THE NEW EXPOSED ARTISTIC AND SCIENTIFIC CRITICISM OF SCANDINAVIAN CONTEMPORARY CULTURE
WRITTEN & EDITED BY JOHANNES HOLT-IVERSEN
Foreword This collection of essays started out as an intellectual distraction. But became important reflections in the process of becoming enlightened and aware of what kind of artist to chose to become. However knowing that independent contemporary art, not being a part of a government controlled institutionalized context, had few possibilities in Scandinavia or any open doors that connected the work to the Scandinavian contemporary art scene, made me look upon the existing system from the outside and the matrix that makes an educated Scandinavian contemporary artist of today (meaning artists having the academic title as Master of Fine Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts). During my research of the cultural differences inside the spectrum of the European fine arts and the fine arts design school systems, it suddenly draw to my attention that the Scandinavian approach, which I am raised from, might not be the most efficient nor the most honest artistically founded learning culture of today. Despite the cultural heritage it rebellions against and the long history of traditional schools it so proudly represents. So as becoming a part of the next generation of young outsiders to the Scandinavian contemporary art scene, the awareness and the importance of rebelling against this rejecting, yet clever build, system became just as important as developing my skillset in the process of becoming a fully educated contemporary artist. I wanted to evolve from being one of the new Scandinavian outsiders to become one of the new exposed, embracing and exposing the interdisciplinary total enlightenment. Having a holistic approach to European contemporary art and culture. The essays are combining a set of deductive methods and scientific findings from academic design theory as well as making a synthesis with the traditional aspects of fine arts, architecture and design. The essays focuses on setting a matrix from which it is possible to navigate through and does not exclude traditional fine arts neither does it exclude contemporary culture. However it does point out that todayâ€™s perspective and Scandinavian aim for the future is not a complete holistic picture and does not qualify any artist above another, educated or not. Simply because todayâ€™s educational model endangers the cultural aspect of modern western European and American culture, since it makes distinguishing between art, marketing and design culture a complete blur.
In this collection of essays the level of abstraction is dealt with on multiple levels; on a large scientific scale in terms of building a vision and value-based methodology, from which the argumentation these essays are based upon, as well as an artistic interpretation of the same term (ref. artistically abstraction) based on the interpretation of the figurative form as well as reflecting upon the free association, which gave contemporary art a strong platform in the 20th century. Though this has to be redefined, it has a much stronger potential than todayâ€™s rejection of it. This collection of scientific based essays is the guidance for the artist, which deliberately or not, are being alienated by the excluding behaviour of todays contemporary art scene. It is the scientific criticism that indicates, that the postmodern design culture and artistic rebellion against the canvas itself, suddenly seems to belong in times of economic surplus. That society needs a slow recovery and continues to have a severe financial crisis and multiple downturns on important industries, which sets the artist back to the studio training their skillsets rather than only provoking status quo using spectacular installations as the medium solely. This collection of essays is also the guidance for the scientist, historian and academician, who feel there is a lack of holistic understanding and appreciation of art in todayâ€™s scientific society. That design theory only works in the laboratory and that there are certain gaps created by profit driven institutions in the general understanding of contemporary culture. However this book could also be interpreted as a sign for a new golden age taking its roots from the mid 20th century and that perhaps a new group of artists, designers and architects are on their way with a vision of interdisciplinary creation rooted in the mid century, however after discussing with young colleagues there seems to be an untold need among young artists, that the combination of a linear structure, lack of knowledge building upon the art â€“ and design theory from the past put together with a certain holistic understanding is missing, making contemporary culture too confusing to navigate in, easy for galleries and curators to manipulate as well as making it hard for artists to evolve upon status quo on todays contemporary art scene. Sincerely Yours
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1. Navigating in the Spectrum of Art, Science, Design & Contemporary Culture January - February 2016
1.1 Abstract Setting the matrix, from which it is possible to navigate through interdisciplinary tasks between art, science and design, makes the keystone in these observations. Since the lack of genuine orientation seems to make todayâ€™s art scene without any valuable theoretic consistency, worst case making it possible to do biased philosophical argumentation for validating artistic contemporary nonsense, this has become my attempt to make the initial steps towards a better understanding, giving the artist a societal methodological knowledge of what makes the cultural structure in western oriented contemporary fine arts. It is also giving the scientist or historian a navigational tool when analysing an artwork of today, based upon contemporary culture for example. Keywords Interdisciplinary, holistic, value-based methodology 1.2 Introduction This essays methodology has been roughly based upon a scientific grid and methodology first stated by Lerdahl (2001) and