Notes on Nicolas Bourriaud’s Postproduction

Postproduction is a technical term from the audiovisual vocabulary

used in television, film, and video. It refers to the set of processes

applied to recorded material: montage, the inclusion of other visual

or audio sources, subtitling, voice-overs, and special effects. As a set

of activities linked to the service industry and recycling, postproduction

belongs to the tertiary sector, as opposed to the industrial or agricultural

sector, i.e., the production of raw materials.

Since the early nineties, an ever increasing number of artworks have

been created on the basis of preexisting works; more and more

artists interpret, reproduce, re-exhibit, or use works made by others

or available cultural products. This art of postproduction seems to

respond to the proliferating chaos of global culture in the information

age, which is characterized by an increase in the supply of works

and the art world’s annexation of forms ignored or disdained until now.

These artists who insert their own work into that of others contribute

to the eradication of the traditional distinction between production and

consumption, creation and copy, readymade and original work. The

material they manipulate is no longer primary. It is no longer a matter

of elaborating a form on the basis of a raw material but working with

objects that are already in circulation on the cultural market, which

is to say, objects already informed by other objects. Notions of originality

(being at the origin of) and even of creation (making something

from nothing) are slowly blurred in this new cultural landscape marked

by the twin figures of the DJ and the programmer, both of whom have

the task of selecting cultural objects and inserting them into new


– In a true free market, consumers play an equally important role as firms. Firms may produce goods and services, but it is consumers who decide what to buy and how to spend their money. The capitalist system is dependent on the public.

The difference between artists who produce works based on objects

already produced and those who operate ex nihilo is one that Karl

Marx observes in German Ideology: there is a difference, he says, between

natural tools of production (e.g., working the earth) and tools

of production created by civilization. In the first case, Marx argues,

individuals are subordinate to nature. In the second, they are dealing

with a “product of labor,” that is, capital, a mixture of accumulated

labor and tools of production. These are only held together by exchange,

an interhuman transaction embodied by a third term, money.

The art of the twentieth century developed according to a similar

schema: the industrial revolution made its effects felt, but with some

delay. When Marcel Duchamp exhibited a bottle rack in 1914 and

used a mass-produced object as a “tool of production,” he brought

the capitalist process of production (working on the basis of accumulated

labor) into the sphere of art, while at the same time indexing

the role of the artist to the world of exchange: he suddenly found

kinship with the merchant, content to move products from one place

to another—Go Capitalism! Who knew that commerce had such a profound impact on art history?



As Liam Gillick explains, “in the eighties, a large part of artistic production

seemed to mean that artists went shopping in the right shops.

Now, it seems as though new artists have gone shopping, too, but

in unsuitable shops, in all sorts of shops.”” The passage from the

eighties to the nineties might be represented by the juxtaposition of

two photographs: one of a shop window, another of a flea market

or airport shopping mall. From Jeff Koons to Rirkrit Tiravanija, from

Haim Steinbach to Jason Rhoades, one formal system has been

substituted for another: since the early nineties, the dominant visual

model is closer to the open-air market, the bazaar, the souk, a temporary

and nomadic gathering of precarious materials and products

of various provenances. Recycling (a method) and chaotic arrangement

(an aesthetic) have supplanted shopping, store windows, and

shelving in the role of formal matrices.

The market-form is the quintessential

place for this rawness: an installation by Jason Rhoades, for example,

is presented as a unitary composition made of objects, each of

which retains its expressive autonomy, in the manner of paintings

by Arcimboldo. Formally, Rhoades’s work is quite similar to Rirkrit

Tiravanija’s. Untitled (Peace Sells), which Tiravanija made in 1999,

is an exuberant display of disparate elements that clearly testifies to

a resistance to unifying the diverse, perceptible in all his work. But

Tiravanija organizes the multiple elements that make up his installations

so as to underscore their use value, while Rhoades presents

objects that seem endowed with an autonomous logic, quasi-indifferent

to the human. We can see one or more guiding lines, structures

imbricated within one another, but the atoms brought together by

the artist do not blend completely into an organic whole. Each object

seems to resist a formal unity, forming subsets that resist projection

into a vaster whole and that at times are transplanted from one

structure to another. The domain of forms that Rhoades is referencing,

then, evokes the heterogeneity of stalls in a market and the meandering

that implies: “… it’s about relationships to people, like me to my

dad, or tomatoes to squash, beans to weeds, and weeds to corn,

corn to the ground and the ground to the extension cords.”

Under an ideal market system, where there is what economists term “perfect competition”, consumers actually are more powerful than firms. Because they punish any firm that over-prices its product, and because they shift their income to goods that yield the greatest benefit (utility) to them, they enable society to achieve the most efficient possible outcome in the long run.

If governments want to strengthen their economy, the key is to strengthen the market, not strengthen industry. By building a better market, the government benefits both consumers and producers. That is what capitalism and free markets are about.

Site Specific Art

Site-specific art is created to exist in a certain place. Typically, the artist takes the location into account while planning and creating the artwork. The actual term was promoted and refined by Californian artist Robert Irwin, but it was actually first used in the mid-1970s by young sculptors who had started executing public commissions for large urban sites.

This week the book took a trip to its eventual resting place– the recycle center. This center recycles everything you can name that is not a hazardous material. Several times per year they take special items, including computers and other electronics. They even recycle fabric and clothing too far gone for Goodwill and Amvets. Good for them. Good for the book!

Martina Lopez- Digital Allegory

Martina Lopez  manipulates photographs by combining those of her family with others, by recreating family scenes that may have never existed, and by changing the time place or combination of people to create an alternative reality.

