Comments on: Abstract Painting: The Screen and the Interface http://abstractcritical.com/article/abstract-painting-the-screen-and-the-interface/ Abstract Critical is a not-for profit company aiming to establish a new critical context for all generations of artists involved with ambitious abstract art. Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:23:33 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Peter Stott http://abstractcritical.com/article/abstract-painting-the-screen-and-the-interface/#comment-99436 Tue, 05 Feb 2013 22:19:00 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6505#comment-99436 The digital revolution means art theory is going more like this:
http://cns-alumni.bu.edu/~slehar/Spatial/Spatial.htm

Like De Kooning, David Reed’s paintings aim at the concrete illusion of the form behind abstraction, the form that artists have been pursuing through abstraction for over a century. Filming paintings, though, is a signification of the Digital age to come, an age with a technology that can actually reify abstraction for real.

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By: Andrew Stooke http://abstractcritical.com/article/abstract-painting-the-screen-and-the-interface/#comment-97210 Thu, 31 Jan 2013 16:54:32 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6505#comment-97210 I was slightly annoyed by this text. David Ryan asks rhetoricly, “ Is there anything new to say about Richter? Perhaps not, but in this context his work not only put a deconstructed abstract painting on the agenda but also examined its intertwined sense of ontology within both technology and as a means of representation.” I ask what does he mean by this? And why the italics? Deconstructed abstract painting? Is it the proposition that by frustrating the poetry of representation, and rendering it as technique, Richter does more than intervene and point to the contradictions of the surface? To me this is a misappropriated claim to deconstruction. Rather than going beyond the image and the technique, to short circuit their power to claim that they can be true, the proposition of Richter’s painting as described here both stabilises the hegemony of the image and the elegance of the act.
The forlorn approach to Richter sets the tone of an argument that persistently conflates the very different moments and affects of TV, cinema and film or video installation, all rich and problematic in their discrete modes. Tim Head’s work makes a strong case for teasing apart the nature of these spaces; but it is dispatched here in such a cursory manner that the resonance is missed. Moving on, Hito Steyerl is not even accorded the status of an artist, despite her relevant shows last year at both Art Institute of Chicargo, and eflux in New York. In his New York Times review of the latter show, from 20/12/2012, Holland Cotter concludes that the work can be read, “as an act of moral thinking-in-progress. In a very of-the-moment, digital-age way, the logic of that thinking is fractured, the nature of morality suspect.” What more should we seek in painting’s relation to, “the world of ‘stuff’”?

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By: Peter Stott http://abstractcritical.com/article/abstract-painting-the-screen-and-the-interface/#comment-95548 Tue, 29 Jan 2013 00:33:27 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6505#comment-95548 The digital revolution’s impact on art theory is to see image-as-data, data that has yet to be comprehended, according to current levels of scientific analysis. In essence, that scientific analysis is defining art theory, but this still leaves artists plenty of opportunity to create data for the scientists to analyse using whatever means available. It’s only natural for some artists to create works aiming to defy analysis, also because it’s a hell of a lot easier to obstruct knowledge than to actually discover some. Tim Head’s piece presents the digital field as a well of potentiality, for when some knowledge is actually garnered from abstract painting.De Kooning went mad trying to extract the knowledge, some would say there’s no knowledge to be garnered, usually the artists attempting to obstruct it.

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By: John Holland http://abstractcritical.com/article/abstract-painting-the-screen-and-the-interface/#comment-85276 Thu, 17 Jan 2013 16:07:25 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6505#comment-85276 Yes- I’m not sure painting has anything very relevant or useful to say about the virtual space of the screen, except in an oppositional sense, or more positively, by articulating an alternative.
Otherwise, you may as we’ll be gardening about Facebook.

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By: Robin Greenwood http://abstractcritical.com/article/abstract-painting-the-screen-and-the-interface/#comment-85168 Thu, 17 Jan 2013 12:18:58 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6505#comment-85168 Maybe the screen’s unbiquity and its ability to change/distort our perception are the very reasons for painting and sculpture to avoid at all costs having anything to do with it? Perhaps they should even mount a defense against its unreality? Would this be too ridiculous? It would be a shame if we all lost our ability to look at (real) painting and sculpture. Can we still ‘see’ Titian and Constable? If the result of the influence of ‘the screen’ is David Reed and similar, I’ll do without it.

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By: Sam http://abstractcritical.com/article/abstract-painting-the-screen-and-the-interface/#comment-85006 Thu, 17 Jan 2013 08:06:43 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6505#comment-85006 Because of its ubiquity – and because it changes how we relate to the world through vision – it seems like a good subject for abstract painting: however I realise that not ever abstract painter needs a subject (or certainly not one that is so specific); and no I certainly wouldn’t say it should be a privileged relation…

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By: Robin Greenwood http://abstractcritical.com/article/abstract-painting-the-screen-and-the-interface/#comment-83918 Wed, 16 Jan 2013 10:14:04 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6505#comment-83918 So do you think that contemporary abstract painting should have a SPECIAL relationship with the screen today, over and above other possible sources or starting points?

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By: Sam http://abstractcritical.com/article/abstract-painting-the-screen-and-the-interface/#comment-83817 Wed, 16 Jan 2013 08:48:16 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6505#comment-83817 Well – the pictures just illustrate artists David writes about… Of course you’re right that just investigating the screen without making good painting is pointless; which is what I was trying to get at with my comments on Richter and Reed (who for me are the most interesting, though unsatisfying..). However I see no problem with abstract painting approaching or having a source in things like the screen…

I said I found it hard to think through and I think you have slightly misunderstood me – I didn’t quite want to say a contest FOR unity, rather a contest BETWEEN parts / internal organisation and the whole. I’m not sure if the distinction makes sense, but it seems important to me, especially with the modernist interest in clear wholes (parodied in painting as object) being something of a dead-end.

