Ornament & Beauty, Galleria Titanik 2016

Galleria Titanik, Turku, 2016

Osallistuin toukokuussa ryhmänäyttelyyn, jonka johdantona seuraava teksti. Teoksieni taustaa avataan toisaalla sivuillani, otsikolla Ornament & Beauty. Tässä esittely: ”Miten taiteilijat kokevat kauneuden tänään? Onko sana täysin kadonnut taiteellisesta keskustelusta? Onko ornamentille vielä tilaa? Miltä näyttää ornamentti nykyään? Näyttelyssä Ornament & Beauty taiteilijaryhmä kokoontuu taideteostensa ja niihin liittyvien tekstien avulla kommentoimaan tällaisia kysymyksiä.

Heini Aho, Jan-Erik Andersson, Niran Baibulat, Kimmo Sarje, Denise Ziegler sekä Jan Kenneth Weckman ovat kaikki tunnettuja suomalaisia kuvataiteilijoita, joita yhdistää vahva kiinnostus teoriaan. Esillä olevat teokset, jotka käsittelevät kaikkea Matti Nykäsestä puu-aitaan ja QR-koodeista pöytään joka reagoi ääniin, osoittaa miten taide laajasti lähestyy sellaisia kysymyksiä kuin elämän konkretiaa, kulmissa lymyilevää pyhyyttä, muistia ja menneisyyttä, kauneutta ja ornamenttia.

Näyttelyn kuratoivat kuvataiteilijat ja kuvataiteen tohtorit Jan-Erik Andersson sekä Jan Kenneth Weckman, jotka yhdessä filosofi ja professori Bengt Kristensson Ugglan kanssa toimivat AmosLABissa, Åbo Akademin yhteyteen perustetussa taiteellisen tutkimuksen laboratoriossa. AmosLAB pyrkii tuomaan taideprojektit ja taiteellisen ajattelun akateemiseen ympäristöön (www.amoslab.fi).”

Näyttely liittyy symposiumiin: Art Approaching Science and Religion, jonka järjestävät AmosLAB yhdessä Donnerska stiftelsen ja Hjeltska stiftelsen 12.5. Sibelius-museossa, Turussa. Kumpikin tilaisuus on avoin yleisölle tavoitteenaan vaikuttaa ja voimistaa toisiaan. Symposiumista lisätietoja: amoslab.fi

Galleria Titanik www-sivu

Here´s a text explaining some thoughts behind my QR code works that amounts to my version of abstract art, whether functional or not. Main thing, they refrain from the obvious reason in most contemporary art, to tell an important story och deal with crucial issues. But in case, you would like to have these beautiful codes tell something important, you better open them with you qr-code reader. If you iPhone fails you, it’s only art.

QR-code project for

Ornament and Beauty

I will take a QR-code for a model to make work, a series of drawings that by degree gets dysfunctional as to their capacity to send the reader to the next level, the messages tied to the code. The drawing as message turns into a drawing without a message, but conveying meaning none the less.

Message and meaning never meet. They live simultaneously separate lives and combine to each other by decree nullified only by force, however subtle. The QR drawings move from endless and arbitrary semiosis to a fruitless symbolical effort to stop the movement, which is again a certain meaning in art, and certainly a set of habits of each cultural environment. In the context of art, all the drawings are equal. No problem.

In my work process there is a nexus of decisions that looks somewhat like this: From a vast model of a colour space (RGB) I choose to make a number of QR-code diagrams, which react against a satisfying difference of dark-light, whatever the nuances or chroma. Binary contrast of light is enough. The QR-code refers to texts, but if the binary contrast is less than needed, no reading can be done. The QR-code is useless.

The useless QR-code is ”pure form”, only art. But the ones that work, then, are design. This range of dysfunction versus functional instrumentalism covers the area from art to design. In contemporary art, however, we do accept that communicative and functional messaging is the order of the day, at least, since the Brillo Box days, following Arthur Danto, art meets its end and becomes a ”posthistorical” affair.

For the discussion of what happened to beauty as essence of art, Arthur Danto deals with the issue in a number of his later texts, following Dave Hickey and the Whitney Bienniale in 1993, discussed in the Abuse of Art ( 2003) as well as later comments to other writers. The result, that seems to be able to encompass contemporary art both as ”art” and ”design”, must accept a pluralism, such as what we might consider a branch of when discussing artist research or activism, or applied service design with an ”art” identity ( say for example in community art, relational aesthetics and so on). Furthermore, following Danto, we must accept that beauty does not, in the aftermath of the ”Intractable Avantgarde” and Dadaism, belong to the essence of art, but that it can join for what it is worth in symbolic expressions and manifestations in the field of contemporary art simply because we necessarily need beauty, art does not.

