David Joselit

  • Jon Kessler

    THE WAR ON TERRORISM is a war fought with information. As a May 13 New York Times article on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal declared: “Defenders of the operation said the methods . . . were necessary to fight a war against a nebulous enemy whose strength and intentions could only be gleaned by extracting information from often uncooperative detainees.” The infelicitous phrase “extracting information from often uncooperative detainees” conjures a world of ruthless coercion and calls into question recent use of the term information by art historians and critics. In the domain of art, information

  • PIERRE HUYGHE’S STREAMSIDE DAY FOLLIES AND THE RISE OF VIDEO PROJECTION

    The most common spatial application of video is now projection, but in the 1970s, the medium’s first official decade, its dominant sculptural configuration was the closed circuit. In this earlier moment, artists as diverse as Dan Graham, Peter Campus, Bruce Nauman, and Joan Jonas established feedback loops of live cameras and monitors into which viewers could wander: Sometimes their images were replayed to themselves in altered form, as in Campus’s works, and sometimes spectators encountered their displaced projections on a short delay or in kinesthetically disorienting environments, as in

  • the televised war in Iraq

    THE STRANGEST IMAGE of combat in Iraq was also the most normal: the virtually unchanging view of a Baghdad streetscape recorded from the hotel where most Western journalists were headquartered. As an image of war, this bland prospect could hardly compete with the pyrotechnic graphics and rousing martial music of the network news reports in which it was broadcast, and yet for me it was profoundly unsettling. How can one not marvel at the temerity of an invading force’s media horde checking into one of the best hotels in a city under siege to monitor its bombardment? To be fair, fighting did not

  • Painting by Julian Schnabel installed at Sotheby’s, ca. 1990–91. Photo: Louise Lawler.

    THE MOURNING AFTER: A ROUNDTABLE

    Few funerals have been as indecorous as the one held for painting in the early ’80s. Was the deceased truly dead, and, if so, in whose name could the death certificate be signed? Or was this a burial without a corpse, another instance of the ritual interments that seemed to recur throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as Arthur C. Danto suggests in his keynote statement? Artforum convened the roundtable that follows to offer our own reexamination of the Death of Painting debate and its legacy throughout the decade. In the April issue, a second group led by Robert Storr considers the afterlife of painting in the ’80s and beyond.

    In recalling a period of severe depression he underwent in the “melancholy winter of 1826–27,” John Stuart Mill wrote, in a famous passage of his autobiography, that he had been “seriously tormented by the thought of the exhaustibility of musical combinations.” Sooner or later, all the possibilities would have been used up, and music would be over with. There was no sense in Mill that this had already taken place, but the thought that it could or would deepened his distress. No composer of Mill’s time had, for instance, presented monotone works—a single note sustained for a substantial interval—nor

  • Sam Durant

    You hear Sam Durant’s show at the Museum of Contemporary Art before you see it. When I asked the front-desk attendant where the exhibition began, she told me to follow the music: good advice, not only in terms of orienting oneself spatially but also as an interpretive principle. For in a manifestation of Durant’s consistent attitude toward architecture, a cacophonous brew of overlapping sound composed of the blues, rock, and rap tracks that accompany most of his exhibited sculptures blurred and even contradicted the geometric rectitude of MoCA’s Arata Isozaki–designed building. As in the artist’s

  • TALE OF THE TAPE: RADICAL SOFTWARE

    THIRTY-TWO YEARS AGO Ralph Lee Smith published an influential appeal concerning the future of cable access television (CATV) in the pages of The Nation. “The Wired Nation” heralded nothing short of a revolution:

    As cable systems are installed in major U.S. cities and metropolitan areas, the stage is being set for a communications revolution—a revolution that some experts call “The Wired Nation.” In addition to the telephone and to the radio and television programs now available, there can come into homes and into business places audio, video and facsimile transmissions that will provide

  • “Into the Light: The Projected Image in American Art 1964–1977”

    After the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center, some psychologists discovered that young children watching the endlessly repeated footage of the second collision on TV believed that each replay of the crash represented a new event. The fact that adults in the United States would never fall into this gruesome misperception is not only an index of greater maturity but also an indication of how inured we are to the pulse of repetition that characterizes television—a medium in which events of the past are compulsively renewed in the present. Literary theorist Fredric Jameson has

  • OPENINGS: THOMAS EGGERER

    Thomas Eggerer’s paintings produce vertigo through formal means: Figurative vignettes based on photographic sources are detached, floating free in disconnected abstract fields. In The Tennis Lesson, 2000, a group of young players run through their paces on a court that dissolves into flaccid brushstrokes of lavender and stone; in Trio, 2000, the tour bus of what appears to be a glam rock band is parked in emptiness. Like optical puzzles, these paintings draw viewers in only to confound their perceptual bearings. Eggerer, a thirty-eight-year-old German living in Los Angeles, has arrived at this

  • Gabriel Orozco

    ON THE OCCASION OF HIS FIRST MAJOR SURVEY EXHIBITION, at LA MOCA, Gabriel Orozco told Benjamin Buchloh in a public dialogue that, as an artist, he works “in reality.” Identifying reality as his medium—as opposed to conventional practices such as sculpture and photography, both of which Orozco also deploys—is provocative. First, from an art-historical perspective, the equation between art and reality conjures up the tradition of the readymade initiated by Marcel Duchamp and transformed by postwar artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, who in 1959 famously declared: “Painting relates to

  • Cildo Meireles

    Conceptual art is often associated with a dematerialization of the art object, but, contrary to myth, few of its practitioners sought to eschew materiality altogether. In fact, most engaged in what might be more accurately described as a rematerialization of aesthetics, wherein images composed of paint and canvas were displaced by the different materialities of photographic and textual information. In lieu of discrete artworks conceived and produced according to the model of the commodity, attempts were made to reveal social form by visualizing networks of power or ideology a difficult project

  • T.J. Clark

    ANYONE LOOKING FOR A SYSTEMATIC ACCOUNT of modernism in T.J. Clark's new book, Farewell to an Idea, will be disappointed. Clark, whose foundational work in the social history of art has furnished some of the strongest readings of cultural modernity to date, does not fail at producing such a comprehensive theory—it is simply not his objective. Like a good postmodernist (which he is not), Clark knows that overarching systems are impossible, although this knowledge, one feels, is uncomfortable for him. Systems, after all, are what modernism seemed to promise. Wouldn't we all want to believe in the