To kickstart the New Year (2019), I launched the third AFH Instagram exhibit, which is a multi-platform project centered on a mashup of three sets of images. The first consists of photos taken in 2010 in Switzerland, mostly of the famous mountain Matterhorn. The second set consists of photos taken in 2010 at Disneyland in California, mostly of the famous ride Matterhorn. The third set consists of photos taken in 2018 in Brooklyn of meta-elements in the 4D VyNIL “Network/Worknet” series.
This isn’t my first attempt to create compositions with the Matterhorn(s) photos. I built a series of images in 2010 that combined some of the Matterhorn photos with sketches made during the European Graduate School summer session and patterns created for Gramatica Parda, a collective project I participated in (at ANDlab in Los Angeles). The patterns later were adapted for A New Dimension at Silver Shed in Chelsea (NY). I made a couple of dozen digital paintings at titled the grouping “[NoDT][Matterhorn Mashup][D-R-N].” “D-R-N” stands for Reformation, Deformation, Negation. I felt the initial effort held real promise, but something was lacking. The concept had to simmer for eight years until the solution appeared. Sometimes its like that. The 4D VyNIL paintings on paper bridge the border between the “real” Matterhorn and its Disneyfied simulation better than the digitized drawings I made on my first journey to Switzerland.
For each new Matterhorn mashup, I am writing a brief notation on some aspect of the 4D aesthetic. The sequence is first published on the AFH Medium portal, then ported here. I considered posting this work in the 4Dimension blog, the News blog, the 4Dpop site, and finally settled on this channel. I hope you enjoy it! Please note that there are two versions of the images. MH Set A, which is being posted on AFH Social Media at Facebook and Medium, has a two pixel “strip frame.” The version posted on Instagram (MH Set B) has a sturdier “frame” built from small iterations of the meta-elements with some processing added for decorative effects. Here I will post Set A with the affixed text and create a gallery for Set B, mimicking the Instagram design.
1 Matterhorn Project 
The Mountain [MH#1]
At the pinnacle there are surveillance cameras and antennae. A squadron of fighter jets maneuver through the clouds over invisible paths to sketch designs in the sky next to the real mountain. A miniature train winds through the cavities within the simulated version of Matterhorn. Mechanical monsters frighten the thrill-seeking passengers. Intrepid mountaineers plunge to their deaths. The wrapper for the chocolates sports a graphic design version of the mountain, flat, edgy. The Matterhorn from one perspective is practically perfect. John Ruskin was enamored of it. So many photos of the Matterhorn, its surface mapped by drones and rendered. Those jet fighters were not, I think, driven by aesthetic impulses, creative desires. I apologize. The Disney Matterhorn is the burial ground of Baudrillard. The originally white card represents an upright red bowl on a blue field. So many layers of textures, patterns and noise, some real and some not. Optically, it is impossible to hold on to the grid.
2 Matterhorn Blues
This candy bar is not a mountain. The experience of consuming the factory-made sweet is not equivalent to being in the presence of the mountain. The Museum of Ice Cream is not a museum, and the installation of a big box filled with plastic balls in which adults undulate is not art. A selfie is not a color. A line has more than one meaning application. The people standing in line to do the Matterhorn ride, in time, will have their satisfaction. This Matterhorn is made to do this. A brush stroke is not a cloud. The Cloud only partially obscures the Mountain at the moment the photograph is taken. It is a lovely afternoon in Southern California. The glacier apparently is melting, perhaps forever gone. What happens next? What are the names of all these people? Where are they now? How many are dead?
The wiring must be inspected. The Sun over the Mountain is not real. The cloud is shaped like a tree in one picture, and a cloud in the one below. The lighting above is artificial. You could not help but notice that feeling of attraction, the pull it exerts on you. Like magnets. It is visceral. Something about the resemblance. The park management is concerned about the safety of the guests. The Mountain, so far as one knows, is immune to such concerns. Mountains can be killers. It is not personal, though, as far as one can tell. This is a question of assignment of consciousness to an object, a thing. Smart things are today given computer-brains. The speculation: if humans give man-made things brains, so an artificial object is assigned consciousness, what will be the consequence? Before Science, I think people assigned consciousness to things, in nature. What was the consequence? Were people once a Thing? Who assigns us consciousness?
