Monday, July 23, 2007

ps...I know there are typo's galore. It's going to be sorted.
Essay 2

Alexandra P. Spaulding
Internal Essay
23 July 2007

Whilst the previous essay argued against utilising the internal space, the primary aim of this essay is to argue for the internal space.

The focal point of this research is the ineffable, that which can’t be uttered or spoken about, and in a fitting sort of fashion it makes sense to create work where the context is for the ‘internal space’ one which is hard to both see but define.

To better enable my argument, it’s useful to identify what the fuck I am talk about in the first place. When I spoke of external space(s) in the previous essay, I was very much talking about physical spaces-either ones that exist already or one I create, but more or less four walls, a ceiling and a floor. My argument was such: that external space gave me greater control of context, and that the internal space was a direct relationship to headphones. Problematically I never really defined ‘internal space’. I sort of think of it as being potentially two different things, the actually physical space of the inside of your head (the bit where the brain is), and the space that exists inside of your brain-lets call that mental headspace.

Now that we’re all caught up and I have to live within slightly daft parameters from previous arguments, I’ll continue. When I was asked to write these two essays-the argument was clear, one on why you wouldn’t use headphones, one why you would (internal/external—duh). But to prematurely argue the validity of modes of delivery is like saying this is my cart and this is my horse, and cart shall pull horse. At this stage I can only say it depends on the work. I am not sure what the physical context of things are at this stage, but instinctually I feel more inclined to say the work is more successful in the building of ineffable experiences as speakers in a space.

Blah, we’ll come back to it as there is something important to the argument, but what is more interesting is to think of the nature of the experience and where it’s supposed to happen. Am I aiming to create experiences which talk to the brain, or the space inside the brain-the mental headspace which is more than softy grey matter?

It’s complicated because the dilemma is more than just a simple ‘four speakers and a subwoofer playing this vs. a set of headphones and an iPod’, it sort of asks: where does the ineffable happen, where am I dealing with it? The answer, well the glib response is in my head. At the end of the day James’ Turrell’s Meeting at Ps1 is just a very well cut hole in the ceiling of a former school building in Long Island City, it becomes ineffable when I am there, I am the catalyst to the ineffable, my mental headspace is the fabric that allows me to either get it (the ineffable) or not. The way it’s delivered to me is highly important but at the end of the day merely another factor, not a contributing element.

To argue for headphones, it has nothing to do with internal or external, the use of headphones has more to do with feelings of safety and isolation, to understand the mechanism ensures the creation of work that plays to all aspects of it’s (the work’s) context. If I am choosing to use headphones as a way to ‘exhibit’ the work, I am doing so because in some way I believe that the experience I want to create is indelibly tied to the way I feel about my headphones. I can’t speak for anyone but myself but the whole iPod/Walkman thing is integral to who I am, since I was a child I have been choosing to engage with that which exists outside of myself through a lens, by lens I mean filtering out the world with music and using headphones as a security blanket of sorts. Yes, of course part it has to do with wanting to hear my favourite song or artist whenever I want, but more importantly when I have them on I feel safe, almost as if I was one step removed from what is happening in front of me, I can see things unfold because whilst being involved in them, I am not present in my involvement.

Some aspect of me believes that on a fundamental level even if it’s unconscious most people feel this way about putting on headphones, and work can be created specifically with this relationship in mind, the engagement of a certain kind of secrecy and isolation as a concept has enormous potential when creating the work.

What has been most important about the writing of these essays is the way in which context has been called into question, whilst it’s not a factor to be casual about, the mode of delivery is almost secondary to the inherent specificity that must be put into the context of the creation both conceptually and creatively. I mean all the same stuff applies regardless of the speakers vs. headphones debate; you still need to catch yourself perceiving in order to realize that perception took place (Merleau-Ponty).
For the PhD, I have been writing essays asking questions and attempting to answer them, I am going to post the two most recent and in the next few days post section of the others with links to PDF's.

The two most recent look at the idea of internal and external experiences. More to the point do you use headphones or speakers? I think that the first essay which will be below, is kind of stiff and I am not sure I actually asked any relevant questions, the second one is more useful to me because it made an effort to look at the idea holistically....

