Derek Kreckler, 1997 - The Identity Appliance
Essay from Exhibition Catalogue: The Identity Appliance - Goddard deFiddes
Semblance of Things Past
Some thoughts and reflections triggered by “The Identity Appliance” by Geoffrey Drake-Brockman, Goddard deFiddes, 1997
Today I swam in very deep water. I saw sharks, people drowning and extreme pornography. Dishonesty, beatify - wails of gas transformed solidified - I was thrown off pushed I bate that. I had to redial. I was searching tor “Avatars”.
Creatures - tots’ - which lurk. Virtually ‘waiting. A series of numbers lurking. Most of us, the ‘general publics, watch. Mostly in ignorance we wait, Meanwhile. London prepares for 200 channels partitioned by an interactive interlace in every home. My love of painting, Ruskin and the correct proportions of a gallery shattered!
I use a simple copper ‘telephone cable. My attraction to the login’ has never been questioned. I rarely think about it. If am searching there is no quicker or more efficient way for me to glean information than to type a ‘key word~ and wait for a response. A response garnered by numbers, algorithms supplied through an international information network staffed by numbers which co-ordinate other numbers.
These are Avatar (of sorts} Bot’s (think ro-Bot}, numeric wizards, functioning in the electronic ether as you read this text. Their transactions can be seen as small flickering lights. These lights are electronic analogues of concept strings; grouped ideas designed to aid in the transmission of knowledge.
What of the meantime: how do we begin to understand the broader (not-so-slow) creep of information technology, and how does it relate to an exhibition in a gallery? What are the critics saying? Very little it seems, as if art had no place in the essentially populist world of electronic media.
Drake-Brockman’s superbly crafted brightly painted objects defy every rule. I try to imagine Ruskin viewing one of these works, I think he would scream in fear, he would talk of evil and deception, he would leave the gallery in a state of mental and physical shock. The ‘lamp of beauty’ struck from the gallery... I am suggesting that this would be a useful piece of terror. Artists such as Drake-Brockman walk a difficult, often unknown terrain. Their effort involves taking many risks.
Our Anglocentric culture inherited the burden of a tired and abused Romanticism. As a consequence the culture at large is denied any potential insight art may offer, apart from the often censorial and restricting weekly reviews of beautiful objects and constant whingeing about the good old days.
Certainly beauty is a part of aesthetics and historically speaking it is one of art’s functions. Art, however, is not only about beauty or rather we must acknowledge that the broadest definitions of beauty must including the beauty of ideas - however shocking or abrasive - and respect for the search beyond what we know.
The late Twentieth Century leaves us with many questions and few answers. Ironically, art is continually under challenged by commentators working to sortie agenda well outside the attendant need for a rigorous critical engagement. I would suggest that this is not in the best interests of the culture,
If the population is generally baffled by art perhaps some responsibility must lie with the critics who often fail to grapple with the changing times take too much for granted and underestimate the publics ability to learn and participate. If a chemist were to investigate the laws of chemistry without endeavouring to ascertain the nature of fire or water, because every one has a notion of them. “sufficiently correct for common purposes”(1) - we would find that an inadequate response.
Generosity of spirit and the dissemination of ideas often go unflagged by the critic in favour of a politic that might be best termed prurient. In the absence of discourse, art becomes another thing; just a ‘thing’, a commodity.
A study of traditional Western aesthetic practice has become indifferent to the rapid flow and haste of living. It is not a search for genius. There is need to know. to see the new for what it is. Obviously lime is required to digest. contemplate and (hopefully) comprehend. This does not however negate the responsibility of the critic to search, decipher and discourse - not to be asleep at the wheel. Critics need to reassess Their role in art and unstick a! least some of the Nineteenth Century and early Twentieth Century glue that appears so all pervasive.
If you watch television you may accept that creative work is replaced by a fecundity of fancies: clichés with clear outcomes: ‘unions are boring and nature is losing’. The World Wide Web functions a little like this, however, the level of accountability is substantially less. The plethora of existing electronic manipulation will duplicate exponentially. In the meantime culture is limping toward a world of perception. I think, unlike any previous. To assume that a smooth coalescence will occur between our Romantic past and the Romances of tomorrow would be folly,
(1) After John Ruskin’s critique of Mill.
Munera Pulveris. Six essays on the elements of Political Economy.
Preface page viii. George Alien. London 1907.