GJ: Going back to the Gern show, Marc Matchak’s exhibition text considers your work in discussing these empty characters and stock images in Marie Redonnet’s writing that survive in narrative through a lack of ambition, which presents a challenging notion of value. The show’s premise, in turn, seems very pessimistic in its attitude about making art. In other material of yours I came across in my research for this interview, the word “value” appeared in scare quotes. I was curious about how you contextualize value in an artistic context. JS: I’m interested in images that are born from a need to self-soothe. I seek “low value” imagery from DeviantArt, thrift stores, and memes. A lot of the images I’m most attracted to seem to come from places of boredom or trauma. I love the idea of someone feeling a very complex, negative emotion and having the need to express it through art, but totally lacking the skills or tools to do so in a “valuable” way. I find that failure often results in humor.
Third, when I moved into the garage around in 2013, I was thinking a lot about Brian Droitcour’s critique of post-internet objects, which he says don't activate space, instead preening themselves for the camera. He states this pejoratively, but it made me think about the slippage between an ephemeral work and its documentation: is activating space something that a work inherently needs to do? Can this activation happen digitally (this question assumed the internet as a space, not a process, but still)?
manuel arturo abreu, Rhizome Artist Profile
Harman’s philosophy gives licence for a renewed boldness in cultural criticism. Deconstruction in particular preached against making definitive judgements about texts or artworks, favouring strategies of deferral and equivocation that suspended interpretative closure. The ostensible motivation for these evasions was a reverence for the irreducible complexities of the text. But instead of illuminating cultural objects, this often only obscured them; rather than engaging with the object, theory was induced into interminable meditations on how it was impossible to write about it. Harman shows that any encounter with an object must caricature it – but it is only through such caricaturing that a glimpse of the object’s hidden richness can be gleaned.
"Nietzsche and Heidegger are largely responsible for the damned that we focus on art from the creator's point of view than the beholder's point of view. I disagree with them, and tend to see the creator of art as an especially well-equipped spectator. Nietzsche also makes it needlessly sexist by calling art focused on the spectator "woman's aesthetics," and he associates it with passivity--"