I. Conventional spectators have no choice: in the first tier, the artwork is offered to them as an experience. Whatever our senses convey to us in terms of colours, lines and shapes (in visual an in die classic sense), or in terms of noises, smells, materials, objects, persons and events in nature and technology (in the extended concept of art) sets upon us. Toward off these sensations, the alienation and the shock, we fall back on our subjective power of experience, we confirm, contradict show interest or lack thereof, agree, disagree, feel defeated or make an intellectual effort. However let me remind you of Gadamers epilogue to ,Der Ursprung des Kunstwerkes’: The existence of the artwork does not consist in the becoming an experience.” The first tier is nothing hut the illusionary site of production and reception, of ideas about extension and progress.
II. It is only through the spectator’s marvelling that a second tier is created around the figure of the theoretical spectator/theoretical artist. The marvelling spectator externalises his/her “gaze at the exhibition”, which leads to the figure of the theoretical spectator / theoretical artist and to the emergence of the parts that constitute the theoretical artwork: the exhibition as an endless sequence, the art world as an overall concept, information as the nature of bits and pieces, the work as the only valid category, archive as storeroom as sites. The effort of the spectator in his activity aims at an improvement of art by formalizing exhibition and curatorship, oeuvre, collection and information. In this second tier, all material that was stored and preserved with great expenditures as ‘art,’ in the first tier, can finally be released again.
III. The representation of the events in the first and second tiers as a model – that is the third tier. Such a model shows us the situation around the events and experiences made by the spectators in the first tier. The model demonstrates the dimensions of the theoretical artwork by reduction in size, by making everything visible at a glance and more simple in terms of time. Whereas the theoretical spectator / theoretical artist in the second tier brings about a “maximum of art”, the model’s third tier is dominated by a minimum of art. The appropriate spectator in the third tier is the “accidental passer-by”; here, “well done – badly done – not done” are equivalent (to quote Filliou‘s “bien fait – mal fait – pas fait”) The “catalogue-paintings (Katalogbilder)” by Klaus Merkel are models.
IV. Looking at models does not lead to more quality, spectators in the fourth tier are irrelevant. We, the public, formerly spectators of the first tier, have mutated into “tourists” in search of the event / experience. An art world “producing events” and the public, in search of experience” create and transform one another. In view of the apparent artlessness of the models – which are not arbitrary and ambiguous and which lack metaphorical language as analogies to interpret – contemplation in the strict sense of the word is in appropriate. We are much rather faced with the choice either to reconstruct the process that led to the creation of the model or to continuously restore the discourse of “art in the first tier” as a source of experience.
Translation: Elizabeth Großebner, Wien
First published in: Klaus Merkel Katalogbilder, Editor: Morat-Institut für Kunst und Kunstwissenschaft, Freiburg 1993
Reprint in: META 3, Editor: Ute Meta Bauer / Künstlerhaus Stuttgart,
Stuttgart, 1994, page 116 -118