August 30, 2004


Scale is the thing, the acute issue of our time:

If Rothko and Pollock were addressing their own need to paint large pictures, Barnett Newman described the encounter between the beholder and the work as a phenomenological relation: The painting should cause the viewer to feel present.

An ArtForum article. Check it out.

The stuff I wrote about how we live and organize cities, the ideas pivoted on scale, the relation of one measure against another, people and cities. I was saying that we should recognise that we are building cities that relate to a super inhabitant, the most obvious is the view of a car as an human augmented with various prosthesis to extend the limitations of our bodies: telephones, television, the internet and the computer, and automobiles.

The question I wanted to highlight is whether we can build to a scale that relates to human measure (without simulation, Disneylands) or are we destined to build within the extremities of our inventive imaginations. Take Tossa for example: can you build a place like this, or are intimately scaled human environments best found, concretized historical facts on the ground, products of older technologies such as animal drawn vehicles which no doubt scaled the layout of this fishing village.

In painting, I've been uncomfortable with the global institutional scale of the factory cum kunsthalle (but I have no quarrel with globalism per se), the cavernous spaces of contemporary white cube. I think it is the museum that is the agent who should change in response to the work than the artist who should scale up thier work to fill the superhuman scaled spaces of today. This recently became vivid as we saw the Urs Fisher show at the Kunsthaus Z?rich last weekend.

In general, our abilities to shift scale has rendered a time when one can do more with less. In our lifetimes, the progression of answering machines, personal computers, the internet and cell phones as enabled new business start up with less costs than in previous generations. The ability to do more with less is empowering to both those with good intent and those without... hence Osama.

Scale. it's a big deal.

Posted by Dennis at August 30, 2004 7:29 PM

1 Comment

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