Chris, Week 3, Statement Research

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Felix Hess is a trained physicist who wrote his doctor's thesis on the flight of the boomerang. Much of his work now involves automatons which make/react to sound. Below is a statement from Hess titled "THREE WAYS OF LISTENING" from his book "LIGHT AS AIR".

There are three ways of listening, or so it seems to me. The first way is listening to MEANING. This is the most common way of listening, and also the most useful. It belongs to the life of human beings and to the lives of other animals with ears as well. Listening to meaning is done with intelligence with discrimination. We do it all the time, in particular when we listen to spoken words. When we hear a motorcar approaching as we cross the street. When a bird lover notices the call of a certain bird. This way of listening has been perfected through a lot of experience, a lot of training; it can be very refined indeed. It is also heavily dependent on habits. We can do wonderful things with it, like picking out one particular conversation in the midst of very many people talking in a crowded restaurant. It involves ignoring, throwing away, all sounds that are deemed to be irrelevant, as having no meaning, turning them into mere noise, making them unnoticed. This way of listening works quickly and acts almost automatically. Although it is highly active, we seem to be unaware of it, unless it is hampered by resistance, an apparent unwillingness of a meaning to become evident. Once a meaning has been determined, immediately this listening stops, then starts again, focusing on the next possibility. Even when we are not engaged in this kind of listening it can be aroused at any moment; unless we are asleep, we are ready for it.

The second way of listening is to TIME. This we do when we listen to music, or when we enjoy the sounds of nature. Our hearing follows the sounds in time, is led by the succession of sounds. Listening is receptive, it goes with the flow, it seems to come naturally, without effort. It is as if our hearing is taking a bath in the sounds of the world. We sense how things are proceeding, we feel rhythms, we taste the textures and colours of sounds. When given this way of listening, our struggles are over, at least for a while. (This is how music, or nature, can free us from our compulsive listening to meaning.)

The third way is listening to SPACE. This is being sensitive to where the sounds come from. Taking shelter from a summer rain shower underneath a large tree, we listen to the sounds of rain drops on thousands of tree leaves coming from everywhere above our heads. Or at the end of a concert, when the audience applauds, we hear the clapping of hands all around us. The size of a room, the nearest wall, the vastness of an open plain in the evening, they may be revealed to our ears by the reflections of sounds. Mostly we tend to forget that we are hearing space, overwhelmed as we are by our visual impressions. It is simply a matter of attention. Just listen to the singing of insects on a warm summer night: how finely spread out, how spatially rich and delicate, this chorus of insect voices!

August 1999

Felix Hess. It's In The Air. 1996

Felix Hess. It's In The Air. 1996

This Statement or essay by Hess is not particularly descriptive of his practice of making or specific works. He does however, reveal his theory and logic behind the way in which his mind interprets vibrations in air. It cues the reader to the mental or internal syntax in which Hess relates to the content of his work. It provides simple, relatable, rudimentary experiences one gifted with the sense of hearing can relate to. Nowhere in the essay does Hess clearly relate these experiences directly to his work.


Another artist I reviewed is Michael Joo. This is a course on writing and an exercise in analysis of writing artist statements, but we are also faced with talking about our work as well as writing and so I have included a video.

The following is from an interview with artist Michael Joo in which he is asked to address a cyclical process inherent in his work.

MJ: My work has always dealt directly with an overload of information as a way to access the intuitive in the art-making (and receiving) process. In the video works, seemingly unorganised and shapeless content is given structure by time and actions.

This structure has elements of the linear and cyclical; it is present in some way in all of my work. Just as information implies a truth, so do the contradictions in this content; they inform our choices, and therefore our individual identities imply a balance point.

The moment of balance defies choice and could be seen as both eternal and ephemeral. Perhaps one idea of faith and spiritual renewal could be seen as the human drive to repeat that moment of balance combined with the fear of losing one's identity.

I imagine the diagrammatic shape of this process to be like a spiral from above and spring-like from the side. This relates to an optimism in the work, as the form is both two and three dimensional, real and imagined, and therefore perfect and something to aspire to.

The idea of the cyclical reflects the nature of the work as well. I am not interested in producing identifiable groups of art along a linear timeline. I guess there is "spiritual renewal" through "re-incarnation" of themes within the work (to twist your words), with their significance to the larger project of the whole body of work existing as an evolving proposition.

video statement- FLAWS IN DESIGN


Michael Joo. The Saltiness Of Greatness. 1992.

I chose these statements because of the way in which Joo addresses themes present throughout his work. Addressing, noticing, and analyzing themes in my own work can be a limiting and troublesome way of defining what I do. At the same time it is helpful and vital to the process of understanding what I do. In the video Joo gives specific examples of how a theme of flawed design is present in a specific piece. The coyotes are made in plasticine to address their artificial and unnatural display. As he elaborates on this connection/motive, he is providing a specific lense for a viewer to look through. Much of his work is very information rich but most of this information is not expressly provided in writing with the exception of a sometimes telling title.


Tara Donovan

"My investigations into the properties of different media each address a specific trait that is unique to a given mass-produced material. By experimenting with the more phenomenological aspects of a material, my process develops through a kind of dialogue that leads to a specific repetitive action (e.g. stacking, bundling, heaping, etc.) that builds the work. The breadth and diversity of the consumer landscape has expanded to such a degree that the supply of materials that can be adapted to an artistic context seems limitless. The idea that art can be manufactured or that it can radically complicate the standard notions of value attached to mass-produced objects is no longer a point of serious contention in contemporary debates. I think the new fertile territory, for myself at least, encompasses a range of practices that capitalize on the iconic identities of commercial and industrial materials by pressing them further into the realm of abstract seduction. I prefer the phrase "site-responsive" to describe the affiliation of my works to the spaces they inhabit. While this term makes a convenient allusion to the chameleonic visuals I prefer to exploit, it also suggests a dependence on the architectural particulars and lighting conditions of a given space that environmentally impact the growth of my work in terms of scale, direction, and orientation. This reliance on spatial conditions is primarily responsible for forming the understanding of my works as "fields" of visual activity, which have been compared to everything from landscapes to biomorphic forms and even cellular structures."


Tara Donovan. Toothpicks. 2001

Donovan points out very clear themes within her methods of making. She addresses the materials, means, and concepts of her practice in a very straightforward way. She also establishes the context in which she is working and displaying. Donovan references how her work and materials relate historically and culturally. There are no specific references to pieces and no biographical tidbits. However, she does say "I think" and "I prefer" highlighting the presence of her personal decisiveness and artistic voice while developing a piece.

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