14 Feb

ArtBTheatreTitleMore dramatic readings of the worst artist statements, gallery press releases and art criticism every week, except when I don’t do them every week.

This week’s artist is asking “how can triangularization contribute to the ever-increasing signification of subject formation?”, certainly one of the most pressing issues in the world right now. At least someone is dealing with it instead of just sitting around and ignoring the effects of triangularization. Come on everybody, let’s get it sorted out.

International Art English tropes in this episode of Artbollocks Theatre, rated on a scale of one to five stars

Tongue twisters *, pseudoscientific claptrap ****, bad grammar, typos or misused words **, telling us what we see or think ****, spurious appeals to art history *, art world jargon ***, pretending artists are more [superlative adjective] than people who are actually [adjective] (0), justifying nothingness or lack of work *, [gender or sexual identity/motherhood/minority status/nationality of the artist] is magic (0), everyday object, technology or phenomenon presented as if the artist is a virtuoso for being able to use it ***, “between [random noun] and [random noun]” **, artist is unique ***, body horror (0).

Original text is below. The exhibition was in a Berlin gallery at the end of 2013. I’m not sure why, but Germany is one of the world’s leading exporters of International Art English with high levels of nonsense content.

Rather than mimicking the interface and aesthetics of the cyber world and negating its effect, Annabelle Craven-Jones’ takes her effect to the 100th degree. For her second solo show at Cruise & Callas Craven-Jones translates how we can make sense of new multiple identities. She invites the viewer to look at how we engage in the cyber world through her psychologically provocative triangulation.

What is a psychologically provocative triangulation? How can a triangulation (noun: 1 the tracing and measurement of a series or network of triangles in order to determine the distances and relative positions of points spread over an area, especially by measuring the length of one side of each triangle and deducing its angles and the length of the other two sides by observation from this baseline. 2 formation of or division into triangles) be provocative? How does one provoke psychology? The 100th degree of what? One hundred degrees out of how many? Fahrenheit or centigrade? Degrees as in six degrees of separation, or degrees out of 360 as in Euclidean geometry?

I just succumbed to semantic satiation. I used the word “degree” so much it seems weird and meaningless now. Thanks a lot, Annabelle Craven-Jones.

Post-human identities position themselves between the virtual screen and the analogue mirror in the exhibition entitled Schematic for Neurotic Structures (Triangulation). Polyphonic representations of the self are positioned within a psychological diagram. These representations are encountered, drawn, recorded and reflected. The gallery’s interior surface including its walls and floor is linked together by neon yellow tape. The artist maps visible sections belonging to the idealized self, neurosis, and self-realization, creating a three part triangular diagram. Vinyl lettering, quoting psychoanalytical terms that have been coined by the German Neo-Freudian Karen Horney, have been applied to the floor and the windowpanes looking into the gallery. A diagram on the floor is repeated with grey tape on the walls extending the limits of the gallery’s architecture.

So… there’s lots of images, the artist stuck some tape down, and she put some words on the wall. The plain English word the writer should have used here is “multiple”, i.e. “multiple representations”, not “polyphonic” (adjective: producing or involving many sounds or voices). If the art work is truly polyphonic that might be an interesting thing to briefly mention and explain how it works, otherwise it’s just a pretentious misuse of a word that has a very specific meaning. Saying that the artist has worked in or with the gallery’s interior is redundant because this is far from unique. It might be worth mentioning if the artist had done something to the outside of the gallery, since this is a much less common practice.

While we’re on the subject of misused terms, if “triangularization” was even a real word then it would mean something like “shaping a thing or things into one or more triangles”. In any case you will note from the definition given above that the second usage of the word “triangulation” already covers the making of things into triangles, i.e. it’s not even necessary to make up a word for this concept if you just crack open the frigging dictionary. This text appears to use the two words (or one real word and one made up word) interchangeably.

Typical for Craven-Jones this triangulation serves as a model based on structure and time to present theories of the self.

 Sections of this diagram are exemplified within each of the exhibited works. Central to the exhibition is an analogue structure of three mirrors held together by magnets in the shape of a triangle which contains a small digital web camera. The reflections produce an endless landscape and casually allude to the idealized self. Another of these structures is located in the artist’s studio in Bristol. For the length of this exhibition Annabelle Craven-Jones will conduct live experiments from within the structure in her studio on Thursdays at 5 pm and on Saturdays at 2 pm, taking control of the aspects of the self-reflectivity of artistic production and our reception of it. The experiments can be seen via live stream over Skype on the large screen monitor leaned on a gallery wall. The studio and gallery will enter a Skype-conversation. The live stream presents the neurotic self, a distorted way of looking at oneself. The Skype footage will be edited weekly and played on a monitor as an external form of self-realization. The actualized self is produced and film footage will continuously be added.

Translation: She’s a narcissist who really thinks we want to see her piddling around aimlessly in her studio via Skype. Also, kaleidoscopes make everything look cool and arty.

Parallel to the live stream, a spoken text of a pseudo self-help guide will be heard, thereby audibly hacking into the viewer’s consciousness. The digital voice that speaks first in English and then in German will take the viewer through the process of an online stream of consciousness.


The absent body is materialized. The artist has drawn lines around her own body while lying on a long sheet of paper. An indirect homage to Bruce Nauman, Craven-Jones becomes both subject and object while investigating the possibilities of projection and the boundaries separating the real from the imagined. The edges of the bodily outline are burned at three points while the finger tips are colored in flesh tones from pigment found in make up foundation. The two-fold visualization of the body is hung over a fluorescent acrylic rod suspended from the ceiling. Craven-Jones documents her self-realized act into a looped film, which can be viewed from the screen of an iPod.

Drawing around your body on a big sheet of paper is a great activity to do with a bunch of preteen schoolchildren in an art class.

Over the years literally developing her own language through the use of surveillance video and live streams, Craven-Jones helps us to make sense of our hyper-presence online and the jetlag we feel offline. We live in the immanent here yet Skype demands an exhaustive copresence. How can triangularization contribute to the ever-increasing signification of subject formation?

She did not literally develop her own language, unless this is an example of the vulgar, ignoramus contemporary usage of “literally” as an amplifier and/or filler word synonymous with “really”, “completely” or “to a large degree” and antonymous with the actual meaning of the word, i.e. “literally” meaning “not literally”. She may have developed a new language in a manner of speaking, in the sense that one might say there’s a “language” or “grammar” of film making or image presentation that can be worked with, adapted, developed, or rejected. I doubt she’s even done that. Although this is something commonly claimed by artists or on behalf of artists, the development of a more or less new aesthetic is virtually unheard of, especially in the 21st century. If she’s done anything novel at all, which I doubt, she has done it in precisely the opposite of a literal way.

As for that final sentence, just… whaaaaaaaaaaaat? This is the question you want to ask with your art? Are you fucking serious?


  1. stephenwpark 23/02/2014 at 2:27 AM #

    Reblogged this on Stephen Park.

  2. Alistair 25/02/2014 at 12:44 PM #

    Reblogged this on Alistair Gentry.

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