immateriality - art as process

I agree with Lyotard that one of the public artist's role is to allude to the unpresentable (immaterial) and that art itself is profoundly private. I further agree that if one takes postmaterialism seriously, one's art can never be just an object, but art becomes a private process of creation via interpretation, a relationship between viewer (including the doer) and the work and cannot be reduced to be merely an "independent thing". By itself any assemblage of art materials can only be a symbol, an artefact, that is a record of a certain moment in the past -and its personal realisation as present now.

The postmodernist's attitude has always been one of eclectic experimentation. This experimentation came in part from a recognition of the ineffability of the first moment of experience, the moment before categories appear and are applied in order to create meanings via one's own conditioned narrative structures -one's ways of seeing.

We all have strong habits in perceiving certain informations, a kind of "prejudice", as Hans-Georg Gadamer calls these personal narratives. The postmodern artist's experimentation was often with this moment, -exploring how meaning arises, and what other kinds of meanings and entities are present (let alone possible).
In light of the fact that the aesthetic value is not inherent within an object, the idea of beauty needs constant reviewing. In this way, the postmodern artist has always been an experimenter seeking out the "creation process" itself.
Lyotard used Marcel Duchamp's "ready-mades" as a critique of the Realist's refusal to ask deeper, more pressing questions of meaning. Duchamp's ready-made objects draw attention to the "Immateriality question": -"what is art?", or more to the point, -"where actually is the art?" Duchamp asked: "is art in the moment or is it in its re-presentation? -Can art ever be an object?"
For him clearly any finished work of art stands secondary to the process of art. As mere objects they are simply objects of the past that have historical (and also aesthetic) value as records of our past intentions and attitudes, they can instruct upon how someone might have created their own vocabulary (reality), as artefact they show how culture is changing.

The works of the American painter Jackson Pollock serve as an illustration of a shifting of value from the more historical painting to the act of painting. Pollock's earlier work concentrated upon his Jungian leanings, he painted "ideograms", hoping to manifest archetypes from the collective unconscious that would resonate beyond the power of words. Pollock, in his movement from these earlier symbol-paintings to his non-objective works, shifted from an emphasis upon manifestation of a proper image to an emphasis of pure creation itself.
Looking at such works of art the viewer might become involved in experiencing the feeling of freedom and power of creation. Thus, the emphasis is upon the primordial or essential, upon the pure aesthetic enjoyment of the process for which the artefact acts as a catalyst. It follows that the art object itself takes on a secondary status, that of 'artefact', it can be retarded as a mere record of a certain moment, - intention even.

The explorations of an artwork may produce an image that moves and impacts an observer attuned to the same sorts of intentions or contingencies as the artist. This resonance is not a representation or communication in the materialistic sense of the word, as there is no agreement upon or settled meaning to be communicated. There is no translation of the works' meaning that is true or independent of the one that arises from the relationship between the artefact and anyone of its diverse observers including the artist herself. In this viewer and doer are in fact equal and conform with the Beuysian idea that "Everyone is an artist". The artefact is literal or real and materially represents a physical node in the rhizome of interdependencies and relations.

One of the strongest mediations is the economic one. The need for the public artist to survive demands that except in cases where the artist is willing to suffer tremendously for art, the professional artist also caters to an audience to make money. The inherently private act of art is thereby compromised by the artist's need to sell, her interest is polluted with the need to pay the bills, eat and live a life of relative comfort. Her activity of creating art must result in the production of an object or idea that is marketable and affects.

Raphael Zimmerman

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