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Re: <eyebeam><blast> Theory

Art is always theoretical - most of the time the theory is not in the
foreground but, from time to time - at moments of social and cultural
upheaval - art often finds formulations that show a problem in an
entirely different way. It is then art and theory merge into an
unmistakable, indisoluble clump.

The most recent and pertinent (to this list) example is the few years at
the end of the 60s/early 70s when some American and European artists
(and curators) created a series of works, exhibitions and texts which
were both art and statements about art. In many cases there was no
object or identifiable "work" to be experienced. It was also impossible
to separate the texts from the works, in fact the texts were often
themselves the works - as, for example, in much of Lawrence Weiner's
work. These texts often pretended to be philosophy, appropriating the
jargon and style (Kossuth, Art&Language etc.), but the interesting thing
is not the content of the texts but fact that the text became the
art-object - an eventual object became only one possible, but not
neccessary, outcome of the predictions of the texts.

The point here is that it is not entirely a coincidence that artists
began to work with a de-materialised art form just as the computer was
coming out of the closet and the gleam of network technology was in the
eye of the DARPA scientists. At a time when noone could imagine a world
in which information/ideas had more substance than things, artists - in
the industrial world - were making works that described it.

The problem with text-based theory is that it can never escape from the
demands of linearity and grammar. Art generates theory as image (or
absence of image)  ... difficult and vague but elastic and real.
Moreover it is always imbedded in the work. As Oguibe says (quoting
Alliez): ".... theory can't be only "understood", it has to be life
experienced, it is a field of sensorial comprehension!" 

Theory is too important to be left to the theoreticians.

robert adrian
wiedner hauptstrasse 37/69
a-1040 vienna, austria
tel.++43 1 504 3110
fax++43 1 504 4849
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