Researching texts required to read as well as extra reading during this course will be journaled here. I will also use my sketchpad for notes…hope the thinking will become more integrated into my work


Lisa le Feuvre Failure Whitechapel Documents of Contemporary Art 1. I downloaded this on SCRIBD on June 29, 2020.

I also looked at an article by Alexander Naraniecki in the Culture and Dialogue, 2016, called, Karl Popper on the Unknown Logic of Artistic Production and Creative Discovery, p 263 – 282 (online

I will start to comment on the article by Popper, where he considers learning by trial and error, and seeking to eliminate errors . The method of trial and error that seeks to actively eliminate errors and promote new solutions functions as the ladder by which we climb to technical mastery. Popper was of the view that a defining evolutionary characteristic of life was that it searches, and that it does so adventurously. This is also the case for humans even if we are not always conscious of this. He therefor asserts that the growth of human knowledge proceeds from our problems and from our attempts to attempt solve them. I take from this, that the artist is a keen learner, which would in this process of trial and error also learn from mistakes. So its learning from errors by elimination and possible discovery. It seems that Popper

Naraniecki argues that ..” for Popper it was not technical proficiency, nor self- expression that is responsible for great artistic creations, rather it is the result of an intellective or intuitionist engagement with the ideas of the genre. “. From this is seems that Popper emphasised the objective quality and perfection of a work of art as the product of mastery of the art, of dedication and the capacity for creative self-critique.

Popper said in his autobiography “The prime aim of the true art- ist is perfection of the oeuvre as such.”23 However, perfection is not reducible to technical proficiency, it also involves an intimate and intuitive engagement with the ideas, in a Platonic sense, of the genre through what he regarded as love or joy in work (Freude an der Arbeit). The same sense of Einfühlung or intellectual love that Popper wrote of in the Logic is true for art, while hard work, dedication, technical proficiency, the correct self-critical attitude, expo- sure to fortuitous influences are necessary, are not sufficient for the production of great art. Such products are also the result of a kind of intellection beyond what can be explained according to the above conditions:

Raphael Hefti on exploring processes in order to discover mistakes that could enable transformations to take place.

Emma Crocker, Tactics for not knowing, preparing for the unexpected. Downloaded on

Thinking in action.

Prepare for the unexpected. Not knowing. Wonder. Awe… beginning without knowing what can happen… it to move to knowing…it that the end in mind? To expect something……something new, unknown, unfamiliar, inrecognisable


Objectivist philosophy

“Objectivism defines art as a selective re-creation of reality according to an artist’s metaphysical value judgements – that is, according to what the artist believes to be ultimately true and important about the nature of reality and humanity. “. Wikipedia

Continuity and Monumentality as opposites

In an online Nautilus magazine I read an article, ‘Why Abstract Art stirs creativity in our brains’ by Cody Delistraty, (Nov 20,2016). This article motivated me to download the audio version of Eric Kandel’s book, Reductionis, in Art and Brain Science: Bridging the two cultures on SCRBD. The article referred to work done by Kandel on the relationship between art and science in terms of experimental methods, like trial-and-error to achieve their end. He uses the techniques practiced by Pollock and Rothko, where the creativity lies in solving problems.

Bottom up and Top down processing…what and where pathways is combined when viewing; detection of the object, shape, texture, and then top down. He looks at the brain’s ability to recognize faces and facial expression. He looks at how our learned experiences and visual associations influence our perception and enjoyment of art.

Learned associations of art … how do we learn, how do we remember and how do learning and our remembering relate to Top Down processing . We can generate new ideas from experience, what we learn and remember. New kind of evolution is Cultural transmission learning. All human accomplishments, from antiquity to modern times are the product of cultural evolution , adaptation across generations and therefor of memory, (chapter 4). We now understand that all mental processes are biologically inspired. We started molecular biology….. examine the brain directly to understand learning and memory. Conscious recall , explicit memory and implicit of unconscious memory. 2 diff types of memory storage: aggregate field theory, cellular connectionist theory. use a reductionist approach……large sea snail, applecia. Matisse…used 12 blocks of colour to capture the snail.

