diamond tip. PS: I agree that editing has become extremely important, but I suppose that Marcel Duchamp is (as usual) a precedent. I’m thinking of the readymades, but there are other instances of selection (and arrangement of the selected material) as being foregrounded well beyond the recent-ish fuss about us being in a “Postmodern” age. Walter Benjamin’s idea of writing a book made entirely from quotations is one instance; another is the work of Kurt Schwitters. There are surely others as well. Isn’t there an ideology of The New Now, another legacy from Modernism and the Modernist concept of the avant-garde? Such an interest would appear to be anti-Postmodern and pro “straight” originality. I believe there is still the possibility of newness in art but not because I subscribe to the model of the avant-garde; rather, there are always new contexts and new combinations of people and things, and new technologies too, or (and this is also an older trait) the moving of things from one context to another. Brian Eno has spoken in interviews about how all he ever really did was to take things from a fine art context and move them into one of popular culture. In saying this he’s being a bit unfair to himself, but I think his point is a very interesting one, in that it suggests newness as repetition at the same time. And this makes me think of Andy Warhol who, in fact, fits into what is clearly now a tradition of the readymade. MH: Well, if you’ll let me summarise: under scrutiny here are issues of provenance, ownership and fashion, with the old chestnut of “the new” as a gloss. So, within this framework I would assert that editing and remixing are more than just formal necessities but actually techniques of survival, identifying marks that might in the perverse rubric of capitalism become brands, or might likewise find space as subtle inflections in the written/ visual/sonic domains. Wearing my writerly cap I wrote a ‘story’ for Subtext, an anthology that accompanied ‘Chord’ (a major installation by Conrad Shawcross staged in the old Kingsway tram subway in the summer of 2009). This piece, called ‘The Kingsway Mystery’, utilised Oulipian constraints to achieve its end, taking tiny genetic snips from long-forgotten crime novels and magazines set in foggy London, along with dead dry journals about trams. All this stuff was compounded into a brand new ultra-disjunctive narrative, while Shawcross’s two rope machines slowly wove a massive hawser from 324 spools of coloured string deep underground. This is a kind of paradigm. Different sorts of co-existing methodologies, some that gain instant recognition, kudos and financial value, others that are only on the edge of the marketplace, mainly because they presuppose a slightly deranged readership, tolerant of such obscure bricolage. Perhaps only now am I starting to exhume the ideas buried inside the concept of ‘scagliola’; just beginning to sniff its scent!
Michael Hampton, Vogelherd (2010), courtesy the artist
“There is still the possibility of newness in art but not because I subscribe to the model of the avant-garde... there are always ... new combinations of people and things”
Published on Nov 11, 2010