In the late 1950s, experiments such as the cybernetic sculptures of Nicolas Schöffer or the programmatic music compositions of John Cage and Iannis Xenakis transposed systems theory from the sciences to the arts. By the 1960s, artists as diverse as Roy Ascott, Hans Haacke, Robert Morris, Sonia Sheridan, and Stephen Willats were breaking with accepted aesthetics to embrace open systems that emphasized organism over mechanism, dynamic processes of interaction among elements, and the observer’s role as an inextricable part of the system. Jack Burnham’s 1968 Artforum essay “Systems Aesthetics” and his 1970 “Software” exhibition marked the high point of systems-based art until its resurgence in the changed conditions of the twenty-first century.
Systems traces this radical shift in aesthetics from its roots in mid twentieth-century general systems theory, cybernetics, and artificial intelligence to the cutting-edge science of the present. The collected texts examine the connections between advanced technological systems, our bodies and minds; the relation of musical to spatial and architectural structures; and the ways in which systems-based art projects can create self-generating entities and networks, alter our experience of time, change the configurations of social relations, cross cultural borders, and interact with threatened ecosystems.
Artists surveyed include
Roy Ascott, Driessens and Verstappen, David Dunn, Brian Eno, Frank Gillette,Michael Joaquin Grey, Hans Haacke, Helen Mayer Harrison, Newton Harrison, Joan Littlewood, Richard Paul Lohse, Laurent Mignonneau, Manfred Mohr, Nam June Paik, Cedric Price, Casey Reas, Ken Rinaldo, Tomás Saraceno, Sonia Sheridan, Christa Sommerer, Ubermorgen, Woody and Steina Vasulka, Peter Weibel, Mitchell Whitelaw, John Whitney, James Whitney, Stephen Willats, Iannis Xenakis
Gregory Bateson, Mary Catherine Bateson, Pierre Bourdieu, R. Buckminster Fuller, Jack Burnham, Fritjof Capra, Geoff Cox, James P. Crutchfield, Boris Groys, Francis Halsall, Usman Haque, N. Katherine Hayles, Caroline Jones, Stephen Jones, Christian Katti, Bruno Latour, Mary Louise Lobsinger, James Lovelock, Niklas Luhmann, Humberto Maturana, Donella H. Meadows, William J. Mitchell, Gordon Pask, Nick Prior, Francisco Varela, Heinz von Foerster, Michael Weinstock, Norbert Wiener
From the 1940s to the 1970s, visionary artists from across the Americas reimagined themes from science fiction and space travel. They mapped extraterrestrial terrain, created dystopian scenarios amid fears of nuclear annihilation, and ingeniously deployed scientific and technological subjects and motifs. This book offers a sumptuously illustrated exploration of how artists from the United States and Latin America visualized the future. Inspired variously by the “golden age” of science fiction, the Cold War, the space race, and the counterculture, these artists expressed both optimism and pessimism about humanity’s prospects.
Past Futures showcases work by more than a dozen artists, including the biomorphic cosmic spaces and hybrid alien-totemic figures painted by the Chilean artist Roberto Matta (1911–2002); the utopian Hydrospatial City envisioned by Argentine Gyula Kosice (1924–); and Incidents of Mirror-Travel in the Yucatan, in which Robert Smithson (1938–1973) layered tropes of time travel atop Mayan ruins. The artists respond to science fiction in film and literature and the media coverage of the space race; link myths of Europeans’ first encounters with the New World to contemporary space exploration; and project futures both idealized and dystopian.
The book, which accompanies an exhibition at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, also includes an essay by the editor and curator mapping central themes; an exploration of how Latin American artists have depicted astronomic phenomena, utopian projects, and the modern machine; an essay on space-age art in Argentina during the 1960s; and a study of Smithson and science fiction.
Sarah Montross, Rodrigo Alonso, Rory O’Dea, Miguel Ángel Fernández Delgado
Rudy Ayoroa, Luis Benedit, Marcelo Bonevardi, Enrique Careaga, Enrique Castro-Cid, Vija Celmins, Carlos Colombino, Juan Downey, Fred Eversley, Mario Gallardo, Dan Graham, Nancy Graves, Raquel Forner, Peter Hutchinson, Alejandro Jodorowsky, Gyula Kosice, Roberto Matta, Emilio Renart, Robert Smithson, Michelle Stuart, Rufino Tamayo, Horacio Zabala
In 1965, the experimental filmmaker Stan VanDerBeek (1927–1984) unveiled his Movie-Drome, made from the repurposed top of a grain silo. VanDerBeek envisioned Movie-Drome as the prototype for a communications system—a global network of Movie-Dromes linked to orbiting satellites that would store and transmit images. With networked two-way communication, Movie-Dromes were meant to ameliorate technology’s alienating impulse. In The Experience Machine, Gloria Sutton views VanDerBeek—known mostly for his experimental animated films—as a visual artist committed to the radical aesthetic sensibilities he developed during his studies at Black Mountain College. She argues that VanDerBeek’s collaborative multimedia projects of the 1960s and 1970s (sometimes characterized as “Expanded Cinema”), with their emphases on transparency of process and audience engagement, anticipate contemporary art’s new media, installation, and participatory practices.