Touch and vision…..brain changes vary with use and age. Brain is most sensitive in early childhood learning. We all have different experiences, which constitutes to our differences. Learned visual

Art about perception and emotion

Abstract art relies more on Top Down processing, why…..reducing images to form, line, colour or light…..on our emotions, creativity and imagination. Reductionist strategies are used in a variety of ways…chapter 5. Artist can use it: move from figuration to abstraction.

Turner: used reduction of detail…landscapes and sea scapes…effects of detail on an epic scale…..light, shadow and perspective……detail and clearly representation of detail ….1803, Calais Pier. In 1842…snowstorm….travelled a lot, saw light effects……ship is suggested by the line of its mass……. dark and light is used as movement…strong emotional response. Atmospheric and without form.

Monet: luncheon on the grass……liberating …movements of the participants in his works, changing qualities of light during the day. Impressionist … convey what they felt, not what they saw….constructed works with freely brushed color, without lines and contours. Reduction of detail…age and eye sight? Broad brush strokes, textures…no sky…. a dialogue between the artist and the canvas…not a dialogue between the artist and his subjects.

Kadinsky……no content..a tonality create an abstract approach. Schonburg…..visions, red gaze, thinking… depends on the viewers interpretation.

Mondrian…chapter 5. Straight line is the universal form.use. Vertical and horizontal lines….. reductionist ideas…. essence of form and color.

New York school of painters. Gestural and colorfield painters…all common persuit of the sublime. Reduction of figuration by de Kooning. excavation and women 1……his biggest works.

We see individual components in abstract art work. Sensation and perception……sensory events lack context, perception is integrative, top down. Inferior temporal cortex…visual information, object recognition,

Medial temporal lobe…stores the memories.

Rothko. Reducing images to color…blocklike figures….appears to be lit from within. Pictorial patterns of regocnisable images…limited all semblance of human figuration. Foucs on colour and depth…..reductionism. The familiar identity of things has to be Pulverized in order to destroy the finite associations with which our society increasingly enshrouds every aspect of our environment. only by pushing the limits of colour abstraction and reduction can the artist liberate us from convention with colour and form, allows our brain to form new ideas, associations and form new emotional responses to them. Monochromatic Rectangles slowly take on form as we contemplate his work , planes shift in hue or tonality, simplicity. Space and light…thin layers of translucent paint… how light eminates from motionless rectangles. He refers to the chapel series of Rothko. Large fields of COlour, shape, form, balance, scale…a subject on its own. a

Laziness or fatigue of vision…….

In chapter 13…..***great reading on how our brain sees and integrate visual language, when viewing abstract art……Seeing is an active top down process, (removes us from reality, scan everything……. experience the moment. sandbag sculptures……..look at it, sculpture without interior. Vacancy and volume., fact and illusion are equivalents. the beholder is a creative force in his/her own right.. creativity….

Regression in the service of the ego…….experience with the unconscious, beholder and the artist.

Default network of the brain, discovered in 2001, by Marcus Ragal. When we are resting, day dreaming, concerned with introspection, access to unconsciousness. Most active during high ecstatic experiences in art, related to our sense of self,,taste is linked to our sense of identity. Thinking styles are plastic…..construal theory. Nancy Princental, art critique.

Chapter 14

A painting is not a picture of an experience, it is an experience. I want to add to this notes a conversation with De Kooning which I found compelling:

A while ago I read in a book by John Elkins, Pictures and Tears about the writers experience of visiting the Rothko Chapel and the series of works. I find his own emotional state intriguing, as the artist comitted suicide two years after the completions of these works.

