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More impressions of the "Scratch Code" exhibition at bitforms, presenting computer art from the '50s, '60s and '70s. Paul asks about the Peter Vogel sculpture: I'd say its appeal is more technological than artistic--or perhaps, it's better as sound art than visual art. This gets back to an earlier post about circuit bent work being problematic as sculpture. The best work looks like it emerges casually and offhandedly as a result of a technologist trying to create a certain set of sounds, that is, as sloppy mad scientist bricolage, but as soon as it becomes self-consciously "artistic" or "sculpture-like" it loses, um, juice. Vogel has made a little cage of soldered metal sticks holding wires, capacitors, transistors, etc that cheeps and bleeps as you move around it. All the circuitry is exposed and you can visualize a certain set of probabilistic variables creating that sound even if you know nothing about electronics. The sounds are fascinating but the sculpture has to stand next to say, David Smith, who kind of set the standard for freestanding modernist sculpture, and it rather ignores all his hard work and the dialogue he participated in in favor of "making shit up"--i.e., presenting an unengaging, upright column-shape with the spidery, solder-y metallic textures of modernist knockoff mall art, or church or synagogue art. You can enjoy it on that level but you have to view it with kitsch filters firmly in place.
Manfred Mohr's prints in the same show, however, seem neither cheesy nor dated, perhaps because they are Ultimately Minimal and not trying to be expressive. They speak purely and eloquently to a techno-design-acclimated generation conversant with the likes of Designers Republic CD covers; they could also be cool scores for music by glitch-and-hiss musicians. Carsten Nicolai's spare, scrupulous visual work also comes to mind.
I hope that when I'm in my 70s I won't be haranguing bloggers (or whoever replaces them in the communication food chain) by saying "I was the first artist to make paper quilts with computer output!" or whatever. Just got a comment from Manfred Mohr, who wishes the record to reflect that he used the "incomplete open cube" before Sol LeWitt did and is mad that I said he "copped" it from LeWitt, in my discussion of the "Scratch Code" show at bitforms. He seems to have missed that my review was complimenting his work. His peevish comment and my petulant reply are here.
Traveling for the Christmas holidays, as Bill O'Reilly would call them. Got to spend 6 hours in the best place in the world: the Atlanta airport. Plane supposed to depart at 7:22 pm left at 12:40 am. These are pictures from the last swing though this carpeted Valhalla, in 2003. New, similar shots coming soon.
Above, an image by Alex Wilson, from a page presenting his last 24 years of Christmas Cards. Moving from pagan to secular idolatry, Alex also found this photo of the Joe Louis Memorial in Detroit, which I would characterize as "Giacometti meets Diego Rivera meets Sun Ra":
Plus maybe Dawn of the Dead. I mean, that's a severed arm, right? This is where a little Modernism gets us in trouble.
UPDATE: D'oh, just realized this was by Robert Graham, a sort of classicist-minimalist (or minimalist-classicist) dude who specializes in detached, fetishized bodies and body parts--often of toned young females.
Justin Raimondo tries to make sense of the latest poll results on Bush's Folly:
"For the first time," a Washington Post-ABC News poll shows, "most say the Iraq war was a mistake." Not to worry, however, because "a strong majority of Americans, 58 percent, support keeping military forces in Iraq until 'civil order is restored,' even in the face of continued U.S. casualties. By a slight margin, 48 percent to 44 percent, more voters agreed with Bush's position that the United States is making 'significant progress' toward its goal of establishing democracy in Iraq." But, oh wait: "Yet, by a similar margin, the public believes the United States is not making significant progress toward restoring civil order." To top it all off, 70 percent say the present casualty rate is "unacceptable."So in the face of all this contradictory data, the New York Times sends a reporter out to "talk to America" and sums up the findings in this (online) headline today:
Fighting On Is the Only Option, Americans Say"Fighting on"--what a crock. It's Vietnam all over again. Growing up, I remember well the mantra "We can't pull out of South Vietnam, there will be a bloodbath." Meaning civil war and reprisals, but as it turned out the bloodbath in Vietnam was the one we caused by staying and bombing and defoliating year after year. Iraq is even worse, though, because we out-and-out invaded it. As Raimondo reminds us:
Having bombed the nation's physical and social infrastructure into piles of blood-stained rubble, disbanded the Iraqi military, marginalized the highly educated and secularized Sunni elite and driven them into a destructive and increasingly successful insurgency – we can't leave until we establish the "civil order" destroyed by ourselves to begin with.The "only option" is to pull out our troops and offer financial reparations (and help to refugees) for the havoc we caused. Then impeach Bush for ginning up the phony WMD threat. We're the 800 pound gorilla, we can do whatever we want. Last I heard there was no other global superpower around to "interpret this as a sign of weakness." Terrorism is the price we pay for maintaining 700 military bases around the world after the cold war ended.
For any bloggers having comment spam problems, there are links at this post addressing some of the issues, particularly with blogs running Movable Type. In a nutshell, comment spam is an unscrupulous use of the blogger's comment feature, where a robot leaves URLs to drive up traffic for certain crapola sites, or create artificial traffic, or whatever. A big source of the problem is compromised Windows machines that act as slavebots to send out the spam. Meaning some popup trojan could have gotten into your PC, causing your computer to send out spam without your knowledge while you're websurfing. The real villain here is Bill Gates--it all goes back to Microsoft's slimy tactics during their antitrust suit where they argued that Internet Explorer was an integral part of their operating system and not some detachable, independently competitive feature. By actually integrating the two things, they made everyone's PCs much more vulnerable to hackers. Way to go, Microsoft!
Time Magazine's Person of the Year.
Some scary shit found on Digby's site, with lyrics to match ("We doin' big pimpin, we spendin' cheese / We doin' big pimpin' up in DC"). I've been trying to have a moratorium on Bush images because I think even the satirical ones just add to his cult, but this one belongs in the horror hall of fame. The American Ghaddafi? Russian mobster? A friend says he looks awfully prissy for a cowboy.