Anyway below essay 1

Alexandra P. Spaulding
Essay for External
20 July 2007

Internal or external, sound or vision. It’s kind of a baseless argument to make because I couching the argument from an extremely biased point of view: my research. For the sake of argument though argue against the use of headphones (internal) in one essay, and argue for them in another.

Within the context of my own research I believe that the work I am trying to do fits into a certain kind of ineffability, that which exists out with our ability to speak about it in any language, English, French, German, or Martian for example. Part of the conundrum in writing about the nature of these experiences is I feel I should have a definitive idea of what they are, or what they mean. Well if I knew that, I would already have the PhD, no? Besides knowing that alludes to a definitive knowledge, and as LaCan said ‘There is nothing known which can’t be articulated’. We must not know then, because the Oxford English Reference Dictionary defines the ineffable as the ‘the unutterable, the thing of which we can not speak’. What the fuck is that, what does it mean, and why should it matter if you hear it through headphones or speakers?

Maybe it’s best to take it back to the beginning and briefly lay out what it is I think I am doing. My research is interested in the experiential relationship that the viewer/listener has to the work. As an example when I was eighteen I saw James Turrell’s piece Meeting at PS1 for the first time, sitting there in that room watching the sky turn darker through the hole in the ceiling I had a lot of reactions, one being it was a bit dumb, but secondly and far more importantly that something was happening and I had no facility to explain it. It was cool, and that’s what I told my friends when I came out but I couldn’t tell them anything else, I could explain it to them or myself and that’s when the work started to become ‘ineffable’. Merleau-Ponty stated ‘the moment we catch ourselves perceiving, we have stopped perceiving’, yes that’s true but the moment we stopped being immersed, or swimming in the work is when we begin to disseminate it, we struggle for the things to say to clarify what just happened to no avail. In order to experience we must perceive our own perception.

So back to headphones or not, this essay is taking the stance against them for one very particular reason-they aren’t special anymore. Everywhere you go for the most part in the western world people are plugged in and removed from the world around them. The iPod like the Walkman before us creates and introverted anti-social sphere limiting not just what you can hear but your interaction with those around you. If you are listening to something and it occupies not just your ears, but your brain, and the actually physicality of your head your gaze is focused inwards towards your own thoughts, or thoughts which may not necessarily concern themselves with the present in front of you.

The act of wearing headphones is pedestrian as well, the last thing I want to do when I go to a gallery is stand a half a foot away from the way with my head at a funny angle listening to a pair of crap headphones, might as well be standing on the bus listening to Depeche Mode with my own headphones which tend to be of better quality sound wise.

Part of this research has been to champion the very nature of immersive ineffable experiences¬- this is of course doesn’t mean wearing robes and purple Nikes, but rather the idea of considered contexts. The word experience tends to allude to something out-with the norm, and my hope is not to disappoint, and in a way it’s absolutely crucial then that the element of control favours myself. Headphones for the very most part have limited ability when it comes to certain high and low frequencies, which handicaps creation before you even begin. More importantly though it’s their very inclusive nature, which is constrictive, in some way what was most informative in experiential installations was the reactions of others. Not the daft ones but if you are lucky a collective unspoken resonance can be created.

From a purely practical point of view, as a creator I only have control over the things I create, I just feel like iPod art has the danger of not asserting itself strongly enough to overcome it’s technology and as such would be perceived in a very particular way, practically deciding the nature of the experience before it’s been had, and truncating the possiblility for anything beyond it’s restrictive context.
Right, it's been a really long time since I posted anything to a year and 12 days or so. It's not that I haven't been thinking the big thoughts or anything, I just sort of wanted to figure some stuff out. Anyway I promise to be more on top of keeping it up to date etc.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

11 july 2006
(originally written in an email to Gerrie van Noord)

Part of creating work which deals with the ineffable, is the restructuring of language as it exists currently, or a reinvention of language either written or aural/visual. Benjamin speaks of translation:

'While that ultimate essence, pure language, in the various tongues
is tied only to linguistic elements and their changes, in linguistic creations it is weighted with a heavy alien meaning.

