On Lascaux

September 6, 2013 · Print This Article

This piece was originally submitted to Chicago Artist Writers:

Guest post by Daniel Baird

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In the recent Field Museum exhibition ‘Scenes from the Stone Age: The Cave Paintings of Lascaux,’ perfect replicas of a 20,000 year old archaeological site in the Southwestern countryside of France are brought to Chicago by way of 3D models, to-scale stone replicas and cast artifacts. The process by which the drawings and cave structures are being visualized shows a contemporary trend of using advanced imaging technologies to digitally represent and conserve the surfaces of objects and locates it purely within an aesthetic analysis of surface.

The recent predominance of surface is seen most notably in cultural objects that come to us via the internet and hand-held mobile devices. Google Earth is a leading proponent that is warming us to this way of being in the world. Ambitious in its scope, it seeks to map out by way of photographic image an accurate depiction of the entirety of the earth. It does this via satellite imagery and numerous on land instruments that take 8 simultaneous pictures and seam them together as a flowing surface. In this digital replicating of the world through image, one is able to traverse any place on earth through a screen. Spin-Cam, a recent application for the iPhone, allows viewers to download panoramic images of locations from around the world and view them, hands outstretched, through the surface of their screens at the same position they were taken. Literally spinning in place while a different location is grafted onto the present. A recent development in printing technologies, centralized to the advertizing industry, has allowed for images to be placed onto a mesh vinyl that is able to be seen though when near, but at a distance reveals an image. Used in construction sites during the restoration of important structures, it has been used to place an image of the building as it is planned to look on the outer scaffolding, or skin, to mask the potentially unflattering things being done to its exterior facade. In all of these instances, including the recent Field Museum exhibition, the surface of the experienced world is presented as disembodied and able to be understood as object.

 

Lascaux, as the caves paintings have come to be called, was discovered in 1940 and made into a tourist attraction in 1948. Due to heavy carbon monoxide levels generated by roughly 1200 visitors per day, the caves were shut down to conserve them from damage. To satisfy the desire to see these ancient discoveries, in 1983 a nearby quarry was used to house a pair of to-scale replicas of walls from the original. It was given the name Lascaux II in recognition of its artifice. Constructed with armatures and concrete, detailed diagrams were made of the original paintings and reproduced by hand using pigments and tools similar to what may have been used by the creators of the original. The field museum presents another, mathematically precise, iteration of the replicated cave drawings.

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The entrance of the exhibition begins with a stone object that is worn, weathered and dimly lit. This initial confrontation with the stone object anchors the viewer in a familiarity to the real. Light slowly traces the contours of faint engravings on the fragment calling our attention to an abstracted horse hidden within the surface. The revealing of a hidden illusion on the surface of the stone sets the stage for a type of reversal between the real and the artificial that occurs throughout the exhibit.

In an adjacent room, the mesmerizing sound of a synthesizer pulses soothing digital tones that feel like a sacred chant. Six stark-white, bulbous vessels recall decayed and hollowed out tree trunks resting on skewed geometric bases. At waist height, these objects refer to horizontal bodies balancing precariously on the peaks of mountains. Sleek, bendable lights are perched at the entrance to each of these forms illuminating the interior surface. The hollow vessels are so thin that the interior and exterior skins appear to be the same.

A realistic digital animation projected onto the wall is the heart of the exhibition. It connects the forms surrounding the viewer into a single entity that slowly rotates amidst a black background. It looks like an organic spaceship, floating with no reference to its own scale. As the animation rotates the cave structure, the viewer becomes aware that the exterior surface is derived purely from images of its interior. The cave as 3D model is a pure flowing surface. This visualization of the cave structure as an absolute object is an experience that would be impossible to attain in real life.