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By: Robin Greenwood http://abstractcritical.com/article/abstract-painting-the-screen-and-the-interface/#comment-83063 Tue, 15 Jan 2013 19:42:41 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6505#comment-83063 That’s quite a good bit of pretentious rambling, I think. I can at least make a little more sense of it than David’s essay. I particularly like the last paragraph and ‘…the constant presence of this contestation…’ for unity in painting.

The problem I have in keeping track of the arguments in the essay is that I keep on getting distractedly incensed by the pictures. I presume the illustrations are here for a reason – as a demonstration of painting’s possible relation to the screen, maybe? Sorry, I don’t get it or see the point of it, if this is the result.

I can’t off hand think of a worse successful painter out there than David Reed. You can go on his website and see dozens and dozens of paintings based on this one technique – a kind of trompe l’oeil representation of crumpled silk, spread across panel after panel after panel (in any colour you want). Why you would want to keep doing this all the way across a 190″ long painting, I cannot fathom. So then to do it to more than one painting is brain-dead. For him to become famous for this inanity is crazy. You can have all the intellectual theory you like, but take a look; this work is shit.

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By: Sam http://abstractcritical.com/article/abstract-painting-the-screen-and-the-interface/#comment-82927 Tue, 15 Jan 2013 16:39:10 +0000 http://abstractcritical.com/?post_type=article&p=6505#comment-82927 I think this is a very interesting essay, with lots to chew on. I agree with the general premise that abstract painting can profit from the screen (not just be displaced by it, or be changed negatively by it – which seem the most obvious current consequences when one looks at the ingratiatingly folksy, hand-made and modest feel of a lot of current abstraction). However I find myself disagreeing with many of the value judgments and individual analysis…

Perhaps the key phase is this: “contradiction between the essentially incremental, heterogeneous nature of traditional painting and the embrace of the instantaneous continuity of the photograph.” I agree with the identification David makes here, but not with what he does with it. It seems to me that it is the trap that both David Reed (though I admit I have not seen his work in the flesh) and Richter fall into. Both Richter and Reed hint that the photograph, the computer, video screen or movie screen can be compelling transposed into painting, however they both leave this possibility unexplored, as simply an effect rather than the beginning of something more compelling and complexly (incrementally?) visual.

Reed’s work rather than ‘rejecting structure or structuring in the traditional sense’ (as if there the history of painting could be neatly separated off in such a manner – what is structure in the traditional sense?) seems to me to be a slightly loose and glossy version of post-painterly abstraction: of course it is likely that the cinema and television screens had already made itself present in the work of Noland, Olitski et al but without the limiting and overly-literal theory which is attached to Reed’s. Richter’s Static is for me the more successful of the two David discusses, if the similar painting shown in his Tate show is anything to go by. The combination of instantaneous, impossible to grasp ‘background’ with its sense of ‘a free indeterminate motion’ and incremental, gestural marks was exciting, a move in the right direction, but one which sadly (as far as I know) Richter hasn’t followed up or moved beyond a basic visual idea. The idea that his work should be seen in its ‘seriality and reciprocity’ for me in part explains this failure: why develop the visual power of a particular painting when ‘meaning’ can be constructed by deciphering the oeurve as a whole? (and the archive found through the internet’s screen is perhaps partly responsible for the ubiquity of this type of deadening analysis – though this is another story) The reason why everything has said about Richter is that these moves are very easy to understand: whereas Matisse (to pick an example at random) who progressively concentrated and condensed his powers within each picture is much richer, most less understandable.

Though I can’t grasp the paintings at all through the screen (!) Kaneda perhaps gets further along in using the screen to create complexity, but they seem to me horribly cute and retro more than anything else…The digital breakdown of Tim Head and Dan Hays is obviously a cliche and a dead-end, and perhaps the less said about them the better.

My main disagreement, though I confess I am slightly confused by David’s last paragraph, is with his idea that the screen and interface should be used to move painting into real space. Ellen Hyllemose’s work, which seems so clearly trivial, so limited by a gimmick, seems to me a good piece of evidence against this development, and whether one calls it a break or a regression seems irrelevant. Though thinking this through is perhaps beyond me I do not think wholeness and unity can be so easily given up on; the relation between wholeness and part is one that is constantly contested – is a relation which could be used to create a whole history of painting. To just say we are doing away with pictorial unity without acknowledging the constant presence of this contestation within painting is complacent at best (and for an essay which is so difficult seems alarmingly simplistic): what we need is our version of this contest. A ‘different conception of space’ stemming from the screen would be best explored within painting: as a way of enriching and complicating painting’s illusion its ability to render depth and ambiguity, space and structure. In this way though abstract painting does not need the screen perhaps it could use it. To do this it would need find a way to contain the feel – starting perhaps with Gilbert-Rolfe’s ‘light’, which is sometimes intense and eye-straining, sometimes soft, sometimes banal and distracting sometimes totally immersive of the screen – within something more complex and nameless. Perhaps (and I’m following a blog by Mark Stone in this) what is needed it not a literal moving of the screen into real space a la Hyllemose but a type of painting which can deal with the screen as part of the total physical environment we inhabit, that is which uses the screen as not an easily referenced piece of ‘content’ (i.e as a spring-board for writing or talking about contemporary experience) but as part of a total and translated spatial experience…. Right that’s enough pretentious meandering for one afternoon….

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