In the following, analytical part of my study I will try to describe the directions, manifestations, main principles, major ideas and the spiritual and artistic systems and activities of a few specific artists by means of a conceptual construction consciously aware of the eclectic and at times missing nature of the material (naturally resulting from the circumstances). I will take the notion of "art" as a starting point, then through certain linguistic methods (that have remained until present undiscussed), I will arrive at a discussion of particular artworks, themes and concepts (operations) and try to bring forward the role of information again by means of defining both the common and divergent tendencies inherent between them in the context of direct activity. At that point certain individual artistic programs, specific personal features and (hopefully) an intellectual community will reveal themselves, leading to some pieces that are "already not" Conceptual works yet still clearly show the essence of the new art-concept (and approach).
An expansion of the concept of art (on the surface) had the result of taking almost any new ambitions (or anything that considered itself to be new) for a movement (or that is how its creators presented it) and usually they were presented with a new name to be inserted into common usage. The normal process of creating a name was that usually the word "art", "Kunst" or "mûvészet" was attached to a concept, thing or activity. One of these was Concept Art, yet by the time it started to be used, these compounds had been so common already that for a general-analytical approach they were proven to be useless; at the same time, however, it is peculiar how often (at least once in any author's work who studies the Avant-Garde) one is presented with a list of them. It became one of the (certainly ironic) "practices" of Concept to increase the number of these movements (names) as well as to create playful puns including the word "art", write texts and poems or carry out operations.
It seems to be easy to subsequently draw logical conclusions about what happened and why, yet one should not forget that the phenomenon is ultimately spontaneous (or at least as it has been described in the previous paragraph) and not a logically constructed one. Obviously enough, if Concept Art is concerned about art and linguistic functions, then the easiest thing to do is to start an analysis of the word "art" itself.
There were a lot of ideas among Hungarian artists, although most of them were not consequential - except for one that emerged as "serious", likely to become a movement and bring along significant consequences (inasmuch as it also meant a certain attitude and lifestyle): it was termed "pseudo" (art) and was started by Gyula Pauer. Here are some more examples: glob-art, "kirak-art" [trans. note: a play with the Hungarian word "kirakat", which means "shopwindow"], "bûn-art" [crime-art] (Szentjóby), fact-art, "art ejtve árt" [untranslatable with several layers of meaning] (János Major), this is a list made for a publication "szétfolyó-irat" in which they collected Hungarian words containing the letter combination "art" (the source was a collection of articles taken from newspapers); Kálmán Szíjártó wrote the word with a gradually extinguishing cigarette thus creating a series; Géza Perneczky also had several similar pieces: his words inscribed on plants (e.g. mushrooms) or objects (e.g. ping-pong balls) enabled him to organize certain "mini-actions" or other operations (that he documented with photographs), which then gained a metaphorical meaning. An illustration of his work could be his piece, such as his piece where he (according to the text) writes the word "art" on a window-pane and then blows soap-bubbles, which reflect the word and until they explode are clearly legible.
The previous example shows how certain visual or objective elements became "textual" and the other way round: text became visual. This reciprocity is important in an approach towards Concept pieces: the "text" is composed of words, objects, images and different materials, while "syntax" (the rules) are constituted from spatial relations and mental connections as well as geometrical operations, such as projection/reflection, shifting, repetition, rotating or mathematical symbols (e.g. addition or equation). Two rather well-defined categories that are also recognized by their given terms and even discussed as such reveal and simultaneously represent these observations: experimental (or visual) poetry and serial (or sequential) works (minimal actions or land-art documentation, such as in the Pécsi Mûhely). There, development can be examined "separately" from Concept Art since they have their own "independent" traditions - their mixture, however, is of special interest. The typical "one-page" works that are quite common in visual poetry (beside making them for individual purposes) were collected by a thematic collective activity, an exhibition or a publication (always on private initiative), but several artists made (and later published) "concept booklets" of one or more copies (Perneczky, Imre Bak, Major etc.) They may have been unique designs and the author could think of them as a "series" (sequence), while other times the pieces made for different purposes and time were considered to be segments of them. They may have contained longer texts as well as an identical reproduction (prints, for instance)** or they could be summarized by means of the content of a series. In Péter Legéndy's work the spreading of already prepared forms by mail as well as the act of filling them out or making new ones while using the pattern of the ready forms had a similar role. They could be distributed, mailed, exchanged, completed - their essential feature being the maintaining of relation and an exchange of information and perhaps we should also search for the roots of book-art here.
