List of Art Ideas for 1st Class of CalArts, Post Studio (if they have no ideas of their own from which to make a piece) by John Baldessari

1. Imitate Baldessari in actions and speech. Video.

2. Make up an art game. Structure a set of rules with which to play. A physical game is not necessary; more important are the rules and their structure. Do we in life operate by rules? Does all art? Or art rules, like tenant rules. Or art violations.

3. How can we prevent art boredom?

4. Write a list of art lies, un-truths that might be truthful if we really thought about them. However, consider this: Art truths that we hear often are boring in their correctness?

5. How can plants be used in art? Problem becomes how can we really get people to look freshly at plants as if they’ve never noticed them before. A few possibilities: 1. Arrange them alphabetically like books on a shelf; 2. Plant them like popsicle trees (as in child art) perpendicular to line of hill; 3. Include object among plants that is camouflaged; 4. Color a palm tree pink; 5. Photo found growing arrangements; 6. Or a movie on how to plant a plant.

6. How can gallery use be subverted, as in land art? Exchange locations with another business? Photo gallery sq. ft. for sq. ft. and paste up in another space? One-way glass in front of gallery?

7. Give police artist verbal description of Baldessari and have him do drawing. Perhaps everyone in class does verbal description.

8. Describe a neutral object completely with film and tape or video. Do it until you have fully transferred all its qualities to the medium. Perhaps better a class project in that more insights would be available. Steal its qualities.

9. Create art from our procedures of learning. How does an infant learn? How do we continue to learn? How do we learn speech? To count? To know danger? Investigate Montessori methods, books on learning and perception.

10. Do a tape recording of raw sounds and edit into a composition.

11. Make up a list of sound as art projects (see sample).

12. How can a gallery space be used rather to put objects into it?

13. Two-man film project. Each shoots an amount of film. Each edits the other’s film. A film collage problem. Important that the footage to be “found.”

14. Given: The availability of an airplane or helicopter for a short-time use, i.e. an hour. What would you do?

15. Given: $1. What art can you do for that amount?

16. Cooking art. Invent recipes. They are organizations of parts, aren’t they?

17. Subvert real systems; i.e., dial a number that records messages while the person is out and dial another number that gives recorded messages. Put the two phones together. Put a sigh that says slow in the middle of a street. Get it?

18. What art can artist conjure from magic and myth. Or just a magic trick on video.

19. A sensory deprivation piece. A sensory overload piece.

20. Ecological guerrilla art.

21. Disguise yourself as another object— a tree maybe. Or becoming a tree. A big bird? Or becoming a tree. Or another person. Buy makeup.

22. What are the minute differences in things that are supposed to be the same? And vice versa. If you took 36 photos of a lawn, would they all be the same? Or of 36 sections of the same lawn? Or of a wall? Or 36 identical nails (either finger or the kid you hammer)?

23. Film loops or slides of all the objects one stares at in a given interval when in an arbitrarily chosen room. Or recorded on a tape recorder as one’s eyes lock on them.

24. 36 slides from start to finish of simple motion like picking your nose, scratching your ass, and so on.

25. Slides of #24 projected in correct places in another (bare) room.

26. Wet and dry; i.e., how does wet gravel in a parking lot look next to another dry area. Perhaps as actual situation, where something would be constantly wet.

27. Recreate sculpturally, with other materials, in a magic realist approach and 12-inch-square area of earth, land. Perhaps better yet, to keep your own aesthetic out of it, would be to have another choose it for you.

28. Have someone take a photo portrait of you just before you go into a store to steal something. Have your portrait taken immediately after the act. Photo the object stolen.

29. Design and have printed your calling card.

30. Steal the trash from Pres. Corrigan’s wastebasket and make a collage of it.

31. Have yourself photographed in act of insulting a person. Repeat it each time insulting a new person.

32. Pay homage to a movie star, rock musician, etc. in form of a pilgrimage visit. Photograph is required of the two of you with a personalized signed greeting by the hero. Or it could be the famous person’s grave. In this case a photo of you at the grave. Person’s name on the gravestone should be visible. No signature necessary.

33. Defenestrate objects. Photo them in mid-air.

34. What kind of art can be done with real animals?

35. Record all sensations, thoughts, for ½ hour on tape recorder.

36. What kind of works can be done literally under the earth.

37. Liquid works.

38. Chemical works.

39. Biological works.

40. Photograph landscape in color. Make 8x10 color print. Make some color changes. Color landscape to match retouched photo. Color landscape to match photo. Rephoto.

41. Class to make up list for scavenger hunt. Exhibit works at the end of day.

42. Forgeries. Each in class tries to forge my signature on a check by looking at an original. Or forgeries of forgeries of forgeries, etc.

43. Take any sentence of text to six sign painters to be lettered in letters of same style and height. Study differences.

44. Punishment. Write “I will not make any more art”/“I will make good art” (or something similar) 1,000 times. on wall.

45. One person copies or makes random captions. Another person takes photos. Match photos to captions.

46. Serial TV works. 25 ways to fold a hat, to comb your hair, 25 different people spitting.

47. Develop a visual code. Give it to another student to crack.

48. Disguise an object to look like another object.

49. Do a film or TV script or scenario. Use TV layout paper.

50. A video tape that is a result of reading a book. You give a book report in front of a camera. Maybe E.T. Hall, The Hidden Dimension.

51. Smell pieces.

52. Touch pieces.

53. Art that you see by looking up or down.

54. How do we get eyes off the visual and into experience. Rent a service rather than an object from Yellow Pages.

55. Take a canvas stretcher, size of your choice, to an upholsterer and have it upholstered with fabric of your choice.

56. A piece that deals with measurement—up, down, right, left, etc. and where spectator is located.

57. Make up list of distractions that often occur to you. Recreate on videotape.

58. Make up art parables.

59. Edmund Scientific Catalog project. What art can you make by ordering from this catalog. Maybe grow plants chemically.

