English

Artist, Researcher, Artist-Researcher, Researcher-Artist, Researcher, Artist

Célio Paillard

 To Cite this Article

APA : Paillard, C. (2014). Artist, Researcher, Artist-Researcher, Researcher-Artist, Researcher, Artist. p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e , 1 (1). http://www.p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e.org/?p=355

Chicago : Paillard, Célio. “Artist, Researcher, Artist-Researcher, Researcher-Artist, Researcher, Artist.” p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e 1, no. 1 (Fall 2014). http://www.p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e.org/?p=355

MLA : Paillard, Célio. “Artist, Researcher, Artist-Researcher, Researcher-Artist, Researcher, Artist.” p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e 1.1 (2014). http://www.p-e-r-f-o-r-m-a-n-c-e.org/?p=355


ABSTRACT

Artist, researcher: this will be an examination of these two words, of their signification (i.e. how they work as signs), their effects on the people they qualify (and those they disqualify), and consequently, how they determine what is legitimate practice. But can we use them to find other ways to talk about practice, or even to invent new practices?

Keywords

Artist, researcher, strategy, legitimacy, acknowledgment, field, creative process, research methods, experiment


Introduction

I am an artist and a researcher, rather than an artist-researcher; I do other things too, and when asked what I “do for a living,” I list these things[i]. My interlocutor seems equally incredulous whether I describe myself as an artist or a researcher. What do you mean by that? What does that entail? Are these some heroic tasks requiring superior intelligence to mark out a path towards the society of the future, or some pretentious charade intended to legitimise the idleness, egocentricity and conceit of those who engage in these pointless occupations?   It would be quite a task to respond to all these conjectures, let alone explain what my visions are, implausible as they are. But incomprehension often leads to indifference or even trivialisation. But apart from that, what do you do?

I find it equally difficult to assert myself as either an artist or a researcher. What gives me the right to do it, why do I indulge myself in it? (These are important issues for me, but many people are not aware of this, either because the answer – whatever that may be – seems obvious, or because it holds no interest for them.)

I did ​​”art studies,” at university (Paris I, Saint-Charles campus); I have a degree and even wrote a thesis[ii]; I had the appropriate training (in fine art). I also take part in exhibitions[iii], I’ve had residencies[iv], I give workshops[v], I speak at conferences[vi] and I publish articles[vii]. By putting my work into the public arena I have established legitimacy amongst my peers; indeed, it is precisely because I put my work out there – mostly in collaboration with my peers (but sometimes alone[viii], in which case I dispense with their opinion), that I can consider them as peers.

Although this recognition that I have in the field, this trust placed in me, is reflected in the way I work, making it more confident and improving the quality of it, it is not always necessary for me; in these cases, I may “feel” myself to be an “artist” or a “researcher” or not, and either claim the status for myself or reject it – I avoid the issue and immerse myself in the crowd, involve myself in “teamwork” to dilute my own responsibility. What difference does it make?

“No one” “knows” me or “knows” my work anyway – I’m part of the great unknown mass of researchers or artists.

ARTIST, RESEARCHER

“Artist” and “researcher” are not just words. They also serve as labels, providing information on the activities of those they’re attached to (and giving them permission to carry out these activities), and more especially, endowing them with a particular status. If I’m an artist or a researcher (and because I’m an artist or a researcher), not only can I do art or research, but I can do it naturally, almost unconsciously, as if the air around me is infused with the art or the research that I give off, or at least everything I do is considered (and judged) as such: the miracle of transfiguration (Danto 1981) that the Midas artist or researcher achieves, the curse of recognition that often demands that we’re at the top of our game. Those to whom these labels are attached (and who wear them like a badge of honour) consider themselves justified in doing art or research, and hence the products of their activities are generally considered as such.

