Where is the meaning of an artwork? Does it come from the object that we view? From the artist’s intention? From the viewer’s interpretation? Or from the culture and institutions which enshrine it? The late 20th century saw an explosion of texts such as Arthur Danto’s “The End of Art” that recognized a crisis in the meaning of art that has not been resolved today. As the use of media expanded and the monopoly of a single Western metanarrative was increasingly challenged, art could no longer be defined according to historic notions of aesthetic beauty. The conceptualist trajectory inaugurated by Duchamp complicated the remit of art, suggesting its meaning came not just from how it looked, but also a content that was extraneous to its presentation. More recently, technology and science have transformed the processes by which art is developed and our understanding of the minds that perceive it. Taking recent essays by writer and artist Claire Lehmann and philosopher Peter Wolfendale, and new work by artist Pieter Schoolwerth as a point of departure, this report examines the multiple channels which inform the production and reception of art, and attempts to locate new ways of thinking through these processes.
This report encompasses recording and materials drawn from event at Miguel Abreu Gallery on July 26th, 2016 and moderated by Joshua Johnson. OfAC would like to thank Claire Lehmann, Pieter Schoolwerth, and Pete Wolfendale for their time and presentations, as well as Miguel Abreu Gallery, for the assistance in presenting and organizing this event.
Claire Lehmann is an artist and writer based in Brooklyn. Formerly an editor at Cabinet, she has contributed to publications including Artforum, Parkett, and Triple Canopy, and to catalogues for the Museum of Modern Art and the New Museum of Contemporary Art. She co-curated Ileana Sonnabend: Ambassador for the New at the Museum of Modern Art, and is coeditor and coauthor of a monograph on artist's books, forthcoming from Phaidon.
Pieter Schoolwerth is a painter and filmmaker who lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. His work explores the ways in which the ever-changing forces of abstraction in the world effect the task of representing the human body. He is interested in depicting the figure grounded in the ubiquitous glowing screens of digital technology, and how this mediated reality affects our sense of space, time, and attention span. Schoolwerth has been included in group exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Centre Pompidou, Paris, The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. From 2003-2013 Schoolwerth ran Wierd Records and the Wierd Party on the LES of NYC, releasing music by 46 bands and producing over 500 live music, DJ, and performance art events internationally. In 2016 he will present solo exhibitions at Capitain Petzel in Berlin, and Miguel Abreu Gallery in New York.
Peter Wolfendale is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Johannesburg. His work develops the consequences of philosophical rationalism for the philosophy of mind, aesthetics, and metaphysics. He is the author of Object-Oriented Philosophy: The Noumenon’s New Clothes (Urbanomic 2014). His current project pursues the possibility of computational Kantianism, interpreting Kant’s transcendental psychology through developments in artificial intelligence research on the one hand, and the program of artificial general intelligence through Kant’s transcendental philosophy on the other.
Joshua Johnson is a New York based artist and writer. He works across a diverse range of media including sculpture, video, online-media, installation, and research based practices. His art has been shown at Outlet Gallery, Parallel Arts Space, Louis B. James (all NY), amongst others. He has contributed writing to The Third Rail and has presented papers at Parsons School for Design and the Montreal Biennale (2014). In 2015, he founded the ongoing research and resource hub Uberty (http://uberty.org). In 2013, he organized and edited Dark Trajectories: Politics of the Outside ([NAME] Publications), a compilation of recent philosophy. He is engaged in several collaborative projects, including Office for Applied Complexity, and was a 2016 Artist’s Alliance resident artist.