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tom moody

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October Exhibition Diary 4. The Jersey City studio tour came and went and now I'm gearing up for the elevator installation in D.U.M.B.O. this weekend. I'll post a building map and directions tomorrow. I was a bit disappointed in the turnout from the five boroughs for the JC tour, but it was fun. I probably had a couple hundred visitors through my studio in two days, and got some interesting responses. Casual viewers don't seem as put off by the use of the computer as typical "sophisticated" collectors who shop in Chelsea; most seemed comfortable with my hybrid of the machine and the hand. A lot of viewers thought the new molecular wall-pieces were painted frescos, to which I can only say: yay! Someone commented that they resemble the interconnected spheres and struts of the Atomium in Belgium. Big difference between my work and '50s atomic art: with mine the pseudoscience is right up front.

Thanks to everyone who came or emailed. I greatly appreciate your support!

- tom moody 10-17-2002 2:24 am [link]

People sitting in a darkened theater stare at a large reflective surface, while cell phones ring randomly throughout the room. The typical moviegoing experience at Times Square? No, it's a musical piece called Dialtones, which I recently learned about on dratfink's page. This "telesymphony," performed in connection with the Ars Electronica festival and funded by Swisscom Mobile, etc, is a half-good idea that just doesn't know when to quit. Check out the exhausting spec sheet: the piece is a social sculpture, it uses corporate switching systems as a found medium, it employs a lot of clever programming and hardware, it's electronic music, it's live performance, it's an audience participation piece, it has flashing lights, it has graphics, it has Mylar!

This kind of MIT Media Lab product (at least one of the performers went there) just pounds you with technology. It's essentially a loss leader for the tech industry, crafted by geeks whose art sense derives from rock concert multimedia shows. Audience members are asked to register their phone numbers when they arrive for the concert, special ringtones are downloaded to their cells, and then a musical ensemble "plays" the phones in an auditorium by punching buttons on a graphic display. So far, so good, I guess, but do we really need spotlights hitting the audience members when their cells ring? Keychain lights distributed to everyone that glow red two seconds before the tones go off? To see all this activity in a reflective mirror? The visual element is as gimcrack-filled as a Spielberg movie.

The piece assumes an audience with near-infinite time, patience, and trust. You have to be willing to queue for a seat assignment, surrender your private number (to whom exactly?), and accept the downloaded "custom ringtone," all for the sake of one concert (to remove the tone, you're presumably on your own). Thirty minutes of antiphonal chirps, climaxing in the inevitable "crescendo of sound," might be pretty interesting to sit and listen to in the dark, if you weren't also being forced to "participate." The authors dispense grant-panel-friendly nonsense when they say this participation is "active," though. Your creative input consists solely of choosing a ringtone (doesn't the phone company also call this "creativity"?) and deciding what exotic handwaving motion to make when the spotlight hits you. The spec sheet doesn't mention another option you have that would definitely affect the "texture" of the piece: turning off your phone.

- tom moody 10-10-2002 8:43 am [link]

Congratulations to my friend, artist John Pomara, for receiving a thumbs-up in Wired for a show he curated called "jet_seT." The exhibition, at the University of Texas at Dallas, deals with artists using new printing media, but contrary to the "art of the future" spin Wired typically puts on things, most of the folks he picked disrespect the technology quite a bit. This applies to content as well as form. As Bret McCabe writes in his catalog essay: "Michael Odom's tweaking of online porn imagery, Angela White's twists of mundane looking family snapshots, Michelle Ganeles's mediated distortions, Jin-Ya Huang's processed images, and Reynaldo Thompson's distorted crowd photographs remind us that photography and digital imagery are merely manipulated representations of reality, not its actuality." I do have a question, though. According to McCabe, the large, breaking waves in Aaron Parazette's work are "entirely computer generated and have never occurred in nature." This gives the impression that they’re created in some simulation program, like the boiling seascapes in The Perfect Storm. I’d guess that they’re based on a normal photo of breakers, compressed horizontally to seem taller, but I’d like to know more about this body of work.

