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Thread: Grids

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    <3 gator's Avatar
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    Grids

    So I used to go to a reading night in Vancouver ages ago where everyone would take part in the practice of collectively doing a close reading of an academic text at the same time. I really miss it and I keep toying with the idea of trying to do something similar here as a way of keeping my brain from dying. So... I'm just going to start posting articles and inviting your responses.

    For the first of such threads I propose we read:

    Grids
    Rosalind Krauss

    October. Vol. 9, (Summer, 1979), pp. 50-64

    I'm interested in hearing your thoughts. I've read through this already but my brain is fried tonight so will reread and comment tomorrow.

    Allons y!

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    No Blorg's Avatar
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    Cool! My brain is fried at the moment too but I like this thread idea and I'll get around to a response sometime this week

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    Senior Member Tetris Champion notdavidlynch's Avatar
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    Sugoi! Sugoi!

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    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    i sorta take issue with this starting from the opening sentences... like what the hell is she talking about, "In the early part of this century there began to appear..." grid structures began to appear? not really... artists/scientists were doing that grids shit starting from the renaissance at least... behind a 2d image there is an underlying 2d structure, and she can't see it?

    One has to travel a long way back into the history of art to find previous examples of grids. One has to go to the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, to treatises on perspective and to those exquisite studies by Uccello or Leonardo or Diirer, where the perspective lattice is inscribed on the depicted world as the armature of its organization. But perspective studies are not really early instances of grids. Perspective was, after all, the science of the real, not the mode of withdrawal from it. Perspective was the demonstration of the way reality and its representation could be mapped onto one another, the way the painted image and its real-world referent did in fact relate to one another-the first being a form of knowledge about the second. Everything about the grid opposes that relationship, cuts it off from the very beginning. Unlike perspective, the grid does not map the space of a room or a landscape or a group of figures onto the surface of a painting. Indeed, if it maps anything, it maps the surface of the painting itself. It is a transfer in which nothing changes place. The physical qualities of the surface, we could say, are mapped onto the aesthetic dimensions of the same surface. And those two planes-the physical and the aesthetic-are demonstrated to be the same plane: coextensive, and, through the abscissas and ordinates of the grid, coordi- nate. Considered in this way, the bottom line of the grid is a naked and determined materialism.
    does she not realize that grids make sense to use when drawing because paper or a canvas is a 2d surface? you map stuff out using grids when you're drawing from real life because you are translating 3d into 2d. i don't understand what she even means by "transfer in which nothing takes place."

    she sounds like the type of person who looks at a mondrian painting and can not imagine what that could've been inspired by and gets mad cuz her imagination stops right there.

    i'm tempted to defend abstraction in general now for people who might not "get it" but i'm not 100% sure what she's actually talking about. the opening paragraphs were offensive though.

    edit: then there's this argument she makes about contradictions

    this ambivalence about the import of the grid, an indecision about its connection to matter on the one hand or spirit on the other
    The grid's mythic power is that it makes us able to think we are dealing with materialism (or sometimes science, or logic) while at the same time it provides us with a release into belief (or illusion, or fiction).
    i can't get too into this rn but trying to understand. idk why i'm trying to read this.

    somebody else post before i go crazy. it bothers me cuz i've always understood/experienced grids to be super traditional, even the type she's talking about (not "perspective" which btw wtf???/lol? at the kind of distinction i think she's attempting to make).
    Last edited by jigglypuff; 04-23-2015 at 04:20 AM.

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    Senior Member Tetris Champion notdavidlynch's Avatar
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    My favorite blurb about Krauss (by Roger Kimball):

    It is easy to be exasperated with Rosalind Krauss. She is pretentious, obscurantist, and mean-spirited. Enjoying a position of great academic respect, she has, through her writings, teaching, and editorship of October, exercised a large and baneful influence on contemporary writing and thinking about culture. In the end, however, one’s exasperation is likely to be mixed with pity. Here is a woman who has devoted her professional life to art and ideas but who clearly has no feeling for art and for whom ideas are ghostly playthings utterly cut off from reality. In the Republic, Plato has Socrates remark that “to be deceived about the truth of things and so to be in ignorance and error and to harbor untruth in the soul is a thing that no one would consent to.” No doubt Rosalind Krauss would scoff at the idea of possessing anything so quaint as a soul. But she must, from time to time, wonder what her beloved Lacan and Derrida have to do with life, what her Klein Groups and castration fantasies and “psycho-atmospheric-anamorphic objects” have to do with art. Why, she must wonder, do other people seem to care so much about art and beauty when to her it is all an arid, narcissistic battleground? It is pathetic, really. Her writing and ideas are pernicious, but one cannot help feeling sorry for Rosalind Krauss.
    2nd definition of Obscurantism according to Wikipedia:

