You are on page 1of 9

ON ARTWRITING So words are supposed to pin down ideas, to extract the gist of an idea into a manageable amount of words

, sentences, that kind of thing, this is how we as a species communicate, this is how we try to take a stab at delivering our own personal experiencing of the world to another creature. How then can we communicate the effect that an artwork makes on us to someone else? Is it even possible to replicate the effect that an object makes on me to someone else? Let us take this specific room that I as the writer of this short essay am sitting in. It is, of course, debatable whether this room is a piece of art. Given that someone went into a studio and put down the blueprint for this particular room as part of this particular building, envisioned it in a 2-dimensional form, in lines on a piece of paper, as a map of where the walls should be, where the door should be, where the wiring goes, where the computers will be situated, in short all the projected layouts for the final execution, the physical, tangible, object, the space that the end user can move through, I would classify it as a piece of art. Someone else would classify it as functional art, as a designed piece, but I would argue that that is merely categorization. What I experience here is a manmade structure, something that was developed by someone: some object. That is art, albeit functional. The deafening sound of the air conditioner is more powerful than a cinematic piece, a film, I would see in a movie, it propels my writing in a certain way. This room, which is after all an inanimate object propels my writing in certain directions, it somehow weirdly, strangely inspires me to use a certain amount of words in a certain order, with a certain syntax. The room itself is an amassment and assemblage of a myriad of smaller units,


floor paneling, concrete, the red-brown grid on the floor that should have some kind of function that is beyond me. There are lamps on the ceiling. Some, silver-greyish pipes, lots of tables in beige, and computer after computer, grey, silver, white, with black monitors. And some other person is sitting here, too. This is what encapsulates me as the writer and it kind of flows into my mind while I try to type up what I see, what I hear, what I notice. I try to put it into words, fragment all these experiences down into palpable words and sentence bits to translate to others, to replicate this moment for later use. When someone reads this long after this is written it will not be the same experience, it will be altered, I use all these little units of language to try to explain these visual elements, that I am experiencing at this very moment, all the sounds that are so very loud and overbearing. I am using literary art to try to replicate the visual, the audio. Obviously I am altering what I notice at this very moment. Using language to describe the Visual is what we do as a species, that is, as I stated before, how we communicate reality, realities, that is how we decipher the world. It is a translation of reality, it is taking some certain aspects of reality and describing them. Giuliana Bruno postulates in her book” Public Intimacy” that “Pictures in motion write our modern history. They can be the living, moving testimony of the effects of duration. Moving images are modernity’s ruins. They are our kinds of monuments. A Free and Anonymous Monument.” (Page 82}. Given that her expertise and her research interests lie in the similarities and dissimilarities of film and architecture, it is still very interesting for me when comparing art and writing and trying to come to term with the relationship that exists between writing and art. Writing, is in my mind time-based in the


same way that film is, the only way that we experience language in a coherent, logical way, is by being exposed to it in a chronological way, word after word, sentence after sentence. That is how a text is arranged, in the same way that a film is arranged, sequential, chronological. Time is the most defining element, that makes us “move” through a text, through a film, we experience a text word by word, word after word, and we experience a film like that, frame after frame, scene after scene. That is how the entity of the message is conveyed: word after word, frame after frame. This is so very different than how we move around an object d’art, how we experience an image. Which is static. But once we talk about an image we replicate the static into something time-based, superimpose a narrative, try to explain the moments. To come back to my initial idea of trying to describe this very computer room, where I am typing up this essay. I can still not get over the disparity between my experience of this room, the spatial entity, and the translation into words. Something will go amiss. The text can never, will never be the real thing. Which brings me to the question whether it is even useful to write about art. To talk about art. To describe art. What are the tangible benefits of writing about art? Is it to describe how to make it? Is it like a potter describing to a student of pottery what kind of clay to use to make a vessel? To impart knowledge, to share knowledge. To instruct a future practitioner of the craft in the intricacies of material, the teaching of the “knowhow”? Actually, that is not really what constitutes art writing. Art writing is more about putting an artwork into its context vis-à-vis history and vis-a –vis theory. When Bernhard Tschumi analyzes his own architectural practice in relation to Derrida’s literature theory, in relation to deconstructivism, one wonders, how much this is about comparing apples