Conversely, those who do not enjoy the status, in principle, of this labelling, often find it difficult to have what they do in the way of art or research recognised or even accepted as such. At best, it’s seen as a pastime or hobby, an amusing eccentricity or failed ambition, an incongruity, or even a disturbing and unhealthy obsession. Why do you do it? Who do you think you are? What nonsense! Why are you lying naked in the middle of the road covered in red meat? Stop trying to turn yourself into what you think it takes to be one [an artist or a researcher]: that’s all it is; nothing else…

It’s no exaggeration these days to say that artists and researchers are experts, quite capable of defining and progressing art or science through practice – even though art and science would appear to have a life and an evolution of their own, irrespective of those who practice it (we’re talking here about the history of art or science rather than the history of artists or scientists). In other words, art is done by artists and research by researchers, each dominating their own sphere of activity (their field, as Bourdieu would say) and deciding who can be part of it (through various forms of recognition) and how (with the appropriate training).

This undoubtedly inspires confidence in the practice and perhaps enables it to be advanced, by refining and improving it, but actually prevents access to it by those who are not in the field[ix]: it’s not just anybody who can do art or research, or rather, as far as what concerns us here, an artist (generic term) does art – not research, and a researcher (generic term) does research and not art.

(Otherwise, the logic of the thing would be undermined, since research cannot be part of art whilst art is a type of research at the same time, or we’d have to say that art is research or vice versa. But perhaps logic has nothing to do with it all.) You might say that the labels “artist” and “researcher” produce a brand effect which is not only distinctive, but also exclusive.

ARTIST-RESEARCHER, RESEARCHER-ARTIST

At a cross-disciplinary conference, a researcher in aesthetics[x] and information and communication sciences (working mainly in the field of new technologies) told me that the problem with those working under section 18 (visual arts, among others) is that they rely too heavily on concepts that they have a poor or inexpert understanding of, and that they lack “territory”. He found that they often give too much importance to their own practice and that the dual position of artist and researcher is rarely well regarded (in the field). To put it bluntly,  artists often lack scientific rigour, which is hardly surprising since they are not the ones who define it. (The “territory” referred to here is not “real” territory [interpret this word as you will] in which researchers carry out their investigations, but the ball park in which they practice, that the practice creates, that they come to know by dint of practicing in it, which is why it is always an advantage to be on “home” territory.)

At another cross-disciplinary conference, geared specifically towards the digital age, the gap between design and research was presented not as a distance to be preserved but as a gulf to be filled. The professor who organised the conference invited us not to approach our area of study from the outside, but to draw closer to it by enhancing our research with a poetic (creative) dimension.

At another conference (once again cross-disciplinary; this is what it’s all about now, and it’s important), one researcher in aesthetics took as his object of study his own creative approach, which he’d recently elevated from drawings on a napkin (or his mobile phone) to visual art works in their own right. (Exhibiting to academics is taking over from exhibiting to amateurs.)

What is it that makes artists want to do research, or researchers want to do art?

Are they trying to break down disciplinary boundaries that are deemed too demarcated to facilitate successful encounters (especially these “cross-disciplinary” conferences)? Are they trying to bring together the various practices that they head up and unite different focuses? Are they hoping to combine the symbolic qualities of the researcher – discipline, reliability and responsibility with the sensitivity, imagination and freedom of the artist? (Other qualities may also be attributed to either, according to taste.) Can you be both one and the other? Is it impossible to be both at the same time?

RESEARCHER

“(…) I suggest that research is not the prerogative of those who know, but of those who do not know. From the moment we turn our attention to something that we do not now, we are doing research.[xi]

In saying this, Robert Filliou is seeking to de-specify and decompartmentalise research and make it more generalised. Of course, he defends his own artistic approach to the practice of art, which extends to all types of investigations, (for example, the “principle of equivalence” for the “permanent installation”), but not just that (in his “territory of the magnificent republic” he asserts that “being a man or woman is genius but most people forget that (they are too busy to use their talents)”[xii]). This also justifies the “cobbled together” appearance and apparent casualness of his applications: if not knowing (something) is the basis for research, everyone is in a position to do it and everything can be the subject of research, even the most anecdotal or superficial issues, including the things we wonder about on a daily basis which would not seem to be in the same league as the things that scientists concern themselves with in universities or in the media.

