TIL about Process Art
All my life I have faced a conflict I can’t seem to resolve. Time after time I find an apparent clash between the ideas of art and science.
Some art (eg. generative, ai) is heavily driven by technology, but the output is not particularly technical.
What attracted me most about “Systemic Art” was the focus on the art-making process over the final artwork. However, there is not a lot of information out there about the movement.
Art critic Lawrence Alloway identifies it as follows:
“[A] field of increasingly popular geometric abstract paintings, artworks containing a simple, methodical, organization exploring repetition and pattern.”
A few more notes:
- The term Systemic Art originates from the name of a 1966 exhibition at the Guggenheim.
- The art critic who organized the exhibit coined the term, and his definition is to this day widely used to describe the art movement.
- A sub-genre of Systems Art.
- Wikipedia defines “Systems Art” as “art influenced by cybernetics, and systems theory, that reflects on natural systems, social systems and social signs of the art world itself.”
- A related art movement to Systemic Art under the same umbrella of Systems Art, is Process art.
- “Process Art” shifts attention away from the art object itself, and focuses instead on the process involved in making the art piece.
- Wikipedia claims that “[p]rocess artists saw art as pure human expression. Process art defends the idea that the process of creating the work of art can be an art piece itself.”
“To work with a plan that is pre-set is one way of avoiding subjectivity. It also obviates the necessity of designing each work in turn. The plan would design the work. Some plans would require millions of variations, and some a limited number, but both are finite. Other plans imply infinity. In each case however, the artist would select the basic form and rules that would govern the solution of the problem. After that the fewer decisions made in the course of completing the work, the better. This eliminates the arbitrary, the capricious, and the subjective as much as possible. That is the reason for using this method.”
I find the core concepts fascinating:
- avoid subjectivity
- make art following pre-established rules
- focus on the process (rules) over the output
So as I continue the search across the space between art and science, the prioritization of process above all else, as introduced in “Systemic” or “Process” art, appears to me as the purest of all the forms of creation.