Saturday, May 05, 2007

Brain sculpting

I'm not sure I even include Singapore in Asia, but here is another one of those studies...

Importantly, they found no significant difference in the response of this particular visual processing region among young people in the US and Singapore. This, the team says, supports the idea that, over the course of decades, culture shapes how the brain perceives images.

The researchers note that previous studies tracking eye movement have found that East Asians are more likely than Westerners to pay attention to the background of a picture.

Park says her new findings, along with her earlier brain scan work that focused only on elderly volunteers, are "the first studies to show that culture is sculpting the brain".

Oh god. Thank god for scientists. WHA HA HA HA

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

art and activism

Do you consider yourself an artist first, activist second, or vice versa?

When I sit down to write, I consider myself an artist. I'm consumed by craft -- choosing the word with the right mouth feel, reading sentences aloud to sublimate the rhythm, making flow charts of plot, working backward to plant the seeds for a perfectly revealed ending. When I attend a PTA meeting with a plan to reduce the school's carbon footprint, then I'm an activist. It's different work, with more direct expectations and a simpler vocabulary.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Racism and the Republican Party

Let me make one thing clear up front. I have never met a single Republican party member or sympathizer who was not in some way or in some form what I would call a racist. I don't believe Anne Coulter, George Shitforbrains, or the majority of the Republican leadership are racists. That's right... I really don't think Coulter or ShitforBrains hate black people or gays. I might even concede that I think Shitforbrains has a soft spot for Mexicans.

The GOP and their Corporate Media partners use racism to unite their base. If we've learned nothing else in the past 6 years, the darkest years in the history of the country that couldn't think up a name for itself, certainly we should see now that 30 some odd percent of the population is always going to be united in their hatred for pretty much anyone else. That is the secret - the only secret - to Karl Rove's success. It has been the key trademark-lynchpin-rosetta stone of his entire ouevre.

The corporate media know very well that if democracy were to take root in the United States we would legislate Time-Warner Communications into a heap of rubble. A real Democratic congress would legislate Fox/Newscorp until it's panty waist commentators were paying taxes on their grandchildren's taxes. Not because we need to discourage free-speech, but because powerful people, people with access to power need to pay more taxes as a counterweight to the influence they so richly don't deserve.

Today's TPMMuckRaker piece on the justice department race war reads like something in Palestine.

So, I think one can argue that Imus is not a racist and maybe it will bear some thought. Everyone who listens to Imus is a racist though. Everyone who buys an Anne Coulter book and reads it, is a racist. They are right. We have been very successful at branding them and their hategoup, the GOP as a racist, criminal enterprise. Like General Electric, probably the most criminally indicted organization in US history, and its public relations department - NBC News, the GOP is a 19th century holdover of the kind of "Shit-For-Brains racism 'I speak for God because I have a direct relationship with God'" that got them thrown out of Europe in the first place. North America needs to make it clear that their Hate-God is not welcome here either.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

one for ArtPowerLines

rather unbelievably, the washington post (???) printed this letter, (h/t to Sirota):

In his April 2 op-ed [”Free Trade: Pause or Fast-Forward?”], Sebastian Mallaby expressed the worry that trouble will follow “if the legitimacy of WTO panels is undermined.”

What legitimacy?

U.S. citizens have not voted to abdicate their sovereignty. Americans were not asked if they wanted local, state and federal laws to be preempted or repealed by unaccountable World Trade Organization tribunals representing the interests of global corporations. The WTO and trade pacts that Mr. Mallaby promotes under the guise of “free trade” have failed precisely because they lack legitimacy and undermine our constitutional right to self-governance.

International trade under democratically enacted laws broadened our choices and helped build wealth for centuries before the “free trade” hucksters came along. As 13 years of the North American Free Trade Agreement have proved to U.S. and Latin American citizens, treaties that subordinate democracy to the desires of corporate elites have undermined not only democracy but decades of reliable economic improvement for average citizens.


Bozeman, Mont.

The writer is the director of

Truly wild. Maybe someone was sick that day at the post ?

Monday, April 16, 2007

more on racism

still thinking but from Kevin Drum, this exceptional essay.

We live in a country where one major party has spent most of the past forty-odd years depending on ever crueler appeals to racism to help it out in elections, even at the same time as society has largely taken it on faith that racism is a settled matter. Reagan and Bush may have had to do what they had to do to get the Snopes family to go to the polling place, but so what? When someone shows himself to be a "real" racist, he's stripped of his epaulets and driven from the fort. Unfortunately, in public life, you have to practically be filmed burning a cross in front of a black church and waving to the camera to be tagged as a "real" racist. If you protested the Vietnam War, you're going to be explaining and even apologizing for it to your dying day, but there are plenty of people who voted against civil rights legislation in the 1960s--an act that you might think would pretty clearly and unambiguously stamp you as maybe not being, as Don Imus says, "a good person"-- who have been allowed to go on to long, respectable political careers. People like Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond were held by the Beltway not to be racists because, well, because they just couldn't be--they were duly elected politicians, so the thought was too morbid to be seriously considered.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

couple of good responses

crier wireThere are a couple of good responses that cropped up on Crook's and Liars in the past few days. Both of them relate to the reply to Brian Shapiro's post below that I am composing and that now I am starting to hear about in my email.

All that said, and while I have the same instinctual reaction against some of what Brian has written, I am glad that he felt this was a place where he could get his thoughts aired and I really don't feel that I need to maintain a strict oversight over things like ideas. That's the way it was supposed to workremember? If I thought Brian was a right-wing hate peddler I wouldn't engage him at all. I don't think his essay below shows a particular leaning toward the kind of ideological blindness and race hatred that characterizes the right wing.

gwenn ifill

Put your extended comments here. The ones I like I will re-post as posts. Try to impress me with your argument. Watch these couple of videos (click on the images, or go to Crooks and Liars home for the originals and transcripts) and then have at it.

Friday, April 13, 2007

In defense of Ann Coulter

sometime comment-poster Brian Shapiro is today's guest poster... (the lazy wikipedia links are mine). I asked Brian for a short intro or bio. Brian was kind of enough to provide the following:

Currently on leave from school for about 7 years, I was pursuing a philosophy major at UC Berkeley. Philosophy as an academic department isn't really a closed interest, I study history and art history; I know science and politics; I draw and I write. But to me these aren't pursuits, these are part of life. In fact, I wanted to be a writer before I ever wanted to write philosophy. But I found writing always brought me against the wall of politics. And then I found politics always brought me against the wall of philosophy. And philosophy and art and every other academic discipline sees itself on shaky grounds, which always returns to a political debate which happened in the 19th century between bourgeois and radical elements. I think most people look at philosophy today in a wrong way, and at the same time look at art in a wrong way. Philosophy is as an art, and art is a philosophy. How they become defined themselves is a matter of politics. Politics in America today centers on a contest between liberals and conservatives, but the question is who really are the bourgeois class, the liberals or conservatives? This dialogue itself needs to be attacked, this dialogue itself is the status-quo. Politically, I've been involved in third party politics, primarily the Reform Party, which has nominated both Ross Perot and Ralph Nader. What happens when you challenge categories of liberals and conservatives, is you end up challenging categories of the West and the East, of art and philosophy, and everything else that becomes so umbilically connected to these political debates.

the essay i wrote is addressing old news and written for a certain audience, so here's a kind of preface

The thing which offended me the most about the recent Imus scandal is how fake it is. Nobody is really offended, they're just pretending to be offended. Everyone knows what happened. Everyone knows Imus wasn't being malicious, and everyone knows the reaction is political.