The different varieties of publications must encourage one to pay attention to the trend as a whole if the purpose is to examine the relationship between Concept and language as well as the linguistic approach towards art. It is important to remind the reader here that the examinations concerning language, information and communication in the twentieth century represent the most complex problems of theoretical-scientific (i.e. philosophical and aesthetic - not only linguistic) research. (Some names and connected scientific directions chosen randomly from the most well-known: the Vienna Circle, the Russian formalists, Wittgenstein, Saussure, Peirce, semiotics, Weiner, Cybernetics, Barthes, Lévi-Strauss, structuralism, Neumann, computerization, and several Hungarian scientists, whose names can be directly linked to certain movements or artists: János Zsilka, János Petõfi S., Özséb Horányi). At the same time it is not my purpose to show direct - obvious - relationships or influences with either Concept in general, or concerning the specific Hungarian manifestation, not only because it is not the purpose of my study, but also because it would be rather more misleading than illuminating.
Concept Art tries to react against specialization and offer an alternative to "one-sidedness" and systematization and find its place (as art) with the intention of achieving knowledge about itself and the world. As Joseph Kosuth points out in one of his texts, art, in a certain way, is to "de-philosophy" culture simultaneously having the ability to talk at points where everything else has failed; it might eventually babble about "nothing", the "vacuum" or "emptiness" thus can utter even the "unutterable". Wittgenstein's influence is well-known and very obvious indeed; concerning the role and function of art, others arrived at similar conclusions as well.
What forms do linguistic functions have, then? We can chose the starting point by claiming (what we have arrived at so far) that the artist, when writing, chooses a form. He uses language to give voice to his doubts about the applicability of language at all. "One can only make mistakes in a bad language" (Miklós Erdély). The contradiction can only be solved if there are proposals for new ways of using language that examine and test language itself. By "new ways of using" it means to involve formulas that are inherently "ambiguous" or contradictory thus inspiring a new quality.
Factual, tautological, "incomprehensible", paradoxical statements. Besides certain philosophical structures, mystical thinking as well as scientific theses and formulas, poetry shows similar examples of this. Several artists whose names are connected to our subject either started their career as poets or from the beginning wrote poems together with their artistic activities, "texts" were also an important element within their body of work (e.g. Szentjóby, Erdély, Hajas, Pauer, Jovánovics). It is worth referring to the fact that they invited poets (who they were constantly in touch with and whose work had many common references) for their exhibitions of visual poetry that were not very different from conceptual artistic actions (e.g. Dezsõ Tandori, László Nagy, Sándor Weöres, János Pilinszky, Károly Tamkó-Sirató or Lajos Kassák).
In the artistic examination of problems of linguistic nature (as well as looking at them in the system of visual expressive forms) film had a particularly significant role within Hungary. The written work of Miklós Erdély being the first of its kind that defined the nature of a new (avant-garde) thinking and thus may be considered as its program: "Montázs-éhség" [Montage-Hunger] (1966) was also written in connection with a film. The "Balázs Béla Stúdió" and the "Group K3" were projects that centered around the creation of a new language in film and created possibilities for making a number of films that can be directly included here as examples. (The major figure of the project was Gábor Bódy whose activity in the medium of film both theoretically and practically was also concerned with language.) A common feature of these films is what can be called a "medium-analysis" or research. The pieces that were created show the phases of its creation - from the medium of language we have arrived at the language of the medium. At this point, arising from general artistic questions that are inherent within a discussion of Concept, we arrive at the problems of a certain transmittal of context, medium, expression and tool. Eventually, this is the borderline of "pure" Concept and also the point, where art-theory can safely link to the research (of movements) of art. In reference to Conceptual Art's artistic mentality, the emphasis is on the intellectual "essence", whose manifestation is, of course, equally important, yet is "all the same" in the sense that the artist might use any kinds of tool, material or medium. (The point is not what the necessary thing, e.g. a photo or a page from a newspaper is like but that it is like that.) Concerning the problem of the medium, beyond the fact that its direct contact with conceptual ambitions hopefully seems to be clear by now, it is rather the tool, object or method that is in the center: those create the initial basis. The expansion of the art-concept (in a general sense) resulted in the fact that the special features, unnoticed capacities and possible ways of application of the appropriated tools promoted a cooler, more analytical perspective. I separated the notions of "how I do it" and "what is it going to be like" from the principles of "what is it (the art) that I am making" and "how do I think" (concept) only to emphasize the difference between the two aspects. Primarily, it is about logical consequences, which, in case of the separate artist, territory or period, might not have been simultaneous or even sequential - and yet they can be categorized.
