The Dematerialisation of the object
I get most excited by the work of the conceptualists. A set of artists concerned with dematerialising art and focusing their efforts of process and ideas. It comes to pass that with this in mind artists from this set created art which inhabited the gap between back to back pages, the air around us or the space for imagination between our ears. Walks through places were the forms much of Richard Longs works took, documentation showing the parting in the grass his footsteps had provoked, maps and texts making note of the walk as work. If you saw a play and then saw the documentation of it afterwards you would still consider the play the art work and the photos a record of it. I consider it to be the same with work such as Richard Longs and to some extent my own efforts on Starvation Diet. In his essay "Visual Art and the Expanded Field, Conceptual Art and its Legacies in the 1990's" Peter Suchin describes documentation like that used by Long as "a concise mnemonic or archive friendly trace of an otherwise intangible event.". He goes on to say that many of the sentiments expressed by the Conceptualists of the 60's and 70's were lost by the Brit Art scene but are captured in new media art. The urge to step outside the market, have control over the dissemination of information, document the less tangible all features of new media work. He ends the essay with a query about how aware and interested new media practitioners are about their role in dematerialistation and implies that this may become clearer over time. 20 years on from this essay I need to do more research into this query. Within my own work the decision to use the internet and blogging has been born from my wish to create objects only when they are necessary. New Media allows me to disseminate ideas minus the need for an interaction with the object. I think that in a world of ever depleting resources this is the only correct way for artists to consider their practice. When, each of us considers the creation of an object necessary is a matter for each individual but it should at least be considered.
My Body as the art Object
The only current object in Starvation Diet in a way is my body. I'm not into all that Body Art where you shoot yourself or put metal spikes through your hands for art sake. It seems too brutal, too shocking, messages and ideas get lost in the shock of it all. But Maybe this effort to sculpt my body slowly through gentle dieting has some similarities to the work of Orlan who has spent her life receiving plastic surgery which have turned her from one thing to another. Now she hosts a lovely pair of head horns and the facial features of several great works of art and is a truly scary looking woman. Orlan's work involves a brutal invasive process but I say that Starvation Diet sits with this because, as in Orlan's work, it is not the photos which are the art but the change in my body. Orlan has been challenged as an anti feminist by objectifying the body and focusing her art on a search for beauty through body manipulation. The main focus of the processes involved in Starvation Diet are to link my body conceptually to the body of somebody whose diet choices are restricted to the point of starvation. The conveyance of a valid message seems to justify such moves as me considering tattoos which mark where I should measure my body to gauge weight loss. How to do it without the message being lost in the shock though?
Me, me me.
I have wondered from time to time If my art is just a veiled stab at vanity. I have often taken myself as the starting point of my work. But I think that this is partly because I know that I can ask myself to do things and treat myself in a way that I wouldn't ask of others. I would never encourage another to tattoo their body for the sake of art or enter dangerous buildings to get a photo but it seems fair to ask these things of myself. The use of myself also stems from the fact that I know us all to be separate units, the feelings, thoughts and circumstances we have are isolated by being encased in this body at this time. One may show insight into another's life, represent it with sensitivity and care but one can be surer of the truth of it if one draws from ones own experience. This leads me onto questions of usefulness. I could be in danger of creating art which is of no interest or use to any other being but I decided that I would make art only if it was useful to others. It would be wrong for me to make art just useful to myself, especially as my monies often trickle down from public funds. The work I choose to do must have some form of resonance otherwise it is just a pastime. Starvation Diet sets myself up as a kind of model of a life lived in a slightly different way. If it resonates, amplifying its implications beyond my experience others would consider it in their life. Whilst I have already outlined my other wish to add little to resource depletion through dematerilisation of art the need to widen the communication of the project beyond, just another blog in a sea of blogs may justify the need to present it as a series of objects or books,"Ed Ruscha and others in the USA and Europe saw the book as an avenue through which they could expand and reconfigure their work."(Index, Scribble, Snapshot, Tract by Peter Suchin) Without some use of objects the project and its message may go unnoticed. The Knit a Year Project I'm doing at present has turned out to have considerable resonance, with over 50 people deciding to Knit their Moods alongside me. It is a simple idea with many nuances within the process, lots of these nuances are still evolving (as an aside this reminds me of Future Artists explorations into Praxis, the inability to see what you have done until you have done it). Starvation Diet has yet to reach this point and I need to consider how to get it there. Differences in resonance may be due to some all or none of these things; starvation diet has not met its market like knit a year yet, starvation diet is more contentious and there is as yet no clear notion of how others can join in within the starvation diet documentation. I shall have to consider all this over my tea and pasty.