Douglas Davis

  • THE DEATH OF SEMIOTICS (IN LATE MODERN ARCHITECTURE), THE CORRUPTION OF METAPHOR (IN POST-MODERNISM), THE BIRTH OF THE PUNCTUM (IN NEOMANIA)

    Conversely, if interest is focused not on the epidermis but on the structural skeleton, rendering it independent of function and form, then unexplained horizons are opened up. True, the Principle of Form is destroyed, but it is replaced by a structure as a field, open to multi-use and to linguistic pluralism (and hence to user participation). That is to say, the notion of neo-avantgarde takes the form of a radical anti-formalism: an explosive widening of development towards the phenomenon of de-artisticization.

    —Aldo Rossi, 19831

    It may therefore be that the rule we feel the need of is first and

  • POST-PERFORMANCISM

    AGING STUD (Tab Hunter): Horrible, isn’t it? All those poor people . . . . MIDDLE-AGED MOTHER, viewing roadside crash (Divine): It’s just too horrible. I can’t look.

    STUD: You want to see something big, long and sleek? It’s my new Corvette. Let’s go for a ride.


    —from Polyester, a film by John Waters. 1981

    LOIS LANE (Margot Kidder): I’m going to slip into something more comfortable. (Leaves.)

    SUPERMAN (Christopher Reeve) anxiously seeks his mother via computerized crystal; she materializes, suddenly, before him.

    MOTHER (Susannah York): You must become one of them . . . Once exposed to these rays

  • Gregory Battcock

    THERE IS A GREGORY BATTCOCK story in each of us. Mine has to do with a dinner at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1974, the night before the first conference on video art. The host asked us all to rise and identify ourselves. One after another, we staggered to our feet, mumbled our names, added a self-descriptive phrase or institutional tag, then collapsed. Suddenly, 25 or 30 names later, an astonishing young woman split the air with a thrilling shout, never moving from her seat: “I AM GREGORY BATTCOCK!” At first the laughter came like a cold shock. Then it relaxed, breaking into a wave of

  • The Size of Non-Size

    IN 1960 PIERO MANZONI EXECUTED executed a line in a Danish newsprint factory that stretched 7,200 meters. This act is relatively well known, but another and similar work is much closer to my present subject: the infinite line. About this he said: “An infinite line can only be drawn leaving aside all problems of composition and size: in total space there is no size.” Here Manzoni comes close to the concept of scale implicit in virtually all the work that has been called “post-Minimal” or, more loosely, “post-modernist,” minus a social-political dimension. On the physical level, we are no longer

  • What Is Content? Notes Toward an Answer

    WHAT IS CONTENT? IT HAS been several decades since the question has even been raised, much less answered. Once, content was held to be a natural component in the work of art, as natural as color or facture in painting, form or mass in sculpture. Since publication of Clement Greenberg’s Art and Culture, however, we have been led to believe that it is a corrupting agent in esthetic structures that are irreducibly visual and experiential, directed at the eye rather than the intellect. We have been trained not to seek a meaning in art beyond its corporeal components. I believe that we are about to

  • Video Obscura

    THE ESTHETIC POSSIBILITIES INHERENT in video have hardly been thought about at all. By “video” or “television” I mean much more than is normally understood by those terms. I mean the entire complex of hardware and software systems associated with visual broadcasting. I mean the sophisticated two-inch equipment available at the political top of the video structure to the portable half-inch videotape recorders and hand-held cameras used by artists and social radicals at the bottom. I mean “programs” made by one man, working alone, as well as by massive production teams—for “telecast” by video