After having discussed the linguistic function, which used the word "art" as a starting point and thus symbolizing "art" as the context of art and which took us to the relation between art and the mediums, I will try to discuss the main principles, notions, theses, themes and materials that appeared in the Hungarian context of Concept.
Starting with the "topic", I will use an accidental coincidence (I could also write as a subheading - The Major Topics of Art No 1: The Still-Life /a/ Still-Life with Flowers). I will provide the rather liberal and arbitrary analysis of two pieces, whose topics are very similar and they were made in almost the same time, and try to link them with each other as well as with other things. The two pieces are Miklós Erdély's Váza virággal [Vase with Flowers] (exhibited in the Technical University "R" Exhibition, Dec. 1970) and Imre Bak's Csendélet: virág, függöny, váza, asztal [Still-life: Flower, Curtain, Vase, Table]. Firstly, I intend to draw a formal and spiritual parallel between these two works and two of the greatest artistic gestures of the twentieth century (which were considered to be ultimately determinant by a lot of people): the ready-made principle of Marcel Duchamp and Kazimir Malevich's painting "White Square on Black". These two gestures are so much part of common knowledge as well as the artistic context that (especially when discussing the Avant-Garde) it seems to be commonplace to refer to them; in the present case of this study, I might be accused of lacking in ideas, misusing clichés and risking meaninglessness by using exactly these pieces for a comparison - but that is exactly why I use them. I even use a "traditional" - affirmative method: both artists - in different pieces - refer to the already mentioned two artists (they knew them and were "influenced" by them: see, for instance, Erdély - Jovánovics - Major: Major János kabátja ["János Major's Coat"] or Imre Bak's book: Vizuális alkotás és alakítás ["Visual Forms and Formations]).
Duchamp's ready-mades concern art in its complexity - depending on the context anything can be an artpiece. Erdély's piece is reflection on a concrete "artistic theme" (something that is already "within art"), showing its starting point and base in reality. ("This is it.") Malevich's white base opens up a new mental (intellectual and physical) area, starting point or field of interpretation that could accommodate "anything". Bak puts the image of his still-life on the white surface (of the square) naming its element with words. ("This is what it is composed of", "You may (or may not) think about it".) Everything seems logical and yet it is strange to find connections, meaning or interpretation this way (even if it is actually "true"). The banality of still-lifes and vases with flowers (and ready-mades), the obvious simplicity of drawing a comparison between the square-shape and word-idea-thing and the "direct" presence of both artworks must be recognizable. (There is no need to try to find "predecessors", "deep meaning" or "an art-historic basic gesture" behind them - these are so well integrated into them that they are completely separate.) One might ask the reason for this long digression: whether these two pieces illustrate or analyze the painterly theme of still-lifes with flowers or how they refer to each other; how they mean the same, each other or whether one is the reflection of the other. (The situation is further complicated, in that Erdély's piece exists only in a photograph, which I have to consider - as a photo and fact as well.)
Although I have not checked, presumably any still-life with flowers is richer both visually and formally than either of these two pieces (the presence of a real vase and a fading flower on a pedestal or the words in the square-shape field). And still, much less can be said about the notion/concept of art by means of such paintings (or drawings). The two pieces are supposed to illustrate this topic and perspective: Erdély represents flowers with flowers and the vase with a vase (referring to any still-life) - in this case with a photograph of the situation. Imre Bak does the same thing by means of words. This kind of representation is not visual in the normal (traditional) sense (e.g. the way a still-life with flowers is visual). This type of image is missing from Conceptual Art and the art-concept. This is what is usually referred to as the essence or idea behind things (reality) and also behind art itself. Both pieces refer to this idea about art. And their surprising conclusion is that the "idea" is not inside art but rather in reality. In the reality of things, objects, plants, words and forms - so art may and cannot have anything in common with their representation. If it still tries to find ways, it further destroys the situation and it does not get closer either to reality or to the ideas: only to an aesthetic error.
