R. Mutt

Adam Robinson has some introspective things to say in reaction to my last post:

"I need to know more about what the word "beauty" means to you. Are you speaking specifically about the aesthetic surface of a work, or does your definition include the conceptual depth as well?
For instance, I don't think the dadaists created a lot of really neat looking stuff, but what the toilet seat on the wall meant--that art requires not just paint and canvas, but it's a process that demands your life as well--is beautiful.
It seems you are ascribing to "poetry" part of what is included in "beautiful." Creating the distinction is counterproductive."

Jared Sinclair chimed in with:

"Without this love, there is no beauty. And in the absence of adverse circumstances and pain, there is only profound boredom. To such a person, "beautiful" really means "interesting." The most beautiful art is that which distracts her the most from herself, and from the awareness of Others."

Firstly, I am speaking specifically about the aesthetic surface, as well as the conceptual depth, as well as the historical relevance, as well as it's application, as well as it's intended audience. I am including part of what is inclusive of "beautiful" into "poetry." It is necessary. I agree that making a distinction is counter productive. You've hit it on the head in more ways than you know.

Creating distinctions is what keeps us from an understanding of postmodernism. Rococo is an answer to the "grand manner" of Baroque art indentified with the formality and rigidity of the seventeenth-century court life. Picasso's abstractions came from a rejection of classical realism and it's association with French nationalism and essentially (although I give more credit to Georges Braque) what gave birth to cubism. Throughout the history of art or music (Johnny Rotten) or literature (The Beats, the Boom of Latin America) there is a pattern that emerges of rejection. Throught the rejection comes the next movement. The next best thing.

Post-modernism, I take, to be a rejection of the idea of rejection. Too often people ask post-modernism to be an answer to modernism. It is not. It asks and borrows and reeks of modernism and neo-classical romanticism and abstract impressionism and punk rock and minimalism and any other distinction you can make. Like wise, by looking for the poetry in the artwork we ARE looking for the beauty, but we're also looking for the love, for the hate, for the anger, for the prose, for the lack of prose and for the history. By looking for the poetry we are forced not to stop at beauty. We ask more of the art work. When asked to define art making Mel Chin said,

"Recently I've thought of it in terms of the ecology surrounding the survival of a simple plant, where an unpredictable number of conditions are present in varying degrees, for whatever reasons, putting the system of life always at the verge of chaos."

This is how we need to think of artwork. Through this context. Here, Marcel Duchamp is illustrating the thirst for poetry.

"He (speaking of R.Mutt or himself essentially) took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that it's useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view--and created a new thought for that object."

Is this not what we do with words? Couldn't this be a perfect definition of what poetry does with words?

"It isn't that they're questions are particularly abstruse (a horrible word, thinks Lucas, who tends to heft them in the palm of his hand and familiarize himself with them depending on the color, the smell, or the touch." -Julio Corta'zar from A Certain Lucaus.



Problem of Communication

It's a problem of communication. Bertolt Brecht paved the way for an artwork with politcal meaning. I appreciate the beauty in a painting or a song or a book just as quickly as the next person, but I'm tiring of it. How long can this beauty thing be played out for?

I think it is time to stop looking for the beauty in artwork (and by artwork I mean, all levels of creation, writing, composing music, writing lyrics, political action, painting, sculpture, performance, etc.) and begin looking for the poetry in the artwork. Am I splitting hairs? Absolutely not. The defintion of poetry is the art of idealizing in thought and in expression. If we look for the poetry in the artwork, we begin asking ourselves a long list of questions. Its historical relevance, its level of intrigue, it's application. James Joyce says in Portrait of an Artist, and I'll paraphrase, that artists go through three stages in their artwork. First, the artwork is about themselves. Next the artwork is about themselves as they relate to the world, and then the artwork transcends to the poetic platue of being about the world. It is then fully applicable on a much broader scale. Paintings are too often relevant to painters. If they became relevant to the world, they'd become poetic rather than beautiful. Does this mean politics exclusively? Absolutley not. If an artwork is poetic, it is thought provoking. If the lyrics to a song are poetic, they are thought provoking. Only then does it produce the fractal geometric responses in it's audience. We need to thirst for an artwork that we can not put down. An artwork that goes through the entire cylce of digestion, becoming at first a bolus in our minds where we chew it thoroughly, seperating the vitamins from the fatty ingredients which are integral to our livelihood, and then staying with us, throughout the entire digestive process. We are then using the artwork for our own nutrition.

A search for the beauty alone produces the perastaltic reaction, where we begin to digest the food, find the beauty, and then regurgitate the artwork before it has been fully digested, leaving it in a pile of bile in the bowl that Duchamp has signed and we have deemed as beautiful. It leaves us alone. This is a terrible place for artwork.



News Shorts from Dreamland, Tuesday Feb. 10 2004

Papers are released proving that George W. did his full time serving his country in the seventies. When asked he was quoted as saying, "Are you kidding me, I love war. I love killing. I'm gone Keel it!"

John Kerry wins VA and TN primaries by a long slide. I can't believe I'm gonna have to vote for this punk. He voted for the war, for the Patriot Act, did you hear me, FOR THE PATRIOT ACT! and he voted against civil union marriages. How can this be? Why are people voting for him? He doesn't love this country. He loves being a politician. Damnit. Lincoln was the greatest president simply because he did what was right for the country. The only reason he wanted to be re-elected was because he genuinley cared about America. If it's any consolation, Mr. Kerry, most of America would vote for Animal from the Muppets before they voted for George Bush, so don't let it go to your head.