Tollestrup (2004), a vision and value-based methodology mostly specified for integrated design. However this essay has taken this scientific approach into consideration for interdisciplinary use, and thereby does it not adapt the methodology in its current structure entirely, meaning that the design-based process in a scientific manner does not need to be documented by empirical evidence alone. Inner travels, as well as the physical evidence such as the artwork or end product, has equal value in terms of the artistic creation and is a key element in the argumentation. However it adapts the thoughts of Tollestrup (2004) and Lerdahl (2001) about values and vision, and how a clearly defined set of values are important for the final design or in this essay; artistic creation. Furthermore the essay suggests that integrating a scientific methodology into an artistic spectre of values can become useful during the analytical process of artistic creation. At the same time this essay criticizes the traditional scientific and artistically narrow-minded thinking, which also derives from traditional vision and value-based methodology. Instead
it suggests a holistic interdisciplinary adaptation of the value-based methodology developed for scientific purposes earlier, now adapted into artistic creation. This essay do however share the same assumption that values, can influence the level of innovation and artistic expression by opening the mental framework and bypassing an evolutionary development on an existing solution. (Tollestrup, 2004, p. 9) 1.3 Argumentation A prism that dualistically varies from abstract to concrete thinking and expression represents the spectre of art, design, science and contemporary culture. On every path, between the main values, a combination generates several subcategories, subcategories that manifest itself societal into specific schools of design, science or fine arts. Within this spectre an artistâ€™s duty is to make art upon every single aspect of this prism and keep a holistic genuine overview that includes all the tools necessary. The artist would have to be able to understand and execute fine arts of the quality of traditional institutional understanding as well as break those boundaries at the same time, however the artist shall also be able to understand his works in a context of a much broader contemporary cultural understanding and be able to analyse his process in a societal manner. The craftsmanship of a contemporary artist is based on not only one singular philosophical thinking of art, design or design philosophy; it is a personal combination of all philosophies that is necessary to solve the artistic vision, combining various sets of values and thereby all referring to expression.
The aspect of time and the possibility of visions evolving can be explained by adding a third axe and give the spectre a third dimension. The great Danish composer Carl Nielsen has referred to this artistic process of creation as the journey through a long pipeline from above (Nielsen, 1927). Taking this analogy into consideration, it has to be concluded that taking the aspect of time into the consideration is necessary. However it also gives a certain aspect of providing better visions from which these values can develop into ideal artistic, scientific and philosophical objectives. The objective set for the value contemporary culture should then be to achieve a free spontaneous culture with no societal boundaries towards artistic, scientific or philosophical creation over time. The value art would then over time become artistic creation whereas every interpretation would systemise or structure a given material, which would lead to a given artistic meaning. (Jorn, 1969, p. 2) Science would naturally become scientific deduction since the phenomenology and hermeneutic nature of science conduct this behaviour. Likewise for the value design, it will become design iterations from which every design processes are rooted in. By incorporating this holistic approach into artistic creation, considering all aspects of creation over time, everything can then truly become meaningful. Jorn (1941) once said that having a comparative analytical approach to several aspects of creation, only then you become fully aware of the artistic potential of a given material. (Jorn, 1941, p. 37)
1.4. Conclusions Using this navigational matrix gives the possibility of a higher artistic, as well as scientific, awareness of the certain processes within the interdisciplinary timeframe. Here the aspect of time is just as important as the aspect of space, meaning that navigating in the spectrum of time and space is where artistic creation, scientific deductions and design iterations happens. All is related to each other and related to the societal agile changes, here mentioned as the adaptive free spontaneous culture. However it is important to mention that the third-axe values are values set to achieve, constellations with only a set of these values are always possible, but navigating in the full spectre is where you go from professional refinement to virtuosity, artistically speaking. The level of abstraction is furthermore an important aspect to have in mind, whether or not youâ€™re navigating in this spectrum with the aspect of time or not. A constant dualistic approach towards the level of abstraction is also important due to future evolvement and understanding of fine arts in a societal frame. Going from concrete understanding of an object to an abstract level is not just important in the understanding of free artistic expression, but also important in the artistic processes when studying. Another important aspect of level of abstraction can be seen in modern science. Because if the level of abstraction is not being nurtured, it will end up making the scientific deductions very flat and undifferentiated, just as it will make the artistic creation very dull and impersonal. It would ultimately become the end of our institutionalized educational system if the interdisciplinary and holistic aspects were not being taken into consideration.
