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Claire Corey and I will be speaking at dorkbot-nyc ("people doing strange things with electricity") on Wednesday, November 3. Matt Hall and John Watkinson are also on the program. It's the day after election day and the mood is either going to be upbeat, or...well, you know. I'll be posting notes as the event approaches, but I like this phrasing of Claire's, describing her practice as a digital painter: "This hybrid medium questions both what is expected from works made with a computer as well as what constitutes painting." I've been thinking something along those lines in connection Jason Salavon's "100,000 Abstract Paintings," AKA Golem, where he wrote a software program that encoded parameters (size of brushstroke, color, etc) but also painterly qualities derived from studying the moves of Diebenkorn, Richter, and others. There is a dual critique there. What do we expect the computer to be able to do for us? Assemble cars? Play chess? Paint? Which tasks are necessarily "automatable" and which shouldn't be delegated? But also, what are attributes constituting "good painting" these days? If they're so quantifiable a machine can recreate them, are they really "good"? The critique is more obvious and pointed if you're talking about actually writing a program that does this (and I've seen Salavon's paintings and they're actually pretty "good") but it also applies to those of us just using the machine to make paintings: Claire, me, Millree Hughes... A curated show setting out these issues would be enormously helpful.
Gero von Randow made a mini-version of my "Centrifuge (Side View)" .GIF. A bit large, memorywise (188KB--the original is only 42KB) but very cute.
I posted the original here and on my Animation Log.
Thanks also to Three River Tech Review for linking to it.
Daniel Albright, a teacher of mine at UVa who is now at Harvard, returns often to the theme of "elementary particles" in poetry, music, and art--the charged, irreducible core memes that make art art. His writing has much to say to current digital practice, I think, where pixels, vectors, and 1s and 0s have become a philosophical as well as technological obsession. Quantum Poetics: Yeats, Pound, Eliot, and the Science of Modernism mercifully sidesteps New Age-y Tao of Physics murk in favor of single-minded focus on the wave/particle duality, dividing the poets into one or the other function. Thus, Yeats surfed The Wave with the all-encompassing poetic cosmology of A Vision, the image- and vortex-seeking Pound was a particle man, and Eliot's perverse blend of urban anomie and squishy undersea metaphors seemed All Wave until the appearance of "Christ particles" in his late work. Untwisting the Serpent: Modernism in Music, Literature, and the Other Arts begins with a consideration of the Laoco÷n problem--Lessing's formulation of the "rules" for expressing ideas in different media--and then zeroes in on peak moments in musical theatre where sounds, speech, and scenery achieve a synaesthetic unity. Albright takes most of his examples from the early 20th Century and avoids recent artforms based on newfangled gadgets, but many concerns of the Modernists--the interest in science, the exploration of psyches shaped by a technological society, the centrifugal splitting of aesthetics--have never been more relevant. (Which is not to say we have to throw out poMo critiques of those agendas.) Fair warning and/or full disclosure: In this blog and future writings I'll be leaning heavily on my old Prof's work as I stumble around trying to make sense of what's going on with new media, electronic music and tech-based gallery art.
Deborah Solomon's cutesy but miserable slam-interviews in the New York Times Magazine always take a little something out of your day. This week she talks to inept ex-CIA analyst Kenneth Pollack, who has a book out. In the runup to the Iraq debacle the debates on the liberal side came down to whether one believed former UN inspector Scott Ritter that Iraq had no WMDs, or Pollack's scare stories that Saddie the Baddie was going to nuke the Saudi oil fields and launch Armageddon. Here's Pollack now, sounding kind of flip about being so wrong (assuming it's not Solomon jiggering the quotes):
In your new book, ''The Persian Puzzle: The Conflict Between Iran and America,'' you seem to have abandoned your hawkish stance. Your last one, ''The Threatening Storm,'' helped persuade many reluctant Democratic policy makers to support the invasion of Iraq.Sorry really isn't good enough here, Ken. Instead of doing your book tour, why don't you spend some time in Iraq, say, helping medics sew kids' arms back on?
I made a mistake based on faulty intelligence. Of course, I feel guilty about it. I feel awful.
It's nice to hear at least one American say that he's sorry.
I'm sorry; I'm sorry!
I've been doing some housekeeping around the site(s). I added an explanatory paragraph to my main site page [that para has since been moved here], largely as a reminder to curators who say things like "your blog is your art" that I'm an exhibiting artist, although it's been a long time between shows (I had a 2-person in 2002 but my last solo was '99). These gaps aren't unusual. I'm always working, but sometimes it takes a while for a body of work to congeal--by that I mean into a critically tight show. I had a five year gap between my last Texas solo and my first New York solo, and it took that long to get oriented in a new environment and not go off half-cocked. I recently discovered that Ken Johnson's New York Times review of my 1998 show (David Clarkson and I each had a room) is online in the Times archive--evidently five-paragraph articles don't require the usual obnoxious fee to view. I need to post installation shots of that show, but this picture is representative. In the comments someone asked if I'm still working large, and the answer is not that large. That show was, I would say, critically successful and led to a spate of exhibitions in the late '90s and early '00s but the work isn't collector friendly because it's huge, aggressive and made of photocopy paper (precisely the things that make it appealing to critics). I've put a lot of thought and effort into resolving this contradiction and the solution is more modest work but also more complex work, formally and thematically. I'm moving ahead with framing (see above) which is indispensable to give the current pieces a sense of solidity and presence. I think I'm giving up on the installations I was doing a couple of years back because realistically they're backbreaking (hours of standing in one position sticking pins in the wall) and I don't want the art to be about stamina. I'm kind of sick of the art world expectation that everything important has to be a physical tour de force (how much space can you fill up with some obsessive time consuming activity a la Sarah Sze, or the woman at LFL who packed the gallery with painted scrap wood). As Jon Stewart says, "I'm not going to be your monkey" even if it means perceived second-tier status. (Also assuring a lifetime of backbenching is my lack of interest in working on canvas anymore; everything I do now is on paper, which in the medieval mind of the art market means "lesser art.")
QUILT DESIGNS - FOUR SKETCHES (click images to see these samples rendered as allover patterns)
Below is an index of recent discussion topics here, which I felt like compiling because the posts are kind of spread around the blog.
What is an art blog? 1 / 2 / 3 (scroll down)
New Dumb Little Painting 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 (timeline)
Does one have to write code to make art with digital tools? 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6
The fourth and mercifully final installment of my American Roots series--computer augmented sketches of quilts from an exhibit at the American Folk Art Museum. Think of it as the visual equivalent of "Swamp Thing" by The Grid, a somewhat awful early 90s techno track where a banjo was looped and combined with a thumping dancefloor beat.