Globatron’s Universals #1 – All art relies upon a context that it utilizes to identify itself as art.

Posted by on Apr 30, 2009 in Akbar Lightning, Laws, Universals

All art relies upon a context that it utilizes to identify itself as art.

Because of the semantic problems found in using the word laws to search for universal principles we have decided to take a new approach to this investigation into the nature of art.  The art laws were always seen as overtly provocative statements meant to arouse interesting dialogue.  And the laws will continue to represent that artistic approach.  This new thread will be a sincere attempt to make declarations that can be argued as true.  Please feel free to engage in discussion about this, but can we request that your participation be contingent upon your belief in the science of this discussion, and that any argumentation is meant merely to help us clarify, or to pose a sincere and logical criticism of the said statement, with a proposition of a clearer alternative.  If you find this investigation completely futile, then express that position through your abstinence.  If however, you think you can help us get closer to actual universals, please do so.

An implication of this first unviversal is that within each art object is a set of relationships to contexts, and such relationships can be explored as a means to critical analysis.  How else are we to know something as art if it does not somehow reveal itself to us via the use of some external context?  Some questions for consideration are How does art connect itself to its context, whether that be a gallery, a church, or above the couch?  And how has modern art expanded the contextual plane of art, and has it been successful?  How does the context that gives rise to art function in society, is the context more important for us to explore than art?




  1. globatron
    April 30, 2009

    I like the change in the semantics. I hope others will find it more welcoming as a discussion since the word Law was 86d.

    I like these more as declarations. Good choice Akbar.

    I won’t argue with your first declaration. Everything we know I believe depends on context. Our entire reality is based on what we know up until this point in time. We can not define words without context.

    Every word that we speak has different context depending on the person who speaks the words. Even though words are defined and are in a dictionary it depends on what the definition of Is, Is. Right?

    If that can be argued in a court of law it supports your declaration.

    I think the issue with the context will be if we can define this as personal or social context and where to draw the line between the two.

    Keep fighting the good fight Akbar. Way to switch gears and keep the dialogue going.

  2. Akbar Lightning
    April 30, 2009

    Some thoughts that spring from this universal.

    The context of an artwork has to do with its ground, with what holds it, the sacred space. For painting, the ground is the canvas, that signifies the paint as art. For installation work, or sculpture, the white box of the gallery is the ground. This division of necessity is, for me, an interesting thing to consider.

    For a painter is free to carry the ground of art with him/her, he/she is not as dependent upon a sacred space. Those whose canvas is the space of a gallery or a site that has been claimed in the name of art are often dependent upon a third party, and I believe this has ramifications that are essential topics for today’s artist. When one requires a space, one is then submitting to the power structure that guards real estate. I believe that curators, gallery owners, have quite a bit of creative power in this regard, and have the capacity to steer installation and sculpture as a result. in this way i argue for the primacy of painting in regards to a very particular kind of freedom.

    a deeper question has to do with the need for the contextual ground of art. is it possible to have art without its proscribed space of being? this is not a question i can yet answer. that question necessitates us looking at art as a phenomenon. in this way we see that art has an innate ritualized character to it, and that this ritual serves certain social functions. all of these are areas of interest, if we are to be conscious community.

    in the fight to break the primacy of painting and traditional sculpture, revolutionaries of the 20th century have done little more than find themselves staring at the walls of the gallery. it is very similar to those who study atomic physics, being unable to mathematically capture the behavior of electrons.

    this exercise on globatron has all the value and all the pitfalls of string theory, it is highly speculative but also shows us how much there is left to learn in our search for artistic awareness.

    one more things: if we are to consider this website as a work of art, which is highly interesting to me, we see that the context that identifies itself as such is somewhat virtual. there is text discussing art, and images of accepted art, but that alone would not necessarily grant the site itself the modality of art as distinct from journalism. what is needed, and what has been done, is that the creators have claimed it as art, and have engaged in a conscious investigation of itself as art. this to me lends me to believe in Globatron’s prior argument of the primacy of digital art, simply because it is a deeper form of deception, a deeper world of illusion. although i love painting, and I believe painting offers, in its impossibility, a place for the discovery of high philosophy, here at Globatron, if we wish to make this art, we are forced by necessity to have the discussion as part of its ground of being. in a virtual world context and reality become intertwined.

    this is the greatest threat that artists will find from a site such as Globatron, because this is an argument for a higher level of artistic freedom, and that has always been a valued quality in the arts. we are the curators, the walls of the gallery, the spectators, and the artists. this is a form of realization.


