No matter how sure the originator is that his or her new idea will transform the world or end war or remove poverty or delight the masses, the truth is that no one knows what it will do. Even the short-term role of an idea is unclear. Thomas Edison believed his phonograph would be used primarily to record the last-minute bequests of the dying... We make predictions more difficult because our immediate tendency is to imagine the new thing doing an old job better.
Art is all but invisible as an innovation because it simultaneously recalls oil paintings and Paul McCarthy loading his shorts with ketchup, as well as cave paintings and Egyptian statuary. Art evokes deep time in a way that feels timeless and ancient, but also separate; as an autonomous sphere that runs parallel to the rest of history. That separation is the subject of a great deal of hand wringing (art school again), the conceptual isolation of Art is pointed to as yet another symptom of modern decline, an artificial and destructive autonomy. The presumption is that the division represents a loss of contact with a more authentic traditional way of moving through the world. Paradoxically, Art is the precondition of the very modern anti-art impulses of artists like Marcel Duchamp, and the non-art of the minimalists that is the intellectual jet fuel of contemporary Art (the circle remains unbroken). Robert Smithson and Allan Kaprow were able to dismiss museums as mausolea and liken looking Art in a museum to "making love in a cemetery" because they were thinking within a machine constructed to make equivalences out of totally unrelated cultural expressions. Art is a machine for thinking about art.
Each new invention requires the viability of previous inventions to keep going. There is no communication between machines without copper nerves of electricity. There is no electricity without mining veins of of coal or uranium, or damming rivers... No hammers without saws to cut handles. No handles without hammers to pound new saw blades.
But maybe 1895 isn't old enough. Lets take the oldest technology of all: a flint knife or stone axe. well it turns out you can buy a brand-new flint knife, flaked by hand and carefully attached to an antler horn handle by leather straps... Today in America alone, there are 5000 amateurs who knap fresh arrowhead points by hand... they produce over one million brand new spear and arrow points a year. These new points are indistinguishable, even to experts... from authentic ones.
Despite its own rhetoric, science is not built to increase either the "truthfulness" or the total volume of information. It is designed to increase the order and organization of knowledge we generate about the world. Science creates "tools" - techniques and methods - that manipulate information such that it can be tested, compared, recorded, recalled in an orderly fashion, and related to other knowledge.
I don’t believe there can be a society without relations of power, if you understand them as means by which individuals try to conduct, to determine the behavior of others. The problem is not of trying to dissolve them in the utopia of a perfectly transparent communication, but to give one’s self the rules of law, the techniques of management, and also the ethics, the ethos, the practice of self, which would allow these games of power to be played with a minimum of domination.
Over the last ten years rather surprising things have come to be called sculpture: narrow corridors with TV monitors at the ends; large photographs documenting country hikes; mirrors placed at strange angles in ordinary rooms; temporary lines cut into the floor of the desert. Nothing, it would seem, could possibly give to such a motley of effort the right to lay claim to whatever one might mean by the category of sculpture. Unless, that is, the category can be made to become almost infinitely malleable.
Stonehenge, the Nazca lines, the Toltec ballcourts, Indian burial mounds-anything at all could be hauled into court to bear witness to this work's connection to history and thereby to legitimize its status as sculpture. Of course Stonehenge and the Toltec ballcourts were just exactly not sculpture, and so their role as historicist precedent becomes somewhat suspect in this particular demonstration. But never mind. The trick can still be done by calling upon a variety of primitivizing work from the earlier part of the century - Brancusi's Endless Column will do - to mediate between extreme past and present.
Art, as a technology of structured knowledge, is a far more convincing technological precondition for the development of abstract art. Kelly writes that "Technologies shift as they thrive. They are made and remade as they are used. They unleash second- and third-order consequences as they disseminate. And almost always, they bring completely unpredicted effects as they near ubiquity." Abstract art is now "near ubiquity." It is what Kelly calls an "all-have" technology. I have no memory of it as anything else. I can't remember ever being shocked by the presence of abstract art in a museum. Abstract art may not have been popular when I was a boy, but it was already a given. By the late 1970s abstract art had become the status quo that new shocking art played itself out against.
If viewed as a "discrete stage" [dam foundation site] becomes an abstract work of art that vanishes as it develops... Te process behind the making of a storage facility may be viewed in stages, thus constituting a whole "series of works of art from Ground up... when it functions as a dam it will cease being a work of art and become a "utility."