Reading Script – R. Allen Emerson – Art Now Interview


(To Audience)

Today we will be talking with R. Allen Emerson the newest Guggenheim Fellow in Installation Arts.

R. Allen Emerson is a Conceptual Artist most known for his work in active and intelligent artwork.

He made his name in the New York circuit winning the Andy Warhol Prize in Experimental and Performance Arts for his ground-breaking installation “Consciousness and Mechanism” presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Fine Arts. His visionary exploration of non-static images of dramatic simplicity, and his pioneering work in interactive art has made Emerson a hero of the modern trans-humanist zeitgeist, and the founder of the Meta-Conceptualist movement .

(To Emerson)

Welcome Mr. Emerson. Thank you for joining us today.


Thank you, I’m glad to be here.


Can you tell our audience a little about how your art speaks to the world.


It has always been my goal that my art should speak for itself.


Yes, yes, I see.

Then can you tell us a little about your movement.

I mean what does it mean for you to be a conceptual artist?


I am not truly a conceptual artist.

I am a Meta-conceptual artist.

Where as a conceptual artist creates the idea that becomes a machine that makes the art.

I create the machine that makes the idea that becomes the machine that makes the art.


So how does the “Meta-conceptual movement” fit into the art world of today.


My work, you understand, is on a much higher level than most of the art you see today.

The old art is still locked into a Cartesian representational frame. Despite the early conceptualists desire to divorce themselves from the mere craft of art they were still merely imitating reality, all-be-it, at a conceptual level.

I do not think that one should not make art that represents life.

One should make art that IS life.


Wow. That’s amazing.

So, lets talk about your award-winning work

“When a tree falls in the forest”

Where did you get the idea for this work?


Well that’s a very interesting story. I was having a discussion with some of my friends over dim sum at LuLu Ma’s in Paris when the old saying came up ” When a tree falls in the forest and there is no one to hear it, does it make a sound.”

And I thought. “When a tree falls in the forest it means something to the tree.”

So I thought of making an artwork that can respond to art.


For those few people in our audience who have not yet seen the work. It appears to be a moss covered log, and yet in its hollow resonance chambers it makes sounds that respond to the art around it.

Is it true that it made a rude noise when shown a model of Michelangelo’s David.


Yes, that tree always has been a bit of a prude.



You talk about it as if it is a person.


I think of my artworks as if they are people. They are organisms in their own right.

I do not think of myself as merely an artist.

I think of myself as a creator of life.

I am become a god!



Thanks you so much for sharing some of your sacred time with us today.

An exhibition of Mr Emerson’s work will be on display at the J Montaigne Contemporary Arts complex starting this Friday and running till the end of the month.

Back to Reading Scripts


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