1.5. References Jorn, A., (1941) “Intime Banaliteter”, p. 33-38, Archives, Museum Jorn, Silkeborg. Jorn, A., (1969) “Syv maskinskrevne sider”, p. 1-2, ll. 7-8. Archives, Museum Jorn, Silkeborg. Lerdahl, E,, 2001, ”Staging for creative collaboration in design teams”, Thesis, NTNU, Trondheim; Department of Product Design Engineering. Nielsen, C., 1927, “Min fynske barndom”, København; Martins Forlag. ISBN 87-01-01541-9 Tollestrup, C., 2004, “Value and Vision-based Methodology in Integrated Design”, Thesis, Aalborg; Aalborg University, Department of Architecture & Design. CID Aarhus School of Architecture.
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2. A Holistic Understanding of Design and the Synergy Between Art and Science December 2015 – January 2016
2.1 Abstract A holistic understanding of design is recognised as an interdisciplinary task in which combining several approaches towards design gives the most dynamic skillset. To overcome the barriers of today’s constraints we need to understand, not just the distinguish between arts and science but also be able to understand the needs of both aspects when designing holistically. This paper describes as well as discusses a holistic understanding of design-philosophy and how a given synergy between art and science is necessary again when dealing with a new sustainable market and economy. Keywords Interdisciplinary, holistic, design-philosophy 2.2. Introduction To fully grasp the future you need to understand the past, it is said by many historians that nothing happens by coincidence. Understanding the patterns of any given area whether it is science, music, art, technologically speaking or philosophically speaking. Any evolution that takes place evolves from something. When seeing design purely as survival, we then see design demoted as prosthesises to improve and develop humans. Prosthesises could be developing tools to improve the rate of success utilizing resources, as an example the nutcracker. These improvements participate in a never-ending genesis. But at the same time the development or change in evolution is design whereas process in general is evolution. Nature designs by chance of natural selection where humans designs by necessity. (Stolterman et. Al, 2012) ”Humans did not discover the fire, they designed it.” (Stolterman et. Al., 2012, p. 11) And by that quote it is somehow given, according to Harold G. Nelson and Erik Stolterman (2012), that everyone is designing. But does this mean that everyone can plan, produce and construct a good design? Or is this merely a term based on a specific culture within the design industry of today? Or perhaps even more specifically caused by an industry polluted by a
commercialized market based on a linear economic definition, which has been obsolete in decades? Where is the possibility of spontaneous altruistic creation today, which has been a source of many design stories, told in the history of innovation and design in the past? Can we change this wrong path weâ€™ve been heading towards by understanding the past, embrace the challenges of today and understand science as more than deductive conclusions based on iterations? 2.3. Argumentation The ancient architect, engineer and author Marcus Vitruvius Pollio once said that a given structure must have the three qualities named as firmitas, utilitas and venustas, which means to be solid, useful and beautiful. (Vitruvius, 1960) These definitions later on led Vitruvius to develop the thoughts used to create Vitruvian Man based on a circular and square geometry, later on famously drawn by Leonardo da Vinci. (Liukkonen, 2015) Vitruvius were very inspired by nature and in his academic work he also defend this view on the architectural role as a force to imitate nature and especially this has become a very modern take on design theory from today, take the theories such as biomemicry. (BjĂ¸rner, 2015) Leonardo da Pisa also known as Fibonacci, later on also suggested a mathematical view upon the artistic idea of geometry and subjective beauty. (Maths.surrey.ac.uk, 2015) The famous fibonacci-numbers can be found in the exploration of the geometry behind the Vitruvian man as well as many other aesthetic incidents, in classical music for example, the complexity of itâ€™s most likely tonal structure can often be divided into specific Fibonacci numbers, due to the fact these proportions in music also soothes the ear or has a specific relation to beauty, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is one of the classical composers that has been the most discussed composer to have, deliberately or not, used the Fibonacci golden section. It is among the general population often mentioned as the Mozart effect. (Rauscher, 1993) In the mid-century ages the human scale was taken up again and the scaling traditions of the vetruvian man, was revisited by architect Le Corbusier. His (Le Corbusier) scale was based on the height of a man with his right arm raised. His anthropometric scale discovery and aesthetic view did he name the modulor. (Ostwald, 2001, p. 142) The human scale, such as the modulor as it is also referred to between architects and designers, is the universal understanding of not just the human and a given object, but also the surroundings we as human beings
