Thursday, February 11, 2010

postmodern principles and newspaper blackouts.

appropriation. juxtaposition. recontextualization. layering. interaction of text & image. hybridity. gazing. representin'. 

these are olivia gude's postmodern principles (read the full article here), which she proposes as a re-orientation of the goals for 21st century art education. rather than focusing on the modernist superlatives of formality: rhythm, balance, contrast, etc., gude investigates content-based principles, rather than the aesthetic ones that have propelled art education standards for so long. 

convenient for me and the purposes of this blog, the giant field of visual culture addresses all of these in a remarkably direct way. perhaps because a) these principles are purposefully and thoughtfully designed to be accessible, thought-provoking, and broadly applicable to students/artists of all walks of life, and b) visual culture is a hugely inclusive and flexible term, these two fields collide in a messy and beautiful venn diagram that is ripe with potential for art-making and learning, thinking and doing.

particularly interesting and exciting to me at the moment is how a list of quotes on creativity, originality and authenticity by austin kleon (a self-proclaimed "writer who draws") folds into this mix. his work, constructing poetry by isolating words within newspaper articles, celebrates many of these principles (see below, "how it works" and "agoraphobia," via 20x200):

the list he published on his blog, cheekily titled "25 ways to steal like an artist" actually hosts some really interesting quotes from artists of all sorts that speak to many of olivia gude's principles, a great resource or starting place for classroom conversation. here is my favorite, from filmmaker (coffee & cigarettes, broken flowers) jim jarmusch:

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations, architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable; originality is nonexistent.”

and this one, by musician (night falls over kortelada, oh you're so silent jens) jens lekman:

“The beauty of the collage technique is that you’re using sounds that have never met and were never supposed to meet. You introduce them to each other, at first they’re a bit shy, clumsy, staring at their shoes. But you can sense there’s something there. So you cut and paste a little bit and by the end of the song you can spot them in the corner, holding hands."

especially for students concerned with the validity of their ideas/intentions, there were so many salient bits of writing in that list to motivate and affirm. other more controversial/ opinionated quotes would make excellent starting points for dialogue about how we define and identify creativity. 

it was hard to choose just a couple, and i highly recommend further investigation into gude's article, kleon's work, and the rest of these quotes, to see what additional connections emerge. gude's principles function as colored lenses through which to examine visual culture from various perspectives. WOW so exciting!


  1. wow. kleon's Newspaper Blackout Poems are incredible. and so beautifully named. i mean, the concept of editing and appropriating text selectively is familiar, certainly, but the term "newspaper blackout" is elegant and beautiful.

  2. p.s. where do they come up with these "words" for us to type in to prove we are humans? i am pretty sure whatever i just had to type in would be firmly rejected by any scrabble player and/or dictionary.

  3. his artmaking/writing approach even falls within the doman of appropriation. HOW IRONIC SLASH AWESOME.