Robert Irwin answers questions about his concepts and ideas. He does not seek to tell people how the world should be, rather he primarily wants people to act because he believes in the potential of human beings. He also recalls how a verbal attack by a group of social activists led him to study the writings of Karl Marx where he became fascinated with Marx’s position that life determines consciousness, and consciousness does not determine life. Irwin believes that if choice, freedom and creation exist, then consciousness must determine life to a certain degree.
Video Archive Subclip | Yearly Archives1990 (44)
Robert Irwin demonstrates his phenomenological way of viewing the world through the example of a mark on a chalkboard. The mark is accidental with no meaning, so the blackboard does not become negative space. Attempts to repeat the mark are not reproductions because each additional mark is different qualitatively. How it is used, applied and interpreted are human issues. Piet Mondrian’s work brought things back to zero, and Irwin predicts that it will take at least another 150 years to figure out the implications. Irwin concludes by taking questions about his work and discusses why he gave up painting and working in a studio.
Robert Irwin discusses how a renaissance in art is always defined by the point of the highest measurable performance, but that the point at which doubts arise is equally important. Edmund Husserl employed phenomenological reduction to mediate truth, doubt and contradiction. Another contradiction is fact that consciousness is temporal and spatial, yet cannot be measured or detected quantitatively. For instance, the mind actively forms the world around you through consciousness, but the instantaneousness of this process makes it invisible.
Robert Irwin outlines two different ways of determining what is real, starting Plato and Aristotle seeking a transcendental truth that is concrete. This approach set in motion a mind/body problem stemming from Plato’s general condemnation of doxa, everyday beliefs and appearances. A system of signs also arises from this way of seeing the world which consists of a hierarchy of power where the intentional will to follow logic leads to unquestioned beliefs that separate a figure from its ground. This deep space hierarchy also creates clear separations between ideas of truth and untruth, top and bottom, mind and body, and superior and inferior which together work well as a model for a body of knowledge in education, but do not work in predicting what students will think of and achieve in the future. Alternatively, Piet Mondrian’s work reduces the meaning in an object and leads to an erosion of deep space and a flattening of hierarchies.
Robert Irwin discusses the radical transformation of the aesthetics and issues of the world over that last hundred years, presenting the work of Jacques-Louis David as an example of the past and Kazimir Malevich as an example of the new. The development of Piet Mondrian’s work demonstrates how the traditional pictorial approach to art was stripped down in seeking a phenomenological approach that deals with qualitative description rather than quantitative. Irwin draws four principles of phenomenological art from Mondrian including change, energy, positive space, and non-hierarchical order. In this way of viewing things events are conditional and actively resolved through perception, as relations replace composition and mass replaces shape. In this sense, no artist has ever tried to make an abstract painting in so far as what has changed is our concept of what constitutes the real.
After describing his struggle to get the right tone, Coy Howard recites a portion of an introduction he wrote for Robert Irwin. He stops, commenting that he could not do that to a friend and begins to speak freely about their friendship. Noting that true friendship among men is rare, Howard lists the qualities of such a friendship including sincerity, trust, faith, emotional and intellectual support, compassion and respect for differences, and. in their case. relishing nuances. He recalls a common expression in the art world about, “First class artist, third class asshole,” adding that “Bob Irwin is first class all the way.”
G?tz St?ckmann presents a selection of work from his firm Formalhaut that attempt to mediate between art and architecture as collaborations. Double Knight Game began as a land art piece based in chess. The steel and corrugated glass fiber silos used for this project led to an architectural scheme called Houses for Singles. Their Full House project in Hamburg is a pavilion using 180 dust bins, while Rendezvous from 1985 refers to space terminology for a docking event. St?ckmann also discusses other projects including Grande Prix, a multimedia installation for the Frankfurt revenue offices, Welcome in Holland, and Caravan.
G?tz St?ckmann presents three competition projects by his firm Formalhaut, as well as a selection of other work including sculptural projects by his colleague Ottmar H?rl. Their project for Kassel is a gallery space to host the city’s Documenta art festival. The second project was for a museum to house large objects. Another museum proposal was based on the movements of the users. St?ckmann compares a sports hall designed by his partner Gabriela Seifert to another sports hall designed by his other partner H?rl as an example of the differing approaches of an architect and an artist as explained by Donald Judd. H?rl’s sculptural work includes deconstructed machinery and scrap metal installations, a project called Yellow Syndrome using garden gnomes, corrugated glass fiber installations, and newer work involving dropped and thrown cameras.