yesterdays order.”

Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel is referred to as a readymade object as opposed to an appropriated one. He puts the readymade in the same category as the object of paint on the canvas. Much like how a painter chooses paint to create art, Duchamp chose an object to react against art. But it’s still said that choosing the readymade is not appropriation because he is giving it new meaning by removing it from its place of origin. Indifference is key with the readymade because you must not desire to own it. You can’t feel indifferent toward an appropriated object. When the readymade is displaced is when it achieves its power. It becomes an object of concept and thought when taken out of its original environment and placed in the museum. I’ve been trying to put specific guidelines on the readymade and appropriation, and once I had it figured out Beuys comes in with his analysis and states that Duchamp’s Bicycle Wheel is nothing but appropriation. His comparison of appropriation to the Purloined Letter could mean a few different things so this is where my confusion begins. Is the readymade now an appropriation because it is an object of value now? Or is it because Duchamp is commenting on the relationship between object (art), institution (museum), and person (viewer)? I’m going to need some explanation on this.