The camera enters into the digital cave structure and moves with anthropomorphic gestures through the detailed interior, bobbing ever so slightly to the left and right as if to mimic how we walk through the world. Artificial bats rush through the caves and floating balls of fire illuminate the chambers casting faux shadows on the walls. At the end of the tunnel is a bright light that obscures any further view. This visualization of the caves interior is key to understanding the objects in the room. The white vessels in the space become blank sheets of paper that the viewer can now graft the cave drawings onto. It is impossible to resist imagining oneself inside the vessels at a 1:10 scale.

Surface and replication are emphasized by the exhibition. In digitally acquiring the undulating surface of the cave drawings through 3D laser scanning, we are left only with images that can be grafted onto mathematically precise points in virtual space. These points hold no depth and can be seen anywhere in the world, at any time with any digital device. The caves are now pure information. The thinness of the physical structures throughout the exhibition exemplify the ‘zero-dimensional’ quality of 3D models. Each physical object we encounter is derived from the original 3D model and pushes against its own architectural and structural limits in order to maintain this illusion of immateriality.

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The next room in the exhibit presents enormous, to-scale wall replicas of select rooms of the caves. Faux-stone surfaces with crude pigmented drawings tower over the viewer. They appear rocky, irregular and roughly an inch thick while being held from behind by large geometric structures (mirroring the display techniques holding the 1:10 scale models) Termed ‘stone-veils’, these massive replicas attempt to enter into this depth-less and perfect zone of the digital. Lights subtly change in this new space, revealing different perspectives of the drawings that are on the walls similar to how the faux-candles changed the surface in the animation. Two hyper-real sculptures of a man and woman clad in animal skins and jewelry peer out of the cracks of adjoining walls. The woman points her finger outward with a look of fear on her face while the male, much older in age, sits beside her with a passive expression. Their uncanny expressions, particularly that of the woman’s, instills a feeling of trespassing and self-awareness within the viewer. Despite all attempts, eye contact with the ancient figures is impossible. They always look through you.

The translation of the physical into the perfect digital and back again into the physical is tested in this part of the exhibition. In placing the figure physically into the 3D caves represented in the prior room, we physically enter into a world understood to be built from the virtual. The forms are fragmentary and stand in as samples for the entire structure. In bringing together these fragmented 1:1 replicas, the entirety of the cave is presented. In encountering these forms, the question as to whether or not the replica can carry more weight than the original is predominant. Would the replicas and the recreated 3D model shift in meaning or value if the interior structure of the original cave tragically collapsed in on itself and became forever lost? Would the 3D model, and the perfect reproductions that can be derived from it, function as the new original? Or, to speak to recent cultural apocalyptic fetishism, if the world should disappear would Google Earth be the perfect world before it beset an unfortunate event? The ancient cave drawings at Lascaux now digitally exist everywhere and at all times simultaneously, trapped photographically in the moment they were recorded. Visiting the original now seems fruitless and arbitrary.

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This possibility of representing the cave structure in virtual space results in a new consideration of aura. In becoming virtual, the caves are now equated with any digital model of any object and as a result now exist in historical ambiguity. A digital spoon, table, asteroid, CAT Scan, height-field map of a farm in Nebraska or the Lascaux Caves all share the potential to exist simultaneously with one another, and at any scale, in the digital terrain. The digital caves are now a pseudo-artifact that share a likeness with the function of the souvenir. The 3D model of the cave presents the possibility for an acute historical analysis of the markings on its surface by way of mimicking the lighting conditions, zooming into the surfaces and experiencing time inside of the virtual models.  It also allows for them to be placed in any virtual situation as object, container or reference.

The trans-historical preoccupation with the surface of objects is emphasized by these contemporary reproductions of the Lascaux caves. Created 20,000 years ago, these early articulations of physical reality on a flat picture plane have traversed through time to be embodied by our most recent iteration of representation. Whereas historically the placement of images on surfaces has been the dominant concern of art and aesthetics, we are now seeing a preoccupation with the pure surface able to exist anywhere and in any form. We can now experience the cave with more exactitude than we ever could in real life.

The Field Museum exhibit, “Scenes from the Stone Age: The Cave Paintings of Lascaux” closes on September 8th, 2013.