This is what broadens the scope of exploration for the artist and legitimises the slightest item of interest; and yet Robert Filliou’s works are far from exuding the solemnity, reflection and objectivity that we demand of them, like a popular science book or a book by a sociologist or anthropologist, or even an economist or philosopher would; we’re not playing on a level field.

Don’t believe it. They may have their intimidating, prestigious hat on, but “artists” and “researchers” do not live their lives completely cut off from their environment and from each other. Artists are often interested in some of the studies that researchers carry out, and researchers are able to appreciate artistic works. It’s no surprise that they are mutually influencing, even though each of them tries to retain their hold as much as they can over their own field of activity. This is why they sometimes try to discourage vocational migrations by exaggerating their arguments[xiii]: artists know nothing about [for example] the theory of chaos, they distort it to meet the requirements of their work; scientists don’t realise [let’s say] that “beauty” ceased to be a concept that artists concern themselves with a long time ago, and in any case, they have no taste, no talent and no feeling, etc. I could point to or invent a number of different criticisms.

Since they started going their own way (which has not always been the case[xiv]), artists and researchers have developed conventional approaches and especially practices (habitus, to use Bourdieu’s term), which, being characteristic of their field, seem out of place in another. So the scientific theories that artists make use of, the investigations they carry out for their own ends;  all this does not appear to merit the term “research” (which is implied, though not always explicit). But it doesn’t prevent artists from engaging in their own research (as anyone can, like Filliou said), whether it’s to get closer to what they consider the essence of their work, art (as the avant-gardists of the modern movement aspire to), or because there are so many interesting subjects in the world and, according to Duchamp at least, apparently anything and everything[xv] can form the basis of an artwork (this is the contemporary movement).

So, of course, the “aesthetic” treatment that artists give it can be seen as a misrepresentation of “life” for the sake of “art”, and in this sense become the subject of criticism (You can’t understand it at all, they live in their own world… or: These issues are too trivial and anecdotal for art to concern itself with…), but isn’t this just their way of researching (a way that is very different in principle from the way researchers work…)?

ARTIST

It would, however, be difficult to define what this “way of researching” is, not just because there are several ways, but mostly because each way is closely linked with the artist’s approach or even with an individual piece of his/her work[xvi]. On the other hand, we can see what differentiates these ways from the ways of researchers in general. They are not “scientific” – or they just mimic certain types of scientific research (like Eric Duyckaerts, who pokes fun at scientific reasoning in his videos and performances). This research is rarely presented as universal truth[xvii]. If it is “logical”, it is only the logic of the artist, who does not claim that it applies to everyone. It is not objective, it is subjective: inseparable from the subject who thought of it – the artist – whom it also serves to enhance. Rather than a statement of fact, it often appears as stories or dramas (such as Olivier Marboeuf’s production, La Controverse Marboeuf[xviii] of 2013, in which he addresses issues of decolonisation by recounting his own story [without revealing what is history and what is fabrication]).

We’re not talking about works that have a message, or those through which the artist claims to defend a cause. Nor are we interested in how they produce such effects. Let us turn our attention to ways of researching that do not follow scientific rigour, that do not aim to resolve “big issues”, but that lead to less spectacular phenomena and which are therefore perhaps more current. Let’s take Duchamp’s taste for the “infra-thin”, let us amuse ourselves by pointing out the Elevage de poussière[xix] in Le Grand Verre or the graffiti etched on the walls of Paris (Brassai).

Instead of seeking the impossible, overseeing position of “l’observateur martien[xx]” (de Duve, 1989), instead of constructing theories that we hope are more “real” because they are more general and less likely to be perverted by the deceptive shades of individual cases by dint of being distanced from them (theorein: to observe, to contemplate…), let us consider the phenomena, let us approach the infinitely close[xxi] (Billeter), let us research through practice, by practice, with practice, without trying to “put things in perspective” or to theorise on practice, but by questioning and developing it through practice itself[xxii]; for example, through the links we sketch out or develop, such as the relationship between Roland Barthes and Louis Gustave Binger, his explorer grandfather who “offered” the Ivory Coast to the French, links identified by Vincent Meessen and woven in with those of his own research, all of which were presented in his “My last life” exhibition (2011) at the Khiasma art centre.