We have had conversation about the role of the artist, lately in conjunction with the whole practice led research debate, but is the artist really a creator or is the artist a translator to some degree.

'a translation touches the original lightly and only at the infinitely small point of the sense, thereupon pursuing its own course according to laws of fidelity in the freedom of linguistic flux.'

If you were to use Benjamin's text as a structure, what then is the role of work, or rather what is the role of work which is attempting to create the ineffable. Is the pursuit to 'create' the ineffable the actual work, or is the ineffable something, which exists in the ether and the work created is an attempt to 'translate' it, if you will.

But the issue of the ineffable within the context of research. One must be able to explain, either the methods or the experience itself, and that is where language becomes a key factor. But if the argument is the work is the new language, the way within which the experience is both created but maintained, (depending upon context, but i surmising that the creation of a context which is specific to the work, is paramount). If language has not failed us, but rather provided us with an inability to fully comprehend and describe such experiences through language, how then is it researchable? It makes me think that the artist is both creator and translator, the role is to use the language or the pure language of the work, but then disseminate the experience as well.......

How does that work?

*perhaps it is worthwhile to use the term mediator instead of translator (email response from GvN on 12 July 2006)
16 June 2006

Today was a very interesting day; I had the ability to see a wide array of different work relatively easily. One piece that stood out was the Anthony McCall piece You and Me, Horizontal which created its own ineffable experience….what seems to be most interesting whence thinking about all of the work that I have seen over the years that has produced or rather given me an ineffable was the element of simplicity. Not all of the work has been simplistic in delivery-rather it seems the more minimalist it looks the more work goes into execution, but the simplistic act of dialogue between work and viewer. The piece was a projection of two lines forming a circle….the projector was about 15 feet or so away from the screen and the actual shape of the projection was shaping the light beam-smoke was then released into the light beam and seemed to be captured within the boundaries of the projection and created a dual level experience. You the had the experience watching the circle come together, and you had the experience of the smoke within the lights, almost Adam Fuss like but there and live, not a captured moment. Being able to watch the smoke move and diffuse within the light in the first person, versus a mediated experience. There was something important in the experiencing the work’s lifespan and then watching it die out.

What is important is that it was visual. My research looks towards the aural…can it be done only aurally…. Ceal Floyer's piece Construction was simply a white room with the sounds of power tools. It was great, but was it only great because it was clever, or was it great because it was simply great? I am not to sure, it was piece that changed one’s spatial experience, but it also operated in a way that was simply clever…it wasn’t ineffable. (What is the connection between being clever and the ineffable?)

I suppose this begs the question, what is the ineffable, what makes it….? Why isn’t Ceal Floyer’s piece an ineffable experience and simply clever, what is the difference? I would never say the last 22 seconds of Debaser by the Pixies as being clever-it makes me feel amazing, my scalp crawls I love that bit of the song so much. But beyond that description, I cannot explain why. It simply moves something inside of me in a way that I can’t explain but I feel the exact same every time I here that bit of the song. I want to jump up and down at the same time that my skin pricks up a bit, and something runs down my spine, it’s like being in love but with the act of being in love. Simple things bring us the most immediate actions.

How does one (rather me) get better about listening and creating. The ability to see the much work at once makes me realize I have been a lazy artist….but its hard when the thing you want to create is the primal experience, you can’t explain and each time you make something you are reaching for it just a bit more, each piece is simply a step to the ineffable.
15 June 2006

The ineffable is defined as that which cannot be uttered, the unutterable. Thus leaving language as the tool of/for description at a disadvantage. Perhaps though it is not language, which has failed us in our ability to describe and give structure to such experiences, but rather our limited and rather static approach to the language we have at our disposable.

In the Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein looks at structure of language and the ways in which we utilise it. Using a chessboard and its pieces as an example, Wittgenstein takes us through the various ways a more experiences player would explain to someone with less experience the nature of the pieces and their relevance. One flaw with such a description however is the very nature within which it is received. A king is a king, a Queen a Queen, a pawn a pawn, what would happen if one was to subvert the description, and call the King a Pawn or vice versa. Semiotics imposes a certain arrogance over those who use the signs and language of the everyday. How would one go about trying to define that which lacks or perhaps transcends the power of words?