Everyone comes on TV and talks about how offended they were and justifies their offense, and even people who think Imus is being crucified preface every statement of theirs with saying "he said an awful despicable thing." But nobody can actually say for sure that he said an awful despicable thing. Time Magazine has an article inspired by this scandal on the topic of "who owns words?". They can't figure out whether he has the right to use the word or not, so they hired a columnist to write their opinion on it, and the opinion is forced and the writer struggles through it.The issue isn't whether there's still a stigma in using slurs, as much as it is that the confusion at all in the first place on whether the slurs are stigmatized or not, takes away their definite meaning, and everything becomes political. The Imus scandal isn't a real event but a media event, a textbook example of what Baudrillard called hyperreality.

The Imus scandal has built up from many other media events, and a over time a script was written. You can expect that after maybe two weeks coverage of this, some talk show will have the topic "is the media covering this too much?" but will justify the coverage by saying its become an important issue, which they, of course, made important.

When the scandal with Ann Coulter was news, I had my own response, and someone who themselves hated Coulter suggested that I try to get it published, so I sent it to the New York Times, even knowing they would have some problems publishing it. Basically, I think Coulter is in a similar role to what H.L. Mencken was in a century ago, and her politics is just like shock art,
shock politics, people who get puffed up and shocked by her and take her seriously are the butt of her joke.

The thing about the recent pseudo-scandals with Coulter and Imus is that even though I don't like them or listen to them or encourage others to, or think they have good commentary, is that I think there's something wrong with how the intellectual reaction has been to them. The reaction should not be to buy into the media event, but attack it.

In defense of Ann Coulter

The punch line to Ann Coulter's humor is peoples' reaction to her.

If you actually go into Ann Coulter's actual political beliefs and her defenses for them, they're rather shallow, and often her jokes are also shallow. USA Today was right when they refused to publish one of her commentaries on the grounds that it was poor writing and incomprehensible; sometimes her jokes are so particularly tailored to her way of thinking, which itself is abstruse, that they aren't even understandable to anyone who doesn't know her.

But when Coulter touches a raw nerve of people whose political beliefs are completely spurious, the result can be comical. I didn't even get Ann Coulter's importance until I saw a news story of how when she spoke at a university, there was a mass of people outside holding signs and protesting her as a "bigot". I found myself laughing, because I realized that was the punch line to her joke. If anyone seriously believes she's a bigot, it reflects more on them than on her. The fact that these college students didn't know better--and are supposed to--and took her seriously, shows that they really have a shallow level of thinking.

Everything Coulter says she says half-jokingly. She has a serious point to everything she says, but would not seriously commit to the exact thing she suggests when she says them. For example, at one point she made some comment about how we should invade the Middle East and convert everyone there to Christianity. When asked about it she admitted "of course we shouldn't, of course we can't", but the serious point is that we should look seriously at whether there's anything fundamentally wrong with the Muslim religion, or fundamentally right with the Christian religion, and not brand everyone a bigot for suggesting there may be.

It's the same thing with her comments about John Edwards being a "faggot". This time, she was making fun of the fact, first, that anyone who speaks off-color like that is expected to go into rehab, because of the Victorian mentality where everyone enters a state of shock when they hear a word like "nigger". People who get shocked hearing "nigger" are like Victorians who got shocked when a woman revealed her legs. Both are not completely 'proper etiquette', but both are common in everyday life and not necessarily harmful. It's a similar case for "faggot". Except it's also a comment on how slurs like "gay" and "fag" that have no reference to homosexuality at all cause people to puff up in offense, call them a bigot, and say they're responsible for the death of some gay person who got dragged behind a car. The reason homosexuals were referred to as "gay" in the first place, was because the word "gay" started taking on a negative connotation before it had anything to do with them.

But part of the funny thing, is that the college students who protested her would think she was a bigot by the fact alone that she doesn't agree to gay marriage. They didn't need her to say things like "faggot" or make other half-serious remarks like that. Anyone who disagrees with their political cause is a bigot. But this, coupled with the fact that they can't really tell most of her comments aren't completely serious, is what drives and exposes their shallow thinking. The political activism involved is completely knee-jerk driven and defensive.

The more activist oriented college students pride themselves on being to be able to recognize and respect complex opinions and rhetoric. This is for instance their defense for supporting avant-garde or subversive literature or art. In a similar way, though, what Anne Coulter is doing is an avant-garde form of politics. Shock politics. Not much less than a cruder, more relevant, TV version of H.L. Mencken. If Marxist professors and activists can understand agit-prop, which was a constructed and controlled form of politics, they should be able to understand what Coulter is doing. But in a way that may not even matter, since, because they view Coulter as an opponent, they take her as a threat to be countered. Among people who realize what's happening, the defense is always, anyone who opposes any liberal politics--whether they're modest or militant--unconsciously or consciously reflects some sort of politics of bigotry, and will result in gay people being dragged from the back of cars. Or, on a different political issue, when anyone questions any settled facts on the Holocaust it will lead to a revival of the Third Reich, or some sort of 'softer, gentler' Third Reich, which is supposed to be the same thing. It's a kind of intellectual hysteria. A kind of hysteria they should recognize leads to the problems they're trying to avoid on the other side.

Even so most of her critics don't understand it this way, they don't understand the satire. They take her completely seriously, and don't understand that their reactions to her become the butt of her joke. The reason Coulter ends up so funny to some people is because she's both completely outrageous and harmless at the same time.

But college activists who don't understand her as a satirist but are so eager to defend subversive art, fit into the cliché that conservatives believe in that academia is controlled by political bias and indoctrination. Why do they understand to defend subversive art in that way? Because their professors taught them how to do it. Why don't they understand how Coulter can be defended? Because their professors didn't teach them how. When anyone involved in liberal politics claims that academia is dominated by liberal views because liberals are smarter, the right thing to ask them is "did your professor teach you that?"

Unfortunately, there is always politics involved in academia, and there always has been. There was politics involved in academia in the late 19th century, which revolutionary thinkers pegged as being controlled by 'bourgeois interests'. Those bourgeois interests in academia--referred to as "third rate professors" by some--are what H.L. Mencken took the great pleasure of shocking. The political interests in academia are no longer what we recognize as conservative, but liberal; which is a kind of conservativism all unto itself. Left-wing activists are certainly no less self-righteous than puritanical activists in 19th century America. That's the audience that Ann Coulter takes great pleasure in shocking. And unfortunately, in this environment, students interested in activism become political pawns. This is the main target of academic critics like John Horowitz, who propose all sorts of ham-handed and distastefully byzantine methods to try to readjust this. What Horowitz is right about is--looking at responses to him from established professors who discuss how they can best mould their students--is that academia, and education in general, should be treated as a service as much as an intellectual environment, and not intend to talk down to the students' beliefs.

