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The White Cube Is Designed To Neutralize Philosophy Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Philosophy
Wordcount: 3488 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Here’s the question: In your own words, how would you describe the connections between the idea of white(ness) and the themes in Buckingham’s work?

*If you want to include references to our reading and conversation on Kirk Varnedoe’s lecture last week-where we covered topics ranging from how history is recorded, how knowledge is formed, and how we come to believe in or trust the art we live with-please do.

One paragraph.

Buckingham forces the viewer to investigate further into his work; he wants us to actually become involved by making us think and see beyond want being presented to us rather than to simply “look” at an image. As with other work we have discussed in class, Buckingham uses color (colorfulness and white/black) to compare and contrast the past with the present in the film production of Mary Wollstonecraft. It is his way of cluing us on that there are two different worlds, just as he did to present the ghost of Mary Wollstonecraft. He also uses the “glow” of whiteness to lightened Wollstonecraft to convince us whether or not she is in the past or present. He is able to use white(ness) to guide us through his time-based production.

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As I read through Chapter 3 regarding minimalism, I was having a constant pull and push of Minimalism versus modernism. How is that one genre of artist can take a square and assign a meaning to it, then later another genre takes the same square and assigns a different meaning to it, then claim to owe nothing to its predecessors? To me, this calls on the same conversations we have had several times in previous classes. Is it really a “new art” because you are able to have support of art critics and come up with your own vocabulary to bring a different meaning to a work of art?

Donald Judd claims to reject rationality as part of the European philosophical tradition. This is how he explains the difference between his work and traditional abstraction. But Frank Stella says to balance piece? Is that not rational? The correlations between the two types of art beg the question; isn’t minimalism very much rooted in abstract modernism? It seems to me that Minimalist were just a self-proclaimed development of modernism.

Judd and other Minimalists artist claim they wanted to get rid of the hands-on ethic of abstract; they wanted to get rid of the idea that the character of the art resides in the touch of the artist compared to abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock who stomped on a canvas and rubbed cigarettes in to it who affirmed that the painting was an object in the world, not a window onto anything else. This is when I began to better understand the difference in the two genres.

The Minimalist opposed the cult of the gallery and attempted to remove the appearance of composition from their work. To that end, they tried to expunge all signs of the artists guiding hand or thought processes – all aesthetic decisions – from the fabrication of the object. For Donald Judd, this was part of Minimalism’s attack on the tradition of “relational composition” in European art rather than the parts of an artwork being carefully, hierarchically ordered and balanced, he said they should be “just one thing after another.”

Comparing Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades provided important inspiration for the Minimalists. His example suggested an approach to sculpture that emphasized fabrication and industrial materials over the craft techniques of most modern sculpture.

Much of Minimalist aesthetics was shaped by a reaction against Abstract Expressionism. Minimalists wanted to remove suggestions of self-expressionism from the artwork, as well as any illusions. The Minimalists also sought to erase distinctions between paintings and sculptures, and to make instead, as Donald Judd said: “specific objects.”

The Minimalist opposed the cult of the gallery and

Summary of “Inside the White Cube”

The gallery space is the first interaction between the spectator and the artist. Clean white walls were ideal for presenting a painting. Because of its simplicity, a white wall is seen as neutral and supposedly indispensable for placing each painting. However, what a white wall does to a Baroque or easel painting, is it actually transforms it into a modernistic one, just as framing a Baroque or modernist painting and placing it in Le Salon converts it into a “tableau.”

