like Dada like son

Henry Jenkins is the digital media guru who made the ”if it doesn’t spread its dead” stick as a mantra for today’s media culture where events and personalities are able to get exposure over different media platforms in which each platform contributes to establishing a level of exposure beyond what could have been imagined a decade ago.But does that necessitate a dumbing down of the critical content?  For an artist, this can be an advantage or disadvantage; since his work , if it falls into participatory culture call be transformed into mutant forms the artist may not have originally foreseen or desired.Are some artistic ideas simply too complex to submit to the banalities of digital media?

Reinke:Often Marriott does call for a community to contribute to a work of art, though the contribution generally has parameters that are stricter than one would find in relational art. (In the video today, for instance, Marriott asks members of the Jarvis Collegiate debating team to prepare responses to the resolution “Today is a good day to die.”) The one project that comes closest to relational art is, naturally, also a parody of relational aesthetics. In CONSENT, devised by Marriott and realized in collaboration with Suzanne Caines for the FADO exhibition Vivencia Poetica, the artists hired a consulting firm to form a focus group of average citizens who profess little or no interest in art to come up with ideas for relational art projects. Read More:

What Steve Reinke termed, “the truth of art” existing at the seam between “the nude” and “being naked” It is not readily apparent, or “ready-made” in how relational art today can negotiate between audience and community.Central to the legacy of Marcel Duchamp  was the  insight that art can be about ideas instead of worldly things,art for arts sake, that would disrupt the relation with functionality and the decorative;  a revolutionary notion that would resonate with later generations of artists like John Marriott.What Duchamp, in part inspired from Baudelaire, built a visual inventory that achieved its tension between irony and parody and equally between the accessible and extremely sophisticated, and in the case of Marriott, carrying this forward in post conceptualism built on the same theory of the demise of aesthetic art. Its the identical fate of reification striking both art and the artist: “The art in question is one which has, as( Walter) Benjamin clearly determined, been completely changed in relation to historical experiences and finds itself in the windswept midst of market and goods oriented relations. The first to clearly indicate this crisis was Baudelaire.” ( Saftich)

Globe and Mail interview with R.M. Vaughan:Really? Wow. I guess, and certainly shoving a sword through something is aggressive. But, because I like to be messed with by art, I see disorientation as one of the most interesting things available in art. I don’t want art that reaffirms my values, I want art that unsettles me a bit, whether it makes me feel good or it makes me have to figure out where I am. But I’d say my work is no more “aggressive” than putting a Sudoku in front of someone. For me, I like having to look for something, lateral thinking. And there’s a level of craft in my work, and a level of humour, that indicates I’m not peeved at anybody.

…The Dada movement began in Zurich as a protest against the materialist principles and the foolishness of war. The aim of the Dadaists was to destroy traditional values in art, overthrow existing aesthetic convention and to create an alternative template. Duchamp said, “I have forced myself to contradict myself in order to avoid conforming to my own taste.” Duchamp showed the way to a new kind of art. Compared with the varieties of visual expression that came before, his new art was seeking to engage the imagination and the intellect instead of just the eyes, he embraced humor as a valid aesthetic component and struggled to portray invisible worlds instead of just visible ones….

---In "The Private Worlds of Marcel Duchamp," Jerrold Seigel, professor of history at New York University, has a less confrontational view of Duchamp that sets the artist apart from the refractory high jinks of Dada with which he is commonly associated. In contrast to the "noisy and self-conscious challenges" offered to art conventions by most Dada and Surrealist artists, Seigel argues, Duchamp "seemed able to do unprecedented things with a quiet and natural equanimity, making established conventions and expectations fall away without seeming to invest much energy in the act of opposing them."---Read More:

John Marriott : I distinguish my approach by saying that I incorporate rather than appropriate. I work with identifiable objects because they bring traces of the world with them which I work with. While I incorporate objects that are recognizable or iconic, I position them as referents and triggers; I’m interested in evoking and manipulating associations.

MJL : The show’s layout, by means of platforms and plinths, magnify the sculptures displayed (mostly assisted readymades). Does ‘exhibition staging’ hold a special place in your practice?

Marriott : The mechanisms of staging and reflexive awareness do interest me, I do explore those dynamics and appreciate the drama of culture-making. I want to be transported and I want my art to offer layers of experience – including but not limited to self-reflexivity. I don’t consider my efforts to be Readymades though. While I do engage that legacy in some works, I don’t wish to cancel the significance that objects have independent of art, I want to work with those tones.

