Exhibitions / Matteo Fato (SOMERSAULT) | Galleria Michela Rizzo Venezia [curating]

22.07.2017 to 09.09.2017

In the past our technologically conceived artifacts structured living patterns. We are now in transition from an object-oriented to a systems-oriented culture. Here change emanates, not from things, but from the way things are done.

(Jack Burnham, System Esthetics, 1968)

Burnham, an art critic and curator, wrote the passage above for an essay in Artforum magazine back in 1968; processes of change take time indeed. In the case of visual culture, and the physical environment underpinning it, the system is both the space (for work) and the material (of the work); concerning with method and form together. 

A “visual system” sits at the crossroad between image, thought, word and time; it exemplifies the mutability (and complexity) of life. A visual medium then brings about not only the message, but the psychic state that enable us to understand that message: “A mental structure, a way of thinking and feeling that expresses itself in everything we say, write, build and develop, from architecture and advertising to film and fine art.”

The presumed coherence of visual practice is constantly called into question by coupling with other system of visual fabrication, communication or representation (text, painting, impression, graphic design, photography, light projection, object construction and oral commentary). It is an environment made of relation-building amongst sign and signal, people and objects. Our visual actions extract meaning upon which build further relations and effects, either autonomously or through conscious arrangements. In Burnham’s words, “Where the object almost always has a fixed shape and boundaries, the consistency of a system may be altered in time and space, its behavior determined both by external conditions and its mechanisms of control.”

We live now according to a system of visual editing; we became a wider, complex “system” in which users double as creators.

On systems, Alfredo Cramerotti