The white cube is designed to neutralize

Another value of the white cube was a social one. Readymade as invented by Duchamp totally depend on the special social status of a gallery space. Reliance on the social power of a gallery space can lead to “anything goes.” Yet if a gallery space is considered a sacred place intended only for art, than anything that is placed there cannot be anything but art. When you put something into a gallery, it transforms the thing into a picture of itself. “The intention of

To fully understand the nature of how the viewer interacts with a piece of art it is essential to understand the dynamics of how the work is presented to the viewer. He talks about the eye and how the white cube gallery determines how the eye behaves. The eye urges the body around to provide it with information; the body becomes a data gatherer. The eye was capable of experiencing art in a disinterested and detached way. The spectator, on the other hand is unable to distinguish the difference between real space and art space in the white cube gallery because they have become blurred into one another and the walls of the gallery itself. Such a spectator is prone, he believes, “to sensation and impression and as such experiences not only art but their own sense of self as something fractured.”

The eye appears as “the disembodiment faculty that relates exclusively to formal visual means, while the spectator constitutes the attenuated and bleached-out life of the self from which the eye goes forth and which, in the meantime, does nothing else.” The bodies of the visitors become unnecessary. You can only gaze at the framed spaces in the gallery space. Consequently, it is only the eye that interacts directly with the artwork. One has to teach the eye how to palpate those spaces. Frames also facilitate this separation into two realities – the distant relation of a fixed viewer to a framed view. The framed easel on the wall assists the spectator to align herself in space; it indicates the place where one should stand, look at, or refrain from touching. One is not allowed to touch the sacred objects, the artworks. Touch is directed and mediated only through the eye.

O’Doherty’s main concern is the relationship between the white cube is where the object sits, the surrounding space and the effect or the influence that the combination of these elements impose onto the viewer. By bringing attention to the arrangement in which works are exhibited and the influence on the spectator, context becomes content.

Another factor that O’Doherty suggests bought about a new way of looking art is Courbet’s one-man Salon des Refusees outside the Exposition of 1855. O’Doherty states that this was the first time an artist had to “construct the context of his work”. It is to say the artist had to set about displaying his work in such a way that the placing and hang of the pictures influenced the meaning of what the artist was attempting to say with his art. This was highly significant as it highlighted the importance of how a work is displayed affects the way in which it’s viewed. For example displaying the Mona Lisa on the floor would give the painting a different meaning than placing it, in its own special room.

O’Doherty defines the artistic gesture as a singular artistic action, an individualist, daring act. The successful gesture created a narrative became a story by changing history. He believes that these gestures always had two audiences, one present and another one not present, which, as he writes, “is usually us”. We, as this second audience, are looking back at the “event”of a performance as a historical fact, an occurrence.

O’Doherty furthermore says that the original audience is usually not appreciative, often nervous, not at all pleased. It is only in retrospect that we learn to appreciate the gesture. All these gestures are transformations of the given situation in one way or another. What makes them potent, I believe, is that they are stop signs; or rather they are the stops themselves in the train of events, interruptions in the business as usual.

The gallery gestures start with Duchamps, continue on with Yves Klein, Armand, Daniel Spoerri, Andy Warhol and Kaprow and many others. Many of these gestures can be described as parody, mocking the art business, but many of them really challenged the spectator, the gallery space and what is meant by art and showing art. There are several categories of gestures; those that question the gallery space altogether are of course in the minority. O’Doherty points out that at least the American avant-garde never really questioned the gallery space as an idea, except for one brief moment when artists did their performances and events in the landscape and only brought photos back to the gallery.

Summary of Pictures of Nothing- Chapter 4

Late 1960’s is when the urge to escape catergories by artist becomes all the more difficult itself because but minimalism itself had become a category. This installation of minimalist traditions happened very fast. Anti institution makes want to go away from any type of object. Artist wanted to get away from any types of collectible object. Which makes sculpture dominant. It turned out to be the only “non of the above catergory.” Painting was only paintying, sculpture could include video installation, earth works, performance, etc.. it was constantly transforming itself and was flexible in the way painting could not be.

