The nonceptual art of Jeremy Gluck. From Fluxus to disappearing artists.
Jeremy Gluck clearly has something to say in his meme art,
“I’ve always been into minimalism, but now I’m aiming for absolute deconstruction. To the point of deconstructing myself and voiding myself as much as possible in the work. The first meme I created ‘The Human Beings’, is a reflection of alienated outsider status, a perception of our species as blockish and backward. The latest ‘Arnt’ is totally abstract.”
Swansea News Network welcomes him as a voluntary and regular contributor. He will be posting in a regular commentary ‘spot’. So keep your eyes peeled! But, first take a breath and open your mind to conceptualism.
at least its institutional forms,”
We live in a confused, even chaotic era just now, and we do so in many ways. We are led to believe we are surrounded by fake news. Some of it most certainly is fake, and yet some is proven not to be fake news at all. Instead, it gets called that by those seeking power over us, trying to undermine and denigrate a free (and admittedly at times elitist) press. Art has, over the years, often been the first to react and reflect on our day to day reality. It can serve as a language, a microphone or mirror for what many of us would like to say if we had the time and inclination.
Today, it seems, if something needs saying, the gap available to us, in which to say it, is beginning to feel increasingly smaller. This vanishing point of communication appears to be ironically down to an increasingly oversaturated media world of internet, radio, social media, multi-channel TV and fast-flashing video images and syndicated stories. Small voices are all too often difficult to hear in this hyperactive, repetitive hubbub. In some cases, more extreme voices can be dangerously amplified with a little help from politically motivated propaganda, religious fervour, and often big business money. Against this landscape, it is also perhaps becoming increasingly difficult for independent media to not be biased in news reporting with diminishing sources of income as the polarising volume button is turned up. Media are forced to make ever stronger points to stand out or use sensational reporting with reporting turned up to the max.
For many, it has become prohibitively expensive; to say anything at all worth saying, with multinationals owning media outlets and certain companies ruling the social media waves and with commentary indeed becoming riskier under certain political regimes. In a bid to counter this in a simple and hopefully effective way, Swansea News Network is pleased to partner with Swansea, artist and musician, Jeremy Gluck for a regular artistic and commentary feature. We hope his memes will provide a ‘quickfit’ commentary on the era we live in. It is up to you to form your own opinion and you are of course welcome to give feedback and ideas provided it is done respectfully.
Jeremy Gluck is an exciting developing artist. His work has an obvious, in your face immediacy, yet beyond this lies much more pertinent questioning about the territory where we all are right now. In introducing his work, Swansea News Network would like to hint at the art history landscape his work is rooted in and has evolved from. At Swansea News Network we like to try and make sense of things. Besides which, it helps to understand just where his art is blasting out from.
Back to eliminating fine art?
The Fluxus group did not manage to succeed in their aim to eliminate fine art. They did, however, make great strides in influencing toward another key goal of theirs. The goal was to try and destroy any boundary between art and life. In our age today we are perhaps much closer to this than we were back in the 1950s. An inspiration for the Fluxus group was John Cage himself influenced by Zen, who championed the element of chance in Art. In Cage’s view, an artist should embark on creating art without a conception of what the finished piece should look like. It was the act of creating which was important not the finished product. By coincidence, Swansea News Network rather likes this too, if only out of necessity!
The art we make over the ages is perhaps comparable to the ideas we reach out for and sift through when asleep in our dreams. We grasp at our art as a potential way to try and make sense of our lives though in a more ordered way than in our dreams. Art can be symbolic of things in the world that we name. Emotional issues, political issues, and personal issues can all be reflected in a work of art. From cave painting to religious icons, Warhol and branding, humankind has always felt a desire to leave a mark. We draw a picture or at least like to leave the suggestion of an idea behind as we travel forward in space or in time. Historically, we have done this to show both our individual or collective presence or even respect our dead. In so doing, we try to understand our place in the world, be this within the constraints of religious belief, political power structure or privately working it out within our own minds.
Art gives us a medium to sometimes express the indescribable, the uncomfortable or the difficult to understand. Looking across the field that is art is can be like looking across a generally even playing field as nothing in art is definitive. It is like a game of football with everything beautifully up for grabs and at the same time always up for questioning. Art gives us a free space for creative imagination and reflection. In our rush to develop newer art to help determine our own place in the world, not only do we constantly infer meanings and values upon it, but we can be susceptible to quickly identify each new style and ism as of reducing value and force these styles and movements to drop like stones into the blackness and confusion of our collective archive then propel ourselves onward to the next shock of the new.
