what is contemporary art?


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Yatlapball

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#2
I studied a little of this in this semester actually, because I took a module in Post-Modern Theory.

eikin has got it right. Basically your "contemporary" art is anything (and everything that is deemed as art... and art in itself is already subjective to begin with) that has been created since the conclusion of the modern era... about 1960ish. Or 70ish depending on who you're talking to. heh. You could also say contemporary art is just another name for Post-Modern Art... with its predecessor being of course, Modern Art.

So what *is* post-modern... to sum it up in a short sentence, it's basically something out of the norm, something that doesn't conform to past values and rules.

So you are also right to say that the term contemporary could one day refer to something quite different. And our current contemporary art could "un-contemporarise" itself. (pardon the bad english :bsmilie: its a little too early in the morning)

So... we'd just have to wait and see what those whatever-you-call-them come up with to start a whole new revolution in the way we think :) Until then... Don't worry so much ;)
 

denniskee

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#3
so it is not about location / place, neither is it about time or being current, but something / design that has not been done before, ie out of the box (so to speak)?

so something that is contemporary may be de-contemporarize over time?

but what is so out of the box about the photo that was shown in that thread in critics corner that it can be labeled as contemporary photo?

just saw your post in that thread. by 3 you mean the bird and 2 buildings, 3 floors, 3 bamboo poles (although there is only 1 pole in the middle floor but it is just a minor).

so does it mean if there is 3 birds, 3 buildings, 3 floor with 3 poles in each floor will be more contemporary (if there is such way of rating)?
 

Yatlapball

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#4
MMm ok. This is a little hard to explain. To my understanding... it does not literally mean not created before. Someone could have shot a similar theme before. But this is still post-modern in its very nature.

If you compare the past and present. HDB flats werent in abundance yet. It was a norm for pigeons and birds to be living in forested areas. Not urban areas.

So this photo has illustrated something is out of the norm compared to the past (modern era). Breaking of a trend. Of birds starting to become "urbanised"?

You probably wouldn't find any photographs or paintings of birds in an urban area back then. The "norm" was depicting the birds in a forested setting. On a branch. In the foilage. Etc.

Do you get my drift here? It's a depiction of something that has broke the "norm" that was established by modern art.

Of course, going by this line of argument, it also goes to say, we are still living in a state of change. Where modern-influenced art is created in the post-modern era we live in today.
 

Yatlapball

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#5
by "decontemporarise" I meant..

In this post-modern era. Contemporary art refers to Post-Modern Art.

In the next era.. maybe called XXX-XMM era :bsmilie: Contemporary art then... would refer to XXX-XMM Art.

Thus Post-Modern Art would have been "decontemporarised" so to speak.
 

eikin

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#7
I studied a little of this in this semester actually, because I took a module in Post-Modern Theory.

eikin has got it right. Basically your "contemporary" art is anything (and everything that is deemed as art... and art in itself is already subjective to begin with) that has been created since the conclusion of the modern era... about 1960ish. Or 70ish depending on who you're talking to. heh. You could also say contemporary art is just another name for Post-Modern Art... with its predecessor being of course, Modern Art.
contemporary is anything at ''this'' time, so contemporary art does not always equate to Post Modern Art.

So what *is* post-modern... to sum it up in a short sentence, it's basically something out of the norm, something that doesn't conform to past values and rules.
you're referring to Avant Garde and not really Post Modern. and Modern Art is Avant Garde, since it breaks away (or tries to break away) from all past forms. Post Modernism is a reaction against Modernism, and Post Modernism in the broadest sense also includes returning to some recognisable past.

So you are also right to say that the term contemporary could one day refer to something quite different. And our current contemporary art could "un-contemporarise" itself. (pardon the bad english :bsmilie: its a little too early in the morning)

So... we'd just have to wait and see what those whatever-you-call-them come up with to start a whole new revolution in the way we think :) Until then... Don't worry so much ;)
not quite, Post Modernism is really almost anything.

if you want to grasp the topic from a less abstract point of entry, you might want to read Fredric Jameson's works, not easy to read though.
 

glennyong

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#8
contemporary is anything at ''this'' time, so contemporary art does not always equate to Post Modern Art.



you're referring to Avant Garde and not really Post Modern. and Modern Art is Avant Garde, since it breaks away (or tries to break away) from all past forms. Post Modernism is a reaction against Modernism, and Post Modernism in the broadest sense also includes returning to some recognisable past.



not quite, Post Modernism is really almost anything..
this is soooo design history.. talking about Post Modernism :bsmilie: :bsmilie: :thumbsup:
 

attap seed

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#9
i am no art student, so i try to give a layman's input.

lets say salon photography where there are the most number of judging criteria eg, the lighting must be dramatic (intense side/back light), background must not be distractive (usually black), subject must be beautiful and interesting (a lady in red holding a red umbrella / a old lady with very deep wrinkles all over her face), pin sharp, well exposed... ...

so, this is old school. many view it as stagnant.

so, someone decides to break all the rules. top light, messy background, boring subject staring squarely into the viewfinder, blur, wrongly exposed... ... and call it creativity or contemporary.

