facebook pixel

Students, staff & faculty can login to access personalized content.

Parent & Guardian Access is located here.

Please enter your login info

Forgot your password?

[Skip to Content]

Joan Watson

Joan Watson, Professor - Interdisciplinary Sculpture, Sculptural Studies, Art History - MICA
Up From Down Under…Just a Hop, Skip, & a Jump-Artist as Museum-Joan Watson et al

Up From Down Under… Just a Hop, Skip, and a Jump along with its highfalutin’ elaborative subtitle, Artist as Museum, is an ongoing and forever expanding bio—project in six parts representing the dynamic and realistic interactivity and creative collaborations I’ve been committed to since 1977. Each part is the result of my investigation into the “basic building block units” of the socio-political and aesthetical systems that most intimately affect the quality of our everyday lives and our involvement in the aesthetic phenomenon. This process has been a way for me to realize my ‘ecological’ (i.e., ‘aesthetical’) ideal.  My ‘aesthetic’ pursuits (the teaching, the making of art, the community service) have combined to become a continuously unfolding saga of life on earth among others in the midst of all the rigmarole our social systems have to offer. There is much to overhaul and my impetus to do so aligns with ideational forces expressed in the following resources.
1) “The self as a puzzle: to be deciphered… the self as a project: to be built” [source unknown].
2) Dynamic – realistic imaginative interactivity and creative collaboration with all resources adapted as the means to “cure” our “aesthetic malady” [E. T. Hall’s “body imaging” + Goethe’s aesthetic malady = JW 2+].
3) “…entering into a rapport with forces outside of ourselves (the multiple nonhuman sensibilities that animate the local landscape) in order to find ourselves …sending one’s awareness into other dimensions in search of insight” [David Abrams on Balinese shamanism].
4) “The human condition is (at) the point of intersection with other forces[Octavio Paz on Henri Michaux’s “Miserable Miracle”].
5) “That the text is titled Rhizome does not amount to a statement of topic, but rather a statement of identity.” [Gilles Deleuze. Also relevant are Deleuze’s thoughts on “nonhuman expressivity” as it relates to the “gestural potential” of materials noted in “specific objects” by Donald Judd].
6) “Art serves to establish community. It links us with others, and with the things around us, in a shared vision and effort” [Gerhard Richter].
7) “So then are we really thinking when the subject upon which we are thinking cannot be thought out” + thoughts re: “humanity’s aesthetic malady” [Goethe].
8) The “map of creativity”+“art and dialectics” = creativity’s polyphonic/inflective qualities [AEhrenzweig + Robert Smithson in concert with the “Hermes Trismegisus” + complexity theory and semiotics = “art historical combines” and their complementary “visual verbal journeys”]. See the following schematic bits of info.

Anton Ehrenzweig's "map of creativity"
two sets of "art historical combines"
AH412/5412 – SS300 seminar class procedures, objectives
10,000 "visual verbal journeys"
"collective consciousness" (reference "art historical combine" #1,
"The Erotics of Primary Conception," and the AH412/5412 – SS300 pmwiki websites)
"Artist as Museum – Joan Watson et al"

Up From Down Under…Just a Hop, Skip, and a Jump – Artist as Museum – Joan Watson et al was initiated to discover aspects of myself formerly unknown, unrealized, and/or lying dormant. It documents a series of developed relationships with all art and societal phenomena encountered. My initial “call to arms” arose in communion with Walter Benjamin on metaphor as a transference process and Goethe’s corresponding concern regarding humanity’s “aesthetic malady.” My natural inclination was to remedy our “malady” with a prescriptive course of action. I began by striking through the word metaphor to promote our involvement with the word as a process and demote it as a disconnected noun. I then developed a complex procedure of dynamic – realistic interactivity and creative collaboration with all people, places, and things. I worked instinctively and later discovered all developed relations with my “resource” materials manifest the origins of the word resource (to rise again, to recover) and curator (to cure) as denoted/connoted by the title of my bio—project (“Up from Down Under…Just a Hop, Skip, and a Jump – Artist as Museum”) and the description of the following six parts.