Daniel G. Baird (b. 1984) received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and MFA from the University of Illinois, Chicago. Recent Solo exhibitions include ‘Vestige’ at the Institute of Jamais Vu, London, ‘Has the World Already Been Made? X4′ at both Roots and Culture, Chicago IL and Hedah, Maastricht, Netherlands, ‘Meridian’ at Robert Bills Contemporary, Chicago, IL and ‘This New Ocean,’ at Appendix Project Space, Portland OR. Recent Group exhibitions include Bowling Alone, Andrew Rafacz Gallery, Merge Visible, Prairie Productions, Chicago, IL. He will present work at the Elizabeth Foundation, NY and Leeds College of Art in 2014.



“Weird Dude Energy” at Heaven Gallery, curated by Gurl Don’t Be Dumb

July 16, 2013 · Print This Article

by Chicago Artist Writers

Featuring a Guest Post by James Pepper Kelly

The following article was originally written for and published by Chicago Artist Writers // Editor: Jason Lazarus

 

Weird Dude Energy curators Gurl Don’t Be Dumb: Eileen Mueller and Jamie Steele
 
 
Andrew Mausert-Mooney & Nicholas Wylie, performance view
 

Acrostic, original formatting via PDF here. Sources liberally appropriated from the Internet. 

 

Walter Benjamin |   At the center of this exhibition is man. Present-day man; a reduced man, therefore, chilled in a chilly environment. Since, however, this is the only one we have, it is in our interest to know him. He is subjected to tests, examinations. What emerges is this: Weird Dude Energy (WDE), a layering of men, a group perspective on masculinity.

Wilde, Oscar |         But is WDE, as a meme/concept, actually on display in this show, or only in the title and statement? Is GDBD curating a show of WDE, or instead the passion of one’s friends? There’s crossover, and it may all be equal—those passions are the fascinating things IRL anyway. For me, the highlight was Andrew Mausert-Mooney & Nicholas Wylie’s performance of foot washing, massage, and chanting of “Poor Unfortunate Souls” from The Little Mermaid. It had the dignity of a ceremony, as well as its unreality, and combined the insincere character of a romantic movie with the wit and beauty that make such movies delightful to us. Is insincerity really such a terrible thing?

Weiner, Anthony |   It’s passion that’s a terrible thing, and let’s just forget about online WDE. Let’s recalculate, let’s talk this show. Now Andrew Doak’s photo: I don’t know where that photograph came from. I don’t know for sure what’s in it.  I don’t know for sure if it was manipulated. And I’m going to get to the firm bottom of that.

Eagleton, Terry |       Don’t know Doak? It’s a self-portrait as John Belushi’s character in Animal House, from the artist’s ongoing portraiture project. There are several orphaned pieces in WDE, but I’ll admit that this one does suffer the most for it. Oli Rodriguez’s photographic portrait integrates well with the other work, even though it is de-linked from the S&M series it’s part of. The problem is, what we consume now is not objects or events, but our experience of them. We buy an experience like we can pick up a GBDB beer coozie ($2.00 at the opening).

Immanuel, Kant |      Sure, there’s no doubt that all knowledge begins with experience. That’s why I bought three. But reading about the Weird Dude Energy Tumblr that was the inspiration for the show, I learned two things on the Hyperallergic comment thread: first, apparently no one reads my books anymore; and second, “Young people’s ideas about whatever is cool can have a conversation with contemporary art.” If you can’t deal with merch and memes, fine, how about Mike Rea’s virtuosic wood installation: jail cell/microphone/and, inevitably, glory hole? Out of the crooked timber of humanity, no straight thing was ever made.

Rahm, Emanuel |      Fucking retarded. Take your fucking tampon out and tell me what you have to say. Best was Ivan Lozano’s installation of glowing blue hands on poles. It reminds me of when I sliced off my finger working at Arby’s, went swimming in Lake Michigan, and got gangrene. That’s when I decided to become king of Chicago. Lozano fucked up his hand and made some casts based on not being able to move. Same idea, different goal. You should never let a serious crisis go to waste.

