Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cut-Up Method

Group 8: Cut-Up Method

a. Describe the elements of the new art form: the material, the actions, the way it is made and the way it is received (i.e., audience)

The technique of the Cut-up is a very interesting form of artwork. Words or groups of words are removed from their original linear format and positioned into a new one. The artwork is a method of improvisation and creativity that is not always entirely unique to the artist. Phrases of common knowledge and popularity are sometimes spliced into new and expressive sentences. This innovative art is unique as many artworks lack such significant use of writing and words. This also emphasizes the placement and usage of words and phrases. Some artworks may be abstract as the sentences tend to stray in all sorts of grammatical and literary disorganization. The Cut-up method is also a unique form of art because it can be incorporated into literature, music, and poetry, so it has more access to the world of pop-culture than most forms of art.

Literature is a key participant in cut-up art because it also ties the method into films and popular viewings like the movie Watchmen. The random application of certain subjects (not always words and phrases) leads to a questioning and potentially the conflict of a story as many cut-up works also promote investigation and intense analyzation. In some cases, the improvisation itself helps inspire the author of a book. The cut-up method is crucial to the novelty of improv and freestyle and also popularizes itself through more modern culture.

Music also makes cut-up art a popular and interesting form of expression. The methods of remix are relevant to the cut-up style when music is involved. Audio can be cut-up and spliced into new and different material. We experience this all the time when we here the remix of a song on the radio. Old and popular phrases are also incorporated into music as a critical part of the cut-up and its growth into modern media. The words involvement of cut-up is also used in music when artists like David Bowie write abstract lyrics in an expressive work of art. Dub music, remixes and odd lyrics are all examples of how music is an endorser of cut-up art.

The cut-up method of art is extremely prevalent in the less popular area of poetry. Poetry is where most cut-ups are taken from previous works of literature and is mostly concerned with words and phrases. Many “poets” of the cut-up method are also categorized as music artists because their words are spoken or sang to the rhythm of a beat or music. These artists are typically associated with freestyle poets which is often confused with rap music. Spam poetry is also a defining achievement that has spawned from cut-up and has brought birth to the popular and new art of flarf poetry. Both are prime examples of the cut-up method and how entire poems are composed from the works of others. The splice method allows such lack of originality to become creative and inventive works of art.

Art has brought about a new form. The aesthetics of art are less relevant as paintings and sculptures are no longer dominant. Contemporary art includes ideals that are expressed through words, motions, performances, and emotions. Participation has also paved a new path for modern art. Not only has poetry and word organization grew into popular art, but we now enjoy a new method; words, phrases, and all sorts of subjects are collaborated into an expressive and unique work that has presented itself to popular media unlike the unfashionable artwork of the past.

B). How does the technology of the time produce, or make possible this new form of art?

While the cut-up technique is most associated with the 1950s and 60s, it has roots tracing back to surrealists from the 20s. The cut-up technique is essentially a product of it's own era. The artists, such as Burroughs and Gysion, were able to take advantage of the abundance of written press at the time. By collecting newspapers, magazines, and various pamphlets and brochures they would cut them up into mostly single words and then randomly rearrange them to form a new written work. It was a very simple and primitive way to get people to think about the remixability of published works. The advancement of technology has lead to an evolution of the cut-up technique. Now through using programs like PhotoShop everybody has the means to take already existing art and reinterpret it and create something completely different.


The Cut-Up Method is very simple to understand. It is an art form in which people can actually take their own ideas and make it work. There is no specific explanation on how to do it, but simplest way to explain it is originally Brion Gysin a painter and writer, cut newspaper articles into sections and re-arranged those sections. This in the past had created mass riots, such as the one at the surrealist rally in 1920. But as it had become more excepted by the people it grew fast. Songwriters such as David Bowie and Kurt Cobain used this sort of technique to create their songs, which are known by most. It then grew out too behavioral cut ups. These are where one takes two socially excepted behaviors and putting them together creating one, interesting activity. This allows for people to see you in a new way and make them think differently about whom you are. Even further on it expanded to e-mails. Here people were using this to trick spam detectors and allowing their spam e-mails to pass through into everyone’s inbox’s. With this new way of cut up’s you are forced to receive and sometimes read these e-mails. This allows the spammer to once again make contact with you. All of these different forms that branched from the original idea have touched on new ways for it to create a social interaction among people.

d. How does the new art form reflect on the art forms that preceded it?

