Friday, March 9, 2007

Rijsingen: to Susan Squier and session 2 questions

From: Miriam van Rijsingen
Date: Fri, 9 Mar 2007 17:33:41 +0100

When you mentioned your chicken project, the way you question the different authorities attached to different (chicken photographing) practices, I thought you missed the artist approach to chickens, say, for example the work of Koen VanMechelen, the Belgian artist who cross-breeds chicken to produce the ‘super-bastard’ in his Cosmopolitan Chicken Project (see: ) Part of his project is photographing his chickens, but also drawing them, making objects from them, eating them etc. I would be interested what kind of authority is revealed in his work.

Subject: Session 2

authority (ex)changes, unity or framing processes in collaboration
Thinking about collaboration projects I think there are already several (and very different) views on that in the postings, mostly when talking about the core issue of art-science practices. Giovanni Frazzetto mentioned the ‘immutable mobile’ and authority changes, which is an inspiring notion I think. But Vladimir Mironov’s concept of ‘unity’ as well as the idea of the hybrid academic flattens the issue to a non-issue. And please explain hybrid. My own view is based more on ‘difference’ and differences in discourses. I investigate the interactions of art and science, but also collaboration projects as processes of ‘framing’. Dialogues or collaborations as well as art works that are produced through those practices re-frame, take the other practice and review it with different ‘eyes’ as it were. The viewer or audience of the work will become an edgy reader/viewer, forced to switch between frames.
In relation to this I would have a question for Richard Wingate (and Andrew Carnie) about their collaboration. I liked the way in which you, Richard, described the importance of pictorial representation in/for your scientific practice. The nuances you formulated, the practice of sketching. How, would you say, are these nuances looked upon in your own scientific field, how much have you changed your disciplinary frame through the collaboration with Andrew? How, for example, is ‘beauty’ discussed, if at all? At the same time you stated that collaboration became possible through the ‘resonance associated with particular words’ – through language. I have the idea that also in Jill Scott’s collaboration projects, language is also the first level of framing and re-framing.

New ways of art practice
I have difficulty with the concept of ‘new ways’. Apart from your (Suzanne’s) investigations and perhaps Jens Hauser’s, little research has been done (or published) about the embedded-ness of these particular practices in artistic traditions. One of our PhD students (Danielle Hofmans) is working on that issue, and her first findings are that most works are (much more) heavily embedded in arthistorical traditions (as we assume), for example the neo-avant garde (think for example Alan Kaprow). It needs much more consideration.

production, perception and embodiment in practices.
Nancy Princenthal asked earlier for neuroscientific answers to the issue of the unconscious processes of perception (and production). David Freedberg’s response to that posting is very interesting, specifically as he is referring to “embodied simulation”. I am not sure exactly what he means by that, but I am interested because I think that we should look more to the issue of embodiment in perception and production. It is related to what is said earlier by some of the panellists about the issue (and importance) of ‘presence’ and ‘staging’ (for example by Jens Hauser) and what I would call ‘performativity’. These are not just issues that can be investigated in relationship to the perception of the ‘works’ (that is fundamentally part of my own research), but also how these are working in the scientific laboratory as well as in the artist studio (or the exhibition space for that matter). The work of Viennese artist Herwig Turk, for example Blind spot or Blind date ( ), in collaboration with scientists Günther Stöger and Paolo Pereira, are really investigations into these issues. His work reveals that the laboratory is a specifically staged practice, in which both the scientific objects and instruments as well as the researchers possess performative qualities. It is an embodied space. Also most of Jill Scott’s artist-in-the-lab projects reveal that same qualities, as I watch the documentary of those projects on her DVD.

In the line of this I could try to say something to Suzanne Anker’s question (Session 2) about the kind of ‘things’ that are produced in the laboratory. I would say that not only ‘things’ are produced – ‘epistemic things’ as Hans-Jörg Reinberger would say – but also bodies (see Herwig Turk’s Blind Date) and subjectivities (as revealed in Jill Scott’s projects).

Dr. Miriam van Rijsingen
Dept. of Art History, University of Amsterdam

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