Derrida, Jacques |     Can we not talk about biography, please? Stick to the work! Look at how the hands’ blue glow syncs with Zak Arctander’s red tinted photo of the young man in a Vans cap, shown from his chest up. Whatever precautions you take so the photograph will look like this or that, there comes a moment when that photograph surprises you. It’s the other’s gaze that wins out and decides—which Arctander must be thinking about because look, he made sure the man’s eyes are covered by his cap! Rrose, with your own compromised intuitions, what did you like?

 

Duchamp, Marcel |    I just like—breathing. It’s so necessary that I don’t question it.

Umberto, Eco |         You are odd. Weird, I mean; but then, it’s only petty men who seem normal. Didn’t you like Alex Gartelmann’s limp aluminum baseball bat, bent over a wooden peg? A mash-up of your own readymades and an ‘80s sculptural phallus, a strong piece with good position.

Duchamp, Marcel |   I don’t believe in art, I believe in artists and the most interesting thing about artists is how they live. All this twaddle are pieces of a chess game called language.

Eco, Umberto |          Perhaps…. Maybe I’m—maybe all this is not as wise as it likes to think it is. And if Jacques’s right about epistemic plurality, is this some eternal zugzwang, as you chess people say? It’s true that the most interesting letters I receive are from people in the Midwest, people like the lone figure in John Opera’s lovely, desolate Wisconsin landscape. So let’s turn to their official sources instead!

 

Newcity Art (B. Stabler)| A variety of manly tensions are borne out by the juxtapositions in the group show “Weird Dude Energy.” In the end, there’s just nothing that says “competence” like a great curatorial concept enjoyably, even suavely, executed.

Rrose, Sélavy |           Fine, fine. You do have to have an official existence. Intermezzo. One more, back to the living, then the end.

Jason Foumberg |      Weird Dude Energy, a concept and an exhibition, probes the unkempt desires of men.  You know how guys act when they’re all together, without women around?  This show amplifies that vibe with work from 17 male artists.

You + Yr Friends |      _________________________________________________________________________

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Sources:  Walter Benjamin: “The Author as Producer”, Reflections. Wilde, Oscar: The Picture of Dorian Gray. Weiner, Anthony: “GPS Speech” to Springfield Community Church, et al.; Interview with Emily Miller, Washington Times. Eagleton, Terry: How to Read a Poem. Immanuel Kant: “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose”. Rahm Emanuel: Comment on a liberal group’s concerns about Obamacare, Wall Street Journal; Response to a male staffer, New York magazine; Interview, Wall Street Journal. Derrida, Jacques: There is No “One” Narcissism, Interview with Didier Cahen. Duchamp, Marcel: Line for the character “Marcel Duchamp”, The Mysteries and What’s So Funny, David Gordon (referencing Interview with Jean Antoine, The Art Newspaper); Interview with Jean Antoine, The Art Newspaper. Umberto Eco: The Name of the Rose; Duchamp, Marcel: The Writings of Marcel Duchamp; Letter to Jehan Mayoux. Eco, Umberto: Interview with Nigel Farndale, The Daily Telegraph; Interview with Adam Langer, Book magazine. Newcity Art (Bert Stabler): “Review: Weird Dude Energy/Heaven Gallery”. Rrose Sélavy: Interview with Jean Antoine, The Art Newspaper; Jason Foumberg (Chicago Mag.com): “Weird Dude Energy Promises a Freaky Prelude to Father’s Day”. You+ Yr Friends: _________________________________.

 

Gartelmann, Arctander

Left: Alex Gartelmann, Over and Over and Over, 2011, installation view. Right: Zak Arctander, Firehouse, 2013

Ivan LOZANO, MILAGROS I, MILAGROS II, and MILAGROS III, 2012

Ivan LOZANO, MILAGROS I, MILAGROS II, and MILAGROS III,
2012, installation view

James Pepper Kelly likes words, images, and the plants in his apartment. He serves as Managing Director of Filter Photo and is studying to be a pataphysicist. For a little while, back in the early ‘00s, he was really good at Ms. Pac-man. 