That all said, Coulter doesn't add anything serious to the real meat of the political debate, and I don't know that she helps progress it at all. Her actual views, on grounds of argument really are shallow, but they do represent a contingent of people who really have legitimate perspectives to consider, some of which can argue for them much more intelligently. Postmodern schools of thought are supposed to respect this, but don't do much to, because they can't respect everything at once. When I watch Ann Coulter, I don't find her interesting or entertaining or compelling, because she doesn't really offer anything but insults. It's easy to dismiss that as gutter politics. But what she does do, from reactions, is expose how spurious people's political beliefs are. If anything, that helps reshape and broaden the dialogue. Just like the original goal of avant-garde art.

-- Brian Shapiro

6.2 - definitely felt that one

if you're in a rolley chair right now you can move yourself back and forth 8 to 10 inches, and pretend like it's just happening. I was seriously sitting here and my first thought was "booooyeeeeee, am I druh-onk." but i couldn't remember drinking anything. ha ha. Then i got scared and ran to the window, but nothing was happening, no car alarms.
I went to see if the neighbors were all outside, you know how folks love events like this. They must have all slept through it. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

further ranting

Reporter calls candidate "prickly," then asks candidate to answer charges of prickliness. Now that's journalism! The campaign press will follow the same formula over and over again, just changing the word -- a candidate will be accused of being too liberal (Kerry), too cold (Hillary), too "lightweight" (Edwards), too "unserious" (Sharpton), etc., until he either cries uncle or drops out. Using this technique the press can basically bludgeon any candidate into whatever shape it likes. When a candidate fails to comply -- when, say, a Kerry fails to demonstrate that he's not too "patrician" for middle America -- he is summarily punished and usually ends up a loser.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

understanding the big peach

Josh Marshall, without supporting impeachment, puts the pieces together:

The Republican party is heavily invested in hyping and inventing claims of voter fraud which they then use to stymie legitimate voter registration drives and institute 'ballot integrity' efforts which have the actual goal of limiting voting by racial minorities and under-income voters. The truth can hurt but that's the unvarnished truth. And the backdrop to the US Attorney Purge was a concerted effort to enlist US Attorneys to put the power of the state criminal prosecution apparatus behind this partisan gambit.
The Republican party is a criminal organization. All of its remaining members know and support this course of action for the organization. The Democratic candidate that I, and this blog, will support is the candidate that will support burying that organization for good, in the dustbin, with long prison terms for everyone involved.

ugly woman cowboy

Sorry I really hate this mumbling bag of public relations wisdom.

Monday, April 09, 2007

racism and the whole freaking party

so i am thinking about politics and racism. Read this post at Eschaton, quoting Athenae.

It's an imposition, to not be a racist asshole. And it's hard on these guys, isn't it? It's so rough that they can no longer mock the women and the minorities and, I don't know, I guess you'd throw retard jokes in there, too, because they all seem to be about 12 years old. I don't know how any of them manage to feed and dress themselves with all that's been taken away from them.
Then take a look at what I thought was a brilliant summary by Hamsher about the Rudy thing. Now don't get me wrong. I don't really think Rudy can stand much more scrutiny, even if the whole rabid crowd gets behind him, they are only some 30%. But she's completely right that these people don't care about abortion as much as they want a good racist war. That's why they love them some W. What I think Hamsher left out were two crucial points:

1. Rudy is surround by criminals and no one cares about that (sound familiar?)

2. Even if the whatever rule says we can't refer to leaders without ovens as nazis, certainly by now we can conclude that there is something terribly wrong with people who feel so strongly for their precious leader when he has done nothing right and nothing for them except blow up, torture and murder brown people. The whole 1930s Germany thing seems less and less a mystery all the time. How I used to ponder and wonder about that dark time.

The poor dears really feel like they just gotta get somebody strong in there.

once i rode in an elevator with Al Sharpton

and i thought "that dude's got some screwed up hair." "Nappy" it is not. He did say hello to me. Nice enough guy, I thought. But what is with the retro mullet thing on this Imus idiot ? I mean, the guy proves everyday he has got nothing to say. He looks like some kind of racist hick scare-crow, or does he just look like one of those ambi-sexual kind of office women? And he is like a hero to those white-cap kids who live with their oh-so-devoted parents so they never have to think and high school goes on forever? Ugh no thanks.

Friday, April 06, 2007

talking to a naco about great art, part 2

So what makes it a one way conversation? It would seem to me that one of the key things that people learn on their long voyage to being "higher educated" is that most of the people asking questions are either stupid, un-educated, or of the wrong class to be asking questions. Which is really just a way of saying that those of us who are higher educated have merely learned that we will seem more highly educated if we keep our questions to ourselves, or we keep them to within the confines of a scientifically controlled, or corporate sponsored, environment where the answers an be quickly and effectively nullified. Of course, I'm still thinking of Gusky's post here as I write this.

The non-institutional artist, (i mean please, we meet ourselves all over the place), does not need to act in coordination with her tormenters the way that someone really climbing to the top of the shit-heap does. But she does enjoy the freedom of taking in information from where ever it happens to come, including from nacos and street-trash and hookers and kids with giant sneakers playing X-box. My suggestion, as was probably not obvious in the previous post, remains, that a curious, even hungry, working class is a better partner for a working artist than is a class of art professionals, graduate students and pretensia-speaking cell-phone flippers.

The reason it would seem to be a one way conversation is that we learned not only to not ask questions, but also to not really listen. Those climbing have their blinders firmly stretching not only across their eyes, but also extending backwards to their ears and down over their mouths. This might seem amusing if your idea of social commentary is telling everyone how helpless we are... but really, we are all well aware of that. Is our point to climb or is it to listen? Is the point of an artist to talk or is it to see? Wouldn't orchestrating the lot of those activities at once make more sense than coordinating one with an organization that is one way or another, directly or indirectly, taking money from the murder machine?

Photo is from the collection at Sinvention, Fine Canadian Leathercraft

Republicans now devouring the corpse of american capitalism

How else is one to read a story like this ? $12.7 billion net loss. What's another 28 million?

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

talking to a naco about great art

art with nacos
I had someone tell me the other day that this is a one way conversation. Incidentally, "naco" might translate from the mexican to something like "trash" as a noun, or "tacky" as an adjective. Tacky is a bit more fair. The concept really comes into play when someone from a humble background tries to assert themself, or drives a louder car badly. There are correspondences to the "red-neck" jokes of some years ago in the country to the north. Nacos are about 90% of the Mexican population and 90% of Mexicans will deny being naco. As that last link notes, the term can seem extremely offensive, with perhaps a racial overtone. I use it cause I think it is ridiculous.

Because of circumstances, history, strength of the cutlure, whatever, just about everyone in Mexico has a voice and can speak for themselves. Mexico is not twisted by mind-warping racism like up north, so you get to hear a lot of opinions. I heard a friend say not long ago that he can go to the most lamest, working-classest, country style drunken party, with utter naco riff-raff. But towards the end of the evening everyone is singing 200 year old songs. Some of them might be crying, but everyone knows this song was written for a soldier during one of the intervenciones, and they will probably even know which one. I think there were technically three and maybe four ?

The point is, in Mexico, Mexico is something that nearly everyone shares and loves and discusses. You have to move pretty far up the socio-economic scale before you meet people who will really condemn aspects of brash commercialism, too many billboards and what-not. Otherwise, it is just Mexico.

