Ying Wang – Week 3 – Reading Response

Response to Harrell Fletcher

The most mind-opening part of the interview is where Fletcher uses David Hammons words to criticizes the overeducated art world audience because “they have expectations and immediate cynicism or they try to dig into it too deeply right away”. What Flectcher focuses on in his work is the ‘actual experience’ and the direct access for everyone.

He challenges this idea that I always have which is to understand art, you need to be as educated and knowledgable as possible. Also, the deeper you dig, the better. For example, only after I read Krauss’s Video: The Aesthetics of Narcissism that I felt like I truly understand Acconci’s Center. When I watched it for the first time without any prior knowledge, I only felt bored, confused and speechless. But now if you asked me about it, I can talk to you for hours about the implied narcissism, the mirror effect and the psychological model. It takes me a lot of time to understand Krauss’s writing, but a weird sense of achievement comes along as if understanding an art work is supposed to be something that requires knowledge and efforts, something that only ‘intellectuals’ can accomplish. But is it? 

I also get into the habit that when trying to understand an artist’s work, I feel the urge to spend hours searching his/her whole life, the environment and history when the work is created so that I can be sure that my interpretation is ‘correct’. But is the over-emphasis on interpretation and the pursue of ‘correctness’ of interpretation necessary? It consumes a lot of time and energy and also set a distance for it makes it more difficult for other people to understand me. Not everyone is willing to pay the efforts, nor should they.

It is kind of ironic that while I started reading Acconci’s interviews, I realized that he himself might never think of anything that Krauss wrote. He rarely commented or explained his works. He even refused to call himself an ‘artist’ but an ‘art doer’. He just does it. But Krauss’s interpretation is still an interesting and insightful one. I just realize that I don’t have to force myself to reach that level or thinking that understanding an art work requires any form of ‘qualification’.

Coming back to Fletcher, his works are all about ‘others’. Over the past few weeks, I studied how early artists used video to examine themselves, which is ‘narcissist’ in Krauss’s view; then I learned about how Nam June Paik examine the the medium itself. It is an interesting shift of focus, coming back to people, but this time, others. The interviewer Allan McCollum describes his works as a kind of ‘unexpected generosity’, which is precise. My personal favorite is the Ulysses project, which is the most romantic thing I’ve ever heard. Knowing that somewhere in Portland, a guy named Jay waited for ten years and finally had a film made in his gas station, starred by the staff and passers-by, and finally projected on the station’s big white wall just makes me genuinely happy. I love it.

In a way, Fletcher and artists such as Duchamp and Beuys shared the same values. They all challenge the hierarchical and elitist art world and believe that art should be for everyone. But Duchamp and Beuys do it by radical actions, and most of their works still remains in the museums. But Flecther just walked out of the museums and walk into ordinary people’s life, and give them power to realize their ideas about art.

Week 3- Personal Response- Lillian Korinek

“Interview with Harrell Fletcher” Allan McCollum, BOMB Magazine, 2006

Fletcher’s use of perspective in his work was incredibly intriguing throughout each of his pieces. I was immediately drawn to his opening statements, detailing his process: “I’m trying to make you into my ideal viewer. I want you to be prepared before I show you anything new so that you know exactly where I’m coming from.” In, Some People from Around Here, Fletcher discusses his use of a narrow audience- in this case, the million people that commute from Fairfield to the Bay Area. The larger-than-life size portraits were not made in the image of the artist himself, but rather in the image of the people that lived in the area. He comments on his process, “I’ve tried to make projects less about my own personal aesthetic, which might appear to be a my-kid-could-do-that approach because that’s an aesthetic that I like,” arguing that sometimes one person atheistic is not always the best aesthetic.

Why don’t I just do this with all sorts of people who are interesting? I’ll give them a chance to identify what they want to talk about, how they’d like to represent themselves, and I’ll put it out there in a way that both regular people and the art world can have access to them. It’s interesting how Fletcher speculates how “we prioritize what’s important to us” and how he has used this implication to involve and publicize pieces and shows.

Overall, I found his responses oddly refreshing. His work is both full of ego and lacking it all together.



Findlay Black: Harrell Fletcher and questions

For my stop motion picture questions I choose to do either What is the main source of difficulty between you and your parents or Make a spaceship out of a cereal box. The first of the two options I would take on the personal subject of my struggle with being a business major, while what I wanted to do was go to film school. Ultimately my parents convinced me that you don’t have to go to film school to make great movies, and that if I went to school as a business degree I would have to fall back on the rest of my life. The second of the two options would give me more liberty to play with the technical side of the stop-motion aspect of this project, like making it look like the box is flying away at the end would be really neat.

