11.9.11

FAILURE: Experiment and Process

I am pleased to say that in the middle of finding a job and a place to live, I was able to finish the final section of this lovely little MIT Press collection of essays. GOOD NEWS, to have a job and a place to live! Will and I have been running around the city meeting and greeting and that has been wonderful. Not so wonderful was sending him on his way, he’ll be in London next week. The Slade is calling him and New York is calling me.


Sol Lewitt, Model for Brick Structure, 2003,painted form on board

Robert Smithson
Conversation with Dennis Wheeler//1969-70

Smithson is full of well meaning knowledge. The conversation begins with Smithson.
“My attitude towards conceptual art is that essentially that term was first used by Sol Lewitt in a personal way and then it established a certain kind of context, and out of it seems to have developed this whole neo-idealism, kind of an escape from physicality...I’m concerned with the physical properties of both language and material, and I don’t think that they are discrete. They are both physical entities, but they have different properties, and within these properties you have these mental experiences, and it’s not simply empirical facts.” Smithson talks about language and material in a way that makes them equal. I understand how this could have been controversial, giving conceptual ideas the same weight as materiality was a big claim at the time. However, I like to think about this equality in a very literal way. That the material is dependent on the concept, concept dependent on materiality, and there should be a harmonious or at least intentional relationship between the two.


Will Bradley
The Village//1997

I found this to be an excellent short tale of how a concentrated celebration of failure lead to the success of an artist. In the end his mentors see his rise to fame as uncompromising. Good to stay humble I think.“One by one they visited his studio, never letting slip that they were anything but honest, country folk. Subtly, over time, criticising his successes, encouraging his mistakes, applauding his failures, they destroyed the young man’s work.”


Yoshua Okon, Chocorrol, 1997

Eduardo Abaroa, Sam Durant, Gabriela Jauregui, Yoshua Okon, William Pope L.
Thoughts on Failure, Idealism and Art//2008

Each of these people made excellent points on the problems behind believing in the notion of progress of humanity. Yoshua Okon stated, “I think that we can let go of the modern myth of progress - the grandiose meta-narrative of humanity gradually marching towards a better world; ‘the progress of mankind’ - and maintain a relationship to failure, just as long as we don’t understand failure in the same absolute terms. In other words, we can maintain a relationship to failure just as long as ‘failure’ loses its negative connotations and is viewed as an integral (and inevitable) part of the process of being alive.” When you take big risks, you have a greater chance of failing miserably. Failure shouldn’t be so miserable.


Liam Gillick, Rescinded production, 2008

Liam Gillick
Transcript from Three Perspectives and a Short Scenario//2008

The final essay of this book didn’t fail to please. I like to imagine reading this in a very loud voice. “AS THE SNOW STARTED TO FALL. THREE PEOPLE WERE SEEN. THEY WALKED ONE BEHIND THE OTHER. IT HAS BEEN COLDER. TODAY THERE WAS THE SENSE THAT A THAW WAS COMING, IN THE DISTANCE WAS A LARGE BUILDING. LIGHT COULD BE SEEN FROM GAPS IN THE STRUCTURE. YOU COULDN’T DESCRIBE THE GAPS AS WINDOWS.” And so on until the end.

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