A glorious read: Jeanette Winterson on reading, writing, and the role of art in our everyday lives
A blog about learning by Jon Nicholls, Director of Arts, Creativity and Communications at Thomas Tallis School, Greenwich, London, UK.
The title of this blog comes from the Japanese art movement 'Mono Ha' which roughly translates as 'School of Things'. These artists attempted to challenge existing perceptions of ordinary materials by presenting them as sculptural objects.
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Attention is neither monopolized nor homogenized. The exhibition is a very democratic and liberal ritual where the viewer decides the duration of his or her stay. There are, however, limits to the ritual of the exhibition.
If one looks at curatorial history, there are figures like Diaghilev, who invented his own way of doing this. He curated painting shows in the early 20th Century in Russian museums that would then tour through Europe. And then at a certain moment he felt that it was too limiting and too narrow; he wanted to go into other disciplines. But where could he go? He had to invent his own structure, which became the Ballets Russes. The Ballets Russes was like a migrating troupe, touring from city to city. And he collaborated with the greatest composers of his time like Stravinsky, and artists like Picasso. And his idea was that it would be a construct where he could pool all the knowledge and bring all the great practitioners of his time together to produce the ballet.
I think about exhibitions in a similar way. The exhibition is a great opportunity to bring it all together because it’s an experimental form; it’s not like a feature film, which has a prescribed duration. A film needs to be more or less 90 minutes; it’s difficult for the cinemas if it’s only 10 minutes or it’s 12 hours. Obviously, there are experiments where filmmakers break that form, but the exhibition has this amazing advantage: that it’s a ritual, it’s extremely public. There isn’t a prescribed time when people can visit it, or a prescribed length to their visit. They can visit it for a minute or for five hours or ten hours. There isn’t the sense that one has to visit it in a group; it can very often be a one-to-one experience. But still, it’s a one-to-one experience for millions of people. Within this sort of 21st Century ritual, the exhibition, there’s a great opportunity to bring all the disciplines together.
Whatever you now find weird, ugly, uncomfortable and nasty about a new medium will surely become its signature. CD distortion, the jitteriness of digital video, the crap sound of 8-bit - all of these will be cherished and emulated as soon as they can be avoided. It’s the sound of failure: so much modern art is the sound of things going out of control, of a medium pushing to its limits and breaking apart. The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it. The excitement of grainy film, of bleached-out black and white, is the excitement of witnessing events too momentous for the medium assigned to record them.
Isn’t it striking that the most-typical and most-maligned genres of Instagram imagery happen to correspond to the primary genres of Western secular art? All that #foodporn is still-life; all those #selfies, self-portraits. All those vacation vistas are #landscape; art-historically speaking, #beachday pics evoke the hoariest cliché of middle-class leisure iconography… Technology has so democratized image-making that it has put the artistic power once mainly associated with aristocrats—to stylize your image and project yourself to an audience as desirable—into everyone’s hands.
Wonderful post. (via Alan Jacobs)
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I Seem To Be a Verb focuses on what’s now known as “sustainable design.” The book is a collage of images, bite-size facts, and provocative, inspirational notions by an expanse of artists, musicians, astrophysicists, mathematicians, politicians, and others… which is why my copy’s pages came to fall out of their binding over the past 40-plus years. Fuller himself provides the main narrative, which includes his philosophies—such as “When man learned to do more with less it was his lever to industrial success”—his predictions, such as “When automation frees all workers we will be able to ask, ‘What was it I was thinking that fascinated me so, before I was told I had to do something else in order to make a living?’” And, yes, it’s also a time capsule of 1960s utopian idealism.
Here’s Steven Heller on the designer, Quentin Fiore:
Fiore, who was born in New York in 1920, had been a student of George Grosz (like Paul Rand) at the Art Student’s League and Hans Hoffman at the Hoffman School. His interest in classical drawing, paper making, and lettering attested to a respect for tradition. He began his career before World War II as a letterer for, among others, Lester Beall (for whom he designed many of the modern display letters used in his ads and brochures before modern typefaces became widely available in the U.S.), Condé Nast, Life, and other magazines (where he did hand-lettered headlines for editorial and advertising pages). Fiore abandoned lettering to become a generalist and for many years designed all the printed matter for the Ford Foundation in a decidedly modern but not rigidly ideological style. Since he was interested in the clear presentation of information, he was well suited as a design consultant to various university presses, and later to Bell Laboratories (for whom he designed the numbers on one of Henry Dreyfuss’ rotary dials). In the late 1960s he also worked on Homefax, a very early telephone fax machine developed by RCA and NBC. It was never marketed, but Fiore coordinated an electronic newspaper that would appear on a screen and be reproduced via a sophisticated electrostatic copying process.
Fiore’s acute understanding of technology came from this and other experiences. In an article he wrote in 1971 on the future of the book, Fiore predicted the widespread use of computer-generated design, talking computers, and home fax and photocopy technologies. He also predicted the applications of the computer in primary school education long before its widespread use; accordingly, in 1968 he designed 200 computerlike “interactive” books for school children to help increase literacy skills.
See also: The Medium is the Massage
There is no such thing as a neutral educational process. Education either functions as an instrument that is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it becomes “the practice of freedom”, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world. The development of an educational methodology that facilitates this process will inevitably lead to tension and conflict within our society. But it could also contribute to the formation of a new man and mark the beginning of a new era in Western history. For those who are committed to that task and are searching for concepts and tools for experimentation, Paulo Freire’s thought will make a significant contribution in the years ahead.
People are fulfilled only to the extent that they create their world (which is a human world), and create it with their transforming labour. The fulfilment of humankind as human beings lies, then, in the fulfilment of the world. If for a person to be in the world of work is to be totally dependent, insecure, and permanently threatened - if their work does not belong to them - the person cannot be fulfilled. Work that is not free ceases to be a fulfilling pursuit and becomes an effective means of dehumanisation.