In response to Harrell Fletcher’s  Interview by Allan McCollum

One thing about this interview that really stood out to me was the way approached art. ON the surface it seemed as though he was trying to be sort of a hipster by doping the opposite of what the art world expected of him, nut his work really speaks for him. He went beyond the critics and the gallery system by bringing his art straight to the people. Like on the high way with his piece Some People From Around Here. It had nothing to do with him, of a human condition, or crazy technical art, it was about the people, and celebrating them. He took portraiture, which is usually used to celebrate the rich, celebrities, or the artist himself, and made it into a show case of real people. While his work was all highly personal, it was rarely personal in the way that it was about him; he seemed to always prefer to represent other people trying to specifically pin point that person in a way that was unique to that person, but still broad enough to be approachable. I think there is a-lot to learn from him and his ‘documentary’ way of going about making art. When we live our lives, we rarely see ourselves, we are constantly looking to others, and it’s in that way that his art os the most realistic.

Answers to Paul Thek Teaching Notes: 4-Dimensional Design, Grace Gao


  • What does it mean ‘In the beginning was the Word’?
    When the first beam of sun light comes into the world, everything starts to grow. God gave his word to the world so that it has life on it, and things start to grow. In the beginning it was always the initial word, the good wish for the world to be clean and pure. When creatures first meet, they exchange signals of their existence to the rest of the world.
    One’s ‘Word’ to the external world could be in a variety of forms. It is like the tentacle of an octopus that reaches out the to outside world and in the mean time receives signals back to the individual.
  • What happens after death?
    I am gratitude to everything I have in real life, and I often can’t help but wonder what if someday I was pulled out of the world and kept away from all the things that I used to have in the past. Sometimes I would imagine that after death my spirit can still stay in this world, freely travelling around, wandering around the people I loved, trying to look into their eyes but fail because their eyes directly look through my body. I might can’t help watching my loved ones the whole time when they wake up and do their work in the day time and go to bed and be sound asleep at night. I might go to my own funeral to see how much people would miss me after I’m gone.
    The seat in the library that I would usually sit at might be occupied by someone else, or it is possible that someone keeps it for me? I’ll also need to sneak into my loved ones’ dream and tell them to be happy as I can feel their emotion and I’ll also be happy if they themselves are.

Reflection to Harrel Fletcher interview, Grace Gao

Date: February 12

Reflection #1 to Harrell Fletcher interview:

The interview with Harrel Fletcher was very clear in logic and content, also thought-provoking. I enjoy reading it a lot.

I am amazed at how he could see the artistic potential in ordinary people who are in no way an intended artists. He acted as a facilitator and basically give no specific instructions to people on how to construct their response to his assignment, but simply to raise questions and inspire them to create their own form of art. In this way, everyone can be their own artist, maybe each in a different way. When asked about the pervasive hierarchy in art, as well as whether artists like him are exploiting ordinary people who are on the lower level of the art system in order to accomplish their art work that are collectively built by different people, Fletcher responds with his faith in the equality of everyone’s life value. Again, everyone is their own artist. What’s more, he doesn’t deny the fact that artist are utilizing people’s help in order to build their work, yet he reminds people not to forget that ordinary people also gain a lot from the art work that they participate. If there has to be some exploitation between the two parties, it must be mutual.

These points actually reveal the fact that art is about life ultimately. Whether it is in his The Report project where Fletcher tries to present different people’s interesting facts, or in Some People from Around Here project where he puts up huge image of local people’s portraits by the highway, Fletcher’s work attempts to show people their value and influence to the world. Sometimes visualizing those things transparent in our life makes us realize the value in them, and by using the approach of art Fletcher does this job quite well.








Amber// Response to MANIFESTO! by Ukeles

“Now, I will simply do these maintenance everyday things,  and flush them up to consciousness, exhibit them, as Art.”

What is art constituted of? Of intelligence? Of human sophisticated handwork? Of refined material? They could all be answers. But in Ukeles’s perspective, it is maintenance. Art is maintenance, and maintenance is art. She is challenging the separation of art and our daily life. Art should be originated from life, yet being in another dimension of within our life. It is not only about content, but also about presentation as well. When I go to museums or galleries, I feel a sense of sacred, like going to temple. The items exhibited in these locations have at least one feature in common, they are both intangible. The division is already created within the setting of the gallery system, making art distant.