60. Hypnosis. Can art ideas be implanted and removed in a mind?

61. A wall drawing based on numerous persons’ height—each marks his height on a wall with line, signs name and date. As Chicano graffiti.

62. What art can arise from such phrases as: 1. Entasis, 2. Gestalt with some left over information, 3. Simple shape, simple experience, 4. Unitary form with reduced relationships, 5. Unitary form with line of fracture. Or can pure information be art?

63. The structural movement of cameras as subject matter.

64. Performance pieces. Speak thru your hand to your thigh but not with your head. Or, talk with your knees to something knee high. Or, what are your dog-like traits without imitating a dog. Or, the delivery of a speech to an imaginary person in different spaces in a room. Do a series of artificial voices. Can the various positions of the hand change the resonance of the voice? Say “good morning” every morning into a tape recorder for the length of the tape. See Grotowski, Towards a Poor Theatre.

65. A snapshot album of things to see in Los Angeles with exact locations so that others can locate sights (sites).

66. Document change, decay, metamorphosis, changes occurring in time. Photograph same thing at various times during day.

67. Do good and bad compositions (by photo) of same scene, objects. Frame a photo in viewfinder and move camera a foot to the side before shooting.

68. Make up a list by looking at art books, talking to artists, on things to avoid in making art. Do them. Ask yourself if results are good or bad art.

69. What art can come from the use of a set of walkie-talkie radios?

70. By using movie camera to follow actions and by your observation into cassette recorder, document the movements of someone secretly for an entire day. Or have someone follow you.

71. Photos are flat. Photograph flat surfaces. Maybe exchange them.

72. Change, control, alter, arrange light in room environment.

73. Arte Povera. How much and what kind of art can you make from Kleenex and masking tape, for instance.

74. A film, videotape, etc. that deals openly with a physical flaw of yours (in your estimation). A film called PIMPLE?

75. Information exchange. You write letters to someone and they to you and so on. Framed letters of refusal (I am sorry, but…), for instance. Or thanks (Thank you for… blah, blah, etc.).

76. Random photos. End of, beginning of, roll photos. Camera sent up with pigeon, balloon; or given to another person with shooting instructions, shooting from hip, etc. How do we avoid our good taste?

77. Using of time devices. Time clock (that prints time in and out), random time device (red dot on cash register tape), a fuse, a candle.

78. Large-scale art that can be seen in its entirety. For instance, if you dyed sheets each a separate color and arranged them checker-board-like, say a hundred or more, they could only be experienced by walking thru them, but they could be seen (also photoed) by helicopter or airplane.

79. Photograph backs of things, underneaths of things, extreme foreshortenings, uncharacteristic views. Or trace them.

80. Put labels on things that list their concerns.

81. Design an art test.

82. Can one give and take away aesthetic content?

83. Street works, art determined by location. What would you do on top of a 30-story bldg.? What would you do under water?

84. Given $50. Could you increase the sum in a period of time?

85. Describe the visual verbally and the verbal visually.

86. Film of, or video of, children’s play activities—walking on a ledge, drawing a line in the dirt, etc.

87. Do a work of art by telephone. Or use TBA (John Collins).

88. An all word TV tape. Or a single word.

89. A real time movie or videotape. A steaming cup of coffee.

90. If photos come from reality, what kind of reality comes from photos? Reconstruct a photo three-dimensionally.


(We had just left #90.)

91. Scenarios. Do a movie from an existing, stock scenario. Or 1 person writes scenario, another shoots movie. Or GRAB BAG scenario—everyone writes 2-3 scenes, drop in box, someone pulls out maybe 10 and they are shot in the order drawn out. Or everyone does their version of the grab bag scenario.

92. Videotape of making sound effects.

93. Design a secret handshake (for our class members?).

94. Verbally design a landscape instead of painting one.

95. A disjunctive work that is based on parts and not a whole, that is one see the parts and never the whole.

96. Prove a point as in a science fair diorama, display, tableau, such as : “How quickly does bread mold under certain conditions?” or “Is plant growth hampered by use of conditioned water”; “The effect of colored lights on plants”; “Is untreated seaweed useful as fertilizer?”; “What effects do ultra sonic vibrations have on plants?”; “The effect of aspirin on potato plants”; “Why is a rainbow round?”; “Do race, color, texture affect the strength of hair?”; etc.

97. Take the titles of any amateur art exhibition and illustrate them. For instance, such titles as Ah, Toro!, Autumn Leaves, Mexican Patterns, Xenogenisis #2, Xanadu, Wharf Enchantments, French Restaurant, Boat Batters, blah, blah.

98. Repaid or patched art. Recycled. Find something broken and discarded. Perhaps in a thrift store. Mend it.

99. Art that requires the rental of a service father than an object.

100. How does one react to a minor stress problem? Perhaps compare what one is thinking to one’s outward behavior.

101. Put new canvas over old paintings.

102. Composition based on the duration of say, on gal. of paint.

103. A 30-day continuous line on adding machine tape.

104. The shapes of shadows of well-known people (or well-known artists for a specific example).

105. Reversals. Be black, say things backward, all while standing upside down. Think backward.

106. Put makeup on dogs and other animals. On trees and plants.

107. “If each of us were to confess his most secret desire, the one that inspires all his plans, all his actions, he would say: ‘I want to be praised’” (E.M. Cioran). Do a piece that deals with praise as a theme. Be praised off camera.

108. Photograph of umbrella and sewing machine on an operating table. That’s Surrealism isn’t it?

109. Blow powdered color thru staw on drawing made with fat on wall underground. That’s cave art isn’t it?

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