4 Flow Perspective
The ridiculous and sublime are equally distributed in culture, in the cynical view, only as a function of investment. Access to abundance of perspectives available for an object is dependent on demand. Culture is the industrialized Social. The flow between original objects and their cultured versions is facilitated by management, which operates at the behest of owners. The object subject to property regimes functions in a Master-Slave regime, and functions as a resource for extraction and exploitation schemes. The Mountain enters this matrix through Image. The image now is a commodity that can be mapped, reproduced, modified and exchanged. The image of the Mountain is not the mountain. Improvement of translation is a perfect desire for management. Management are assassins of the Original. An effective manager will always argue for additional perspectives on the objective. The goal is to find and secure the best route to the top, the achievement of the objective.
5 In the Shadow of the Mountain
The colorful flag or banner held aloft by a uniformed fellow, draped across a facade, hung from the corner shop by the square. In the distance the Matterhorn rises into the Swiss and Californian blue sky. The music plays and the folk gather. It is a merry time, had by each and everyone. I am a stranger. The artist is seeing the code, the pattern, the template. A form is a mirror for the other, and the artist is not required to choose a side, because art is no game. The memory of the scene and the photograph together create a stage whereupon the imagination performs a dance that is a sequence of broken rules. No aspect of recollection justifies our belief in it. Fondness, mercy and compassion tune the band. We long for a proper conductor to orchestrate our community’s survival. The Mountain provides a backdrop for the play, the assurance of ample duration for all drama to be resolved. Irony arrives late to the proceedings, when juxtaposition affirms the concrete as a foundation for the Real, and denies its projection of power, its dominance over the romantic moment. Creation requires us to temporarily reject the antagonism of representation through the false embodiment of the past.
6 He Sees It
The man, he see it through the crowd, and It responds, returning his gaze. The slope of forgetting slams into the border of here and now. Space fails to separate meaning from value, for any reasonable length of time. The spotlight shines on the cave, but the mob still wanders from attraction to attraction. The Mountain is devoid of clutter. Everything on it is on purpose. Condensing mists obscure the structure, but this fails to change the construct itself. The witness only hoists the camera for verification. Later the Image is utilized, to activate a sensation, which is the residue of the initial experience, the feeling of being there, when you are no longer. In that dimension, the content prefers itself to the actual thing. The rush is better than the hit.
7 Hiding the Foundation
An architect may prioritize the building above all else. By doing so, he will obscure all but the surface of art within the construction. A virtual image builds itself. It has no architect. The visible material is the combination of pixels, which conform to each other within the file parameters. The cohesion of any representation within the image borders derives from optical familiarity possessed by the viewer. The phenomenon of assemblage in the digital medium is metaphysical. The technical description of the phenomenon is of secondary importance to the impact of the restored forms depicted in the image. When multiple images are layered in a single media file, and inter-layer effects are applied, a diffusion of optical meaning occurs. At a certain point, focus becomes the key to rational interpretation of the visible data. The converse (blur) suggests that the action of reconstructing visual logic from the many, variable content components is related to the viewer’s perception of motion. Motion has a virtual structure, which conflicts with static perception.
8 Cloud and the Cave
In the formal thought, idealization is now inert, due to onset 4D perception, and the proliferation of the Virtual. The perfect form is a moot point, because intellectual property is a thing, and the resignation of data to the Cloud decouples the author from the code, then the content. Eventually, the value of context is diminished, so now mesh and identity conflate with authenticity. The product is mass delusion. For the individual, that abstract body for speculative pursuits, uncharted territory vanishes. Adventuring, maximizing experience as a mode of entertainment, encompasses any extreme that can be properly photographed for network distribution. Traditional heroism, the purview of the spelunker, the pilot, the mountaineer and so on, is rebranded as a hybrid, equal parts vice and luxury item. In fact, the secret imaginary hero is no more than a meme, a comic movie franchise, a carnival ride. The thrills and chills are to the extent possible lacking any risk. The contract — on the democratic exchange — assassinates the imagining of free existence.
