Category Archives: art

Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College 1933–1957

By Helen Molesworth (2015)

In 1933, John Rice founded Black Mountain College in North Carolina as an experiment in making artistic experience central to learning. Though it operated for only 24 years, this pioneering school played a significant role in fostering avant-garde art, music, dance, and poetry, and an astonishing number of important artists taught or studied there. Among the instructors were Josef and Anni Albers, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, Karen Karnes, M. C. Richards, and Willem de Kooning, and students included Ruth Asawa, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cy Twombly. Leap Before You Look is a singular exploration of this legendary school and of the work of the artists who spent time there. Scholars from a variety of fields contribute original essays about diverse aspects of the College—spanning everything from its farm program to the influence of Bauhaus principles—and about the people and ideas that gave it such a lasting impact. In addition, catalogue entries highlight selected works, including writings, musical compositions, visual arts, and crafts. The book’s fresh approach and rich illustration program convey the atmosphere of creativity and experimentation that was unique to Black Mountain College, and that served as an inspiration to so many

Posted in art, education, history

Space Is the Place: The Lives And Times Of Sun Ra

By John F. Szwed (1998)
Sun Ra, a.k.a. Herman Poole “Sonny” Blount (1914–1993), has been hailed as “one of the great big-band leaders, pianists, and surrealists of jazz” (New York Times) and as “the missing link between Duke Ellington and Public Enemy” (Rolling Stone). Composer, keyboardist, bandleader, philosopher, poet, and self-proclaimed extraterrestrial from Saturn, Sun Ra led his “Intergalactic Arkestra” of thirty-plus musicians in a career that ranged from boogie-woogie and swing to be-bop, free jazz, fusion, and New Age music. This definitive biography reveals the life, philosophy, and musical growth of one of the twentieth century’s greatest avant-garde musicians.

Posted in art, biography, jazz, music, myth, science

Mass Effect: Art and the Internet in the Twenty-First Century

Edited by Lauren Cornell and Ed Halter (2015)
Since the turn of the millennium, the Internet has evolved from what was merely a new medium to a true mass medium – with a deeper and wider cultural reach, greater opportunities for distribution and collaboration, and more complex corporate and political realities. Mapping a loosely chronological series of formative arguments, developments, and happenings, Mass Effect provides an essential guide to understanding the dynamic and ongoing relationship between art and new technologies.

Posted in art, culture, design, exhibition, history, language, media, technology, theory

Destruction Was My Beatrice: Dada and the Unmaking of the Twentieth Century

By Jed Rasula (2015)
In Destruction Was My Beatrice, modernist scholar Jed Rasula presents the first narrative history of Dada, showing how this little-understood artistic phenomenon laid the foundation for culture as we know it today. Although the venue where Dada was born closed after only four months and its acolytes scattered, the idea of Dada quickly spread to New York, where it influenced artists like Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray; to Berlin, where it inspired painters George Grosz and Hannah Höch; and to Paris, where it dethroned previous avant-garde movements like Fauvism and Cubism while inspiring early Surrealists like André Breton, Louis Aragon, and Paul Éluard. The long tail of Dadaism, Rasula shows, can be traced even further, to artists as diverse as William S. Burroughs, Robert Rauschenberg, Marshall McLuhan, the Beatles, Monty Python, David Byrne, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, all of whom—along with untold others—owe a debt to the bizarre wartime escapades of the Dada vanguard.A globe-spanning narrative that resurrects some of the 20th century’s most influential artistic figures, Destruction Was My Beatrice describes how Dada burst upon the world in the midst of total war—and how the effects of this explosion are still reverberating today.

Posted in art, biography, counterculture, culture, history

Chronophobia: On Time in the Art of the 1960s

By Pamela Lee (2004)
Despite its pervasiveness, the subject of time and 1960s art has gone largely unexamined in historical accounts of the period. Chronophobia is the first critical attempt to define this obsession and analyze it in relation to art and technology.Lee discusses the chronophobia of art relative to the emergence of the Information Age in postwar culture. The accompanying rapid technological transformations, including the advent of computers and automation processes, produced for many an acute sense of historical unknowing; the seemingly accelerated pace of life began to outstrip any attempts to make sense of the present. Lee sees the attitude of 1960s art to time as a historical prelude to our current fixation on time and speed within digital culture.

Posted in art, culture, history, media, philosophy, technology, theory

Hiking the Horizontal: Field Notes from a Choreographer

By Liz Lerman (2011)
In this wide-ranging collection of essays and articles, Liz Lerman reflects on her life-long exploration of dance as a vehicle for human insight and understanding of the world around us. Lerman has been described by the Washington Post as “the source of an epochal revolution in the scope and purposes of dance art.” Here, she combines broad outlooks on culture and society with practical applications and accessible stories. Her expansive scope encompasses the craft, structure, and inspiration that bring theatrical works to life as well as the applications of art in fields as diverse as faith, aging, particle physics, and human rights law. Offering readers a gentle manifesto describing methods that bring a horizontal focus to bear on a hierarchical world, this is the perfect book for anyone curious about the possible role for art in politics, science, community, motherhood, and the media.

Posted in art, autobiography, education

Art Critiques: A Guide

By James Elkins (2011)
This is a guidebook for art students at the college level (BA, BFA, MFA, PhD). “Elkins introduces refreshing commonsense in the tired and tiresome activity of the critique of art works by students. A dissection geared to avoid or delay a future autopsy of the field, the book uses case studies that teach as much about ‘how to’ as they do about ‘how not to.’ A nice and often funny exercise in debunking, Art Critiques: A Guide is also a fascinating analysis of the successes and failures in communication among people.” -Luis Camnitzer

Posted in art, education

Broken Screen

Broken Screen is comprised of informal conversations between artist Doug Aitken and a roster of 26 carefully chosen artists, filmmakers, designers, and architects. Part guidebook and part manifesto, the book takes a fresh look at what it’s like to create work in a world that has become increasingly fragmentary. Through casual and direct discussions Broken Screen offers a detailed navigation through the ideas behind the important yet under-documented visual language of nonlinear narratives, split screens, and fragmentary visual planes that define the most progressive moving images today.

Posted in art, culture, interview, media, technology, theory

Expanded Cinema

By Gene Youngblood (1970)
Author Gene Youngblood argues that a new, expanded cinema is required for a new consciousness. He describes various types of filmmaking utilising new technology, including film special effects, computer art, video art, multi-media environments and holography. Forward by R. Buckminster Fuller. Also available for download at http://www.vasulka.org/Kitchen/PDF_ExpandedCinema/ExpandedCinema.html

Posted in art, consciousness, culture, media, technology, theory

Critical Response Process


By Liz Lerman and John Borstel (2003)
Liz Lerman’s Critical Response Process is a multi-step, group system for giving and receiving useful feedback on creative processes and artistic works-in-progress. This book offers a detailed introduction to the Process, beginning with its three roles and four core steps.

Posted in art, education, feedback, theory