On Buddishm: I decided to research Buddhism which emphasizes, the (sense of) self and is mainly composed of habitual ways of thinking, feeling, acting, and so forth, then “letting go of oneself ” can include letting go of ego-constraints that prevent some problematic patterns of behavior. The essence of Zen is attempting to understand the meaning of life directly, without being misled by logical thought or language. Zen sends us looking inside us for enlightenment. There’s no need to search outside ourselves for the answers; we can find the answers in the same place that we found the questions. (BBC) What resonates is the quietness that comes with meditation and other techniques that involve mind and body; and contemplating our Western mind and how Zen asks to give up logical thinking and avoidance of getting trapped in a spider’s web of words. I also spoke to someone who is involved in Soul Painting.

On Monday 17 August I will start with a few sessions of meditation with drawing…Zoom sessions with local artist, Katherine Bull. The plan for the session was shared today, 14 August 2020: “to take a journey inwards and explore using colour, rythm, pattern and contrast. “.

Part Two

Is started my reading and research on Monday 9 August 2020 and will continue to add to this during my work for Part Two.

In her 1964 essay Against Interpretation, Sontag makes a plea for a return to what she imagines the early appreciation of art would have been like, something I would describe as “without rules of interpretation”. I have to state that I have learnt to admire her thoughts and insight in the first year of studies of Understanding Visual Culture here at OCA. Sontag is a person who questioned our human experiences like consumerism and stereotypes within aesthetics of visual culture, be it high or popular culture. For me a current issue I struggle with is Social Media, many people post opinions which is loaded with emotion, judgmental and or aggressive words (Nietzsche comes to mind…no facts, only interpretations, 1880) I sense people hide behind their profiles and one rarely meet critical thinking and discourse in these interpretations or opinions. M Popova (Brainpickings) states that “Sontag examines our culture’s generally well-intentioned but ultimately perilous habit of interpretation, which she defines as “a conscious act of the mind which illustrates a certain code, certain ‘rules’ of interpretation,” a task akin to translation.” Sontag states in the article ..”Our task is not to find the maximum amount of content in a work of art… Our task is to cut back content so that we can see the thing at all.”

Sontag compared many arts and the interpretation of the old and the modern. The essay reminds the interpreter of art to be aware of misunderstandings and assumptions about art. She discusses interpretation as an act of defending, understanding, or picking out certain codes and rules in the work of art. It seems that she reminds that art should be judged without considering its author, culture, history or background. it. The criticism of art should be transparent. It should only give a cue for understanding. To interpret does not mean to criticize. Susan Sontag says in her essay, interpreting any text, the interpreter claims to make it easy to understand. “The modern style of interpretation excavates\, destroys, digs „behind‟ the text to find a sub-text which is the true one. To interpret is to impoverish, to deplete the world – in order to set up a shadow world of „meanings‟. It is to turn „the world‟ into „this world‟. („This world‟! As if there were any other” ( Sontag 07). If one examines the context of the time in which she wrote this article it becomes clearer that she could be referring to Art Theory:”……..stifling….interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art”

Sontag suggests an emphasizing on the outer beauty, for exmple the pleasure one gets while reading literature. She believes that it is harmful to analyze literature from the scientific approach.
“Today is such a time, when the project of interpretation is largely reactionary, stifling. Like the fumes of the automobile and of heavy industry which befoul the urban atmosphere, the effusion of interpretations of art today poisons our sensibilities. In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.”
(Sontag, 2001, 07). Sontag traces the current Western analysis of art back to Greek mimetic theories introduced by Plato and revisited by Aristotle. Representational art was believed to be a copy of a copy and therefore it must be defended in comparison to the original. Through this necessity to defend comes the separation of ‘form, and ‘content’. ‘Form’ is what we see and ‘content’ is what is believed to be ‘represented’ by it. The ideas or concepts behind the work must be explained or interpreted. Much like biblical text was interpreted for the layperson, in modern times the critic must explain and ‘excavate’ the meaning behind works of ‘high’ culture. She warns against a scientific approach. On Interpretation … presupposes a discrepancy between the clear meaning of the text and the demands of (later) readers. It seeks to resolve that discrepancy. The situation is that for some reason a text has become unacceptable; yet it cannot be discarded. Interpretation is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it. The interpreter, without actually erasing or rewriting the text, is altering it. But he can’t admit to doing this. He claims to be only making it intelligible, by disclosing its true meaning. However far the interpreters alter the text … they must claim to be reading off a sense that is already there.