Read More:''Why does the Eames chair have a sword through it? I’m messing with the legacy of Duchamp, because the Eames chair reminds me of Duchamp’s urinal. By sticking the sword through it, I’m colliding a bunch of cultural tropes, references and fetishes. The chair is something that has a structural integrity, but doesn’t have a function. I’m interested in how we can mess with one function to create another.'' Read More:

R.M. Vaughan:The art world’s marketing schemes parallel those found in mainstream entertainment industries – the young and the fresh are favoured, for the excitement they bring, while the old and established are considered safe choices. Artists a little less full on the bloom but not quite fallen off the tree are treated with suspicion, because they can provide neither novelty nor security. Mid-career, like mid-life, is a dangerous time. Toronto-based multimedia artist John Marriott has been producing gleefully baffling and hilarious art for more than 20 years, with exhibitions across Canada and internationally. But anybody who knows Marriott’s work will admit he’s been more or less media absent for the past decade – constantly producing and exhibiting work, but not getting the same level of attention he once did. Read More:

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Marriott & Mary Anne McTrowe. ''Recontectualizable art for all! Easy to use, safe, fun, ethically beyond reproach! Turn your piece-of-crap car into a contemporary cipher. Six individual bumper stickers, black text on white, in a shrink wrap package. Bumper stickers included: “My other car is a picture of a car”, “Rule based artists make better lovers!”, “I brake for deconstruction”,...''

Henry Jenkins: Talking about memes and viral media places an emphasis on the replication of the original idea, which fails to consider the everyday reality of communication — that ideas get transformed, repurposed, or distorted as they pass from hand to hand, a process which has been accelerated as we move into network culture. Arguably, those ideas which survive are those which can be most easily appropriated and reworked by a range of different communities. In focusing on the involuntary transmission of ideas by unaware consumers, these models allow advertisers and media producers to hold onto an inflated sense of their own power to shape the communication process, even as unruly behavior by consumers becomes a source of great anxiety within the media industry. A close look at particular examples of Internet “memes” or “viruses” highlight the ways they have mutated as they have traveled through an increasingly participatory culture.

Read More:''John Marriott : It certainly made a mark at that time. I remember the sense of absence of a dominant “ism” or master narrative which was eventually filled by Deconstructionism. The prominence of “non-art” materials in the 80s came alongside post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, institutional critique and appropriation, and those theoretical imperatives compelled me to create works that responded to the prevailing orthodoxies. But that is not why I am drawn to materials and sources that have cultural foot-prints beyond the artworld; their presences offer sociological and anthropological value that straddles the boundaries we presume between art and life. ''

Given these limitations, we are proposing an alternative model which we think better accounts for how and why media content circulates at the present time, the idea of spreadable media. A spreadable model emphasizes the activity of consumers — or what Grant McCracken calls “multipliers” — in shaping the circulation of media content, often expanding potential meanings and opening up brands to unanticipated new markets. Read More:


Steve Reinke:In Marriott’s artwork the idea is not only manifest but straightforwardly apparent (looking at a work one can easily discern the idea). There can be a satisfying simplicity in this: works that not only are what they are, but carry their relation to their originating ideas in a breezy, even carefree way. They are unburdened by their materiality as artworks and equally unburdened by the weight of whatever idea they have manifested. They are often funny: parodies of existing art works or genres, verbal or visual puns, other types of silliness.

In other words, they are often one-liners. But what a horrible, diminishing term, as if all they had to offer was a slight chuckle, a minor frisson as one “gets it” and is then not only free but compelled to move on to more substantial, richer, burdensome artists.

Something far more interesting is going on in Marriott’s work. While the relations between “idea” and “artwork,” may initially appear to be straightforward, on further investigation they prove to be quite rich and complex. So rather than looking at this work as if it were merely a series of one-liners, I am proposing that its real substance lies elsewhere. This is work that masquerades as a lame kind of post-conceptualism as it goes about its real business of staging and enacting various social and ethical encounters. Read More:

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One Response to like Dada like son

  1. Hi Madame Pickwick Art Blog,
    Thank you for your discussion of my work. I now want to share my website address with you,

    it contains a broad range of my work from the past 18 years.

    Many thanks


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