interact with. Le Corbusier used the modulor to catch the eye, since his modern industrial manufactured proportioned components looked identical, it would seem too symmetrical and thereby boring to the human eye. He therefore based his model upon the golden ratio and most of his later lifeworks are by that schematics based on the modulorâ€™s golden ratio. (Gans, 2006) Looking at design from a more scientific approach, Marianne Stokholm (2008) suggests in multiple of her works, that designers of today should aim towards a great process in form of having a holistic approach to innovation. This has been elaborated from her first model representing integrated design, later on adding the function of navigation by which innovation could be placed in a scientific quantification. Latest the model has evolved into adding a certain aspect of levelling in terms of embracing the holistic approach. (Stokholm, 2008) (see fig. 3)
Stockholm (2008), Fig 3
But taking design from a purely scientific and functional point of view, the use of such deductive conclusions and iterations are the key element for developing a design within the strict boundaries of science. Also how the society is influenced and structured today the scientific approach towards design is the most chosen approach of today. Due to the fact that most of the western civilisation is based on scientific findings as well as the market capital; also the aspect of designing is undergoing changes. However will this continue in the change to a more sustainable green future? And the fact that going from a linear economic thinking towards a
circular balanced economy, would force us to change to a new perspective? (Kristeligt-dagblad.dk, 2015) Design theorist Ezio Manzini (2005) has in several of his works suggested not to lock us into a mono-logical approach towards design and production. One approach that is oriented in a single direction, the technical aspect of integrating into one machinery or organisational system has a tendency of taking away the skillsets, ability and know-how that enabled us in the past to deal with aspects in our daily life. We have uneducated ourselves in terms of the greater good and integrated design if we walk further down that road. (Manzini, 2005, p. 66) When speaking of intention or unintended behavior, Erik Stolterman and Harold G. Nelson (2012) in their book The Design Way, talks about the aspect of our unaware intentions, these design intentions can be defined in three categories of bad design intentions to be aware of. They are sort of to be seen as the designers’ bogeymen to avoid. The terms given are categorized in “stuff”, “things” and “junk”. (Stolterman et. Al., 2012, p. 247) Stuff and the concern about this have received attention due to the more green and sustainable tendency in designs of today. The enlightenment of our over-consumption of stuff might have helped in terms of the awareness about this as not a sustainable solution for our planet. Things and the aspect of artifacts has become a way of concern towards the aspect of example technologies amplifying or extending our humanity. Things are a way of showing our identity as human beings. As far back as primitive jewelry and other things showing our affiliation to either certain social status or identity. However things are not sustainable in the long term, since humans have a tendency to elaborate upon their identity, often shown by the things they surround themselves with. Thereby a given thing suddenly does not represent that social identity anymore. Junk is the category of innovation and intentions that diminishes us as human beings. Junk can be the dehumanizing tech. interface that removes personal responsibility such as drones used to bomb humans as well as designs that leave unintended debris such as space junk. (Stolterman et. Al., 2012, p. 248)
