I really love this illustration by Christine Wong Yap diagramming “What Artists Make Happen”.
My only major bone of contention is her assertion that, “Artists make objects. The very activity of manipulating materials with an openness to their possibilities is the development of our own practices” and that “…artists make exhibitions, which are events/situations for engagement between the artist and viewer via the object.”
The central argument I’m proposing with the Ephemeral Objects blog is that our understanding of what artists do need not be limited to the creation of material objects. By extension, the creation of non-material objects is an art form unto itself that crosses multiple disciplines – music, theater, dance, media, film, performance, digital, etc. – and that these artistic disciplines require skill, craft and expertise; they have their own particular knowledge bases, theories and contexts. If artists are using expanded practices to include the creation of non-material objects, then they must learn those skills and gain expertise or collaborate with artists who have them. It is irresponsible for artists working in the creation of material objects to transition to non-material objects without learning the existing knowledge bases, theories, contexts and concerns of artists working in ephemeral or embodied practices.
Similarly, critical engagement with non-material objects demands an expanded field of practice around discourse. It is not enough to merely create the appearance of rigor, either within the work or in the discourse; it is necessary for artist and critic alike to understand the realm of the non-material, its conditions and concerns, to truly make great works for art and write about them thoughtfully.