Sol Lewitt, Paragraphs on Conceptual Art: A Response

(unrelated, in class thoughts: Do you think if it wasn’t for the military needs, robotic and AI technology would’ve gone through an entirely different route than we are today? less anthromorphized? less advanced because of less funding and interest?)

In my practice, my work has always been conceptual. Before doing my sculptural work, I wasn’t aware of Sol Lewitt (or most artists in general, because I never had any formal education nor access to fine art growing up in Indonesia) but my undergraduate professor told me about him because he thought my work reminds me of his philosophy.

The concepts are never rational, if it becomes rational, then it means nothing. The concept doesn’t have to be complex. Sometimes it comes from a single or two lines of poems I write before I go to bed. Lewitt said, “Ideas are discovered by intuition. What the work of art looks like isn’t too important.” I always follow my intuition, I might now know what the meaning or the symbolism mean, but that is to be discovered later when the work of art is done.

If you create a work of art that you know everything of, in and out of it, deep psychological meaning behind all the symbolism you meant to put on it, then what is the point of that? What is the point of a conceptual art work if it cannot be perceived infinitely? My undergraduate thesis professor once told me, if you know the meaning of everything in your work, then you are not creating artwork for yourself, but for other people. I think, one should be able to infinitely dissecting the meaning of the work by themselves.

An idea and a plan, as Lewitt has put it, “eliminates the arbitrary, the capricious, and the subjective as much as possible.” As much as conceptual work follow intuition, it is not an abstract. It’s not subjective. But everything is subjective, isn’t it? Is there anything out there in the world that is truly objective? What I think Sol Lewitt meant is for the work to be able to be open for interpretation to many of the viewers in many ways.

Architecture, whether it is a work of art or not, must be utilitarian or else fail completely. Art is not utilitarian. When three-dimensional art starts to take on some of the characteristics, such as forming utilitarian areas, it weakens its function as art.” I’m not sure if I agree with this statement. I think, something still can be completely utilitarian and still serves as art. The notion that utilitarian objects cannot be art is elitist. Concept doesn’t have to be rational, but it can be rational. Art doesn’t only exist in forms but also in ornaments. Creating art for the art’s sake as the only pure form of art is a dated thinking.

Here are my drawings that I did in class, following the drawing rules by Sol Lewitt, including the last 2 drawings following my own rules and my colleague’s rules:

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