9 Vertical Iconography
In the media philosophy, is it absurd to claim that there will only ever be one Walt Disney? It is absurd to make claims about any version of reality in Contemporary Art, because in Contemporary Art nothing is true, nothing is real. No one can win an aesthetic argument whose existential basis derives from critique. Negation is unsettling to the imagination, and the Contemporary image is nothing. It is more or less a morbid process of disordering and disappearance, a sign — not an image at all. The comic portion of the theoretical Contemporary arises from the realization that the Contemporary era is defined by insufficiency in time, and a fatal hunger for more in all its forms. And not one of the traditional forms (person, place, thing) agrees in number with the subject of the Contemporary inquiry. Therefore, up only belongs to down, and not the other way round.
10 Building a Mountain
Nature of course can be constructed from wood, steel, concrete, just as an image can be built of bits of color. The process is a trial, the same as the castle. The artificial thing is a gumbo of material and immaterial ingredients. The result is like a fortress, which is the static force of knowing it, when you see it. One thing can destroy you, if it falls on you. Its virtual correlate can destroy your presumption of knowing, when you see it unfettered from its original referent. The damage, either way, seems real enough! Unless the medium permits, like water, the reduction of immediate impact, when a soft thing is hit with a hard thing. The Internet through its transmission devices, for now, smashes into the imagination via a buffer, whether gear, load time, spatial and temporal divergence, etc. The schism separating user and data serves as a moat. The projection of hard-wired, networked humans is scary, because the vision drains the moat that permits us the luxury of divesting from our creation, for whatever reason, as a matter of choice. We can wake ourselves from the web dream, still. Internet addicts explain that they lose that power, that control, and the exchange veers onto a self-destructive path for the compulsive, obsessive user. Another fear arises from the incapacity of the user to distinguish between the true and false, the real and not real. The dilemma of the Creative Engine consists not of a total immersion episode, but rather the consequence of believable illusion without parameters.
11 Contours and Paths
A vision of the Alps could induce madness on the tightly wound mind of a sensitive, rational person. The Mountain as a generator of hysteria is no less fiction, than the Mountain being evocative of the Will. If we stroll the byways in the shadow of the Mountain, we might chat blithely on poetics, the fruitful essence of beauty, and other lively topics. Leisure and the common man are entwined within the conventional thoroughfare. The path to the pinnacle of the Mountain ~ another matter, entirely! Terror, mortality, desperation, physical duress, these are fellow travelers for the climber. The crowd is a distant memory. Congenial, disposable chitchat a diversion for other times and places. The narratives of extreme isolation and stress at the edge of man’s capacity to exist are as systematic as their converse, the narratives of gathering, of comfortable social concourse, soft masses reveling in abundance and ease. It is not unimaginable for these two worlds to collide, to collapse in one another.
12 Gestation of the Image
The miraculous transference of energy from the thing that inspired a visionary to create a simulation of the original wonderment, that energy is the urge to survive and flourish. It is vitality in its own right. The medium is the artist. With all due respect to McLuhan, there is no message to massage. Only the conveyance matters beyond the personage, which is a question of the historical, the event, the list of the people in the artists’ circle, and some context. Relegating the process to an exercise of agency, improperly assigning the artistic action as a kind of writing, falsely suggesting that art is a product of psychological states (none of which existed before the manufacture of analysis) ~ these are common types of contemporary colonialism. This is not a critique, so much as a defense of circuitry.
13 Angled Aperture
The trajectory of obscured movement is a conjecture only in fiction and war. Inevitability and descent are dramatic forces, dynamic enough to drive tragedy to conclusion. In a static image for the moving picture, the speculative downward arc is a business model for media properties associated with youth and stardom. Rock’n’roll, Baby! In painting, all preliminary layers that accumulate to construct the pictorial surface fit the definition of “hidden” and “secret,” and this subterranean reality bonded to the visible erodes the singularity of the seen. A scene in a story may be deconstructed, and the procedure may be critically utilized to fashion a fictional comparison to art, where none actually exists. The artistic is always a third-party overlay for music, cinema and other media, whose composition resists juxtaposition, which is a binary configuration. The elaborate noose for art is the presumption of Roman architecture in its appearance-over-all ethics. The war for the spirit of the artist is ancient.