Here, I will only point to the evidently binary character of the world of form and content that keeps artefacts and interpretations running alongside each other, not always as symptoms, not always as manifested signs we all are able to share. My examples of modern form in the shape of QR-codes, as effective as building structures of Bauhaus can be in their square-like format, are aligned with – or dysfunctional in relation to – a set of texts. Picking among texts and citations, as a hommage to our current projects, you might find familiar thoughts or such ones that might interest you. In any case – if the QR-reader on your smart phone fails you – it is only art.

QR-codes are graphical interfaces for retrieval of data and information, evolved out of bar codes for commercial use. Wikipedia: QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional barcode) first designed for the assembly line factory purposes, like the automotive industry in Japan. QR-code enable fast recognition of data (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code).

QR-codes offer a simple setup for three things, 1) a graphical two-dimensional artefact 2) embodying a possibility for confirmation of data 3) pertaining to accepting particular conditions (ticket entrance to a venue, for example) and further information (of museum works, for example).

For my purposes, the following presentation will suffice. This basic graphic form establishing a relation between information, for example text and images on-line, illustrates symbolic form referring to ”its content”. Text as graphical and symbolic form is the most pervasive style of non-figurative ”art”. QR-code introduces, seemingly, an innovation to the written phonemic language carrying a culturally conditioned set of signs combining a concept and a sound/graphic pattern. The verbal economic flagging system combines approximately 28 letters in various order to conform with spoken language works over a field of different sign systems. Each language makes its own conventions of sound and concept. The QR-code binary system works for a scanner, two-dimensionally, as in principle writing as well, but designed for recognition of light contrasts to a certain degree in a binary way executed by a digital QR-reader program.

The difference between a OCR (optical character recognition) scanning and QR-code program is very little. So little as to produce reactions as the following at the site User Experience Stack Exchange (retrieved 4.3.2016) at:

”Therefore, any possible use of a QR code could be implemented more nicely, and with less ugliness, by simply placing the alphanumeric text of a URL or any other identifier, and placing a nice easily-recognized standardized logo next to it which basically means ”scan me!” Whereas, using the square QR code is butt-ugly, and more importantly, requires the person posting the code to go to some app to generate the code. Isn’t it more flexible and future-oriented to simply embrace that very very strong OCR abilities are among us and QR codes will be left in the dust?”

The comment that QR-code is ”butt-ugly” caught my eye. As well as the older OCR use as a ”more nice” way of connecting a graphic form, say a letter, or any character that is readable by a symbolic key to a content side, icon, index or symbol. Here I have to enlarge the example of what can be conveyed and there are to my mind two clear options. One is, again, a text referring to other texts, infinite semiosis eventually with the capacity to advance some action, event or understanding some referential circumstance, hopefully something that is familiar to the reader. The second option would be something that does not lead anywhere, for example, something as ”itself”, like an artwork.

Now, here, obviously, a heavy duty rhetoric commences to make itself visible. How would anything be presentable as ”itself”, nothing else as it is in itself? This reminds us of an Peircean icon in a pure state, impossible to arrive at actually. I choose to give an artwork the status of such an end-station of meaning, albeit embedded in the meaning of ”as art”. This is supposedly a well-known option of non-figurative art that is available, but not with any kind of form. For some reason geometrical and simple form prevail, rectangles, cubes and squares, stripes and circles: Malevitsch (RU), Mondrian (NL), Ad Reinhardt (USA), a Frank Stella (USA), a Jules Olitski (USA), or Carolus Enckell (FI) with many others have been keen to point out such a state, in us or in ”them”, those artworks that is. The shift over to the ineffable is a limit that can be shown as an artwork.

The no-nothing and not anything coincide, or not. As philosopher, theologician and artist Mark C. Taylor puts it: Though thought cannot think without thinking not, the Western ontotheological tradition has, in effect, been in an extended effort not to think not”. The option not to think not could be said to embrace the realization of endless semiosis. This is the realism of language revealed by pragmatism of Peirce and Derridean deconstruction regardless different aims.

The option to think not, would start at the effort to think something ”in itself”, that mysterious object that Kant wanted to leave in peace marking the limit of his transcendental solipsism. Which, from a pragmatist point of view, seems useless and insane, an end-station of thought comparable with the ontological results of scepticism – which should make it safe to enter the street trough an window on the eight floor.

All these problems are overcome, for a moment, or perhaps for good if we care to discard our symbolic languages for the benefit of naming them artworks, not knowledge. This will be my option, at the seam between art and design.