Chicago Artist Writers is a platform that asks young studio artists and art workers to write traditional and experimental criticism that serves under-represented arts programming in Chicago. CAW was founded by Jason Lazarus and Sofia Leiby in 2012. This is our first guest post on Bad at Sports. www.chicagoartistwriters.com




Art Criticism Today and Hopefully Also Tomorrow

May 28, 2013 · Print This Article

by Chicago Artist Writers

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Chicago Artist Writers hosted a workshop with Lori Waxman at Gallery 400 on March 14, 2013. The following is an attempt to collect some of the many illuminating moments of her two-hour lecture and Q&A session.

“Today I’m going to talk about a lot of forms of art criticism that don’t actually exist — yet.”

Lori Waxman has her feet in two critical worlds. As a regular contributor to the Chicago Tribune, she takes on the role of a traditional art critic: she has a large audience, keeps her distance from the artist and organizers of the exhibitions she covers, and maintains an objective viewpoint. In contrast, her personal project 60 Wrd/Min Art Critic takes a more experimental approach.  The public is invited to come with their work for a review written by Lori live, in person, with a secondary monitor displaying her writing process as it evolves. The project has been featured numerous times domestically and most recently at Documenta 13 in Kassel, Germany.

Lori posited that criticism has largely not changed much since its first appearance with Diderot’s reviews of the Paris Salon of 1765, and the writing that we see in major outlets like the Tribune or Artforum holds the same basic values of that style to this day. This default approach to art criticism doesn’t reflect the drastic changes in art and technology’s influence on the contemporary conversation as much as it could.

She used Documenta as a case in point–-it embodied a sprawling, time-intensive experience for the viewer, and the critical responses to it suffered as their structuring was inadequate to cover the exhibition’s curatorial conceits. Critics who were only able to visit 3-5 days and print 1000 words were ill equipped to critique the event in its totality. “Who goes to NYC for a weekend, and tries to see everything, and if they can’t, it’s New York’s fault?” Lori asked. She used Dieter Roelstraete’s review of the Documenta in Artforum as one example; one of his main critiques was that it had too much going on. Similarly, Roberta Smith’s review in the New York Times was schizophrenic, unable to deal with the scope of the massive three-month undertaking. Lori suggested that despite the stubborn precedent of “objective distance” in traditional criticism, she herself might be the best critic of Documenta, having spent her entire summer there.

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Platforms for alternatives to the traditional model exist in small handfuls but some are promising. Lori noted that online versions of specialty magazines like Artforum fail to leverage the malleability of the web and stick to the values and format of their print counterparts. Websites like hyperallergic, the former artnet.com, and temporaryartreview.com (which covers cities off the major art map) may increase turnaround time and coverage of lesser-known projects, but again resist transforming the dynamic of the critical approach itself.  Triple Canopy is a capable platform, for not only its scholarship but, in the case of David’s Levine’s take on the dissolution of the Rothko estate, its willingness to embrace an insider’s view at the sacrifice of traditional objectivity.  Art Fag City features critical writing but is bolstered most importantly by the active comments sections as a new center of gravity in critical writing.  This very blog (the Bad at Sports blog) also embraces the more diaristic, personality-driven, multi-tangential style of critical reflection over objectively toned assessment.  In the early 2000s, Lori contributed to Fucking Good Art, a feverishly produced zine spearheaded by Pedro Velez and Michael Bulka. Critics would go out to openings, type up reviews as soon as they were sober (or not), and photocopy and distribute the zine for free the next day. The reviews, sometimes nasty and anonymous, were the main way apartment spaces were getting critical feedback.

Lori wondered if models like Facebook and Twitter could be used seriously as venues for criticism instead of flippantly; these platforms have a multi-directionality that could support a more nimble and relevant conversation to artwork being produced.  In addition, their immediacy has the potential to be paradigm shifting–what happens if something is written in front of/within the work? “Gonzo” reviews — long form, unedited stream of consciousness reviews — also have yet to be fully realized in art criticism.

