Dr Graham Coulter-Smith
- Post Doctoral Research Fellow, CASIAD
Deconstructing Installation Art: Fine Art and Media Art 1986–2006
Online Book http://www.installationart.net
Published by CASIAD, Southampton, 2006
The initial AHRC funded reseach phase involved literature surveys, visits to galleries and interviews with artists in the UK, Europe, and the USA. Early research indicated that current discourses on installation art framed it as offering greater interaction between art and society. My research, on the other hand, indicates that such claims are exaggerated. Countering these claims became the focus of the second phase of this project, resulting in the text for Deconstructing Installation Art. To a certain extent the book's thesis elaborates on propositions advanced by Peter Bürger in Theory of the Avant-Garde (1984 orig. 1974). The argument pursued is that the longstanding avant-gardist goal of involving the viewer and bringing art into life is extremely difficult to realise via fine art installations that are still subject to institutionalised notions of the work of art as a precious object and the mystification of artistic genius. Arguably, surprisingly few fine art installations are able to involve the viewer in a manner significantly more 'interactive' than other modes of fine art. Alternatively, it is argued that digital interactive installations and modes of socially-oriented media art, that operate outside the art museum, can achieve a greater degree of social interaction. The books usage is monitored via Statcounter and Google Analytics, indicating that it is accessed globally for significant periods of time. Since January 2007 it has received 26,000 page loads and is in the top five hits for a Google search "installation art". A number of universities use the book as an online teaching resource, for example - Line to Pixel 2 a course offered by Parsons, New School University, New York. The Spanish publisher Brumaria has approached CASIAD for permission to produce a bilingual Spanish/English print version.
‘Art Games: Interactivity and the Embodied Gaze’ Technoetic Arts Journal of Speculative Research 4 (3) 2006
'Art Games: Interactivity and the Embodied Gaze' explores the concept of the 'art game' comparing and contrasting instances from fine art and media art. The notion of the 'art game' stems from Peter Bürger's reference in Theory of the Avant-Garde to strategies of Surrealist automatism and Tristan Tzara's cut and paste poetry as 'recipes' that could be used as a strategy for bringing art into life. It is argued that although fine art avant-gardism espoused the goal of bringing art into life, it was unable to attain it due to the fact that 'art game' strategies such as the Readymade and 'transgressions' within the museum, were transformed by the art system into vehicles whereby the artist-individual displayed his or her extraordinary ingenuity. Elaborating on Bürger, and Roland Barthe's 'death of the author' thesis, it is suggested that the goal of bringing art into life is fundamentally a goal of enhancing creativity in everyday life. This requires a switch in focus from the 'genius' of the artist to the viewer-reader. Hence, whereas fine art is hampered by an overwhelming focus on the artist-individual, media art is much more able to produce creative games, in which the viewer can be involved. Instances are provided to substantiate this argument.
Art in the Age of Terrorism
Paul Holberton publishing, London 2005.
ISBN 1 903470 41 2
Art in the Age of Terrorism Exhibition Millais Gallery, Southampton 11 November 2004 – 29 January 2005
Co-curated with Maurice Owen
The book includes material on and by the artists in the Art in the Age of Terrorism exhibition, as well as other artists working on this theme. It also contains several essays on the politics of fear surrounding the 'war on terror', by leading academics such as Bernadette Buckley, Mary Richards, Emma Green, Gen Doy, Pia Lindman, Ross Birrell, Kendell Geers, Ken Neil, James A Walker, Khaled D Ramaden, Mirreille Astore, Karen Randell, Guy Moreton, Misha Myers and Cornelius Holtorf, in addition to myself and co-editor Maurice Owen. The exhibition consisted of nine artists who were selected on the basis that their previous work and origin underpinned the research theme. They were Kendell Geers (South Africa), Jacqueline Salloum (Palestinian-American), Doron Solomons (Israel), Colin Darke (Ireland), Pia Lindman (Finland/NY), Misha Myers & Dan Harris (USA), Khaled Ramadan (Lebanon), Mireille Astore (Lebanon) and Mark Gaynor (UK). http://www.solent.ac.uk/terrorism/exhibition.aspx. Compiled only three years after the terrorist attacks of September 11 2001, the book and exhibition pioneered academic and artistic interpretations of what remains a politically controversial subject. The exhibition was an important visual response to the war on terror and the book contributed carefully considered intellectual meditations on the topic of art and terrorism, relating to physical and cultural loss, the politics of terror and Diaspora, as well as the major challenge that art faces in relation to the events that accompany these themes. The sensitivity of the topic is evident in the fact that there was a resounding silence from America, when the editors invited academic contributions to the book. In terms of reception, the exhibition was at the top of the Guardian list of exhibitions to see; and interviews with the artists were broadcast on BBC Radio Four's Today programme on the occasion of the exhibition's preview.
The Postmodern Art of Imants Tillers: Appropriation en abyme, 1971–2001
Paul Holberton publishing 2002
The book presents an in-depth study of twenty years of work by Australia's leading conceptual painter and is based on several years of intensive research into primary source materials available in the artist's archive, plus over a dozen interviews with the artist over a period of three years. The text positions Tillers within the contexts of conceptual art and postmodern appropriation. Several chapters outline the artistic discourses in which he worked during his formative years in the 1970s and 1980s. Through the examination of major works the text argues that although Tillers was not within the centre of the international art world, New York, he was able independently to invent the strategy of postmodern appropriation, some years before the discourse became a major international style in the late 1970s and 1980s. Proof of the precociousness of Tillers' work is provided via a detailed account of his travels and the artistic context within Australia during the time that he adopted methods of appropriation. The text also points out that Tillers' appropriated fine art sources, whereas most New York artists appropriated mass media imagery. Sherrie Levine is the closest New York artist to Tillers' approach, but she began her appropriations of male 'master' photographers over five years after Tillers began his appropriation of fine art sources in Conversations with the Bride 1974–75. A review of the book by the Australian Art critic Evelyn Juers was published in the Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday June 28 2003. An online copy is available at: http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/06/27/1056683888638.html