From the Desert to the Digital: Sites of Practice in the Visual Arts
In the 1960s, an expansive visual culture and emergent information technologies influenced a rich and variant body of art that had profound epistemological implications. This paper investigates shifting forms of cultural experience in this decade — specifically the interdisciplinary practice of artists (Walter de Maria, Robert Morris, Yoko Ono, La Monte Young) who looked to music, film, and performance as models for spatio-temporal experience in the visual arts. Their practices both explored the limits of authentic experience, offering art presented in overwhelming landscapes or delivered at distracting decibels, while also producing work that circulated on television or in satellite photographs. By exploring diverse forms of cultural experience and their relationship to meaning, these practices address the foundations of visual knowledge. Grounded in the material and experiential realm of culture, this work also suggests the need for new art historical methodologies (of which this paper may serve as one example) that move beyond the theoretical categories of the modern or the postmodern. At stake is the need to understand, rather than limit, emergent models of knowledge from this decade, which in turn provide a lens on the continually more complex possibilities of meaning and experience in the culture of the twenty-first century.
Keywords: Visual Arts, Site-related Sculpture, Avant-garde Music, New American Cinema, Performing Arts, Walter de Maria, Robert Morris, La Monte Young, Yoko Ono
Dr. Jane McFadden
Assistant Professor of Art History, Graduate Program in Fine Art, and Graduate Program in Theory and Criticism, Art Center College of Design