Actually, they have no meaning without interpretation. To understand is to interpret. And to interpret is to restate the phenomenon, in effect to find an equivalent for it.
Of course, I don’t mean interpretation in the broadest sense, the sense in which Nietzsche (rightly) says, “There are no facts, only interpretations.” By interpretation, I mean here a conscious act of the mind which illustrates a certain code, certain “rules” of interpretation. Directed to art, interpretation means plucking a set of elements (the X, the Y, the Z, and so forth) from the whole work. The task of interpretation is virtually one of translation. The interpreter says, Look, don’t you see that X is really— or, really means—A? That Y is really B? That Z is really C?
What situation could prompt this curious project for transforming a text? History gives us the materials for an answer. Interpretation first appears in the culture of late classical antiquity, when the power and credibility of myth had been broken by the “realistic” view of the world introduced by scientific enlightenment. Once the question that haunts post-mythic consciousness—that of the seemliness of religious symbols— had been asked, the ancient texts were, in their pristine form, no longer acceptable. Then interpretation was summoned, to reconcile the ancient texts to “modern” demands. Thus, the Stoics, to accord with their view that the gods had to be moral, allegorized away the rude features of Zeus and his boisterous clan in Homer’s epics. What Homer really designated by the adultery of Zeus with Leto, they explained, was the union between power and wisdom. In the same vein, Philo of Alexandria interpreted the literal historical narratives of the Hebrew Bible as spiritual paradigms. The story of the exodus from Egypt, the wandering in the desert for forty years, and the entry into the promised land, said Philo, was really an allegory of the individual soul’s emancipation, tribulations, and final deliverance. Interpretation thus presupposes a discrepancy between the clear meaning of the text and the demands of (later) readers. It seeks to resolve that discrepancy. The situation is that for some reason a text has become unacceptable; yet it cannot be discarded. Interpretation is a radical strategy for conserving an old text, which is thought too precious to repudiate, by revamping it. The interpreter, without actually erasing or rewriting the text, is altering it. But he can’t admit to doing this. He claims to be only making it intelligible, by disclosing its true meaning. However far the interpreters alter the text (another notorious example is the Rabbinic and Christian “spiritual” interpretations of the clearly erotic
Thus, interpretation is not (as most people assume) an absolute value, a gesture of mind situated in some timeless realm of capabilities. Interpretation must itself be evaluated, within a historical view of human consciousness. In some cultural contexts, interpretation is a liberating act. It is a means of revising, of transvaluing, of escaping the dead past. In other cultural contexts, it is reactionary, impertinent, cowardly, stifling.

Formalism:The study of art by analyzing and comparing form and style—the way objects are made and their purely visual aspects. Form is about the way a work of art is made and about its visual aspects, rather than its narrative content, which is also related to the visible world. On the TATE website I also read the following quote form Maurice Dennis: “remember that a picture, before it is a picture of a battle horse, a nude woman, or some story, is essentially a flat surface covered in colors arranged in a certain order”

PODCAST ON SCRIBD. 1966……What was going on it this work? Different essays, early work. New York intellectual life… ideas that were in the air……mansplainers, tired of that…….the thing itself, the artist voice and style through labour. See what is in front of you…what the artist did! generation was mansplainers, masculine critics and Freudian interpretations…..all these enormous explanations. Directed at herself…she liked the big idea, was newly divorced…new life, affairs with women……merging culture…. culture of being against money…..opportunity to experience all sorts of art. , writing on Camp…..looking at and interpreting the aesthetic,, films were suddenly been taken seriously…and her passion. Take it onboard and feel what she writes…..the word serious is repeated many times……meeting of mind and art……a place where the body and mind comes together to experience. symbol is always something else in current, tools…… Meaning and her ……sensuousness, do not immediately conceptualize… alert to language and its textures, colour and paint, cinema, with narrative and flow, and visual amazingness. Erotics of art……Paul Teck….a friend,,, he said stop talking, just look. 63’s a hopeful period in America……so much were coming up… photography and film not yet there as art…..

