John Baldessari (1931-2020)
The Way We Do Art Now and Other Sacred Tales (1973)
1973, 28:28 min, b&w, sound

The Way We Do Art Now and Other Sacred Tales is a series of parables concerning modes of representation, language and cognition. Often conveyed through conscious misinformation, Baldessari's witty puns and jokes play off the relation of word, image and meaning; the intersection of what is heard or written, what is seen, and what is understood. For example, he shows us an image of a duffel bag and proceeds to describe, in detail, an object bearing no resemblance to a duffel bag, which is eventually revealed to be a stool. In A Sentence with Hidden Meaning, he writes the phrase, "A sentence with hidden meaning" on a legal pad, hiding the word "hidden" so that it reads, "A sentence with meaning." In The Birth of Abstract Art, Baldessari narrates an apocryphal story of a Roman artist who throws a paintbrush at his sketch of a horse in frustration at his inability to realistically depict the foam in its mouth. The result — the wet paint looks like the foam he has tried to draw — is the perfect synthesis of reality and representation. Baldessari observes dryly that "This is probably the birth of abstract art." While telling the story, he repeatedly launches a wet sponge at a horse drawn on a blackboard. -- EAI

This title is available for exhibitions, screenings, and institutional use through Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), NY. Please visit the EAI Online Catalogue for further information about this artist and work. The EAI site offers extensive resources for curators, students, artists and educators, including: an in-depth guide to exhibiting, collecting, and preserving media art; A Kinetic History: The EAI Archives Online, a collection of essays, primary documents, and media charting EAI's 40-year history and the early years of the emergent video art scene; and expanded contextual and educational materials.

John Baldessari in UbuWeb Sound