Rather than give a direct reply to Josephine's interesting question I would like to invoke Michael Fried's famous and controversial essay Art and Objecthood. (I am going to cheat a bit here by pasting a section from my book Art, Time and Technology)
"Fried was concerned to criticise minimalist, or what he described as 'literalist' art, for its theatricality, which he saw as manifested in its setting up a particular relation between the beholder as subject and the work as object, which necessarily takes place in time and which therefore has duration... Fried contrasted minimalist theatricality with the more general trend in artistic modernism precisely to defeat theatre and to suspend both objecthood and temporality. He contrasts this with modernist works, such as paintings by Noland or Olitski or sculptures by Anthony Caro or David Smith, in which 'at every moment the work itself is totally manifest'. He continued that...
"...[I]t is this continuous and entire presentness, amounting, as it were, to the perpetual creation of itself, that one experiences as a kind of instantaneousness: as though if only one were infinitely more acute, a single infinitely brief instant would be long enough to see everything, to experience the work in all its depth and fullness, to be forever convinced by it (p 146).
"And it is by virtue of their 'presentness' and 'instantaneousness' that 'modernist painting and sculpture defeat theatre'. Fried prefaced the essay with a quote from the theologian Jonathan Edwards to the effect that 'we every moment see the same proof of a God as we should have seen if we had seen him create the world at first', and that the last words of the essay are 'presentness is grace' (p 147)... For Fried 'literalist' works set up conditions of inexhaustibility. 'One never feels one has come to the end of it' he wrote of the experience of works by Donald Judd, Tony Smith, and Robert Morris (p 143). Such works are not inexhaustible because they are 'full', which Fried claimed as the true inexhaustibility of art, but 'because there is nothing there to exhaust' (p 144). They are endless as a road might be, if it were circular. This endlessness is a presentiment of endless or indefinite duration. He quotes Tony Smith's description of not seeing works of art in a second, but continuing to read them, as well as Robert Morris's statement that 'the experience of the work of art necessarily exists in time' (pp 144 - 145). This preoccupation with the 'duration of the experience' on the part of literalist artists is what, according to Fried, makes their work fundamentally theatrical (p 145).
"Fried cites as theatrical not just the work of Literalist or Minimalist artists, such as those mentioned above, but in a footnote the work of 'figures as disparate as Kaprow, Cornell, Rauschenberg, Oldenberg, Flavin, Smithson, Kienholz, Segal, Samaras, Christo, Kusama... The list could go on indefinitely'. The work of many of these artists is, in one way or another, oriented towards performance, duration and the temporal, and thus, by implication a concern with the body. It is perhaps not surprising that it was artists engaged in this kind of work who first looked at the artistic potential of new technologies such as video and computers. Rauschenberg, for example, was one of the co-founders of Experiments in Art and Technology (EAT), along with the engineer Billy Klüver, to foster collaborations between artists and engineers. At the same time or soon after artists such as Douglas Davis, the Raindance Corporation, founded by artists Frank Gillette, Paul Ryan and journalist Michael Shamberg, and Dan Graham were making work that explored the possibilities of new media such as computers, satellite communications, television, including CCTV and slow scan technologies.
Thus perhaps being 'time-based' is not a question of movement of time or duration within the work itself, but of the time of spectatorship. This would also seem to relate nicely to Sally Jane's examples from actual theatre. I think this makes net art, software art and other new media arts time-based for what its worth
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From: Curating digital art - www.crumbweb.org [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Josephine Bosma
Sent: 04 September 2009 08:20
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] September 2009: update and "Real-Time: Showing Art in the Age of New Media"
This is such a nice coincidence... I am just now working on a text
about death and the arts, and contemplating the way time based arts
fit in there...
I have a question for you, for everybody on this list actually. Would
you consider net art, software art and other new media arts time
based? I do, but somebody told me they aren't. What is the exact
definition of time based arts (I always thought it was plural?) and
what is their position in the arts at large? I would welcome any good
reading suggestions too...
On 4 Sep 2009, at 08:52, Gere, Charlie wrote:
> Another thought following on from my last post - perhaps the whole
> issue between time-based art and object art is that of death. The
> object presents us with an illusion of something whole, enduring.
> We have the idea with most object-like works of art that we can see
> it all at once, in an instant, and what we see will remain stable,
> and enduring, which paradoxically gives it a sense of infinitude,
> and thus perhaps allays our own fear of death. Curation is based on
> defeating the effects of entropy and decay to preserve works of art
> in a state of suspended animation, life-in-death.
> By contrast time-based arts operate in time, you need time to see
> them, thus they imply ending and indeed can and do come to an end,
> even if they then repeat or start again, and thus finitude and so on.
> Thus a work such as Hirst's Shark, supposedly a meditation on
> death, in fact is its disavowal, whereas time-based and the
> ironically-named 'live' arts actually engage in finitude and death.
> The real irony is that they are therefore far more about life
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Curating digital art - www.crumbweb.org on behalf of Gere,
> Sent: Fri 04/09/2009 6:45 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] September 2009: update and "Real-
> Time: Showing Art in the Age of New Media"
> Hi Crumbs
> Thought I would start discussion about the question of time-based
> art with a few general thoughts, in anticipation of the conference
> It is obvious that the incursion of time-based art into the gallery
> or museum space involves considerably more than simply the
> inclusion of other forms of media. It offers rather a profound
> challenge to a number of assumptions about the 'art work' as a
> phenomenon, to do with its supposed autonomy, stability,
> endurability. So far so obvious. What is perhaps interesting is to
> think about the context in which this took place and how it
> reflects other questions. The emergence of time-based art is
> correlative and coeval with deconstructions of the autonomous
> grounded self that had been a dominant feature of Western thinking
> since Descartes. It is perhaps not surprising that many of the
> pioneers of process, performance and time-based arts were extremely
> interested in Eastern thinking, including Cage, Paik, many of those
> involved with performance and happenings and so on, or in the
> implications of the work of Heidegger and existentialism or in
> Freud and psychoanalysis, all of which involved a critique of the
> grounded cartesian self.
> In his book Lack and Transcendence David Loy looks at the role the
> desire for fame plays in attempts to master the fear that we are
> nothing. I wonder if the continued fetish of and investment in the
> object somehow relates to this need to assert an autonomous self.
> In the gallery it presents a kind of ontological mirror reflecting
> back and stabilising our own sense of self in its apparent
> stability and autonomy. (Here one might look at Tony Bennett's work
> on the museum and gallery as disciplinary institutions, imposing an
> exemplary discipline of spectatorship). By contrast time-based art,
> interactive art, and all art involving some form of interaction
> over time tend to do the opposite. Perhaps this may be a partial
> explanation of the continued resistance to such work in mainstream