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  Marga Bijvoet

Art as Investigation
Toward New Collaborations Between Art, Science, and Technology

 
In general the second half of the sixties can be characterized as an explosion of creativity, in which artists explored new means of expression, new materials, new forms. The key word at the time was that artists wanted to “break the boundaries,” or “cross the boundaries” of the well-defined art object. One strategy to do so was to bring cheap, non-precious daily-life and junk objects, natural materials like dirt or plants, and temporary materials subject to decay into the exhibition space. Names like Fluxus, Arte Povera, Process Art were introduced to name these experiments. The next step was to go outdoors, into nature or the city environment. Among the first artists to leave the studio were the so called “earth artists.” Michael Heizer went into the desert. So did Walter De Maria. Robert Smithson had a preference for deserted industrial wastelands. In the beginning the Earth Art movement was generally perceived as an anti-art establishment statement, whereby artists were now using the land as their canvas or as sculptural material. Heizer has voiced his opinion about its origins: “One of the implications of earth art might be to remove completely the commodity status of a work of art and allow a return to the idea of art as more of a religion.” So, in addition artists objected to the conventional triangular artist-gallery-museum system, because it had become too commercial and corrupt in the eyes of many artists. The elevated tone of Smithson’s voice against the art system leaves no room for misunderstanding: “Visiting a museum is a matter of going from void to void. Hallways lead the viewer to the things once called ‘pictures’ and ‘statutes.’ Anachronisms hang and protrude from every angle. Themes without meaning press on the eye. Multifarious nothings permute into false windows (frames) that open up onto a veracity of blanks,” he wrote in his article “Some Void Thoughts on Museums.
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