To summarize, it is by all means necessary to understand that our behaviour as designers is a part of a design culture. The design culture is furthermore based on how the overall economic vision is, it is necessary to understand that as long as we are having a linear approach towards market capitalism, we are forced to work in a field based on linear market value rather than humane sustainable value. Recycling is for example not necessarily good market value seen through traditional market capitalism. 2.4. Conclusions Having a holistic approach towards the process of designing (and thereby also innovating), will only be a fully success when we are going from a linear design thinking, building upon strict rules of science and economy, to a circular thinking that better embraces the creative disciplines. And by acknowledging the arts and crafts disciplines seeing them as just as important as the scientific approaches, we as designers of the future world will become able to solve the tasks of bringing the sustainable aspect into its right place. Not by adapting to the dogmas of the capitalized market, but by embracing the multiple aspects of human creation. The ambitious designer is an altruist that understands the needs of the human being. While the linear capitalized market is the dogma the designer of today needs to fight against and provide a better solution, which is suited for not only for the human being but also makes sure the capitalized mechanisms are still functioning. If we come to a state in time of which the aspect of non-sustainable economy would seem undeniably wrong and a better more circular, yet implementable economic model had the chance to arise, we would be able to get the full potential of the holistic approach towards design. However given the fact that the linear capitalized market is a part of ruling which designs survives by the fittest to the market price, we will only see an illuminated glimpse of the holistic design approach.
2.5. References Bjørner, T. (2015). Qualitative Methods for Consumer Research. Latvia: Hans Reitzels Forlag. Gans, Deborah (2006). The Le Corbusier Guide. Princeton Architectural Press. ISBN 1-56898-539-8, page 31. Liukkonen, Petri. "Vitruvius". Books and Writers (kirjasto.sci.fi). Finland: Kuusankoski Public Library. Manzini, E. (2005). "Enabling Designmatters(10): 64-68.
Nelson, H. G., &; Stolterman, E. (2012). The design way: intentional change in an unpredictable world. Cambridge, Massachusestts: The MIT Press. Ostwald, Michael J. (2001). "The Modulor and Modulor 2 by Le Corbusier (Charles Edouard Jeanneret), 2 volumes. Basel: Birkhäuser, 2000" (PDF). Nexus Network Journal 3 (1): 145–48. doi:10.1007/s00004-000-0015-0. Pikettys storværk er én af de mest savnede bøger i årtier. Retrieved December 4, 2015, from http://www.kristeligt-dagblad.dk/kultur/2014-11-18/ aristokratiets-tilbagekomst Rauscher, F. H., Shaw, G. L., &; Ky, C. N. (1993). Music and spatial task performance. Nature, 365(6447), 611–611. http://doi.org/10.1038/365611a0 Stokholm, M. (2008). A Holistic Approach to Interdisciplinary Innovation Supported by a Simple Tool. In L. I. Szelwar, F. L. Vitruvius, Pollio (transl. Morris Hicky Morgan, 1960), The Ten Books on Architecture. Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-20645-9. Who was Fibonacci. Retrieved December 4, 2015, from http://www.maths. surrey.ac.uk/hosted-sites/r.knott/fibonacci/fibbio.html
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3. The missing level of abstraction: dealing with contemporary anti-culture February - March 2016
3.1 Abstract This essay is a general argumentation and criticism of the Scandinavian approach towards contemporary culture and fine arts, both in terms of the institutional conventions as well as the anti-culture and ignorant art the students and academies nurtures. The essay suggests a higher level of abstraction and better holistic and philosophic understanding as a counter-part to the ignorance and anti-cultural wave. Keywords Argumentation, Anti-Culture, Ignorant Art, Marcel Duchamp, Dadaism 3.2 Introduction The last 10 years of European history has been turbulent and rough. There has been violence and horrifying attempts to destabilize the European culture since the many interventions in the Middle East. However this would presumably have been reflected in young contemporary art of today, however there are not many strong artistic voices in this debate originating from the new wave of artists. In many cases it is due to a set of cultural changes within the European contemporary art scene. As mentioned in earlier essays there are, within the Scandinavian fine arts academy institutions, grown a strong culture of ignorance. Confusingly enough the ignorance has theoretically given birth to ignorant art. In this essay I will elaborate upon this new wave of ignorant art within my own generation. It is furthermore a criticism of the anti-culture, which the Scandinavian art academies have nurtured into existence in their hope of being the ones providing the new artistic wave throughout Europe. 3.3 Argumentation In the beginning of the 20th century Marcel Duchamp (1968) introduced his â€œReadymadesâ€? during the years 1913 to 1919, his most famous piece was among other the installed Bicycle Wheel on a stool. His idea and vision was to choose an object, which did not attract him, not by its beauty nor by its ugliness. It should simply be on the tipping point of both subjective manners. (BBC, 1966) The idea and implementation of anti-art was here born. Duchamp (1968) challenged the emerging art market as well as the conventional thought about