The case for nearness is weakening by the day. One can stand shoulder to shoulder with another, and never make eye contact, by looking up from the mobile. A web-app map does not accurately communicate the world itself to the user, in its various data delivery methods (e.g., “street” or “satellite” or modified, interactive road atlas, and so on). The incalculable experiential is a function of closeness. The machining of local awareness is the butt of many a slapstick bit: …Girl so focused on texting on her smart phone, she walks into a telephone pole. The disintegrated, the strange, the irrational encounter in passing ~ the carnival affect for the intertwining paths of the collective particles plays to drugged humor, the psychotic break, the epiphany. The long view of the time traveler is more attuned to the unfamiliar as a derivative of duration-based progressions. One can rely on the Tempestuous “What’s past is prologue,” as an evil you know. One can dread the weird mashup precipitated by creative anachronism. Or one can select a radical, ancient option, which is rooted in the mechanics of mutual location.
15 Spectacle Spectrum
A range for the spectacular is an assumption of the Contemporary experience portfolio. Hordes ensure the shared variety. Scarcity is the flip side, and it can be obtained through tactics and execution. A balanced portfolio will contain some of each. The composition of a small group optimized for desired excursions must be a feature of one’s skill set. The partner is warranted but not essential for the scarce, wild and rare experience. Highlighting the unfettered nature of the experience, the element of freedom, is achieved by notation, anecdote, a signature disruption of convention. After all, the compilation of experience signals a certain type of wealth. The moderation of risk is always a concern, with any program for mythologizing the mundane. We all ought to be mindful that the experience portfolio is designed for eulogy content.
16 Still Moving Image Life
A reversion of the cinematic is occurring, and the user of media is swept into the change, like a loose oar in a tsunami. No one can grasp the enormity of the content boom. The phenomenon is not manageable. Ask the Facebook executive team. It is a mistake to assume the flow of data confers power on those who direct it along its route. The channels that contain all the photos, texts, metadata, videos, emojis and so on are mutable. The content moves fast. The mechanics of the network are prone to disruption. Interventions of an endless variety are imaginable. The virtual information fails to represent the real action that the gear captures every day. Compression, lossy effects, drop frames all point to the fact that a movie is nothing at all like living. None of the media and attachments is correct, is accurate enough, is “true to life.” To define the image as entertainment is to abandon the necessity of vital expression in the here and now. The image is a ghost, a shade detached from a body, a dead aftereffect, an unworthy memorial of being-ness.
17 Protecting the Skin
The artist must never care about the operations of the Contemporary market. Art and the market divorced long ago. The decoupling of value from values, means from meaning is an historical phenomenon first, and a cultural one second. The derivative effects are far reaching, dimensional, and resonate with similar effects in a broad sector of enterprises. The opportunity for the artist now is to complete the disruptions that have been pushed by those whose agendas have nothing at all to do with the wellness of art. The innovative artist must create something to fill the vacuum caused by the venal mediocrity on display in almost every important art exchange. The banal and vicious individuals who manage the marketplace for art (see The Price of Everything) are more or less to a person effective, sociopathic predators, expert in extraction/exploitation schemes and long cons. Their nemesis — the armies of art-haters who despise free expression and fear individuality — attacks any form or institution that celebrates humanity’s sustainability and stability. The artist must reject the anti-art hatred in all its iterations, as well.
The predicament of the artist has never been more complex, dangerous and overwhelming. It is a magical, miraculous moment for art, certainly.
18 A Crowded Bus
Discovery has been supplanted by recovery, as our primal motivation in the wireframing of a 4D Civilization. The signs appear in the worst trends, such as the opioid epidemic. The emergent tendencies are pinned to immateriality, to mysterious, non-stuff like HOPE. In the interstitial phase between the old construct and newer one, the goofball who aligns with the hope crowd is in for a battering. The OG crews are cruel, territorial and deeply twisted. They are formidable in their grasp of malevolence as a vehicle to dominance. The steps required to cling to power they willingly take. To dislodge these orcs, we must act simply and decisively. There is nothing to it. For one thing, the most straightforward method is the democratic one. Other options are familiar in their technical aspects and eminently obtainable, but any sane person acknowledges that the most likely scenarios are foul and gross in the short term. Either way, art will also be recovered, reclaimed and redistributed. We have plenty of precedents at this point.