and oranges. Can a theoretical framework manifest itself in a concrete, tactile piece of architecture. How can an abstract idea be pinpointed into something static? Will it only be about formal aspects, aspects of design, hierarchy of dominant and subdominant elements, that are part of any unit that is made up of smaller units, be it a symphony, be it a bridge, be it a building, be it a painting, be it a film. Any construct, any man-made form. And last not least a text. An assemblage of words that manifests itself in a very tactile form on a piece of paper, or as a written piece on a monitor, or as an aural performative piece of speech. Writing on art, about art is as multifaceted as diverse as art itself. The stab at deciphering art making, art practice is interesting in a post- Mc Luhian age. The message tries to evade the medium, or go along with what the message dictates. Words march in place or defy the intent of the writer. For me, the most interesting aspect of art writing is the tool itself, the use of the language for trying to attain coherence or/and semi coherence. Art writing for me is like doodling on the back of the proverbial paper napkin in a crowded restaurant, it is the trying to come to terms with differing, often disparate ideas, it is a way to make the brain storm or trying to prevent it from storming away, it is a so very physical way of trying to contain ideas, it is ideation and discourse at the same time, it is execution of potential ideas by using words. Someone else would use clay, use wood, any 3-dimensional matter to try to visualize ideas. Being a kind of inhibited 3dimensioanl person, more leaning towards lines on paper, be they words, be they doodles. I use words to work through an idea. Then again, words are somehow physical too, when spoken they are sounds thrown into space, meanings and semi-meanings. They are trying to describe where my art practice goes, they are used again and again to explain what I


will do. Being first and foremost an animator, I constantly take notes, doodle, try to come up with titles for all these so very short animations that I produce. The titles themselves help me to envision the motion that the animation will take. The way that lines will roam over the monitor, from left to right, up and down, in a spiral form, whatever. Somehow the words dictate how motion will go, it is a very intuitive process, not really describable. At a very basic level, it is play, serious play, play with a purpose. Play that might go somewhere or might not. It is a stab at creativity, with the hope that something good will finally evolve. There is no real premeditation there, more a follow-up of roads taken before. A reiteration of the tried and true with ever so slight variations. That is how I write, that is how I draw, that is how I make animations. There is not really any other way to do it. And I think every other practitioner on the planet does exactly the same, experiment with ideas and look out for the final result, hoping for the best. But being content with the very worst. Be this as it may, art history, design history, media history teaches us that there are so many flavors of art making, so many shades of the same stab at perfection that each and every person that tries to pick up very tactile elements and somehow weave them into something new, likes to talk about that, likes to comment about that. We are verbal, and words are our little arrows with which s we try to pin down reality, push it down into the static word, the ever-changing words. Sounds contradictory, but it is not.

While perusing the art pieces in the exhibition “Analog- Panchromatic Pleasures” which is taking place at this very moment in the Concourse Gallery of