artistic processes. (Tomkins, 1998) In the same time the art movement Dada or Dadaism began to emerge, starting from Switzerland in 1916 throughout Germany and the rest of Europe. Due to World War 1, Dada was born out of negative reaction to the war. Rejecting reasoning and logic, praising irrationally nonsense and intuition. The keystone to spontaneous expression was now born. Anti-war led to anti-art and the Dada movementâ€™s cultural statement would become an important role in postmodernism. (Picabia, 2007) Taking this into consideration that the combination of the early works by Duchamp combined with the European movements such as Dadaism has become the foundation, from which among other the Scandinavian art academies now nurture their new wave of young artists, makes you understand that the whole premise of Scandinavian contemporary fine arts, relying and praising the development of so called new independent expression, is a false premise. The Scandinavian rebellion has nothing to do with the premise of neither independence nor do it have anything to do with driving the contemporary art scene forward. It is simply to maintain status quo. This anti-art was related to a time in history where the need of spontaneous creation and intuition had a relation to society, the world had gone mad and logic could not be relied upon. Today in a world that is fragmented we still need those two main factors; however what needs to be added is a higher level of abstraction. Building upon the same intuitive outcome as the approach of contemporary art of today, but instead of rebelling and by then just repeating the history over and over again, it should be embracing several aspects of global art movements and schools derived from philosophy to craftsmanship as one and the same. As mentioned in earlier essays the need of a navigational tool can be useful and give a better perspective upon how to not just repeat specific schools and narrowed philosophies but also embrace other aspects of the past, discuss the future, understand the society in a more general yet more progressing manner. Implementing a higher level of abstraction, both visually and intellectually, would force ignorant artists and the anti-culture of today to reflect upon itself, but also the society that surrounds it. Having a higher level of abstraction implemented would give the theoretic foundation, which is missing out in Scandinavian fine arts academies of today only based upon the thoughts of Duchamp and Dadaism.
3.4. Conclusions It is to be concluded that taking the perspective of Marcel Duchamp and Dadaism into consideration, can help understand the lack of motivation in the inherent tradition of contemporary fine arts academies and lack of a strong artistic basis that the Scandinavian art institutions strongly are missing. It further gives an understanding of why ignorant art as well as anti-culture in general has been given so much space, since it is the ultimate argument for the academies to discriminate all other aspects of contemporary culture, though it skew the entire picture and in the end most likely will be yet another paraphrase in the discussion of western anti-culture. However it is suggested that embracing and adding a higher level of abstraction would enable to raise ignorant art to a newer level and hopefully it could become a more sophisticated output than what the fine arts academies in Scandinavia are mistakenly nurturing it to become today. 2.5. References Interview, BBC TV, 1966Â "Duchamp interviews"Â retrieved onÂ YouTube. https:// www.youtube.com/watch?v=7CFQY0Yf1iI Picabia, F., & Lowenthal, M. (2007). I am a beautiful monster: Poetry, prose, and provocation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Tomkins, C. (1998). Duchamp: A biography. New York: H. Holt.
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This collection of scientific based essays is the guidance for the artist, which deliberately or not, are being alienated by the excluding b...
Published on Feb 18, 2016
This collection of scientific based essays is the guidance for the artist, which deliberately or not, are being alienated by the excluding b...