Saturday, 29 January 2011

Hungarian philosopher Gáspár Miklos Tamás

Gáspár Miklos Tamás image courtesy of Wikipedia
"... we are losing the ability to abstract from the concrete particularity of experience, and to conceive of what is universal. That, after all, is the key to abstraction: to penetrate the appearance of things and conceptualise what is essential. The desire to make this theoretical effort, to get at what mediates our diverse realities, just doesn’t seem to be there anymore."
‘Postmodernism was a fashionable expression of this rejection of universalism and abstraction. So although much of postmodernism is uninteresting intellectually, it is important as a symptom of a society in which people are very, very reluctant to make an abstraction from their own condition.’

from an article by Tim Black in the Spiked Review of Books

Tuesday, 11 January 2011


The Flood Tablet part of the Gilgamesh Epic
courtesy of Wikicommons
I was captivated when I visited the British Museum recently by the cuneifirm tablets. These beautiful man- made abstract works are incredibly sophisticated means of communicating, describing and defining. The structure appears almost unreadable. On some tablets the marks are so small and fluid the definition of forms looks almost inseparable from one and other. It is stunning that these digital like abstractions carried complex stories and detailed instructions. There is even a dictionary of synonyms! I find it humbling to think that these were made as far back as 3000 bc, the skill to make and read them was lost and then thousands of years later these intricate works were deciphered. I was also struck by the time that was readable in the marks. I could experience the speed at which the indentations were made and sense whether they were formal or personnel.  Beautiful marvels.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

21st Century Boy: Nam June Paik at Tate and FACT, Liverpool, United Kingdom

Nam June Paik (1932-2006) was a truly visionary artist. He took Marshall McLuhan literally with regard to the 'Medium is the Message'. An early pioneer of video art  and influenced heavily by John Cage (see earlier posts) as a performance artist and composer. Paik was one of the most innovative artists of the 20th century and Tate Liverpool, in collaboration with FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) are presenting the first major retrospective of his work since the artist’s death and the first exhibition of Paik’s work in the UK since 1988.

Nam June Paik at Tate Liverpool showcases around ninety works from all phases of his career, many shown in the UK for the first time, which we should realize is an important  aspect of this exhibition, introducing Paik to a young technology savvy generation for the first time, may have long lasting creative consequences...

The exhibition celebrates Paik as the inventor of 'media art', mixing together through abstraction, diverse media from paint to technology, from low tech to satellite works.  At a time when television was still a novelty, Paik foresaw the future popularity of this new and exciting medium.  Thought provoking works like 'TV Buddha' (1989), explore the clashing cultures of East and West, old and new, while 'Video Fish' (1979-992) considers nature versus the man made, featuring both television sets and live fish in aquariums.

With artworks ranging from scores of early music performances and Paik’s involvement in the Fluxus movement to TV works, impressive robot sculptures and large-scale video installations; Tate Liverpool’s exhibition looks likely to be a memorable show.

The exhibition continues at FACT. Focusing on Paik's innovative use of creative technology, FACT will showcase the major laser installation 'Laser Cone '(1998) for the first time in the UK, along with sixteen single channel video works, including 'Global Groove' 1973 and groundbreaking satellite videos 'Good Morning Mr Orwell' 1984 and 'Bye Bye Kipling' 1986. The 21st Century is here at last....

See the Tate/FACT Nam June Paik trailor here