Wednesday 29 May 2013

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White noise

, Haily Grenet

The “creative act” supposes active participation from the spectator, whenever he is confronted to artworks; but do we really experience art when comment and interpretations are involded. The overall thesis understated in my project is the following: the obsessive conceptualizing reflex parasites the relationship between the spectator, the artist and the work of art. Throughout this manipulative instance, not only the public but also the artist loose contact with his own work.

Rather than being a way to stimulate us, the interpretation locks us in a certain idea of art communily accept by everyone.

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Jean Boîtes Editions

On April 1957, Marcel Duchamp stated that « the creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus add his contribution to the creative act [1] ». By this statement Duchamp proposed a somewhat surprising definition of the spectator’s role in the existence of an artwork. But is it still accurate to talk about their key role in this process, considering the amount of essays about artwork. It is, indeed accurate to talk about their impact in the « creative act » if they are guided, if they listen and follow what they have been told by another figure, represented by the curators, the critics, the journalists, the art historians, and the art theorists. That is, by every instance taking part in the critical and theorical apparatus surrounding a work. In other words, every person that gives a comment, and of whom we expect a comment from represents it. To continue we need to define interpretation as the one made by the intellectuals. To outline, my project aims at exploring variations on the theme of communication and miscommunication in the creative process between what the artist conceived and made, what the artist conceived and the influence of art theory on it; what the institution and the art theory shows and will be compared and confronted to the way the public relates to the work. By this sketch, we have three stages and three parts in the creative process – the artist-the institution, embodied by the art intellectuals-the spectator.

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Jongbuhm Kim

By this proposal, my aim is to put an emphasis on the reflection and problematisation of the role of the intellectual and question his position, his contribution to the process in order to understand what his work produces on the spectator mind whenever they look at the related artwork.
It seems, that we can talk about rules when it comes to art critics, and art interpretation. Rules seen as if they were influencing the public in their experience of art. In that sense, it is still possible to consider the spectator as holding a preponderant part in the creative act, if and only if he follows the rules given by another authority, embodied by the figure of the intellectual. Again, these rules can somehow tell him what to think and perceive about the artwork that is he looking at.
Susan Sontag’s essay, Against Interpretation  [2]. written in the 60’s stated with virulence that interpretations are a threat for the artwork and its comprehension for a public, but furthermore they become a threat for the artist and his own creative process.

JPEGInterpretations of art rule the game in the specific sense that they guide the outlook and recuperation of the work of art, that guide whomever will read it. But if they are a certain point of view, it can also be understood as a certain idea of a communication in art. Following the argument of Sontag, we can talk about a certain vision, or even a fiction of the art’s communication. But how the audience can fully experiment the perceptible if their experience is to be considered always informed and determined by patterns designed by the intellectuals’ authority? Does the interpretation of art leads the spectator to discover something or is it merely inducing a “tour-guide effect” that inclines the spectator to indulge thoroughly in the illusion of the mimesis and prevent him from the distanciation required to access critical knowledge?
In signal processing, white noise is a random signal with a flat power spectral density. The sound of it covers the other, and according to scientific surveys, can conduct people to a certain state of drowsiness, in a state of near-sleep where the brain can barely control the body.

In this exhibition project, interpretations become the white noise. I would like to picture interpretation as the small talk, the small pervasive sound that surrounds an artwork. Despite, the fact that they are officially meant to be a cultural mediation’s purpose, the interpretations, figured in my exhibition as a white noise, prevents the spectator from being part of the “creative act”.
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If the spectator does not accomplish by himself the artist’s work by experimenting it, the artwork slips away from its first purpose. The overall thesis understated in my project is the following: the obsessive conceptualizing reflex parasites the relationship between the spectator, the artist and the work of art. Throughout this manipulative instance, not only the public but also the artist loose contact with his own work.
The exhibition will have to be conceived as an experiment; as well as an exploration of those questions, allowing to consider new connections and relations between critical and creative instances. Such as famous psycho-sociology surveys3 from the past century