Within religion blanket terms such as transcendence, enlightenment, and holy, are used with ease, much like: the, is, there. One can not use the actual term in question as part of the definition, so whole scale questions should be put forth towards the terms transcendence, enlightenment, and holy as examples. What do they mean, what does it mean to have a transcendent experience? Arguably the nature of the context surrounding and or providing such an experience is often used to provide a foundation for the definition, within the scope of religion, the nature of such an experience is as definable as the ineffable but more roundly understood and generally accepted as being a certain type, with a quasi known set of parameters.

In relation to fine art then the parameters are set; the viewer’s interaction with the work is the dialogue within which the ineffable is produced. Why then does the change of context make the experience harder to define, describe and or relate to? Moving backwards perhaps, questions should be posed as to the very nature of the ineffable: is the ineffable a transferable thing, does an object pure and passive relay such an experience, or rather is the ineffable a theatrical act, defined as such by Michael Freid? By delving deeper into the mechanics of such an experience(s) are we destroying its foundation? In an old fashioned manner part of what makes art relevant and important is the artist’s ability to change the viewer’s perception, to allow them to glimpse or see something they haven’t been able to see or would never have been allowed to see without the artist’s intervention. What then happens at the end to the art or the ineffable experience if the mechanics and conventions are thoroughly investigated? Will such experiences remain important, rather will such experiences maintain an importance within our ability ‘to want to believe’? There is an adage that knowledge is power, but do we (the viewer) need an enhanced understanding of the thing we cannot describe in the first place. Would love still be love if we understood why and how it worked completely? What is to be gained by this research… is it possible to destroy the experience by asking too much of the process? Is it arguable that it isn’t, a more comprehensive understanding of such experiences both in their makeup and then their relationship to the viewer is in need of some rigorous parameters, but where does one draw the line? Such experiences are often described as being sacred and uplifting, neither creating feelings not understood before nor necessarily after-how respectful must one be of that whilst still pursuing a complete understanding?

Monday, June 12, 2006

Sound Art v. Music?

What is the difference between sound art and music-beyond the normal differences [what is a normal difference?], what actually differentiates ‘sound art’ from ‘music’, or rather what is ‘sound art’ and what is ‘music’? Difference in terminology implies at least to myself that in some way there must be some difference in content, and I suppose that there is a huge difference, but I am not to sure, and this is why I am stuck. It’s not a pedestrian approach but to me the terms are institutional- but which institutions? When I listen to Pierre Schaeffer whilst not being ‘conventional music’ along the lines of Bach or even the Rolling Stones, it still has musical qualities, and I am still listening to it under the belief that it is music. But about people like Steve Roden, an artist who creates sound based installation art, but you can still buy his cd. Is it sound art in the gallery, and music on the cd? So I can buy the cd and listen to it on the bus and it counts as some form of ‘experimental music’ but if I listened to it within the confines of a gallery it’s sound art. The confusion is probably my own, although I doubt it.

I created a sound thing [I am not to sure what else to call them at the moment, so I will call them sound things] and I was asked, is it sound art or is it music, because loose definitions as such give the listener an angle from which to approach. I honestly don’t know because it was created with the intention to be listened to on headphones, but in a way its no less ‘art’ then when I make a video or an image, its boundaries are more elastic, and part of what makes sound appealing to me is that it can have a ‘slippery, malleable texture’ if you will. I suppose that’s awkward way of putting it-sound has the ability to be inhabit and occupy spaces in a way which is similar to light, yet it emotionally sympathetic in different way than light. That aside what is the difference between sound art and music? If my intentions are no different regardless of medium, to make work that deals with creating an ineffable experience/ and or enhancing one, does it matter to differentiate between sound art and music?

I don’t know, and I am getting frustrated.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Last night (27 April) I went to see Mogwai play at Usher Hall in Edinburgh, and it was one of the more amazing experiences I have had going to gigs. First off, Mogwai are loud, the low-end frequency vibrates through out your whole body, and the actual physicality of the rest of the sound is huge. Usher Hall is the grand old place, but I have a feeling Mogwai sound that big when they play in their basement. Beyond the complexity of their actual songs, the layering and the way the bits worked together the volume was its own entity. I am not too sure if I can describe it, but the volume became tangible. It didn’t hurt my ears but it was like being surrounded in a whiteout when it snows really hard. Its omni-present.