19 Eye Candy + Metadata
An image can say, “Eat me!” An image within an image evokes asexual reproduction, or to put it another way, machining self-replication. The mimetic is present in the image of the image, but the configuration is skewed if the original object is excluded from the represented scene. I personally abhor text within the painted surface, but it took a while to get there. I was very naive. Initially I expressed myself so urgently, and possessed so little craftsmanship. I would use words as a temporary replacement for competent artistry, while I was improving. Eventually, I no longer needed text as a technical crutch. Now, I think about that phase of my artist life with nostalgia. The stupid image is the branded one. Signs and symbols and the artificiality of the marketeer color spectrum (Pantone+) are subverted in the virtual, in the network, by the variability of devices and their aspect ratios and monitor sizes and lumens. Consistency is a casualty of the computer-based need-projection, and therefore one must not be inordinately surprised that addiction discourse attends the digitization of praxis. The snobs of new technology — include those who get rich from it, its hucksters and user- or prosumer analysts, the few tech-literate policymakers who are generally in the pockets of the tech giants and consortia — talk about the cultivation of media junkies about as often as they discuss brain tumors caused by cell phone-emitted radiation.
20 De-sequencing Memory Through Blur Effects
The digital graphic blur significantly tightened the separation between optics and interpretive vision in media. The emotional resonance of the shift from crisp focus to blurred image signaling motion and time has vastly improved photographic realism. The photographer virtuoso and his helpers optimized a set of technical edits to instill in pictures a sense of drama. The pre-digital dramatic photography emphasized a shocking clarity that marked a border between a painterly impression and the capture of a moment in time. The contemporary, which as we now can see, was photo-based. The elegant, gritty, the gross and disturbing, etc. ~ these and all the other tones of experience comprise a general pictorial narrative: The photographic is more real; the camera is the ultimate arbiter of visual truth; the interpretive process should commence with a product of selective focus with proper lighting; and so on. Post-digital, we can see that no image can be viewed without skepticism. Which is not to imply that painters suddenly are more trustworthy.
21 Transitional Mode
The frame emphasizes the transitional in the capturing of an image, while simultaneously suggesting the impossibility of containing a 360 degree phenomenon within a rectangular geometry. Identifying the pictorial methods by which the Impossible is celebrated in art is a good exercise for a student artist or viewer. The competent representation of natural and artificial effects and materials has astounded (and even infuriated) the critic, since at least Plato. Ambivalence toward the profundity of realism in painting is a critical trope, yet the casual art viewer generally is not so jaded. It seems that the impact of eye-fooling, smart painterly realism has generational-spanning longevity. A metaphor might be the horse-drawn buggy…the blimp, less so. Fundamentally, the correlation is between framed experience and human, or conscious, mortality. Death is the bracket most people fear most, and art, especially post-Pollack or -Mondrian art, proceeds fearlessly in the face of certain death.
22 The Perfect Matterhorn
From which angle should the Matterhorn be viewed? What is the mountain’s best side? What is the best season for looking upon its majestic face? What about the mountain commands our interest? Is it size? Does the mountainous contain an invisible power that attracts our gaze? The representational and conceptual analysis of the Matterhorn starts with such questions. They have to do with imagining a painting. It is a Hegelian notion. It is also a design approach, beginning with a sketch, but before the sketch, thinking about where to begin. Why is the question before the question. What is the definition of the project. How is the production. Perfection in the process is considered and affirmed, then forgotten. No Matterhorn is perfect, other than the one signed and hung on a wall, otherwise, why would the mountain change moment to moment, day after day?
23 Rock Solid
The mechanics of composition blend with critical theory without meaning to. The placement of an object within the frame may be a function of nature, or the footwork of the cameraman. The visual maybe is more a vignette than an actual scenario, a diorama rather than an array millions of years in the making. The criteria in the either/or, man versus nature is out-of-date. Time has in some measure, perhaps by 40%, mutated in the virtuality of the Contemporary era into a contingency. Now, physics is beyond the edit of its image, to an extent. In real life (IRL) that extent is discoverable at the moment the rock shears from the mountain and crushes you. If there exists a direct, spiritual, symbiotic relationship between nature and humanity, it will be revealed in short measure, as the latter collapses. The blurring of existential vision will derive from the mandate of urgency, which for the moment is still a sensation.
