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America Supports the Arts in Baghdad: Provides Large Unblemished Surface for Artists to Paint On
Photo caption from the UK Telegraph: "Local artists display their skills with murals on the blast barriers and concrete walls that dot Baghdad"
Article from the same publication accompanying the above photo:
Anger in Baghdad as Americans finish wallUpdate: Goddam, I'm tired of my tax money going for this shite--from Channel 6 news, Corpus Christi TX: "Construction of the wall has drawn strong criticism from residents who say it is a form of sectarian discrimination. Followers of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr (mook-TAH'-duh ehl SAH'-dur) say they fear Shiite areas in Baghdad, such as Sadr City, will be next to see the U-S-built barriers. Much of the construction is being done at night by troops wearing night-vision goggles." That's just sick, man. We need the money, here, for New Orleans, for anywhere. So corrupt.
American forces have completed construction of a concrete wall around the Baghdad district of Adhamiya despite protests from the Iraqi prime minister and local residents who claim that they are now at the mercy of militants.
The wall was intended to help control the activities of militants in the predominantly Sunni Muslim district. But it remains a bastion of extremist al-Qa'eda linked groups. Parts of the district are so thick with armed militants that they are no-go zones to coalition forces.
Capt Mohammad Jasim, an Iraqi soldier manning a checkpoint on the Adhamiya bridge, said: "The Americans did not listen to us. We think this wall has made the area inside the wall more dangerous for people.
Um Doraid, a middle-aged housewife, said: "We here inside the wall are still as vulnerable as ever."
The tinkertoy stealth fighter that used to be on the Hasbro website is gone. US jingoism has cooled down and now we have world peace. Here is an image of it and an imaginary molecule piece based on it, circa 2002.
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This blog has had a moratorium on pictures of this knucklehead, believing they add to his cult, but I want to post this one today, "Mission Accomplished Day." The rightwingers love this image because it makes their idol seem manly and the leftwingers took to calling him "Commander Codpiece" because of it, but I recently learned that the groin accentuation is because he forgot to undo his parachute strap.
I posted these photos on May 2, 2003, a day after the "flight stunt," with the caption: "The photo above and left is from Agence France-Presse. As documented here, an AP story changed the wording of the banner to make the protestors sound more violent, or desperate, from 'Sooner or later US killers we'll kick you out' to 'Sooner or later US killers we'll kill you.' Hardly any US media ran the above photo, only AP's altered description." The photo on the left was taken in Fallujah, which the US subsequently flattened. Bush had his little jollies, but it does appear that sooner or later we're going to get kicked out. A chilling video of the aircraft carrier legions deafeningly but mechanically applauding Bush's propagandistic "Mission Accomplished" speech, with Bush's speech edited out, can be seen on YouTube (thx mark).
Four years ago, it seemed like it was only bloggers who thought the US war was wrong. The news media were 100% behind it, so millions of TV-dazzled people across the US were behind it, too. I had an argument with one of my cousins in Dallas when I told him I'd marched against the war. He said, "I've just gotta believe that the government has access to information we don't have and that they made the right decision." Steam was coming out from my collar but what could I say to convince him? "Well, I read a lot of blogs and you are one naive MoFo." Months after the Kay Report concluded that Iraq had no WMDs I was talking to a woman in NY who insisted Saddam was crafty and we just hadn't found where he had buried the weapons yet. It's taken Americans four years to conclude maybe the war wasn't a good idea but still Congress is afraid to end it and Bush and Cheney still haven't been impeached for lying us into it. It is Vietnam all over again.
VVork and XYZ Art
What follows are some comments from a thread about the blog VVork. The commenters are sort of picking on that blog, including me, but there are defenses of it as well. To the extent problems are being identified with a certain type of conceptual art and a certain type of digital art related to it (particularly as represented on the Internet), VVork is a convenient focal point. I've made all the commenters anonymous since this was a casual discussion and people might not have intended for these remarks to be elevated to "formal" status--the identities are all in the thread, I just want to get at the essence of the discussion. Slightly edited--if any commenter wants to amend what's said here let me know.
* VVork makes 'clever' very unappealing, like some disease that art catches when it gets on the Internet... It's usually: "hey, i did X to Y and now it's Z...get it??!" [T]he perfect example ... is that piece where its a choir singing the NASDAQ stock exchange graph as music... Who cares? Is there anything interesting going on beyond the punchline? (..well, perhaps in the larger context of the artist's other work [which we aren't made aware of]?) VVork's format/context is ideal for one punchline after the other.. It's like Boing Boing for conceptual art. Boing Boing is to real life what VVork is to art.. But why reduce others' art into little nuggets that can be easily thrown around and reblogged and put into other random contexts on the net just like any other Internet garbage (i.e. YouTube vids of cats and sloths)??
* VVork is popular because they show lots and lots of pictures of art from around the world without a bunch of commentary. I love that! It's kind of weird how rare it is. But the structure implies a promise it can't fulfill. Unlike, say, magazine editors, bloggers have neither the resources nor the mandate to represent outside of their own cultural constructs. I think the feeling of sickness comes from the fact that we feel like we are seeing some kind of general trend, but really its just some dudes posting pictures. There are masses and masses of other art options, not to VVork's taste, crowding in the wings. If they wrote on the work, the subjective filter would become explicit, but the unique aspect of the site would be gone. If they took submissions it might get closer to an evolutionary model, but without an editorial mandate it would make no significant difference. Maybe a post-your-own art wiki would do it.
* VVork is provincial in the sense that it conveys the impression, through its sheer relentlessness, that anybody in the world can be a player as long as you're making [the type of work we're discussing]. Getting seen on VVork [might be] an alternative to "moving to New York" (which people still do, in large numbers, sorry) but everything starts looking the same because of the lack of criticality within the vehicle itself. It's a blog, as you say, not the Global Museum of Great Art. Just because they are popular does not mean they are an institution that has a responsibility to anyone. As bloggers we are free to put in our two cents about their program and they are free to listen or not as they see fit.
* Seems to be two thingies going on here, one is vvork's presentation ... the other is the.. "X - Y - Z" style of archetype vvork art. the XYZ thing is, to me, natural to computers...the data comes in, who cares from where/as what, you can do something to it, and then the data goes out - also who cares to where/as what. so you wanna take stock market info [x] and turn it [y] into music [z], or you wanna use your atari joystick [x] to change the color and placement of text [y] on a tv screen [z] or you wanna take your whatever "physical computing" sensor interface [x] and use it to turn [y] lights on an off on a building [z]...it's like every single piece ends up being just an iteration of the same translation exercise. i suppose im describing something as much NYU ITP/MIT style art as vvork art, but regardless it's one of the reasons why i don't pay much attention to any of it...and i dont make that stuff [or any interactive art] cos i dont wanna to get stuck using the rest of my life in an attempt to make the "best" XYZ.