  3. globatron
    April 30, 2009

    I don’t think all art that is not painting and drawing, or traditional in medium is held prisoner by the gallery walls as you suggested. There are many forms of work that are just events. And exist just in the context of time. A happening for example.

    Glad to see you went back to the blog as a piece of art and how it holds little if any compromise in its virtual walls if it has walls at all. No authority keeps us from expressing ourselves as we wish. No price tag, rent or lease is needed other than a small hosting fee (tiny actually) to allow this vehicle of creation to dance all around these lines of context.

    And then when you tie the blog together with all the other social media tools you realize how many other tools parallel if not compliment the functionality of the blog to express an idea, convey a concept, develop a conversation and build a community. You have a fairly unique if not revolutionary form of expression that is not bound by the typical rules of engagement of the art world.

    For instance I just began following Frieze Magazine on Twitter and sent them a link to our Welcome Mat Project in reference to that article we referenced on the globatron called “Serious Business”. Now if the twitter writer for Frieze doesn’t find that interesting several hundred other people might that are following Frieze.

    It’s like the wild wild west. There are no real rules and the territory is free to claim. Social media and the arts are one big love fest as far as I can see. A love fest that topples conventional wisdom about the traditional power paradigms.

    I mean the fact that I walked right into my favorite gallery (Rare Gallery) in Chelsea, NY and interviewed the gallery director because they KNOW how powerful these new forms of media are and it scares them and makes them elated at the same time. Power to the digital art world. The context is being rewritten every day. We are no longer held prisoner to walls or the powers that be. We are our own curators, gallery owners, creators, journalist, publishers and artists. The only thing to fear is fear ourselves. (play on words)

  4. Akbar Lightning
    April 30, 2009

    yo dog, that twitter stuff sounds great.

    in response to your argument, a happening must be framed in some way, given some context that enables the audience to see it as art. often times, they are sponsored by galleries, or ‘happen’ in galleries or at big shows. in other words, a sacred place is created, and that involves power.

    now, if the artist who creates happenings does so in a public, non endowed space, the question becomes ‘how is it art?’ how do we know it is art, without some contextual indication? if we cannot know which actions in public are artistic, and which are reality, then that destroys the whole dichotomy that allows for the division in the first place. in some ways, that would be more dangerous than people like us looking for laws. kind of like how Sacha Cohen walks the line between reality and farce. However, in the end, he indicates the truth to us, that is was a work of art, by releasing it in theatres. If he remained Borat, and never surrendered his claim to that personae, we would be facing a truly troubling creative question. a lie requires a position with the truth, if the lie becomes the new truth, then it cancels itself out as a lie, and the original lie too.

    Cubism in its time was a reaction against reality, its lie was in constant dialogue with reality. To paint in that style today is a completely different action, as cubism itself is a form of reality.

    i cannot think of an example of a work of art that does not indicate itself through some context that is outside the work.


  5. Akbar Lightning
    April 30, 2009

    i do get your point however, that some artists who engage in sculpture or performance, have some level of freedom from galleries. however, they will be more pressured into providing the ‘indication’, context becomes a constant shadow in their work.

    they have to ask themselves is it necessary to indicate to people that they are experiencing something that derives from an artistic impulse? or are we allowed the creative freedom to use the public space to create experiences for people without their consent? these are great questions.


  6. globatron
    May 3, 2009

    As I’ve had some more time to think this one through but not enough time to type my thoughts I was thinking maybe Akbar and Globatron could do a two way video discussing context at it applies to the arts. I would love to be able to talk it through thoroughly then we could post it as a reply? Holla if you are game. Plus I want to use my new webcam action.

    Thanks Akbar.

    Mr. Hooboy’s comments made me think about this more though as it seems not having read certain qualifying essays does not give an artist the proper context to form an educated opinion. I’d like to speak to that if we do this video. The more I’ve thought about it I think this declaration does hold water.


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