Page 19 - Studio International - December1996
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3. Planned obsolescence: a product is  We have to feel rather than judge what is   speak and take clay and colour and yield up other
           planned to break down physically during a  actually new. Destruction is not new but   things like Yves Tinguely's delicate machines. And
                                                                                              all these man may become—sculpture, poet, writer,
           specified period.                        regressive. Although the forms or techni-  dancer, mannekin—things of which Artaud would
                                                    ques of destruction may be new, the acts   approve, and lavish praise and words; from, of course,
            The first is the result of research, the other two for   of these regressive agents are not really   the public asylum, where he let his brain be picked
           forcing production and sales.                                                      apart, as he smiled.
            I believe these techniques have been used in art   creative acts.                 After twenty years, more or less, man is ready to
           since the war. Functional obsolescence occurs when            José Luis Castillejo   begin his great work of art, his fundamental project,
           a new aesthetic supersedes. Art is always subject to                               his supreme act of creation, his monument to the
           contemporary/techniques and ideas. Since 1945,           BOOM!!!                   world. He will destroy himself.
           a series of short-lived movements have replaced one                 Juan Hidalgo   And it can be said that man fulfils this project with
           another. All date quickly—have become psycholo-                                    finesse, and style, and great variety of method. Some-
           gically obsolete. The physical break-down is clearly     BANG!!!                   times he does this alone, but most often he employs
           seen in the use of impermanent materials.                                          tens, hundreds, even millions of other people to aid,
            Auto-destructive art represents all three kinds of              Walter Marchetti   encourage, and participate in his finale, which, at
           obsolescence.                                                                      best, takes many years to complete.
            The existentialist spirit realizes that reality is differ-                        Of the myriad ways, at least five are typical. Assorted
           ent in time and place, and is auto-creative.   Man is a work of art in the act of destroying   combinations of these five will exhaust most possi-
            Often, Realism is national and political: Pop Art was   itself. He is a painting slowly turning black,   bilities of the art of self-destruction. . . .
           the social realism of the U.S.A., representing its hero.                           But of all these forms of artistic integrity, that is, of
           Russian Socialist Realism represented in the appro-  a sculpture just beginning to crumble. He is   man, none triumph so much as his joining together
           priate style its peasants and heroes. Victorian Eng-  an objet d'art  from the moment of his con-  with other men to create the prototype of the theatre
           land's big pictures and David's Republican paintings   ception till the time that his last remains   of cruelty and the archetype of the present day hap-
           were political in their realism.                                                   pening, that is the spectacle of death, epitomized by
            Realism is always self-contradictory. Freud analyses   yield but ash to the touch. He is the most   war, characterized by the inquisition, and institu-
           the antithetical sense of primal words. Camus realizes   perfect machine ever created, and the   tionalized by the modern state. In no other way does
           there can be no slice of life. Courbet expresses an   machine which most perfectly destroys   man, in collaboration with other men and nature,
           acceptance of one reality, but is a nineteenth-century                             achieve such a complete vindication of his power of
           socialist recommending reform.           itself. He lives as a self-disintegrative   destruction, not only of himself, but of plant, animal,
            Auto-destructive art may be against arms and  dance.                              and all that to which he had previously given of
           obsolescence, but obliged to use these techniques as                               himself.
           its language.                             And as a bit of clay that is moulded and given shape   War has taken over Art. War is Art. No other form of
                                       Ivor Davies   and size and colour, he is born. And as clay yields to   human endeavour allows man to destroy with such
                                                    the hands of a man, the man yields to the way of the   joyous abandon, such total commitment, such atten-
                                                    world. And his world lets him grow and become hard.   tion to detail, such heraldry, and pageantry, and
                                                    And it may be said that the man will show great pro-  ceremony. And, as such, we all stand impatiently,
                                                    mise of things to come and all around will come to   and wait for war to kiss our lips.
           If many a 'creative artist' has discovered   inspect this man like one inspects a new vase off the   The mise-en-scène  is now South Africa, or Vietnam,
                                                    potter's wheel. The wheel turns, the man matures,   or perhaps Watts. 'Burn, baby, burn', the chants
           that the most destructive thing he can do is   grows more valuable with age. Twenty years pass.   reverberate and engulf one's mind as Stravinsky's
           to create (art objects), systematic analysis   The man is finished. The glaze has taken. The fire   chords in the Rite of Spring. All is flame and move-
           of what is appropriate has not found its   has done its work. But unlike a vase which can only   ment. A mad Tango. A mediaeval smell.
