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More of the conversation Chris Ashley and I are having on painting and technology, from comments to an earlier post:
Chris: You say, "As for painting, I have no plans to do it--I'm more interested in the problem-solving of how to make interesting, resonant, stand-alone objects with the computer, printers, photocopiers, etc., and intertwining that practice with purely online things like animated GIFs." So, you're not exactly saying that you'll never paint. And I'm not trying to make you. I guess I'm wondering if you're leaving the option open so that if, at some point, a situation presents itself that tells you that the meaning you're working on requires the use of paint, whether, say, as enhancement or contrast, or for expression or irony, would you recognize that and not just follow a rule that says no paint, but instead follow the work and use paint?
And when I read your thoughts, "By 'real world grit' I was referring to the legal pad, office paper, product boxes and such that I've incorporated into the work," you're referring to materials that have in themselves a whole load of received meaning, and that could have, for some viewers, a kind of grit, or romance, or revulsion. You know, is it possible that at some point the viewer says, "Oh, the use of office materials in art is dead," as has been said about painting, as will be said about installations, and large photos mounted on aluminum panels, and the creation of characters for video or performance, and whatever else you're going to find in all of the galleries everywhere this "season."
I'm just trying to make the obvious point that probably no one is arguing against anyway that paint, in the many ways it's possible to use it, is, and will continue to be, a viable technology, whereas someday my HTML drawings will no longer be viewed in their native environment. The technology will fade. And I'll have no control over that. In 25 years using MacPaint will probably be pretty hard, but you'll always be able to buy a ten-color watercolor set at a stationary or educational supply store.
Tom:"Oh, the use of office materials in art is dead,"
My use of those materials died around 2000, with my permatemp gig. (Which is not say I might not use them again if I got a similar gig, but right now I'm working with "home consumer technology.") The criterion shouldn't be hipness so much as relevance: there's a history of artists working with the newest technologies (e.g., ground pigment) with a concomitant falling off of interest in older technologies (smearing roots on the cave wall). I'm more interested in applying what I would call a "painterly" approach to tech than painting itself (the physical side of which I never liked that much anyway). I would say HTML drawings have as good a chance of surviving (via being saved on hard drives, etc.) as physical art objects (many of which end up in landfills and moldering in relatives' basements). And as for media surviving, who cares what happens to art in 25 years?
Expanded version of a piece I did last year; I added about 8 inches to the what used to be the top and turned the format from a rectangle to a square. I'm calling it Van Der Graaf Flux; the whole thing is meandering conceptually and may not be finished (meandering being, I think, the subject matter). It has some Russian constructivist elements. Those spinning disc things over on the right are a design I saw years ago in a Popova (?) painting depicting rolls of silk in a silk mill, seen end-on; I've recycled it quite a bit. All the imagery is drawn in MSPaintbrush and MSPaint; the paper is repeatedly run through the printer, cut apart with scissors, and taped back together; the back of the piece is a dense network of linen tape holding the whole thing together. See? Kind of ugly, but here it is (flipped).
Here's a macro detail, which should banish any remaining illusions that this piece is "computer-slick":
Towers of Light vs The Birds
James Wagner asks about the flecks in the light beams in this photo he took of yesterday's Tribute in Light 9/11 memorial. Via alex (scroll down): "This is what birders were afraid of: this year's Tribute in Light display coincided with a big migrant flight. Too bad for the birds. Here's a report received from bird advocate Rebekah Creshkoff (a non-birder friend who saw the display thought that there was "glitter" in the light beams; that was birds.)"
I was at the Tribute in Light briefly tonight, from about 10:30 to 11. I didn't see our volunteer Brooke, but I sure hope she or Eileen or Denise had/have a camera. I didn't, but what's going on down there should be documented.Just wait till they fire up those big wind turbines in the Freedom Tower.
THOUSANDS of birds were behaviorally trapped in the columns of light. The beams were visibly filled with birds for their entire height, looking like clouds of bugs. Their twittering was audible.
Their brightly illuminated bodies were reflected in the windows of nearby buildings -- 3 World Financial Center and the movie theatre. The light was so bright, some birds looked as though they were on fire.
There were so many birds, it was impossible to track any one individual for any length of time. I did see one bird that circled in and out of the uptown beam six times before I lost track. Each time, the bird stayed in the light for from 3 to 9 seconds.
The lowest 30 feet or so of light had moths instead of birds. Fantastic numbers of moths were attracted to surface of the big lamps. Assistants (wearing sunglasses) frequently wiped the surface of the lights with a cloth; even so, there would be smoke from all the moth bodies just moments later. I saw one bird lower down (apparently) escape the beams.
The birds were visible to the naked eye as sparkling motes floating in the light from Barrow St., about a mile or so uptown.
I found all this extremely disturbing. It takes a songbird about a week to lay down a gram of fat -- fuel for its long-distance migration. That fat will carry it about 120 miles. How much fat are they wasting flying around in those beams, only to have to (best case) spend the next several days refueling in food- and habitat-poor lower Manhattan?
The beams put me in mind of the old-time ceilometers -- beams of light formerly used at airports to measure the height of the cloud cover. Many significant birds kills were documented at ceilometers. I am attaching a paper I wrote for the organizers of the first Tribute in Light, which references ceilometer data.
The good news is, the lights will be off tomorrow. But is the human value of the Tribute in Light really worth imperiling thousands of birds -- and incinerating God knows how many moths?
