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My Loop Collection. The following are looped fragments of pop and electronic music I've been collecting. They could be karaoke or mashup fodder, or minimal art pieces suitable for playing in a gallery on a jukebox knocked off from Sol LeWitt. More will be added as I come across suitable material. Credits are withheld to discourage art-hating lawyerbots. Any or all will be removed at the least hint of trouble.
The Techno Loop [mp3 removed]
The Proto-Trance Loop [mp3 removed]
The Psychedelic Rock Loop [mp3 removed]
The decapitation of Paul Johnson in Saudi Arabia brings together two recent themes of this weblog: beheading by Islamic militants and mowing down Arabs from the sky in Apache helicopters. According to this ABC news story, Johnson "worked on Apache attack helicopter systems for Lockheed Martin." While his death is horrible and deplorable, so are the sophisticated weapons the United States uses to turn Arabs into bloody piles of hamburger, in the course of our unprovoked war. Graphic photos purportedly documenting the Johnson killing are here: the big sword in one image looks more plausible than the knife used in Berg video. These thoughts and links are offered not to be flip or titillating but because we really need to be thinking about this stuff instead of Laci and Kobe. Interesting that this Talking Points Memo discussion of al-Qaeda violence in Saudi Arabia never mentions Johnson's occupation.
This pic just popped up on a new site called Street Memes, which tracks graffiti and other street art. "Toynbee Idea in Movie '2001': Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter" is an oldie but goody; I've seen it in black in white and color. This one's from Chicago but there are/were several in midtown New York. According to this page (one of many if you google the phrase) they've been spotted in a host of North and South American cities. There seems to be some debate whether the "Toynbee" is the historian Arnold Toynbee, who wrote of bodily resurrection as one of the ways a civilization deals with the fact of death, or a reference to Ray Bradbury's science fiction tale "The Toynbee Convector," about a time traveler who comes back with a wondrous vision of the future. More likely it's the former, a simple statement of the religious underpinnings of the Kubrick/Clarke film. The slogan always makes me think, though, of Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld novels, where everyone who ever lived on earth is resurrected somewhere along the banks of enormously long, planet-girdling river. I don't know who's behind the slogan but I smile whenever I see it.
Adrien75's Chickadoo Chronicles: A Listener's Diary
[This post was extensively rewritten; the new version is here.]
Sidney Blumenthal in Salon: "As we made our way in the receiving line from the East Room, I noticed that the Georgia O'Keeffe painting that Hillary had hung, the first and only 20th century work of modern art in the White House, was gone. In its place was a nostalgic scene of the Old West."
Mark Dagley is one of my favorite painters but kind of a hard sell unless both humor and minimalism are your thing. He emerged in New York at the same time as Steve Di Benedetto, Steven Parrino, and Michael Scott, all of whom were doing post-Peter Halley masking tape paintings in the '80s. After a solo at Tony Shafrazi in '87 he showed quite a bit in Europe, and his work appears sporadically in the states. Of his peer group, I think he's the best, if not the best known. He has a genuinely quirky approach to Mondrian-ish "universal absolutes"--primary colors and basic structures that he keeps running catchy variations on. We worked together on a couple of exhibits, including "Op at UP" and "post-hypnotic," and he currently has a tight, exquisite little show up at Abaton Garage in Jersey City. The piece depicted above, Untitled Construction 5-30-04, consists of cylinders of Play-dohTM he allowed to dry in the tub and coated with acrylic resin. These "found color" objects are lined up inside a white-painted wood enclosure that hangs on the wall. Simple, elegant, stupid--what's not to like?
Camgirl (recently retired).
Artnet has a great interview up with artist Sue de Beer. Part of it is excerpted below. I've written about her work here and here and am impressed by her smarts, as well as her courage in injecting schlocko, gross-out horror conventions into the by-now familiar vocabulary of art world transgressions. It's not the shock value that makes her work special (we had Chris Burden and Karen Finley for that), or the "low culture into high," but rather some combination of the two: a willingness to be scary and as declasse as a Wes Craven movie at the mall. After the excerpt, I have a few thoughts on the relationship of her work to recent, real life (mediated) horror.
Ana Finel Honigman: Do you think deconstructing horror, like explaining a joke, kills its impact?All this talk of stabbing and guts hanging out and our relationship to it isn't just relevant to the art world. I'm curious to know what de Beer thinks of the Nick Berg "beheading" video, which is riddled with discrepancies and seems to be some hillbilly's idea of a slasher movie. Art trumping life trumping art. (I mean, check out the plastic prison chairs in the photos below.) Even though it's in a macho, war context, it made me think of Heidi 2's "operating scene," here Heidi's mom teaches Heidi how to "self operate" and Heidi removes her own stomach. This collaborative project with Laura Parnes is the exception to de Beer's credo of "either you have victims with no killer, or a killer with no victims." Unless you read the stomach operation as a self-inflicted wound (i.e., the Heidis are one person) and not as one generation literally damaging the next. At any rate, there's theatrical slashing with no spraying blood, just like the Berg video; a body part is removed and shot close-up; no dubbed-in scream, though. Anyway, apologies to Sue and Laura for comparing their work to real life melodrama; current events are forcing us to think this way.
Sue de Beer: For me, if you stab something really hard with a knife, and make it bleed, you know, for art or for whatever, that should have enough impact on whoever is watching in whatever context. If it doesn’t have an impact, then it is probably just crappy.
AFH: How aggressive should art be in order to have an impact?
SdB: For me, sometimes stabbing something can have more impact if you ease up. Take for example, the photo I made of Sasha La Rosa. I photographed her bored and smoking with her intestines hanging out. It is a really soft romantic image, and you know she is alive, so you can take the time to check out her intestines without being too scared. But while you are doing that and enjoying how beautiful she looks, the impact hits. Your pleasure is in examining her guts. Maybe the scary part is in knowing that you want to see her cut open. Discovering the depth of your curiosity produces the impact.
AFH: Is it curiosity or schadenfreude? Isn't the pleasure a mixture of sympathy for the victim and empathy for the killer?
SdB: Yes. I was just reading a Slavoj Zizek essay on Lolita because I am making this new piece about desire, the act of desiring someone or something. In the essay, Zizek describes the moment when Humbert realizes Lo's mother is dead and Lo is his, as the pivotal scene in which Nabokov implicates the reader in Humbert's pedophilia. Because we want to know what will happen, we have to develop an empathetic relationship with Humbert and Zizek argues that part of the book’s power is in welcoming the reader to join in the crime. Nabokov allows everyone to be the pervert. We want him to succeed.
AFH: So in making your work, you are working for us?
SdB: Well, I guess the difference is that in my work, no one ever gets anywhere. It is all fait accompli, to be a little bit French about it. If the event was going to work out in my work, you would kind of know it beforehand. If it wasn’t, you kind of know that too.
AFH: But isn’t chilly suspense the most important part of horror?
SdB: Perhaps, but my work is a portrait of a moment in time with no beginning and no end. It is of a situation that just exists. You can't really have empathy for the killer because there is no killer. There is only death and a body. Or sometimes the opposite is true, like in Hans und Grete. There, there is a boy with black hair who wants to be strong. He wants to be a tough violent kid. He wants to be a killer but he doesn’t really have any victims. So either you have victims with no killer, or a killer with no victims.