Monday, March 23, 2009

Provocation 2

I’d like to begin with saying congratulations to Kim on her new JackRabbit Homestead site. I look forward to the book.

Susan, you have given us a complicated provocation. I hope this response doesn’t completely miss your point. I see the current hybridity in the arts as being the result of several factors. One is the very fact of how the arts are situated in the larger culture. We are a marginalized practice. This means that the support levels for our practice fall far below those for more mainstream interests likes sports and science. As a result, we have all had to juggle our art practice with some other endeavor to pay the bills and support our art habit at one point or another in our careers. We have been forced to hybridize. I’m not complaining, I think this fact has us well positioned for a new dynamic sweeping the culture. For me personally this meant building houses in Santa Fe for eight years after school. During that period, my sculpture was all native material based (adobe, juniper and aspen), so, building houses out of adobe with viga and latilla ceilings was just a different context for the same practice. It directly lead to adding shelter to the conceptual focus of my work.

Over the past century (or centuries) our culture has been on a course of ever increasing specialization. Scientific disciplines have pursued their own interests, and developed their own languages with which to communicate. This was equally true of the visual arts under modernism. Painting was involved with the formal issues particular to painting, sculpture pursued a separate, if related set of inquiries.

There seems to be a growing awareness throughout western culture that this specialization has become a dead end and that we need to cross reference between disciplines to reach larger understandings. The result is a hybridization movement in the arts and sciences. Biologists are talking to physicists and mathematicians. Artists are not only combining sculpture, painting and photography, they are reaching out to the sciences (hard and social) to effect a reintegration of these currently distinct pursuits and thereby the cultural psyche. Those of us in the field of Environmental or Eco Art are participants in this hybridization.

I’d suggest that the fact that artists in our culture have been forced to operate in the zone of professional hybrids has provided us with the skills necessary to function in this new paradigm. We’re used to juggling realities.

By the way, we will be attempting the feature these hybrid forms in our LAND/ART project this summer and fall in New Mexico.( .

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