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The Green Blackboard April 27, 2010

Posted by Maxyne Baker in : Check it out , trackback

beyond the cavemanObsessed admittedly, I returned to the AGO to take a photo of the piece that has stayed in my mind since our visit. Of course, I didn’t think I was responding to this assignment,  hence I had no camera, and made no notes friday before last.
I refer to the green chalkboard on the 4th floor. It  was a preservation  of  the lecture notes from a visiting artist at NASCAD. NASCAD had the vision to cover it and call it art. Without notes I hesitate to say it was made in the 80’s.  I found it interesting that it reflected the format and purpose of our Chaortic Collaboratorium. Beyond this, the content  brought to mind cave drawings, or battle strategy  plans  in particular.
I have recently been reading a wonderful book about Asian Art titled ” The Unknown Craftsman” written by Soetsu Yanagi. In this book of essays Yanagi expands on the simple happiness in “doing” without seeking perfection and expands on how some of the finest Asian Art was made in this manner. One story in particular stands out as he describes how Korean children , illiterate, would be employed in the making of tea cups. Although they couldn’t even read the characters on the cups they where painting these cups are esteemed as some of the best examples of Asian art simply because of the children’s purity within the simple act of “doing”.

The green chalkboard was covered with a combination of words, gestures and shapes used to communicate, hurried and efficient, implying movement, hierarchy, concepts. Perhaps not unlike an ancient cave or cliff drawing, our simple drawings made with sticks in the sand, similar in that they are all  a diagram/storyboard,  and like the tea cups mentioned above, the maker was passionately distracted by the auditory accompaniment of their own voice, therefore using simple imperfect marks and gestures. The strategies of a hunt, or the plan of a village have been eternally defined and explored in the same way since time began. Still used essentially  in the way we design today. And that is really, exciting. Technology and time have brought us many more tools to use as well , and they are greatly appreciated, yet this simple mark making  seems to be part of our fundamental, eternal needs as humans.

Consciously, un-consciously I could look at cryptic ambiguous images such as these forever. The Chalkboards mysterious nature me has completely sucked in .  What was said in that lecture.? Again admittedly obsessed, reflectively processing.
Observing this piece and it’s initially unconscious act of mark making by the lecturer, followed by a very self conscious elaboration by the good folks at NASCAD does make it conceptual art. Yet I can’t think of another piece in the gallery that began with the unconcious act of mark making as the chalkboard did . Mark making used to expand the art of communication.

I think I prefer in some ways not knowing the name of the person who initially made the marks on that chalkboard at NASCAD. It seems fitting that the “Unknown Craftsman” helped me see the beauty in a contemporary Western piece of art, a simple green chalkboard that I will personally always refer to as  “The Unknown Designer”.


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