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Having criticized Donald Kuspit's essay on digital art for metaphorical overreach and bad choices of work to champion, let's offer a few words of defense. Kuspit's supposedly dense artspeak can't be blamed for Damien Hirst's cut-up cows, a connection one commenter attempts to make. Kuspit believes in nothing if not the natural and the vital over cheeky sensationalism, which, again, Hirst practices only in part. Aligning Kuspit and Hirst is like saying "Greenberg, in his defense of Mary Kelly..." Compared to say, Derrida's writing, Kuspit's language cribbed from psychoanalyis isn't that dense. It's just wordy.

More vexing is current Eyebeam reBlogger Sarah Cook's tarring of Kuspit as a supporter of form over content. ("Seurat's pointilism makes him the first digital artist? An art critic caught up on form yet again. --sarah") Check out what Kuspit says about Seurat, though:
Seurat was the first artist to understand that vibrating sensations are structured in themselves as well as details in a visual structure. [That sounds tautological but we're coming in mid-argument.] To be a really modern artist, a scientific artist, meant to make these structures -- the hidden code of color, as it were -- visible. The more visible the coded matrix of sensations became, the more hallucinatory the representation seems, which is what happens in La Grande Jatte. Indeed, the more structured the vividness of the sensations seemed, the more the picture was totalized as an eternal pattern of vibrating sensations, the more ghost-like the objects represented seemed.

La Grande Jatte brings representation into greater question than [Manet's] Music in the Tuileries Gardens. Seuratís pulverization of representation into a matrix, systematically organized, suggests that doubt and suspicion of representation are built into La Grande Jatte. Perspective continues to buttress the scene, like a backbone, but the perspective is beginning to buckle and flatten -- collapse -- under the enormous weight of the pulsing sensations. Seuratís painting is a catastrophe in the making, a virtual apocalypse, indeed, the first picture that explicitly presents itself as a virtual reality, and that "argues" that reality is always virtual -- never really real, or, if one wants, it argues that the virtual is the really real. His figures are full-fledged phantoms, delicate, thin gossamers, no longer clumsy, thick patches.

Looking at La Grande Jatte, we are witnessing the death of the order of objects and the birth of the matrix of sensations as a unified field.
If this is formalism, let's have more of it! Sounds like good drugs, to me. The problem with Kuspit's essay is he has found no modern equivalent artist worthy of waxing this eloquent about. That kind of rush, at least for now, can mainly be found in cinematic credit sequences, electronic music made in the likes of Reaktor, and some of the braincrunching Flash videos available for the downloading out there on the Internerd, to use a Gothamist term. Artists will catch up with these pioneering digital works eventually.

--reposted with minor edits, which means the URL changed, whoops.

- tom moody 8-10-2005 7:05 pm [link] [4 comments]