if u read AmateurPhotographer, u will noticed tat many major award winning photographs are "contemporary". so advanced, such tat many established photographers, when told to comment on them, admitted that they "catch no balls". it is believed tat, sponsors deliberately choose controversial images to increase their own exposure.

or lets look at another analogy.

thai boxing is famous for their attacks using the elbows and knees.

so, someone from another martial art discipline, after watching some muay thai fighting clips imitated those moves. well, after some time, he indeed can throw some elbows and knees that look impressive.

but, muay thai is a century old art w established system.

picking up bits and pieces w/o putting in any effort in the foundation, can that person claim that he knows muay thai?
 

denniskee

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#10
i am no art student, so i try to give a layman's input.

lets say salon photography where there are the most number of judging criteria eg, the lighting must be dramatic (intense side/back light), background must not be distractive (usually black), subject must be beautiful and interesting (a lady in red holding a red umbrella / a old lady with very deep wrinkles all over her face), pin sharp, well exposed... ...

so, this is old school. many view it as stagnant.

so, someone decides to break all the rules. top light, messy background, boring subject staring squarely into the viewfinder, blur, wrongly exposed... ... and call it creativity or contemporary.

if u read AmateurPhotographer, u will noticed tat many major award winning photographs are "contemporary". so advanced, such tat many established photographers, when told to comment on them, admitted that they "catch no balls". it is believed tat, sponsors deliberately choose controversial images to increase their own exposure.
wah! very difficult to digest lay.
 

denniskee

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#11
i once went to esplanade 3 nights in a row to catch a contemporary dance at the than outdoor theater. they did try to explain a very little bit about the concept of contemporary dance. however, all the 3 nights, they explain the same thing.

they demonstrated what is a door. but other than that (i watch with all concentration i could master), still catch no ball. i mean, how many door can there be in a dance?

could it be it is extremely difficult for them to do further explainations? if so, how can they expect the audiance to grow in numbers?

anyway, couldnt help it but to compare the contemporary dance to chinese opera. going be their explaination about door, can i say chinese opera is also contemporary art performance? or it is not because it is a very ancient art form?
 

Yatlapball

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#12
LOL eikin. I really was too sleepy, when I woke up and re-read what I typed earlier more half of it didnt make any sense to myself either :bsmilie:

Let's try this again... What I was trying to say was.. While "Contemporary" is construed to mean everything that is art since the 1960s, and by that it has an assumption that would also naturally include your modernist/neo-classical styles that have continued to be present in "our age"... It is of my opinion that the assumption and careless usage of the term "Contemporary" has led to much confusion over what it really means.

In strict terms, I feel that is refers specifically to the works of this age (i.e. the post-modern age), the fact that many artists of "this age" continue to produce works in the earlier styles does not make it contemporary by it being produced "now".

Oh.. and to be more specific. The "Post-modern age" does not only have post-modern art, there are quite alot of other styles/schools of though which fall under this "age".

The "contemporary dance" could be a dance style that has no semblance to any known styles in the modern age. i.e. This style was created after the 1960s.

So... Chinese Opera while being performed "now", is not contemporary art because it has its roots and creation of the chinese opera style in a much earlier time.
 

#13
sorry i obviously dun have the qualifications or knowledge to argue this.
but i feel that the significance of "contemporary" comes from the comparison with "ancient" or "traditional".
that is to say, the value of drawing boundaries between contemporary and traditional is the difference in properties as compared to, between the former and latter.

the contemporary approach is quite impossible to define in my opinion. i feel if you can define traditional, then we can start properly comparing what then is contemporary. then perhaps a big difficulty lies here: at least shooting portrait, traditionally there's been a set of ways popularly followed, so contemporary are those who break some/all of these patterns? and perhaps there must be a time period and following to be identified as a trend? once it moves to a superordinate level, traditional photography, there is too much variety encompassed in the term photography that it's then impossible to define traditional photography. to which, defining contemporary photography is difficult/impossible, and thus meaningless/useless as a category.

If A vs B, and you can't define A, how do you compare it to B?

3 naughty suggestions
1. the marker was trying to be different (or he wants something different from the students).
2. the marker was trying to set a trend by coining a new term
3. contemporary photography is just a figure of speech. spontaneous linguistic creation.


very curious, how then did the marker defined contemporary to his students?
what was the marking criteria?
cheers!
 

eikin

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#14
LOL eikin. I really was too sleepy, when I woke up and re-read what I typed earlier more half of it didnt make any sense to myself either :bsmilie:

Let's try this again... What I was trying to say was.. While "Contemporary" is construed to mean everything that is art since the 1960s, and by that it has an assumption that would also naturally include your modernist/neo-classical styles that have continued to be present in "our age"... It is of my opinion that the assumption and careless usage of the term "Contemporary" has led to much confusion over what it really means.

In strict terms, I feel that is refers specifically to the works of this age (i.e. the post-modern age), the fact that many artists of "this age" continue to produce works in the earlier styles does not make it contemporary by it being produced "now".

Oh.. and to be more specific. The "Post-modern age" does not only have post-modern art, there are quite alot of other styles/schools of though which fall under this "age".

