Transient and unconventional artistic media






Spiral Jetty

Spiral Jetty

What first comes to your mind when you think about unconventional pieces of Art subject to the passing of time and to external factors?

My immediate thoughts go to the 1960s and 1970s Land Art of such artists as Robert Smithson (and of course his archetypal, provocative earthwork Spiral Jetty, made in 1970), James Turrell, Walter De Maria and many more.
This quirky art movement, sinking its roots in Minimalism and Conceptualism, considered art and landscape inextricably linked. The main pieces were actually outdoor ‘sculptures’ and installation made of natural material, subject to changes and final corrosion under natural conditions (quite interestingly the only way for the contemporary audience to experience them is through snapshots and video recordings). Most interestingly, and perfectly in tune with the contestative atmosphere of the time, Land Art was born as a provocation against the artistic ‘commercialization’ of the 1960s and the conventionality of Art displayed in museums and galleries. As a sign of protest, it therefore quitted conventional spaces and displayed in the open air, and actually made land and the environment the main subject of its installations.

Three decades after those peculiar artistic expressions, the wide world of SL presents itself as a creative platform in many ways similar to its Land Art predecessor.
As an artistic stage, it actually allows artists to display their pieces in an unconventional way, in a sense it is also a much more democratic way of expression, seeing that anybody can use it as an artistic medium or simply as an unconventional showcase to display his works.

In a way, both form of expression then, Land Art and SL Art (commonly known as SLart), encourage a revisionary understanding of Art and artistic approach, overthrowing our traditional conceptions and questioning the very purpose of Art.

There’s then another level in which the two forms of Art overlap: their transitory state makes both earthworks and virtual works ephemeral in a way; this is surely true in the first case with Land Art installations slowly degrading under the erosive effect of natural conditions, but it is also peculiar and incidental to SLart and its precarious state due to its own ‘insubstantial’ nature and its inextricable link to its Father, Linden Lab.

What if they just decide to close down, what happens to the innumerable avatars, prims and SLart works living in there?
And also, as already discussed in the post about Bettina Tizzy’s proposal of a ‘Slart will’, what happens when an artist die in RL? Unless he ‘wills’ his art, everything he’s done in SL is simply lost.

Although I also think it would be very regrettable to lose one’s work overnight, I still believe Art should be considered more as an ever-changing flux of energy and renewal rather than an immortal value and this is especially the case with Conceptualism and SLart, where more than objects and installations what really counts are IDEAS.

Blog — Gianna Yebut, June 30, 2009 @ 1:00 am

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