Etikettarkiv: Art

Lars Vilks and His Mohammed Drawings Redux

Vilks - the artwork

Vilks - the artwork

Today I write a piece in the Swedish daily Expressen about the neglect by the artworld vis-a-vis Lars Vilks and his Mohammedesque drawings. I argue that the artworld are shielding themselves behind a veil of insecurity – is the media artwork initiated by Vilks but played out by thousands of reporters and Op-Ed writers around the world worth writing and fighting for or not? I believe so. Even if a good essay on his gesamtkunstwerk find that he is not doing a swell job, I still think he deserves a fair hearing.

Enjoy the article.

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Read My Neuroaesthetics Introduction Online

Now you can read my text Är en blå jordgubbe bättre än en röd? in the magazine Konstnären online. I go though some of the theories behind the concept of Neuroaesthetics. Jump to  the link. Enjoy


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Scanning for Picasso, Dalí Found in fMRI Study

Neuroscientist Yukiyasu Kamitani have in a small-scale study scanned a dozen students watching images by Picasso and Dalí trying to find patterns in their brain activity. Through the findings they purport that scientists will be able to read your mind when it comes to the exacts neural differences between artworks by different artistic hands. New Scientist reports.

The study was conducted at ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan where the team showed 12 students images of Picasso and Dalí while scanning their brains using functional MRI. A computer program then identified patterns in activity that were supposed to be unique for each of the two artists. But the program ”merely” completed about 80% of the guessing game, a bit more than just guessing.

Crucifixion (Hypercubic Body) by Salvador Dalí

The most interesting finding was that to identify the artists, the computer program relied on activity in multiple brain regions, not just the visual ones. But, we must be very wary to make statements about how the brain process styles, since this is not just biochemically given, it is also a matter of training the brain to see and identify images off multiple sorts.

Studies conducted on chess players find that a trained eye can remember and identify a given set of chess pieces but only if it correlates with a known scenario within the game of chess. A control group then has much harder remembering any such scenario, random or not.  So memory and constructed patterns in our minds can surely play a vital role for how these relults play out. I would advise mr Kamitani to continue the interesting research but extending it to art students and artists alike.

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Artists Explore the Religious Mind

Art and religion has historically massive ties, but contemporary art is looking very agnostic since the fall of modernism the Grand Narratives a few years ago. But in a new series of projects in various venues artists such as Damien Hirst, Bill Viola, Mats Hjelm, Cecilia Parsberg, Poste Restante etc. In London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral art’s former bad boi Damien Hirst will exhibit new paintings called Hope and Salvation. And while an atheist by heart, he has been lurking within the religious question with various works during his career, exploring life and death as it merges with ideology, religion and culture.

In Sweden a recent project in S:t Jacob’s church included talks, installations and performances that used the church space as an extension of the usual white cube neutrality. The result is an awkward but fascinating mix of usual interventions (such as the not yet realized proposal by Mats Hjelm to cover the Jesus figure in black paper, making him appear…well, dark).

Gilbert & George also like religious themes

Stories of art and the spiritual dates back a long time, Kandinsky and Mondrian were of course pursuing their purification of the spirituality of art although in different forms. Anyway, the story of art and the religious experience still haunts us, whilst the scientists tries to find connections between the two. A book to read on this topic is Lying Awake – Art, Religion and a Brain Disorder by Mark Salzman. It connects these two states of mind in a great way.

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Interview with Art Market Analyst Nicholas Forrest

Art Market Analyst Nick Forrest

Art Market Analyst Nick Forrest

I recently got a chance for a session of Q & A with art market blogger Nicholas Forrest, from the land down under. He updates his webpage Art Market Blog almost daily with eassay-like reports on contemporary art market fluctuations. Forrest is an art market analyst, journalist, art consultant based in Sydney, Australia and thus I wanted to ask hiom about how hw analyzes the Big Crisis, art money and the role of the market for contemporary artists. Here is an excerpt:

Robert Stasinski: How has the current economic crisis affected the art market? Thomas Crow wrote in the Artforum Art and Its Markets issue one year ago that our modern notions of artists and their relation to the market came from a way out of guild restrictions in order to market their freedom and individual quality. How does the contemporary artwork’s status as commodity or experience developed according to you?