The Cut-Up Method heavily relies on all other art forms that have preceded it. Any type of Cut-up art must have some kinda of past art in it cause, well that what it is. As stated earlier, the cut-up method is pretty much a combination of different snip-its of sentences or phrases, whether they be written or spoken. Without the bits of already created art, there could be no new work of art. Some people turn their head at the idea and think it's just a random reproduction that has no talent involved, but when you think about it, it's just like a poet's collage. All the bits have a meaning and can brought together can create an even stronger meaning.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Fluxus and Happenings

Group Members: Ben Musser (B), Nick Sulikowski (A), Sheng-Ti (E), Jason Sheck (D), Laura Napolitano(C)

a. Describe the elements of the new art form: the material, the actions, the way it is made and the way it is received (i.e., audience)

Fluxus, taken from the Latin “to flow”, is an international network of artists, composers, and designers noted for blending different artistic media disciplines in the 1960s. Fluxus had its earliest roots with John Cage in the late 50s, and is said to be formally founded by George Maciunas and Dick Higgings in the 60s. It uses a concept called intermedia, which describes hard to define interdisciplinary activities that occur between genres, such as between drawing and poetry, or between painting and theater. In essence it’s the process of trying to recombine common forms of media into unpredictable ways to create a new meaning, using the idea of remixability in not just one type of art, but several. Additionally it’s meant to be viewed less as a movement or style, but an attitude. The form encourages a do it yourself aesthetic, and values simplicity over complexity, as well as strong anti-commercialism and an anti-art sensibility. Material wise, Fluxus artists prefer to use whatever materials were readily at hand, and either created their own work or collaborated in the creation process with their colleagues. Outsourcing is usually frowned upon. Two prominent ideas in Fluxus are Fluxus boxes and event scores. Fluxus boxes originated with George Maciunas who would gather printed cards, games, and ideas, and organize them in small plastic or wooden bags. The term event scores was coined by Henry Cowell-a teacher to John Cage-and is used in exactly the sense that one uses the term to describe a musical score: a series of notes that allow anyone to perform the work. The scores themselves are like performance art. In contrast with happenings though, which are complicated planned performances similar to flash mobs, Fluxus pieces were simple. They were designed to elevate predictability, to be mindful of the mundane, and to frustrate the high culture of academic and market-driven music and art. Collage, sound art, music, video, and poetry are also other acceptable forms of Fluxus. This means that the way an audience receives Fluxus can range from a standalone piece that’s cartable, to watching or participating in a street performance. In the case of the latter, audience integration in performance was encouraged, contributing to the randomness of events.

b. How does the technology of that time inform, produce or make possible this new art form?

Since Fluxus art never stopped, the types of technology used span from the late 50’s to today. However when it comes to using technology with Fluxus, the medium isn’t a main concern. Those involved are more interested in communicating something, not having the most advanced piece of work. Their philosophy is always simplicity over complexity. Fluxus began in the 50’s mainly with John Cage and in the 60’s with George Maciunas. Cage focused mainly on music, or what he thought music was, and was essentially the inspiration for those after Maciunas. His most famous piece didn’t even involve any medium. The piece called “4’33” was a musical score that had the performer not play for the four minute and thirty-three second duration. The point was for the silence of the room for those four and a half minutes to be the music (Wikipedia). As for Cage and the majority of early Fluxus participants, they used the things around them. Because the Fluxus movement is applied in so many aspects of life, the way it’s done varies. Sometimes it’s in a musical sense, or through video capabilities, or sometimes through participatory action. Another example is how those involved use whatever was around them to make a statement like in some of Allan Kaprow’s “Happenings”. He wanted to combine everyday life with art. One of the Happenings involved a woman squeezing an orange and another was painters painting. (Wikipedia). Yoko Ono, a more recent well-known contributor to Fluxus made something called “toilet piece” which is just an audio clip of the sounds of a toilet flushing. So when it comes to the types of technology that influences Fluxus art and those who make it, it really doesn’t matter what is involved. Depending on what their goal is, artists use whatever works to get their point across. Ken Friedman, author of “Forty Years of Fluxus,” stated that most art was an avalanche of complicated, trendy typography and fussy, mannerist design created to look up-to-date rather than to communicate.” That simply means that some art gets so caught up in being advanced and with the times that it forgets the main goal of art, which is to connect on a certain level with the participant.

c. How does the technology of the time inform, produce or make possible new social interactions related to this new art form?