Thus the answer to the first question is that both pieces represent the painterly topic of still-lifes with flowers, show its originally idealistic essence and analyze the traditional method of the art-concept - based on image, formation, reflection as well as the separation of the world and "the aesthetic world"; reality and art are separated from each other but simultaneously include their reference to each other. Erdély claims the reality of "vase with flowers" to be the real idea of the image-theme within still-lifes with flowers, while Imre Bak does the same with words (concepts). Where did the image and reality go in the meantime? - the answer given for this question also shows the relation between the two pieces. The one who searches for the image should paint an image. This is the message of Erdély's work. And those who want reality should use Imre Bak's textual pieces as a set of instructions - and apply them "in reality". Both indirectly encourage the spectator to adopt an active and thoughtful attitude and this is what creates a commonness between the two pieces. The latter (maybe surprising) conclusion is affirmed by the anxious and hostile reaction of the audience ("this they call art! - I could do the same and that would be art as well") by which they express hidden desires and inhibitions (even prejudices) that were planted in their mind; this also signifies that the message was effective but the spectator was not brave enough to understand it.
What themes and notions did Concept Art present as the counterparts to "traditional" trends? The period saw many thematically arranged exhibitions, actions and collections. These could be connected to concepts and things (Elképzelés: a mû az elképzelés dokumentációja [Idea: the artpiece is the documentation of the idea]; gravestones - cobblestones; mirrors - all three are connected to László Beke's name), concrete events or anniversaries (Copernicus), artistic tools, methods and materials (the creative use of photo - "Expozíció" [Exposition], visual poetry, texts, image-poems, cartoons, montages and textiles: e.g. textile without textile) as well as to an artistic or non-artistic element ("moebius" or later: the line); this list, however, is far from being complete.
Instead of an analysis that might concern any theme or exhibition, I decided to describe the position and role of the medium of photography. Beyond personal reasons I chose this because creative photography ("photo/art") became a determinant and essential manifestation of changes from the mid-sixties, together with Concept. The first longer study on foreign and then Hungarian concept art (written in Hungarian) was published in the Hungarian press; it summarizes the (then recognizable) main tendencies within Concept based on observations about photography and pointing out the significance of its presence. Similarly, the theme of the "Expozíció" [Exposition] exhibition organized in Hatvan and regarded as the symbolic end or climax of the period was also the medium of photography. Besides the fact that every conceptual artist used photography at one point of their career, some of them demand a personal interpretation as well as a description of the system beyond any possible application.
In his text ("Miért használ fotókat az A.P.L.C.?" - "Why Does A.P.L.C. Use Photographs?") László Beke defines four categories within the use of photography: among the functions of photographs (1) documentation, (2) magic (the transformed and real model are "identical"), (3) reproduction and (4) metaphor (e.g. the mirror-works) became the most important and essential as well as the focus of attention within Concept.
In Beke's previously mentioned study (as well as in other writings of his) this categorization is further supplemented and becomes more elaborate, yet it was very effective as a categorizing-analytical method for the examination of the phenomenon. (Other significant notions are the emphasis of print beyond the mirror, repetition and sequence (the photo as an "object"). This text, besides that it deals with particular artworks and artists, is an essay about the categories of photography as art.
In Dóra Maurer's photographs and films the relationship between the main principles and methods of her art and the basic features of the camera is obvious: the recorded problems of research and photography mutually support each other.
The print - in the concrete as well as magical sense - is the relationship of a thing (object or event) to an activity: the photograph is the trace of an event but it is also an object one can leave a trace on - the two are interchangeable and can be supplemented by each other and the materialistic and visual features of the photograph can also be used against each other. There may be several photographs about "the same thing" with small differences, slight changes may create a "story" and an "anti-story". These changes do not necessarily require the disarrangement of the "environment": it is enough to substitute the view of perception with certain parameters of the camera. The interlinked series of images may form a system: here, the direction and meaning of the examination is emphasized, while reversing the process, when changing the original places of the elements we find the totality of the phenomenon in the operation of the system.
