Painting beyond Itself: An Edit (Introduction and Day 1)

by Mark Dilks

In attending the conference Painting beyond Itself in 2013, held in Cambridge, MA, my face was one of many, in an auditorium grain smudge, a morsel. It was a wonderful experience. The document, Painting beyond Itself: Medium in the Post Medium Condition made by the organizers and published by Sternberg Press, in 2016, revisits and revises the previously presented material. I love books and was excited to read this one.

Most of the texts in the book Painting beyond Itself attempt to make sense of substance (material) or present research for intrigue. In a way, this is what my edited notes attempt to do as well. The original authors are no slouches. Carol Armstrong, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Sabeth Buchman, Réne Démoris, Isabelle Graw, David Joselit, Jutta Koether, Ewa Lajer-Burcharth, Jacqueline Lichtenstein, Julie Mehretu, Matt Saunders, and Amy Sillman are each truly exceptional (scholars, artists, philosophers) experts who have spent years of labor to get to their current intellectual, social and economic heights. Their texts are the result of this labor. Then, I come along and chop up their ideas, effort, and time invested. They may not appreciate the edit. And, well, I’m not an editor. What is the result of the reduction, these fragments? Poetry. Except, I’m not a poet. Maybe a good read is as a summary, like Cliff Notes for Art Theory. Still, in Cliff Notes, the information must be clear and accurate, which isn’t always the case in these edits. I REALLY JUST WANT THE WORDS TO BE A JOYOUS CURIOSITY TO READ, AND POTENTIALLY PROVIDE INSPIRATION, criticism, and discourse.

Reading is a consistent pastime. When I read theory I underline. The noted underlines are now gathered together to create new texts and different interpretations. This is not a writing project and, yet, it is. These are not my words, but rather words jumping out at me: a screening, or gateway through, backward, around, over.




Day One

Preface:  Ewa Lajer-Burcharth & Isabelle Graw
Preface (edit)

self-consciously reengaged
what was before modernism
pluralize historical privilege
no stable sense
substance heterogenous
situate itself beside itself
abolishes yet sustains

Marking, Scoring, Storing, and Speculating (on Time): David Joselit
Marking, Scoring, Storing and Speculating (on Time) (edit)

indescribable unlimited staging marks time battery accelerated new ways of looking for a future
that may never arrive
storage a vast accumulation

Scenes of Instruction: Ewa Lajer-Burcharth
Scenes of Instruction (paragraph one) (edit)

scarcely furnished
capture shape drawers
specter Behind
half shadow
lurking unreality

Beyond! Beyond! Two Years after the Conference: Jutta Koether
Beyond! Beyond! (edit)

(Within) the (space) of the painting, (every) given [thing] (turns) toward its (opposite.)


Modern Color: A New Paradigm
: Jacqueline Lichtenstein
Modern Color: A New Paradigm (edit)

defined through oppositions
the nature of darkness stands between the diminution (dimming) light.
More truthful to say,
light is heterogeneous
color, the decomposition of light.
1743 Buffon imaginary effects of the eye
phantom __ limp
Hippolyte Taine “We must call external perception true hallucination.”
influence abolition existence
light with colors
only reflections
“no black in nature: gives and receives
purity, luminosity, hue –
tint , shade and hue


The Value of Liveliness: Painting as an Index of Agency in the New Economy
: Isabelle Graw
The Value of Liveliness: Index (edit)

trace activity eyes trace activity
subjectivity suggests agency
expansions – openings – despecifications
residually specific
“own discourse” “own narrative” quasi – subject “think” “speak”
vitalist projections
specific indexical pointing finger
absent author physically present
refers to it is not
life work time
“living labor” withholds labor as well
seemingly stored value material labor
“post-Fordist” “cognitive” “network-capitalism”
cognitive affective way we live commodified
market “life events” object consumer
charged social living labor undermines essence seemingly
speaks only living can speak
commodity, labor, textual body, performative
Worn like a gown
Like a relic in touch
Toroni Buren transgress boundaries like an agent.
films, diagrams, printed matter
“implicit horizon” (Stakemeier, Moss)
can’t be reduced “more tangible Minerva”
Alberti, in the way.
don’t, collapse the index object pair.
evoking (imaginary) presence an effect
plethora finite
infinite capacity
problematic anthropomorphic projection
“beside itself” model
separation, division, deferral,
ghost presence.
handwritten imprint. circulates commodity
loaded with intentionality
“emanation agency”
access to life in touch “in touch” in the copy
living labor congealed
Value deceived power, emphasized, cultivated
“dead labor”
“absent presence” absorbing life possible
grasp imaginary private concrete gestures
displays at once
absorbing life


On Color: Amy Sillman
On Color (edit)

push – pull
turgid, overbearing, indifference, filmy, domineering, classy, vulgar, grainy, slimy, creamy, dull
Egyptian violet
cobalt violet light
Tyrian purple
Indian yellow
lead, copper, aluminum, oxide, arsenic, cobalt. naphtha, or benzene.
surface, tone, silhouette, line, space, zone, layer, scale, speed, and mass meaning,
text, sign, language, intention, concept, history, beauty, awe, surprise, romance,
freedom, innocence, gay politics, civil rights.
Childhood innocence can subvert capitalism.
Isaac Newton 1706 Gustav Klutsis Johannes Itten Albers Albert Munsell Rihanna
wooden academy Philadelphia
who is the standard?
Modern Supplies Over Art
negation R & F
welcoming the wrong



Mark Dilks, born in Philadelphia, lives and works there. Mark’s works move through paint, object, text and sound. Screens and Screening have been a research focus. Professors and Peers at Hampshire College, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and Maryland Institute College of Art informed his work and research. University of Pennsylvania gave him an Interdisciplinary Arts MFA in 2013. Grateful thanks to youse.