The actual songs themselves were amazing, and it got me thinking what happens live vs. the album out-with how loud something is, and is it possible to take the dynamic, that element and transfer it to other experiences? To transfer it, one needs to be able to name it, but I am not sure that I can. You can ask anyone who goes to see a band play live, and people can tell you why a gig was good, or bad, but there is an intangibleness to some of it where people count on the experience of other to relay their experience. That unspoken quality-how do you flesh it out, how do you boil it down and ascertain what it is?

But why over intellectualize that particular aspect of the experience, the aspect that is most special? Will greater intellectual understanding change my understanding and ability to experience music in that way? Of course an enhanced knowledge will change my experience, but will I enjoy that bit of the gig less?

Another thought that came up during the gig was what happened to the joy. At times sound art feels as if it’s restraining itself. In Mogwai’s songs or sound-scapes there was an emotional accessibility and it felt as if a door was wide open to become completely involved in the sound. I do not mean to be overtly general, but sometimes, sound art can feel cold and standoffish. Part of the ineffable is the accessibility…it goes both ways I was at the gig with a friend who was not nearly as into it as I was, but the question I should have asked her was not if she liked it but if she felt something? You can dislike something but still be immersed and challenged within its parameters. But there is a lot to be learned by watching live bands, Mogwai are a tight cohesive very good band, but the structure of their compositions and their familiarity with the material allowed them push the structure. Can that only happen with live sound…..? (It would seem so if improvising were involved).

Monday, April 24, 2006

Theoretically according to Wittgenstein, philosophy is both the logical clarification of thoughts, and a method of critiquing. Through philosophy we are able to clarify the limitations of meaningful language. Indeed if this is the case, then language or philosophy has failed us in some way when it comes to the ineffable. The ineffable can be realized in a number of different forms, however our only way of relaying facts or details about the nature of the experience is through words. The parameters of the experience(s) remain limitless, yet our ability to formulate and summarize through language remains so limited. Language has become a restricted medium in a sense. Wittgenstein states

‘What we can not speak about we pass over in silence.’

What does this mean for art? This weekend at the Berlin Biennale and one of the works was by Tino Seghal. Abstractly it featured a young guy and girl rolling about on the floor in a choreographed fashion inside of dilapidated ballroom. But it was more than that; their movements were precise and carefully executed. But I was totally uncomfortable, the work made me aware that I was witness to something that was something more than being in a room watching two people roll around on the floor. Beyond the fact that they were physically intertwined for most of the time that I saw them, and they engaged in some kissing and stroking that didn’t bother me. Sex in art has lost its charge, and at this point and it’s not shocking. What made me feel uncomfortable was the idea of the private and the intimate. There were moments when either the man or the women would touch each other with incredible intimacy or tenderness. Most people in their lifetimes experience some sort of intimacy and tenderness, and the words are used to relay experiences, but do we really understand the concepts? Is intimacy and tenderness the same for two different people? Its like love, they say you never know till you have been in love, but when you are, the feelings have no boundaries but the ability to explain those feelings, feels limited to me. Did I have an ineffable experience in the Seghal piece, I think so…..can I explain it? No I am not sure that I can, I can only explain how I felt, but the thing is…..whilst it was happening I was aware of how I was feeling but those feelings were muted…the connection to the work was very present. It was only after I left the room was I distinctly aware of how uncomfortable I felt. What does it mean, how do you qualify it, but do you even need to? Do we even have the intellectual capability to define and create vernacular about the thing, which we cannot name?


