12-13 January 2018

Opening Reception: Friday 12-3PM

The Artist’s Field Library is a framework for ongoing work on the topic of art as a form of research and art’s peculiar place in the university. This body of work addresses questions such as what kind of knowledge does art produce, how might artists negotiate academic institutions, and how should artistic knowledge be taught? With these questions in mind, Tim Ridlen has been working for the last few years on a series of drawings, photographs, lectures, and videos, as well as an art historical examination of art in the university. This exhibition is the culmination of that research and an opportunity to interrogate the meaning of research in the context of art practice.

One way to think of the Field Library is like a boîte-en-valise or an exhibition in a suitcase. The library houses the books, drawings, videos, and multimodal texts that make up the project. Another way to think about this body of work is like a series of essays, testing knowledge and the university through academic genres like the lecture, the journal article, and the educational film. A truism of the essay form is that it tests the world through a self, through a person or subjectivity who experiences that world. In that sense, the Artist’s Field Library is a reflection on nearly 7 years in academia.

Part One of the Field Library focuses on the question of artistic knowledge, what it is and how it is produced. Combining research from cognitive ethology and film studies, a lecture is presented on the topic of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film The Hawks and the Sparrows, which features a talking crow as a Marxist intellectual. Pasolini’s own writing about film theory was based on the idea that making film was like speaking and inventing language. In a series of diagrams and video illustrations that playfully extend the metaphor of artists as talking birds, analysis of related semiotic film theory is combined with more recent studies of birds’ capacity for learning and language.

Part Two of the Field Library is a political landscape and essay film shot in the West Bank, where a physical wall, checkpoints, and poor infrastructure make it very difficult for students to commute to the university safely. Yet image technology structures the kind of learning that goes on there. Scholarly technologies such as JSTOR seek to rectify the problem of accessibility, while still reinforcing mechanisms of legitimacy, discipline and control.

Part Three is a short instructional video that illustrates six key terms from critical theory, each with its own grapheme. Six letters are derived from the diagrams that lay out a curriculum for cultural analysis: ideology, alienation, contradiction, critique, mediation, and transformation. This film is intended to be accompanied by discussion of the six letters/terms with students, who are encouraged to come up with their own terms and diagrams. As in other educational films by artists and designers, this film visualizes concepts deemed crucial to our understanding of the world; however, rather than demonstrate abstract concepts from the hard sciences with images, this video uses diagrams inspired by the hard sciences to illustrate abstract concepts in critical theory.

Time Ridlen is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Visual Arts Art History, Theory, and Criticism Art Practice program.

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