ECUAD in Vancouver it somehow becomes painfully obvious to the writer of this essay that art is just so very far from language, the images on the wall of the gallery are just that: images, and they elude description. All the words we use to describe each and every image still fall short of representing, replicating the reality of the image. Art writing, art critiquing, it is part of institutionalized art practice, but it somehow is not the real thing. It is something else, words catapulting on each other, meaning constructed and superimposed on the artwork, it is fun to talk about art, fun to write about it, trying to describe it, but it is so very different from the visual impact that an image conveys. Art writing is more something for literary types, but it is somehow bland when compared to the real thing. There are not that many similarities between art and the words that are written about the art piece, maybe we should just shut up and experience a piece of art. There is nothing to say about an image, a sculpture, a film or a piece of music. One either likes it or one does not. It is that simple. All the art training in the world will never change the way I perceive a piece of art, I either like it or I do not. My reaction to a piece of art is so very primal, a cumulation of all my personal biases, my personal experiences, that will ultimately govern my likes and dislikes vis-à-vis a piece of art, any piece of art. My writing about art or art critiquing is just that: “ a play with words”, a certain statement that I myself cannot produce really good art, so I have to talk about art, write about art, analyze art. Art defies analyzation , it defies it, it slips through the grip of the analytical scalpel, it dissolves under the analytical gaze. Art writing itself is a new entity, a semipoetic piece of writing, somewhere at the border of fiction and non-fiction. Some kind of prose. While walking through the library at ECUAD on this cold and snowed-in winter


Friday, while perusing through all these volumes filled with what constitutes an amassment of contemporary theories, all these words that deal with explanations of visuals, the confusion becomes almost palpable, so very tactile. Trying to figure out the gist of Deleuzian thought, trying to understand Spinoza or Nietzsche, trying to even getting to know which theoretician says what, which – ism has what connotation and what implication, I only get baffled and paralyzed. Art criticism is so beyond me, so very far from my understanding, from my intellectual grip. Not so much because all of these thoughts are too dense and too difficult, more because most thinkers are just not able to state their postulations in very clear and succinct, formulaic manners. In short, they use way too many words. Just like me here in this text, I desperately try to amass as many words as I can to fulfill the ten-page/2500 words requirement of this very paper, which I will submit, to the art-writing symposium at ECUAD. But words are so very static, they do their own thing, they are so very temperamental and defy their purpose of trying to logically describe the concrete characteristics of an artwork. But I stated that beforehand already, am thus just succumbing to repetition, endless repetition. Once more I am drawn to write about this very room, because it is such an interesting room, technology meets creativity. Or so it seems to me. This is not yesterday’s art school, the drones it will churn out are not necessarily very good at drawing, at replicating reality. That is not what we are trained in. we are trained in using words, writing, talking, deciphering what we see. Our art practices will be so very different from individuals who are trained in more formalistic aspects of art making. Our stab at trying to decipher theory after theory, Lacan, Deleuze, Guattari, the like, might inhibit us from becoming excellent form givers. My four years of art education here at


this very school somehow turned me into a writer, it did not further my painting career. This is not meant to be accusative, it is merely how I see it. I am only stating the facts. If I wanted to be a writer, I would have enrolled in the UBC- English department. So, after getting this out of my system I ponder whether writing about art should even be confined to the rigueur of academic writing or whether it should be more free flowing, more artistic, more creative. Whether it should be really properly footnoted or be more filled with bold statements and more silent notes. Like a piece of music. Like a piece of art. And thus replicate its subject matter, the very poetic element of any art piece, its music, its rhythm, its tone, its motion. The choreography of its elements, its smaller units. A question to be pondered. In the end, I am still sitting in this room trying to put my thoughts into words, all the glimpses at theory, at practice, all the realities of thought fragments, all the short motions that constitute the realities around me. I could waltz once more into the library, hunting through the books to find something worth citing, a statement that seems to illustrate logic, pragmatism. But something in me refuses to do so, the knowledge that art is so very far from explanation. Outside the sun is setting, this paper somehow skedaddled away from scholastic thought, it is a long time that I wrote academic papers and it shows. So be it. Writing on art can be anything we want it to be, it can be poetic, experimental, a stab at redefining how we can translate the reality of the concrete world around us into words. In this time and age where we are inundated with film and image and sound, where life is slightly on the hectic side, writing on art, about art can be as creative and as non-creative as we want it to be. It can be anything between a dry, very descriptive manual of “how to consume


art” to a poem about art. At this time I am only assembling words about art, thus trying to create a new piece of art, some literary peace that is not poetic enough and not scholastic enough. It is something in the middle. It is how I see it.