It is far away, it is silent, it is not something we to maintain life. “Maintain” is the compromise, but art is liberation from the compromise. Which made thought about another Taiwanese artist Teching Hsieh: One Year Performance (1980-1981). He visualized time into an hourly activity, in which he continues to document himself with a picture wearing the same uniform and pressed a punched-card machine. It is related to Ukeles’s interpretation of the art of daily activity but goes to a more extreme way He emphasized the literal passing of time and punished himself to perform this every single hour. It is repetitions but still with differences. We are a lot of the times repeating ourselves to do things we are forced to do to “maintain,” but we don’t stay the same, we are constantly changing and growing. By bringing daily life practice into art, even the most simple and abstract form, artists like Ukeles and Hsieh are creating an access from intangible to tangible, making empathy interlinked by common experience.



Amber// Propose from 4-Dimension Design by Paul Thek

Some questions I wish to explore for my next project from 4-Dimension Design will be:

  • What happens after death?

I have dreamed about once I died and I was flying high in the sky looking down upon the world, my world was only in black and white. And I still saw people I love and people I care but I can’t reach them out. The question has been discussed and even answered in different religions. As a Buddhist, I believe in samsara and I think it might be more to interpret in the modern context, which the technology and desire are somehow replacing a sense of fear to the life after death, or even the life after death is different now because of technology.

Another interesting perspective could be, can a “thing” without life be considered “dead,” thus, has a state of “after death?” Can a toy die? Can a photo die? If they do, what happens to them? And what will be different from human or any other organic lives?

  • Design something to sell to the government.

In my interpretation, I consider it is a very political statement, often ironic. Thinking about what the government wants and what they are practicing in daily life? I am thinking about authority, violence, army, social security in relation to individual identity. Like ID card, which is literally identity card. So I might redesign identity card to have an AI duplication inside it, which the government can experiment, predict, investigate, and interrogate on without much expense…….

  • Redesign human genitals so that they might be more equitable. 

More easy to animate, I think the best genital is no genital, in an age of absolute equality and asexual reproduction.


Response to Paul Thek 4-Dimensional Design Questionaire(Cyndi)

What kind of art do you like?

I would say music is something that cannot be absent from my life. I listen to nearly all kinds of music, and I play music also. I sing, I play the piano, I practice the guitar, etc. I listen to music not just for relaxing myself or randomly finding something to do when I was bored. Music is the thing that can give me strength and back me up every time I met obstacles, and comfort me every time when I was fragile and desperate. Sometimes I can immerse myself in the melodies for the whole day not knowing what is happening around me. Music is just a huge part of my life.


What in your life is your greatest source of pleasure?

My greatest source of pleasure comes from me doing everything I love every single day and have the ability for not being pushed by others or the reality. There are just so many moments in our lives that we are forced to do things that we don’t really like to do for others, and we are gradually losing ourselves in the process of compromising. I guess freedom is a really important word to me because not being limited and being able to do what I love is the best thing I can think of. The greatest source of pleasure to me is always being able to be who I am and do what I want to do every moment.


Video Art: Week3-Response to ” Proposal for an exhibition “CARE””(Cyndi)

The proposal for the exhibition “Care” really impressed me because of the contents and what Ukeles wanted to convey through this exhibition. I found the word “maintenance” very interesting since she defined maintenance as a drag – everything that takes a plenty of time but can only feel bored. I was confused when I read this part, because if she defined maintenance as a drag, then what’s the art in a drag? Later on, I found the answer in the article where she states that everything she says is Art is Art. Maintenance is boring, time-consuming and maybe low-paid and low-social status, but Ukeles was trying to make it as an art.

She divided the whole exhibition into three parts, which are the personal part, general part, and earth maintenance part. The personal part is really thought-provoking, in which she was just doing the everyday maintaining work and exhibit them as Art. Showing herself doing maintenance things to the public is the most direct way and very easy to be understood. If people can see themselves in the personal state of this exhibition, then the exhibition is really successful in arousing the emotion of audience from their inner heart. This reminds me of an exhibition held by Guanxi Chen, a young artist in China, who exhibit himself in a glass house and people who go to that exhibition is to watch how he lived in that place. The similar part of these two exhibitions is that they are both just so real and they are not hiding anything from the audience so that the audience can see the exhibition without any filter and concern. I really appreciate their realness in doing artworks.

The general part can arouse many social concerns, in which she interviewed various workers who were working in the maintenance field. She was asking some basic questions about their opinions on the maintenance work. Compared to the personal part which contains most of Ukeles personal interpretation of maintenance, the general state gathers a plenty of different views on maintenance and make this word have more complex and diverse meanings.

The third part of this exhibition is called the earth maintenance, which is related to everyone living on this planet. It can be seen that the people involved keep increasing from personal part to the earth part, and at last, we found ourselves in the center of this issue. Ukeles was gradually exposing the art of maintenance to the audience. Instead of making something looks artistic out of maintenance, she used hard facts to convey her idea directly to the audience. I really love how she designed the sequence of the three parts of this exhibition and the realness throughout the whole process.