Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Thoughts on Andy Goldsworthy & Lucy R. Lippard

The Andy Goldsworthy documentary was a pleasantly surprisingly account of the trials, tribulations, successes, and failures that come with performing art solely in nature without a dime to spare (although, by this point, Andy must have tens of thousands of dimes to spare). It is the magic rarely seen on film, and a nature just as tiered as nature itself albeit simulated by the artist himself. It is the method in which he performs it which balances the tightrope between nature and simulation that makes it all the more interesting than either in its simultaneous rejection of conformity. 

Talk about throwing yourself in the action.

The work itself is brilliant, visually appealing, and with heart. Not without certain critiques on my end. First, I would say that its a regional advantage Mr. Goldsworthy has on the remainder of the world that he secludes himself from the urban sprawl. Perhaps that in itself is a strength of the film I am missing. Perhaps I, like millions, are a victim of the perpetuating parking-lotage of the world and envy the situation of Andy. Its hard to critique it properly because the film presents itself very well, with world class editing. Yet, that leads into my second observance : What is the work without this spectacular documentary to accompany it? A happening? This is of course being naive of the extensive photographic process that Andy Goldsworthy employs towards documenting his work. Yet, the still image to me does not do full justice to some of the spectacular work saw (such as the leaf-worm or the splashing red substance to create the illusion of a bleeding river). There is only such an extent where someone can remain holistic, even submerged in true nature. Yet, I would consider my qualms here nitpicking. It is a truly a documentary and art as well worthy of praise. That even a percentage of what Andy does in today's society is possible is breathtaking. Its spectacular footage just to look at.

Lure of the Local

The excerpt from Lippard's book introduction highlights a quote by Michel Foucault. "We are in the epoch of simultaneity; we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed." Before, even in the early 20th century, it would have been unthinkable to cherish the local in midst of separation between towns and cities. Then came with additional transportation and connectivity the certain annihilation of time and space where someone miles away can be had a conversation with at fingertips. Suddenly, raising the banner of the hometown is not only economic, it is conceptually practical in a postmodern era where attempting to do the work miles away would be physical and mental suicide. Like performing as a sports team to the hometown, it seems essential to represent where the person is and add to the legacy of the artistic identity, context in which the work was assimilated, and be just as fast as the haste blurring about in 2012+.

There's simply no time to travel. Someone's done it for you.

There are ideas of my own which I connected to the reading, some of which are embraced by Susan Sontag, the author of Wanderlust. I know in a laymen's summarization that the journey is more emphasized that the destination. Is that not life? Now here's an interesting thought : What if the destination is constant? Does that not remove an element or barrier in batting time to create art? At that rate, it seems to be a constant journey within the self, whether that constitutes the walls of a place lived in  or the inner psyche. When it comes to making art that is somewhat passive, flowing like water through the attack of perpetual info influx, the inner self is the greatest battle and a greater majority percentage of that. Besides, there is the old argument that all exits off the highway look the same anyway. There's always a gas station, a McDonalds, and some kind of motel to service the weary traveller. As romantic a thought that is, it calls to attention that this kind of romantic thought is marketed everywhere. Still, I feel romantic about that highway feeling. Just more so at home and in my base of operation. Not when I'm alienated on the road where I know my funds are dwindling while I'm seeing the same romance I could've had all along, metaphorically speaking (or not).

Places have their own history. No matter how one thinks disparingly of their hometown or place of operation (I have theories of my own), these histories exist. Rather than fight them, it almost becomes a skill in itself of how to work with these known pieces of existence. Or rather, just as fullfilling to find ways to simply alter these histories themselves, and then act upon them as if they were actual properties of the town (see : detournement, conspiracy theory). In closing, it is not throwing rocks at ponds that the artist in this age should strive to do. It is adding food coloring to that pond to make it neon pink. Best I could come up with, but you gather my point.

Its possible. Work with the world. Not against.

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