Archive for the ‘Claudia’ Category

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notes on labor, process and repetition

02/18/10

While working on customizing all the plastic bottles we collected for the tube system, cutting plastic bags into little biscuits, binding loops together and making rope with Leonardo da Vinci’s ropemaker (an original, almost blasting our budget), we thought about the character of repetitive work. After spending hours and hours on customizing, fabricating and assembling, we went home, slept, came back and did the same for hours and hours. I spoke to one of my teachers about that I feel like doing a nightshift at an assembly line and she was interested as well as amused. Who would have thought that the process of making art could feel so unglamorous, so free of a manifestation of romantic ideas about vocation, inspiration and wild and highly gestural outbreaks of creativity?

It was much more about figuring out how to transform things into something different, with the help of what we could get in a short amount of time at low expenses, something recycled (and recyclable) and then just do basically the same transformational process over and over with our hands, our fingers, cutting, binding, fixing. However the repetitiveness of that process made us think, again, about the meditative quality of this type of work. Something that you do with your hands over and over, turns you into a machine embodying the hand movements that have to be applied. Your body becomes a machine or at least the extension of a machine. Nobody would regard work at the assembly line though as something shaped like a ritual that can transcend a mode of being that is calm, quiet and meditative. Is it the fact that being part of an assembly line process means that one is only a small part in a larger concept that is not transparent but highly dependent what comes before and after? Or is it the fact that your workpace is dictated by the machine and not by yourself? Is it just the notion of work–or something clearly declared as work–in contrast to a necessity that makes the difference? Or is it the spatial layout itself that is not at all designed to lead the way to “find” yourself?

(There are probably tons of stories about how people’s will and creativity is broken through working in a plant at an assembly line – One of German writer Hermann Hesse novels is titled “Unterm Rad / Under the wheel” from 1903 and this expression, I think, frames it quite well – a visual reference would be Charlie Chaplin ‘s “Modern Times,” 1936, the famous scene where he gets caught in these big cogwheels.)

The assembly line and its machines dictate the workpace, they are alienating the workers form the actual process of creating something through a simple spatial division, and thereby they also prevent the workers form gathering together (… probably the Marxist point of argumentation but I can’t help thinking it…..). What would be the counterpart? Or an example of repetitive work that leads to a state of meditation, of “emptying out” yourself. I think about religious and sacred rituals that involve singing, praying and making music and I think about women doing work at home, sitting around a table in big cercles (sic!) and knitting, crocheting, lacemaking, felting or whatever (you get the picture), and singing and … chatting. So not so meditative as well – it turns out to be about communication, about having a space exclusively for women that allows them to exchange information, where they dictate themselves what is done, how and when. A space that was later replaced by department stores, for a certain class, of course.

I can’t help thinking about the gender implications our work has/had: we were in between or doing both, construction work and handicraft, the drafts as well as the fine mechanics. I had weird (for me who never liked knitting and crocheting and who doesn’t want to change her mind because all of a sudden it’s “right” and good and hip to reappropriate these techniques or to do as much as possible yourself!!) fantasies about knitting a vest with these plastic bag threads.

So these hours and hours of unusual manual labor lead me more to a close examination of the here and now and its conditions and context than bringing me to state of mind with a transcendental possibility. (This is my very personal field report and Kyoung and I had different opinions on that!!). Maybe because I agree with Karl Marx again or at least I am sceptic about any religious implications that just lead to a concealment of the actual conditions of society. On the other hand he saw everything through the lense of class oppression and this is a very limiting stance … still he and Friedrich Engels imagined a society without work (or at least this type of work that puts one “under the wheel”) where everyone is free to educate one’s mind and as little as Marx had women in mind, there is really wonderful book by Engels where he tackles the “problem” titled “The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State,” 1884.

So I am torn between longing for a transcendental experience that can be gained through meditation and asceticism and the desire to take action that can come out of an empty mind, but  of a clear one tough. And before I get caught in my own notes I just state again that we did all kind of work and that we were performing engineers, and construction workers and this is precisely what I like about art, that it is a performance, a proposition, an idea to pass where all the “intervening steps” to quote Sol Lewitt, the “founder” of conceptual art, are “of interest”, the “scribbles, sketches, drawings, failed works, models, studies thoughts, conversations … those that show the thought process of the artist are sometimes more interesting than the final product.”