Excerpt from email correspondence with Gerrie van Noord sent on 24 April 2006 concerning intimacy and Seghal’s piece in Berlin

I have to say that show (six feet under) always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable because of the intimacy. It’s a strange thing because it makes me think about the construct and make up of the ineffable, what are they, what comprises them? Is it just a clarifying of something like the intimate? I was speaking to (name removed for confidential reasons) about sat night and she was like I think intimacy is an odd thing, and I think that you feel threatened by it, in a way. There might be something in that, because my dad was saying when he sees intimacy like in the cinema or whatever he feels as if he is getting a gift, me I feel like I am being raked over the coals. But there is something worthwhile in the pursuit and uncovering of the intimate. Sex and intimacy in a way should go hand in hand-but one can be had without the other. If you use sex as an example and intimacy comes through or via being in love etc....then can you transpose that model to art, do people fall in love with the work if even briefly.... is that the key?

Friday, April 21, 2006

it's been a while since i have updated the blog, and while alot of the entries are dated 4th of april it's because i was able to sit down and really think about things...but from now on the updates will be on a weekly basis, if not more.
7 april 2006

Unpick the twee from the not twee….(nick cave-the idea of grating)
(these ideas were generated during a conversation with Gerrie van Noord in London)….

For the most part the idea of the phenomenological experience has had much to do with betterment or spiritual enlightenment. But based on the conversation today, and the ability to look at things from a more informed position thus far into the research, I have many questions about the nature of the phenomenological experience. For the most part within the art produced to date which is benchmarked for its phenomenological content is mostly the producer of pleasant spiritually enhancing experiences: Robert Irwin’s ‘Excurses: Homage to the Square’, James Turrell’s ‘Meeting Place’, Dan Graham’s ‘Pavilions’, Dan Flavin ‘various works’ for the most part are viewed as being spaces where one can go and leave feeling almost spiritually enhanced. The expectation is that the viewers’ experience will not be one of discomfort. What then of work meant to challenge the viewer both physically and emotionally perhaps in ways that are not always based within spirtitual enhancement? For instance Thomas Hirschorn’s work, at times it challenges notions of comfort, or at least my own personal notions of comfort, but it doesn’t keep my from interacting with the work. How can that feeling be used? What of the work where the intention is to make one uncomfortable? While there might not be a clear explanation within contemporary art, one only has to look to film. Why are scary movies such a huge genre? Why do people yearn to be frightened and challenged in what can be considered a perverse manner? This line of questioning brings up other ways of obtaining and achieving ecstasy: piercing, tattoos, S+M. While these experiences are considered on the fringes of society their pursuit is no different than Turrell, Irwin, Flavin etc. How then do we move beyond the idea of shock factor and utilize aspect from these fringe genres. The exploration of Horror has not been overlooked: artists such as Banks Violette look at construct of horror. I want to utilize the actual feelings being produced. Why do people like being scared, and in a sense being scared is a much more honest reaction than a lot of things. It’s completely in the moment…its not entangled in a sense of intellectualism. It happens and the reaction is quick and fierce. Irwin stated that he wanted to his work to be about the act of perceiving….which in some way is an impossible task. Can you be engaged in the action of perception while critically understanding the mechanics? Perception quite often happens before one has any idea that something has happened. In a sense then horror movies are a good genre to follow. Is it because being scared is a more honest response; is the phenomenological experience all about honest experiences? What is the basis or the parameters of an honest experience? Can there ever be honest experiences within art? Out-with art can there be honest experiences full stop? When we have experiences we tend not to question their validity….but can is it actually possible for an experience created by one person to be ‘honest’ to another. It would probably be said that yes it is totally possible, but that then begs us to ask what is an honest experience? Because of its highly subjective nature it would seem impossible to validate an experience as such, what is honest to one, could be a phallacy to another; this model is also highly applicable to phenomenological experiences. It’s a term fraught with false definitions and presupposed knowledge, but what does it mean? If it means something different for each person does one only create experiences for themselves and hope that others find some sort of in road into the creators hermetically sealed world of reference? (look at the practices of Mark Manders, and Tomas Demand as reference point. Both Manders and Demand have managed to create their own contexts from which to reference that both operate within the larger scale of contemporary art as well as out-with it. However work that is created with the hope of giving something to everyone is no better than your average Hollywood movie. The material should maintain a high level of critical rigor whilst being accessible
4 april 2006

Sound is not simply heard-but physically felt. With this in mind and wanting to be able to utilize the full spectrum of the term best suits the intended output of the research.