Miklós Erdély's photo-artwork can be best characterized by the conflict between a possibility of photographic repetition and the uniqueness of an event and the tension generated by the material, "perishable" nature of photography and a demand for eternity (by the gesture of recording): "almost" identical images, unreproducible photo-objects, chemical manipulations, taking photos with TV directly on paper, "idõutazás" a travel in time by means of the photo-montage. Gyula Pauer emphasizes the presence of the "pseudo-sphere" in photography: he takes photographs of photographs, by which he intends to create the surface of the image, the torn-off image of the famous object - the photograph that represents the "place" of the photograph ("it was there" - as well as the people or objects used to be there in the photograph). In his text Natural (Proto-) photographic Effect ["Természetes (Õs)-fotó effekt"] he provides the pseudo-ontological interpretation of the origins of photography and thus reconstructs the organic evolution of it - as opposed to the notions of photography as being primarily "artificial" and "mechanic". (Here I do not discuss the relation between pseudo-painting and photography.)
In György Jovánovics's art the "pre-" and "post-photographic" system has a central role: both the camera obscura and the hologram, in their totality, refute any compromise with the material (film or photo-paper) for the sake of "becoming an image". On the other hand, he considers his series of photographs to be a film-substitute, which is also an anti-film gesture that is emphasized by their exhibition: the photographic images are presented as the perforations of a film.
The photo-series of Ákos Birkás takes the "empty" space separating the images on the film as the axis of the image ("reflection") and photographs paintings in museums that contain (by means of the photographic act) alien elements, e.g. people, reflections, shades. His anti-camera concept (among others) calls attention on outward aggression, instead of the intrusion of light beams into the camera.
I started with László Beke's categorization and by imitating his methodology, I tried to discuss its concerns with photography and illustrate it with examples. (As for making links to conceptual art and the mentality of the individual artists, hopefully they will be revealed by themselves without any concrete reference.)
Finally, still remaining within the realm of the discussion of photography, I have to mention János Vetõ, whose personal and intellectual attitude was formed in this period but his work belongs to "post-conceptual" art.
(A formally separate preview of the present - quoted from a conversation between György Galántai and János Vetõ): This type of art that we called "postmodernist social-impressionism" with Lóránt created this over-developed and over-intellectualized version of sculpture or garden-building that simultaneously derives from the atmosphere of pioneer-camps but also has a tinge of the cave-paintings and the art of primordial man, which is further connected to photography because I have long wanted to make a cave-camera out of stone. In fact it would be a camera obscura made out of trash... it is a cave-camera. I have not made it so far because I didn't know what to use as film. But now I know: copper sulfate that has been excluded from use for so long for different reasons has a fantastic effect with light. This has turned out in this exhibition. So I have the emulsion, the light-sensitive material and this stone camera that cannot take photos of anything else but the sky. And the best material for that is this blue emulsion. This star-camera will soon be ready and here we are again, at photography. G.: And how does the image show? V.: Its all about the light-effect on the light-sensitive emulsion... and fixation is done by means of a slide... And I'm happy to reach the cosmos with art because it has always been my intention. I started with taking photographs of the world and then I did an anthropological research about the surrounding world and later about my personal environment. Afterwards I started to build this environment and took photos of that... and I went on painting pictures of the photos, put these paintings into space and even if it turns back to photography eventually, I will not leave this straight path for anything."
Similarly to how I selected photography from among the different methods and tools, I chose two of the applied formulas as well: these are tautology and the paradox. These two seem to influence almost the entire movement (although sometimes they are manifest in a hidden and - curiously enough - unseparable manner) and beyond the formal features of its mentality they also denote conceptual principles of the movement as well.
The most simple formal manifestation of tautology is the X = X, i.e. "I am what I am" or the works of Joseph Kosuth (One and Three Clocks, Chairs etc.) The usual interpretation of these pieces is: logical error, it says "nothing", meaningless, unnecessary. In this particular case I would like to point out that tautology has only one factor and yet it is capable of multiplying by itself (to justify, declare and claim to be equal and identical with itself). It is a formula that refers to nothing but itself, although the slightest divergence is enough to create an "uninterruptable", infinite process (regression). (An illuminating example could be that of the video-camera focusing on its own screen. The screen shows an infinite line of monitors, thus visually representing the theoretical formula. The infinite line of monitors formally compares to a meditative exercise: the constant repetition of a word for a long time and with strong concentration might elevate somebody into a different mental condition and (if the person is lucky) help him make an intellectual leap.)