And that same attitude allows everyone to express what they like and don't like. There is very little of the utter dismissal, none of the fly-over states' macho art-less-ness. And there seems to be a general acceptance that art is something good to talk about, that it is involved with taste, which is for some reason desparately lacking, and for that same reason, it is ill-understood. And this same person, (it would be supremely rude to call anyone a naco here, but how many have i talked to?) will hope that we are agreement. We probably are. Surealism, for whatever reason, has still not released it's hold on the working class imagination.

Then I think of trying to talk to the internationalist set (all 14 of them) about what it is they're into... success, public relations, museum shows, gallery tours. They don't like anything and are enthusiastic only about lifestyle things... cocaine and going to europe. And it seems to me much easier to discuss hanging a painting so it looks good with the guy holding a hammer than the dumb bitch on the phone with her travel agent. I am largely convinced that the guy holding the hammer understands it far better too. It is just a freaking painting and if he likes it he will say.

I wonder, though, if my conversations are one-way. Actual art establishment people won't usually speak to me, unless we are introduced for personal reasons in personal circumstances. They don't seem at all interested in art or the experience of it. They seem to think it is some monolith that is beyond their control. Like, "The Public Finance Insurance Industry" or something. "How to solve it's problems" By Tracy Artsuckowsky. Yale, 2004, PhD. There is nothing like an informed, interested, curious working class up there, is there ?

Thursday, March 29, 2007

why we should teach the bible in Public Schools

Time magazine is revoltingly fascistPerhaps then we could pray for a free press instead of a corporate press. Many people believe that if bin Laden ran for election in Pakistan he would carry the country by a hefty 70%. Similar numbers he'd enjoy just about everywhere in the region, all the way to Saudi Arabia. The irony of this magazine is just too much to even contemplate.

this is what I do when I am out of it

in the studio, or where ever, whatever. I wish I could take a nice picture of some architectural detail like Mindsprinter here, or decent work like old Artpowerlines is doing but instead I just had this drawing laying on the floor. I am in a royally bad mood. Other studio work will follow soon. Also, see Geoffrey's nice painting here. He'll murder me for calling it nice. Look at all the angst here!!

Thursday, March 22, 2007


sustainable art makingBeen talking all night tonight with John at Material Exchange about things they are doing, and you will hear more about that later (next week?), but it was an odd surprise to then stumble on this from the other side of the world:

The artist [Dalibor Martinis] bought 365 shares of an investment fund through the MAN (Man, Art, Nature) Foundation and once a month climbed in the mountains to an altitude that matched the fluctuating value of his investment over the preceding month.[...]Every month the artist wrote a climbing log in which he connected the experience of being in nature, world events, and natural catastrophes, and noted the influence they have on the international stock markets: “the news about the booming of the Chinese economy forced us down into a deep depression in the landscape, and we ended up at 1036.4.” The project also involved adverts in a banking magazine, showing the artist’s desire not just to borrow financial language for use in an artistic context, but also to project art back into the world of business.
Just seemed like a nice mix of Al Gore and something naturey and something human too. Is the American slant on business/social critique just too harsh lately? Could I be responsible for that?

Monday, March 19, 2007

sigh.... Irish sounding violin music...

this is one of those videos that you just watch and do nothing... sort of like listening to a recent college grad expounding on politics or something. There's a lot of scary numbers. It makes me feel like when I used to always get stoned... whoa. not to sound cynical (who me?) but come on people... it is like the first time you realize that
people live and die. A lot of stuff is staggering. Stop staggering so much.

Friday, March 16, 2007

On the bus with Osama !!

This really is laughable on its face.


Friday, March 16, 2007 · Last updated 1:42 p.m. PT

FBI: Extremists driving school buses


WASHINGTON -- Suspected members of extremist groups have signed up as school bus drivers in the United States, counterterror officials said Friday, in a cautionary bulletin to police. An FBI spokesman said, "Parents and children have nothing to fear."


Thursday, March 15, 2007

what artist can't do....

this is my list of things, so far, that serious artists can NOT do.

Please feel free to add to it in the comments so that it can grow and prosper like poison ivy.

1. Artists can not look at the art-work at an opening reception. Openings are for conducting business, networking, clowning (if it's SERIOUS clowning).

2. Talk in any way that is personal, about your personal problems or your personality (unless it is fictional) or in a way that might lead others to believe that you are human and not a "business machine." Artist should try to remember that they are always conducting a public relations campaign, that should be designed to promote the work, not any old vision of humanity or something communist like that.

3. Artists must not operate in any way that might lead one to believe that they seek in any way to actually threaten the understandings of art that our great leaders from Brown and Yale and CIT and similar esteemed programs have deemed TRUE.

4. Amongst all that truth is the "relativism of truth" which we must accept as true and not question. Therefore, an artist can have opinions but a serious artist must only express such opinions if s/he is in the company of lesser artists and in such a setting where the expression of said opinion will serve the purpose of furthering the Public Relations aims of the same serious artist. All other opinions are valid, but vapid, unless published.

5. Painting can be undertaken but only after memorizing the entirety of the October Magazine pantheon, pretending to both dismiss it entirely and understand it totally. Any attempts at feeling the subject of the painting will only be discussed with fattish art-girls.

6. Feeling anything is un-acceptable, unless part of a performance about numb-ness.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

art history still plagues welding artists

geoffrey : tell me you read the Jeff Wall article in the NYT

geoffrey : but my annoyance is not as much with Wall as it is the critics and writers being fucking morons as to what painting is and what photography is.

geoffrey : i would be embarrassed if i was wall

geoffrey :

Ashes77 : hmmm no i didn't see it

Ashes77 : where is it ?

geoffrey :

[ NOTE: well deserved pending Link Rot acknowledged ]

geoffrey : it's long

Ashes77 : ok let me look at it

Ashes77 : it sounds like Winkelman territory

geoffrey : i try to stay away from all this "realm of the senses" crap

Ashes77 : yeah, it is just like "Big Photography" right ?

geoffrey : worse

geoffrey : photo tableaux

geoffrey : montage

geoffrey : PShop

Ashes77 : really ? how creative

Ashes77 : why not put it in a magazine ?

geoffrey : take 200 photos and tie them together getting EXACTLY what you want

geoffrey : none of god or man's silly mistakes

Ashes77 : i don't want to read it

geoffrey : dude

geoffrey : can i give you highlights

geoffrey : ?

Ashes77 : yeah go ahead

geoffrey : k

Ashes77 : better than reading this crap

geoffrey : Velasquez paintings at the Prado influence Wall to use lightboxes for his paintings :"I began to think, It’s luminous, Velázquez was luminous, I’ll try it."

Ashes77 : right

geoffrey : ...Where a painter must employ tricks of foreshortening and tonal gradation to simulate what the eye perceives, a photographer need only point the lens to have everything emerge in instant perspective. Although a smooth photographic surface may be less tactilely pleasurable than a textured layer of paint, it arrives unburdened by the weight of art history. “There’s just a whole lot of problems that photography doesn’t have to engage with,” says Michael Fried, a prominent critic and art historian who has championed Wall’s work. “The photograph shifts the register to a different place. The missing ingredient is everything to do with touch and sensuous surface. It’s a big price, but by paying that price there’s a lot that is sidestepped.”

geoffrey : that's the worst paragraph ever

Ashes77 : haw

geoffrey : i lose count of how many things are wrong with this

Ashes77 : maybe

Ashes77 : i don't think it is that bad, but i can't really read the ny times

geoffrey : There’s just a whole lot of problems photography doesn't have to deal with

geoffrey : ?

geoffrey : ?

geoffrey : yeah, like that whole pesky human experience element

Ashes77 : that whole sensual surface problem

Ashes77 : those sensual surfaces just keep mucking up my experience

geoffrey : these are critics?

geoffrey : speaking of art as if it were limited to a realms only percieved by eyes and touch?

