[iDC] [Criticality] Social Ethics, Social Aesthetics, Social Beauty

Sal Randolph salrandolph at gmail.com
Mon Jan 21 22:51:36 UTC 2008

Hey Eric,

Besides political failure, and a failure of good hosting, are there  
also aesthetic failures in social artworks?  What about social  
artworks which are just plain bad art?).  I'd be curious to know more  
about how you're thinking about these things.

In any case, Kanarinka's questions have been rather haunting me since  
she wrote in.

 >>If an experiment fails, this is useful public knowledge. But most  
of the "art" structures aren't geared towards collectively reflecting  
on failure. I am thinking of artist talks, grants, and so on, where  
the main goal is to impress the audience and promote the project so  
you can get a few bucks to make the next version. But it seems like  
these projects would be much more interesting and might accomplish  
more if we could begin to publicly talk about their failures.  >>

I do think a lot of social artists see themselves a bit in the mode  
of researchers or experimenters, but if so, Kanarinka's right that  
we're missing out on a lot of the data.  I've spent the last few days  
thinking quite a bit about the points of failure in my own projects  
and I can feel a simultaneous desire to talk about them more, and to  
hide them (it could be that failed social artworks generate keener  
feelings of embarrassment or shame than failed paintings or  
sculptures).  But in their very awkwardness, those failures are also  
arguably the most generative parts of my practice -- the  
uncomfortable realities and difficult feelings push things in new  
directions.  I think this is exactly what Kanarinka was suggesting.   
But what kind of situations can we create (social inventors that we  
are) that might make open and specific discussion of our failures  
more possible?

-- Sal

On Jan 18, 2008, at 7:24 PM, Eric Steen wrote:

> Responding to: "Failure & reflection - Is it just me or do social  
> art projects seem to have lots more failure involved than other art  
> projects?"
> I may have missed something but I don't think I understand exactly  
> what "failure" means in the context Kanarinka's post. As Sal  
> suggests a defining of failure is important. It seems to me there  
> are a couple different types of social projects. The more political  
> ones attempt to present information and cause "participants" to  
> reexamine their own social or political positions. In these the  
> artist is often times hoping that a certain outcome will be  
> attained and if it doesn't this could be a failure. Other projects,  
> and I personally consider these the better projects, are more of a  
> facilitation where participants become more than just something  
> that is decentered (they are not objectified), instead these  
> participants take on the responsibility of either carrying or not  
> carrying the load given to them originally by the artist. In this  
> way the artist gives up all hope of any set outcome and allows  
> participants to sculpt the outcome according to their particular,  
> or local needs or desires. In this sense failure for the artist  
> would consist of bad moderating and facilitation of an event. There  
> is more to say on this but for now that is all I will say.
> -eric
> -- 
> ericmsteen.blogspot.com

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Sal Randolph
salrandolph [at] gmail [dot] com

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Sal Randolph
salrandolph at gmail.com

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