The idea of a generation of artist who absorb the formal term of minimalism but challenge the basic princibles. Tweaking image reconigtion became important. Shiparo installed from the 70;s compared to morris is obvious mostly by scale. The gallery space isn’t about blank kinestectic anymore it becomes a place for imagination and stimulation of metaphorization

Imageless abstraction became much more representational. Basic propertyies extracted from pollaock drip paintings. Judd argued the paintings had a greater sense of simplicity or wholeness Directness of which becomes a part of the are, simplicity wholeness order process materials become the watch workds for the new generation of artists

Present and future was linked to the deep past. Heiser stated we were living at the end of time. Complex 1 had been made in the dessert and the angle was designed to deflect necluear bomb. He wanted to collapse the idea of time

Minimalist idea of reducing internal relationship the work became redirected of the relationship of the person to the object. The sense of space became extrapolated beyond the gallery. Heiser was key in moving out into much broader canvses. Like making huge circles in the deserts. Double negative made a huge mark a vast space. All about bedded layers of structure, represents stratified time. Vs. the overview which shows it as a unified with a unified simplicity man made absolute against the geolocial forces of the canyon. Had different experience through close up and far away views. Clarity of the overview vs the caois of the close up view

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Staged collision between order and disorder. The idea of order. Cannot simply be. Evident declaration of process. The new left compared to old left. Blue collar ethic. Materials (1:03) Smithson piles dirt on shed until it collaps. Concerns with weight. Not just meaning attaches itself but simple certainties become charges with ambiguities. Abstraction cant stay pure and out of catergories but it can revitalis new ideas of ourselves and our time..

Summary Chapter 5

Although abstraction tries to be pictures of nothing, it constantly could be a picture of something. Rauschenberg’s Factum 1 and Factum II were important to the uniqueness of the moment in abstract expressionist painting. Lichtenstein continued more aggressively in works such as Big Painting No. 6. Abstract expressionism becomes reduced by Lichtenstein. His satires and comments run throughout his career, with two different meanings. One, he is engaged by the notion that you cannot get away from the history of style. Second is that all representation is at base abstract. He is engaged in both sides and does not want to let go of either representation or abstraction.

Olderburg wants to bring modernism out of its closet and into the public. He believed it was ill served to by idealism. Both Olderburg and Lichenstein hold the irony that bad faith is a necessary ingredient for a good society. Pop art jokes are less serious and more serious than they seem: admiration of abstraction and at the same time deeply suspicious of it.

Andy Warhol has found the nerve of the good/bad faith problem. He uses and understands to some extent the language of abstraction. His most direct insult to abstract painting is represented by his Oxidation Painting of 1978 which he pisses on Pollock. With canvases on the floor he urinates on them in an exaggerated replay of Pollock’s drip paintings. Where Lichtenstein tends to be interested in economy and reduction, Warhol is an artist of spit, splash, blot, excess. He is very interested in the graininess of photography.

Halley isn’t interested in the ambiguity of abstraction. He believes that all abstraction is coded representation of power. Taafe is also is against abstraction but in a different way. He puts to work the idea of revisiting high decoration with intent to make it low decoration.

Richter has gambits between abstractions and representation. He literally waters down Stella; Both Warhol and Richter, it is blur and smear that obscures rather than makes things clear. Comparing to Johns, the whole idea that destroying order is the same thing as producing it.

Twombly expands the repetitive gesture to the scale that Pollock had with his blackboard work. Everything that Twombly achieves, he achieves by the negation, by distancing of himself from Pollock, by the exact inversions of what Pollock is.

Johns too take a swipe at Pollock. He made his living debunking abstraction. Just as Twombly’s repetition speaks of expressionism, so is Johns’ gesturalism. He has to establish a system in order to cancel or bury it. The order itself is hardly as important as the demonstration of its vulnerability or fragility. He obsessively worked the surface with personal marks.

These aforementioned artists are speaking about art through art by their knowing relationship to that tradition. It is a relationship of negation. It is a relationship to tradition that involves the acceptance of tradition’s constraints at the same time that is subverts and reacts against them. With these artists you have an abstraction saturated with skepticism, saturated with knowing, an abstraction that proves that abstraction can be knowing and still have meaning.