Dick Higgins, a co-founder of Fluxus, was still active with the idea until he passed away in 1998, just long enough to introduce Fluxus to the Internet. Higgins co-founded the Fluxlist, which is an online blog on Yahoo! groups. The Internet has been instrumental in making it possible for new social interactions to take place such as posting Fluxus works from all over the world, including FLUXFESTs (Allan Revich). A FLUXFEST is a “season of events celebrating the spirit of Fluxus, which…emerged as a reaction to the high-art of the 60’s. The emphasis is therefore on fun and frolics and will feature rare film, food, music, performance and miscellany” (Chris Unitt). FLUXFESTs provide the opportunity to view original Fluxfilms by a variety of artists including Yoko Ono, Joe Jones, and George Maciunas, along with interviews and documentaries of Fluxus activity from 60s through the 90s (Heavy Object). A FLUXFEST could be considered a happening because it’s a planned event meant to be considered art. Happenings can take place anywhere (frequently seen in large cities like NYC), are often multi-disciplinary and often lack any structure. They also frequently attempt to involve the audience in one way or another, much like some flash mobs because a few key things are planned, but artists always leave room for creativeness, ad-libbing and improvisation (Wikipedia). Social occasions like FLUXFESTs, dinners, banquets, happenings and boat trips are perfect examples of the “convivial ideologies and community ethos of the Fluxus community” (Heavy Object). In Fort Worth, Texas there is a FLUXmUSeum which is “THE place for 21st century Fluxus art” and was founded in 2006 by Cecil Touchon to provide recognition to Fluxus artists in the 21st century. Visitors can see the original art form in the FLUXmUSeum or on the website at FLUXmUSeum is a wing of the Ontological Museum, which is dedicated to Post-Dogmatism—“that ancient principle that is continuously self-renewing” ( Fluxus remains indescribable, permanent, unchangeable, and unquestionably what it is and always will be—art created as a social outlet. For example, YouTube has a video about Mecanologie, which is a collaboration of everyday objects in robotic form done by Pierre Bastien. He put together a robot of everyday objects including a teapot, a comb, and some toothbrushes to work together to create a new sound (Heavy Object). Bastien used basic technology to create something new, a work of art that will have a different meaning and sound if it is changed, if it’s even possible to change it.  

Basically, Fluxus is the essence of participation because it doesn’t exist without multiple participants, whether they’re human or robotic. Fluxus artists do not need to be physically together, especially with the advent of the Internet, but they will remain connected through their collaboration in the work art.

d. How does the new art form reflect on the art forms that preceded it?

Fluxus art reflects on and is influenced very much by the early art form Dada.  It reflects on the strong anti-commercialism and anti-art sensibility that Dada art portrays.  Fluxus and Dada both discourage the conventional market-driven art world in favor of an artist centered creative practice. (Wikipedia) Dada was pretty much anti-art, it represented the complete opposite of art and it was intended to offend, and offend it did.  Many people disliked Dada and some people even believed that it was disgusting and destructive.  Fluxus differs from Dada through its richer set of aspirations.  Fluxus has positive social and communitarian aspiration that greatly out weighs the anti-art tendency that also marks the group. (Wikipedia)  Fluxus is accepted more as art and overall just accepted more by society than Dada.

e. Explore the possible “critical” functions of the new art form.

Although culture and civilize culture area are good things, they have some bad tendencies. “The major tendency of civilize culture is to get overly restricted, narrow, standardize. Develop a strong sense of what is good acceptable appropriate and right. What normal is and what normal should be” said Allen Bukoff, one of the original founders of Fluxus. During the 1950s, all over the world, modern culture was becoming uncomfortably tight. Then a group of Fluxus artists came along, releasing all the suppressed creativities from modern human society at the time and completely changed the popular culture in human society. Fluxus was this powerful burst of creativity that helped expand the potential in popular culture. It was a culture revolution, and it’s what made our culture today.

Here are a few links with additional information and pictures: which shows a picture of "Fluxus as a well oiled machine" which is where Laura found the video of the Mecanologie where Fluxus artists can contribute their art. Another blog where Fluxus artists can contribute their art. As with the other one, it also documents some art from FLUXFESTS and other Fluxus artists. Go to the mission page, it sums up the essence of Fluxus very well. Diagrams portraying a visual explanation of Fluxus and it's development.

