Art and its Reason(s):
Retooling the Horizons of Practice
Instructor: Diann Bauer Guests: Amanda Beech, Suhail Malik, Joshua Johnson/Keith Tilford, Glass Bead (Fabien Giraud, Jeremy Lecomte, Vincent Normand, Ida Soulard, Inigo Wilkins) Credit: 1 Module: 1 Date & Time: Mondays: May 25th, 18th, 25 – June 22 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM EST; 17:30 - 20:00 GMT+1

“If art already embodies the potential of a non-standard existence, would this not mean that we would be stuck in a semantic game of interpretational formalism: reinterpreting the artwork in novel terms but without altering the principles of its production? On the other hand, what possibility remains for any investment in the category ‘Art’, and what is produced under its name?” – Amanda Beech

“Far from having merely been the Other of Reason, art played a decisive role in the Modern, rationalist and universalist distribution of possibilities, and this is why it can also participate in their transformation […] Glass Bead contends that it is only from the complex weavings that supported the constitution of these Modern borders that it is possible to navigate a thoroughly transmodern passage.” – Glass Bead

“The condition and horizon of an art [other than contemporary art] is not that it be felt, appreciated in vague ways, or made-sense-of as contemporary art is, affirming in each case the viewer in her or his sensitivities and capacity for judgment… It is [rather] an art of rational knowledge. ‘Knowledge’ here means that if there is an experience to be had, it can not only be formulated with a coherent logic and reasoned (even if its results are historically irrational) but also that it is subject to the predictive and generative exercise of reason qua new organizations of matter, thought, and experience.” – Suhail Malik

This seminar will introduce a diagnosis of contemporary art (CA) that challenges several dominant and ideal narratives endemic to the field, addressing the chasm between what many want CA to do, what many say CA does, and how CA actually operates. This overview grasps CA systemically, including the entire spectrum of production, dissemination, economy, discourses and reception, rather than focusing solely on individual practices. What do we want, or expect from art today in the face of global complexity? How can art be defined outside of a localized and subject-centred paradigm? How can CA move from planes of critical description towards horizons of how it ought to be; and why is this path worth forging for a distinctly 21st century mode of transit? How does art understand itself politically in relation to the scientific and social real, stereoscopically? Can one avow a definition of art within the folds of a leftist project more generally as an endeavor of ethical inhumanism? What sets of particular affordances can this new definition of art map out that other fields cannot? This seminar proposes a first step in a long-term, massively collaborative project for art’s redefinition and reorientation through readings, guest respondents and the experimental format of the digital studio seminar.

The aim of the seminar is to work through the double entendre of the course title, both speculating on the reasoning for a continued existence of the category we name as ‘art’, as well as how this ‘art’ can participate within the distribution of reason itself.

The seminar will be composed of five 2.5 hour sessions. For the first four sessions, the first hour and ½ of class will be structured as a reading group introduced by seminar leaders, followed by an invited guest. The final hour is dedicated to group discussion where two to three students per week will be required to prepare questions/commentary referencing the readings and the work of invited guests (a sign up will be posted in advance of the class). This last hour of class will be devoted to the elaboration and discussion of these questions.

There is a strong practice component to this course on which a large portion of the final assessment will be based. Students will be required to produce a ‘screen-friendly’ work; it will be up to practitioners to determine how they negotiate the constraints of the medium – be it textual, moving-image, photography, drawing, diagrammatic, model of distribution etc. The final 2.5 hour session will be left open for a group seminar to review students work. This will be available to fully enrolled students, there is the possibility that auditing students may also show work time/space permitting.

Session Preparation: Students are expected to do the required readings assigned for each week and to actively participate in the discussion part of each class. Each week 2-3 students will prepare questions based on the weeks readings and lead the initiate an hour of discussion. A sign-up page prior to the first session will be posted. Topics/sessions will be available on a first come first serve basis with an upper limit put on each week. Students are also expected to produce and art work or project that can be digitally disseminated for review on the final day of class. They are also expected to write a minimum 300-500 words on the class room discussion board.

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