Re: Arguments (was chicago film archive)

From: Tony Conrad (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Jan 08 2007 - 11:19:21 PST


Hi Chuck-----

What a heartening reply! Thanks; with the wrinkles ironed out, it looks
like we would find agreement on about 95% of what you have to say here.
(I reserve judgment on Joseph's piece, which I still did not read. And I
would be surprised to find that McCall's present-day reception is as
rooted as you imagine in what I think you mean by the term "formalism".)

I am, of course, a teacher as well, and so I have a very clear insider
view of what's wrong & right about all of that!

-------t0ny

Quoting Chuck Kleinhans <email suppressed>:

> On Jan 4, 2007, at 7:08 PM, Tony Conrad wrote:
>
> > Hi Chuck---------
> >
> > No problem! But both Bernie and Anthony are good friends of mine,
>
> > and I
> > was put off by the ad hominem pickiness that is evident even in
> your
> > defensive rejoinder below.
>
> t0ny,
>
> I don't see anything "ad hominem" in what I said. Ad hominem means
>
> attacking the personal character of someone, right? I said nothing
>
> about Anthony McCall which is personal. It was all factual and
> descriptive.
>
> > I expressed my interest in keeping the discussion on a
> > higher plane than flaming someone for how they earn a living
>
> I certainly did not flame McCall for how he makes his living; I
> simply reported that he has run a commercial design business since
> 1979. I don't think there's any judgement of any kind to be made
> from that fact. Apparently you must think that there is something
> wrong with that.
>
> There's a widely observable prejudice in the artworld, and especially
>
> in art schools, which presumes that one's validity as an artist is
> directly related to one's inability to make a living in one's
> specialty upon graduation. Thus, in most art schools the painters
> and sculptors are ranked at the top and the people who do or teach or
>
> study interior design, fashion, graphic arts, etc. are at the bottom
>
> of the scale of prestige. Yet it's the latter group who are most
> likely to be able to find reasonable employment using their craft on
>
> graduation.
>
> To my way of thinking, McCall has remained an artist while working in
>
> the area of design. A look at his firm's website shows examples that
>
> are elegant, communicative, and effective. If I had to hire a
> designer for a gallery or museum project, I'd first go to Narrative
>
> Rooms. I see nothing wrong per se with being a petite bourgeois
> business man, or making art on a "for hire" basis. Perhaps you do,
>
> but then it's your prejudice, not mine which is operating here.
>
>
> >> I think
> >> it's cool that Anthony's work (which he sidestepped for so long in
>
> >> his
> >> need to "make a living")(what do you do for a living? did you get
> a
> >> teaching position before they dried up?) is finally returning his
> >> investment.
>
> You seem to be the accusatory one here. As I indicated above, I have
>
> no problem with someone making a living using their artist skills,
> and in my apparently much more expansive view of art than yours, I
> define Art as including crafts, applied arts, and so forth. (For a
>
> shorthand, I don't accept the Kantian distinction of art and craft.)
>
> And yes, I teach for a living. And it took me 5 years of various
> jobs before I ended up with a tenure track position back in the day.
>
> Your tone hints at suspicion of teaching...why?
>
> > But I should hew to my own cry, here, and suggest why I feel that
> your
> > analysis of (the present reception of) McCall's work is inaccurate.
> It
> > is far too simple to assess "Line" as "formalist".
>
> Hey, that's exactly what I was saying--I am critical of the currently
>
> dominant critical reading of McCall's work precisely because it
> validates it only in FORMAL terms.
>
> > What is more cogent
> > today is that "Line" is a social intervention; that it takes place
> in
> > and among the viewership, and anounces the "apparatus" not so much
>
> > as a
> > formal system as a totemic mystery, with an ability to cast a
> thrall
> > over the viewership. Its partition of the thickened space invites
> > momentary difference to appear among the viewers. That is, "Line"
> (in
> > the sense of Bourriaud's relational aesthetics) articulates a
> > micro-utopian schema, using singularly economical means.
>
> Well, that's a pretty high falutin' way of discussing Line, but I
> think we actually agree on what is most interesting about it.
>
> > By comparison, the (admittedly interesting) oppositional politics
>
> > of the
> > other films is today generally well-rehearsed. I do think that
> > there are
> > ways in which the other films could also be productively revisited
>
> > from
> > a (perhaps) anachronistic perspective, but I am not sure that would
>
> > lead
> > to increasingly trenchant social understandings. Perhaps Branden
> > Joseph
> > has undertaken this project; I have not read his book about
> McCall.
>
> I referred to the Christopher Eamon's book. Branden Joseph's essay
>
> on McCall forms the bulk of that book. (There's also an excellent
> interview with McCall by Jonathan Walley, reprinted from its earlier
>
> appearance in The Velvet Light Trap, fall 04.) Joseph's essay is a
>
> dutiful plodding through 4 years of light-based work in McCallís
> early career. It is the most boring piece of art writing I have
> encountered in decades. The approach is purely formalist with a
> smattering of references to Merleu-Ponty's phenomenology for a little
>
> philosophical/theoretical posturing.
>
> As for Bernie, my comments were directed not at his person but at the
>
> flat out absurdity of his claim that he could divine the reasons why
>
> a couple left a screening, and accurately determine their class
> position by looking at them. I was also criticizing his dismissal of
>
> them simply because he presumed they were "middle aged" and "middle
>
> class". After all, t0ny Conrad and Anthony McCall are certainly
> middle aged, and (it seems likely, but I'd need more information)
> middle class. Nothing to be ashamed of there.
>
> The CAE Defense site was down when I tried to see it. A few days
> later the site was up and the check is in the mail.
>
> CHUCK KLEINHANS
>
>
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
>
>

__________________________________________________________________
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.