Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Art: I've done work in oils, some mixed media stuff, and few superfluous organs projects.

This was a categorical toss up: mad science or art? Survey sez? Art!

Above it the somewhat self-explanatory "Extra Ear on Arm," by the artist Stelarc. You can catch this work and several other mind-warping pieces at the new show at the Exit Art gallery in Manhattan. From the marketing copy:

Corpus Extremus (LIFE+) features more than a dozen international artists who are using bio- and media-technologies to investigate questions of life and death.

Exit Art
475 Tenth Avenue, New York NY 10018
Tel: 212-966-7745
Hours: Tue-Thur 10-6, Fri 10-8, Sat 12-8
Feb 28 - Apr 18, 2009


Sasquatchan said...

It isn't clear from the web page description of the works, but it seems like all the guy did was carve up his arm with a knife and stick some maybe silicone underneath to make something that sorta resembles an ear..

I mean, that's carney side-show material, not art.. Lizard man you'd see on Discovery or something.

Now, if he went all Van Gogh (or Reservoir Dogs) on us, and cut his ear off, then stitched it to his arm, insuring a blood supply and what not, so it would live.. Then I'd be impressed. But from everything I can see, he's a side-show freak from the carney, not some edgy artist.

CRwM said...

Screamin' Sassy,

You say "side-show freak from the carney" as if there was no art to be sideshow performer. It's not easy, what those folks do.

I generally try to avoid the "is it art" debate as I don't see any percentage in it. It almost always seems to boil down to some sort of "abstract vs. literal" or "tradition vs. new" debate, which is really just a preference issue. Is a realistic portrait of some dead duchess, made on spec for a little filthy lucre, really more inherently artistic than, say, Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase? Why is the neo-ear any less valid an artistic expression than a beautiful tattoo?

Not that art can't be critically evaluated, but that in/out validation question just seems to lead to a lot of tail chasing.

Besides, personally, I find I like a lot of the stuff that most folks would simply dismiss as "not art." I welcome the novelty. Cut all that out, and museum trips would bore the crap out of me.

Sasquatchan said...

But you gotta admit, how much more freakin' cool would it be if he did cut his ear off and graft it onto his arm ? He's have Van Gogh cred, right there..

Otherwise, he's just another BME dude. Seen a million on the net, nothing new here. Only he gets a gallery audience and can toss in lots of newspeak about the intersection of art, life and death.. Hope the wine is good, because I'm not feeling interested or stimulated to hear him so far..

(I tend to go to history/science museums, and childrens museums of late.. last art museum I went to in the past 10 years was the Louvre, and it was very excellent. Modern art types holds no interest to me)

wiec? said...

it's always tough to say what's art and what's not. one man's ceiling is another man's floor and all that. personally i find if you get any sort of reaction (cerebral or otherwise) or a conversation out of the piece then it's done it's job.

i like the a lot of the old portraits and paintings at the MET. Sometimes it's the subject matter and sometimes it's the technique or composition. some are better than others and after about 50 crucifixion depictions i'd like to move on to the armor and sword section. it does get boring. but mostly it's just overload. same could be said for other types of art like the No Exit show. There's something there to appreciate. You just need to figure out what it is. or not.

Sasquatchan does have a point though. a real ear would have been most impressive. However doctors graft severed digits back on people all the time. is the surgeon an artist? maybe. the No Exit show looks like Mad Science used to make art. And people will either like it or they won't.

spacejack said...

At first I thought the guy was doing something like this. (Scroll down for the mouse growing a human ear photo.) So I'm with sasq on this one, it's a bit of a letdown.

A teacher at the art college I went to attained some notoriety for himself by tattooing parts of his body where the skin could safely be removed. Then he'd stretch the skin on a little canvas.

CRwM said...

To Sassy, wiec, and Spacy,

It is a "real ear," it just isn't functional.

From the work specs:

"A different strategy is now being pursued in attempting to realize the EXTRA EAR project. In collaboration with Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr of Tissue Culture & Art a 1/4 scale replica of my ear has been grown using human cells. The ear is cultured in a rotating micro-gravity bioreactor which allows the cells to grow in a 3D structure. The ear will be fed with nutrients every 3-4 days in a sterile hood. Once the ear can be grown with my own bone marrow cells it would be possible to insert it beneath the skin of the forearm as a first step to construct an ear on the arm. The skin of the forearm is smooth and would adequately stretch without the necessity of any inflating prosthesis. The ear on the arm could be constructed with less complex surgical intervention. And disconnected from the face, the ear on the arm could be guided and pointed in different directions."

wiec? said...

see i was right Mad Science to make art.that's pretty cool.

i looked at his website and the thing he did with the exoskeleton is pretty amazing too.

Sasquatchan said...

Yah, I googled the guy, skimmed his web site.. But the mouse-ear is what, 1996 Time cover ? Old news, man. Ah google corrects me, it was 1997: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vacanti_mouse

So he "grew" an ear, but I couldn't find the right details -- is it just cells warped into an ear shape ? I don't think science is there to "grow" an ear via turning on certain genes.. (Even the mouse, the cartillage was grown in a form/mold).

So I go back, unless he's willing to VVG it and chop off his own ear and graft it on elsewhere, I'm not impressed.. The difference between him and some BME cover-spread is that he can put "Professor" in his name, versus being the dude next to you on the subway.. (they give phd degrees for the stuff he does ? Or what credentials does a professor of art need ?)

I mean, some of his stuff is cool, but the the ear I'd put towards the bottom of his accomplishments (and reading the tripe about "put a microchip in the ear with a proximity sensor so it will speak when you get near" etc reeks of lame 7th grade ideas to spook girls, not avante garde) The MAKE guys could come up with better ideas, and the BME alternative folks do much more bizarre and striking things.