Listen on SCRBD. Podcast. . Against ——the thing itself, the artists voice. .

Marcel Duchamp: “ In the creative act, the artist goes from intention to realization through a chain of totally subjective reactions. His struggle toward the realization is a series of efforts, pains, satisfaction, refusals, decisions, which also cannot and must not be fully self-conscious, at least on the esthetic plane. The spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act. This becomes even more obvious when posterity gives a final verdict and sometimes rehabilitates forgotten artists.

Thinking about understanding the context and process when interpreting art, will add to better understanding the artwork.

• Interpretation is at the heart of the gallery’s mission.
• Works of art do not have self-evident meanings.
• We believe that works of art have a capacity for multiple readings and that interpretation should make visitors aware of the subjectivity of any interpretive text.
• Interpretation embraces a willingness to experiment with new ideas.
• We recognise the validity of diverse audience responses to works of art.
• Interpretation should incorporate a wide spectrum of voices and opinions from inside and outside the institution.
• Visitors are encouraged to link unfamiliar artworks with their everyday experience. (Wilson:2004)

The result of this struggle is a difference between the intention and its realization, a difference which the artist is not aware of.

ISSN: 0474-9030 Vol-68-Issue-30-February-2020

The Creativ Act – Marcel Duchamp

William Kentridge reading and research

William Kentridge’s Shadow Procession on the facade of ZEITZ MOCAA reminds me of when we screened this at SANational Gallery in 2001 as part of the… — Read on

His artistic process is open-ended……..with the mind on the creative process

Like the walls of his studio, Kentridge’s lectures are smeared with charcoal, the artist’s medium of choice. In his films, lines appear and disappear in smudges and erasures like a palimpsest. Through his lectures, William Kentridge impresses on his listeners the political urgency of artistic creation. Asserting “the primacy of the image,” he began his initial lecture with a mesmerizing reading of the ancient story of Plato’s cave. In a world saturated with images—“an endless promiscuity of projection,” as Kentridge put it—we need to free vision from the habits of art and the burdens of history, not by waiting for the emancipating hand of Plato’s philosopher king, but through our own doing. For Kentridge, the search for a democratic way of seeing derives from his art, his reading, and his life in South Africa. That quest happens in his studio, a place he understands as both exalted and ordinary. In “Six Drawing Lessons,” we watched the artist at work. He is sometimes drawing, filming, and contemplating philosophy; other times drinking coffee, walking in circles, doodling, and drinking more coffee.

Great reading 👌Then in March, just a few days before the lockdown, I attended a talk at Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery by Daniel Blight on his new book ‘The Image of Whiteness, Contemporary Photography and Racialization’. To quote from Sunil Shah’s review on American Suburb X ‘the book’s central thesis is that ‘whiteness’ is a social construct configured as a system of power, still in play today and that to be part, unconsciously or otherwise, of this system is to be complicit with being racist’. In other words, Blight was saying that as a white person I am conditioned to see the world through a lens of ‘whiteness’ which is not about my skin colour but rather a way of thinking. And that way of thinking excludes. Daniel Blight is white: ‘I am implicated by and inside my argument – implicated by my own subjectivity’. He ended his talk by asking ‘why aren’t more white people willing to become vulnerable to this Gordian knot?’ I bought the book and looked up Blight’s essays on 1000 Words, American Suburb X and Vogue Italia (!). Then came lockdown and a week later Dan Robinson our acting Photography lead asked me on Zoom ‘can you write a blog post about decolonising the curriculum?’

