Saturday, June 13, 2009

Time-based work...

I never got around to writing this so playing catch up. Christopher Allen wrote in The Weekend Australia (June 6-7) about time-based outcomes and I thought it appropriate for recent debate.
The expression [time-based work] raises the question: What work does not involve time? Time is a factor even in paintings and prints, not only because it takes time to inspect and assimilate such works but because our experience of them includes a sense of the temporality of the artist's performance in their making...

This goes back to some earlier comments I made regarding The Perth School of Photography and Ric Spencer's thoughts on the temporal.

I get the feeling that photography does tend to inspire some Australian writers to bold statements. This from Juliana Engberg in Art & Australia (Vol. 46, No. 4):
Unlike a painting that comes into being over time, with nuances and flaws which have the effect of enlivening its subject, a photograph is a frozen moment. It is true (my emphasis) for one split second and yet entirely fictitious... the photograph becomes a cadaver of a person as if a mortician and laminator are in cahoots.

Then later whilst discussing a visit to the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra:
... even the worst paintings were more intriguing than the photographic portraits sprinkled here and there which have the effect of vacuum-sealing their subjects.

The might be true of images in that particular collection, but there is a sense that The Photograph is not the favourite nephew at the moment. In regards to the statement of nuances and flaws, this reminded me of some thoughts from a few years ago - The Referential in Artworks (July 28, 2007):
Due to the 'pace' of creation using more traditional media (painting, sculpture, etc) there is an 'inherent' selective process in regards to what is imaged. Does the painter render the imperfections in a wall or smooth it over to avoid distraction? Do they insert elements to tell their stories? Are portions of the image dealt with differently to highlight a (lack of) importance?

In photography and film (with the exception of digital and/or scene manipulation) there is always this underlying documentative aspect. Has the scene been 'cleaned' or is it 'as found'?

Obviously this relates more to art-subject rather than art-object. I would hope we are more sophisticated than saying that the painter's 'shaky' hand makes 'art' whereas a similarily flawed 'tool' (ie. a camera) only renders lesser objects.

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