Chapter 6

De Kooning’ abstraction gives rise to a new kind of life in his works by compacting them. His work misrepresented the dichotomy between abstraction and representation. Within his work such as the Women and early figurations, he shows the border between abstraction and representation wasn’t something untouchable but rather something transgressive. Agnes Martin is the opposite of de Kooning. His works are at the other end of abstraction. His work is about delicacy of touch and tint. Martin’s art is all about the experience on the part of both the artist and the observer. In contrast, Robert Ryman is all painting; he is an abstractionist who is interested in imagery and in the nature of painting. His art is about constant restlessness and is never about perfection. Unlike Clement Greenberg, who believed there was an essence of painting. Ryman is sure that there is no essence at the bottom that painting constantly needs to be changed.

Brice Marden’s work is a good demonstration of pulling together the contemporary abstractions of Johns and Pollock. He tried to live with the legacies of Pollock as a great abstract artist and Johns as representative painter by mixing and blending what they both stand for. Gombrich believed that representation is a matter of solving dilemmas and is neatly summarized in his drawing. Gombrich’s interest seems to be primarily in rendering. He believed strongly in the nature of visual representation and realism. Pollock finds one translation in Klein through the acts of performance yet a completely different translation in

Richard Serra. Instead of painting on a canvas, he throws hot lead into a corner. What was refined in Klein’s interpretation becomes industrial with Serra.

Many artists unpack many meanings from Pollock, however, the intention of what brings an artist to the canvas does not control meaning nearly as much as does the material existence of the picture itself. The experimental dimensions of abstract art- its scale, materials, method of fabrication, social context, and tradition are crucially important to our understanding of it. Abstract art is a symbolic game and it is akin to all human games: you have to get into it, risk and all and this take certain act of faith… a faith in possibility, a faith in not knowing.

Practically Nothing:  Light, Space, and the Pragmatics of Phenomenology

In the exhibition’s catalog Schuld writes, “does not deal with light space as media as much as it deals with the participating subject’s personal adjustment…” In this essay, Schuld grounds the work of Irwin, Turrell, Orr and Nordman in the phenomenological philosophy of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. This essay explores the Light and Space movement’s giving its roots in Minimalism. Merleau-Ponty sought to establish a primacy of perception with particular interest to Light and Space art. Irwin and Turrell experimented with psychologist Ed Wortz as a part of Maurice Tuchman’s Art and Technology Program. In these experiments, scientists and engineers were paired with artists in tests that involved sensory deprivation, particularly within an anechoic chamber, a soundproof structure used for astronautic and psychological research.  Irwin, Turrell, Wheeler, Nordman and Orr all spent time in the chamber, occasionally enhancing it further by light proofing the space. The experience of deprivation training attributed an increased sensory awareness.  Light and Space art does not deal with light

and space as media as much as it deals with the participating subject’s personal perceptual adjustment by extending one’s own experience in the extremes of sensory deprivation experiments. Irwin, Turrell, Wheeler, Nordman, and Orr bring phenomenology into practice by creating situations that act as experiential snares, capturing attention through disorientation.

“Work and Word”

Adrian Kohn raises practical questions about writing about California Light and Space art, much of which frequently deals with language. He questions the inadequacy of verbal language to approach abstraction. According to Kohn, language falls short of communicating the obscure with much clarity. He calls attention to the vagueness of artists’ statements that make the emotional qualities of the artwork take precedence. This same problem plagues Light and Space art as well as other works that will also pose a challenge to photography. Words inevitably catch up to art and take hold. Belle’s thinking of his canvas support as a “geometric illusionary volume” and his notion that panes of glass can “feel soft” prompt you to stop and assess the validity of those formulations. While words may obscure art’s strangeness at first, their failings, when noticed, restore it.






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