Creative Global Network for the Visual Arts

To the extent that there is a deskilling involved in outsourcing the execution stage of art objects from the artist to skilled craftspeople, it is different from deskilling that excuses absence of quality as irrelevant, or worse, elevates and enshrines feebleness because feebleness is a way to illustrate quality is illusory.

Did denigration of quality have to accompany or flow from isolating execution from conception? What knowledge is lost to the artist from making something with his/own hands does not necessarily mean the body of knowledge is lost: though knowledge may suffer in translation, it’s split between the artist as conceiver and the craftsperson as maker, unless the value of the craft is so reduced that there is no one passing on or picking up the knowledge of the craftsperson.

I think there benefit to making the art objects with one’s own hand, or at least, in exercising this skill as a regular discipline. Making the objects – collaboration between the mind and the hand/body, between thought and tactile sensation - tends to slow down logical articulation and to spread out associational articulation, fostering deeper reflection. The tension and struggle in making art with one’s own hands reduces the likelihood of art that merely illustrates a concept.

On the other hand, limitations in the height of skill in particular medium should not preclude an artist from realizing work in that medium, even if this means collaborating with those who have reached the height of skill in the medium.

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Comment by Deirdre A. Fox on April 21, 2009 at 4:20
Thanks for commenting, Zsi. I think we are in general agreement. I think the process of execution does communicate with conception, as you phrase it, but this communication doesn't necessarily all have to be in one person's head and hands to be successful, albeit a different form and level of translation is involved when one person conceives and another executes. The sensibilities of the person executing the piece, in my view, always will impact the articulation of the conception (unless we're talking about a conceiver who sets up a string of codes for a machine to follow); the conceiver may or may not impact the articulation in executing the piece ... depends on the level of instruction and intervention.

I don't think this is where the absence of skill in a fair bit of current contemporary art, whether it's absence of craft or absence of real thought/meaning, emanates from; sadly, I think that when feeble art is presented and praised, feebleness is the goal, as a statement of ineffectiveness or futility or inevitable shortcoming, a rather tired statement after a bit.
Comment by Zsi Chimera on April 17, 2009 at 14:13
I would like to celebrate your thoughts on when you pointed out the benefits of making art by one's own hand, especially the 'slowing down of logical articulation to let associational articulation take place', this is something I love about making art by hand ( I cut out all my bits and pieces for my collages rather than using photoshop or digital media, not that I have much against them, but its the communication with the actual material that is very enjoyable about creating things...)What disappoints me the most about a lot of current contemporary art I see, is its lack of skill, and most often lack of real concepts or meaning too.
It is interesting you bring up the question of isolating the execution and conception, I think the actual process of execution communicates with conception during the making, even perhaps completing the former. I dont actually think the two can be completely separated, but either way, certainly this shouldnt result in the denigration of quality.


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