Wednesday, October 24, 2007


Below is a link to a short, blunt, and sweet article on collaboration. I not only agree that the tensions inherent in collaboration moves the work and individual practice forward, there is a complex and wonderful freedom in ceding direct authorship. By giving up authorship, subject and content can predominate.

Against Competition
by Marc Fischer

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Data Vs. Information

Micheal Whitelaw presents a mechanism to evaluate data art in the article Art Against Information-Case Studies in Data Practice. Looking to the source of the term data, Whitelaw, explores the difference between data and information. In science, data is raw knowledge and information is data framed in such a way as to provided some insight. By looking at the difference, Whitelaw criticizes data artists that present their work as data when selection preferences and display modes transform the data into information. This differentiations gives viewers a handy tool to begin an investigation of assumptions within this genre.

Monday, September 24, 2007


I was recently introduced to the writings of Mary Carruthers. In the introduction to A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture she uses the specificity of the topic, the idea of memory in the Middle Ages, to touch on broader notions of the function of memory within culture. I like the use of the specific as a tool for looking at bigger pictures. Diana Taylor also used this mechanism nicely in The Archive and the Repertoire-Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas.

Carruthers describes the Middle Ages as a culture of the “memorial’ and contrasts that to our current understanding of memory as based in the “documentary.” This is an interesting way to look at modernity.

She sites various uses of the metaphor of memory as a wax tablet. I find this visually poetic and somehow currently relevant. The archival nature of wax (encaustic paintings endure) combined with how easilty it is transformed (just add pressure or heat) captures the elusive nature of memory.

While the introduction is wonderful, the body of the book becomes so overly specific I found it, well, dull. This is also true of one of my favorite pieces of writing- the introduction by Simon Schama to Landscape and Memory. I never could get through the book, but I have read and re-read the introduction. I would place this in a similar category.

Monday, September 17, 2007

The Archive and The Repertoire

The Archive and the Repertoire-Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas, by Diana Taylor is an interesting and intriguingly problematic look how to create a body of knowledge around performance, which is inherently ephemeral. As a basis for inquiry, she looks to her personal experience and her study of "hemispheric" cultural difference. Frustrated by how Western culture defines norms, she looks at the tools of cultural studies to examine the difficulties of defining and documenting performance. The second section where she defines the archive and the repertoire is quite wonderful. The book shifts in scale from large issues to personal memory with ease. A case study of sorts, it is necessary to abstract some of the information, if you happen to be uninterested in the particular topic of examination. She provides excellent tools for looking at large picture issues.

The Archive and the Repertoire by Diana Taylor, Duke University Press.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Theory of the Derive

So, my chain of reading did not lead to my expected destination, but to The Theory of the Derive by Guy Deborg, 1958. Enjoy this wandering on wandering.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Henri Lefebvre interview

This week is a snippet of Situationists International history. Henri Lefebvre talks about his interactions with with Situationist in a 1983 interview by Kristin Ross. It is full of dichotomies with a healthy dose of utopian goals. For those interested, Henri Lefebvre wrote the famous Critique of Everyday Life, which is on my reading list. Expect a brief post next week on this reading.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sculpture in the Expanded Field

Thursday postings have fallen a bit behind in the wake of a move. In an attempt to get back on track, below is a link to the classic Rosalind Krauss article Sculpture in the Expanded Field. This article had somehow escaped my time and attention. As always, Krauss writes with a clear argument and enough opinion to keep debate heated. Also, the diagrams are charming.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

Rather than post, I recommend a book entitled Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson. This is a slim book based on the epic poem, Geryoneïs, as told by the sixth century poet Stesichorus. The main character is a red boy with wings who comes of age in a story set in a variety of times, told by a series of narrators, and in diverse stylistic modes. This is beautiful and jarring poem/tale. This book like the Jeanette Winterson novel, Written on the Body, I recently read, is a written compliment to theoretical ideas.

Note: I exchanged one of my possessions for Written on the Body when Nancy Nesbit came through Champaign Urbana and stopped at OPENSOURCE Art. She is engaged in a yearlong project, Exchange, where she is driving every one of her possessions across Canada, the United States, and Mexico and exchanging objects and stories along the way. The website is:

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Genealogy of Site Specificity. In One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity

I have been thinking about the difference between space and place, as that has come up in conversation repeatedly over the past week. In response to this nice serendipity, I am posting an article by Miwon Kwon entitled Genealogy of Site Specificity. In One Place After Another: Site-Specific Art and Locational Identity.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Death of the Author

Below is a link to an article by Roland Barthes entitled Death of the Author. This article voices one of my current favorite notions: once something is written or made the author becomes tertiary to the reader and the continuum in which the work exists with other works. Making art is not about being an individual genius, but about participating.

Friday, June 29, 2007


Below is a vocabulary list from the summer readings. If you would like to add to this list or post questions, I am happy to add you as an author. Just send me your email address as a comment or to my email at and I will add you as an authorized CampTheory user.