VanDerBeek saw Movie-Drome not as pure cinema but as a communication tool, an “experience machine.” In her close reading of the work, Sutton argues that Movie-Drome can be understood as a programmable interface. She describes the immersive experience of Movie-Drome, which emphasized multi-sensory experience over the visual; display strategies deployed in the work; the Poemfield computer-generated short films; and VanDerBeek’s interest, unique for the time, in telecommunications and computer processing as a future model for art production. Sutton argues that visual art as a direct form of communication is a feedback mechanism, which turns on a set of relations, not a technology.
These influential essays by the noted critic and art historian Benjamin Buchloh have had a significant impact on the theory and practice of art history. Written over the course of three decades and now collected in one volume, they trace a history of crucial artistic transitions, iterations, and paradigmatic shifts in the twentieth century, considering both the evolution and emergence of artistic forms and the specific historical moment in which they occurred.
Buchloh’s subject matter ranges through various moments in the history of twentieth-century American and European art, from the moment of the retour à l’ordre of 1915 to developments in the Soviet Union in the 1920s to the beginnings of Conceptual art in the late 1960s to the appropriation artists of the 1980s. He discusses conflicts resulting from historical repetitions (such as the monochrome and collage/montage aesthetics in the 1910s, 1950s, and 1980s), the emergence of crucial neo-avantgarde typologies, and the resuscitation of obsolete genres (including the portrait and landscape, revived by 1980s photography). Although these essays are less monographic than those in Buchloh’s earlier collection, Neo-Avantgarde and Culture Industry, two essays in this volume are devoted to Marcel Broodthaers, whose work remains central to Buchloh’s theoretical concerns. Engaging with both formal and historical paradigms, Buchloh situates himself productively between the force fields of formal theory and historical narrative, embracing the discrepancies and contradictions between them and within individual artistic trajectories.
Formalism and Historicity (1977)
Marcel Broodthaers: Allegories of the Avant-Garde (1980)
Figures of Authority, Ciphers of Regression: Notes on the Return of Representation in European Painting (1981)
Allegorical Procedures: Appropriations and Montage in Contemporary Art (1982)
The Museum Fictions of Marcel Broodthaers (1983)
From Faktura to Factography (1984)
Readymade, Objet Trouvé, Idée Reçue (1985)
The Primary Colors for the Second Time: A Paradigm Repetition of the Neo-Avantgarde (1986)
Cold War Constructivism (1986)
Conceptual Art 1962–1969: From the Aesthetics of Administration to the Critique of Institutions (1989)
Residual Resemblance: Three Notes on the Ends of Portraiture (1994)
Sculpture: Publicity and the Poverty of Experience (1996)
For more than half a century, Erwin Panofsky’s Perspective as Symbolic Form has dominated studies of visual representation. Despite the hegemony of central projection, or perspective, other equally important methods of representation have much to tell us. Parallel projection can be found on classical Greek vases, in Pompeiian frescoes, in Byzantine mosaics; it returned in works of the historical avant-garde, and remains the dominant form of representation in China. In Oblique Drawing, Massimo Scolari investigates “anti-perspective” visual representation over two thousand years, finding in the course of his investigation that visual and conceptual representations are manifestations of the ideological and philosophical orientations of different cultures. Images prove to be not just a form of art but a form of thought, a projection of a way of life.
Scolari’s generously illustrated studies show that illusionistic perspective is not the only, or even the best, representation of objects in history; parallel projection, for example, preserves in scale the actual measurements of objects it represents, avoiding the distortions of one-point perspective. Scolari analyzes the use of nonperspectival representations in pre-Renaissance images of machines and military hardware, architectural models and drawings, and illustrations of geometrical solids. He challenges Panofsky’s theory of Pompeiian perspective and explains the difficulties encountered by the Chinese when they viewed Jesuit missionaries’ perspectival religious images.
Scolari vividly demonstrates the diversity of representational forms devised through the centuries, and shows how each one reveals something that is lacking in the others.
The fiftieth anniversary of Helvetica, the most famous of all sans serif typefaces, was celebrated with an excitement unusual in the staid world of typography and culminated in the release of the first movie ever made starring a typeface. Yet Helvetica’s fifty-year milestone pales in comparison with the two thousandth anniversary in 2014 of Trajan’s Column and its famous inscription—the preeminent illustration of the classical Roman capital letter. For, despite the modern ascendance of the sans serif, serif typefaces, most notably Times Roman, still dominate printed matter and retain a strong presence in screen-based communication. The Eternal Letter is a lavishly illustrated examination of the enduring influence of, and many variations on, the classical Roman capital letter.