Research carried out by artists is often done for very different purposes than that carried out by researchers; this is hardly surprising since it has a specific role in each of these activities. Whilst researchers operate mainly by setting themselves questions, they also need to “get results” (all the more so, within our culture of profitability) by advancing their “knowledge”. Artists are free from such constraints: research for them is mainly a means of feeding their creativity, a pre-text that prompts the start-up of processes, an approach capable of creating work. Research for them is more a means than an end – a medium, perhaps (to quote Eric Duyckaerts again, whose artistic practice consists of creating absurd scientific arguments to justify bizarre theories, such as La main à 2 pouces [The hand with 2 thumbs] (1993)).

In this sense, their research leans more towards experimentation than knowledge. Or rather, the way they approach it is often accompanied by a more or less explicit criticism of what they already know. Whether this is through demonstrating their conventional and appropriate, “official” character, setting aside, intentionally or otherwise, many aspects of life (such as popular culture which has given rise to many “come backs” like Pop Art, but also to more genuine developments, starting with criteria specific to this culture like the American “black music” shows by Pierre Deruisseau, or “ethnic” recordings by Kink Gong, in terms of their practice, without concealing the background noise of the generator or alcohol-fuelled outbursts from other people). Whether it’s by demonstrating the power of their conviction through dramatisation of knowledge (Eric Duyckaerts filmed in front of a library, using scientific terms, speaking in a calm and assured voice, drawing diagrams on paper-board…). Or whether it’s by knowingly mixing fiction and truth in performances linked with popular science (La Controverse Marboeuf ).

Does this mean that research and creation are incompatible, that no approach to research can be both scientific and artistic, that you have to subscribe to one or other of the camps but not both at the same time, that you have to choose between them?

RESEARCHER-ARTIST

The symposium was organised by ISEA 2000, the staging of the bi-millenial digital arts festival that travels from city to city to celebrate the bright future that new technology was going to usher in – without being too ostentatious: an opportunity for those involved in “digital art” (artists, researchers, engineers, events organisers etc.) to meet, to present their work, to reflect together on the possibilities that ITC can open up and to promote the use of ICT to a wider audience and recruit new followers.

It was on 9 December, during the second morning session. We were in a lecture theatre at the Sorbonne. Louis Bec had just stepped up onto the platform and settled himself behind the table, then he began his presentation.

There is a lake in Ethiopia, in which there live some fish of a very ancient species: Gnathonemus Petersii, the oldest living species in existence, as far as we know, going back to very early prehistoric times when the Earth was still covered by ocean. Naturally, these fish have been the subject of a great deal of research, which have produced some very enlightening discoveries.

Although in many respects, these animals must be placed at the bottom of the evolutionary ladder, they have one astonishing attribute: they have a kind of tentacle that comes out from between their eyes (they resemble, in fact, those monstrous creatures that inhabit the depths of the oceans) that gives out electrical impulses at a very low voltage, which travel easily through the lake waters which are rich in minerals.

For a long time scientists assumed that the purpose of this was for the fish to communicate with each other and had carried out numerous experiments to test this theory (for example by placing electrical transmitters in the midst of them to send out waves, but it didn’t bother them for long), but they were not able to reach any convincing results and proof was only provided, in fact, through this incredible story.

It all begins when German ichthyologist Von Arcimboldo, fascinated by these fish, was commissioned by Hamburg zoo to take a couple of fish out of the lake and transfer them to one of their aquaria. The scientist is hesitant; he doesn’t like zoos, and the fish are delicate – so much so that no one has yet managed to remove them from their environment. But the director of the zoo, heaven only knows why, seems determined to attempt the experiment at all costs, and he brings some fairly weighty arguments to bear. Not only does he entice Von Arcimboldo with a research scholarship, he promises him complete freedom to perform any experiments he wishes on the fish, for which he will be entirely responsible, in exchange for a substantial regular remuneration. He accepts.