Aporia. 1. Rhetoric. the expression of a simulated or real doubt, as about where to begin or what to do or say.
2. Logic, Philosophy. a difficulty encountered in establishing the theoretical truth of a proposition, created by the presence of evidence both for and against it.
au·toch·tho·nous [aw-tok-thuh-nuhs] –adjective
1.pertaining to autochthons; aboriginal; indigenous (opposed to heterochthonous).
a.found in the part of the body in which it originates, as a cancerous lesion.
b.found in a locality in which it originates, as an infectious disease.
3.Psychology. of or pertaining to ideas that arise independently of the individual's own train of thought and seem instead to have some alien or external agency as their source.
4.Geology. (of rocks, minerals, etc.) formed in the region where found.
Conterminous, a.
1. Having a common boundary, bordering upon (each other).
2. Meeting at their ends.
3.Coincident in their boundaries; exactly co-extensive
b. Exactly coextensive in time, range, sense, etc.
Egeliac 1. used in, suitable for, or resembling an elegy.
2. expressing sorrow or lamentation: elegiac strains.
3. Classical Prosody. noting a distich or couplet the first line of which is a dactylic hexameter and the second a pentameter, or a verse differing from the hexameter by suppression of the arsis or metrically unaccented part of the third and the sixth foot.
Epistemic: of or pertaining to knowledge or the conditions for acquiring it.
habent sua fata libelli:
Books have their Fate
: subject to external controls and impositions
Botany. of or pertaining to monoclinous flowers of two or more kinds occurring on different individuals of the same species, the kinds differing in the relative length of stamens and pistils (opposed to homogonous).
1.serving to indicate or point out; stimulating interest as a means of furthering investigation.
2.encouraging a person to learn, discover, understand, or solve problems on his or her own, as by experimenting, evaluating possible answers or solutions, or by trial and error: a heuristic teaching method.
3.of, pertaining to, or based on experimentation, evaluation, or trial-and-error methods.

1 : the art of discovering temperament and character from outward appearance
2 : the facial features held to show qualities of mind or character by their configuration or expression
3 : external aspect; also : inner character or quality revealed outwardly
1. a controversial argument, as one against some opinion, doctrine, etc.
2. a person who argues in opposition to another; controversialist.
\PUHK-uh\, adjective:
Authentic; genuine.
Good of its kind; first-class.
Telos: the end term of a goal-directed process; esp., the Aristotelian final cause

Design and Crime by Hal Foster based on an article of the same name by Adolf Loos.

The next online reading is Design and Crime, by Hal Foster, which is based on an article of the same name by Adolf Loos. A link to the reading is below.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

“Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their rights, but instead a chance to express themselves.” Page 14

Questions, in this asynchronistic format are a bit difficult. The questions either seem too huge- Does Benjamin believes that film, which presents a reality outside of a specific humanity, history or location, will be the undoing of religion? Or they seem too small-What does the sentence “When the age of mechanical preproduction separated art from its basis in cult, the semblance of its autonomy disappeared forever.” actually mean? I will take my small token, the chance to express myself, and pose a question. All questions great or small are welcome to this forum.

I would like to look across this reading at some themes about the body and ask a more generalized question about body, routine, and politics.

Benjamin speaks about the body in terms of film actors. The film displaces the actor from his audience, thereby severing any location or history. Walter Benjamin equates the original to location and history or space and context. He compares the original to reproductions in terms of value, cult value vs. exhibition value. On page 8, this displacement of the body is talked about in terms of an exile of the self.

The body is also discussed in terms of the eye. Mechanical reproduction focuses attentions on the eye, or sight. In the case of film, the eye of the cameraperson or editor is predominant. Great weight is given to the choice of the cameraperson through their eyes. In Marxist terms, this gives great power to the producer.

Toward the end of the article architecture enters into the discussion, as the oldest art form. Architecture becomes an ideal model on which to formulate the potential of art because it is perceived in a distracted state. This distraction, Benjamin argues, is inherent in reproduction. In the age of mechanical reproduction, we have all become distracted experts. On page 14, the use or appropriation of buildings happens in two ways, “by touch and by sight.” Touch and architecture meld into habit.

So- to my question. Benjamin both identifies the political power of reproduction to control, while at the same time, sees the tremendous potential for positive change. So where does the body figure into all of this? The body is the site of perception, but it is also the site on which we test or evaluate different modes of art or politics. Body and habit-touch and sight- politicizing art and aestheticizing politics. There are, in this writing, many different notions about how the body enters into these ideas. What do you think?

Friday, June 22, 2007

The First Reading of the Summer

Our first reading is The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction by Walter Benjamin. Below is a link to a an online pdf.

When posting a question, please give the page number and a small section of a sentence to help us find the exact quote.

Happy reading.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Welcome to Art Theory Summer Camp

Welcome to Art Theory Summer Camp.

My hope is that this blog will function in two ways:

-For anyone who misses an OPENSOURCE meeting, we can communicate on this blog.

-For anyone wishing to join Art Theory Summer Camp, but can't come to meetings, this blog will be the forum for questioning and debate.

Happy reading.