I think value is a deeply significant question at this moment. How do we define value? Where do we find value in works? Is it manifest in 'significant form'? Is it attached to Art's ability to present (continuing to trace the Heideggerian concepts) a clearing where we experience Truth and a fleeting glimpse at World, or more commonly, do we measure value as commodity exchange value?

Certainly, when we speak of the cinema it is easy to find evidence to the latter. What is the front line of "film criticism", that initial pass at value judgment in the media? Certainly we can bemoan criticism's death rattle, or even wax nostalgic at its wake, but this may miss the point that it is alive--just not well. Unfortunately, I think the Box-Office Champion of the weekend acts as our critical arbiter of value. After the box scores, then the evaluative apparatus turns to diagnoses of where potential audience was lost. Art, in this instance, is but an instrumental tool toward the accumulation of capital, making it a means and not an end. But this seems to reduce question of value to ideology critique at the pedestrian level of acceptance/resistance to the commercially popular.

Debating freedom of expression can be of import, for it helps us to understand value resides in places other than commercial exchange. But in this light, we must be careful not to equate freedoms of expression with some form of social justice (I'm not asserting Bernie was doing this), which may have allowed value to become equated with commercial exchange. Certainly we live in an era where the acceptable 'styles' one chooses to work in have never been more vast, but the freedom of this creative landscape is simply a free-market principle. What do our works accomplish? So there is, most likely, a need to tie aesthetics to politics, but also a politics to ethics.

Here I would like Bernie to expand on what he means by "professional responsibility". I am in partial agreement that this is not a question of avant-garde relevance, mostly for I believe that any A-G is difficult to tease out of our free-market setting. How can we recognize an avant-garde or counter-movement, which has been historically underappreciated, when our arbiter to recognize value is popularity? It is difficult to tell the AG counter-movement from the bad (yes, this a weak assertion). Performance art, in my line of argument is where we find our rose-tinted glasses. We are reluctant to admit how lost we are concerning questions of value, and instead we describe our culture as one of Enjoyment. This enjoyment is rooted in novel experiences, with novelty being, maybe, the one core value of the modern, and therefore performance in the gallery is a novel 'experience' for most. What value do we find in Marina Abramovic sitting motionless in the chair, or conversely playing mumbly-peg (The Artist is Present vs Rhythm 10)? Certainly, for those who commit themselves to a process of interpretation, deeper meaning structures can be found, but is this interpretive work being done by an experience culture? And yes, the arts administrators value this work, because given its 'spectacular' novelty it raises admissions. Said differently, are Impressionist and Vermeer exhibitions mounted for the quality of the work, or the block-buster attendance? Do we attend film festivals for the work, or participation in a scene? To take the example of Sundance, it would seem that programming once centered on the work has given way to in support of a scene (but this may be an ad hominem assertion).

So how do we go about re-valuing our values? Is it in a recognition that art is an autonomous creative space wholly separate from life, or rather that it is deeply implicated in how we live our lives? If that is the case, what would that art look like? Is it possible to make work that is both political, and/or ethical which is not merely a comment on its finite contextual moment destined to become dated in a decade or a generation at most?

Damon.




The point I was making in my question followed on from Fred’s posting that included:

It seems to be entirely acceptable and unquestioned on this list to post that some or all forms of video projection look like crap ... As a format for presenting film, it is, of course, imperfect, as I myself argued almost three decades ago, though that was in the days of VHS, a lot worse than more recent formats.

Assumptions about ‘quality’ need to be challenged. Issues around ‘quality’ are based upon value systems which in themselves operate ideologically. Can the politics be seperated from the aesthetics? This seems entirely relevent as we watch evictions of the Occupations - and that doesn’t mean I’m advocating literalism - just putting my original question into context.

Rob

On Nov 21, 2011, at 10:14 AM, Jonathan Thomas wrote:

I don't see value as a dated concept, although commodity value is irrelevant. For me, a work has value when it provokes thought, when it creates a space to contemplate / meditate on (in the Heideggerian sense) the world (as experienced, mediated, related, etc.). Although personally I find formalist, materialist work very appealing, this is contained within an idea of art as thinking tool over art as object. I do agree, like most people probably, that large galleries and museums do play safe, but haven't they always? I always aim for artist-run spaces that engender a much more widely critical and contextual discourse. 20th century theories of art are not yet dated and irrelevant, to me at least. There was a lot of it, and we are still wading through it all, trying to untangle it and assess its relevance. There has to remain a strand of early 21st century art and theory that constitutes a critical pause for breath.

--- On Sun, 20/11/11, Bernard Roddy <rodd...@yahoo.com> wrote:

From: Bernard Roddy <rodd...@yahoo.com>
Subject: [Frameworks] Value systems
To: "frameworks@jonasmekasfilms.com" <frameworks@jonasmekasfilms.com>
Date: Sunday, 20 November, 2011, 14:06


Value as a reference today strikes me as dated. It draws on a period when art as commodity was an interesting question.

Restrictions on freedom of expression are back. It's time to examine the renewal of conservativism in media art.

To propose a term for critical study: professional responsibility. Not the debate between modernist and post-modernist experimental film. Not the relevance of "avant-garde."

Performance art's history is really to the point. We see a transformation of performance art's provocations into not only gallery-safe work but a kind of artistic administrator's ideal.

Apologies for the obscurity.

Bernie

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