Listening to a podcast

A de Botton states he see museums are not telling ‘us’ what art is for, they became boring, more like a library. They need to bring ideas about art to life by using art as a sensory medium…”propaganda for very good things.“

Matthew Collins suggested that museums are neutral in the way they present art of the past, is a visual aim to compare and see differences, compare like with like, and isolate works.

Barthes: I found an article on his Nagori writings very interesting for my own learning. (Victor Burgin,May 202, Nagori: Writing with Barnes( ) I will attempt to read it before I submit Assignment Two. (8 Sept. 2020)

Nagori: The object of nagori can be a place, a person, or a season, or again objects or acts evocative of these things (Ryoko Sekiguchi) Nagori refer to the ephemeral imprints –rivulets in the sand, shell fragments,,,,,remains of the waves, left by the waves as they withdraw from the beach.

Something I read touched me…..In a 1975 interview Barthes says:”I can imagine a society come, completely de-alienated, that would not longer know anything except amateur activity on the level of writing…..people would write, make texts, for pleasure, they would benefit from the enjoyment of writing without being preoccupied with the image they may elicit in others.”

On my Kindle I re visited Nelson Robert S.;Shiff,Richard Critical Terms of Art History, SecondEdition : chapters in the book was consulted;

  • Chapter 4 Word and Image/ WJT Mitchell
  • Chapter 9. Meaning/Interpretation/ Stephen Bann
  • No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone –TSElliot
  • Chapter 10 Originality/. Richard Shiff


22 September 2020. Article by Ellen Winner, which mainly test ideas of Rudolf Arnheim’s work on Visual Thinking (1969). They used a Studio Thinking study and believed it demonstrates that the visual arts inculcate basic skills in perception and cognition that exist both in the arts and sciences. All of the skills we describe can, with some modification, be transferred to the science laboratory. And this is Rudolf Arnheim’s (1969) thesis in Visual Thinking: Visual thinking is everywhere.

Winner, Ellen, 2007, Visual Thinking in Arts Education: Homage to Rudolf Arnheim of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts Copyright 2007 by the American Psychological Association 2007, Vol. 1, No. 1, 25–31 1931-3896/07/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/1931-3896.1.1.25. Online reading and accessed on 22Sept2020

27 October 2020

After Criticism, New Responses to Art and performance, explores contemporary and innovative approaches in the wake of both a theatrical turn in recent visual arts practice, and in light of the emergence of a performative arts writing. Criticism here is perceived as in trouble. Either commodification is deemed to have killed it off, or it has become institutionally routine. Issues addressed include the performing of art’s histories; the consequences for criticism of embracing boredom, distraction, and other “queer” forms of (in)attention; and the importance of exploring writerly process in responding to aesthetic experience.

After a few failed attempts I could find an article in the OCA Library – I am so thrilled, after considering to buy the book, but really felt there must be another way. I found the article by Kate Love, The Experience of Art as Living through Language and can read it online!! I will now feel happier about certain ideas I just felt I had to investigate further within this part of of studies around Experience and its relationship to art. I think I understand where she comes from is this writing – still the con ern about art criticism and looking at ideas in art schools around the relationship of autobiographical and political accounts of personal experience and its representation in arts.

As a creative practitioner I have read to reflect about why I make and if there is value in making where that value lies. ‘The experience of art as a living through of language,’ has been a helpful reading in aiding such reflection. The author Kate Love suggests a critical reclaiming of experience as a valid method through which to politically activate the space of negotiation between artist, art and viewer (Love 157). She notes that such an experimental methodology would have power through words; not fully comprehendible inside of language, nor entirely outside of their defining ability (162). She discusses the difference between two opposing forms of art – the first is described as too personal, too empirical and work about ”self” that represents a marginal population and disengages the rest of the world (165). The second is described as intellectual, conceptual, a mere visually concerned form which disregards the emotional and spiritual reality of both maker and audience (165). She suggests that both extremities fall short of art that can transform and enrich existence or making (165). 

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