I came across the term in this lecture on youtube, Landmarks Features: Veronica Roberts on Sol LeWitt
In a wider context;
A seriality is a social construct which differs from a mere group of individuals. Serialities take the form of labels which are either imposed onto persons or voluntarily adopted by them. A seriality can be “unbound” and self-identified, for example workers, patriots, or anarchists, or “bound” and identified by authority census and elections, such as Asian-Americans or Tutsis.
Seriality or serial collectivity is a term that feminist scholar Iris Marion Young used to describe a reconceptualization of the category of woman in her 1994 essay Gender as Seriality. Young borrows the concept of seriality from Sartre‘s Critique of Dialectical Reason, where he originally developed the idea to describe the relationship of individuals to social classes and the capitalist system of production and consumption. Understanding women as a series, rather than a group, entails the recognition that the category woman is not defined by any common biological or psychological characteristics; rather, individuals are positioned as woman by a set of material and immaterial social constructs that are the product of previous human actions.
Within an art context;
One type of serial art is the production of multiple objects (paintings, sculptures, etc.) in sets or series, for example Josef Albers‘s well-known series of “square” paintings, where a single, repeating image creates a variation series. This technique later became associated with minimalism, the “multiple”, and “ABC art”. However, there is a different type, which may be regarded as more essentially “serial” because it is “characterized by the nonhierarchical juxtaposition of equivalent representations, which only yield their complete meaning on the basis of their mutual relationship”. This produces sequential structures defined similarly to those of a twelve-tone row, found for example in Max Bill‘s series, Fünfzehn Variationen über ein Thema (1934–38), and in Richard Paul Lohse‘s 30 vertikale systematische Farbreihen in gelber Rautenform(1943–70) and Konkretion III (1947).
- Bandur, Markus. 2001. Aesthetics of Total Serialism: Contemporary Research from Music to Architecture. Basel, Boston and Berlin: Birkhäuser.
- Bochner, Mel. 1967. “The Serial Attitude”. Artforum 6, no. 4 (December): 28–33.
- Gerstner, Karl. 1964. Designing Programmes: Four Essays and an Introduction, with an introduction to the introduction by Paul Gredinger. English version by D. Q. Stephenson. Teufen, Switzerland: Arthur Niggli. Enlarged, new edition 1968.
- Guderian, Dietmar. 1985. “Serielle Strukturen und harmonikale Systeme.” In Vom Klang der Bilder: die Musik in der Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts, edited by Karin von Maur, 434–37. Munich: Prestel-Verlag.
- Pias, Claus. 2006. “Multiple”. DuMonts Begriffslexikon zur zeitgenössischen Kunst, second, revised edition, edited by Hubertus Butin, 219–24. Cologne: DuMont-Buchverlag.
Seriality: Repetition and Narrative in Soviet Nonconformist Art
The Semantics of Mirroring and Repetition in Science and the Arts
Academia Europaea Conference
to take place in Freiburg/Germany
Venue: Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (FRIAS)
May 26-28, 2016
Symmetry is one of the key factors in a variety of sciences and humanities subjects. Equations must be symmetrical; in architecture symmetry is a basic design feature; linguists discover iconic and symmetrical relationships in their objects of study; in chemistry and physics symmetrical and asymmetrical designs play an important role; in music and all the arts symmetry is often considered the basis of aesthetic quality. There are also several types of symmetry that one might want to distinguish. Symmetry can be set off against, but also paired with, two other features that play a similar role in the sciences and the arts: proportion and seriality. Exact symmetry in some instances is too neat, too boring, or simply not possible, yet a set of proportional relationships may be deemed crucial to a particular effect. Proportion can thus be regarded as a more general framework that allows one to set items in relationships to one another, with symmetry being the most perfect of these relationships. The visual arts, especially film and dance, employ proportion and symmetry as kinetic rather than merely static modes. As regards seriality, it is a recursive application of symmetry and repetition, but also a type of design that operates dynamically rather than statically. Besides its obvious relevance to the arts in experiments in seriality in (post)modernist painting, music and literature, seriality plays a central role in mathematics and physics.
“Io non lavoro per i miei contemporanei, lavoro per il futuro” (I don’t work for my contemporaries, I work for the future.) —Medardo Rosso
…a show at the Waddington Custot Galleries exploring the role of photography in the practice of three sculptors: Auguste Rodin, Constantin Brancusi, and Henry Moore.
Medardo Rosso was ahead of his time, and he knew it.
He was a photographer himself, because he knew that professional photographers weren’t able to properly see his work, to understand and represent it. Their traditional studio methods were not appropriate for his sculptures—so modern, shaped by light and shadows, requiring one single best point of view to be appreciated.
He also cast his works himself, rather than use a professional foundry like Rodin and other Parisian sculptors did, because he couldn’t entrust the realization of his sculptures to someone else. For Rosso all the material phases of the creative process were intimately intertwined with the concept itself.
Both in sculpture and in photography he worked intensely on repetition and serialization, thinking and rethinking the same subject matters in varied materials (wax, plaster, bronze and for his photography using many kind of papers, different exposures,and different chemical processes for the development).
Among his contemporaries there were other artists—painters in particular—working on the idea of the series, that is also to say exploring a theme in its many various iterations. The best known of these is probably Claude Monet, with his Rouen Cathedrals, his haystacks, and his water lilies.
We can imagine how hard it must have been in the context of the second half of the 19th and the early 20th century for people to deal with Rosso’s photographic series. Here was the new language of photography being used in an extremely experimental way—one that strikes us as contemporary even today.
