View current page
...more recent posts
Nobody does "delirious urban spectacle" better than Japanese animators, and Cowboy Bebop, which you might be lucky enough to catch on the big screen for a few more days, is sheer techno-poetry. Visual highlights include people watching a scratchy John Wayne western in cars parked in a multilevel cinema-stadium; a shootout in a high-speed monorail, intriguingly designed with tracks switching between the tops and bottoms of the train cars; a Macy's-style Halloween Parade with huge floating jack'o'lanterns casting ominous shadows on the crowds below; a descent into the atmosphere of a partially terraformed Mars where the sky is jammed with dancing, shimmering product logos; a walk through a multicultural Martian city where kids breakdance a block away from Moroccan market stalls--there is more sumptuous drawing on view here than you'll see in a month of gallery shows. Also, the chemistry of the bounty hunter protagonists is decidedly un-blockbuster; they work at cross purposes and frequently wander off on their own for no reason (the Onion describes their camaraderie as "uncommunicative, uncooperative cooperation.") Oh, and the Welsh Corgi "data dog" is cute as hell.
Cripes! With the news media announcing victory over the hapless Iraqis, the right wingers and '"liberal hawks" are dancing in the aisles. Finally, we can start imposing liberal democracy over there at gunpoint! Yippee! (Just like we did in Afghanistan!) Evidently a war is considered successful, or a "cakewalk," if American casualties remain low. If at all possible, I'd like to spoil the party by mentioning that a lot of innocent Iraqis did die (and are still dying) horribly. After watching the newscasting insaniacs on Fox the other night (I tried to avoid it but a friend of mine had me over for dinner and watches it "ironically") I came home and made myself look at some of the pictures on the web of people mutilated and burned beyond recognition by our military--what Fox would never show us. I'd been avoiding this kind of material but after an intense dose of jingoistic shouting I suddenly felt the need to see what my tax dollars were paying for. I'm posting a link here; I'm not saying anyone else has an obligation to look. But in response to Nat Hentoff, an old-school liberal who smugly announced he "would not be marching" because we needed to make Saddie the Baddie our business (forget all the torturers in the "coalition of the willing"), and to all the "liberal hawks" enabling Bush & Co--when I look at these pictures, I can't get around the fact that Saddam didn't do this, we did.
I'm tryin' to run an art weblog here, but it's been hard with all the war news. The daylight mugging of Iraq is appalling, and what's happening here in the US--the jingoism, the hate speech, the corporate media propaganda--equally abysmal. The moral minority used to complain bitterly and vitriolically about Bill Clinton--a President who did nothing to the country as bad as what's transpiring now--and I swore I'd never stoop to discourse that low. I've been cheating on my promise, though, because of the downhill spiral we've been in since the 2000 election. The "hands off the Saudis" edict to intelligence agencies obviously contributed to the 9/11 tragedy, and so far no one's been fired. The military takeover of Afghanistan, and now Iraq (and soon Syria, Iran, etc.) are the worst things to happen to this country since Vietnam. Suddenly after 9 years of (relatively) low-level conflicts, we're in total, pumped-up, IOU-funded war mode, with most of the world hating our guts. And our economy, which depends largely on selling products and rendering services around the globe, is sucking hard. (The war's been great for war profiteers, though.) Anyway, I just want to say it's difficult to focus on the things I know and love with all this wretched shit going on. End rant.
The title of this piece is Converging Pairs. Each sphere and strut is a separate piece of cut out, printed card stock, attached to the wall with map pins. I began adding struts to the spheres in this cluster; each time I added a strut I moved a sphere from the center of the cluster to the outer tip of the new strut. I kept adding struts until all there were no more unpaired spheres. I tried to make the arrangement as "zany" as these parameters would allow. I then photographed the installation with a digital camera, and uploaded it. (Who says conceptual art is dead?)
"Rolling Victory" declared in Iraq
From today's Washington Post: "During early preparations for war, one official said, some U.S. thinkers 'operated on the assumption that it was going to be a relatively clean break, that the end of the regime would be clear for all to see. That may not be the case. I think we're seeing a rolling end.'"
What a great concept! Now when your boss asks if a job is finished, you can say "Yes, it's kind of a rolling finish." All-your half-completed household chores, too, can be characterized as "in a rolling state." And so on. It's always exciting to hear a new phrase enter the language--I expect this one is going to be BIG!