The point about the paradox is that two contradictory facts or statements are bound together and "one" follows from it as much as "the other". Most often it is only the surface of the content that appears to contradict our senses: e.g. "Snow is black" - Anaxagoras; "The flying arrow is still" - Zenon; "I am not who I am, I am who I am not" - Sartre). The fact that it is often manifest (latently) in the form of an "infinite regression" (e.g. the paradox of Epimenides: "everyone in Crete is a liar - a man from Crete once said") suggests that it is not at all so far from tautology as we would first think. The difference on the first level is that we normally approach tautology as a "faulty rationality", while in case of the paradox the error is in the "rational approach". In fact, the paradox statement has also "one factor" but usually it also integrates a "larger system" as well, in which its statement is "wrong". The reason why we criticize the paradox as (or for) being strange is the presence or absence of rational or dualist thinking that takes the paradox for being a riddle it wants to solve. As opposed to this, it is not difficult to notice that the paradox has a correct solution without being a riddle; it does not derive directly from the paradox but rather from some kind of essence beyond dual logic or from an intellectual flash (the teachers of Zen-Buddhism used it with the same purpose).
I chose two works, which represent how these two formulas became the essence, main power and mystery of the pieces. For László Beke's (already mentioned) manifesto titled "Elképzelés" ["Idea"] the piece of Gyula Pauer was an (anti-)manifesto, inasmuch as he asked for the catalogue records and not the pieces themselves for his "collection". "Catalogue records are the only credible documents that prove the existence and identity of an artpiece!" László Beke writes in A mûvészet 2000-ben [Art in the Year 2000]. The work of Péter Legéndy (similarly to others) was the catalogue record itself. The empty catalogue record (its shrunken reproduced image) was attached to the museum's catalogue record and (in the place of the "image") in the appropriate column there was the description of the catalogue record. (By this gesture Legéndy appropriated Pauer's work (the catalogue-idea) for himself and Pauer did the same with Beke but then, when sending it back, the same empty catalogue record was again Pauer's and finally Beke's.) If the proof of the piece is the catalogue record and the proof of the catalogue record is also the catalogue record, necessarily the piece is the catalogue record that contains its own image as well as description.
I quoted this piece to exemplify the "purely" tautological work, while in the following instance the paradox formula will remain hidden. The work of Péter Türk: "Stuck on timed X objects, things etc. activates after their exhaustion or obsolescence. In the moment of activation it becomes obsolete itself" - marked by a red X on the paper in front of us and with the above quoted text underneath, i.e. what is in front of us, in fact does not exist, since it is to be understood in terms of the given instructions. Thus, it "is" (will only "be") in an unpredictable time, when the thing that it marks ceases to exist and in that very moment becomes a "was". Its self-realization and self-extinction is bound to an outward (indefinite) thing. The "larger context" applied by Concept to reveal as a hidden paradox is time, which, despite the notions of "after" and "in that moment" (being desperate trials) cannot capture or define its concept and neither can the linguistic forms of the "past-present-future" (times). And X, despite the text indeed being on the paper, in spite of the instruction claiming that "it is not quite that yet": it "uses up" paper before paper would be used up and the thing (in this case an empty page) does not cease to be in the moment of its obsolesce - no matter that we can imagine the process and essence of "timing". Text and sign can operate only together in a relation, where separately their roles are valid and yet different and they mutually refer to each other.
Until, from among mediums (tools and materials) and forms (formulas and methods), I selected some as examples, when presenting the theoretical principles (intellectual-conceptual systems, ideas) I tried to arrange all the different directions in seven groups and give examples and descriptions of the relations and facts. (The new groups will be marked by numbers and there will be necessary overlapping both with what has been discussed so far as well as between the different groups.)
1./ The re-occurrence and (daring) use of big words and general (totalistic) concepts. (It is in connection with how Concept - after an ironic /pop-art/ and then a reductionist /minimal-art/ attitude became serious again.) Such big terms are art, life, reality, fate, history, the cosmos etc. - in a definite sense. They are in direct relation with each other if it is the art-concept; then it is principle concepts (see any texts published in the documentation part).
