The Process of Making Art Not Art

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The Process of Making Art Not Art

by Peter Peng
May 3, 2008

The work includes:

1)   The instructions of this entire process (directions to create a certain aesthetic result)
2)   Dale Jun's Urban Jungle Photoshop file
3)   The opening of Urban Jungle in Photoshop and deconstructing/erasing the artwork completely
4)   The resulting blank .jpg file, which is the erased work
5)   The video documentation of this process
6)   The semantics of the title of my work, The Process of Making Art Not Art, which calls into question the nature of art in a similar, but different way as Robert Rauschenberg's  1953 work Erased De Kooning Drawing
*Note: My work is not a direct update of Rauschenberg for several reasons I will detail below


The creative process for me has always been a struggle. Sometimes mental blocks stop me completely, so I thought I would do a piece on what that is like. The result is this piece,The Process of Making Art Not Art, which not only combines the actual process of creating this piece (which you can see in the video documentation) with a deeper conceptual level, but is in a sense, also a bit of an update of Rauschenberg's Erased De Kooning Drawing. However, it is not a direct update because the conceptual drives behind my work are different.


This piece takes my friend Dale Jun's art project Urban Jungle, which he created with Photoshop, and erases it. It is a digital erasure in the same way Rauschenberg physically erased De Kooning's drawing. The difference is that Dale Jun is not a famous artist, nor is he a good one - he is a beginning artist taking a beginning art course for the first time. When Rauschenberg's piece came out, people debated whether his work could even be considered art, and if it was, was it by the merit of his labor (erasing) or because he was the famous artist Rauschenberg and he did it? My piece removes that factor completely because I am not yet a famous artist, so if my piece is art (conceptually), then it is by the merits of the work involved.


The above looks like a blank space, but it is the result of my project, a blank image, an erased Jun drawing.

Link to video documentation of the process:



1. Take Dale Jun's Urban Jungle and open it in Photoshop.
2. Flatten the image/merge all layers into one.
3. Use the eraser tool to erase the image completely.
4. Save the resulting blank image as a new .jpg file.


My piece seeks to explore an issue we have much discussed in class, the question of what is art? The project clearly takes inspiration from Rauschenberg's work, but it is not a direct update even though it is a digital erasure of my friend's picture, which was created digitally. I have removed the contextual elements behind Rauschenberg's situation, however, the technical labor in both our works is essentially the same.

Furthermore, my piece focuses on the art process - of not knowing what to do, and thereby deciding to essentially do a project that revolves on deciding what to do. Rauschenberg's work is also process-oriented, however, he seemed to know exactly what he wanted to do.

There is a play on words in the title of my piece too. Not knowing what to do to make art, I titled the first part of the project "the process of making art." Hence, the process became art. But the project was also a deconstruction of erasing someone else's art, hence "making art not art" as in undoing his art-ness. Of course, the phrase "making art not art" can also be read as in making option A (art) and not option B (art). I might read it with the following emphasis: I'm making art not art. This brings up the question of "what is art?" yet again.

This piece is a conceptual piece exploring the issues surrounding the aura of art, while calling upon past works such as Sol LeWitt's instructions, Rauschenberg's Erased De Kooning as inspiration. Thus, the circumstances around my work places it in direct dialogue with other controversial pieces of conceptual art.

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