In this respect what we produced is: a dysfunctional system to water a garden – two layers – an inside and an outside – that were supposed to be connected – but even the planning of the connection was so difficult that now, as they are disconnected, it makes sense to me to leave them in that state. we are left with a very sculptural piping system, a ladder with an extension that stands on its own – as a formally as well as conceptually interesting piece of art – a beautiful garden in the backyard of the gallery and the question of what to do with this post-apocalyptic system. whatever we decide, for me it is clear that we have to adapt to the process and preserve an openness of the piece that was unpredicted and that will involve, again, manual labor to perform it.

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plans sketches etc.

02/08/10
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rope meat leg

02/08/10

I have to give credits for the way to bind the plastic bottles together–with our stylish plasticbag-rope–and on to the aluminium bars  to Mama Slanar (my mum for you non-German-speakers out there) as I thought about a special technique she used when binding meat together for a roast–note: this is generally used for a special type of roast, called “Rollbraten”  in Germany and “Geselchtes” in Austria, but can be applied to any meat that is supposed to be filled and therefore has to hold together through the roasting process. To verify this technique or to help myself remembering what my mum told me years ago (and I only listening to her with half an ear back then) I googled a bit and came across this demonstration video.

http://www.kuechengoetter.de/video/Kuechenpraxis-Tipps-16025/16076/Braten-einfach-und-richtig-binden.html

what I also found out reading through stuff on the web was that the “roast-binding” should not be used if you want to make stuffed goose (delicious with apples or chestnuts or both and served with red cooked cabbage and potatoe dumplings …) or even turkey as there is a way to do it so that the oven-heat is directed to the delicate parts in a better way.

I followed the chef’s instructions in the computer lab at calarts library, my left leg served as roast.

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Relational Aesthetics

11/09/09

I had to think about the article while reading Kyoung’s entry about gestures – a good one to re-read, re-view, re-think, even though I not quite agree with his theory about relational aesthetics.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolas_Bourriaud

one of the artists working with social events and gestures in art spaces I would like to keep in mind:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rirkrit_Tiravanija

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On display

10/05/09

PLANETARIUM display Here’s the little visual reference for the display Claudia and I set up.  Like a little school desk with a sort of dunce hat to let the world know all about recycled planetariums.

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more keywords: preservation, post-apocalypse, peanut-butter sandwich, tbc…

09/19/09

We are the village green preservation society
God save donald duck, vaudeville and variety
We are the desperate dan appreciation society
God save strawberry jam and all the different varieties
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do
We are the draught beer preservation society
God save mrs. mopp and good old mother riley
We are the custard pie appreciation consortium
God save the george cross and all those who were awarded them
We are the sherlock holmes english speaking vernacular
Help save fu manchu, moriarty and dracula
We are the office block persecution affinity
God save little shops, china cups and virginity
We are the skyscraper condemnation affiliate
God save tudor houses, antique tables and billiards
Preserving the old ways from being abused
Protecting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do
God save the village green.

The Kinks, The Village Green Preservation Society

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reminder: wikipedia; keywords: display, decoration, exotism, hobby, technique of seeing.

09/18/09

In the Roman Empire, the first fish to be brought indoors was the sea barbel, which was kept under guest beds in small tanks made of marble. Introduction of glass panes around the year 50 allowed Romans to replace one wall of marble tanks, improving their view of the fish. In 1369, the Chinese Emperor, Hongwu, established a porcelain company that produced large porcelain tubs for maintaining goldfish; over time, people produced tubs that approached the shape of modern fish bowls.[2] Leonhard Baldner, who wrote Vogel-, Fisch- und Tierbuch (Bird, Fish, and Animal Book) in 1666, maintained weather loaches and newts.[3]

