Monday 15 September 2008

Intentionality: landscape art, and more on Damien Hirst

I caught Channel 4's programme about landscape art in a series on sculpture last night.

Led me on a train of thought...

Waldemar Januszczak, feeling the stones at Stongehenge, talking about the 'presence' of big sculpture... Angel of the North etc... I know what he means... set me thinking: "is this not about information then?" But he then went to Nancy Holt's Sun Tunnels in the Utah desert. These are aligned with rising setting sun at the summer and winter solstices, and also have holes in them that make the sun project patterns of the stars. These facts - the solstices and the stars - only have meaning because of the information. Or rather the intention of doing this.

... why are the stones at Stonehenge art but not stones left around by glaciers?

It is the intentional information. Same reason that painting of a tree is art but the tree itself is not art.

What about the nest of a Bowerbird? Or the song of Blackbird? (Which I happen to find most beautiful.)

A related question - is the nest of a Blackbird engineering?

And on to Damien Hirst. In the Guardian on Saturday, Robert Hughes explains his objection to Damien Hirst. "One might as well get excited about seeing a halibut on a slab in Harrods food hall" he says. Perhaps it is intentionality again - the halibut in Harrods is not put there with artistic intent. Hirst's sharks in formalin were.

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