He takes his time to prepare for the transfer, has several 10m3 glass tanks built, equipped with lots of waterproof sensors, self-powered and connected via the internet, which he places in various parts of the lake, in different environments that the fish inhabit. He leaves them there for several months so that they can integrate seamlessly and appear welcoming to the prehistoric fish (since these are the places they frequent and they are creatures of habit); he even landscapes them, encouraging algae to grow inside them, which the Gnathonemus Petersii are very partial to.

They are wary at first, but they eventually go inside and sometimes even go there to hide. And when two of them seem to have taken up residence, the German scientist waits a while, then closes the box, leaves the fish alone for a while to acclimatise to the enclosed space, and when it seems as if it’s all going well, sends them on a special flight to Hamburg zoo.

At first all goes well, Von Arcimboldo is delighted: the fish have survived. But fairly soon he realises they’re a little under the weather. The sensors inside the tank are indicating an exponential increase in the electrical emissions and the scientist doesn’t know why. But he has to leave for a conference in New York (where he’s going to speak on this very subject, as it happens), and doesn’t have time to deal with it. But he worries about it; he cuts short his stay, takes the first flight home after his speech and jumps in a taxi to take him to the zoo. Unfortunately his fears are confirmed: in the tank, the lifeless body of one of the fish is floating on the surface.

Imagine what a state of dread the scientist is now in: he’s just lost one of his beloved fish and he’s afraid of losing the other one too, afraid of how his experiment is going to pan out, afraid for the director of the zoo too, whose Russian friends he has no particular liking for, nor the bodyguards who accompany him everywhere…in short, he’s in a bit of a panic. So he does what he can to keep the other fish alive. I’ll spare you the details of his somewhat desperate attempts: some of them were truly ludicrous and he soon realises they are all bound to fail. The fish continues to send out more and more electrical impulses and Von Arcimboldo understands that its hours are numbered…

That’s when he gets the idea, and curses himself for not having thought of it sooner. Like any creature in a zoo, the fish gets depressed; it’s tank is fitted out like a home, so it doesn’t feel it’s been taken out of its environment, but it’s lonely. Even more so now that it’s mate is dead. The fish has been used to communicating with its kind, and it can no longer do that; it’s sending out impulses everywhere but no one is responding. It’s crying out in the wilderness!

What it needs is to be put in contact with others. But it can’t be sent back, it’s too weak; the journey would kill it. So Von Arcimboldo calls his colleagues in Ethiopia, the ones who helped him take the two Gnathonemus Petersii specimens, with whom he is still in contact since he left them the other tanks that he’d had built, giving them the opportunity to carry out their own research. He asks them to install a transmitter in the tank that the fish most often frequent, and puts one in his own tank at the same time. Then he connects them via the internet. The experiment begins.

At first, nothing happens. Von Arcimboldo’s fish continues to send impulses in all directions. And then the transmitter starts retransmitting signals sent by the fish in Ethiopia. The fish stops sending out signals soon after. Then it resumes, when its fellow creatures back home stop sending theirs. The ichthyologist cannot believe it. He is witnessing a conversation between fish! They’re passing on their news!! Is this not the missing link – doesn’t it explain how we, distant descendants of fish, feel this irrepressible urge to communicate remotely, to the point of inventing machines to compensate for the loss of this prehistoric ability?

When Louis Bec’s story is finished (and I have not tried to reproduce it faithfully, just to retain the spirit and the tone of it), everyone is deep in thought. The zoosystemician (as he calls himself, the only representative of a branch of science that he invented) has something up his sleeve.

All this, of course, never took place; these fish don’t exist, not in that way. But doesn’t this story make us think about ourselves, doesn’t it help us understand what we do on a daily basis without even thinking about it?

Is this piece of fiction not as instructive as a scientific account? Doesn’t it merit a place on this symposium, even though it addresses the theme of ITC poetically rather than theoretically[xxiii]?