Perhaps criticism that leans towards more relational and embodied writing is called for by today’s art practices.  Lori suggested “embedded criticism” – a term borrowed from journalism, in which journalists are “embedded” with soldiers – as a term for art writing that celebrates, rather than discourages, the subjective experience in order to strike a critical observation. In her piece Practicing Trio A in the Spring 2012 issue of October, Julia Brian Wilson spoke about taking a class with Yvonne Rainer in which she learned how to perform Rainer’s seminal The Mind Is a Muscle, Part I (Trio A) from 1973, and how this direct involvement in the piece changed her mind about it. Hannah Higgins is well known as a scholar and writer about Fluxus in part because of her upbringing in a canonical Fluxus household; her embeddedness creates a unique opportunity for scholarship and complexity.  Later, during the Q&A, an audience member suggested Kathy Acker as an additional example of someone who writes about artwork while having a close relationship to it.

Art writing authored from a fictional perspective or persona is another area ripe for exploration. Lynn Tillman has written fiction at the artist’s request (perhaps skewing its definition as “criticism,” but an example of a new form of art writing nonetheless). Her short story “Madame Realism Lies Here” from 2002 is composed from the perspective of a woman who dreams she has turned into a Jeff Koons sculpture, experiencing life in a weird and grotesque way that mimics Koons’ work. Tillman’s series TV Tales about Barbara Kruger from 1976 also is another example. As well, we can look to novelists: Gertrude Stein wrote in a “cubist” style, coming out of a deep experience with cubist painting. This kind of art writing acts as an analog to the work itself. Stein’s unique, unexpected way of using language sidesteps “International Art English” altogether: it doesn’t even require a dictionary. One can hold up a piece of hers in front of a painting and see how they work together. The Family Fang, a novel by Kevin Wilson, consists of a fictional narrative about a family of performance artists. Philadelphia artist Jayson Musson’s satirical comedy as Hennessy Youngman occasionally offers thoughtful and to the point responses to art, although Lori noted that Youngman can be surprisingly conservative – here she reminded us that a new form doesn’t necessarily mean a radical idea, as form and content are extricable. But an outside-the-art-world persona like Musson’s can make it easier to call the emperor naked. Another example brought up by the audience was artist Sean Joseph Patrick Carney, who produced a collection of erotic fiction about James Franco.

Lori stressed that to write about museums and commercial galleries is to write about art that has already been filtered and processed, versus writing about experimental spaces showing lesser-known artists who have yet to be critically acknowledged. When writing about the latter spaces, one should remember that criticism of ephemeral or emerging practices may be the only record that exists, and so one must be intentional as his or her writing will eventually become historical fact. “Some dogged art historian in 20 years will rely on these reviews, and they will quote [them]; and if you got it wrong and weird, they’re going to think that’s what happened.” For this reason, she also suggested inventing a way to respond to a work instead of writing something explicitly negative.

Television shows such as Work of Art and School of Saatchi, whether we like them or not, are emergent examples of new forms of art criticism.  While only persisting for four episodes, BBC’s School of Saatchi featured six artists, asked them to make interesting commissions, and gave them a decent amount of time and money to do so. The show rendered the actual process of making contemporary art transparent, “and was surprisingly accessible and intelligent.” After the work is completed, a good fifteen minutes of each hour-long show is devoted to serious discussion of the artwork that is then communicated to the artists. The judges’ remarks are often off the cuff and funny, speaking with authority but sometimes contradicting one another. Their multiple voices created a critical environment similar to a class critique. Bravo’s Work of Art, in contrast, equated art with other subjects like cooking or getting married. Artists were given $100 and 24 hours to make a series of asinine projects. Notable, however, was the involvement of Jerry Saltz, the most recognizable critic in the U.S.  Most of the criticism on the show was demeaning, puerile, dumb and one-liner; criticism was consistently of the lowest-common-denominator variety. Yet, Lori said, Work of Art nevertheless represents one of the ways that art is being thought about today by the general public—and perhaps even some parts of the art world; this show is part of the public’s access to the art world, and it is sadly misrepresentative.