    In the 19th and 20th centuries "obscurantism" became a polemical term for accusing an author of deliberately writing obscurely, to hide his or her intellectual vacuousness.
    Vacuousness

    having or showing a lack of intelligence or serious thought : lacking meaning, importance, or substance
    Which summarizes what I think of a great deal of postmodern critical theory, especially within the humanities, and especially from the Frenchies (Derrida, Beaudrillard, Lacan, etc). Their writings should be purged. It's not even worth it to give any of their writing a serious read and attempt to break down exactly why it's deluded or wrong or just empty.

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    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    ^ based on just this one thing, i have a pretty poor opinion of her right now. if all that's true, maybe she's projecting herself onto "grids." and i usually don't have this sort of reaction reading this type of shit.

    i also took a break from laying out a pretty annoying/complex grid to read this, lol. why
    Last edited by jigglypuff; 04-23-2015 at 04:37 AM.

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    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    i had to look this up, it's bothering me so much.

    http://www.npg.org.uk/learning/digit...ng-machine.php

    ...Fifteenth century artists wanted to find a way of being able to record the natural world more accurately, so they invented a number of different machines to help them draw what was in front of them. Leon Battista Alberti, 1404 - 1472, wrote the first general treatise Della Pittura on the laws of perspective in 1435. Alberti's Frame was the name of the most successful of the drawing devices invented. This drawing machine is made up of a square wooden frame, across which horizontal and vertical threads are stretched at regular intervals to form a grid. A foot or so in front of this gridded frame is a rod, the same height as the distance from the bottom of the frame to the middle of the grid. This rod is important because, by lining up the eye with the rod and the centre of the grid, the eye is always fixed in the same position when looking at things.

    By looking at subjects through this grid, they become divided up into squares - a bit like looking at a map. This process makes it easier to work out where each object is in relation to everything else.

    The artist using the drawing machine would also have a piece of paper in front of them gridded up with the same number of squares as in the wooden frame. Everything the artist wanted to draw would be transferred from the square where they saw it in the grid, onto its twin square on the piece of paper. If they saw a person's nose halfway down the fifth square up and the second square across, then that is where they would draw it on the matching paper square.
    according to rosalind krauss, this would be "not really" a grid??? is it because the final art is representational?

    flattening the 3d world into 2nd forms via grids in order to "see" more accurately is a pretty abstract way to see things, btw.

    from "grids"
    There are two ways in which the grid functions to declare the modernity of modern art. One is spatial; the other is temporal. In the spatial sense, the grid states the autonomy of the realm of art. Flattened, geometricized, ordered, it is antinatural, antimimetic, antireal. It is what art looks like when it turns its back on nature. In the flatness that results from its coordinates, the grid is the means of crowding out the dimensions of the real and replacing them with the lateral spread of a single surface...

    In the temporal dimension, the grid is an emblem of modernity by being just that: the form that is ubiquitous in the art of our century, while appearing nowhere, nowhere at all, in the art of the last one...
    just... what.
    Last edited by jigglypuff; 04-23-2015 at 06:44 AM.

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    chaotic neutral shitpost jigglypuff's Avatar
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    sorry for posting so much, but i'm still awake & i just had another thought

    With regard to the advent of the grid in twentieth-century art, there is the need to think etiologically rather than historically. Certain conditions combined to precipitate the grid into a position of aesthetic preeminence. We can speak of what those things are and how they came together throughout the nineteenth century and then spot the moment of chemical combination, as it were, in the early decades of the twentieth. But once the grid appears it seems quite resistant to change. The mature careers of Mondrian or Albers are examples of this. No one would characterize the course of decade after decade of their later work as developmental. But by depriving their world of development, one is obviously not depriving it of quality. There is no necessary connection between good art and change, no matter how conditioned we may be to think that there is. Indeed, as we have a more and more extended experience of the grid, we have discovered that one of the most modernist things about it is its capacity to serve as a paradigm or model for the antidevelopmental, the antinarrative, the antihistorical.
    instagram

    ? i can elaborate l8er
    Last edited by jigglypuff; 04-23-2015 at 08:02 AM.

