Author: Michael Corris  
Posted: 07.12.2002; 16:01:32
Topic: Question 6
Msg #: 621 (in response to 428)
Prev/Next: 620/622
Reads: 88846

In reply to Mel's 6/14: I agree with you assessment of what is and what is not of value in terms of Conceptual art, Art & Language practices, ca. 72-76, and And I said as much in at least two public presentations on Conceptual art; one at the V&A in September, and one at the University of Minnesota this past month. As you are well aware, it was Robert Hobbs who raised the issue of Conceptual art and "taste" in his text "Affluence, Taste, and the Brokering of Knowledge: Notes on the Social Context of Early Conceptual Art", that you read, and is being published in "Conceptual Art" (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2004). Prior to Hobbs's critical text, analyses of the decisions behind the selection of typefaces used by Conceptual artists Larry Weiner and Joey Kosuth appeared in Frieze magazine, at least 5 or 6 years ago. I am not entirely comfortable to annex the early history of Conceptual art to a species of cultural studies, but it is clear that conventional historicist accounts of Conceptual art are inadequate when it comes to the issues you raise: Conceptual art as, in your words, space-occupying stuff.

With regard to, I confess a similar lack of knowledge, although my discussion with Thomas have enlarged my horizon, as has my relation to the editors of MUTE magazine. An important point to bear in mind is the difficulty that many practitioners have in separating "form" and "function". One of the perennial problems we faced in NY during the 1970s, as I recall, was the problem of display. By making display problematic, we faciliated a move into rather specialist areas of information retrieval. How was it that we avoided being pickled in our own systems? Perhaps it is closer to the truth to say that we kept on working on systems from "Handbooks" to "Workbooks"; from the conversational encounter, through annotations, blurts, bxal-ing, going-on, pandemonium, paradigm shift, pathways, to viewer participation until they became so baroque or top-heavy that they imploded. Don't you agree, Mel, that had we made an apriori judgement about the use of such information retrieval technologies, or modal logics, etc., etc., much of the work, discussions, and interesting discoveries would not have taken place?

I also think that Thomas has a point about the gap between your rhetoric of participation and the nature of the current work. At the same time, I would argue that the gap is a real consequence of your pursuit of what amounts to a greater good: the index as boundary condition. I had referred to it previously as a central feature of your "ruralist" idyll. It seems, unexpectedly, that "indexicality" and "net pathways" are as incompatible (potentially) as ruralism and cosmopolitanism. The "lagging" dialectic between interior/exterior, A&L/participants is both a symptom and a cause of this gap. Michael Corris (


Last update: Saturday, December 7, 2002 at 4:16:07 PM.