Additional sources include:

Monday, October 5, 2009

Group 6 - The Dynabook: Alan Kay & Adele Goldberg

Group Members: Demetri Golden (A), Tony Prentice (B), Chelsea McNett (C), Mary Kate Snyder (D), & Matt Dalton (E)

A: Describe the elements of the new art form: the material, the actions, the way it is made and the way it is received (i.e., audience)

The Dynabook idea was the first time anyone had ever thought to use a laptop for more than just a device to help out people with their job such as a salesmen to display their product. Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg thought that computers could be used not only by adults, but by children too and for more than just work reasons. The Dynabook could be used by children to learn simple things, such as learning how to draw certain shapes, paint pictures, or to create to music. Alan Kay created software called “Small Talk” which made working with these activities possible. “Small Talk” takes computer langue and translates it into a simple button to click so that command prompt would soon enough become absolute. Also, “Small Talk” has come a long way since when it was first created back in 1980. The actual design for the Dynabook that Alan Kay had come up with has still not been made today, thirty six years later, but he says that laptops today have become almost equivalent to the ideas he had in mind thirty six years ago.

B: How does the technology of that time inform, produce or make possible this new art form?

The Dynabook really was the introduction to the later invented Laptop computer. At the time that dynabook was developed, there had been many advances in technology. The first predeccessor and one that really helped Dynabook takeoff was the introduction of sketchpad. Sketchpad's most recognizable features were its direct-manipulation interface, which allowed elements to be drawn based on constraints.


Also develped around this time was GRAIL, which, using the Rand Tablet and code for recognizing objects, the system would allow freehand input of letterforms, boxes, and lines, as well as corrections to previous drawings.


These ideas and concepts were put together to design something that could be used to program, but simple enough for children to use. The whole idea behind Dynabook became geared towards being used primarily with children. Sketchpad and Grail were really what helped produce dynabook more than anything else.

C: How does the technology of the time inform, produce or make possible new social interactions related to this new art form?

The Dynabook was initially just an idea, a sketch, at the time it was created. The idea of computers being small and personal was not even thought of as a possibility when Alan Kay designed it. Now, almost every single person has access to one or mulitple personal computers which are direct descendents of the original Dynabook sketch. First there were the personal desktop computers, then the laptops, then tablet PCs, but the closest relative to the Dynabook are smartphones and hand held gaming devices. The Dynabook has revolutionized social interactions, especially when discussing Smartphones and hand held gaming devices. While Smartphones allow people to connect and socialize with people over the phone, internet, and messaging system at any given time, leaving us open and available for interactions more frequently, hand held gaming devices have allowed users to disconnect from others, isolate themselves, and ignore their surroundings.
The true art behind Dynabooks is the computer language Alan Kay and Adele Goldberg developed which would power the Dynabook: SmallTalk. “It is "called "Smalltalk"--as in "programming should be a matter of ..." [Smalltalk] and "children should program in ..." [Smalltalk].” –Alan Kay. SmallTalk is based on being easy to use, because it offers objects to users to manipulate with simple commands, rather than long code. This is one of the earliest Object Programming Language. This has allowed people to communicate with technology without being specialists, which may change how we see computers. Instead of being mysterious, complicated entities, they can be manipulated, personal, and universally understood.

D: How does the new art form reflect on the art forms that preceded it?

Decades ago technology, such as the computer, was thought to be the most accelerated form of media at the time. In today’s world technology has surpassed engineer’s expectations and has become an everyday necessity to even the most common of man even children. The once slow and very large computer is now faster and smaller and shared computing has given way to personal computing not only at work and home but on portable devices. The computer has become very useful in such areas such as mathematics and science, business and health professions as well as for authors, journalists, musicians, and students. Although the computer can help people perform career orientated tasks more proficiently it can also be used for entertainment and pleasure opposed to business. Kay and Goldberg describe Xerox’s vision of the more personal and quicker portable desktop. It was envisioned to benefit all ages with particular attention to children. Xerox recognized the imagination and creativity of a child and used that as their vision when designing the most personal desktop that could be used in many ways. Their vision was to incorporate art into the computer’s everyday functions. Music and drawing could be done fast and easy by using applications that allowed the owner of the computer to interact with and manipulate the computer.

E: Explore the possible “critical” functions of the new art form.

The Dynabook vision challenged the first generation of computer engineers to think outside the box. It challenged them to not only think of computers as a tool for achieving business applications, but to also function as a new medium for creative expression. Alan Kay and his team sought to create an interactive electronic medium that would allow users, especially children, to interact with the machine, learn from it, and express their individuality through the graphic interface of the medium. The Dynabook vision would allow user’s to create drawings, poems, stories, music and storing them and making them available to be accessed whenever the user wanted. This is revolutionary because it allowed user’s to be as creative as they wanted and granted them the freedom for the first time to go back and replicate and change their original art, a luxury not provided by the previous art mediums. With the recent creation of netbooks, smart phones, and 3G wireless networks, Kay’s original idea of a Dynabook comes closer and closer to fruition.

Sources (if that doesn’t work, try