Sound-dealing with the interior and exterior. If one regards the interior as the [headspace], and the exterior as everything else the art/the other viewers/ etc. the creator has limited control. The question that arises is do you need the visual? Because people are used to looking before hearing when it comes to art within a certain context: what then becomes of the visual sense?
4th april 2006
(collection of various bits of writing..organized)

Sound Art is continually questioned [is it art/is it music]. These questions seem to be institutionally based more so within visual arts academies, which ask to a certain extent if visually arts based programs have the capacity to quantify and or house art that is being created out-with the visual.

What parameters need to be established [or created] in order to quantify and measure ineffable experiences?

What components need to present or inherent to work which is created for phenomenological experiences?

Who or what deems experiential artwork ineffable?

Various acts such as listening to music, meditating, drug taking, can produce ineffable experiences. What is to be learned from those experiences? Art making tends to blur the lines between practices and often tries to establish a different platform from which to look at such experiences. How can the results of such acts be more closely explored to fully realize and understand the scope of ineffable experiences? Can such experiences be considered transferable, or rather can such experiences be viewed as dormant within the viewer; and the artwork, the drugs, the meditating are all just different access routes or triggers to phenomenological/spiritual/ineffable experiences.

Phenomenological experience is a much bandied about term: what exactly is a phenomenological experience in respect to contemporary post-war art?

Just thinking about the phenomenological experience-performance art, installation art to some extent is theatrically based, but for many people the only interaction they have is through the document. For example Aileen Campbell’s work As Jane Edwards and Geoffrey Rush watching it is not particularly phenomenological because I am constantly aware in a sense that I am seeing a document-so then the question arises what if the process is the phenomenological part? How do you even begin to convey aspects of the private?

Is the idea and the concept of installation art in itself not a phenomenological construct? To enter into a space and make one more aware of the chosen construct. Installation art inherently is already phenomenological. Whilst mediums such as photography and painting have a certain spatial quality, their two dimensionality limits the viewer’s physical body experience to one of object and viewer. To phrase the train of though in a more existential dynamic, the art may and can as a mirror from which the viewers can view themselves. Rosiland Krauss spoke of the grid to the same effect saying it served both as a window and a portal to the unreal. Regardless the painting/photograph etc. remains work that is to be viewed with the eyes. Installation art however allows the possibility for the entirety of the viewer to experience the work, and is quite often constructed on being an complete immersive experience within which the viewer is asked to question how they relate to the new environment within which they are placed. Using Krauss’s grid description as a foundation installation can be though of in similar light. The white cube of the gallery is the grid-the platform for transformation-the work which is installed within it is the new space, the new reality. Whilst I have provided two completely realistic scenarios-the pursuit of phenomenological experiences through sound dictates that the work is installation based.
4 April 2006
(glasgow to london train ride)

Are my research questions still the same?

Research Questions

What components of a perceptual sound-space need to be identified and/or created to create a collective phenomenological experience?

Within the context of contemporary art created for phenomenological experience(s), how does the creation of a perceptual sound-space establish itself as art?

By questioning the very construct of space [material vs. immaterial] what implications and questions will be raised by the success of a perceptual sound-space within the context of contemporary architectural practices?

How does a piece of art quantify and document the ineffable?

Is sound a germane medium to generate an ineffable experience-or is a visual component necessary to generate a phenomenological experience?

Can phenomenological experiences be the same for two different people?

What are my questions as of right now? At this stage in the research what are the changes from August. Firstly the pre-occupation with architectural space per se has changed. What has cleared up is the desire to look at pre-existing architecture for ‘sonic’ architecture’ and look more for individuals whose practices may reside more in ‘paper architecture’ The idea of idealized spaces and the possibilities that model spaces provide have more potential for change than looking at ‘sonic architecture’. But can these spaces exist without the visual? A few months ago I was willing to say yes… but the idea of creating idealized phenomenological spaces within which actual people can interact with on a real scale is exciting… but then where does the sound fit in? How does the sound become more than just an element… the idea is to challenge the construct of the term installation. Installation art implies a sense of intervention in the white cube, a rescuing and removing of the sterile towards an immersive experience (either enjoyable or challenging) But that the context of the previous space is removed if only for a temporary time. (come back to)

NB asked me why could it not be painting, watercolour in particular. Whilst I do not disagree that paintings or photographs for that matter can produce phenomenological situations (Rothko, Eggleston, Uta Barth) sound as a medium does not necessarily lend itself to passive observation. The combination of both sound and space lend themselves to a more physical experience. Perhaps installation is the wrong word: interactive physically immersive art. Sound can be more than just listened to-it can be felt and if one had the ability to move about a space, then that element can be more highly utilized. Also the ability to have a versatile physical experience has more potential to realizing and creating a phenomenological experience in my opinion than a static experience does.

