Notes for Essays on Inconsistency

story © Michael Betancourt, December 19, 2001 all rights reserved.


(1) Inconsistency in Morris’s unitary forms. The whole point of this work is that it can be grasped immediately, without the need for an interveening investigation: thus it is immamently graspable in toto. Such work can correctly be called “ plotonic” due to its instantaneous reference to a singular form and its insistence on the indivisible characters of the object itself. The mirrored cubes contradict this tendency while at the same time affirming it> We can grasp trhem as cubes easily (almost instantly) yet we remain unable to retain any kind of a mental image of the cube as such; we are aware of its form and unaware of it simultaneously. This places these works specifically within the realm of optical illusions: the presence of the cube is real, but its absence is an illusion. It is the play between presence and absence of these objects in the enviromnemt and our consequent inability to mentally grasp the object as we grasp his other unitary form work that places these objects in the realm of inconsistency. This inconsistency gradually becomes of greater importance to Morris’ work.

(2) Richard Kern and performance art. Breton’s comment about the ultimate surrealist act to shoot randomly into the crowd of passsers-by dramatizes a particular stance between the avant-garde and the general public. It is one of extreme opposition, which in Breton’s case played out in the form of proposed violence. Kern, while he was performing with Lydia (a punk band. See death tripping, kern interview for details) Lunch he would present himself in one of several guises. (1) as a heckler in the audience who harasses her throughout the performance (2) as a bodyguard on stage who commits acts of violence (stabbing, mutilation ,etc) on audience members (shills) who create problems during the performance. This activity was done without the audience being aware of the false nature of the actions; some audience memebers believed that Kern was killing the person from the audience. (quotes) This activity parallels the theatrical piece where the audience would be taken hostage durign the performance and held at gun point—the “real” play would be replaced by the mock terrorist action. See Crow’s comment in rise of the 60s about shooting the audiencex. Difference here between Kern and this is two fold: on the one hand, it is the whole audience, not only shills who are involved in the action, and on the other there would be no real harm or action taken against the audience—they would be released at the end of the performance. The inconsistency arises in this situation because of the realationship between this action and that of the historical avant-guarde: the actions proposed by Breton and Crow and enacted by Kern are rhetorical. They do not actively engage the audience in anything more than an agreed-upon fashion. The surrealists did not actively kill people; Kern’s “victims” were part of the performance. This thearer piece breaks that condition by actively involving the audience in the action, but does not actually do anything. At the end of the performance (after a space of a few hours) the audience is realeased as if nothing had happened; the terrorism-hostage taking was the actual play. It is an inconsistent activity because it is a performative illusion. It is the rhetorical aspect which renders it inconsistent—the audience is taken hostage, but they aren’t really taken hostage. Anyone who becomes a problem is simply removed from the theater as any disruptive audience member would be. What is on display in this theatrical piece is the convention of theatrical pieces themselves—that the audience sits in their seats and allows the performance to happen around them. All theater is authoritarian—connection to Morris?

(3) Donald Judd’s specific objects are themselves inconsistent. Look at his work and look at how it is different from Morris. Minimalism consititutes a logical system of making sculpture; examine the ways that the works both meet and contradict the systems which produce them. This chapter should be a companion-expansion of the earlier one on morris.

(4) Inconsistency in Surrealist metaphysics. Dali’s paranoid critical method is based around the fabrication of double and tripple images which present visual images that develop in the same fashion as the composite heads of Arcimboldo.

(5) Magritte’s images which incorporate text do so in a manner which contradicts the presentation, generating a negation of the resultign encounter. This work is specifically inconsistent. See Foucault’s book, this is not a pipe for additional material on Magritte. Also look at the works which appear to reverse the formal relationship normally encountered in his work, for example, this is a piece of cheese (see the Magritte catalogue) where the asserted object is a small painting contained under glass so that our encounter with it is visual, forcing a consideration of the ways which this work makes us reconsider our normal encounter with such objects. The inconsistency enters this situation through the frission of our encounter with the work and our desire to object to the object that Magritte presents.

(6) What is the relationship between post-modedrnism and inconsistency? Is there a relationship—if so, is inconsistency a repressed issue for contemporary art?

(7) Schizophrenia and the problem of inconsistency. As Dementia Praecox (1909) showed, schizophrenia is a mental disorder which manifests itself through language. It is possible that the appearance of specifically “schizophrenic” modes of artistic production under pomo is the form which inconsistency takes. Look at Krueger as an example of this??? Must do more research into her work first. Impression is that it gravitates against being inconsistent.

(8) Jenny Holzer. Look at her work as self-contained self-cancelling logical systems where there is no specific pov because all values are negated across the system as a whole. This would tend to imply that instead of a critique in this work what we have is a presentation of the Godelian inconsistency via the aphorism. Consider examples which are internally fragmented: protect me from what I want. This is an internally inconsistent statement. It states a desire for protection, but it is a protection from the stated desire which is…. loopes just like the Barber paradox.

(9) Schizophrenic structure in films of the 80s. 90s. Possible parallel to the issue of schizophrenia as a disease of inconsistency.

(10) Road signs art piece as a vehicle for environmental inconsistency. Fabrication of the “go” sign and “right turn” sign.

(11) Baudrillard’s book Seduction and the question of dissimulation versus inconsistency. Is camoflage a question of inconsistency? What about the question of seduction—once it is seduced, the seducer looses interest—because the inconsistency has collapsed and is no longer in “superposition.” Seduction, for Baudrillard is the process of this collapse. Must critique this for the logical errors that are in his formulation. His decision that it is a chosen play of simulation means that there is an underlying state which the seduction imitates: thus camoflaged. This is not the same as inconsistency and superposition because the collapse which seduction has as its goal is irrelevant. IN superposition, such collapses occurr only momentarily as a part of the eigenstate of flux which the work exists in normally. Compare this idea of seduction to that of deBord’s spectacle which is inconsistent. This is the key difference between their approaches.

(12) Gerhard Richter’s opposition and intermingling of painting and photography to produce a situation where both systems function together as the visual realm. Most importantly his photographs which are also painted-over in the manner of his large abstractions. They seem like crucial works in the relationship between the painting and photographic elements of his work as a whole. While these works are not inconsistent, they do propose a suspension of the issue painting/photograph that appears in his other work

Copyright © Michael Betancourt  December 19, 2001  all rights reserved.

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