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observations | julie m rozman

Evidentiary function, decision-making, curiosity, and another direction for art.

The evidentiary function is something I think often about. Something observed is evidence of something that happened. That gets talked about in Surrealism. The evidentiary function also plays a role in talking about photography: for something to be there, somebody had to be there doing the recording. (It’s always in the background of photograph-looking, though not always of importance. For me, it matters.) What’s not always discussed is that there were a set of decisions made in making that photograph. Even if the decision is to abdicate or further oneself from decision-making as a means of taking one’s ego out of the picture, as in John Cage’s chance-based works. His works, like some of mine, become matters of curiosity: setting a system in motion to see what happens if. Here, “all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair.”(1) Sometimes my system of decision-making employs impulse, or maybe intuition: what if I go to a place, what if I sit and look, what if I let myself collect the stones that appeal to me, what if I arrange them, what if I take a photograph. Intuition, summarizing Malcolm Gladwell, is the quicker-than-thought condensation […]

The active mind that slows

Another aside, regarding my relationship to all this. Some time ago I wrote something that holds: “I am possessed of an intensely inquisitive and sometimes frenetically-active mind; I do things and make things to let me slow down, and ultimately invite others to do the same.” My analytical skills are sharp, and I’m prone to overthink pretty much anything. Not quite to the point that wondering what’s for dinner leads to existential crisis, but out in that general direction.

Starting with defining myself and moving quickly to ways my art functions in the world

I wondered whether to call myself more an artist or a philosopher, recalled an old tagline: artist and philosopher, researcher on embodiment and lived experience. Why wonder? Well, I’m very much concerned with ways of being in the world, and that’s a philosophical issue (philosopher!) and the art is one way to address that (artist!). Art-making, too, is one way to make utterances, to practice, to affect change. My practice, my art, my work (what do we call it?) addresses being-in-the-world, addresses lived experience. It does so in roughly two ways: by evidence and by invitation. Some of it is the product of my practice of being-in-the-world. Some of it are reminders, fingers pointing at the moon, in regards to being-in-the-world: objects, talismans. Some arts are experiences to be entered into by the viewer: or invitations, if one can get past the looking-at/for-an-art and into being-there. (Some of my video works manage to pull the stunt of being both: since one is ostensibly productive by engaging in looking-at-an-art, one can rest easy enough and slip into being-there. Static works are more difficult in this regard.) Some are evidence of my entering into an experience, as the maker (here I also […]

Ramblings starting from On Kawara and “I am here”

Kawara announced by telegram: I am still alive. My announcement is this: i am here. I wonder if it’s cryptic. To me it seems like one of those small fundamental statements. “I think, therefore I am?” No, for I am (whoever I is), with or without thinking. I observe, therefore I am? Maybe. A Buddhist question arises: who is this I that observes? and where is the I that is being observed? The line of thought goes toward observation is, and much of the rest is a mystery. (Forgive my liberties; some years ago I read a lot of Buddhist texts and they influenced me heavily, but I haven’t returned to that bender in awhile. It’s fortunately Buddhist to content oneself with pointing to the truth of a thing.) So that’s a cursory summary of the I part. On to here. Where? Well, behind the lens, presumably. That’s a trope in photo/art history theory and I do like it. But where else? I think it’s important for the viewer not to know the locations, because I want these little windows to serve as reminders to look around. The time and date is an index – wherever I was at the […]

design is not engineering

in the larger world, i worry that design is becoming over-engineered, that careful definitions draw too-tight boundaries, that the wrong questions are blithely being asked and answered, that the questions and paradigms themselves are subject to too little scrutiny. i worry about losing the magic, the happenstance, the lightning strikes, in favor of the definable, the quantifiable. some counterforces come to mind: trust, care, play. (all those point to vulnerability: yikes.) and so much comes down to relationships. not contracts, but relationships.