  10. #10
    Mens bona regnum possidet ferrus's Avatar
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    I need the time to properly digest it, but I do feel a little more sympathetic towards her basic thrust which is:

    Flattened, geometricized, ordered, it is antinatural, antimimetic, antireal.
    It is not so much the grid that, as tele implied, has been used extensively in art for a long time (as she recognises a bit later), but not as aesthetic objects but as vehicles for the representation of aesthetic objects, and her essay seems primarily about the renunciation of romanticism. Actually these forms and structures are as much a part of nature as anything else, albeit not a part of the romanticist conception of nature. When we think of non-biological nature we are, I suppose often thinking of straight lines and abstraction.

    But... modernism retained some of romanticism's hope. I remember I wrote a post in my blog about first seeing the Malevich square (or a copy thereof) in the Tate Modern when there was an exhibition:

    Went to the Malevich exhibition in the Tate Modern today. The sumpremecist work was strangely moving to me (to the extent that the curator I think thought it slightly amusing I seen so enraptured by them*). But they are works of art representing what to me are the fundamental issues of a 21st century consciousness. The reconciliation of a world that is defined by rationalism but in which we have been demasked as non-rational actors. I know many look at it as having vitality, and I know that it should. And yet that vitality of the work seems sour to me, or at least in my present psychological state of mind. Look at the rampant slaughter across the world today in the name of religions and ideologies with as much pure reason in them as the ravings of a parakeet on acid. Where can one have the faith in such reason to produce a better world? I can't see it any more. I wish I did. Which gives these paintings such an intense melancholy aspect it almost made me want to cry. What is there left that the realisation that, yes this is the truth - but it won't set you free. It will only allow you to stoically enjoy the passing of one meaningless meaning dance to and fro with ironic disregard. Just looking at these black (or white) squares and peering into the abyss, it is the pit of the 20th century, 100 years after it started in spirit. Sure you can look at the geometry of it, study it, gain some amusement. The craquelure is quite different in many of the separate compositions and has its own kind of logic. Some of the seemingly non-euclidean and dissipating shapes sort of lent my mind to the theory of relativity - and sure enough in the next room in German there was a poster making this quite explicit. But mainly it is just the loss of meaning. Nothing but absence and presence in various amusing shapes and even colour starts to fade into irrelevance. What else is there to life now but to amuse oneself with the logical structures of the world? To see their spare beauty? Very little art talks to me. Some of the cubo-futurist work did, but in muffled tones, where the canvases seemed to be expressing an idea ready to crack open out of the egg. And there came the supremacist work. The Stalinist suppression of this work is almost the icing on the cake. It was far too honest, as works of art they have a blunt honesty that enriches Russian art generally - ironically for such a self-deluding country and yet their self-delusions have enough self-pity in them to reveal truths of a kind - and I see why now Stalin might see such a threat in it. The 20th century ushered in the necessary emptiness of meaning, and the collapse of philistine bourgeois meaning and morality is inevitably nihilism. Staring into a black square is a meditation into the means of comporting oneself with that. In that black square I realise there was a hole of meaning that some part of my consciousness really, really wishes it could have, but now knows it can never have now. It made me intensely sad, in a good way.
    Which is to say that for all its formal observations, the essay seems to be missing the point. The autotelic anti-romanticism of these pieces was not an ahistorical phenomenon but a deeply historical one, driven by the demands of its time when a kind of cynicism about the capacity of the human condition to improve itself wasn't as thoroughly burnt out as it is now and the power of the purely rational was seen as an intrinsic part of humanity, not... something that is kind of at odds with some fundamental aspects of human nature.

    Or, it is not just that "We wished to awaken the feeling of man's sovereignty by showing his divine birth: this path is now forbidden, since a monkey stands at the entrance." - that monkey is throwing shit in a violent way not amenable to the victory of our brain's consicous materiality over our genes.

    I agree though with the premise that modern art is a myth of the mysticism of a disembodied world, and in some sense it feels like a flight from reality rather than a proper embrace of nihilism.
    Last edited by ferrus; 04-23-2015 at 03:12 PM.
    Die Logik ist keine Lehre, sondern ein Spiegelbild der Welt. Die Logik ist transcendental. - Wittgenstein

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