Above is a screen capture from Cory Arcangel's "Data Diaries," a series of Quicktime videos based on the raw memory lurking in his--and for all intents and purposes, everybody's--computer. Alex Galloway's text, excerpted below, describes the project eloquently:
Every so often an artist makes a work of art by doing almost nothing. No hours of torturous labor, no deep emotional expression, just a simple discovery and out it pops. What did Cory Arcangel do in this piece? Next to nothing. The computer did the work, and he just gave it a form. His discovery was this: take a huge data file--in this case his computer's memory file--and fool Quicktime into thinking it's a video file. Then press play. Your computer's memory is now video art. Quicktime plays right through, not knowing that the squiggles and shards on the screen are actually the bits and bytes of the computer's own brain. The data was always right in front of your nose. Now you can watch it.
Lots of artists talk about memory. But for artists working with computers, memory has a very specific technical definition. If ever computers had a subconscious, this is it. Cory describes it as "watching your computer suffocate and yell at the same time." They look like digital dreams--the pure shapes and tones of real computer memory. Each video documents a new day, and each day the computer offers us a new set of memories.
Looking at Arcangel's videos it's hard not to think of Jeremy Blake's better-publicized animations (thumbnail below right). The former is early House to the latter's late Synthpop--doing it more economically, energetically, and without all the gear. To continue the analogy, picture poor Blake, hunched over his screen plugging one color at a time into his designer grid, then giving it a tasteful blurry wash; when along comes the artist equivalent of Larry "Mr. Fingers" Heard, plugs in the visual equivalent of a cheap synth and drum machine, and rocks the house! Someone else doing it the hard way is Xose Salgado, an artist from Spain (?) I found surfing the net--his work looks similar to Arcangel's but is apparently carefully crafted from combinations of images viewed at low res.
The four-color map problem also comes to mind here. This was one of the great unsolved problems in mathematics, eventually cracked in the '70s with a "brute force" solution of letting a computer crunch numbers for days, as opposed to an elegant Occam's-razor theorem, which still doesn't exist. Paradoxically, Blake's way of working corresponds to the brute, time-intensive method, while Arcangel has invented a new technique that is both a means and an end: a kind of binary frottage that neatly bypasses off-the-shelf programming and shows us the beauty in a simple core dump.
From the press release for "Icon," a two person exhibit at homeroom, Munich, Germany:
homeroom presents new “object paintings” by Munich-based artist Tom Früchtl and a selection of C-prints from the photographic series, Electric Mind, by Los Angeles-based Jennifer Stratford. The work of both artists deals with symbols of late-1970s and early 1980s youth culture—namely, amplifiers and video games whose iconic status derived from their association with play and leisure time, independence and power.
For the exhibition, Früchtl, who is both an artist and musician, has created two life-size, cardboard amplifiers which he calls Pappstar 1, Marshall and Pappstar 3, Orange, word plays on the German term for cardboard (Pappe), the English term “pop,” and the names given to the machines by their commercial manufacturers. Even as stand-ins for the originals, Früchtl’s “loudspeakers” carry nostalgic emotional content and weight (Marshall was virtually synonymous with the “wall of sound” music and stage shows of bands such as Judas Priest and AC/DC). But in their reincarnation as open-backed doubles, Früchtl’s amps are more walls of surface that deliver new content on borrowed style and question what the role of painting can or should be.
By contrast, Jennifer Stratford’s 20 x 30 inch C-prints chronicle every aspect of video game culture from darkened parlors to entranced players, boxy machines to low-tech graphics. The photos are part of an ongoing project Stratford began two years ago after seeing a cast-off Asteroids machine on the back of a pick-up truck on a California freeway. She was struck by “how American it was to waste a big hulking giant that once gave us the feeling of outer space.” Her search to understand and perhaps reclaim that liberation has produced a body of work that, by turns, abstracts the games into visually pleasing patterns and records the banal and introverted dimensions of play, where feelings of pleasure, excitement, and involvement are closely linked to states of pathological immersion and escape. A limited edition CD, We're All Players, a collection of music inspired by video games and compiled by Stratford is available for €10.
The show runs from 22 March - 16 May 2003; for information contact Courtenay Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org