The Eternal Letter offers a series of essays by some of the most highly regarded practitioners in the fields of typography, lettering, and stone carving. They discuss the subtleties of the classical Roman capital letter itself, different iterations of it over the years, and the work of famous typographers and craftsmen. The essays cover such topics as efforts to calculate a geometric formulation of the Trajan letters; the recalculation of their proportions by early typefounders; the development and astonishing popularity of Adobe Trajan; type and letter designs by Father Edward M. Catich, Frederic W. Goudy, Eric Gill, Jan van Krimpen, Hermann Zapf, Matthew Carter, and others; the influence of Trajan in Russia; and three generations of lettercarvers at the John Stevens Shop in Newport, Rhode Island. Essays about modern typefaces—including Matinia, Senatus, and Penumbra—are contributed by the designers of these typefaces.
John and Nicholas Benson, Frank E. Blokland, Matthew Carter, Ewan Clayton, Lance Hidy, Jost Hochuli, Jonathan Hoefler, Richard Kindersley, Scott-Martin Kosofsky, Gerry Leonidas, Martin Majoor, Steve Matteson, Gregory MacNaughton, James Mosley, Tom Perkins, Yves Peters, Ryan L. Roth, Werner Schneider, Paul Shaw, Julian Waters, Maxim Zhukov
The human figure made a spectacular return in visual art and literature in the 1920s. Following modernism’s withdrawal, nonobjective painting gave way to realistic depictions of the body and experimental literary techniques were abandoned for novels with powerfully individuated characters. But the celebrated return of the human in the interwar years was not as straightforward as it may seem. In Realism after Modernism, Devin Fore challenges the widely accepted view that this period represented a return to traditional realist representation and its humanist postulates. Interwar realism, he argues, did not reinstate its nineteenth-century predecessor but invoked realism as a strategy of mimicry that anticipates postmodernist pastiche.
Through close readings of a series of works by German artists and writers of the period, Fore investigates five artistic devices that were central to interwar realism. He analyzes Bauhaus polymath László Moholy-Nagy’s use of linear perspective; three industrial novels riven by the conflict between the temporality of capital and that of labor; Brecht’s socialist realist plays, which explore new dramaturgical principles for depicting a collective subject; a memoir by Carl Einstein that oscillates between recollection and self-erasure; and the idiom of physiognomy in the photomontages of John Heartfield.
Fore’s readings reveal that each of these “rehumanized” works in fact calls into question the very categories of the human upon which realist figuration is based. Paradoxically, even as the human seemed to make a triumphal return in the culture of the interwar period, the definition of the human and the integrity of the body were becoming more tenuous than ever before. Interwar realism did not hearken back to earlier artistic modes but posited new and unfamiliar syntaxes of aesthetic encounter, revealing the emergence of a human subject quite unlike anything that had come before.
Since the late 1970s, the Berlin-based contemporary artist Isa Genzken (b. 1948) has produced a body of work that is remarkable for its formal and material inventiveness. In her sculptural practice, Genzken has developed an expanded material repertoire that includes plaster, concrete, epoxy resin, and mass-produced objects that range from action figures to discarded pizza boxes. Her heterogeneous assemblages, a New York Times critic observes, are “brash, improvisational, full of searing color and attitude.” Genzken, the recent subject of a major retrospective at MoMA, offers a highly original interpretation of modernist, avant-garde, and postminimalist practices even as she engages pressing sociopolitics and economic issues of the present.
These illustrated essays address the full span of Genzken’s work, from the elegant floor sculptures with which she began her career to the assemblages, bursting with color and bristling with bric-a-brac, that she has produced since the beginning of the millennium. The texts, by writers including Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, and the artist herself, consider her formation in the West German milieu; her critique of conventions of architecture, reconstruction, and memorialization; her sympathy with mass culture; and her ongoing interrogation of public and private spheres. Two texts appear in English for the first time, including a quasi-autobiographical screenplay written by Genzken in 1993.
Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Diedrich Diederichsen, Hal Foster, Isa Genzken, Isabelle Graw, Lisa Lee, Pamela M. Lee, Birgit Pelzer, Juliane Rebentisch, Josef Strau, Wolfgang Tillmans, Lawrence Weiner
Isa Genzken: Two Exercises (1974)
Birgit Pelzer: Axiomatics Subject to Withdrawal (1979)
Benjamin H. D. Buchloh: Isa Genzken: The Fragment as Model (1992)
Benjamin H. D. Buchloh: Isa Genzken: Fuck the Bauhaus. Architecture, Design, and Photography in Reverse (2014)
Isa Genzken: Sketches for a Feature Film (1993)
Isabelle Graw: Free to Be Dependent: Concessions in the Work of Isa Genzken (1996)
Diedrich Diederichsen: Subjects at the End of the Flagpole (2000)
Pamela M. Lee: The Skyscraper at Ear Level (2003)
Benjamin H. D. Buchloh: All Things Being Equal (2005)
Wolfgang Tillmans: Isa Genzken: A Conversation with Wolfgang Tillmans (2003)
Diedrich Diederichsen: Diedrich Diederichsen in Conversation with Isa Genzken (2006)
Lisa Lee: “Make Life Beautiful!” The Diabolic in the Work of Isa Genzken (A Tour Through Berlin, Paris, and New York) (2007)
Lawrence Weiner: Isa Genzken Again (2010)
Juliane Rebentisch: The Dialectic of Beauty: On the Work of Isa Genzken (2007)
Yve-Alain Bois: The Bum and the Architect (2007)
Josef Strau: Isa Genzken: Sculpture as Narrative Urbanism (2009)
Hal Foster: Fantastic Destruction (2014)
Expansion, convergence, adjacency, projection, rapport, and intersection are a few of the terms used to redraw the boundaries between art and architecture during the last thirty-five years. If modernists invented the model of an ostensible “synthesis of the arts,” their postmodern progeny promoted the semblance of pluralist fusion. In 1979, reacting against contemporary art’s transformation of modernist medium-specificity into postmodernist medium multiplicity, the art historian Rosalind Krauss published an essay, “Sculpture in the Expanded Field,” that laid out in a precise diagram the structural parameters of sculpture, architecture, and landscape art. Krauss tried to clarify what these art practices were, what they were not, and what they could become if logically combined. The essay soon assumed a canonical status and affected subsequent developments in all three fields. Retracing the Expanded Field revisits Krauss’s hugely influential text and maps the ensuing interactions between art and architecture.
Responding to Krauss and revisiting the milieu from which her text emerged, artists, architects, and art historians of different generations offer their perspectives on the legacy of “Sculpture in the Expanded Field.” Krauss herself takes part in a roundtable discussion (moderated by Hal Foster). A selection of historical documents, including Krauss’s essay, presented as it appeared in October, accompany the main text. Neither eulogy nor hagiography, Retracing the Expanded Field documents the groundbreaking nature of Krauss’s authoritative text and reveals the complex interchanges between art and architecture that increasingly shape both fields.
Stan Allen, George Baker, Yve-Alain Bois, Benjamin Buchloh, Beatriz Colomina, Penelope Curtis, Sam Durant, Edward Eigen, Kurt W. Forster, Hal Foster, Kenneth Frampton, Branden W. Joseph, Rosalind Krauss, Miwon Kwon, Sylvia Lavin, Sandro Marpillero, Josiah McElheny, Eve Meltzer, Michael Meredith, Mary Miss, Sarah Oppenheimer, Matthew Ritchie, Julia Robinson, Joe Scanlan, Emily Eliza Scott, Irene Small, Philip Ursprung, Anthony Vidler
• A boarder for two years following a national funeral, Mirabeau is removed from the Pantheon and transferred to the cemetery of Clamart when his pornographic novels are discovered • A photograph taken by Hessling on Christmas night, 1943, of a young woman nailed alive to the village gate of Novimgorod; Hessling asks his friend Wolfgang Borchert to develop the film, look at the photograph, and destroy it • The Beautiful Gardener, a picture by Max Ernst, burned by the Nazis
—from The Missing Pieces
The Missing Pieces is an incantatory text, a catalog of what has been lost over time and what in some cases never existed. Through a lengthy chain of brief, laconic citations, Henri Lefebvre evokes the history of what is no more and what never was: the artworks, films, screenplays, negatives, poems, symphonies, buildings, letters, concepts, and lives that cannot be seen, heard, read, inhabited, or known about. It is a literary vanitas of sorts, but one that confers an almost mythical quality on the enigmatic creations it recounts—rather than reminding us of the death that inhabits everything humans create.
Lefebvre’s list includes Marcel Duchamp’s (accdidentally destroyed) film of Man Ray shaving off the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven’s pubic hair; the page written by Balzac on his deathbed (lost); Spinoza's Treatise on the Rainbow (thrown into a fire); the final seven meters of Kerouac’s original typescript for On the Road (eaten by a dog); the chalk drawings of Francis Picabia (erased before an audience); and the one moment in André Malraux's life in which he exclaimed “I believe, for a minute, I was thinking nothing.” The Missing Pieces offers a treasure trove of cultural and artistic detail and will entertain even those readers not enamored of the void.