The interview with Ivo van Stiphout about how his opinion on technology in today’s art education. 2012
Ivo van Stiphout, the new-media artist and technique tutor in Sandberg institute. Based on the question that if the new technology will be one of a base-education for art in future on young artist, I gave an interview with him about how his opinion on technology in today’s art education.
Jin: At the beginning of interview, could you give me a brief self-introduction? As I know, as an artist, you are also really good at technique, and you have been working in art institution as a technique tutor for long time.
Ivo: Yes. I started at graphics school at Eindhoven. There was no computer at that moment. So, we need to draw everything by hands. After I finished school, I had to work on commercial advertisement business but I found out it was a so ugly world, which I felt difficult to continue. Then, at the same time I made many artists friends and I also started to join all kinds of art projects. Then I decided to just go for it and study something more for myself. So, I went to the Gerrit Rietveld Academie at Visual Art Department.
Jin: How about the technique condition in school at that moment?
Ivo: The Visual Art Department where was very active and creative, but actually we also hated videos at that moment because the video recorder were very low quality, expensive and not handy. But we had no choice that moment. At that time, we need to take video recorders with very big cameras which was amazing old fashion way of technology, but it was cool to do it because it was the only way to capture image. Then, during my study, I quickly found out I was one of few people who really could concentrate on technique to make works or worked with it. Like electronic devices and video editing equipment which were very hard to handle, and also there weren’t nice machines in school yet.
At 1985, school decided to buy very modern equipment for video. I got the chance to work on it, and produced art works with that high tech stuff. The audio-visual department started at 1984 in Gerrit Rietveld Academie, I was in the second grade. And this department became very popular with lots of actively and possibility. Many music people also came to study there.It was a part of new things. It was a nice moment, you know, that time, culture flourished very much because we applause to fight for it. So, may be something also going to happen soon.
Jin: As a technique tutor in art college, could you talk about your opinion on if the technique should be a necessary training on education in future on young artist, especial on interdisciplinary art area?
Ivo: Every training is welcome in education. But, I think technique is just a part of an artist’s possible repository, studying science is a whole other discipline and not necessarily important for making art. It should be considered as a source if inspiration or information.
Jin: But if we look back the traditional art education, there are some basic skills which young artists are asked to learn. So, maybe interdisciplinary technique will be a new basic skill as well in future.
Ivo: These basic training help artist to develop the aesthetic feeling what doesn’t born with us. Talking about the video technology what you are learning now is changing so rapidly that there are almost no basic skills I can teach. So, I basically teach young artists how to learn by themselves, how to explore and how to solve problems. I think this is the most helpful today for an artist to self-support, and ask for helps at right moment.
Jin: Do you agree on argument: “When an artist learns his craft too well he makes slick art.” (From the 34th manifestos of “Sentences on Conceptual Art”, By American artists Sol lewitt, 1967)
Ivo: I think “craft” is an old-fashion word, the “skill” is better. The chances of making great works are bigger for skilled artists, which is the positive part of process. But there is not a guarantee. I think Sol refers here to the ones who repeating there success too long avoiding the experiment for new things. Science and technique are a big inspiration for artists. It’s good to get new view about all the possibility of technology, which can inspire you to make something with it.
Jin: In recent years, there are many art works, which are involved with interdisciplinary technology (for example: Interactive technique; Aerospace; Biochemistry, etc), which are getting lot’s of attention. Public are enthralled by the new experience. How do you think of it from a critical view?
Ivo: I think there is no shift of attention from the arts towards technology. A healthy portion of curiosity was always there. Public are always interest in new things. In the future could be that art and other disciplines are more mixing, creating new members on the play field. There will be more different kinds of artists and scientists join this field.
Jin: Do you think in the future, the art critics or curators for interdisciplinary arts should be more specific in one field? And if the interdisciplinary technology will also one of a base-education for art critics or curators because they need to look through the outer wear and make better judgment?
Ivo: Yes, but I don’t think it will go that fast. Artists, curators and critics are sharing the same world, the same moment in time.
Jin: They are in some world, but don’t you think the art criticism drop behind the art practice now? Nowadays, the interdisciplinary art works already go beyond the art area, but the criticism still stay inside of the aesthetic area.
Ivo: It will take time. For example, it took a long time that museum accepted photograph as a type of arts. But, now, maybe photograph are the most attractive thing to see in art museums.
Jin: So, we are just on another changing moment.
Ivo: Yes, but the changing moment won’t be that quick, which may take more than 20 years. The conflict between artists and critics happens that critics can’t accept some radical ideas, but because mostly the critics are older than the artists. When these artists become older, their whole generation with curators and critics will also grow up together. And I think art criticism becomes more open and democratic. There are army of curators in museum and working like officers. So, there will be more voices, which is a whole different thing than before. And curators tend to younger and more participating into the art works, although that is a bit of dangerous.
Jin: Come to this point, I think lots of young curators more tend to use artists as materials to build up their own exhibition.
Ivo: Yes, it started 20 years ago. Artists were considered mark-able, which used to approach models of art in museums. The curator part was the biggest statement of art, and the art works played a second role. I think that situation was too much, and now, people are also bored for it, because the whole exhibition becomes so theoretical, so hard to fellow. People just want to see nice art works instead of reading the concept before.
Jin: I think this is why interdisciplinary art works using very attractive technique can attract audience immediately, because at least they are looked much interesting. As I know, compared with some countries (Like Germany, China, Japan, etc), the Dutch education of art pays much more attention on concept than on technique. Do you agree? If you agree, can you talk about your opinion on both virtues and defects of it? Do you think it will change in future, and if it need to be change?
Ivo: It’s true that the concept thinking is highly integrated in art education here. It is because of the time frame we live and the success of the Fluxus movement in the 60’s of last century. It created great progressive movement in art. Still inspiring many teachers and students. Fluxus moved the center to the artist practice instead of to the commercial driving art market. In this time of highly commercial super economies and complex interweaving of culture and commerce it is vanishing. I think it the conceptual practice should be fostered as well as political engagement, especially in today’s world.
In term of virtues and defects you can say conceptual art is “consumer” unfriendly. It demands active study of the viewer. I positive sense you can see it skips the cumber full task of creating objects, spilling resources and man power to generate exchange of ideas.
Jin: At the end of interview, could you tell me your general impression base on your several years’ experience helping artist on technique, and could you also like to share one of the most memorable event?
Ivo: I tell you one thing that when I graduated from Gerrit Rietveld Academie. I started to work for Netherlands Media Art Institute, now it’s called NIMK. And I started to work there as a volunteer, because I could get all my hands to those technology which I couldn’t not afford by myself.
But, for years and years working there as volunteer, I decided it was the moment that we would create fantastic art works, installations for artists, at laboratory, inventing things…you know, that was a super moment for media art, so much energy and potentiality from art to everything. We created a whole series of fantastic art works, then, the government was interesting to buy these works. So, they bought the whole series works which we could exhibit.
First, we exhibited at Stedelijk Museum at Amsterdam, and after that we were committed to go with these art works to all different museums around the world. All these works were firstly made in artists’ studio in the best way they could be made, and we help them re-build the works, which were strong enough to travel. So, actually, we improved the works with the helping from artists themselves. We traveled with works and installed them all around world for a year, which was super fantastic experience. We even sold the works “on the road”.