Ashes77 : good point

Ashes77 : oh michael fried yeah he is only about 40 years ago

geoffrey : yeah, you can tell he is just in awe of his Canon Sureshot

geoffrey : and his iPhoto

geoffrey : iPod

Ashes77 : i thought he was still welding

Ashes77 : welding and then cleaning up for the reception

geoffrey : ha

geoffrey : "it arrives unburdened by the weight of art history"

Ashes77 : what a burden all that history is

Ashes77 : better to just not know any of it

geoffrey : art history is now separate from humans?

Ashes77 : art history plagues welding artists

geoffrey : hahahah

geoffrey : the whole thing just spells dettachment.... all of it

geoffrey : and ooooo

geoffrey : here let me find this one paragraph that says it all

geoffrey : A more startling piece of autobiographical material lies buried (or out in plain sight) in “The Destroyed Room,” the breakthrough light box that depicts a woman’s brutalized bedroom. Wall made the picture in 1978, which was the year his wife, Jeannette, left him for another man. (After that relationship ended, Jeannette returned to Jeff, bringing with her a third son, whom they have raised together.) To construct the scene in the picture, Jeff used Jeannette’s clothing. “I borrowed her clothes because we were still on good terms and she had the good clothes,” he told me. For all the talk of allusions to Delacroix and feminist art criticism, I wondered if the most crucial piece of subtext for “The Destroyed Room” might revolve around a spurned husband’s rage. “You’re probably right, but it doesn’t feel right to me,” he said. “I don’t remember feeling particularly angry at that

geoffrey : He acknowledged that he “might express a feeling through a series of mediations.” But the subject didn’t intrigue him. “I don’t find my own experiences very interesting,” he said. “I find my observations interesting. Maybe that’s why I’m a photographer. Maybe an observation is an experience that means more to you than other experiences.”

geoffrey : maybe photography is a way of being even more dettached in your observations?

geoffrey : (that was me)

Ashes77 : good sounds sort of protestant to tell the truth

geoffrey : Rather than employ professional actors, Wall usually prefers to hire people like those they are portraying. It’s a device he lifted from cinema. “One of the things I liked about Italian neo-realism was just using people as they were, in situations similar to their real situations,” he says. “If you’re interested in the actual, it’s the closest to the actual.” In later years he has tried to elide the distinction to the vanishing point, engaging actual art restorers in “Restoration,” field anthropologists in “Fieldwork” and day laborers in “Men waiting,” the picture I watched him shoot. The performers are playing themselves. However, they are also clay in the hands of the artist.

Ashes77 : everyone has got ugh who wrote this shit ?

geoffrey : they are also clay in the hands of the artist

geoffrey : hahahahahaha

geoffrey : that's when i barfed

geoffrey : seriously

Ashes77 : yeah clay

geoffrey : just barfed

geoffrey : artists are god.

geoffrey : oooo

geoffrey : wait wait

geoffrey : another gem

geoffrey : hold it

geoffrey : don't move

Ashes77 : HAW

geoffrey : “My love of depiction is just affectionate,” he told me. “I’m a more affectionate person than I thought I was. I like trees or I like people’s faces. That’s one reason I think my work has changed. I realized I wasn’t interested in filtering my affection for things through certain levels of mediation.”


Ashes77 : well as long as he is not filtering


Ashes77 : whatever that means

geoffrey : hahahahaha

Ashes77 : Maybe he has learned to mediate his filters

Ashes77 : this is true ass-hattery to be sure

geoffrey : dude, i am trying to find this one part...

geoffrey : “Painting could be topographical realism or it could be angels — in the same medium. Why couldn’t photography do the same?”

geoffrey : because with photography it is a lie.

Ashes77 : oh brother

Ashes77 : who said that last part

Ashes77 : ?

geoffrey : i said the last part

geoffrey : oh you mean the quote?

geoffrey : he did

geoffrey : wall

geoffrey : i just chose to answer him in frustration

Ashes77 : yes you mean that his underlying assumption

Ashes77 : is that ptgy is a lie ?

geoffrey : no i am saying the reason that he cannot accomplish what he is setting out to... combine topographical realism with angels, is because if it was done through photography, it would be a lie

Ashes77 : hmmmm ok i think

geoffrey : and im holding no morality tales in the word lie there

geoffrey : just chew on it a sec

Ashes77 : what the fuck is topographical realism ?

geoffrey : i was hoping you would tell me

geoffrey : its words that photographers use to describe painting

Ashes77 : alright i will write a blog post about it

geoffrey : i was so hoping you would

Ashes77 : but it seems like Winkelman turf too

geoffrey : that is why i came to you

Ashes77 : HAW

Ashes77 : stop it

geoffrey : i started to, and i realized i couldn't do it justice

Ashes77 : oh i am too dismissive of this asshattery

geoffrey : i must say though, if you do read it i think you will like parts

Ashes77 : i just bash Michael Fried

geoffrey : i actuallly admired a couple things

geoffrey : but now i have forgotten what they were

Ashes77 : well honestly i don't think i mind the guy's fotos

Ashes77 : i just would like them in a magazine

Ashes77 : so i could see them while i am on the train

Ashes77 : i don't see what the MOMA has to be involving them selves in that shit for

geoffrey : the one part i wanted to show you is where Wall gets frustrated with everyone only focusing on the gimmicks of how it was all captured and says "Everyone is just so focused on the process, they aren't seeing the big picture..."

geoffrey : cuhlassic

Ashes77 : haw yeah that is dumb

Ashes77 : alright i am going to take a nap

geoffrey : Having chosen not to live in an art capital like New York or London, Wall professes that he could just as easily have lived anywhere, with little effect on his work. “One thing I hate with small cities is the myth of their specialness,” he says. “It’s like in Europe, everywhere has its own ham, its own wine, its own cheese, and they’re all nice, but it doesn’t interest me.”

geoffrey : hahahahaha

geoffrey : sleep well on that note

Ashes77 : oh god

Ashes77 : i am getting a headache

Ashes77 : alright i'll catch you later

geoffrey : ite

geoffrey : later

Ashes77 : ciao-zle

geoffrey : it lies because photography is bound the realm of light bouncing off surfaces only. Painting is not limited only to that, it can share more truths.

geoffrey : that's all im sayin

geoffrey : k

geoffrey : goodnite

Ashes77 : i am not sure i can write about that fucking article

geoffrey : o don't bother

geoffrey : its a wast

geoffrey : e

Ashes77 : so ed wankleman

geoffrey : but did you at least read the last two lines

Ashes77 : no what were they ?

geoffrey : they went along with our conversation the other night

geoffrey : Thanks in part to Wall’s pioneering pictures, “artists using photography” no longer feel a need to distance themselves from others in their medium. They have emerged from their clumsily confining, defensive chrysalis.