- tom moody 10-08-2002 5:47 am [link]

I telephoned the Washington offices of my senators and congressman this morning about Iraq. The polite but bored phone-answerers got the following earful: "Hi, I'm a constituent, and I'm just calling to say that I'd like [the elected rep] to vote against any resolution giving the President broad, open-ended powers to start a war against Iraq. Declaring war is Congress's job under the Constitution, not the President's. Fighting Iraq is a personal obsession of George Bush's, and Senators and Congressmen, particularly Democrats, should stop looking over their shoulders to see how everyone else is voting, listen to their constituents (most of whom oppose the war), and stand up to the President. It's time to focus on more important matters, like the economy. I'm calling on my own behalf and not as part of some orchestrated campaign: I think Congress is out of touch and needs to listen to voters." Universal response from operators: "Thank you, Mr. Moody, I'll pass your message along to [the elected representative]."

- tom moody 10-07-2002 7:28 pm [link]

October Exhibition Diary 3. I spent the last two days installing Molecular Dispersion (Vertical) in my studio in preparation for the Jersey City Artists Studio Tour tomorrow (Sat-Sun, Oct 5-6, 12-6 pm, maps at Grove PATH stop, I'm Studio 17, come on down!). It only took about 9 hours to put up, but I took a lot of breaks, trying to figure out what the thing was supposed to look like. Oriented vertically, it's less the bramble it was in my apartment and more of a f*ed up dymaxion shape. I say f*ed up because the polygons don't "close" the way they do in a true geodesic structure. The piece is only an illusion of a sculpture (it weighs about a pound, all of which is held up with pins), so there's more opportunity for fun and games: pseudoEscheresque spatial gags, struts that just kind of stop in midair, and passages assembled for no reason other than that they make nice color combinations. Because the piece is vertical, I had a devil of a time keeping it from being anthropomorphic. The "dispersion" in the title is a coy reference to the postminimalist Alan Saret, who made "sprays" of painted chickenwire that were very theoretical back in the day (early '70s) but look rather forlorn now in museums. I think my piece looks forlorn, too, and it's brand new!

- tom moody 10-05-2002 5:24 am [link]

October Exhibition Diary Part 2. I took the PATH and F Train to DUMBO to check my "test strips" (for the best type of tape to use in the Freight Elevator Project installation). I arrived at the building at 7:30 am, entered through the loading dock, and was surprised to see them still hanging after the weekend. Only one piece had been partially torn off, by someone who just couldn't resist. All three brands of tape held the paper up, but the Scotch TM 667 was the clear winner for repositionability, durability, and leaving no residue. One brand left some gunk but it was easily wiped off. As I was taking pictures of the elevator (to see what kinds of photography problems I'm going to have when I document the piece next month), a delivery man got on at the third floor and said "Did you spend the weekend in here? Last time I saw you was Friday afternoon." I tried to explain what I was doing and got "the look." Anyway, he was friendly.

Photography is going to be a problem, because there is no way, even with the wide angle lens, to frame the entire 14 foot length of the wall. Also, the walls are super-shiny so the light is super-uneven (but only in the camera--in person the three overhead fluorescent panels provide almost gallery-like lighting). Also, I'll have to disable the flash, since it creates laser beams bisecting the image. Below is a head-on image; the piece will occupy most of the wall where the test strips are hanging (see upper right).

Back to the Jersey City Artists Studio Tour: the Jersey City Reporter came out yesterday, with a spread on the tour. My name was listed under "N" (along with about seven other Ms) but they got the location right on the map. My studio is Number 17 on the tour map. The city mails out balloons (leftover from the Mayor's last campaign, I noticed) which we're supposed to hang outside our studios, along with a big number. This week I'll be test-driving the spheres and struts I'm using for the elevator piece by installing them vertically in the studio--a kind of practice run for the DUMBO event. (Here's how they look oriented horizontally).

- tom moody 9-30-2002 9:53 pm [link]

I have two exhibitions coming up in October, and plan to use this weblog as a kind of "show diary." (I'll try to make it as entertaining as possible.) I've been leasing a studio in Jersey City since I joined the diaspora out of Manhattan a couple of years ago, and although I'm giving up the space soon, I couldn't resist participating again in the Jersey City Artists Studio Tour, which the burg puts on every year to enhance real estate values--I mean, showcase all the creativity in the community. Ironically, the city government has been pressuring my landlord to get rid of his artist tenants because we're "non-conforming users" under the zoning laws, and I should be boycotting the tour because of this. However, since I'm vacating anyway, I won't get on my high horse about the city's TOTAL F*CKING HYPOCRISY. Anyway, the dates are Saturday and Sunday, October 5-6, 12-6. If you're interested, take the Newark/Journal Square PATH to Grove Street and they'll have maps at the station. More on this as the date nears.

