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See also Bill Lundberg video installations


Hans Haacke, Rhinewater Purification Plant, 1972.

Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, Germany VGBild-Kunst


Possible Dialogues

Bill Lundberg

Tradução Imediata

Art moves through our contemporary culture in a very exploratory and interdisciplinary way. And from a personal point of view I have found my own interchange with scientists, poets, musicians and writers has had a profound stimulus on the development of my work.

Many of the artists I have know likewise had interests beyond the art proper, interests for example, in anthropology, mythology, astronomy and, even law.

It was because of this that I established the "Transmedia" curriculum in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin. The basic premise of Transmedia was that these courses should be founded on concepts and ideas rather than particular media or technologies. It the 20 years of existence of the program our emphasis has focused on "time-based art"…film, video, audio art and performance. And naturally, the primary tool in this type of research is the computer.

It is a basic fact today that the digital technology being used in every aspect of society has become also a major tool in art making. This is important in that certain media used by artists (film and video) can connect to society through their familiar technologies. But what is more important is the fact that a large number of contemporary artists do not see art as self-referential, or for the purpose of producing aesthetic experiences, but as a special way of connecting to and intuiting themes and ideas found in other disciplines and culture at large.

First of all, visual artists are often inspired by the works of poets and musicians. The outstanding example is the monumental influence and profound effect that the musical and performance theories of John Cage had on so many artists… Robert Rauschenberg, Nam June Paik, On Kawara and Stan Brakhage to name a few. During the seventies many people who had trained for other careers, engineering, medicine and science became artists and brought an entirely different perspective

to the practice and history of art-making. The principle example was Joseph Beuys, who studied biology before pursuing art studies and whose thinking evolved to the point where he understood art as "social sculpture."

For many modern artists the "idea" is the starting point for a work rather than the media. That is to say, the idea is the motivation that leads to the choice of media or expressive method. This approach to art making began in the early 20th century and developed as an aesthetic sensibility that diverged in significant ways from traditional painting and sculpture. It led to the adoption -by artists-of public media (film, video, photography, computing) as art media. So it was that artists of the 1920’s -Duchamp, Dali, Leger, Picabia, Man Ray, Hans Richter, experimented with film and with the idea of the art work as an "event" rather than a "thing."

The practice of beginning with a formative idea that may or may not reference art or aesthetics is critical to contemporary art making. To choose among thousands of examples of this approach we could site Hans Haacke’s "Rhine Water Purification Plant, " installed at the Museum Hans Lange, in Krefeld Germany in 1972. This early ecological work that called attention to water pollution through a practical construction for water filtration presented as a work of art. Haacke’s subsequent works developed from research and study making use of a scholarly approach to express an ethical and moral convictions. His vision of the artist’s role in society was similar to Beuys, who saw the artist as a healer committed to the improvement of society’s aesthetic, political and ecological condition.

An interesting example of a cross-discipline approach to art from the 1980’s were the works of Wolfgang Laib. His vibrant rectangles of pollen, which while being highly visual and, one might say minimalist, made a poetic statement about fertility and biology, as much as art.

Many artists today look for ideas and thinking in diverse fields of human knowledge. This is a natural response to our changing social environment and to our increasing knowledge of the world and our universe of experience.