Re: Alternative Processes and Concept and Temporality and...

From: Jack Brubaker ^lt;>
Date: 03/11/04-07:23:26 PM Z
Message-id: <>

Here are my comments on your note...
Steve wrote:

i have a question for you on this: regarding the
> viewer, you discussed when a viewer sees a print from "bare paper," they have
> a
> certain response. what though, do you think the viewer is responding to?

We hope to reach something in the viewer. We hope they see something in the
print that isn't the image, something beyond it. Everyone who succeeds at
creating objects that people connect with is putting something in there.
What is the something is the question. It is probably different for
different workers. For some of us on the list using alt techniques is one of
the ways of putting something in there that we don't feel is there without
it. It may only be a frame of mind. Or, it may be that the extra
manipulation of the materials is creating more psychic involvment with the
final object. Pye in the book mentioned before says that using methods that
have a high level of uncertainty is one of the definitions art. I think that
the positive side of uncertainty is one of the reasons I am attracted to alt

> they don't have the information necessary to know that hours and hours were
> put
> into a print? do you think it's an innate response? instinctual? that they can
> feel that this piece involved a great deal of craft and effort?

No, I don't think it matters to the average observer how the image is made.
If it grabs them, it grabs them. To believe that the observer must know and
understand that there is extra effort in an alt method is to miss the point
that what we want to do is stimulate that something in the observer. The
image must contain more for the effort to have worthwhile. Sometimes the alt
print speaks for itself. When it doesn't it's probably not worth doing.
Which is not to say that the viewer won't appreciate learning more about how
an image that grabs them is made, but it should grab them first, I think.
> i think a lot of people may look at a title of a piece and see that it says
> "archival digital print" or "silver gelatin print" or "c-print" or "pt/pd
> print" what if the viewer doesn't really know the difference? do you think
> there is some kind of mystical quality?

I think the moments where a work speaks to the viewer can have a mystical
quality. The trick is to use the tool to get there, not count on the tool or
method to give it to you. This is where the element of work is involved, and
why I see work as so important in the process. Sometimes work is nearly
instantaniuos and sometimes it seems like drudgery, but either way can be a
path to a successfull piece.
> i'll check out that book. definitely looks like a good read. can you tell me
> more about these other cultures and their feelings about work? or point me to
> some reading?
Most of my awareness of these ideas have come from talking with
artist-craftsmen and folklorists. There is a book on African blacksmiths who
are also shamen. I'll look for it. It's not all that well written but
examines a special case where the ritual nature of making things and the
symbolic content of the product is clearly defined by the culture.


> thanks,
> steve
> Quoting Jack Brubaker <>:
>> Steve,
>> I like to think about the actual effort we put into making abjects, be they
>> alt prints or what evers. In this age it is common to regard effort or work
>> as a negative (if it takes extra time to make something, or if it is more
>> physical, than the effort is misguided). Many cultures in the past had very
>> clear ways of thinking about the possitive attributes of the energy that
>> goes into making something. That energy was often given magical qualities
>> (a
>> village would believe that their fruit would not spoil because it was
>> packed
>> in the ceramic jars made by the potter of their village who put special
>> energy into his pots). Many traditional trades had incantations or gestures
>> that were to banish the evel spirits from their work, not just so it would
>> not explode in the kiln or crack in the quench but because these gestures
>> made their products better in some fundimental way.
>> Today most people believe they are too wise to believe in such things and
>> yet they honor that input of energy and individualism that they know (deep
>> down inside themselves) only comes from creative work (sometimes the
>> emphisis is more on the creative and sometimes more on the work). The
>> puplic
>> lacks awareness and words for their relationship with this magic, but they
>> sence it just the same. Most of us have had that moment when an observer
>> stand in front of our art and can't move. Most people can't put their
>> finger
>> on what it is that touches them but they feel some energy enter them.
>> I think that the work of making a print from bare paper effects us and our
>> creative energy and when all is right can add another layer to the viewers
>> responce.
>> On a different note read:
>> The Nature and Art of Workmanship
>> by David Pye, published by Cambium Press
>> A very thoughtfull piece about the difference between mass-produced and
>> artisan made objects. He came up with very clear (if densely written)
>> definitions for the differences and their meaning. Highly reccomended.
>> Jack
Received on Thu Mar 11 19:26:01 2004

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