                                                    be as is, or break apart, this work of art can move and          Joseph H. Berke
           terms. Do words, spoken or written, mean
           what they intended, are the notions or
           ways of knowing in their handling by
           'authorities' valid enough for the situation,
           and what can be said precisely about the  Press comments on DIAS                   able.' The Peace News commentator, in a long article,
                                                                                              described the DI AS philosophy as a 'kind of "therapy/
           lingering Absolute?
                                                    Artists working with DIAS appeared on B.B.C.,   release through visual violence" theory'—'its own
                                                    Granada, and American T.V. programmes; interviews   anti-war "art" is spurious,  kitsch,  propagandistic';
            The nutshell content of any great civilization's
                                                    were broadcast in B.B.C. Home, European and Over-  'actively working towards a progressive deterioration
           DREAM has been, in some way, to make 'the
           TRUTH' (as inferred), WORK, in practice. The   seas services, and the B.B.C. Third Programme   of our present situation, and is guilty of complicity
           English version, typified for example by Magna   broadcast a discussion on Destruction in Art. Tapes   in the general drift towards catastrophe.' Peter
           Carta, Parliament, and beheading the king for ille-  were made by Pacifica and C.B.S.   Schjedahl, in Village Voice  of New York, wrote: 'It
           gally ignoring it, invasion of all parts of the world   Articles and news items appeared in the following   seems that art is running out of things to make, or (if
           with the Dream as a handout, and indigenous expres-  newspapers: Daily Express, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror,   you prefer) that social exigency has discredited the
           sion of all kinds, has carried a fallacy always apparent   Daily Sketch, Daily Telegraph, Evening News, Evening   conventional, fabricating approach, and that we are
           to some but great drive none-the-less. When, about   Standard, Guardian, Morning Star, New York Times;   therefore in for a period of seeing things get broken,
           1945, the idea of a Great Truth became reconstituted   and in the following publications:  Arts  (Paris),  Art   a sort of blithe and bloodless Reign of (Holy?)
           as an obscure property development project of   and Artists, Freedom, I.C.A. Bulletin, International   Terror.' Arts Loisirs  of Paris treated the whole thing
           'Science' the nation's central-motive-energy fund   Times (London), London Life, New Society, Peace News,
           simply dried up and doings became confined to a                                    seriously, including Dali, César, and Niki de Saint-
           minimal seriousness.                     Studio International, Time,  and  Village Voice  (New   Phalle among those who have contributed to 'the new
            The core of the cycle poses a semantic problem. In   York).                       aesthetic, often with a kind of romanticism which
           borrowing from physicists the idea of non-existence   Inevitably many Press comments were extreme:   stresses the tragic side of the modern world'. Time,
           as part of the structure of events and applying it to   'Sick art'  (Evening News);  'another giggle for the   after describing some of the 'events' associated with
           art, many of the apparent characteristics of time,   Town' (Freedom,  the anarchist weekly); 'dangerous'   the Symposium—particularly those performed by
           space and continuity are contradicted and it is clear   (Peace News). Reyner Banham, writing in New Society,   members of the Vienna Institute of Direct Art ('blood
           that the language abounds with pseudo entities. In   said: 'The idea of a self-destroying art work, consum-  orgy', the smearing of a girl with flour, tomatoes,
           proposing some new terms in the context of Event   ing itself with acid or smashing itself to pieces, may   beer, etc.)—contented itself with recording the verdict
           Structure, or NOIT, a rationale emerges.   épate  the ordinary bourgeoisie in Tunbridge Wells or   of the critic of The Times:  'The visual arts today are a
            Considerations include the properties of events in
           first principle, Difference, structure of News, proper-  Oberhausen, but not the  grande bourgeoisie  who   kind of brothel of the intellect, and nobody can write
           ties of well-formed notions, breakdown of 'art' events   support internationalized modern art. Ever since   a report on a brothel while primly standing outside
           into four simultaneous event-channels in 'static'   Tinguely's  Homage to New York  reduced itself to   the door. The idea that he knows precisely what art is,
           work, movement related to frequency, variable time   smouldering but well-documented scrap-iron in the   and what it is not, is, it seems to me, the only one
           signatures, priority systems in conflict....   sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art . . .   which the conscientious art critic cannot afford to
                                      John Latham   autodestructive art has been respectable and accept-   give a hearing to.'
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