Ashes77 : oh jesus that really is awful

Ashes77 : who wrote that thing ?

geoffrey : arthur lubow

Ashes77 : god pathetic

geoffrey : yeah, got phone call brb

Monday, March 12, 2007

my neighbours

many cats outside are hungry catsand this is only a few of them.

God, no wonder i am always afraid to go out there.

Welcome Cadillac Escalade Seekers

nice to have you all on board. Perhaps I can really start to reflect on the psychology of the Escaladero.

Sort of fat, aren't you ?

Kind of got some masculinity issues?

Thinking a bit about those other kids in high school ?
Maybe you are getting better at surfing the internet?

Figured out about Google Image Searching now ?

Well best wishes to you.

In the end I don't even care if this post is formatted.

my blog fell down

well, clearly one does get busy and then more than a week goes by.... I've got no time for ranting about politics "up there," but it is nice to see the shithouse truly on fire, at least for now.

I will say this, with sincere appreciation for the Unapologetic Mexican, and for Springs and Wells, (who I am glad to see writing a little again), you are both right about cynicism. It is clever being cynical, and cynical being clever. If I think about the opposite and what we try to do instead of being clever and cynical I ended up using flat words like honesty and earnestness that get me very much of nowhere. I would go so far as to say that I think cynicism and cleverness are usually foils attempting to mask what is inexperienced, what is the posture of enlightenment, but I don't know. What do the cynical pretend their wisdom postures in front of ? A real, raw view of human nature ? Perhaps they don't pretend to be Jackson Pollack all alone on Long Island, in his stupor, summoning the voices of Austrian analysts.

Listen to David Brooks as quoted by Digby:

DAVID BROOKS: I know a lot of very socially conservative people who want Rudy Giuliani. They know where he stands on abortion and gay marriage. They know all that stuff. But they like him because they think he's a fighter.

It should be clear to anyone who reads such sentences that this guy Brooks is just a bald-faced liar. He doesn't know anyone. He doesn't even talk to anyone. It is just the sort of thing you make up when you are talking and you have a 22-year-old brain that pretends all the time to know everything. This idiot has been pretending to understand something about some broad swath of "society" for as long as anyone can remember. Sometimes, when I go to McDonalds, I read the stuff they print on the paper tray-liner. It's about how their freaking salad is nutritious, so if you don't eat the Big Mac, you can get like so much sodium and some other crap and you won't feel sick when you leave. It's cynical. The people writing the piece of paper underneath your McDonald's piece of shit lunch are cynical. I only eat there when I feel emotionally needy for some cynical garbage (which does happen to me surprisingly often.) It's all cynical.

So is the idea that people are stupid and slow. So is the idea that the people who inherit money have a right to run the government because they are good at business. It's that age old "democracy can't work" because the riff-raff can't be trusted with it. Oh wait, that was the 19th century !?!

It's that age old "Art can't work because people without degrees from Yale can't understand it." Oh wait, what century did that shit start? The 80s ? I can't remember now, but people who "appreciate" "art" from the eighties and nineties love to confuse what I am saying, now, with cynicism. I beg to differ. On the contrary, it is not difficult to have faith in art and democracy if one has faith in people. But it is also really something to see how easy it is for the cynical to destroy a democracy. Ask David Brooks.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

on the exhalted guru and why he still so tortures us

Everyone I know is still haunted by this character from art-school.

Those of us who have experimented with mysticism and mystical apparatus and all those chanting, breathing-exercise goings-on find him (yeah, usually it's a guy) terrifically annoying. Particularly as the Exhalted Guru's chief experience today is usually made with reference to market factors, dealers (they're just down to earth people, man) and those creepy gallery people, you know, the buzz-cut women in their fifties and the art-clown in his alterna-costume.

I've written some pretty mushy things here, things that make the institutional artists cry. Like about Ancestory and Subconscious stuff... and trying to be honest, making art for personal reasons first.

But I hope I've made it clear that even real, mind-blowing enlightenment kind of stuff is really pretty low-brow for artists. Dude, we've been there, and it was like, WOW, ok, not going to save anyone with that heightened consciousness, now matter how high, broad or deep. That's low-brow mysticism. Admittedly, it's not as bad as the market-based stuff, but still...

The idea comes from this modernist thing, the fringe character on the edges of society, who has been to the top of the mountain, and heard god talking there. Not freaking Derrida, not some mamby-pamby who went to Brown and got a degree in talking to herself. Was talking to GOD man! It's a bit older than the 20th century really.

OK, so let's say for a second you accept that artists have been interested more or less in mysticism for like the last 7 or 8 thousand years. Before that everyone was living pretty much in the Mystical Soup, right ? Well, sadly, no, that is wrong. That 7 or 8 thousand years marker is good for the actual start of Mysticism but it happens to coincide nicely with the invention of agriculture, food surpluses (and thus POWER), and yes, sedentary living.

So my fellow nomads, I am sorry if I have lost you with this ramble. The next time someone tries to impress you by taking on the "I been to the top of the mountain" schtick or the "I talk this way cause it makes me seem like I know something" schtick, just say "dude, we are moooooving on, would love to stay and chat, but we really gotta eat tomorrow."

the cleaning of one's studio

Taking a cue from LaRose, (what is his blog called these days?) everyone must know the joy of finally cleaning out the old studio and re-discovering the weird stuff that got jammed away under a box full of scraps. With that, I will be re-launching the online Studio in the next few days, with new old-stuff. Most is not as weird as this. . . though perhaps some of it probably is.

Certainly some new new stuff will be in there too, perhaps some of the new stuff will be weird also, though I will be happy if its weirdness is not quite so, well, obvious.

These two rough drawings measure about 24 x 16 cms, and both are from the recesses of last spring. Neither strikes me as particularly unusual though I thought they held up to the passage of a year better than I would have expected.

Perhaps they aren't masterpieces. At least I was able to toss out the collection of empty jars and blocks of wood and pieces of fabric that had begun gathering.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

more art bloggers suckered

this is the sort of non-item, kind of clever thing that makes art so hard to deal with. A publicity seeking hacker imitates an artist who twenty years ago imitated somebody doing something clever so that we can all, again, elbow each other because we get it while the rest of the world wonders why we are impressed by such trivial things. If you want to write, write a book. If you want to do propaganda studies, do them in a format that matters and for an audience that can make a difference. Impressing other artists with pseudo-intellectualism just keeps getting easier.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

our eyes are not pro-active

I think pretty seriously that this fleshed out comment-cum-blogpost at Nonprophet art deserves a bit more attention. Here's what Geoffrey said:

What just popped in my head was the day i finally understood that our eyes aren't proactive. Our vision doesn't move out like tentacles and actually gather information. Instead we eat what little we are given through a slot under the door (again with the crack in the wall) as our eyes process light that enters them. and we learn that the different combinations of light is a this or a that. And we separate those this' and thats' and put them in a logical order, as bohm says, intitially, so that we can deal with them easier. Until our logic becomes so smug that it believes it can take it from here, and begins to tell our eyes what is and what is not. Our expericence becomes based on what we now think we see which forms our perceptions which eventually... yes... allows us to see only what we want to see. (and you can rearrange all that in whatever order you wish.)

Ok. Is that just too difficult for the CAA to comprehend? That smugness has become the raison d'etre of the whole art making machine, and it is based completely on the inability to see. Noticing the edge of your model's arm, and how that contrasts with whatever happens to be behind it, is not like first year drawing class stuff.

