by Tim Gilmore, 6/21/2012
On page six of Into the Light of Things: The Art of the Commonplace from Wordsworth to John Cage, George J. Leonard asks, “Yet how large a leap from Pop was conceptual art? Did it not merely champion the cause of very large objects? Terry Atkinson, for example, in 1967, accepting that Duchamp’s ready-made Bottle Rack […] ‘took on art object status’ through the artist’s ‘act,’ asked, logically, that if the bottle rack was now an art object,
“[T]hen why not the department store that the bottle rack was displayed in, and if the department store then why not the town in which thedepartment store is situated, and if the town then why not the country…and so on up to universe scale (and further if you like!).”
Based on this thinking, “Atkinson solemnly reported, the object he had chosen to confer status on was ‘Oxfordshire.’ Oxfordshire, he reasoned, was large enough compared to the Bottle Rack to afford ‘sufficient contrast.’ Atkinson and his partner Baldwin proceeded to erect, for their audience, a temporary mental (‘conceptual’) museum over Oxfordshire. If the object cannot come to the museum, then the museum must come to the object.”
This Kind of City hereby casts a tent over the city of Jacksonville, Florida. The tent doesn’t merely exist “conceptually,” however, but also exists mimetically. And if the tent is a text that comments upon itself, it does not mean that art is dead solely because art has become its own philosophy, though it does mean that every object or moment, understood as such, itself becomes art. What else the self-commenting text means is that art the creative object or act becomes a meditation on the art that is the part or even the totality of the world.
For example, the psychogeographer has been sitting for hours with his books and his laptop at a wooden table in the Courtyard Behind the Small House with the City Inside and has noticed an event. The temperature slowly rises from the mid-50s. Earlier in the morning, the wind blew the yellow brown autumn leaves from the oak and the mulberry tree southward across the red and pink and grey bricks of the ground. When the sun began to shine through to the courtyard between the branches of the oak and magnolia, at 10:03 a.m., a simultaneous shift in the wind, or countercurrent, began to blow the leaves northward across the bricks. This observation constitutes a meditation and brings Chapter 86 to a close, a fragment of a fractured whole of a text, an historical event represented within the 874.3 mile tent erected over the city limits.