Homage to Robert Smithson - Plasticity and the ontological form of artist-substance (Performance Lecture)

REEVE, Hester (2017). Homage to Robert Smithson - Plasticity and the ontological form of artist-substance (Performance Lecture). In: Art Historians Association 
43rd Annual Conference & Art Book Fair, Loughborough University, 6-8 April 2017. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

“The earth’s surface and the figments of the mind have a way of disintegrating into discrete regions of art…One’s mind and the earth are in a constant state of erosion, mental rivers wear away abstract banks, brainwaves undermine cliffs of thought, ideas decompose into stones of unknowing, and conceptual crystallizations break apart into deposits of gritty reason.” A Sedimentation of the Mind,in ‘Robert Smithson The Collected Writings,’ edited by Jack Flam, University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 2nd Edition 1996, pp. 100-1 The primary intention and function of this performance-lecture is to create a time-based homage to the artist Robert Smithson (i.e. not to his artworks although they count, of course). As the above quotation testifies, Smithson’s practice was as much an adventure in thinking (resulting in philosophical writings/the conceptual framework for ‘non-sites’) as it was in material construction (resulting in art objects/earth works). Of primary significance – and linked to my on-going research concern with what I term ‘artist-substance’ – is Smithson’s call for ‘muddy thinking’ which embraces matter and mind as continually co-evolving and affecting one another, an evocative forerunner to current investigations into the value of plasticity (PHILOSOPHICALLY, NEUROLOGICALLY AND POLTICALLY). Smithson’s words above implicate him, the living creature, into his own account but not as a personality or driver of a digger truck about to dump molten asphalt. Rather, the artist, described as one needing to exist within a “physical abyss,” is reformulated as the caretaker of a carnal, creative aptitude to risk one’s ‘being’ (hence succumbing to the force of Being per se), an aptitude that is the gift of Smithson’s particular making-as-thinking/thinking-as-making based practice. This aptitude is less a ‘doing’ and more an allowance of being ‘un-done’ on the micro level of being an individual body-consciousness. That this is possible, is also to speak of an ontological substance that is capable of receiving the changes, like an untranslatable imprint of Being which nonetheless has repercussions for the future shape of lived life. This is no longer to underline ‘Smithson the sculptor’ but to extoll ‘Smithson the sculpted.’

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Other)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Departments: Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences > Art and Design
Depositing User: Hester Reeve
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2017 08:48
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2017 22:10
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/17078

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