When I suffered the realization that Geoffrey describes above, I realized also that when one understands the glint on an eyeball, and that one has been missing that and a thousand other contrasts and pure, simple, characteristics, then one is facing the very means by which people are imprisoned in language games and meaningless gestures and lives. It is cleverness at language that allows us to bypass nuance and resonance. It is our clever reading of history's failures that allows us to make the same mistakes without appreciating that the splash of blood on stones sounds exactly the same now as it always did.

Just as capitalism is understood to be the answer to everyone's prayers, despite its disastrous effects on mankind, we are continually told that the problem of light falling on a naked body was solved a long time ago. In fact, it is just as problematic as ever and even more so a problem than private arms producers controlling the US government. We could (and should) imprison all of them, but we still can't see the naked body. Can't you just see those tenured MFA department chairs just insisting that they can see eeeeeeeeeeeeverything?

We can pretend all we want that what we are doing is seeing, gazing, gaping, oggling, leering, but we are left, of course, at the limit of understanding the moment we realize that we have chosen to see mostly the pussy and the boobs, those things to which we are particularly blind. That's why art people call it "reading," thus suggesting some common public will "read" the work. And of course that is precisely why we, those of us not looking for the television read on life, seldom tire of looking. And what simply makes it such a severe problem is that we know we have the capability of seeing, and yet we leave this faculty to be described by morons, Patrick Nagels with machine guns.

The point I think Geoffrey's post leads nicely to is that people, artists, whoever, who can see, who understand the limits of seeing, are less apt to be tearing other people apart. You can tear arguments apart. But it is much more difficult to tear apart someone who has discovered that light creeping around a branch or an arm is not the same as light coming out of a television. The light cascading from from a branch in the forest might finally be seen. The object of desire might be experienced, even indirectly, at last through someone else's eyes if not through our own. That's why I find it so easy to work with artists who understand this even when I can barely stand them personally. We get drunk and fight later about some stupid language issue, but we spend all day anticipating that one precious glimpse and providing them to one another.

This seems to me to lend a moral imperative to good painting.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

16 million

so 16 million people live in "severe poverty" in the US. And the number is growing fast. Europe, meanwhile, has a "stagnant" economy, presumably with no growth possible.
According to the McClatchey article, the number of "severely poor" grew by 26% between 2000 and 2005. And the likelihood of things getting better does not seem very high. So anyone who tells you that the US economy is the most dynamic and wonderful in the world, is dropping important figures out of their definition of "growth," punto.

defending the CAA

I've been thinking for a few days about this incredible list of comments over at It is difficult to retain any of it because it is sort of like reading some kind of right-wing political blog. I just assumed that people in favor of the College Art Association had never heard of a blog because they were busy kissing any establishment ass they could get their lips near, but apparently not. They have opinions and they share them, as well they should.

We need to hear more from the people getting the fancy cell-phones and prancing around in pointey boots. The CAA is a retrograde version of American Idol that has not only outlived its usefulness, but which actively spits in the face of those of us interested in the arts and arts education. Sorry... I'm just saying.

Friday, February 23, 2007

the problem with, well, commodity exchange

If you're writing about your own artwork, eventually you start wondering why everyone writing about art is writing about someone else's art and then of course you start thinking that maybe "I too should be writing about everyone else's art" and then pray to god we can loop it all back together. It's this insufferable longing to be a part of something bigger than us.

I remember when I used to do art shows with my pals up there in the big old apple, how we would talk about who was rich and who was going to come to the show and somebody even talked to Jerry Saltz the week before and told him about it and so maybe he would come. Then I would always get very drunk , because my good friends, maybe even my better friends, were having an event that night at Mighty Robot and we would go and be very drunk. But the friends of mine who were actually putting that thing together, the better thing, were never drunk and were never concerned about who rich was coming. Rock and roll is always its own self-legitimizing cultural factor. I doubt they would have carried the thought along that far.

I would like to think that none of the artist friends I know are pretensious wankers, but many of us are, and though we all did in the past read Baudrillard and those other French people, we never quite got it and so we went on to pretend that the relevance was salient in our lives. And so we live in deference of these things that other people understand better than us, and they now are able to leave smarter sounding comments at Winkleman, and we have to try to thrash out some kind of suitably smart sounding alternative. And most important, we must live in deference to the marketplace that we accept now at last moves through Yale and New York and Los Angeles, while we press our faces against some Dickensian window pane and imagine that our thoughts are not obfuscated any more, the way they were then by those bullying grad school people who mostly just read the right stuff - only louder.

Then I think "what do I think about when I am actually making art?" Last year of course, while working, I listened to all six Harry Potter audio books in sequence 7 times in a row. I still remember Ron Weasley describing doctors as "Those muggle nutters that cut people up?" That was before I turned on to the Teaching Company college lectures. Now I am thinking about 5000 years of Chinese history. I found it really helped me to work with the linguistic part of my brain occupied by something rather less significant than what I was doing. Otherwise I would be talking to other artists or worse, people I used to know! But that is not to say that I don't think there is legitimacy in thinking about art and art history and something like a theory of art.

It is just like a theory of politics and government. That is also not happening and it's not happening because of NBC and the Washington Post and the New York Times. It is happening in the blogosphere obviously. Eventually one starts to think that if one is going to write about art then one really would need to screen out most of the smoke from the atmosphere. It is like going in shouting to solve the Israeli-Palestinian stand-off. The only people doing anything to solve it seem to be doing that and they keep failing.

I like to think about what my ancestors would have me remember if they told me something when I was young enough to remember them. Something that resonates. That photo is from the Digital South Asia Library.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

art powerlines

makes its return to my vaunted list of non-burnt art blogs. Check it out.

Sadly - i learned in March 2009 that art powerlines was put down last year after a bout with apathy.

there are two sides...

In case I've not been clear enough in all of my rantings.

There are those who think that the New York and Euro-centric views of art criticism, curation and education just need improving, and a bit more understanding. Clarity, and then the understanding will get better.

And there are people like me, who look at the accompanying illustration and wonder what is the difference between these guys and the art-scene as we know it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

realization and psychology

Therapy is the bugaboo that just drives art professionals and others wild. "WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR ART AND THERAPY?" they are always screaming.

That's because the art people we are stuck with, and the ones we are always trying to leave behind are stuck with this gross 2oth century view of "psychology" as this thing that lives, for good or bad, in our heads.

When I write about realization, realizing, understanding and growing into being the person that you are supposed to be, I write with the assumption that all of us come from an environment that is less than ideal for our own realization. That is to say, we come from a psychology that is less than ideal. But I don't particularly believe in a psychology that needs an acute focussed attention such as was conceived in the last century. Psychology today is an environment that artists inhabit and that artists are uniquely positioned to affect and improve upon.

That is why, to me, Venice seems like spam. How is it possible to improve on that environment (that psychology)? Is that not the point of art ? ok assume for a moment that it is not... In such a case one can approach Venice with the old psychology and try to enjoy the external environment of Venice with one's own psychology sealed faithfully up inside one's head as always. Then of course one is free to enjoy all the messages zinging in and out of Venice as if they were unsolicited emails from which you can pick and choose. "I like the African pavilion about starvation, but I say thumbs down to the Swedes' Techno Installation."

