Tag Archives: philosophy

Sometime stuff just takes time I suppose

#Letter365 No312 gets posted
No312 goes in the box

Some time I just write the first thing that comes into my head. On the envelope I have written about the possibility of there being nothing inside, but of course with this being conceptual art that nothing would constitute the artwork and would therefore be something. Now as it happens (there is a temptation in me to write out the words from the Mothers’ Fillmore East: June 1972 album “Do You Like My New Car?”…”we’ve all come here for one thing tonight…”) as I said, as it happens there is something inside the envelope today, anyone handling the envelope would be able to feel that. So let’s say you were a travelling rock and roll band called the Vanilla Fudge that there is just packing inside the envelope to make it seem like there is a piece of art in there. Does that make the packing the art for the day? I have always said that any packing to protect the artwork will not be exhibited or count as part of the work unless I have a particular reason to include it (for example it may have a further artwork on it or a celebrity autograph or be a £50 note). So just packaging  shouldn’t count as the artwork and therefore could be said to be nothing. But what if there was, say, a blank piece of paper which in turn had another piece of paper to protect it in transit? In this case the “nothing” would be the absence of marks (or whatever) on the paper and so that piece of paper could be exhibited and counted as the artwork. The big question is, what if the protective piece of paper was identical to the artwork and also had no marks on it. As I would not be able to distinguish between them which would be the artwork? How could that choice be made? Two identical sheets of paper one of which I had designated as the piece that held the “nothing” that would have been the art for the day but which I have no way of proving when the envelope is opened. Now I thought that Schrödinger’s Cat was tough but I think that if I could be arsed I could prove that art is harder than philosophy or quantum physics (or is it quantum mechanics?) Anyway, while it is still sealed are the contents of that envelope art, nothing, “nothing” or all/none of these? Which could lead to a comparison to Zen problems like the falling of trees and so forth. I reckon conceptual art is also probably more complex and/or simpler than Zen and if I could be arsed I could prove that too! You see there are all sorts of variables in what might be in the envelope and really when it comes to the crunch it is just me saying which if any of the contents is art. I can change the rules, lie, cheat, charm, bamboozle or whatever i choose and the bit that is art is just the bit I say is art, though I could be lying about that too. Maybe in all the envelopes that have what appears to be protective packing it is the apparent packing that is the art and the item that appears to be an artwork is just scrap  being used as packing? I wish now I really had put nothing in the envelope/I am so pleased that I really did put nothing in the envelope!

Anyway this took some time, as did the thing/nothing I put in the envelope today. And I didn’t get much else finished today though I have achieved quite a bit really in preparation for my next stint in the studio!

It’s a rip off

#Letter365 No247 gets posted
No247 goes in the box

I don’t deny it and, in fact, I am quite proud and excited especially since it probably is one of the best pieces I have done in this project. Now you might say if it’s one of the best then it’s because it was someone else’s good idea that makes it good! To which I would ask which of the many versions by various artists did I copy? Or is it an amalgam (an interesting word to pop out considering the context of this piece!)? Is it a cop-out or is it very clever? It references 400 years of the history of art, plus the history of physics and of chemistry; touches into the realms of philosophy and religion; demonstrates my understanding of the traditional technologies of communication and my knowledge of art techniques. Could it be said that the earliest two versions I know of were in themselves a cop-out – one that I recognise myself liable to? Then, taking all of that into account, I delivered a finished piece that is technically pretty good and almost perfect against the needs of the idea – especially in the choice of materials – as well as being pretty good to look at!

All that is pretty good when you consider that when I returned to the studio this evening I was vacant of ideas and got pretty despondent that my first fiddlings about were leading nowhere. There is a whole magnificent history of stealing other people’s ideas throughout the history of all the arts to be discussed. I have made this piece my own partly because of the intellectual content behind why I did it, which opens up another discussion about what art really is. Sadly I have neither the time nor energy to think about it right now, let alone construct an argument about it. Another day maybe.