In 1836, soon after his invention of the Wardian case, Ward proposed to use his tanks for tropical animals. In 1841 he did so, though only with aquatic plants and toy fish. However, he soon housed real animals. In 1838, Félix Dujardin noted owning a saltwater aquarium, though he did not use the term.[4] In 1846, Anna Thynne maintained stony corals and seaweed for almost three years, and was credited as the creator of the first balanced marine aquarium in London.[5] At about the same time, Robert Warington experimented with a 13-gallon container, which contained goldfish, eelgrass, and snails, creating one of the first stable aquaria. He published his findings in 1850 in the Chemical Society’s journal.[6]

Pike in an aquarium c. 1908, at the Belle Isle Aquarium, Belle Isle Park

The keeping of fish in an aquarium became a popular hobby and spread quickly. In the United Kingdom, it became popular after ornate aquaria in cast iron frames were featured at the Great Exhibition of 1851. In 1853, the first large public aquarium opened in the London Zoo and came to be known as the Fish House.[7] Philip Henry Gosse was the first person to actually use the word “aquarium”, opting for this term (instead of “vivarium”) in 1854 in his book The Aquarium: An Unveiling of the Wonders of the Deep Sea. In this book, Gosse primarily discussed saltwater aquaria.[8] In the 1850s, the aquarium became a fad in the United Kingdom.[9]

“What an Aquarium Should Be” – an 1876 British engraving

Germans soon rivaled the British in their interest. In 1854, an anonymous author had two articles published about the saltwater aquaria of the United Kingdom: Die Gartenlaube (The Garden House) entitled Der Ocean auf dem Tische (The Ocean on the Table). However, in 1856, Der See im Glase (The Lake in a Glass) was published, discussing freshwater aquaria, which were much easier to maintain in landlocked areas.[10] During the 1870s, some of the first aquarist societies were appearing in Germany.[11] The United States soon followed. Published in 1858, Henry D. Butler’s The Family Aquarium was one of the first books written in the United States solely about the aquarium.[12] According to the July issue of The North American Review of the same year, William Stimson may have owned some of the first functional aquaria, and had as many as seven or eight.[13] The first aquarist society in the United States was founded in New York City in 1893, followed by others.[11] The New York Aquarium Journal, first published in October 1876, is considered to be the world’s first aquarium magazine.[14]

In the Victorian era in the United Kingdom, a common design for the home aquarium was a glass front with the other sides made of wood (made watertight with a pitch coating). The bottom would be made of slate and heated from below.[15] More advanced systems soon began to be introduced, along with tanks of glass in metal frames.[15] During the latter half of the 19th century, a variety of aquarium designs were explored, such as hanging the aquarium on a wall, mounting it as part of a window, or even combining it with a birdcage.[16]

Aquaria became more widely popular as houses had an electricity supply after World War I. Electricity allowed artificial lighting as well as aeration, filtration, and heating of the water.[17] Initially, amateur aquarists kept native fish (with the exception of goldfish); the availability of exotic species from overseas further increased the popularity of the aquarium.[18] Jugs made from a variety of materials were used to import fish from overseas, with a bicycle foot pump for aeration.[19] Plastic shipping bags were introduced in the 1950s, making it easier to ship fish.[20] The eventual availability of air freight, allowed fish to be successfully imported from distant regions.[3] In the 1960s metal frames made marine aquaria almost impossible due to corrosion, but the development of tar and silicone sealant allowed the first all-glass aquaria made by Martin Horowitz in Los Angeles, CA. The frames remained, however, though purely for aesthetic reasons.[15]

There are now around 60 million aquarists worldwide.[citation needed] In the United States, aquarium keeping is the second-most popular hobby after stamp collecting.[21] In 1999 it was estimated that over nine million U.S. households own an aquarium. Figures from the 2005/2006 APPMA National Pet Owners Survey report that Americans own approximately 139 million freshwater fish and 9.6 million saltwater fish.[22][23] Estimates of the numbers of fish kept in aquaria in Germany suggest at least 36 million.[21] The hobby has the strongest following in Europe, Asia, and North America. In the United States, 40 percent of aquarists maintain two or more tanks