Sculptural Boundaries: Essays On Sculpture
... it seems to me, looking back, that i've grown up in an era which eschewed the philosophical conceptions of reality, certainly all the boundaries were stretched post WWII, the flavor of the times suggested exploration and a disregard of the middle ground/class, from Abstract Expressionism through Pop to Happenings and Rock & Roll, from the Civil Rights movement to Viet Nam, the underlying tone has been one of intensity at the expense of stability. It's no wonder that my generation (myself foremost) looks askance at attempts by regulations to enforce a reality based on moral principles. The whole experience of our youth was antithetical to these concepts ... and it's most peculiar to how, as i have, come to think of myself as a realist sculptor. In a Hegal/Marxian turn-over, it would seem the subjectivity of the 50's/60's/70's has once again flipflopped, the need to objectify through transformation has, in effect, stimulated a figuriative approach. This doesn't necessitate mannerism, nor imply that the non-subjective movements have not reflected an awareness into the present, but a founding on empiricism is today as radical as Pollock's works. The difficulty is the inference, as the modern world is actually a virtual reality, empirical reality appears an Arcadian myth, generally utilized by commercial interests in pursuit of control, which in turn are regulations defining reality. The problem then is creating complex metaphors in complex times, times that have been so clichéd as to appear simple, and i can find no error in forcing the human figure in its historical ramifications into a model of the Human.
... it's damn difficult to know where to stand today, in this Age of Rage & Fear the traditional sanctity of past experience is moot, where all moral stances have been usurped for totalitarian means, where the future looks as bleak as the past, the ephemeral present must serve as a touch-stone. Yet the present is almost opaque with symbols, when statements are only the reflection of a sales gimmick all that's possible is questions, the complexity of consciousness has destabilized empiricism, it is only in the arts that the nature of reality is tested in a Popperian method of falseifibility.
... the first question, of course, is does sculpture have validity? This of course implies any of the arts, as in a post-Veblen consciousness it's impossible not to recognize the social propaganda that relegates the arts to mere filigrees on the fabric of commercial interests. If that's subtracted is anything left? Obviously there's a psychological aspect for the progenitor/creator but in this argument it must be discounted as immaterial to the cultural purpose. If the question of validity is unanswered all others are moot. But putting aside that, on a more specific level, figurative arts, besides as symbolic representations, can they stand alone? Can they be valued without the use of metaphysics, as ends in themselves? It is much easier to make an argument against than for, our whole Cartesian culture reduces arguments to negations leading to, --as Arendt points out, cynicism. To question the universe is also to question mankind's place and any representation of it, scientific exploration has lead to a scientific devaluation of aesthetics. So we put aside the figurative arts and question the intellectual ideas. When doing this we come to the Modern experience with it's redefinition of reality, which has nowadays been supplanted by Post-Modernism's Camp sensibilities, Wittgensteinian visual plays on language, Conceptual and Robotic insider jokes and the final Dadaist ideal of leveling the past by popularization, it's a democratic utopia. The question, so reduced, is, is validity a reasonable expectation? Can a model be drawn that puts aside the actualizing process yet retains any semblance of factualness? Without that criteria, the very concept of a reality-based viewpoint falls by the wayside.