2./ Materials, objects, forms as vehicles of spiritual power and the materialistic representatives of concepts. They appear in simple and sporadic forms or through the course of years permanently reoccur in different pieces. An early example of this is the work of Tibor Gáyor: he made the word "fire" out of ice that would turn to water as well using flammable material to cut out the word "ice" from what he later burnt. A later example is the work of the INDIGO Group (Sand and Its Movements, Charcoal and Charcoal Drawings). Tamás Szentjóby worked with a lot of materials simultaneously (wafer, honey, charcoal, blood, brick, etc.), among which there were "favored" materials, such as sulfur (its color is yellow - just like gold or the Sun: it is poisonous, it provides the basis of bullets /c.f. "the sulfurous God's arrow" [straight translation of a Hungarian swear] or Hell: one of the central sources of alchemy / c.f. one of Szentjóby's pieces: "Prima materia" - sulfur, mercury, salt) The most often used materials by Miklós Erdély are: milk, snow, matzah, tar, lead, glass, tracing paper and carbon paper (it is conspicuous that he only uses the colors of black, gray and white: transparent glass and tracing paper, black carbon, changing and changeable substance and condition. An example of objects or forms could be Sándor Pincehelyi's hammer-and-sickle, five-pointed star and other pieces using the colors of the flag. Gábor Attalai's red-y-mades (objects painted in red and the pun) exemplifies the use of color. For his sculptures Jovánovics used plaster ("instead of" marble) and plastic, while Gyula Pauer in his pseudo-works blew anti-light ("shade", black paint) on different surfaces (c.f. the "elementary particle" nature of light), which Dóra Maurer handled as a liquid (c.f. the "wave" nature of light) (e.g. "Zsilipek" [Waterlocks/Dams]) - Péter Legéndy uses heat energy as reference to photography ("Hõképek" [Heat Images]). Here, I do not discuss separately the pieces that involve the widely used symbols stone and mirror (e.g. Gyula Gulyás, Károly Kismányoki, László Méhes and Károly Schmal, whose names I have not mentioned so far).
3./ The free use of the great cultural achievements of humankind as well as its mythological and religious systems, ideological principles, doctrines and scientific discoveries and theses (i.e. "positive" knowledge). The ancient Greek and Judeo-Christian tradition (e.g. Erdély: Anaxagorasz paradoxonja [The Paradox of Anaxagoras], Herakleitosz-töredékek [Fragments from Herakleitos], Prédikátor könyve [Preacher's Book], Chalkedoni zsinat [The Council of Chalkedon] and a phrase from the Gospel of Matthew; these are usually linked to scientific or political concepts. 'It is not infected by what is transmitted through the mouth - molluscum" or "Boy-shirt stiffener"). The new time-concept. The portrait of the artist and the museum (Birkás), Kirkegaard (Baranyai, Jovánovics), Lao-ce (Major). The indirect manifestation of the Pygmalion-myth in the work of Jovánovics (the sculpture of L.W.) and Pauer's female Maya figures together with the connected concepts (alter ego and Hindu religious philosophy). A direct reaction to daily poetic events (including those that were considered to be ones). (e.g. Szentjóby: Angela Davies, Bobby Seale, "Coca-cola-with-vodka")
4./ Esoteric concepts, techniques and systems that are often played down and labeled as "pseudo-scientific" as well as the renovation of archaic thinking and mystic life-feeling - both being reactions for the aberrations of contemporary political and social developments and new scientific inventions (the "negative" knowledge with a counter-proposal). I have to start with Béla Hamvas , since his work had a very strong influence on artists that, regarding their personalities, are rather far from each other: e.g. Szentjóby or Zsigmond Károlyi (as well as Gábor Palotai from the younger generation). His works (would they be possible to publish), such as "Tabula Smaragdina", would be incredibly illuminating about the art of the period. The reoccurrence of numbers , an ironic (pseudo)-mystic numerology (Major), moral algebra (Erdély), the 131 protest signs of Pauer, Dóra Maurer's magic square (as well as her project "4 makes 5"). Some more systems: the Bardo Thödol (see Hamvas' Tibeti misztériumok [Tibetan Mysteries] of Tibor Hajas, spiritism (Erdély), alchemy (Szentjóby), onymanthia, marionett and chess (Jovánovics), the Kalah-game (Maurer) and the Tangram (Károlyi). The connections that reveal these hidden (humanistic) systems are the dangerous or harmful science-concept and the aberrations of political rationalism increased to totality (totalitarianism) (e.g. the biological time bomb or nuclear armament). "Knowledge" (that has a neo-Gnostic meaning) is re-analyzed in case of epistemological problems and scientific statements, where the "classical" scientific methods fail (Gödel's thesis, quantum theory, "event horizon").