The homemaker of our generation is going to prison (Martha Stewart) and Superman (Christopher Reeves) is in a wheel chair. What's happening?

A suicide bomber drives his van into a police station simply because they are thought of as friends of the US, close to Baghdad. Amoung the innocent civilians killed is a former college student. He was forced to drop out of college to make money for his family. Do to the lack of security almost all of the factories have closed down. There are literally no jobs available. The only possible job opportunites are in the police force. While waiting in line to apply for one of the few positions available in the region, handfuls of innocent civilains are killed, just because the police may have ties to the "United" States.

Governer Pataki has secretly left to visit Iraq. He's going to drum up support for the war and to let New Yorkers know how well things are going in the war on terror, which by the way has nothing to do with Iraq. No one reports on the interesting paradox. He leaves secretly as a measure of security. Things are going so well in Iraq that he has to leave the state without telling anyone as a measure of security.

And on television, the news is hot on the trail of an amazing story. Janet Jackson revealed her boob. JC from N'sync has his performance at the pro bowl canceled in the chance that he would... I don't know, reveal his boob. Or maybe because he might have ties to Al Quaida, it's not clear yet. Drew Barrymore will be on Letterman tonight. What if she does the same thing she did last time she was on the show? (She flashed Dave) What is the world coming to? This is huge news. Forget the other stuff, this is really important.

In other news, the technology of the toothbursh continues to advance reaching places of your mouth never thought possible. I have to get out and buy one of those right away! Also, the new Mach 4 is out. It's a shaving Razor with four, thats right FOUR blades! I never thought that was possible. Put it in my cart. I'll buy it all. Even the bit about George W. not lying. I'll buy it all.



I'll Erase This in Three Weeks

There are certain instances that remind us we are. Those times when you become that thing that only happens to other people. I'm still deciding whether I like or dislike these times. Your mother dies, you jam your pinky toe on the doorway, you crash you car into a damn tree on a damn icy driveway, you get caught speeding, your girlfriend falls in love with someone else, you cut yourself shaving and so on.

It's just important to make notice of these times. They may be the only thing that keeps us from completely traversing the boundary of sanity. With one foot hovering three inches above the the Venus Fly trap of madness. Locura Lectura, Madness, Reading.

You look at yourself in the mirror and say in your head, "I'm saying that, right now, thats me, MY pinky toe hurts, thats me thinking that, I just moved my eyes, it must be hard to dance when it's so cold and there's no music playing." It only lasts about five or six seconds before you go on living like your someone else, your own doppelganger, imitating the moves that you think look appropraite to your height and hair color. Before you busy yourself with rewrapping the thread around the spool you yourself unconsciously let unravel. I still can't decide whether I like them or not. I'd rather not think about it too much.



My concentration is toward understanding the paradigm of painting, (cause/effect) focusing on the conceptual framework and expanding the historically predetermined boundaries of painting. I feel a distinct responsibility as an artist, but more importantly as a human, to reach, involve, educate, frustrate and implicate an audience inside and outside of the gallery. Artists like Mel Chin, Tim Rollins and Felix Gonzalez Torres have and are involving the viewer and the public in a discourse, which creates a space where important sociopolitical issues can be discussed and remedied. With an eye on contemporary issues and historical facts I hope to interact the viewer personally with the artwork. In a benefit show for the Southern Appalachian Biodiversity Project, I filled the gallery floor with replica evergreens forcing gallery visitors to step over, between and sometimes on the evergreen trees. The effort to preserve the artwork was juxtaposed with the effort to preserve the environment. Although my concentration is painting, I am focused on using any means necessary to create the type of space where issues are not only noticed but also resolved.

The antistrophic qualities in my paintings are deliberate, asking of the viewer a closer inspection into the circumstances involved. I am incorporating paintings whose narratives have been established. By juxtaposing them with current images a catalyst is created asking the viewer to go backward, forward and then backward again constantly keeping an eye on contemporary concerns that effect us directly and indirectly. This West to East, East to West, Right to Left, Left to Right ideology is essentially important to empathizing and understanding other cultures and peoples. It is loaded with applicable ideas that play on the etymology of the words as well as the epistemology of history. My goal is not to criticize but to instead create the impetus for change. When addressing inciting change through painting Gerhard Richter said, “…one eventually gets to a point where one thinks that humanity could be changed by painting…otherwise painting is pure idiocy.” I believe that change is influenced by education, and often implication of one’s self. Salmon Rushdie writes, “We are a nation of forgetters.” I understand that I am part of that nation, or generation and I am trying to focus and apply history with the conscience that history was written by the victors, to enrich my paintings with a conceptual infrastructure.

“Antistrophe” deals with the current war in the Middle East and accurately portrays the direction I would like to pursue with my work. There’s a quote from the Bible where God is speaking to Jonah about his decision not to destroy the city of Nineveh. “But Nineveh has more than twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left, should I not be concerned about that great city.” Nineveh today is Mosul, Iraq. The map in the background is a satellite picture of Iraq littered with plumes of smoke from bombs. I have switched my right and left hands in a self-accusation, void of the innocent ignorance referred to in the quote. By borrowing some of the rich subtleties of Vermeer’s paintings I am inviting the viewer into a discussion involving the allegoric symbols of the painting, which is meant to extract compassion. It is important for me to point fingers towards the oppressed in a move apropos to understanding and benevolence.