\ Joshua Decter \ Lari Pittman \ David A. Ross \ Peter Schjeldahl \ Benjamin Weil \ Q&A \

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    "I think painting is essentially the same as it has always been. It confuses me that people expect Pop Art to make a comment or say that its adherents merely accept their environment. I've viewed most of the paintings I've loved -- Mondrians, Matisses, Pollocks -- as being rather dead-pan in that sense. All painting is fact, and that is enough; the paintings are charged with their very presence. The situation, physical ideas, physical presence-- I feel that is the comment."
    Andy Warhol, from interview with Gene Swenson, 1963

    "When everything that was directly lived had moved away into a representation, there was no real life, yet no other life seemed real."
    -- Greil Marcus

Admittedly, I've harbored some skepticism regarding the Internet and the World Wide Web; more recently, it has become increasingly evident to me that the web now offers a legitimate alternative medium for artists-- a medium which can be accessed by millions from across the globe, and which will soon be married with television technologies for an even wider audience. The web is now a viable test site for artmaking, a laboratory environment in which the criteria for "success" and "failure" are in continuous transformation.

Tonight, I hope that we can begin to explore the complex, contradictory and invariably tense relationships between the visual/physical terms of painting on one hand, and the aesthetic/social space of television, media culture, the Internet & the world wide web on the other. The panel will also address the new conditions of artmaking that are made possible by recent communication technologies, and will evaluate the different kinds of aesthetic experiences, formal languages and conceptual approaches that are being explored in those sites-- particularly in relationship to the relatively stable notions attached to the tradition of the studio, the gallery and the museum. We will discuss whether or not such manifold cultural developments are provoking new conditions of viewership & audience (including the thorny issue of interactivity), explore why painting continues to be under assault, and evaluate the possible emergence of new aesthetic "criteria."

The following is a selection of ideas and questions that I have placed on the web site for this panel, which were designed to provoke response.

The phrase, "media culture," of course, is a euphemism for how we reproduce ourselves, as a society, into a spectacular -- i.e., ocular and aural -- organism whose viscera has become technology itself. "Long live the new flesh," as it was stated in Cronenberg's Videodrome. The technological apparatus of media culture has found a home in our collectively diverse gene pools, which means that anything we produce is already stained with a glittering reproduction of itself. Nothing is exempt-- indeed, the alternately representational or abstract languages of painting and photography have facilitated this epochal process.

Photography, or the photographic condition, lies at the heart of painting, since painting -- or the painting condition -- lies at the heart of photography, both conceptually and materially. And if photography lies at the heart of cinema and television, and if these provide the conceptual foundation out of which emerge computer-based digital systems of imaging, then painting may be the soul in the technological machinery-- or a ghost in the machine.

Can or should painting find its future articulation as but an invisible signal from a satellite in global orbit that has been relayed as an undetectable electronic tremor coursing through the veins of a fiber-optic cable?

One of the motives for organizing tonight's panel was to re-visit some of the issues that I sought to introduce in my recent exhibition, "Screen." So I'll quickly read a brief curatorial statement that was developed for the show, as you view the video-catalogue of the "Screen" exhibition, and some TV channel-surfing. For me, television is a fecund site where pictorial information, narrative fragments and concepts travel at brisk velocities through the glowing invisibility of the cathode ray--- speaking in between the lines of the best and worst of infotainment culture. TV stains my brain with its' enduring ocular, visceral and bookish delights. Instant replay, please.

Screen: it's all there to be seen. A painting show. A painting show on television. Television in a gallery. Different velocities of seeing. In life, as in art, things rub up against one another, and there's as much discord as flirtation. Contradictions abound, and linkages are proposed. Where, for instance, does the abstract or representational "space" of television end, and the abstract or representational "space" of painting begin? And vice-versa? In the realm of video, perhaps. Why do we watch television? For distraction and absorption. Why do we look at paintings? For absorption and distraction. And, of course, there is pleasure-- the alternately rarefied and banal pleasures afforded by these distinct languages.

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