What does it matter whether it’s based on communication (scientific) or performance (artistic), as long as Louis Bec has made us think and question ourselves about social divides – often operational divides certainly (producing an effect of making distinctions and identifying, above all), but inappropriate in this case. But without these labels of art or research, doesn’t a work (or a text) risk being misinterpreted and not having the effect it is intended to have?

ARTIST-RESEARCHER

Combining creation with research is not an easy position to take or defend. Needless to say, it is commonly agreed that you must choose between an artistic or a scientific approach, and even research into aesthetics must be done with the explicit purpose of being recognised as research. Because if it is not distinctly categorised as the Artworld (as Arthur Danto called it, 1988) or the “Scienceworld”, it is difficult for us to understand and grasp what we see, or read, or hear, etc.

You can interrogate art, or science, by artistic or scientific means, but to speak of one or the other using artistic and scientific means leads to misunderstandings. Nonetheless, this is what I have tried to do (to some extent) with this study: what setting could be more appropriate for an approach to creation-research than a study that questions their relationship?

The first version of this study had neither introduction nor conclusion, nor any notes. Rather than developing a continuous structured reasoning, I decided to go down several different roads, try out a number of paths without following them to the end, so that by looking at the situation from a number of different angles and in different lights, the reader could draw his or her own conclusions (or continue to wander.) The text was deliberately elliptical (the various references that appear throughout the study were not explained, and now are) and operated rather through insinuation, ambiguity and even polysemy, which are associated mainly with the arts (which promote, among other things, the opening up of the work and the acceptance of it). This has led to some misunderstandings on the part of my editors, who asked for clarification (which I tried to make, following their recommendations).

Because of this, and especially by means of this conclusion in which I explain my intentions, this study leans more towards research than art. I don’t claim that it extends the scope of knowledge, however. This is not why I wrote it, at least, but everyone must take from it what interests them (if anything). Nor can I defend it from the point of view of the links there should be, or not, between artist and researcher : that depends on one’s understanding of these words and the interest one might have in one or the other, or both. It’s an interesting question and it’s often asked, both of those who produce and those who read, listen, observe, etc. But it sometimes happens that with a work or a scientific text, you become so involved that you forget how to qualify the source of this movement, and whether it makes us feel or think, or produces other effects that we can’t define. Is it not at this point that the text or the work (regardless of terminology) achieves success?

Translated from French into English by Kay Hamdan.


 Notes 

[i] I’ll spare you my CV, of which you will find a summary associated with this article. If you really want to know more, see my online portfolio on Issuu.

[ii] “”L’Art numérique”, un nouveau mouvement dans le monde de l’art contemporain”, submitted in 2010 at the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne thesis.

[iii] To name a few : Radiomaton, a progressive installation entered in the « Singularités partagées » exhibition (116, centre d’art contemporain in Montreuil, 93), October 2013 – January 2014; « Don’t give me a break » exhibition with Alexandra Sà and Ann Guillaume at the Espace En Cours (Paris), May 2011;  Le Jardin des manguiersinstallation at the Ferme du Buisson, Noisiel, November 2009, etc.

[iv] Residence de création sonore with Frederick Mathevet at the Khiasma (contemporary art centre in Lilas, 93) in 2013-2014.

[v] As part of this residence.

[vi] Ludovia (Aix-les thermes, 09), 2012, 2013 and 2014; “Les processus de création comme phénomènes d’émergence” symposium, under the direction of Mathilde Murat and Raphaelle Bergère (Toulouse, LARA), Toulouse, May 2013; “Poétique(s) du numérique 2 – Les territoires de l’art et le numérique : quels imaginaires ?” symposiumunder the direction of Franck Cormerais, University of Nantes, 15 April 2011.

[vii] “Dealing with technology,” article in the online magazine Interfaces numériques, vol. 3, No. 1-2014 and numerous articles in the online journal L’Autre musique.

[viii] This happens to me frequently in the context of the online journal L’Autre musique ( www.lautremusique.net) which I co-edit with Frédéric Mathevet.I publish articles on aesthetic issues, often related to works, sometimes my own.

