What is Contemporary Art? 2 (and other things)

These are just some short notes:

Contemporary art according to Groyes is defined by having some of the following features:

  • Recently made and reduced– but why as it ignored the flow of life; the present hinders us from making art – no time, money etc – so reduction is used as a coping strategy
  • Disbelieve, question, reconsider,
  • Temporary and transient
  • A questioning of time, performance, difference and repetition
  • With time rather in in time
    • a. eg time based art such as film
    • b. eg temporality of art/artistic meaning)

I enjoyed this short article and the notes are more based on my thoughts than what was said. The approach and definition of contemporary as it applies to art makes some sense here and I can think of lots of areas where we see examples of the approach defined here. Conceptual art, performance art, painting and traditional arts all can be seen as contemporary as their meanings are first received and defined by audiences. However once they are reflected upon then they quickly begin to moved in the past as new interpretations and meanings are placed on them.

Is Tracy Emin’s Bed  still contemporary? If it is when do you think it will move into a different category?

Chuck Close – thoughts
At my last tutorial Jonathan had mentioned Chuck Close as an artist whose work I might be interested in viewing so I took the morning to explore his work. Biography.com  provided a simple introduction to the man and the work he is best known for.

What was most interesting was the difference in viewing experience from seeing digital images of Chuck’s portraits and seeing the same images in situ where scale and context provided a wholly different viewing experience. This reminded me that while digital images can be the end product that are often just (rather poor) simulations of the original artefact. For example viewing his portraits on the Whitecube site here  doesn’t offer the viewer anywhere near the same experience as viewing them in situ such as in one of the images here.

Indeed I think his images probably need to be seen directly to obtain the full experience because I suspect viewing them at different proximities will provide very different experiences because his method of production and scale will show different aspects of both the referent or subject matter and the art, For example this image clearly suggests that.

His methodology is to use the grid method as a way to build up his images – see here – and this explains why the viewing experience will change depending on proximity. (I know this is true for lots of things but the effect will be much more profound here because the total image is really shown to be created from thousands of small abstract shapes).

Maybe this approach would work in some way regarding what I want to say about things present but unseen? That’s got me thinking….

Being part of a group
Twelve of Sunday’s emails were alerting me to activities and thoughts other MA Fine Art Digital students had posted on their blogs.


They ranged from posts about drawings on plastic through to surveillance technologies and everything in between. The effect of these blogs is at least twofold.  Firstly the content is often interesting but secondly and more importantly the posts made me feel part of a group on a shared journey. Our practices and locations might be varied but the MA framework makes my exploration feel different – in a good way.


B Groyes. Comrades Of Time (2010) in What is Contemporary Art?, Published by Sternberg Press


About anomiepete

South Londoner struggling with life, art and photography.
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