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Some of Lori’s more experimental ideas—stolen, she willingly admitted, from her students at SAIC—included gif criticism (what can a gif do that words can’t?) or criticism using image combinations (like on tumblr). During the Q&A, the audience pitched in: we suggested hyperlink criticism – a review composed entirely of links, in line with the ways we read, think and click; another participant proposed a review composed over Skype, where one person views the exhibition at home, one in the museum, highlighting the differences; or a (live/recorded) performance positioned as a review. Does criticism need to be site specific to the work – like the precedent of dances that directly respond to artwork?

If criticism can be art and vice versa, how can one be sure these forms don’t stray too close to art and too far from criticism? Where is that line placed and is it important? Lori pointed out that studio experience might be valuable for a critic, “and who thinks criticism is so objective anyway?” 60 Wrd/Min Art Critic attempts to take some of the agency that the art critic normally assumes away, and to see what happens when it’s given to the artist him or herself. The agency Lori gives up is the ability to choose who and what she writes about. But if this critical agency we assume is important is taken away from the critic, can something of substance still materialize? What happens if criticism is available for the asking? Is it still interesting, critical?

Another participant asked Lori about What Happened to Art Criticism, the 2003 panel discussion and book in which Jim Elkins and others complained that the majority of art criticism being written today is “descriptive.” Lori responded that she believes there’s no such thing as a truly factual description” of something. She pointed out that one can’t recreate a painting backwards from a description, no matter how detailed or “straightforward” it is. A good piece of description, she noted, can do “almost anything.” One can’t have criticism without description; and in shorter lengths, these combinations can be powerful — look at the New Yorker’s 100 word reviews of exhibitions in the Goings On section.

An audience member asked if art history helps or hurts art criticism. “If you love October, you should stay in art history and not try to be an art critic,” Lori responded. Most critics come from art, not art history, and there’s “plenty to make of that, in terms of experience and commitment.” She relayed the under-discussed fact that most of the notable art critics working today do not have art history degrees. Peter Schjeldahl started out as a poet; Saltz was a painter and truck driver; Robert Storr and Matthew Collings trained as painters.

How about artists criticizing their own artwork as an interesting new form of art criticism? Lori responded with an anecdote from her husband, the artist Michael Rakowitz, who had recently been part of a discussion in which the moderator complained afterward that the panel’s artists hadn’t talked more about their work’s problems. Her husband countered that he didn’t know of a professional artist who would do that, that it’s not their job: let the critics take issue, and the artists deal with the problems in their own way. One takeaway for us is that the space for self-criticism in between the artist statement and the art review is ripe for experimentation.

We left thinking about the burgeoning potency of crowd-sourced criticism.  Mimicking the current form of value-production bolstered by the Internet, where value is dispersed into tallies, “aggregate,” rhizomatic or crowd-sourced criticism may be starting to replace the good old New York Times review. One audience member wondered if all types of feedback to an artwork could be located in a single place, including documentation, short and long reviews, responses on Twitter, Facebook, etc.? Although Google might seem good for this on its own, it isn’t organized: someone should take advantage of this opportunity for a new start-up.

We found this sentiment the driving force of Lori’s presentation–an implicit and collective call to action:

“Technology has changed and art has changed, and that should be radically impacting the kind of art criticism that we write, how it gets published, how it gets received and who we write it for, and how it gets commented on.”

Chicago Artist Writers is a platform that asks young studio artists and art workers to write traditional and experimental criticism that serves under-represented arts programming in Chicago. CAW was founded by Jason Lazarus and Sofia Leiby in 2012. This is our first guest post on Bad at Sports. www.chicagoartistwriters.com

Click here to download an mp3 of Lori’s lecture.