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Posts Tagged ‘Relational Aesthetics’

This post comes to us from Bethany Gugliemino, Curatorial Intern.

 

Particular Heights 2.0, 2012. Paul Theriault (b.1972) and Siebren Versteeg (b.1971). Handmade steel swing set, counter, and LCD monitor. Collection of the artists.

 On the evening of May 25, the LED counter mounted above the swing in the front courtyard of the NBMAA displayed a single red digit: 0. Two weeks later, the counter boasted the significantly larger number of 3614, a number that will only continue to grow in the coming months. This swing is one part of Particular Heights 2.0, the second incarnation of an installation by artists Paul Theriault and Siebren Versteeg that was first displayed in New Haven, Connecticut in 2010. Consisting of an outdoor component (the swing and LED counter) and a gallery component, the installation falls into the category of New Media, a field with which both Theriault and Versteeg are very familiar. New Media involves the fusion of traditional mediums such as painting, sculpture, and music with the interactive potential of computers, communications technology, and the internet. Both Theriault and Versteeg have worked individually with New Media in the past, producing works that explore themes of contemporary life and the way that digital technology can be used to create pieces that constantly change and grow.

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Blue Boar, 2009. Victoria Bradbury (b.1981). Video still.

The phenomenon of “global art” emerged after a revision of the world’s relations. With the expansion of communication and technology, a new inter-connectivity was created throughout most of the globe. New media forms and aesthetic relations were born as a response to and embodiment of  the cross-cultural interchanges and easy transmutations of national borders.

Currently, many artists are using their practice to probe the new relations of power in a global world by creating works that set in place certain social relations. In each piece, the participating spectator and the artist reenact every-day social relationships that model aspects of global interactions as a whole.  In an attempt to describe this current in art, internationally-renowned curator Nicholas Bourriaud introduced the theory of relational aesthetics in his work Esthétique Relationelle (1998). His main claim is that the social interactions created between the viewing audience and a work of art hold the true meaning of art. Through “little gestures,” Bourriaud suggests, the “relational fabric” of society may be “re-stitched”(1).

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