[ix] In his book, Au nom de l’art (1989), Thierry de Duve suggests we consider the word “art” not as an ordinary noun but as a proper noun, that does not mean (defined) quality but belongs to a family (to which we seek attachment, like sons or daughters-in-law).

[x] The three discussions that I refer to in the following paragraphs were informal: my interlocutors were not warned that I might report what they said.Therefore, in the absence of explicit permission, I prefer not to mention their names.

[xi] Quoted in le Petit journal, Galeries Contemporaines, July 10 to September 15, 1991, musée national d’Art moderne, George Pompidou Centre, 1991.

[xii] Quote reported by the Pompidou Centre website, “Robert Filliou dans les collections du musée” page, accessed January 13, 2014, http://mediation.centrepompidou.fr/education/ressources/ENS-filliou/#territoire.

[xiii] I have often heard those outlined below, but they are not reported verbatim.

[xiv] The emblematic figure who unites artist and researcher is of course Leonardo da Vinci (I’m not the only one to mention this in this issue of Performance).You could also mention the heuristicfunction of the design and its great value for anatomy (see the Dürer and da Vinci plates), medicine, botany, etc. But that was before science required rigourously incontrovertible criteria.

[xv] This is what de Duve says (1989), the specialist teacher.

[xvi] I refer here (but this is just one example among others) to the work of Simon Quéheillard who invents simple, ingenious homemade devices to understand and demonstrate (often using videos) what Duchamp called the “infra-thin”:(. the blast of wind from trucks on a highway (Maitre vent, 22 min., 2012), the flow of pedestrians ( Des choses comme ça, 4 min. 10, 2012), the implacable mechanism of escalators (Le travail du piéton, 28 min. 34, 2009).

[xvii] Or such an assertion is associated with the approach of the artist, and this was the case, for example, for Frederick Bruly-Bouabré (and his “alphabet bété”).

[xviii] See a capture of the performance at: http://www.khiasma.net/magazine/la-controverse-marboeuf/?lang=en&PHPSESSID=q3hqvv54f4j206aes5b3r9tv44.

[xix] A famous picture (1920) by Man Ray, showing fluff balls being deposited on Le grand verre (1915 to 1923, also known as: La mariée mise à nue par ses célibataires, même) after it was stored horizontally.

[xx] At the beginning of his book, Au nom de l’art, Thierry de Duve wonders about the possibility of a situation he is distanced from to “objectively” define what art is. Despite his good intentions, he doesn’t find a single one in the world.

[xxi] With this expression, Jean-François Billeter (2002) refers to the process of research of ancient Chinese sages, who did not believe they could know anything without delving as deep as possible into it, whilst understanding it as an entity.This approach can not be compared with the (western) “scientific” research of the infinitely small.For a better understanding, I recommend reading the works of Francois Jullien.

[xxii] On this subject, read my article “Composer avec les technologies. Plaisirs pratiques.” in Volume 3, No.1-2014 of the Interfaces numériques journal .

[xxiii] While defending a “continuo” approach to communication (between man and animal) – but this is perhaps a snub (see his interview on arte.tv).


REFERENCES

Billeter, Jean Francois. 2002. Leçons sur Tchouang-tseu. Paris: Allia.

Bourdieu, Pierre. 1979. La Distinction. Citique sociale du jugement. Paris: éditions de Minuit.

Danto, Arthur. 1981. La transfiguration dubanal. Paris: Seuil.

Danto, Arthur. 1988. “Le monde de l’art” in Philosophie analytique et esthétique. Paris: Kliensieck.

De Duve, Thierry. 1989. Au nom de l’art. Paris:éditions de Minuit.

Eco, Umberto. 1965. L’œuvre ouverte. Paris: Seuil.


Célio Paillard is an artist-researcher and teacher. His artistic approach focuses on sound and textual media and takes the form of installations or sound performances and mixed media and generative works. He is particularly interested in emerging processes and relationships between “evidence” and “fiction.”

He has a doctorate in aesthetics and is a co-founder of the online magazine www.lautremusique.net which questions the links between visual arts and music and exhibits art in the making.

 

French version.