All in all, the aim of my project is to keep the debate about the reception of contemporary art vivid and lucid. Therefore, it will not be my intention to give a verdict on what is the interpretation, what the art’s discourse should look like or not. To do so, the chosen artworks will challenge the idea of interpretation in an art institution but also challenge the understanding of the spectator when he is confronted to contemporary and conceptual art.
Since I picture white noise as a metaphor of all the interpretations that take place in an art space; I have chosen and selected artworks that refuse most of interpretative attempts. It is also important to work with pieces from different medium, in order to support this idea. For this exhibition I will select artworks that defy this hermeneutical tendancy.
It will be the opportunity to confront artworks that imply a resistance to interpretation. Those pieces will be meant to be deaf-mute to the very principles of communication. In a paradoxical way, it will be shown that these artworks communicate by their miscommunication. But, since they are speechless, they are a temptation for the institution and the art intellectuals; a temptation to talk about, to give even more information, to communicate and to interpret again and again.
I am interested in artworks that will deconstruct a language, which can be made of words, shapes or images, to subtract themselves from any exhaustive interpretation. At the moment, the artist list is not definitely settled. I already decided to work on this project with six artists and one publishing house. At the moment, I have selected works from Sora Kim, Kong Hum Kim, Voyom Kim, Lim Shengen, Monica Gallab, Maxime Chanson and Jean Boîtes Edition.

JPEGIt will be interesting to show some of their artworks because they attempt to destroy or remake the language about art via their form, shape or what they refuse to say. Also, it is important to me, that some of those artworks, such as Voyom Kim’s, will be specifically produced for this event, in order to support the reflexion about the place of information and interpretation. Being free from any regards nor comments, this piece will allow me to push the experience a step forward.
The whole exhibition will disorient the spectator during his visit since my project aims at the deconstruction of the guidance effect critical thought induces. Therefore, the experience of the spectator will be one of misguidance. I would like to confront those artworks to a prolific amount of information, interpretation, in order to provoke a “hypertrophy of information”. Therefore, according to me, the sensation of loss and dizziness will provoke to the spectator’s brain a willingness to understand what is in front of him. The trick will have to be so obvious, almost grotesque, that the spectator will be conducted to the consciousness that he is being trapped and fooled. To express myself in other words I would like to assert a quote from Jacques Rancière about the spectator  [3]

pressure on the spectator: maybe he will know what has to be done, if the performance
changes him, if it sets him apart from his passive attitude and makes him an active
participant in the common world. This is the first point that the reformers of the theatre
share with the stultifying pedagogues: the idea of the gap between two positions. Even
when the dramaturge or the performer does not know what he wants the spectator to do,
he knows at least that he has to do something: switching from passivity to activity.

At the moment I can offer only a preview of what people will experiment. Docents will be place, next to artwork, on a stage. They will have the traditional museum card role by giving obvious information such as the title year of production... basically giving birth to it with their speech. Then the further the docent will keep is recitation; the further it will have to be complex, irrational and incomprehensible, creating layers over layers of entangled interpretative discourses. Lost in a flow of sentences that allows no understanding, the speech itself appears as meaningless because no one will listen to it, or no more will give it credit.
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On a personal level, this project will also allow me to challenge, with a certain kind of humor, my own academics background. With an open-call in an institution such as Art Sonje Center, the role of a curator and his practice are directly questioned. This is mainly the reason why the exhibition is to be understood as an experiment. The public will be invited to lock up, to confine interpretation. Of course I expect a large amount of people to visit it, but my main concern is aimed at the people from the art world itself. The exhibition will then allow to conduct and curate a reflexion on how to introduce people to art and push them to actively and individually participate in the Duchamp’s creative act. Also I truly believe that being a foreigner, moving to Korea, will be an opportunity to reinforce this debate and exchange more about curatorial practice in a globalized art world.
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Footnotes

[1LEBEL, Robert, Marcel Duchamp, Grove Press, New York, 1959, pp 77-78

[2SONTAG, Susan, Against Interpretation and Other Essays, a collection of essays, ed. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, United States, 1966

[3RANCIERE, Jacques, The Emancipated Actor, ed. Verso Books, 2009, trad. Gregory Elliott