24 Noticing Details Along the Path
Peripheral vision is key to human survival. Our complex optical system connects what we see to our response functions in close to real time [c2RT]. A synthetic reflex improves our chances of avoiding threats. Accurately measuring the integrated topology, and thereby gauging the speed-path of the things that move within it, involves visual perception and evolved adjustment of one’s body in relation to the landscape and its other active elements. The image flattens all this and more, compressing the shapely world into a framed instance. Moving images add the illusion of 3D spatial dynamics to the pictorial presentation. The digital image contributes an element ~ the artificial infinite ~ that monkey wrenches the suspension of disbelief in both the movie and the still life. The gear/software/wetware combo of VR unites the matrix of these mode/nodes and wedges them into a track that parallels real life. For obvious reasons this is a risky move. Every moment we are not practicing surviving in the real world, we are lessening our connective capacity to be (t)here, successfully. Finding the real world these days is easier said than done, though.
25 The New Parallel
The abandonment of inhibition is deemed a social matter, mostly. Artists, however, have long understood the value of discarding convention for creative purposes. The segregation of artists from society reveals more about the desire of the powerful to control and command, or at least manage, the collective. Making examples of the outliers who abjure the typical for the unusual is a common human practice. Celebrating the unconventional has precursors in tribal life. Contemporary civil society in the 21st Century has flipped the current, so that the status quo cavalierly identifies its activities as equivalent with those of yesterday’s avant garde! Naturally, the paroxysm among the vanguard of civilization is profound. The order of the day is confusion, convolution, complexity. In short, we are thrust into the disorienting, all-directional 4D zone. The tendency for the art world during society’s gross transitional phases is to attempt to cleave to the traditional and embrace the novel simultaneously, in a balancing act. The risk aversion of art elites is a known characteristic. They are hoping to outlast the conflict and land on the winning side.
26 Tapering Expectations for the Real
The metaphorical is a cliche of the imaginary, which is too bad. The skill of the author to craft an apt or even excellent metaphor is a criterion for literary proficiency. Painting is, however, not writing. Imaginary art traffics in the praxis of elevating the mediocre to the level of genius, and the inverse is true, too. Greatness is in the Contemporary Art a demarcation, for the applications of diminishing expectation. An artist today ought to study the utility of critical subversion of accomplishment. The leveling process for the field is arbitrary and pernicious. A valuable hedge against the downward pressure of critical mediation is color. Form once might suffice to stave off the unwanted barb of the critic, until the formal was embraced as the rationale for the critique. No one can argue effectively against color, except in its usage. Color itself operates outside the reach of the anti-art voice. Color is elemental, and, as such evades the false logic of the Real as context for critical domination of art.
27 Collisions and Transcendence
Theory constantly collides with animated material, and each theoretician is himself shaped by such collisions. A theory of the Mountain is only as strong as the expression of the idea in the body of the theoretician and the Mountain. One must conform to profound thought even to conceive of the Matterhorn as a type of Mountain. The existence of Matterhorn permits simulation of it, because of the dynamics of scale and estimation. The matrix within which the simulation exists is authenticated by an original, but the original is only an idea of the actual Matterhorn. The nominal Matterhorn can be simulated, and translates as simulacra across platforms of expression with enough consistency to qualify as a massive icon, a legitimate cultural thing. The fixation of theoretical conditioning to the Mountain, like art, occupies a continuum that relies on more than words and metadata for its standard meaning. The shape of Matterhorn signals a specific response for a diverse demographic. The intersection, say, with Judd’s Specific Object here is ironic. Disneyland’s Matterhorn is in this sense more real than the mountain with multiple national identities, and a host of additional associations, some of them mythic, mysterious and connected to ancient supernatural codes and custom.