5./ The appearance of historical, cultural and scientific fragments and specific elements were considered to be nuances of as well as deviations from the "main" direction of development - with the intention of completeness. To put it otherwise: certain facts that were recognized only "somewhere else" gain a new meaning as well as power in the new context. Examples: the Kempelen-machine as a curiosity in the history of tectonics (and chess), a hypothetical phrase (taken from a book on art history) about the chess-game of Lenin and Tzara reconstructed by Jovánovics, a quote from an opera and presented as an environment (Erdély: Boris Godunov).
6./ The educational-pedagogical intention - and life or "fate" as well: in the pedagogical sense, the primary purpose is not to pass already existing knowledge but to make self-educating creativity the ultimate subject of pedagogy. The variety of its manifestations range from actions, lectures, workshops and common projects to statements made in the artpiece, leading groups, writing (school) books and making a general educational program.
In the place of Szentjóby's name in the exhibition catalogue of "R" (instead of his own "experimental drawing") we find the following sentence: "Throw out degenerated life like shit. Make another one instead.", where it is not hard to notice the reference to Rilke's famous line (***add text"change your life") and the call that denotes a great artpiece - even if this version sounds more provocative than profound. The same could be said about the rest of Szentjóby's artistic program as well as life (e.g. Paralel-kurzus/Tanpálya [Parallel-Course/Training Field]). The same source is the basis of László Beke's texts "Mûvészet (tanulás) utópia" [Art (Learning) Utopia]. Vizuális kísérletek, formai tapasztalatok [Visual Experiments, Formal Experiences] Népmûvelési Intézet 1980.), which was built around the development of personality and shows a specific experience of the last twenty years.
Beside the general or personal ideas (concepts) there was, of course, practical activity as well: the artists made great effort to promote the new artistic movements as well as their own work and - above all - to spread the "right" way of thinking (according to their own conviction) and to break the closure of information mentioned in the first part of this study. In his texts - that are artpieces themselves or belong to one - Gyula Pauer describes the essence of the "pseudo-principle" or provides a "recipe" for sculpture-making. Miklós Erdély follows the same procedure and from 1975 he led workshops (together with Dóra Maurer initially) of directed Exercises of Creativity in Ganz-Mávag Cultural House, then Fantasy Training Exercises (FAFEJ); [trans. note: FAFEJ is an acronym that comes from the Hungarian name of the course and also has the meaning: "square head"] (it is worth mentioning what also might be obvious: the ideology behind the course was in complete opposition with the name) and from 1979 the INDIGO group. [trans. note: INDIGO is another acronym formulated from the phrase "Interdisciplinary Thinking"; it might hold of special interest that the word "indigó" means "carbon paper" in English] The work on a group level was based on the encouragement to recognize the importance of creativity by means of prepared exercises, and after the analytical period of "FAFEJ" (involving the combination of Avant-garde practices and Zen exercises) INDIGO had collective public events (environments, actions, exhibitions).
These principles were of course integrated into the more traditional forms of education (e.g. László Beke or Ákos Birkás's lectures, Imre Bak's notes for amateurs, Dóra Maurer and Árpád Szabados's courses for children). It needs to be understood that the ultimate purpose of promoting an artistic consciousness is to provide each human being with a self-consciousness and thus the publication of its own results is directed by a naive intention. The roots of the latter are to be found in Fluxus, the movements of anti-culture, the underground and the radical revolutionary views and conscious utopias of the sixties. (A typical and frequently quoted example is the two slogans of the 1968 revolution in Paris "Be realists - demand for the impossible" and "Imagination on the system" ) Yet the possibility of change and an alternative (maybe due to the lack of these very experiences) is felt to be in the capacities of the individual (parallelly with raising radical questions about morality and responsibility) and also in finding a "cosmic" or "global" essence beyond direct social practice. (This is why I use the term "naive" as a consciously taken attitude). Here, the totality of the individual and the world is connected, whose actual meaning is beyond any kind of intention to make society better. This transcendental-ontological feeling gives another type of actuality to the phenomena of political practice and everyday life. This explains the influence of the theory or at least an ironic tone manifest in pieces referring to social-political questions.
7./ It can be concluded that, in this period art consciously searched for yet unknown directions whether they concerned the universe (as macrocosm) or man (as microcosm). Art and artists worked to elaborate, construct, promote and exemplify this mentality and response-model.