It was the work of Marcel Duchamp; radical ideas expressed with ordinary, often everyday non-artistic materials, that influenced the direction of modernist art away from pictorial visual development and asserted that visual art could be used for investigating meanings in language. Conceptual art was to be the new beast. Henry Flynt of the Flux group first described his piece as ‘concept art’ in 1961. As the 60s creative movements developed in the late 1950s, Ad Reinhardt claimed his paintings: Black Paintings (1954 -1967); practically uniform yet investigative black squares, were concerned with art alone and bore no reference to anything outside themselves. Later artists such as Joseph Kosuth rejected the then current questioning of the painterly by the Abstract Expressionists. He chose instead to question art in it’s broadest sense claiming that art was all around us. Kosuth began to explore the various contexts through which art is presented and defined such as cultural, social, economic and political contexts. Rejecting the study of form and structure prevalent in art he decided to demonstrate the more transformative aspect of art using language itself as his medium. Focussing on provoking often quite specific ideas with the use of language as art (for example in First Investigations: Art as Idea as Idea), he rejected the much looser and unclear perception associated with looking at images and objects. By offering public opportunities to remake and share his art he managed to undermine the preciousness of the art object and its privileged place in the gallery or museum. He demonstrated that “art” is not located in the object or painting but in the idea or concept of a work.
Another early conceptual artist John Baldessari, poked fun at the art world giving tips on what art sold easily; lightly painted rather than dark, and bulls and roosters apparently in his time! He questioned the validity of authorship and pointed out that choice itself could be art and that the range of value placed on art was determined by the interests of groups (power structures such as the wealthy, the establishment or the critics) rather than the individual. In deconstructing art the conceptual artists began to identify a very thin line between art and the ordinary. This attack by the conceptual artists on conventional aesthetics continues to inform us today with many such artists becoming super famous. from Tracey Emin, Jeff Koons to Damien Hirst.
Art has become on the surface, democratized yet still it is owned, controlled and essentially a currency. As Damien Hirst said of his Turner Prize,
“It’s amazing what you can do with an E in A-Level art, a twisted imagination, and a chainsaw”.
In recent times artists have begun to dug deeper investigating the production of meaning rather than the communication of meaning. In today’s age of so-called fake news, this deconstructive approach seems ever more urgent. It is becoming more important to understand widely how meaning is produced in a fast changing world.
Must art continuously change to suit ever brighter shining new concepts of space, time, being and meaning? Can we allow the ideas of conceptual art, of placing in context and reflecting on the transformative aspects of art and investigating the communication of meaning to disappear back into the water like yet more weighty stones? Should we allow pop to eat itself? Is this a bit too scary or even dangerous for us to contemplate?
It is with some slight trepidation then, that Swansea News Network reintroduces Jeremy Gluck. Known already to our regular readers from his recent, ‘The Carbon Manual’ gig and the ‘Human Beings’ art exhibition at Cinema & Co here in Swansea. He is a curious, vivid yet often opaque and enigmatic artist. Highly present, yet also not entirely present at the same time, he will be “disappearing” regularly on this website with fresh ongoing artwork and commentary. So tune in…
Here he introduces himself and his work.
Art has said everything it can. It needs a route out of itself. To me, everybody is an artist anyway. Being alive, existing, is art. So I guess there’s nothing left to say…and I’m saying it.”
I’ve always been into miminalism, but now I’m aiming for absolute deconstruction. To the point of deconstructing myself and voiding myself as much as possible in the work. The first meme I created, ‘The Human Beings’, is a reflection of alienated, ‘outsider’ status, a perception of our species as blockish and backward. The latest, ‘Arnt’, is totally abstract.”
I dwell on concepts of invisibility and non-existence but the memes are still very personal work about collisions between the personal and the distant, and non-personal. Identity, memory, self-concept, politics, pop psychology: everything has to be challenged and dismantled.”
Part of my inspiration for the memes is the work of Gustav Metzger. I only discovered him recently. He is the pioneer of auto-destruction. He made radical art, planned to disappear. The memes are intentionally disposable. ‘Less is more’ is a fail: ‘Less is less’ or it isn’t working.”
I call it ‘nonceptual art’, art beyond concepts, but of course it’s conceptual. That produces an irony I can use. Generic clipart and lateral slogans work really well together: it creates a weird kind of mediocrity pushed inside out. I make more memes every day, quickly. There’s no point to them apart from the point you make for them. Subtraction and abstraction have led to the latest memes – like ‘Arnt’ – that use ‘unlanguage’: words I make up or distort to break down meaning. Disintegration requires no explanation.”
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