After a break of two days I returned to the island full of expectations, and when I saw the sunset colouring the sky beneath the clouds last night I had high hopes for this morning. But no, the cloud cover on the horizon in north-east was too thick to let any traces of the sun come through. Higher up in the sky the clouds were unevenly spread with slices of a bright sky in between. And on the western sky the clouds had a rosy lining. All this beauty was not visible to my camera, whith its fixed framing, of course. Some of the openings in the clouds could be distinguished as brighter reflections on the sea, though. The wind from north-east was not too strong, although it made enough waves to create a regular splashing sound on the shore. Perhaps I noticed it because the birds were less noisy than usual. And there was no rain in the air this morning. The day might turn out sunny after all, although the daybreak is overcast.
The summer exhibition on the island will open on May 29 and my plan is to finish this experiment by then, perhaps to edit a version of the material to show there as well. Since the title of the exhibition is Water Images, it could be fun to include a video which takes the title literally. And although I am focused on the sky, and the rising sun, the main part of the image is covered by the sea, a rather strange framing, now that I think of it. For the purpose of the exhibition it will be fine, though.
Last night I read a translation of Boris Groys’ article Art and Money from e-flux 24/2011, and was fascinated by some of his side remarks. He notices that the aesthetic attitude is by definition a consumer’s attitude, while contemporary art is focused on production, on analysing the tools and tricks of image mass production. “In fact the aesthetic attitude does not need art and it functions much better without it”, because “in terms of aesthetic experience, no work of art can stand comparison with even an average beautiful sunset”, he writes. From the perspective of aesthetics art has no privileged position, it is something that could and should be overcome, something that comes between the subject and the aesthetic appreciation of the world, he adds. And for this reason the role for professional art is something else, that is, “to investigate, analyse and demonstrate the technical means” by which the contemporary production of images takes place, and “the economic social and political conditions under which images are produced and distributed”. Well, sure, I agree. That is what most contemporary art worthy of its name tries to do, in one way or another.
So why on earth am I recording sunrises, instead of devoting myself to critical investigations, why do I not leave them for retired nature lovers and bird watchers and everybody else? Or perhaps I should ask, why sunrises, since they do not seem to provide much by way of aesthetic experiences and are in any case unnecessary strenuous to record compared to sunsets, for instance. Am I some how attached to an older notion of art, related to early performance art and avant-garde movements, where trying to fuse art and life was somehow relevant? I guess I try to analyse the production of aesthetic experience rather than simply produce it (although the videos might do that as well), but that is not the same as analysing the material conditions of image production, for instance. So what am I actually doing? For an intellectual artist this might seem like an absurd question, since if you are critically engaged you would probably try to carefully plan in advance what to do and how and why. This way of “doing first” and “thinking later” is not only naive but could be dangerous as well. I could be producing harmful effects without even understanding it. Although more likely I am simply wasting my time.