The "contemporary dance" could be a dance style that has no semblance to any known styles in the modern age. i.e. This style was created after the 1960s.

So... Chinese Opera while being performed "now", is not contemporary art because it has its roots and creation of the chinese opera style in a much earlier time.
unfortunately, this isn't entirely correct as well. the biggest problem is the human desire to put everything into categories in a clinical and easily understood manner. Chinese wayang performed in strict accordance with scripts passed down since old times can be said to not belong to the contemporary. but, the form itself, Chinese wayang, can be contemporary. i mentioned about Post Modernism also includes some movements that sought to return to some recognizable pasts, which often result in compression of the idea of history, whether superficially or in deeper ways. a good example is the stage play 「妖精」 performed in the 2005 Singapore Arts Festival.

boundaries are no longer clear in the Post Modern world, because Post Modernism sees no value in defining such boundaries. one can be traditional and contemporary at the same time, if you get what i mean :bsmilie: seriously, the word ''contemporary'' itself doesn't hold much meaning beyond talking about things belonging/representing ''this'' time, and there's really no need to go into lengthy debates on what Contemporary Art is because you can't define something that rejects definition.
 

night86mare

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#15
why are we so caught up about definitions to some abstract concept? i have not studied much about art but to be honest, i'm not sure if there is even a trend for art as it is today, as compared to the past. there is no one unifying style, subject or theme today, if you look at paintings, the earlier european works tended to focus on christian themes, there is a trend, in terms of subject and also style, if you have seen them. well, at least one that is not apparent as of yet. i guess like some have said the main idea here is the timeframe right now.. perhaps at a later date something may emerge, but i highly doubt there is anything right now.
 

Yatlapball

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#16
heh. it's just a for fun discussion. i think it fits very well into what eikin proposed some time back on an "academic" discussion about photography. frankly, i don't really care about styles. shoot what you want. art is what you make of it. not some textbook definition. but unfortunately, textbooks do sort of define it... thus our discourse :bsmilie:

eikin: ok. im struggling to see the grey between the absolute black and white. heh. but your "both traditional and contemporary at the same time" embodies a style of its own if you ask me. a style that is definitely non-modern.
 

denniskee

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#17
if it is something that cant be define cause it rejects definitions, how then

1) can the lecturer teaching contemporary art form give marks / scores for the student's work?

2) viewers of these art form, are we being taken for ride (this is for discussion, i am sure they know their stuff)? cause as long as the dancers can perform beautiful moves, they basically can dance their way through, who than, are we to say "no, thats just a dance performance, not a contemporary dance".

3) going back to chinese opera / wayang, you know that stick with pieces of cloth hanging from it. that represent a horse. when they wave it, they are riding the horse. so can i say that in this traditional art form is contemporary only the script itself is not.

4) using (3), if a person write a new script for chinese opera / wayang now (hence current) that doest not involve any of the old stories, than can we consider it being a full flage contemporary art?
 

eikin

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#18
if it is something that cant be define cause it rejects definitions, how then

1) can the lecturer teaching contemporary art form give marks / scores for the student's work?
ask the lecturer, only he/she knows :sweat::bsmilie:

2) viewers of these art form, are we being taken for ride (this is for discussion, i am sure they know their stuff)? cause as long as the dancers can perform beautiful moves, they basically can dance their way through, who than, are we to say "no, thats just a dance performance, not a contemporary dance".
well, the dancers didn't say you can't criticize their dance. and there are many ways to critique a dance, just like there are many ways to appreciate one.

3) going back to chinese opera / wayang, you know that stick with pieces of cloth hanging from it. that represent a horse. when they wave it, they are riding the horse. so can i say that in this traditional art form is contemporary only the script itself is not.
you can't judge a complex art form in a blanketing manner just by picking out tiny elements. many ''contemporary paintings'' are painted with oil paints and brushes just like the way paintings are done in the past, so they are traditional?

4) using (3), if a person write a new script for chinese opera / wayang now (hence current) that doest not involve any of the old stories, than can we consider it being a full fledge contemporary art?
i think i've explained it a couple of times, you can try find out by reading up some books on artistic developments through histroy ;)
 

eikin

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#19
heh. it's just a for fun discussion. i think it fits very well into what eikin proposed some time back on an "academic" discussion about photography. frankly, i don't really care about styles. shoot what you want. art is what you make of it. not some textbook definition. but unfortunately, textbooks do sort of define it... thus our discourse :bsmilie:

eikin: ok. im struggling to see the grey between the absolute black and white. heh. but your "both traditional and contemporary at the same time" embodies a style of its own if you ask me. a style that is definitely non-modern.
:bsmilie: it's good to know where things come from, where they are, and where they might (or can) be going ;)
 

#20
while i do not have the intent to discredit any existing teachers of such programs, but when they design courses, i'm not very sure whether they prepare proper marking criterias (if they even do). there is a possiblility that they have a few personal markers for what is good and bad, or some criteria based on own reading up or maybe borrowed from previous courses or friends.

if only the lecturer knows, it's hard to do well for the course except know your lecturer well and watch out for what he likes. cos the results are then a variable of his personal liking/interpretation/preference, and not a tough evidence-based assessment.
 

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