Part 1a1, AH412  (link 1) and Part 1a2, SS300 (link 2). These two parts of my bio—project unfold throughout the site of two seminars (“Metaphorical Aspects of Contemporary Art” and “Junior Seminar”) for the duration of sixteen weeks. Each seminar is defined and described by two sets of multimedia multidimensional trans-generational presentations aka “art historical combines” created to demonstrate the course (“visual verbal journey,” or “curatorial exposition”) procedure and objectives. There is a symbiotic relationship between my “art historical combines” and the students’ “visual verbal journeys” and although generated individually both the “ah combines” and the “vvjourneys” are collectively shared at the PmWiki sites where everyone involved participates in the “collective consciousness” using the ‘collaborative authoring’ function of PmWiki; hence, my project's title “Artist as Museum – Joan Watson et al.” I use the seminar forum as a creative platform – the goal is never merely informational; it is transformative! Not didactic, but dialectical! The “ah combines” and “vvjourneys are continuously growing and meant to culminate organically in the future as an immense network of trans-generational correlative states-of-being moving the project far beyond the confines of any one person and/or established archaic art system [reference André Malraux’s “Museum Without Walls” /“le musée imaginaire” from 1947. Especially relevant to the seminar objectives are the following thoughts from Malraux. "Artworks will acquire a kind of ubiquity. They will no longer exist only in themselves, but all of them will exist wherever there is someone." "…Although the expression of archaic sentiments, even when indirect, grants to the masterpiece a particular resonance, recourse to shadows implies continued subservience to some kind of tyranny: in art no monster is an end in itself." (When reviewing Malraux's images using the "Firefox google search," beware of wolves in sheep's clothing and/or shoes. The muddled situation at "google search" and the sentimental "tagging of shadows" have nothing to do with the radical/unconventional work of Malraux.)]

Part 1b (link 3) is my storyboarding of certain “resource” materials including images of art graphically intermixed with pertinent words and phrases, along with a disparate array of topical imagery in the form of headlines and advertisements with everything working together to demonstrate the “good, bad and high, low” conditions of art and humanity. It’s an epic story with a cast of thousands depicted in various states of misbehavior, but always with a glimmer as to how life and art could be. All actions depicted in this storyboard correlate with activities described in part 1c that follows, but also function as a pre-visualization of the aforementioned parts 1a1 (AH412/5412) and 1a2 (SS300).

Part 1c (link 4) is my attempt to personally actualize Walter Benjamin's notion of "metaphor as a transference process" through the practice of Chi Kung, Chi Kung Tai Chi, the Micro-Cosmic Orbit (Healing Tao) and the study of various energy flow systems (acupuncture and shiatsu) that promote more profound interactive co-operative collaborations and inform my choice of "resource" materials for parts 1a1, 1a2, and 1b. These practices refreshed my physiology, enabling me to identify with operative forces more readily and ecologically. Initially, my focus was limited to the inner workings of art and self, but later expanded to include the study of the environmental and socio-political dynamics that caused the flood waters to rise "up from down under" (ground) in the vicinity of my house in downtown Jersey City, NJ. The flooding phenomenon was a perplexing situation wreaking havoc on a neighborhood in desperate need for a remedy! [Reference part 1d (link 5)].

Part 1d (link 5) is the "Combined Sewer System Overflow (CSSO) Chronicles" documenting seven years of rain events to expose the chronic mismanagement of Jersey City, New Jersey's sewer system along with corresponding unconscionable activities within the city's "Tidewater Redevelopment" area. Following this study, I then countered the city's redevelopment plan with my Meadowland Reclamation Project based on local environmental realities that necessitate specific regulations to control the flooding in downtown Jersey City's low-lying areas. [Reference Dutch settlement maps noting the local landscape as "meadowlands with a tendency to flood at high tide" and the corresponding report in 1998 from the engineering firm Mayo, Lynch and Associates Inc]. Problems pinpointed and remedies submitted to the city meant to "save the day" remain unrealized; hence, another case of the "sad but true." [For a comic antidote, go to Andy Kaufman's rendition of "Here I Come to Save the Day" at http://youtu.be/kGx94VPb8V8].

