Featuring “Simplicity” as an “Irrational Fear”

Featuring “Simplicity” as an “Irrational Fear” is an exploration of the concept of simplicity and its impact on the direction of contemporary art discourse. Simplicity, which one could argue is akin to accessibility, is so rarely available in this current climate of contemporary art and one finds that there's a tendency to intellectualise away anything that may be overly-accessible or easily understood in art.

Concepts are often times over-complicated in the circumlocutory pseudo-intellectual babble that creeps into discussions, perhaps out of some irrational fear that once it is all decoded, then nothing is left. As Raymond Havens stated in “Simplicity, a changing concept” (1953:3):

Simplicity, it would seem, is a simple matter... In the eighteenth century, critics, essayists, and poets were constantly referring to it as the supreme excellence in almost every field, the "open sesame" to every door, whether of conduct, thought, taste, or artistic production. "The best and truest ornament of most things in life," Swift called it, and Shaftesbury, "this beauty above all beauties." Lord Kames declared, "The best artists ... have in all ages been governed by a taste for simplicity," and Horace Walpole said, "Taste...cannot exist without Simplicity." Joseph Warton went even further, maintaining “SIMPLICITY is with justice esteemed a supreme excellence in all the performances of art."

Ironically, simplicity is not quite as one-dimensional as one may expect. It is engulfed in concentric skins that seemingly lead right back to complexity. Simplicity itself becomes a slippery subject with multiple personalities but nonetheless one that is tackled head on. Through this performance-based installation a multitude of characters discovered in the excavation of simplicity are addressed and re-interpreted to create a triangle of responses from three performance artists, Nathalie Bikoro, Donna Kukama and NĂ¡stio Mosquito. The physical absence of the three performance artists in the performance space creates a rift between time and space, thereby necessitating a creative clarity in a media as interaction-reliant as performance.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Simplicity as dissecting truths - Autopsy.

Autopsy focuses on the idea of simplicity as theory seeking to explain
the magnet of events to human minds and its relation to truth. It
incorporates a game of Chinese Whispers in which a set of descriptions are
transmitted and changed by the next recipient and travels through a process
that morphs its whole meaning from its beginning.
Corresponding to a drop in Kolmogorov complexity mathematics, an observer
thinks the shortest description of the situation as shorter than anticipated.
The basic concept of simplicity theory is unexpectedness, defined as the
difference between expected complexity (the smallest/imaginable description)
and observed complexity (improbable description). Complexity and thus
unexpectedness, are observer-dependent.

U = Cexp − Cobs = DNA portrait
Connection with probability
Unexpectedness U is linked to subjective probability P through formula:
P = 2 − U

Subjective probability can be assessed without necessarily knowing the
alternatives. Classical approaches to probability would consider all situations
in the world as having virtually zero probability to have occurred, as each
situation is complex and unique. Simplicity theory avoids this trap by
considering that subjective improbability is only due to complexity drop.

Autopsy returns to simplicity theory to make several predictions concerning
the way distance, recency, prominence (places, individuals), or atypicality
influence stimulus & engagement. A dissecting method of appropriating
transmission from audio to the visual in a series of games from an adaptation
of Chinese Whispers to create a DNA portrait of the space in the gallery.
According to Occam's razor, all other things being equal, the simplest
description is the most likely to be true. In Autopsy, the games like child’s
play are invoked as metaphors for cumulative error for the unreliability of
human recollection.

“Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth” P. Picasso

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