Profoundly anti-Romantic, the New Measurement artists seek to divest art of all subjectivity. They deride the individualism endemic to contemporary avant-garde art in the interest of developing a non-subjective, dogmatic, collaborative approach to their work. Their objective is to open the... [more]
Profoundly anti-Romantic, the New Measurement artists seek to divest art of all subjectivity. They deride the individualism endemic to contemporary avant-garde art in the interest of developing a non-subjective, dogmatic, collaborative approach to their work. Their objective is to open the horizon of art beyond the originative power of the individual, and so multiple artists collaborate in the production of each piece under a rigid set of rules. For these artists, art becomes a rational, collective operation, strictly determined and circumscribed by a set of democratically engendered rules.
The group was comprised of three artists, Wang Luyan, Chen Shaoping, and Gu Dexin, who worked on the "New Measurement" project between 1987 and 1995. Before engaging in the production of an art-object, the group would decide on the rules that would govern the process. One of the artists would then make a mark, draw a line, or write a symbol that observed the rules already set out, as the other two artists supervised the act, ensuring that the rules were in fact being followed.
Positions would switch, a regular rotation was obeyed - the process would repeat itself until the work was finished. In this way the New Measurement group completed their first work, "Tactile Art" in 1988.
These scientifically styled artists must at least have a sense of humor, for one could not imagine a less tactile piece of art than "Tactile Art". The four black panels displayed are adorned with little more than a few geometric lines, a few Chinese symbols, some numbers designating the lengths of lines, and the measurements of angles. The composition resembles high school math problems sketched by an exceedingly anal teacher on a brand new blackboard. The viewer is no longer an art critic, but a student asked to analyze the data.
It's difficult to avoid thinking that these artists are up to something subtly subversive. But who knows - they might be deadly serious. In any case, the traditional conception of the artist as a pathologically potent organism of individual expression is thoroughly destroyed, and a new, rationally based system of art is put in its place. [show less]