In the twenty-first century, we are continually confronted with the existential side of technology—the relationships between identity and the mechanizations that have become extensions of the self. Focusing on one of humanity’s most ubiquitous machines, Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art combines critical theory and new media theory to form the first philosophical analysis of the car within works of conceptual art. These works are broadly defined to encompass a wide range of creative expressions, particularly in car-based conceptual art by both older, established artists and younger, emerging artists, including Ed Ruscha, Martha Rosler, Richard Prince, Sylvie Fleury, Yael Bartana, Jeremy Deller, and Jonathan Schipper.
At its core, the book offers an alternative formation of conceptual art understood according to technology, the body moving through space, and what art historian, curator, and artist Jack Burnham calls “relations.” This thought-provoking study illuminates the ways in which the automobile becomes a naturalized extension of the human body, incarnating new forms of “car art” and spurring a technological reframing of conceptual art. Steeped in a sophisticated take on the image and semiotics of the car, the chapters probe the politics of materialism as well as high/low debates about taste, culture, and art. The result is a highly innovative approach to contemporary intersections of art and technology.
“There they rest, inert, impertinent, in gallery space—those book forms either imitated or mutilated, replicas of reading matter or its vestiges. Strange, after its long and robust career, for the book to take early retirement in a museum, not as rare manuscript but as functionless sculpture. Readymade or constructed, such book shapes are canceled as text when deposited as gallery objects, shut off from their normal reading when not, in some yet more drastic way, dismembered or reassembled.” So begins Bookwork, which follows our passion for books to its logical extreme in artists who employ found or simulated books as a sculptural medium. Investigating the conceptual labor behind this proliferating international art practice, Garrett Stewart looks at hundreds of book-like objects, alone or as part of gallery installations, in this original account of works that force attention upon a book’s material identity and cultural resonance.
Less an inquiry into the artist’s book than an exploration of the book form’s contemporary objecthood, Stewart’s interdisciplinary approach traces the lineage of these aggressive artifacts from the 1919 Unhappy Readymade of Marcel Duchamp down to the current crisis of paper-based media in the digital era. Bookwork surveys and illustrates a stunning variety of appropriated and fabricated books alike, ranging from hacksawed discards to the giant lead folios of Anselm Kiefer. The unreadable books Stewart engages with in this timely study are found, again and again, to generate graphic metaphors for the textual experience they preclude, becoming in this sense legible after all.
A compelling study of unofficial postwar Soviet art, The Experimental Group takes as its point of departure a subject of strange fascination: the life and work of renowned professional illustrator and conceptual artist Ilya Kabakov.
Kabakov’s art—iconoclastic installations, paintings, illustrations, and texts—delicately experiments with such issues as history, mortality, and disappearance, and here exemplifies a much larger narrative about the work of the artists who rose to prominence just as the Soviet Union began to disintegrate. By placing Kabakov and his conceptualist peers in line with our own contemporary perspective, Matthew Jesse Jackson suggests that the art that emerged in the wake of Stalin belongs neither entirely to its lost communist past nor to a future free from socialist nostalgia. Instead, these artists and their work produced a critical and controversial chapter in the as yet unwritten history of global contemporary art.
Gutai is the first book in English to examine Japan’s best-known modern art movement, a circle of postwar artists whose avant-garde paintings, performances, and installations foreshadowed many key developments in American and European experimental art.
Working with previously unpublished photographs and archival resources, Ming Tiampo considers Gutai’s pioneering transnational practice, spurred on by mid-century developments in mass media and travel that made the movement’s field of reception and influence global in scope. Using these lines of transmission to claim a place for Gutai among modernist art practices while tracing the impact of Japan on art in Europe and America, Tiampo demonstrates the fundamental transnationality of modernism. Ultimately, Tiampo offers a new conceptual model for writing a global history of art, making Gutai an important and original contribution to modern art history.
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