Saturday, August 8, 2009


This post is written by JD Jarvis, one of the members of the digital-fine art yahoo group that I belong to.... I too have been very influenced by these artists in my creative techniques and thought I would share this with you. Thanks JD for letting me re-post it!
With the recent passing of Merce Cunningham and (last year) Robert Rauschenberg and much earlier the death of John Cage, a group of artists who began shaping contemporary art about the time I was born has died out. Of course, I knew little of these artists until I had to come to grasps [sic] academically with the work I had been doing in pursuit of an MFA in Mixed Media and Video. By then, chance operations, electronic music and art, the nature of performance, multi-layered visual experience all took on an enhanced degree of importance.
Ultimately their work brought into question the role and place of "meaning" in a work of art; more specifically the role of the observer in creating art's meaning. This is a rehash, perhaps, or (more kindly) an extension of earlier Dadist theorizing. But removing meaning from the work did not remove thinking from the process, in fact, their work often required more of it. Their work was often seen as uncomfortable, challenging, and provocative and offered lessons that I have continued to exploit and explore in my own work. Which is why I write about art so much. Nothing helps straighten out your own thoughts more than writing them out and reading them as if they are someone else's.
As for meaning, I have come to the conclusion that if the work I am creating has no meaning for me then I cannot expect it to mean anything to a viewer. At the same time, I have no need or expectations that the meaning a work holds for me will be the same meaning that is created in the mind of that viewer. I do not believe art is communication, but rather a presentation of experience. As in life the experience is yours from which you create your own meaning.
Personally, I do not think that digital media's primary role will prove to be to recreate or simulate that which has been done before. At the same time, I do not expect that a single digital style will prevail, as did all the previous "isms" within art history. The digital creation of art is something much deeper. What that is I cannot see or say. I feel as though it is almost evolutionary in scope. What I do carry with me from these three artists is the realization that the thoughtful, uncomfortable, challenging art we make today describes a society that lies perhaps two generations ahead of us.
JD Jarvis
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