What do I want to know from this research? Where is it headed? Are both the question and the concern mainly dealing with the creation of phenomenological/spiritual experience? Through the research done to date, questions have arisen about what particular school of phenomenology to seat the research (existential or transcendental). As well whilst it is probably a second or third tier question. The sound art debate is still a valid issue.
20 March 2006
[written at Tate Modern in response to walking about and interacting with the ‘moving people about playlist']

It was really interesting to look at the work in the kippenberger and the bauhaus show whilst listening to ‘people moving about soundtracks’. First because it isolated myself in such a way, that the usual aspects of what can make looking at art difficult (i.e. the other people) become a secondary focus. I couldn’t hear their chatter, I could just see them, but their presence became less. There was only this strange meandering soundtrack [which I had created for the purpose of being in transit] which began to form its own narrative. In particular the Workbench track. When it finished I was empty and tired, as if I had been sucked into something I am not sure I can describe. Lucier’s track Music on a Long Thin Wire has continually snuck up on me all day, it almost feels although when I hear it, it bites me. What does that mean? Where does Guns N’ Roses fit between those two tracks? Because the mix is so varied, you have everything from Lucier to Fleetwood Mac, it makes me questions issues of construct. While Guns or Fleetwood Mac are not sound art per-say, could they be if I used them in that particular context?

What does that mean for the whole concept of the piece?

How do tracks like the Workbench track fit with something by say Belinda Carlise?

Is it a matter of using the more abstract tracks to find the abstract qualities in the pop?

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Last Wed night I was watching bits and pieces of a film on Robert Irwin
called "The Beauty of Questions' which covered similar terrain to the
Lawrence Weschler biography 'Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing
One Sees'. Both the film and the book are an indepth look at Irwin's
persona and his artistic practice. In the film Irwin speaks about his desire
to create situations where the viewer perceives themselves perceiving.

But if we catch ourselves perceiving is it not the same as waking from a
dream and remembering it? If you become aware of the mechanics of your
own understanding, what is your focus? It is no longer on the object
or the experience you are having, rather it is now on the mechanics of
comprehension or perceiving.

This weekend I had a house party and whilst I was djing, I was watching
people dance and I began to think about it....for Irwin the whole point
is to catch people become conscious of the fact that they are perceiving.
But my goal is to create situations and context within which to give
people an experience be it perceptual or phenomenological. I have
struggled with it for the past few months: what does that mean, what
sort of situations is it etc? But when I was standing back and watching
people dance, it seemed to answer a lot of questions. When you are
dancing you lose yourself in the fabric of the music, the people around
you. In some ways when I dance I feel like a fool because I think I
must not be doing it right, and I must look ridiculous. But watching
that group of people didn't seem to be any self consciousness, or discomfort.
There was only pleasure, and immediacy. No one seemed to be thinking to hard
about what they were doing, they just seemed to throw themselves into
the moment, and were present.

I am not sure that I can agree with Irwin; if you catch yourself
perceiving, then you are no longer perceiving. You are analyzing
something that happened, being critical of the act to some extent. But
when you are fully experiencing the phenomenological you are in the
moment completely. Your not thinking about what you did three hours ago,
nor are you considering where you are going to go in an hour, your
movements become fluid and your actions become whole. You don't really
care if you look like a fool, because your not aware that you are
supposed to care.

The question is how does one create a universal experience that equates
going off your head because 'Blue Monday' is on? Granted not everyone
was off their head dancing, and that is the crux. Is it even possible
to create the universal? How do you create a situation or environment
that makes someone stop thinking and just be?