I'm also participating in The Freight Elevator Project 2, curated by Ombretta Agrò, which opens October 18 in connection with the D.U.M.B.O. Art under the Bridge Festival (click here to see the e-card). I'll be installing a large temporary piece in a freight elevator at 50 Washington Street in Brooklyn, which will stay up for the three days of the festival. I plan to create a 5 X 14 foot "wall molecule," and one of my challenges is how to attach strips of pre-cut, computer-printed paper to the elevator's supersmooth, aluminum-clad walls. Yesterday I went in at 4:30 pm to do a test, mounting several strips of paper using different brands of double-stick tape. My plan was, since they close the elevator for the weekend, I'd hang the strips on Friday evening, then come back Monday morning to see what was lying on the floor and what wasn't.

I'd supposedly cleared all this with the DUMBO festival organizers and the building management, but it became immediately obvious once I got into the chaotic environment of the building's VERY busy end-of-the-week freight delivery schedule that no one had a clue what I was doing. The "test strips" must have looked like art, because they aroused immediate commentary and implied threats from the construction workers, delivery men and custodial staff who were coming through on the average of one every five minutes. I mean sh*t, these were just white strips and circles of paper with the words "TEST PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE" in generic block capitals, but for the half-hour I was hanging them I felt like Robert Mapplethorpe.

It wasn't too encouraging seeing boot prints three feet up the sides of the elevator, as if some testosterone-crazed nut had been in there for the previous three hours jumping up and down pretending to be Peter Parker. Equally troublesome was the quartet of construction guys, knocking off work and heading for attitude adjustment hour, who all felt like they needed to weigh in. The one with the thickest neck looked at the strips and said sarcastically, "I'm not even going to say anything," and then said: "You know, that paper's going to be up there for about an hour." "Yeah," said another, "See these boot prints? Wait'll that guy gets in here." They all had a hearty yuck. It was like being back in gym class. Anyway, I hung the strips close to the ceiling, above the control panel, in a kind of grid, thinking it might fool someone into believing it was a template for some new controls. One artist got on at the 5th Floor, where they have studios, and studied the strips intently all the way to the ground floor. (The finished piece won't get that much sustained attention!) And yes, like an idiot, I'm going back over there Monday morning to see if anything survived.

- tom moody 9-28-2002 7:47 pm [link]

On this inspiring web page, New York artist James Hyde documents a visit he made to London studios a couple of years ago. Few people I know were terribly moved by the YBA (young British artist) work forcefed to the U.S. in the mid- to-late 90s. It was just so art-smart, riffing on famous pieces the recent grad students had seen in slide lectures at Goldsmiths, or wherever. Hyde has tapped a vein of real eccentric creativity, however. He writes:

"[In] March of 2000, I was in London to install my exhibition at Hales Gallery in Deptford. I managed to clear a week to steep myself in the new local culture. Much of this involved beer, crisps, curries and negotiating a maddeningly managed public transit system.

"I visited a number of studios. The locations ranged from rooms in a very domestic house to a council flat to various industrial spaces. There is an architecture to how an artist's workplace is organized. I photographed these studios to attempt to draw out the intimate and sometimes subliminal dialogue between art objects and their [original] scene."

The photos, taken with a digital camera (I assume), are gorgeous, cryptic, semi-abstractions, very much reflecting the style and sensibility of Hyde's own art (according to his website he has a show up at Brent Sikkema right now, but I haven't seen it yet). It's fascinating to see his eye at work, cropping and zooming in on studio details: materials strewn casually around, half-finished pieces, product packages, photos pinned to walls, puddles of brightly colored goo. Pieces by Daniel Coombs, Kathrin Boehm, Keith Wilson, and others show me a side of the London scene I wasn't so familiar with (Deitch artist Richard Woods had a nice, underappreciated show at Cristinerose a few years back, but I'm seeing some of the other artists here for the first time). Kudos to Hyde for his curiosity and enthusiasm.

- tom moody 9-23-2002 5:45 am [link]