TIME EXPERIENCED OR IMAGINED: Discussing Time-Based and Performative Work through Foundational Craft Processes and Interdisciplinary Art Practice
The idea focusing on a performative action not only as a method of art production but as the art work itself is established in Richard Serra’s well-known “Verb List Compilation: Actions to Relate to Oneself."
These verbs relate to actions taken by the maker, and can be seen as a record of past actions, or a proposal for future actions. Placed in the context of American conceptual art of the time of it’s publication, this list moves us away from the art object and toward imagining the process of making as the focus of our attention and the center for making meaning in a work of art.
Another reference, more specific to our discussion of craft processes is another text published two years earlier; “Forms in Japan” by Yuichiro Kojiro. This document describes actions taken by a maker in traditional Japanese craft forms, and is a classification system organized by the goal or function of a material manipulation, but which also function as metaphor:
• Forms of Unity – including weaving, binding, joining, felting, wrapping;
• Forms of Force – including which suspend;
• Forms of Adaptation – including of inlay and firing,
• Forms of Change – including which are erased, of tearing, or cutting, of removing…..
This classification system of actions reveals the body in motion behind an object, and encourages us to consider that the finished object is humming with the accumulation of gestures, imbued with their intentions, and creating meaning in a work.
In his book Women, Fire and Dangerous Things, cognitive linguist George Lakoff, argues that kinesthetics is a fundamental category of human experience, through which we form the basis for how we understand our world. This includes collecting through observation and experience key images, patterns and movements that organize our world in our comprehension, “much of mental imagery is kinesthetic – that is, it is independent of sensory modality and concerns awareness of many aspects of functioning in space – orientation, motion, balance, shape judgements, ect.” (446)
Building on Lakoff’s idea of a kinesthetic foundation of our mental imagery, and the physical understanding of Stella’s and Kojiro’s verb lists, both in the body of the maker as well as in the mind of the reader, we have a basis to appreciate the construction of the object as a kind of performance. And, we can appreciate this act as performance, whether or not we see it live, even if we must view it through the position of the viewer’s imagination. Can we place this imagined performance on the same continuum as work where we can experience a body in motion in real time? If so, can we bring a time-based critique to a static object?
Notes for panel on 4D Critique (Excerpt)
Oct. 28, 2016
Pencil by Katie Phillips, 2011