There is a chasm between what abstraction means in reference to modern art and it’s usage in most other forms of thought. To logicians and mathematicians abstraction has a similar meaning to extraction; a step taken outside of linear problem-solving in order to reach a more potent generality. To scientists abstraction can mean the same or otherwise describe the activity of thinking purely conceptually. Bertrand Russell explained that “…ordinary language is totally unsuited for expressing what physics really asserts, since the words of everyday life are not sufficiently abstract.” In art, abstraction broadly means “non-representational” but where are the processes in art that deploy abstract thought in the former sense; akin to maths, science or philosophy?
The abstract intellectual tools of logicians, scientists and philosophers obviously provide rich, penetrative insights and technological power. Can similar profundity be achieved through analogous art endeavours? One could argue that there have been movements that have attempted to do just that such as conceptual art or research-based art. What differentiates these movements from Russell’s idea of abstraction, however, is the absence of a complete conceptual loop where thought is extracted from a task but, crucially, is then related back to it. To apply the jargon of logic: The theorem is a step toward a proof. Art has generally neglected to close that loop.
Each of the artists selected for Loop derive at least some of their compelling power from making bold, passionate forays outside of art, but -importantly- maintain the focus and artistic drives to resolve the abstract loops that bring their work to fruition.