form and proximity

Sculptural and spatial practice for me has always been more expansive than Kraussian quadrants. Simply; sculptural and spatial practice encompasses a wide range of philosophical and artistic interrogations that break down/emphasise/piece together how humans perceive and feel dimension and expressions of form* that can include, painting, drawing, photography etc.

British artist and painter Clare Woods is a great example of an artist working in a medium traditionally considered outside sculpture, but whose practice is formally sculptural. Woods uses paint as a means of expressing the three-dimensional value of form using techniques that emphasise the structure of an image (see below video).

I think it’s important to recognise that historical as well as contemporary sculptural and spatial practice is consistently an expression of form relative to human and human-scale concepts of space and time. As such, form is perceived and experienced at a human level as both a 2D as well as 3D phenomenon relative to distance/proximity. I can’t help but wonder why, at least in Australia, formal distinctions that individuate sculpture from drawing from printmaking from photography etc. continue to persist despite contemporary social shifts in understanding about dimension/space-time concurrently with acknowledgement of the advent of the Anthropocene.

NB. I consider that there is a distinction between the philosophical and artistic interrogation of the dimension and expression of form (sculpture and spatial practical) and the rendering/depiction of form to create the illusion of dimension (broadly printmaking, drawing and painting).

territories beyond sculpture in the expanded field

Sculpture in the Expanded Field by Rosalind Krauss is a well-discussed and significant theory of sculptural practice post-1960s. Published in 1985, the theory is still today (some 33 years later) referred to a guiding text for contemporary practice. However, can a text written in 1985 and the theory of post-modernism it refers to still be ‘contemporary’? Have the tenets of art shifted, and if so, in what direction?

The above are posed as rhetorical questions, however I do believe that the avant-garde of today is distinctly different in its cause and outcomes. Although linked to post-modernism, the art that I feel ‘succeeds’ (a definition that I will discuss at a later point) as art in the present day is work that makes a conscious effort to extend beyond the limits of post-modernity by emphasising human experience (and one that isn’t restricted to art-audiences). In this present-day art that I am encountering and myself trying to make within, the post-modern condition is negotiated rather than presented formally and the ‘hand of the artist’ is not elevated. It is distinctly non-architectural and non-structural.

I am also finding, more and more, that there is a tiredness in the ambiguity of post-modern (art created in the expanded field) works. That works created in this framework lacks the present-day emergence of intuitive sensation and the ecstasy that comes with a personal processing and understanding of complexity. To be modern (and by extension, to be relevant) now, is to engage others through art as a mental activity as opposed to seeking to present or represent objective reality. As far as I can see, to engage others in art as a mental activity, one must to point towards, but not at, art. The present-day contemporary accepts that it can engage in neither truth nor proof and instead functions as post-logical conceptions of sculptural occurrences where complexity itself is the medium.

 At least, that’s how I see it.