Part 1e (link 6) "Flamenco y musica sufi" (complementary musical forces juxtaposed) demonstrate the multitudinous emotional inflections spanning the polarities of flamenco's lamentations and musica sufi's exaltations. [Reference dialectical thinking involved with the "Hermes Trismegistus" (old-time thinking) and "complexity theory" (new-time thinking). Also, D. Galas on "compassion" and D. Bohm on perception: the more views we get that we can integrate and make coherent, the deeper our understanding of what "reality" is].

My initial idea that parts 1a1 (AH412) and 1a2 (SS300) function as communities comprised of “innumerable Artists as Museums (Joan Watson et al) going bumpity-bump –inflecting art history this way and that– throughout the semester in the seminar classroom” has now been expanded. My two sets of seminar-specific multimedia multidimensional presentations (“art historical combines”) are now disseminated not only in-, but also out-side the classroom in the form of a ‘collaborative authoring’ website (faculty.mica.edu/jwatson and/or artistasmuseum.info). Through my website, I am attempting to create a convoluted and endless series of correlative art events seminal to the enhancement of our interactive experiences. Conceptually speaking, my intent is to collect as many events as possible within not only my lifetime, but beyond! The PmWiki software I use for my website allows others to participate as ‘collaborating authors’ throughout each set of my “art historical combines” comprising part 1a1 (AH412) and part 1a2 (SS300). This then extends the perceptual–conceptual situation beyond myself, in my limited space and time, to a larger community in an expansive space–time continuum. This opportunity is extended to the students enrolled in AH412 and SS300 as they too collect and collate their “resource” materials in the form of “visual verbal journeys” or “curatorial expositions” archived at the student PmWiki site (faculty.mica.edu/jwatson_student). Participants enrolled in the two seminar classes construct “visual verbal journeys,” “curatorial expositions”) that re-present their distinct perceptual–conceptual relationship to the history of art and the aesthetic realms with and in which they choose to work; aesthetically pinpointing themselves and in the process discovering new navigational skills for generating the “body of work” each needs to create.

The idea of art as a “living entity” —an organism forever expanding and contracting, fluctuating this way and that especially given its all-inclusive nature— is now a reality. “Fluxus” is the norm. The context of art fluctuates with each new bit of info. Each new collaborator using the ‘collaborative authoring’ function at our PmWiki sitesadds another piece to the puzzle. The idea is to actualize the vast, immense, and fluid nature that is true of all concepts! Together we can demonstrate a complete range of ‘inflective’ possibilities as we each re-cognize (re-think) the revolutionary aspects of our radical history of art.  “The real question is: To whom does the meaning of the art of the past properly belong? To those who can apply it to their own lives, or to a cultural hierarchy of relic specialists?”(Walter Benjamin via John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing” as they align with André Malraux, Harold Bloom, Dave Hickey, Azar Nafisi, and so many others included in this project).

The ‘collaborative authoring’ function of the “Up From Down Under…Just a Hop, Skip, and a JumpArtist as Museum – JW et al” (parts 1a1 and 1a2) faculty and student PmWiki sites actualize the permissive, open, tolerant and energizing  (consciousness-raising) environment that has been my life’s work. Once again, the simple functionality of all things serves to support an aesthetic re-volution – a flip-flopping of the existing situation as we, together in the space of the PmWiki websites, demonstrate the collective consciousness that is our art history (“ah combines”—“vvjourneys”); i.e., innumerable “artists as museums” going bumpity-bump this way and that inflecting the history of it all = us.

“And Away We Go…”

(Jackie Gleason x 2 + directionally flip-flopped + extended
the numerous and various mental theatrics that lie between all polarities in any category)