The death of her father and brother gave her the thought of  reconstructing memories and exploring feelings of loss. She created works dedicated to her father, mother, and her brother who was killed in Vietnam when she was four years old. Most of her memories of her brother were in part constructed from his presence in family photographs. Lopez writes, “By extracting people from their original context and then placing them into fabricated landscapes, I hope to retell a story of their being, one which allows the images to acquire a life of their own. While the pieces from photographs verify an actual lived experience, the landscape stands as my metaphor for life, demarcating its quality, where the horizon suggests an endless time.”



Aziz & Cucher

The work of these artists begins with the human body, changed and mutated. Identities are erased, the organic parts of the human seem to be disappearing into the void of technology–very uncomfortable to look at but a fascinating combination of organic and synthetic.

Landscape Project

This project used a still standing, dead tree covered with vegetation. Wooden dowels were attached and found objects used to make music. The small chimes are from a discarded lawn chair that was cut with a pipe cutter to make the pitch of the chimes an F chord. The larger pipes are a cut up aluminum closet rod. The trowel tools were selected for their color, red and yellow signify danger and caution reminding us to make a better effort to protect the fragile forest ecosystem. The shape and utility of the tools reminds us that humans have been here to plant this tree, and humans will be around to tear it away and plant another.  The baby monitor reminds us that we are the stewards and shepherds of the Earth, not the owners.

This tree gave shelter to birds, food to small animals, and shade for the ground plants. Its dying makes way for the smaller trees to grow. As it dies, it will give nutrients to worms and microbes and nitrogen to the soil..and one last song before someone takes it away.

Here is the video link:

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Negative Space

Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, and not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space is occasionally used to artistic effect as the “real” subject of an image. The use of negative space is a key element of artistic composition. The Japanese word “ma” is sometimes used for this concept, for example in garden design.

In a two-tone, black-and-white image, a subject is normally depicted in black and the space around it is left blank (white), thereby forming a silhouette of the subject. However, reversing the tones so that the space around the subject is printed black and the subject itself is left blank causes the negative space to be apparent as it forms shapes around the subject, called figure-ground reversal.

In the book project, I used the negative space surrounding the flowers in the picture to emphasize the cool palette of the scene minus the warm tones of the flowers.



Introduction: This mask is about beauty—how we as women are taught and trained to pursue an ideal from a very young age. We face daily reminders on television, on the internet and in print advertising of the perfection that will come if we buy and use beauty products.

The mask I assembled is a combination of many of the famous faces that any woman reading a beauty magazine or stepping into a mall will encounter. If she lives in a large city, she will pass many of these faces on her way to work—they proliferate on buses, metro cars and store fronts. She will see them again on the internet and with nightly television shows. Kate, Eva, Ashley, Jessica, Drew, Mary-Kate…..all the women I showed the mask to could pick out at least one of the famous beauties, even though their faces were only partially there.

I don’t have anything against makeup or cosmetics, they are a rewarding diversion and a guilty pleasure, and some of it you really need. It is also one of the first things you get permission to do from your mom as you pass from child into teen years. In this way, I suppose it is a rite of passage, like shaving is for men- you know you have arrived.

I chose to photograph the mask in three places- a beauty salon, a department store, and a chain beauty store. Say the word “Sephora” to any American women and she will know you don’t mean a singing angel, you mean that glowingly lit chick haven that we all love to disappear into.

I chose for the salon one owned and staffed by Vietnamese women.Manicure salons have become a boom industry in US cities, where they have created jobs for tens of thousands of Asian women. Manicure salons have invaded US cities over the past 10 years. The phenomenon took off in southern California, where there is a big Vietnamese population. The link with the Asian community is so strong that in California, exams to join the profession can now be taken in Vietnamese.

According to the US Labor Department, there were 44,390 licensed manicurists in the country in November 2009, earning an average of 9.56 dollars an hour, just above the supermarket checkout clerk at 8.27 dollars but less than a hairdresser at 11.41 dollars. According to the California department of labor, 80% of the licenses are issued to someone who self-describes as of Vietnamese origin. Business was good at the salon, the manager said that women continue to come in these times and reports that “A little luxury is good for you.”

Cosmetic counters in department stores are helping the large chains to keep above water. There was no apparent lack of business at the cosmetic counters in Bloomingdales or Sephora.Here are some statistics from

Amount of money needed each year (in addition to current expenditures) to provide water and sanitation for all people in developing nations– $9B

Amount of money spent annually on cosmetics in the United States- $8B  

In the photos of the mask are the women who go to work each day to make other women look beautiful.


1.   The text references Walter Benjamin’s essay “the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”.  I researched this essay and found that Benjamin foresaw the potential manipulations of the technology of images—mostly the potential for abuse. Benjamin lived in Europe at the time of World War II and saw the beginning of the use of film and mass media by the Nazi regime. That may have been the reason he seems to object so strongly to mass media and mass reproduction of images.

2.   Digital photography and digital images create the “hyper real”. This is changing the basic concept of photography. Photography in its first form captured reality for the masses. Prior to its invention, anything “real” had to be captured and depicted by the person creating the image. Based on their skill, it was close or far from reality. With a camera, the artists now had a level playing field. The text talks about this real now goes into the hyper real, staging, manipulating and seamlessly reconstructing the images.

3.   The ability to refine images leads to a “dematerialization” of the natural elements of representation, or at the very least redefines the relationship between nature and the viewer. They use the example of the very detailed scanned image of the butterfly and moth. This made me think of the recent controversy in nature photography—there are now “ranches” where wild animals are housed. The photographer can pay to shoot pictures as wild animals are let out into a natural habitat. Is this the same as hiking into the wild? Should they be valued the same?

4.   Although many traditional artists may have some issues with this, there is no doubt that the artists who work in these digital mediums in a “paint” format create some truly awe inspiring work—the image #56. By Chris Finley evokes many of the early abstract expressionist paintings of the early 20th century.