Lorna Mills and Sally McKay
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The TPSC is opposed to billboards and corporate ads, much in favour of postering and under-the-official-radar public art. The pole full of staples is a recurring theme, and makes a nice visual metaphor for public interaction. Unfortunately the articles in this first issue tend toward the overly-ernest-and-slightly-boring end of the urban activism scale. But there's a lot of talent on the Spacing team, and I suspect these problems will get worked out over time.
Last night I went to an informal slide show by Toronto artists who participated in the Havana Biennial. Bill Burns, who has been making tiny safety gear for small animals, created this kit for the biennial. It's a miniature version (the flip-flops are about 3 inches long) of everything that prisoners are given in Guantanamo Bay. The kit includes, bedding, an orange boiler suit, buckets, the Koran, a prayer cap, flip-flops, a foam sleeping mattress, soap, and a toothbrush. Unfortunately, when Bill arrived in Cuba, the organizers became worried about the piece, and he was asked to show his safety gear instead. He complied, and "accepted that the small animals of Cuba have as much right to safety gear as small animals in Canada." Last night Bill made a great presentation about the whole affair, speaking as a representative of the Safety Gear for Small Animals company, with an i-photo slide show behind him of street dogs in Havana. He displayed his Guantanamo case for us, and kindly let me take some pictures.
I have been a big fan of Bill Burns since I first saw his great little art book, Analgesia, years ago at Printed Matter in New York. The book takes the form of a promotional publication, or annual report for a pill mine and factory, with full colour photos of little tiny men digging pills out of the ground and loading them onto trucks and conveyor belts.
Quote from Analgesia: "Animal testing is out of the question; samples of product are scientifically tested for acidity, taste, efficacy, and possible non-analgesic properties before being allowed into the Inert Halcyon Sector (IHS). The IHS is often called the first line of defence against chronic pain."
Richard Feynman said this:
excerpts from The Distinction of Past and Future
from The Character of Physical Law, 1965
It is obvious to everybody that the phenomena of the world are evidently irreversible...The past and the future look completely different psychologically, with concepts like memory and apparent freedom of will, in the sense that we feel that we can do something to affect the future, but none of us, or very few of us, believe that there is anything we can do to affect the past. Remorse and regret and hope and so forth are all words which distinguish perfectly obviously the past and the future. ...
[HOWEVER] In all the laws of physics that we have found so far there does not seem to be any distinction between the past and the future. ...
If I have a sun and a planet, and I start the planet off in some direction, going around the sun, and then I take a moving picture, and run it backwards and look at it, what happens? The planet goes around the sun, the opposite way of course, keeps on going around in an ellipse. The speed of the planet is such that the area swept out by the radius is always the same in equal times. In fact it just goes exactly the way it ought to go. It cannot be distinguished from going the other way. So the law of gravitation is of such a kind that the direction does not make any difference; if you show any phenomenon involving only gravitation running backwards on a film, it will look perfectly satisfactory. ... If you have a lot of particles doing something, and then you suddenly reverse the speed, they will completely undo what they did before. ...
[Experiments a few months ago indicated that] there is something the matter, some unknown about the laws, [suggesting] the possibility that in fact beta-decay may not also be time reversible, and we shall have to wait for more experiments to see. But at least the following is true. Beta-decay (which may or may not be time reversible) is a very unimportant phenomenon for most ordinary circumstances. The possibility of my talking to you does not depend on beta-decay, although it does depend on chemical interactions, it depends on electrical forces, not much on nuclear forces at the moment, but it depends also on gravitation. But I am one-sided - I speak, and a voice goes out into the air, and it does not come sucking back into my mouth when I open it - and this irreversibility cannot be hung on the phenomenon of beta-decay. In other words, we believe that most of the ordinary phenomena in the world, which are produced by atomic motions, are according to laws which can be completely reversed. So we will have to look some more to find the explanation of the irreversibility.
I used to think I was too ignorant to read Jeanne Randolph, but thank goodness I got over it. Sometimes art writers (myself included) undertake to write a parallel text, not meant to describe or explain the art, but rather to bounce along beside it as a sort of responsive sidekick. Some (mine included) may tip into flip flights of fancy or indulgent ruminations. But Randolph, a psychoanalytic theorist, remains ever rigorous. The shapes of her short essays are often unsettling and lead off into unfamiliar territory. Even when it is not about art, Randolph's writing is like art, good art, in that it can shift you into a new position from which to look out at the world.
[Sigmun Freud's] desk, writing tables, windowsills, shelves and tops of cabinets had all been invaded by tiny, ancient figurines. On every surface Freud had stationed the pagan, the supernatural, the demonic and the life-giving beings of antiquity. ... [D.W.] Winnicott would have understood Freud's teeming collection as providing "room for the idea of unrelated thought sequences." Room for surprises, nonsense, non sequiturs, room for the unexpected. Room for the uncanny and the preternatural. Room for the protohuman, subhuman and uberhuman. Room for the extremes of difference that standardized life and standardizing ideologies refuse to accomodate. The relevance of this is completely obvious to everyone who is labelled as a stranger by his or her own society. From the essay "The Metamorphosis of Sigmund Freud" from the 2003 collection Why Stoics BoxIt takes two to tango and two (minimum) to communicate. Sometimes the excitement about looking at good art is the strange detachment of the persons, yourself and the artist, from this third thing: the unique idea that comes into being when both parties have paid attention. Add a third generative element - a writer paying the same kind of attention - and the ideas become thicker, quicker, and stranger.
At the moment when I know that I am the one weilding the power to interpret an object, when I find the interpretation more valuable to me than the function that the object serves, at that moment the object could become cultural. From the essay "Illusion and the Diverted Subject" from Psychoanalysis and Synchronized Swimming, as quoted in Symbolization and its Discontents
Either golden moon or glitter of stars sparkled on alternate bright blue fingernails as they levitated over [the library clerk's] keyboard. Her green eyes followed signals on her video display terminal and she pricked one of these with the lunar nail of her right forefinger. With her left hand she peeled a barcode from a dispenser. She applied the barcode to the back of this book and smoothed it with her palm. She repeated this procedure exactly for the "seventh" book. "This will pass also, " she slurred, obviously unaware of the cosmic implications of what she had uttered. From the essay "Hi-Tech Surveillance and Moral Imagination: A Psychoanalysis" (the tale of the act of stealing a very old library book) from the 2003 collection Why Stoics Box