28 Hard Code
Context in poetry is the redistributed storyteller. The concrete word merges with the memorial and produces a hybrid that bears the burden nostalgia with less effort than prose. Prose is rarely sculptural. The administration of meaning within the language for prose defies good storytelling anyway. The main problem is a mismatch of duration. Time in its unfolding surpasses the acceleration possible in story code. A list is shitty for narratives, unless it is carved in stone. Even then its contrivance is nominal at best, activated only by the living in honoring the dead for cause. The aesthetics of this phenomenon are twisted. The mechanism is not unlike the fictional devices for eliciting emotion from a reader for characters and situations produced in the author’s imagination. It is not a stretch to assign the storyteller a divine power, albeit one that is naught but illusion. The fragment subverts any debate about the truthfulness of words. A piece of code is not software, and the success of Google demonstrates the potency of compounded symbols. The sequence, the phrase, the name, the thing, the linked construction is a code for imagining a universe that rhymes with reason, no matter what.
29 No One Needs To Know
I can’t remember if the decorations were up, because of the 4th of July. Which has nothing to do with the Matterhorn. We went to Disneyland with our friends and neighbors. I think they were still working for Disney, maybe at the park. I could drop them a line. Eight years in Brooklyn between then and now. On the mountain in Switzerland, where I shot video and still images of the Matterhorn, I was alone. Well, I shared the trail with a few people, but it wasn’t difficult to create space among us. The hikers that day were moving in small groups, mostly. There were hang gliders. Jet squadrons in the sky. Tiny wild flowers blooming. The glacier was melting. It was summer. My idea was to do a half an hour of videotaping at the real Matterhorn and a half an hour at the Disney Matterhorn, make a two-channel projection installation, and be an art world hit. LOL, 2010. I really love those lens flares.
30 Asymmetrical Step Frame
I still remember artists — at least, I think they were artists — using their hands, their fingers in combinations, to “frame” a scene, a detail in a painting and whatnot. This pantomime happened routinely at art openings. This was before the ubiquitous phone camera. Nowadays, people simply photograph everything they would like to capture in a rectangular viewer, for personal use or sharing later. Framing can be an aide for composition, a device for focusing attention and emphasis, a protective measure, a sign of dedicated visible space, an ostentatious display of wealth and more. The image proposes a conceptual frame. Architecture, superimposed schematics, decorations and a host of other things can fulfill the specs for image framing. The image itself can frame an image of itself. The code to frame a digital image specifies the number of pixels and color, artificial 3D effects applied, and so on. These kinds of frames exert or express control on one level. They render a picture into an order made of ideas like “inside” and “outside.” The inclusion of architecture and its referents in framed work aligns the image with its historical emergence. A frame for a painting also denotes an ancient craft, and may signal a hierarchy in which fine art is prioritized within and by that craft. The asymmetrical presentation pushes a skewed perception that evoke anahistory, hysteria, disharmony, being high and a realm for the visionary other. Some symbology is meant to serve as a ward or hedge against bent reality and visible distortions.
31 Simulating a Slippery Slope
A painting of a mountain, a battle, or a tryst is usually not as thrilling as mountaineering, fighting for your life or making love. Yet the success of new media in displacing and co-opting thrills of every description is unprecedented. Massive industries have appeared, practically overnight, to service the desires of billions of people, who wish to satisfy their thrill-urges via network-wired electronics. Look at porn [LOL]. The numbers of folk who prefer thrill content delivered into their living spaces through a monitor, big or small, or by projection — OVER THE REAL THING — is astonishing. The current phase of mass selection of the simulation instead of the authentic original is troubling for those of us who, like artists, are dedicated to originality. The problem is that simulation art and artists are as prevalent simulations of every other sort.
32 The Future Has No Substance
“Destroy the image, and you will break the enemy.” — Enter the Dragon
The future of the 20th Century proved to be a production, a design fiction. The Contemporary is really a conflict with Time itself. Negating the fast color of experience with photographic and cinematic black and white initiated a wholesale co-optation of the visible spectrum. No viewer possesses sight anymore. The visual is a property to be managed. This phenomenon certainly extends into the 21st Century and the enormous salon of images that exist in web-based presentation media like the one you’re looking at now. None of the original material embedded in the facsimile above carries more than a tiny fraction of essential sensation necessary to assemble a scenario in a real world, in a real life. The gift economy of existence is abandoned to optical colonialism and pushed into all manner of markets, including the “attention” marketplace. The product of vision subsumed is waste, but what sort? The loss of trust in perception threatens human survival. Ask Coyote what the Roadrunner meant with his trompe-l’œil representations, created out of nothing on the fly.
