art and the spectator

[ follow ups ] [ Ken Feingold | discussion ]

by Joseph Nechvatal on April 23, 1997 at 17:38:49:

Ken's lecture brought to mind the fact that ninety years ago El Lissitsky
wanted to create an art which would remake the relationship between the
work of art and the spectator so that the artwork would no longer be
reducible to an object-in-itself but would come into being through the
relationship between the object and the spectator. El Lissitsky had been
struck by the demonstrative behavior of the devout before Russian orthodox
icons; by how they would bow and genuflect and kiss the images as if
through their actions they hoped to invoke some power or energy or as if
they themselves were bringing the divine into existence. He was equally
affected by elements of Jewish theology which hold that God exists not in
things but in events. Translated into the secular terms of the modernist
avant-garde these phenomena provided him with a model for a new art in
which the spectator's role in the production of meanings would be
privileged as never before - art as imaginary materialization.

Thus in the manipulations of its activity, the soft, non-causal interactive
art Ken outlined gives to society no cures or certainties, but in their own
way these artworks counter the fatalism of recent Postmodernism by refusing
to use for their art the very conditions that appear to diminish us. They
challenge the domination of the singular linier matrix without resorting to
reassuring sentimentalities. Their (and thus our) method is revealed to be
a shifting seeking process.

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[ follow ups ] [ Ken Feingold | discussion ]