This past Thursday evening I had the good fortune to spend time at a lecture by John Chervinsky sponsored by the Visual Studies program at the University of Houston.
It's true that I arrived late and didn't have the benefit of hearing everything that John had to say, I have to react to what I did hear.
John repeatedly makes a claim to his connection to science though his art. While he is in fact the manager of a laboratory at Harvard, I can't seem to find his credentials in his cv. Based on what I saw from what he presented, he has not yet completed enough course work to have a degree.
Based on what I heard him say, he is doing work on genome sequencing. I have come to think of Harvard as a institution interested in liberal thought, but I think that allowing John to pass himself off as actually doing real science there is a step to far.
While I will admit that the pictures that John has made are curious at first glance, I can't say that they live up to claims he makes for them on closer inspection. I know that the "Art" world is not bounded by the rigors of good science but it seems to me that this is another example of the "taste makers" being sold a bill of goods.
John says that his work is influenced by the work of John Pfahl, I have a hard time seeing that influence in his work. Take a look at Pfahl's highly accomplished and varied portfolio, http://johnpfahl.com/index.html. Perhaps Chervinsky should get to know the work of Robert Cumming, who has been doing work that really examines some of the same issues that Chevinsky claims to be thinking about. www.moma.org/onlineprojects/cumming/index.html
While I commend the University of Houston for engaging in the development of the Visual Studies program, I hope they will do a better job of vetting their next presenter as to their real background and credentials. The "Art" world is filled with plenty of hot air and the University doesn't need to add to it. I was sorry to hear that one of the students at the presentation was impressed by what she described as Chervinsky's "nontraditional path". I hope that no students find this a compelling alternative to the rigors of a traditional education.
I could go on but I won't trouble the reader with a continued rant. I'll end with a recommendation that you go to the next presentation by the people of the Visual Studies program at the U of H, but THINK about what it is you're hearing and remember that are no"Rules, boundaries, and limitations" in the "Art" world.