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Thanks to all who posted encouraging comments about my first foray into video. The piece is coming along, it's now down to 50 MB and I jury-rigged a way to sync the audio. I was able to save a thumbnailized, super compressed copy at 9.5 MB, but it looks like, um, shit.
Many of the comments were about trying to get me to switch from a PC to the Macintosh ecosystem. I have more to say on this subject, but in brief, I don't know how I can continue to claim, in my artist statement, that "My work proudly inhabits the 'lo-fi' or 'abject' end of the digital spectrum" if I am using the ideal, "hi fi" system. I wound up in PC-land quite by accident, but it's the way I think most people end up there: it's the computer of choice of managerial types in the American workplace. At a certain point I had so much PC-made work on floppies (done on lunch breaks, of course!) that when my old Mac SE no longer cut it at home, I had no real choice about what to buy to replace it. But this is boring. I also perversely like being outside the orbit of the Mac fetishists, where things tend to look and get done a certain way. I've kidded elsewhere about the laptop chic of New York art events--part of me wants to join it, but there's also something to be said for using the tools of the proles. Think Carl Andre in his carpenter overalls. Oops, not a good example.
How It Works...The Computer. Good clear scans of individual pages show differences between the 1971 and 1979 editions of this (high school?) reference book. Highly informative, high kitsch appeal, what more could you ask for? (via cory a. & eyebeam reBlog)
Reviving the ancient practice of barter that lay behind the putative origins of our fair city--that is, the ability to trade almost anything for a handful of beads--is Mondo Mondo Trading Post. Go to the 6th Floor at Cooper Union during the hours listed below and swap anything you have--a poem, a song, a piece of crumpled paper lying at your feet--for a pretty souvenir made of Perler Beads, a craft kit item I'm told I'd know more about if I'd recently left high school. The Mondo Mondo traders, Kevin McGarry and Matt Savitsky, have taken their economic roadshow up and down the Northeast, setting up temporary displays with cardboard totem poles, an array of multi-hued blankets, and a table of Souvenirs. Trades are documented with online photos of the crap (and also good stuff) people coughed up. From the website the project looks to be a combination of hippie-era hopefulness about creating an alternative system of exchange and a kind of wised-up parody of a colorful kid's show world where the bottom line is you take home something made of plastic. Judging from the pictures of McGarry and Savitsky stoically manning their booth in a host of public spaces (plazas, museum grounds, bookstore sidewalks), there is something beautiful and sweet about the activity but the stupid factor is not to be overlooked--the quality of the hapless, doomed quest to change the world through a single throwback gesture. The website captures the spirit nicely, with its melange of happy colors, texture-mapped wood grain, and sprightly MIDI tunes downloaded off of various fan sites (especially fine is the one that greets you on load-up, Radiohead's "Paranoid Android"). Hopefully I'll have a chance to go tomorrow and can give a better report.
Saturday Nov. 13th - 3PM to 5PMUPDATE, Saturday, Nov. 13: Visited the Trading Post and found it as winsome as described. One slight inaccuracy above is the trades don't stop with you taking home a Souvenir--everything ever traded is for sale. Previous swaps from New Hampshire, PA, NYC, etc. were arrayed around the room in hand-cut cardboard display cases. Poems or stories were handwritten on card stock and would be recited or reenacted by the proprietors on request. I traded a Gimme Shell 7-inch EP for a robin's-eggs-in-nest Souvenir. It's a gem.
Wednesday Nov. 17th - 9PM to 11PM
Saturday Nov. 20th - 6PM to 8PM
Blog Spotlight: Loretta Lux
"They are imaginary portraits dealing with the idea of Childhood. Childhood has been idealized as a lost garden paradise to which we can never return. We are excluded from this world of carelessness, innocence and unity. But the imaginary kingdom is nothing more than a projection of adult ideas and concerns onto the image, an expression of our own yearnings." - Loretta Lux.
According to her press page, Lux's "images are created using photography, painting and digital tinkering. She photographs the child then places the resulting image on a backdrop that she has painted or photographed separately. On most of Lux's images the colours, and sometimes the children's features, are digitally altered."
This is startlingly good work, a little scary because we're not used to seeing our cultural fetishization of children carried to quite this degree of care and craft. Also noteworthy is the hybrid nature of these images. Would they have been possible were Lux not equally skilled as a painter, photographer and digital artist? I don't think so. A prediction: this will emerge as more important work than John Currin's similarly polished but differently odd paintings, in that Lux has mastered a new technology in order to invent a medium to go along with her imagery, whereas Currin is just the latest in an unbroken cycle of "getting back in touch with the lost master painting techniques of yesteryear, blah blah."
UPDATE: Speaking of cycles, a friend asked why I'm just writing about this work now when tout le art world already chewed it up and spat it out (favorably) last spring. I replied that this blog isn't a slave to the usual rhythms of capitalist marketing hype--that it's impulsive, heedless of fashion, and also, I wasn't paying attention.
I made my first video last night. Woo. Kind of a first stab at integrating the music I've been writing with the animated .GIFs I've been drawing. First, I downloaded a demo version of a simple video editing software. I imported an .mp3 of a tune I wrote and then started adding some found .GIFs from my "collection," since that's the first folder that opened (*%&%! Windows XP always defaults to that lame "My Pictures"). The video editor is nice in that it automatically resizes all the .GIFs to the size of the first and can make them faster and slower, but not so nice because there is no way to sync a specific sequence of musical notes in the audio to the run time of the .GIFs. I put together my file as best I could--a parade of stupid cartoon characters dancing, completely out of step with the music--and then saved it as a Quicktime .mov file, just to see what kind of file size we're talking about. It took about 10-15 minutes to save and the 2.5 minute long video is (ouch) 77 MB. I just used the preset compression options, though. Also, the finished masterpiece has the words "Trial Version--Please Register" pasted in the middle of the screen the entire run time, in green letters. I like that, though--gives it a certain shabby authenticity. Any recommendations of a Windows-based video editor that allows syncing of audio and images and that can save output as multiple file types (particularly .mov) would be greatly appreciated.
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The New York Times' "news window" or "news hole" is obviously shrinking (this usually happens as a result of falling ad revenue) and its art review section has recently been fairly drastically reduced. In days of yore that would have been cause for hand-wringing about the demise of importance of visual art in our culture, but now I say, good! 'Cause, see, there're these things called blogs, which can run critical commentary and pictures about shows and even have bulletin board type discussion of the work while it's up. What a concept! The shrinking copy hole may mean dealers have to look elsewhere for legitimation of the work they show, and--oh my God, all this time, while they were waiting for Roberta to come by and give the show an authoritative nod there's been a vehicle out there that could have been used to disseminate information and discuss ideas! And its power is based not on the top-down institutional authority of an entrenched critic but rather rhizomatic, community-based weighing of opinion and more or less instantaneous transmission of buzz! Who knew?
.GIF by jimpunk (from SCREENFULL: "we crash your browser with content").