Tuesday, April 6, 2010

reading response five | responsive architecture | jd pirtle

While reading this text, I was continually pleased at how the various designers, architects and artists seamlessly incorporate mathematics and sciences in their work. Lately, I find myself at odds with a coherent definition of art and artists, one which is contemporary enough to encompass the many modern movements of art making, and will accurately describe the ever-changing roles artists embody. What is clear from readings such as these, is that any struggle to codify what art is or what an artist does is not only difficult, but completely useless. What is useful is to be mindful of what role artists have played historically—for example, Slatterly’s example of what art and philosophy can explain or examine that mathematics and science fail to properly describe or understand.

Many of these artists and designers are all working to solve or understand human problems using or replicating nature’s structures, such as Steven Vogel. His section describing biomimetics and trending away from traditional design paradigms in favor of ones that make more sense (like in the natural structures all around us that are the result of billions of years of robust evolution). As I am most interested in fine art and what is happening in fine art in this era, I wonder what types of conversations we should be having to foster this type of attitude in our work—how can we change the very traditional formats of lectures, critiques and curriculum to enable us to best work out how it is we are going to make art? If these scientists, architects and designers are easily picking up new tools and attitudes as they are needed to solve the problem that is in front of them, can we do the same? What rigid structures of the art academy and the art world can be remade to solve the changing subjective problems that modern artists face?

A great example of this is the legacy of participatory installation art. At some point, a simple one-way or two-way interaction that was obvious to the viewer (e.g. a chain of causal events that was initiated by a sensing mechanism and ended with some obvious output within the art piece) was enough to stimulate art audiences. Decades later, shouldn’t we be creating “smart” art? Shouldn’t we be holding this type of art work up to similar standards, as enumerated by Addington when describing smart materials, the criteria of Immediacy, Transience, Self-actuation, Selectivity and Directness?

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