Nicholas Forrest: The current economic crisis has, for starters, caused many of the speculators and opportunists who took advantage of the hype generated during the art market boom to make fast money to exit the art market.  Other opportunists in the form “trophy hunters”, who treated fine art as a mere status symbol, have also dropped in number as the contemporary art market that provided many of these status symbols takes a major dive.  Serious collectors and connoisseurs, who were priced out of the market as a result of the wealthy speculators and socialites, have now re-entered the market. As a consequence, the art market is now being driven by buyers who are much more discerning and are seeking to justify their purchases from both a financial and connoisseurial perspective. The economic crisis has also affected the supply of top quality works of art as buyers who can afford not to sell their valuable works of art are holding out for better times.

Read the rest of the interview

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Anna Odell, Journalism and The Mystic Truths of Art

Finally we are debating the Anna Odell case with most, if not, all facts at hand: The Swedish District Court has ruled that she did actually act violently as well as ”Oredligt förfarande” – a type of fraudulent acting. So the question is being raised if this verdict was just or not. Well, the question is a legal one, but of course also have a pragmatic dimension for artists, and for some debaters, it was an example of pure journalism. In terms of the legal ramifications, not one can foresee how this verdict will affect future matters, as Vilks rightfully points out a journalistic legal case is a different matter than an artistic case, which in turn is different than a filmmaker’s case, and so on.

Although, I am the first to stand up and fight for the freedom of expression and speech, I find it quite naive to argue as Bo Madestrand in DN that  since Odell merely cost (In measurable economic terms) the Swedish state 35 kronor (€3) the verdict is silly and dangerous. Yes, it can potentially be dangerous, but not because the added costs for ”handling” her are so low. If you drink and drive, you cannot argue from the pragmatic point of view (most drunk drivers do NOT kill people, but some do). You have to have a balance between the breaking of a principle and the actual cost and goal behind the action. In this case, Odell had made some research to whether or not she could risk being in legal jeopardy, (a lot of bloggers have commented this, some wise, some not) and got out at the wrong end of that prognosis. She is morally firm and willingly seems to accept her verdict (a fine of 2500 kr).

Bruce Nauman Window or Wall Sign, 1967

Bruce Nauman Window or Wall Sign, 1967

This verdict is generally received by the cultural attachés of this country as a bad call by a legal institution, possibly turning away some experimental journalists and artists from radical investigations. Dangerous.

Well, once again, cultural workers have united in a lack of understanding of culture; The Anna Odell project is commented by most people, but understood and experienced by a few thousand. To generally assume that the life of all people involved in this incident would be better off or the same as before, is just an example of not paying attention. Cultural critics have long ushered out the perspective that culture has undefined, paramount and positive influences on society. In the case of Anna Odell, art truly turned public and thus commented from all realms of media. In this sea of critique, the cultural perspective, became one of many and not always very interesting, I must say.

Art as social critique sprung out of the french revolution and has now developed into a method, involving uncovering economic, social or other irregularities. Tim van Laar and Leonard Diepeveen’s excellent Active Sights – Art as social interaction, delves into the concept of the artist as a social critic juxtaposed with the concept of the artist as social parasite. This latter concept has long been used both as a denigration of artists social intervention as well as by cultural critics who slander the average Joe or the non-artistic institutions for not having enough understanding of how artists affect the social debate. In this case Mårten Arndtzén is guilty of this.

But artists, beware, you could easily come across as a social healer, working almost as a priest to uncover transcendent or immanent truths in society. This is something that historically have been present at least since the days of Kandinsky, and later with Bruce Nauman, but I also see elements of this in the works of Anna Odell. Watch out.

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