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10th Sep 2008

The Big Bang of 21st Century Art: Post Conceptual Art

For innovative people in all walks of life, success begins with a bang up of an idea that happens in a moment of inspiration.

Just as the Big Bang of creation set the physical universe unfolding, the realization and successful actualization of an idea can take time. The expression that the pen is mightier than the sword means that ideas communicated can out conquer the greatest military might over time.

However, words require a degree of literacy, often translation and educational understandings, so the same pen that is mightier than the sword when wielded by an artist can produce equally or even better results. The average human brain is 60% dedicated to the perception of sight, giving visual art a distinct edge in communication.

Judy Rey Wasserman

Psalm 19 (Andy Warhol), 2007

The idea or spin – not the product – is important, and although words are persuasive, visual images are more powerful to convey one’s message. Throughout history a delicate balance between artists and people with wealth and power created a delicate balance between art that was illustrative or propaganda and fine art. Many of the greatest artists suffered with the loss of commissions, or at the very least disputes with their patrons, when the artists diverged from the “correct” presentation of world views.

Technology, media production and distribution channels for visual imagery continue to expand so that in one day the average person in an industrialized society is exposed to more images created by humans that his forefathers were in their entire lifetime. Pop artists, such as Andy Warhol mirrored and slyly commented in the ongoing bombardment of visual imagery to sell products, celebrity and news sources.

Fine art does not exist to sell a product, such as lipstick, soap or liquor, or promote the space and time for the sale of products that is found in the news and entertainment media. Fine art exists because it exists and has no purpose outside of being itself communicating or inspiring the partaker.

In Conceptual Art, the concept is shown and the “image” or vision of the artist follows in the mind of the beholder. Word Art, a branch of Conceptual Art crosses a fuzzy line between literary art and visual art, purposefully creating one image visually that provokes other imagined impressions.

Although painting and sculpture continues, with successful contemporary artists expressing themselves in paint and sculpt images communicating about death, sex, human psychology and conditions, these artists are always working alongside the shadow of photography and video, which can accurately and almost instantly convey views of the world. .In the beginning of the 21 st century, the noted collector and art benefactor Charles Saatchi called for a return to painting, saying that “Nothing is as uplifting as standing before a great painting.” This was followed by a now well known exhibit of contemporary artists entitles, “The Triumph of Painting”.

About the time of the Saatchi show, Judy Rey Wasserman began experimenting with using letters from selected texts for all the strokes in a painting. The letters would symbolize the smallest wave-like pre-matter, called strings or membranes (branes) by elementary physicists. With the focus of this new art firmly upon every individual stroke it was obvious that a return to narrative imagery was necessary to emulate how the pre-matter/energy is the basis of the physical universe that we experience.

Judy Rey Wasserman

Return Ye Children of Men, 2006

Genesis series
Texts used as strokes: Genesis 1-2:7, Deut 6:4, Psalm 90 for the “gold” frame

Using symbol-strokes, showing an underling meaning in life is impossible for any photographer unless photographing such an art work or artificially setting up a “canvas” of say sculpted strokes that are then photographed. It is a way that painting realistically triumphs over photography.

This new Post Conceptual Art uses symbol-strokes (concept) to create an actual physical painted or sculpted imagery that may or may not obviously refer to the inherent meaning(s) of the strokes. The symbols are used as strokes are in more Classical or Modern Art, which is often built in layers, where strokes are used as glazes, interwoven, overlapped, etc. The symbols do not need to be seen individually as their meaning is intrinsic. This emulates the “meaning” of an atom in an object, for instance a Fe (iron) atom in a wrought iron gate. It is not necessary to discern the atomic structure of the atoms to recognize the substance (intrinsic meaning) of the iron. Of course, one atom is hugely larger that the essential strings, which combined to eventually form its particles.

Scientifically the energy, pre-matter and then matter of the physical universe began with event of the Big Bang. The correlation between the Genesis story and the Big Bang of physics has been widely commented upon in scientific books and articles, the idea being that some event occurred with a bang (sound vibration, such as the first sound of a word spoken in otherwise utter silence), which set more vibration and light into an ongoing and expanding creation.

The branch of Post Conceptual Art known as UnGraven Image Art uses only symbol set available in the world that is both phonic and binary and alpha-numeric. These symbols are the Torah font letters that are used in the Hebrew Bible. Other fonts, including script or written Hebrew, are not binary. Binary is significant as it additionally references important concepts in science and most of the world’s religions as duality is synonymous for binary. Spiritual concepts of duality include, light and dark, holy and profane and yin and yang.

Post Conceptual Art is a Big Bang in the theory and history of art as it focuses on the stroke, the smallest unit of meaning created with the smallest unit of physical movement by the artist, as the primary significance in a work. This is the opposite of the idea of the concept that the stroke serves to create the image. Inherent in the work and in both the scientific understanding of the Big Bang and the biblical theology is that the intent and realization of the end result is present at the beginning.

Copies of Judy Rey Wasserman’s booklet,  “Manifesto of Post Conceptual UnGraven Image Art Theory-  A painting’s Meaning is Inherent in its Stroke” are available as a free PDF download through the ungravenimage.com web site or at the sidebar of the “Art & Inspiration” blog.

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Judy Rey Wasserman is an artist and the founder of Post Conceptual Art theory and also the branch known as UnGraven Image Art. Download a free copy click: Manifesto of Post Conceptual Art– A Painting’s Meaning is Inherent in its Stroke.

Check out the limited and open edition prints in the estore.
Follow her on Twitter at @judyrey .]

One Response to “The Big Bang of 21st Century Art: Post Conceptual Art”

  1. Karl Marxhausen Says:

    Judy,
    The scientific journaling of physicist Paul Davies has been a fuel for my wonder. As I am preparing for an upcoming presentation of my own journey, his words bring me back to the center. Consider this…”Without gravity, not only would there be no galaxies, stars, or planets, but the universe could not have even come into being, for the very notion of the expanding universe, and the big bang as the origin of space time, is rooted in gravity. Without electromagnetism there would be no atoms, no chemistry or biology and no heat or light from the sun. If there were no strong nuclear force then nuclei could not exist, and so again there would be no atoms or molecules, no chemistry or biology, nor would the sun and stars be able to generate heat and light from nuclear energy. Even the weak force plays a crucial role in shaping the universe. If it did not exist, the nuclear reactions in the sun and stars could not proceed, and supernovae would probably not occur, and the vital life-giving heavy elements would therefore be unable to permeate the universe. Life would be impossible. When we remember that these four very different types of force, each one vital for generating the complex structures that make our universe so active and interesting, all derive from a single, simple superforce, the ingenuity of it all literally boggles the mind.” (Superforce:The Search for a Grand Unified Theory of Nature, 1984)

    His words remind me that the One who loves me
    is that smart, that intelligent, that thorough, that specific, the way he orchestrates time and the forces we call Laws and engineers a know-ablility with himself, so that I can be drawn into his embrace, and have my hurts mended.

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