I posted this diptych a while back, and attempted to explain what was going on in the piece when someone asked what the hell it was. Apropos of a more recent discussion, I realize now that mere blabbery words are no substitute for a revealing, demystifying, letting it all hang out, kinda looks like shit back of the piece shot. I didn't want to do this before because it destroys the elegant aura I worked so hard to give this cheaply executed work. I don't know why I'm doing it now--you wouldn't see this in a gallery unless you took it down off the wall, why show it online? (By the way, the times I've shown these pieces publicly I've stretched a rectangle of silk behind the paper so no one can poke a finger through it--but I don't believe in glueing it down or pouring resin all over it to "collector-ify" it, a la Fred Tomaselli.)
Another recycled reBlog post:
Matt Pyke recently left tDR [The Designers Republic --TM] to join Transistor Studios - the most excellent demo reel of his is here, and his latest project, a music video for Nuno Felipe, can be seen here. Good stuff!The Designers Republic was the vanguard of the graphics revolution (or what might be called the "vector revolution" for its use of Illustrator, Flash, and the like), most conspicuous in electronic dance music packaging but also embraced by Globo Youth Marketing Capitalism. It's nice to put a name to a product, even if tDR was supposed to be about anonymity and collectivity. I didn't watch the music video but the demo reel is pretty mind-blowing. Sorry to always keep harping on Jeremy Blake, but this is better, innit? I liked Blake during his Morris Louis phase (which PT Anderson picked up on and then Blake abruptly dropped) but for a full-service digital collage artist, Pike is doing more tricky and I would say paradigmatic stuff. It's just that one is "high art" and was in the Whitney three times in as many years and the other is "low art" that is probably making the producer oodles of money--as clear an argument as I've seen for the need to rethink the distinction, at least where digital media are concerned.
jimpunk did a nice animated .GIF of my "logo" morphing into the wiring diagram from my reBlog post "How to make a Nintendo controller into a PC joystick."
Sarah Hollis Perry, At Home (blue chair), chair upholstered with New York Times bags
Opening Friday, Sept 10th, 8pm, at Flux Factory, Long Island City, NY, running from September 10 - 25, 2004:
REFUSE: functional art objects and music made from waste.
There is an alchemical process that takes place when waste is converted into something useful. REFUSE is a collection of work by artists who apply this process to castaway raw materials reshaped into functional art objects and sound sculptures. The exhibit will include pieces whose emphasis is on form and function, making scavenged material an integral, possibly unapparent element of the work through skilled transmutation. An apparent dwelling space within the gallery will be assembled with pieces ranging from dresses woven from cassette tape ribbon (Alyce Santoro), a chair reupholstered with woven blue new york times bags (Sarah Hollis Perry), chairs fashioned from recycled road signs (Boris Bally) and tables crafted from scrap wood (Scrapile). Several Interactive sound sculptures and musical instruments made from waste will be placed throughout the gallery providing a sonic backdrop for the space.
Featuring works by Boris Bally (borisbally.com), Lea Bogdan, Ken Butler, Peggy Diggs, Joy Halsted, Nikolai Moderbacher (nikolaim.com), Cynthia Norton, John Parker (eyekhan.com), Sarah Hollis Perry, Philadelphia Dumpster Divers Neil Benson and Steve Thompson, Alyce Santoro (alycesantoro.com), SCRAPILE (bettencourtwood.com), Colleen Smiley, Meghan Trainor, Crispin Webb (crispinwebb.com), Peter Whitehead (healthyarts.com), Isac Zal (isaczal.com), and more.
[Just a few thoughts, based on surfing around some of the websites: working with landfill material is tricky; it can be politically edgy but it can also get bogged down in the sentimentality of "old stuff." There are a million undistinguished artists all over the world making assemblage type works with discarded junk; what separates them from a Yayoi Kusama or a Robert Rauschenberg is a question curators should be asking. Sarah Hollis Perry, maker of the blue chair above, appears to have swallowed Kusama whole but the cheekiness of using Times bags--the discarded wrapper or "invisible brand" of the "intellectual paper"--makes the work seem up to date. (I say seem because I'm only looking at the jpeg.) Other participants in the show might be veering dangerously close to the sentimental school, and there appears to be at least one designer making a straight commercial product out of post-consumer materials. Nothing wrong with that as long as the curation takes these distinctions into account. Yeah, I know, no one asked me to criticize the show, I'm just covering my ass because I haven't seen it. --TM)
The American Dream
This is my downstairs neighbor standing on what used to be his patio deck. The property owner next door decided to squeeze a few more rental dollars out of his 3-story building by lowering the level of his back yard ten feet and adding a fourth apartment in the basement. Construction has been slow: he did the digging a year ago and never shored up the excavated pit with concrete, as the city required him to do. Consequently my neighbor's yard is slowly sliding into the hole.
Here's another view: you can see the lake of water from a recent rain through the gap under the fence. It's amazing the fence is still standing.
And here's the view of the fence on the other side of the pit, two doors over from our building. Isn't America great? It's a place where you're free to be a business failure and there are always others to take up the slack--that's how much we value entrepreneurship. It wasn't always thus: in days of yore a posse of strong men from the neighborhood would have paid a visit on Mr. Budding Capitalist and stood there with arms folded till he filled in the hole with his own labor. But that would be fascistic, so we rely on the court system to do...nothing.