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I have an animated .GIF in the online exhibition "Sunday Afternoon," curated by MatCh-Art (Matthew Fisher and Christina Vassallo). The show of approximately 25 artists, described as "an interdisciplinary exploration of leisure, love and obligations," showcases, among other things, what Jerry Saltz has called "puberty escapism" and what I would call The New Dumb Little Painting, a style sweeping New York, if not the world. I don't mean the term disparagingly at all: antecedents would be Laura Owens and Karen Kilimnick and the reigning queen, I suppose, would be Dana Schutz (even though her paintings aren't very little). The style is marked by faux naive paint handling, disguising sharp, emotionally punchy, and/or socially-tinged observations; MatCh-Art and its earlier incarnations specialize in fairly intimate and ambiguous twists on the genre. Here's a great example, from the "Sunday Afternoon" show, Jeffrey Lutonsky's Fuck Ken Schrader, 2004, ink and pencil on paper, 14 X 17 inches:
Did you read Robert Novak's recent column? The Bush inner circle appears to be telegraphing to the non-neocon righties that they plan to pull out of Iraq soon after the election! While in the meantime Bush continues to talk tough for the security moms.
Well-placed sources in the administration are confident Bush's decision will be to get out. They believe that is the recommendation of his national security team and would be the recommendation of second-term officials. An informed guess might have Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state, Paul Wolfowitz as defense secretary and Stephen Hadley as national security adviser. According to my sources, all would opt for a withdrawal.Novak is a paleoconservative and kinda sorta opposed the invasion so this may be wishful thinking on his part. But I don't think so. The neocons may have decided this thing isn't winnable and are looking to save their front man so they can fight (Iran) another day. I wish I could say Kerry/Edwards were an antidote to this craven duplicity but they also speak with bifurcated tongue on the issue. "We'll win this thing with European allies" and "We'll be out in four years" are just a lame campaign message.
Getting out now would not end expensive U.S. reconstruction of Iraq, and certainly would not stop the fighting. Without U.S. troops, the civil war cited as the worst-case outcome by the recently leaked National Intelligence Estimate would be a reality. It would then take a resolute president to stand aside while Iraqis battle it out.
My print criticism continues to surface on the Web like submerged bodies rising in a Meadowlands pond. Here's my Artforum review of Randy Wray's 1996 Kagan Martos exhibition. I enjoyed looking at Wray's website, about which more later. Missed the last couple of shows, unfortunately, but in the paintings I've seen, the tension between abrupt bursts of ideas and obsessive time-filling noodling within the same piece is compelling. It's tempting to say they're Seinfeldian in that no subject becomes the subject. I still think I prefer the earlier, punchier works, but it's fascinating watching his thought process...mature? deepen? not sure yet (you, too, can follow this development by paging though the slightly-too-small but kilobyte-intensive website pics). He does use the computer now for developing ideas, but too much could be made of that--they're still about painting, sculpting, drawing, and paint-by-number handicrafts. You don't feel much "cyber" in the work--it could just as easily be elaborate Polke-esque stencilling.
Old scores: this piece, Nest, was the image I wanted to accompany my Artforum review, instead of the one they ran (it was the dealers' fault for sending in something else). This would have popped off the page in AF's black and white postage stamp format.
Trax Records, the seminal Chicago house music label, just re-released some vintage recordings, and the Seattle Weekly's review of them is worth a read. I just purchased Acid Classics and my jaw elevatored down to hear this music I completely missed when it came out in '86 (!) through 1990. (I knew about House but had no reliable way to get my hands on the vinyl.) By now we've heard these moves a million times--the trancy squiggle of the Roland TB-303 is a musical institution--but these early, stripped-down psychedelic funk engines still sound radical. "Acid" is the most techno-y side of house, and the beats are as minimal as it gets, but still seductive and completely up to date. There's simply no comparison between this music and the "industrial" style of pre-techno that was appearing around the same time--Front 242, Nitzer Ebb, Single Gun Theory--whose beats were much more pounding, metallic, obvious, and, now, dated. (Although I still have a soft spot for Nitzer Ebb.) Laurent X's "Machines" and Adonis' "Two the Max" are brilliant.
In a comment to the previous post, Brent questions whether Chris Ashley's stationary HTML drawing and jimpunk's moving .GIF are comparable or compatible on the same page. My usual quip about showing video next to paintings in a gallery setting is that it's like bringing a baby to a wedding, but the browser is the great equalizer. A few more line breaks were added to the post so the pieces aren't quite so close together, but otherwise, yeah, I think they have more in common than not as art non-objects. Although neither artist is an Op artist in the old '60s sense, the pieces exploit optical tricks over and above their plain formal appeal: illusory depth in the Ashley and quite literal vibration in the jp. Moreover, they are fresh takes on the grid and opticality, which the New York Times and the Village Voice love to dismiss as the concerns of a bygone generation, in spite of all evidence to the contrary (e.g., the Infinite Fill show.)
Chris Ashley - Untitled (Blue and Green) 18, 2004, HTML, 320 x 240 pixels:
jimpunk, ( [ ] ), 2004 animated .GIF and HTML:
Re-reBlogging a couple of items from yesterday. More commentary will eventually be added, perhaps when I return to decelerated blogging life a few days hence. Ashley's drawing is straight-up HTML, and jimpunk's piece uses HTML to vertically stretch this gif () (which looks like website bricabrac he found somewhere) into adjacent Bridget Riley-esque rectangles of progressively narrowing widths.
UPDATE: This "website bricabrac" is some Apple "loading--please wait" icon thingy that's been turned from pale blue to black and white. I'm surprised no one told me I was revealing my Apple-ignorance (again).
Spoiler-ridden interview with director Mamoru Oshii:
From the trailer it looks like a lot of CGI machinery awkwardly mixed in with character drawing. The story idea seems lifted straight from Armitage III, only with more of that heavy out-of-body stuff (and melancholy) that is Oshii's specialty. I mean, the man didn't look the interviewer in the eye once! (Thanks to del.icio.us/moth23 for the link).
The original Ghost in the Shell, adapted from a manga (Japanese novel in comic-book form) by Shirow Masamune, inspired Andy and Larry Wachowski to make The Matrix [what didn't? --TM] and topped stateside video sales in 1996. Innocence, which premiered at Cannes last spring, catches up with Batou, a cyborg detective who journeys through a futuristic cityscape to crack the case of the killer gynoids (a term coined by Oshii). The prostitute ring of robotic Geisha-like sex-toys turns out to be masterminded by Kim, a crafty doll who fends off the investigation by implanting false experiences into Batou's "e-brain."
The sleuth eventually reunites with the Major, who exited her "shell" to become pure soul -- a ghost -- at the end of the first installment. Together they rescue hapless gynoids who become animated by having the ghosts of real girls "dubbed" into their bisque-coated physiques. In between his battles with Yakuza thugs, toxic firewalls and homicidally programmed assassins, Batou, Oshii's self-proclaimed alter ego, discusses Descartes, quotes Shelley and cites biblical passages.
UPDATE: Saw this on Sept. 21. It's beautiful to look at, like Peter Greenaway's Prospero's Books, which I also fell asleep in. Really don't like the combination of CGI (with obvious photoshop textures) and cartoon anime.