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FACS 1900 Lecture Notes - Polyethylene, Chessboard, Queer Theory

Fine Arts Cultural Studies
Course Code
FACS 1900
Robert Gill

of 11
FACS 1900 C
Arts and Ideas
Instructor: Robert Gill
Room: ACW 206 for lecture, ACE 006 for tutorial
Time: Friday 11:30 to 1:30 PM for lecture, 2:30 to 3:30 for tutorial
October 03, 2008
We will do language and aesthetics this term, memory probably the next.
Today we will see first a video about Gabriel Orozco, a Mexican artist, make sure you get
the spelling of his name correctly.
Then a lecture on language with reference to Hall, then we will watch another film about
the design of an object by a French architect, Philippe Stark. An established language, the
language of furniture, how it was transformed into something new. We will discuss about
this in a moment.
Think about one question while watching the film. What do you think are some of the
media, materials, languages that the artist is using in this film. It’s not easy to say that he
is using a certain material, he is using a number of materials. Relate that to other ideas
that you have seen in this course up to this point. This artist’s work, what does it tell us
about some of the themes so far?
Video presentation: Gabriel Orozco, Loss and Desire
The artist uses the camera as a way of awareness. He doesn’t have a studio, which
he considers to be an isolated, artificial place, like a bubble. “You have to be
confronted with reality all the time, be outdoors.”
He tries to be intimate with everything around him, needs trust. He has no
technique, just different ways to work. “When I finish something I need to invent
a new thing in a different place.”
He is using bicycles and cars, remaking them. He worked for a month in a garage
with a technician to reconstruct this car which is half distorted.
Artist is shown going to the supermarket, such a perfect world. He disturbs its
perfection rearranging potatoes on top of notebooks, cat food cans on top of
He also reconfigures games, such as chess. He populates it entirely with knights.
Chess is a world in itself, designed to perfection. Or the ping pong game, he
makes it so that four people are playing, the net is open, there is a new space in
between which he transforms into a small pond. He calls this new game ping
The Foucault pendulum proves that the earth is rotating. The artist modifies the
billiard game so that one ball on the table is a pendulum and the table is oval. This
way we play close to the laws of the universe.
“I try to use the tools that everybody can use.” He is shown doing ceramic. Like a
hobby for him. He likes to be a beginner in a variety of techniques rather than a
specialist in one. Interested in pottery as a mass, needs a specific clay.
“The thinking process is related to the body in many ways. Moving in a train,
looking at the ocean, working with the hands, you are stimulating the brain and
thinking. I feel that when the shape is ready, it represents what just happened
before. Pottery can be related to anything in the world, it is part of history.”
“The space between work and life is hard to negotiate for everybody. The
important thing is to work and sustain life, all the spaces in between are a bit lost.
Every person has to fight for those spaces. When you live and work in the same
space, everything is about work.”
He is shown working with things in the environment, plants and metal pipes.
“Building bridges of communication with other people.”
What are some other media that the artist is using in his work? Think about that for a few
---plant life and nature.
---the movement of the earth itself in Foucault’s pendulum.
---cars and bikes.
---old things transformed into artistic things.
Found objects, objects that already exist and have their own reality.
---he uses photography to document to interaction with the objects.
He is using photography to document experience and process. The importance of process
as a medium. His art is not about clay, paint, drawing, but about the process you engage
with as a creative person.
---everyday objects, stuff you can find anywhere.
He sees things that exist in the world as having a process. He is keeping track of his own
experience of what objects mean. He likes to generate chaos in relationship to these
everyday things he finds.
---he likes to choose the environment of objects.
He is engaging with the environments that objects are in, that is he engages with space.
---he is playing with our cultural concepts of what is normal, what is surprising.
He has this attitude about our taken for granted concepts of what things are. A good list
of possibilities.
---he tears down old structures and creates new functional structures.
He is redesigning things that have already been designed to have one purpose, he is
transforming them to make new designs.
---he is giving meaning to things like garbage.
He is taking what we might disregard as marginal things and values them.
---he uses material anyone can use.
He has a democratic attitude about media. He doesn’t want to be an expert in any
particular media. A democratic attitude about things. A different sense of what it means
to be an artist.
---he is focused on symmetry.
He is interested in juxtaposing universal concepts with notions of chaos. He recognizes
the world is both ordered and chaotic at the same time. A paradoxical quality.
---he uses the light itself.
He is documenting the interplay between the space and the way light falls on objects. He
is interested in the force of life around us. A very spiritual approach to art making. A
sense of the life in things, how life is a process of exploring things and having seen new
things emerge.
There is this tension in language which is so ordered that we might be interested in
introducing chaos in that order. We have to understand the patterns, the organization of
language on the one hand. How we actually experience language can be chaotic, difficult.
Cat food on melons, he is suggesting there is a patterned language in a grocery store, a
vocabulary. Stores have a grammar. The perishable stuff are all around the perimeter, you
can walk around just to pick up that stuff. Inside are the canned goods and the displays
are all structured. He is running interference on that universe. That’s at the core of this
course, this idea that you can take what is taken for granted in your experience of the
world and you can mix it up, you can transform it.