… We are living in the age of mechanical reproduction, as predicted by the great thinker Walter Benjamin.
Rosso’s photographs were (are) finished and independent works of art. At the same time, they were born from a substantial connection with his sculpture; they offer a way of exploring it at another level. And a way of enlivening the sculptures, too.
Medardo Rosso, Enfant malade. private collection; from left to right: (c. 1910, c. 1924, c. 1901-2, c.1909)
The case of the Rieuse is singular in Rosso’s photographic panorama: he realized a dynamic sequence of five pictures by just slightly moving the sculpture from one snapshot to another.
Medardo Rosso, Rieuse (Laughing Woman) (c. 1930s, reprint from the vintage original of c. 1910), private collection
Thanks to a recent visitor to CIMA, illustrator and graphic artist Jonathon Rosen, the Rieusesequence has come to new life. Rosen… was inspired after his visit to the Rosso show to animate this series, thus revealing its great cinematic potential.
Medardo Rosso, Rieuse (Laughing Woman) (c. 1930s, reprint from the vintage original of c. 1910), private collection
In 2016 you’d be hard-pressed to find artists working in any medium who don’t consider the role of technology in their work. But the history of artists’ response to technological innovation has gone underexplored. “From Minimalism into Algorithm,” an ambitious program at the Kitchen unfolding over the 2015-16 season, considers the roles of seriality, speculation and networked communication in art from the 1960s to the present.
A.i.A. spoke to Tim Griffin, the Kitchen’s executive director, about the nonprofit’s history of showing new-media work, its position as a dialogue generator, the role of corporate aesthetics in this exhibition, and more.
CHARLES EPPLEY The title “From Minimalism into Algorithm” sets up a certain momentum. This exhibition is not about Minimalism necessarily, but rather viewing the practices of Minimalist artists as points of origin . . .
TIM GRIFFIN . . . or acknowledging our own place even as we look back. The Kitchen is a nonprofit, so we do not have a museum collection to offer the pretense of historical accuracy—perhaps there is no such thing exactly—but one can nevertheless acknowledge one’s position. Certainly that is a reason why artists seem excited by “From Minimalism into Algorithm,” because it’s talking about a contemporary situation, and yet you’re also seeing it with a reflexive historical perspective.
EPPLEY The curatorial text talks about the ideas of space and place as they informed a theatricality in Minimalism, as well as the increasingly mediated sociospatial contexts of an emergent digital age. … Environmental or mediated space seems to be a core element of the show—a “through line,” as you put it—which connects disparate artistic practices. The show places into dialogue artists who are not often shown together, e.g., Laurie Spiegel and Charles Gaines.
GRIFFIN There are two ways in which the idea of space is most clearly taken up in this exhibition: the viewer experience, and material conditions. Under the sway of theatricality and phenomenology, the viewer’s traversal of space became a way to complete the object: this was how Minimalism was prominently discussed in its own time. More recently, attention to experience in a postindustrial context has overtaken the object in some regards, and we can ask how that manifests in terms of artistic production and how we relate to objects. And as a corollary to that, our experience of materials is different now than it was 40 or 50 years ago, due to the introduction of new media and various technologies.
EPPLEY You and others involved in organizing this show are trying to manage this conversation primarily through a theme of seriality. Do you find seriality different than serialism?
GRIFFIN The exhibition emerged, in part, through looking at the Kitchen’s history and seeing how a seriality in musical composition paralleled a seriality in artistic production. Artists such as Philip Glass and Richard Serra, or Laurie Spiegel and Tony Conrad, were living near each other and seeing each other’s work, and yet that connection has never really been explored or articulated very significantly to my knowledge. If, instead of privileging a vocabulary of visual art, we can look at what happened in musical composition—where, say, the heirs to Philip Glass have literally used algorithms—we might be able to learn something through an analogy to visual art.
EPPLEY The concept of serialism is complicated when one tries to discern connections between postwar music and art. People play lip service to these connections without, as you say, looking at them with critical nuance or without an aim to find out how these connections manifested. Thinking of Glass as a serialist is interesting, given the weight of the term in music, which associates the concept with composers like Arnold Schoenberg, who wrote atonal music using a 12-tone row system. There is a connection through a mode-mechanized algorithmic composition, but Schoenberg’s music is much different from that of Glass aesthetically and philosophically.
And so regarding the connection of Glass, and perhaps Steve Reich, to serialism broadly, did these works actually point toward a new mode of serialism—or a post-serialism?
GRIFFIN We are hoping to have evening discussions where this conversation is parsed. For example, Spiegel very much says, well, there is Minimalism and serial repetition, but there is also phasing and gradients. There are a number of musical terminologies that she wants to introduce that might offer interesting implications for visual art.
… EPPLEY The ideas of serialism and algorithm, if we think of them bluntly, are quite static. Spiegel is referencing, as are many works in the exhibition—such as Molnar’s early use of algorithmic computer illustration and Cheyney Thompson’s paintings composed by the Brownian motion theory in finance—a mode of serialism where algorithmic systems are toppling, folding on themselves, or generating forms beyond a simple concept of repetition. This idea of generative systems as tangential to the artist’s original mark or gesture, setting forms into an ecological system, is striking.
EPPLEY I am eager to hear what people say about these connections. There is a lot of work to be done because someone can say, okay, consider Philip Glass, Lucinda Childs, Yvonne Rainer, Yoshi Wada, Charlemagne Palestine, Walter De Maria—the downtown scene had many convergences of avant-garde music and art. But have these intersections been taken for granted?