I mean really. It's a bit boring. Whenever I go to Venice I like to learn about Venice for the Museum it is, and that it can hardly improve upon. Then I think of this Biennale thing as sort of a bulk message folder and I say "Yes, I am sure I would like to delete all of it, thanks," and I go back to pondering what combination of sun and sand and salt can make the sea such a brilliant color. Doubtless there will be more than one artist there who could impress me, but they would well do the same thing in a cafe in Arkansas, where the environment and the psychology is doubtless in more need of attention.

Realization is the realization of environments, especially the ignored ones and the invisible ones. Those to me are the ones that need not messages and one-liners, but awareness and honesty. The ability to see Trieste or Venice is not questioned. Yet every city has an invisible sector. In fact, Venice should be famous for invisibility, mirages and blind alleys. Instead it seems to me it is famous now for pointed, focussed messages that we intentionally delete. Hope everyone's Carnevale was fun.

is the Venice Biennale spam ?

I am taking a lot of heat from some near sources for referring, in a comment over at ArtBlog Comments, to the Venice Biennale as Spam.

Let me make one thing clear. I write my blog for other artists, and I use that definition in a broad sense so that anyone with an interest in creativity or the creative process is included. I've been to the Venice Biennale a few times and every time I wonder why such a wonderful city would mar itself with such a gross display of dehumanizing amateurish shreck. I have no doubt that I could get plenty of Viagra pills in the Armory, that the value is terrific, even if they are shipped in from Canada but that is not what I would go there for.

Your credit history truly doesn't matter if your stolling the Giardini and happen upon the juxtopositions of modern culture with social commentary that truly causes you to want to re-think that second mortgage. The Corderie is a wonderful place to meet local guys and gals, all of them with pictures. I don't have any doubt that you could in fact meet them. It is not that spam is not true. What makes it annoying is that we don't care and we don't want it. We go to the Venice Biennale, just like we open Newsweek Magazine, and instead of information that changes us and opens us, we get events like this (from Wikipedia):

At the 51st Biennale, American artist Barbara Kruger was awarded with the "Golden Lion" award for life time achievement.

HA HA HA HA. Golden Lion! Achievement! God! You can't make this stuff up. Now, that isn't to say that there is no good content in Newsweek magazine. It's just that it has nothing to do with me. Newsweek and Venice assume that I have erectile dysfunction, and if I keep reading Newsweek or strolling the Giardini of Venice, well, I'll probably get it.

Some highlights from Taibbi

Some things worth highlighting from Taibbi's review of that Bush person's budget.

If the Estate Tax were to be repealed completely, the estimated savings to just one family -- the Walton family, the heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune -- would be about $32.7 billion dollars over the next ten years.The proposed reductions to Medicaid over the same time frame? $28 billion.

Or how about this: if the Estate Tax goes, the heirs to the Mars candy corporation -- some of the world's evilest scumbags, incidentally, routinely ripped by human rights organizations for trafficking in child labor to work cocoa farms in places like Cote D'Ivoire -- if the estate tax goes, those assholes will receive about $11.7 billion in tax breaks. That's more than three times the amount Bush wants to cut from the VA budget ($3.4 billion) over the same time period.
  • Cox family (Cox cable TV) receives $9.7 billion tax break while education would get $1.5 billion in cuts

  • Nordstrom family (Nordstrom dept. stores) receives $826.5 million tax break while Community Service Block Grants would be eliminated, a $630 million cut

  • Ernest Gallo family (shitty wines) receives a $468.4 million cut while LIHEAP (heating oil to poor) would get a $420 million cut
and on and on and on.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

teaching economics to kids holding cups

Remember that line about propping ourselves up? I've been fortunate enough to hear from no less than two people in the past week that they never give money to kids begging. Instead, they give them candy or snacks. The logic of this is that then the kids eat the candy or snacks and don't give the money to the lazy parents who are exploiting the kids.

As I've never seen either of these people with pockets bulging full of candy or snacks, the question comes to mind, when exactly do you give candy or snacks to these children? Or are the candy and snacks as imaginary as this justification you've been using for so long that you have forgotten when the candy and snacks fell away and you had only this little economic lesson to remember?

What exactly is the lesson ? Well let me remind you... You, like I myself, were fortunate enough to be born to parents who were more or less white and of a certain level of economic stability and relative prosperity. That is, no matter what, prosperity relative to kids begging in the street. And none of our hard work has anything whatever to do with the fact that we are and were fortunate while they were not. Your justification for withholding the 5 pesos that it took you exactly 2 seconds to earn in the name of some principal that clearly does not and has not ever actually held any value so that you can keep 5 pesos in your pocket and feel good about teaching some bloody lesson is not as principalled nor as justified as you'd probably like to think. You are surrounded everyday by people working harder than you will ever work, and they will never be fortunate. So please, the next time I hear this crap, may I see the candy and snacks you are passing out? Or may we be honest about the principals of the sugar coated capitalism you so aspire to teach? Being fortunate is not hard work, it is just lucky. And the lesson is for you to see your own fortune, share it, and quit lording idiotic principals over people who will suffer everyday for the next 70 years while we polish our principals.

Monday, February 12, 2007

What exactly are they defending?

Nice one from High Low & in between. What exactly are they defending ? Their right to make even more socialist money off the government ? Maybe they should change the Defense Department's name to the Evil White Guy
Welfare Department.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

on motivation and the resonance of things

every post should have a picture I left out of that last post, (though you might have picked it up in the comments) that the question I was responding to was along the lines of "How do you keep yourself motivated?"

It's a good question and it leaves out, or maybe relieves, the preachy tone that the post might otherwise carry. Maybe the issue is less being motivated than in having some reason, accepting it and understanding it. I can't imagine myself doing any kind of art on the social science model, artist as social observer, critic and commentator. So boring and so consistently wrong. Yet it's not a walk in the park trying to figure out that the part of you that ends up listening to you talking to yourself all day is smarter than the part of you doing the talking. (No, not you, Steven.)

The social implications of an art based in un-mediated people and what they think and how we act and talk and communicate and look is far more staggering than an art based on the false mystification of science. Science, including social science, is very good at rooting out mysticism. My writing and blogging and art making tries to do the same. In a way. Yet there is some un-mediated (un-mediated by language) activity that we experience and try to hold onto. Usually we do it by means of language. But I think we also do it by remembering, and some of that remembering we do through means other than will. That is to say, somethings just insist that we remember them even if we don't know why. I am haunted still by the same things that scared me as a child. Only now it is teeth-gritting fun to get chills, to leer into the abysses where things are still spooky. And fortunately plenty of the people who got good at looking into such things and remembering them throughout history also had a finger or two dipped in the mysticism bowl.

When I see art going on in New York and people talking about it, or the shows coming up this summer, I think about those people in line outside the Today Show. Part of growing into your art is realizing that you're really not ever going to face the audience of wankers they warned you about (and prepared you for) in grad school. Audiences are smart, they're not like the Today Show anymore than the Today show is like reality. Art professionals are catching up with us slowly, but they have cell phones to compare and they are not in any hurry. Being motivated is almost like being desparate. I desperately do not want to talk to art professionals when there are good people being alienated by shitty art. But I also desperately want to understand why when two things come together they mean more than thing A + thing B. In the sum of their two parts is a resonance the appreciation of which is the key to more than you might think.