33 Surveillance Mountain
At the pinnacle of the Disney Matterhorn one spots a mini-forest of gear erected. From the foot of the mountain, one cannot be certain, but some of those fixtures could be camera platforms for scoping a 360 degree view of a substantial portion of the park. The corporation is like atmosphere at Disneyland. Security is always, if not obviously, present. The professional enforcement of happy experience at The Happiest Place on Earth™ [Trademark info HERE.] is a matter of record. From a media philosophy perspective Disney operates in a unique sphere in which perception and practice mesh consistently in a complex production environment. Park functions, from a public relations standpoint, have gargantuan value, but also massive inherent risk attaching. The pressure of maintaining goodwill to the Disney brand, which extends to an enormous media conglomerate, is a prime dynamic in the parks. The task of bracketing park visitor experience from the banal facets of Disney Corp’s is a case study for management literature (e.g., employee pay structure, relations with Anaheim and the communities surrounding the park, and many controversies). Imagine the cost over the decades devoted to producing the Disney image, and the armies of lawyers, executives, marketeers, PR and HR professionals, industrial shrinks (anthropologists, sociologists, psychologists), designers and less-than-savory types who have been employed and deployed to “create” and service that image!
34 Shaping Motion with Object Placement
Nature demonstrates the dynamics that apply to objects that dictate the movement in the spatial environments they occupy. For example, a boulder in a stream sorts water flow. Designing for artificial or man-made environments entails related concerns, which at some level can become events in decision trees or sequences. The process in both cases (natural/artificial) involves Time, and therefore is easily ported to a 4D discourse. In a derivative but structurally similar application, the process applies to 4D art exhibition creation and design. In 4D art, there is no convincing rationale to radically separate creation and design, except at the level of the technical, in addressing issues of disciplinary excellence and craftsmanship. There are many methods that can be used to ensure quality in creation and presentation, and although not all of those approaches work well in both art-making and exposition facets of projects, this does not exclude any technical consideration outright. A better production sensibility might be “a time and place for everything,” or “right tool for the job,” etc. A subject for 4D content is contrasting static and flow elements in a single or multiple time-frames. The subject can be extended to exhibit design, in numerous ways, including installing objects in such a manner that viewer flow is made directional, for whatever purpose.
35 Bendable, Virtual Surface
Evolving presentation device technologies over the past several decades provide the core for a meaningful discussion of image suspension and coherence in relation to mutable material substrates for projection and light-emitting screen. The image body exists in the digital media in some kind of file format. Still and moving features are considerations that do or do not affect the choice of projection substrate or screen. The viewer profile is central to any technical discourse on 4D/New Media image presentation practicum, as is a concept for energy or power appropriation and distribution in what amounts to a multi-use facility for informatic systems. The network potential is massive, with cultural, political and specifically scientific/educational implications, not to mention emergency notification apps. The fundamental question is at what point does the picture disintegrate, due to surface distortion. Engineers have made tremendous, documented progress in this area of manufacturing and design, but the research and development has unfortunately been meshed with high expectation/low cost consumer markets, and often public and aesthetic interests are set aside for other priorities. The privatization phenomenon intersecting 4D media technology has subverted advances in sectors that bring primary value to society. A reasoned conversation about who and what is driving the cart is called for.
36 Glacial and Nominal Cohesion
37 Constructing Clutter
Any image proposes a critical analysis of composition. The documentary photograph transfers responsibility for composition from the subject to the photographer, who can disperse that responsibility through the notation. The dimensionist composition consolidates multiple images in layered stacks with a range of options for effects in the configuration. The opacity or transparency, color filters, tonal shifts in grayscale, effects and so on expand possible permutations for complex imaging. The digital or virtual version and the analog version of this process (painting and sculpture) behave differently. Where the two seams join is in output, especially the most recent types that permit 3D textures to operate as simulation assets for hi-resolution color-matching. Cloning is the purview of virtuality, which redefines the material as printed matter with camouflage. Still, some aspects of imagination exist beyond the current capacity of technology to challenge or consume. I am thinking of world-building in a concrete, organic or natural meaning of the term. The world, as far as we know, may still be building itself, and humanity with its mimetic obsessions, may be unaware that it functions simply as the effector, the utility for that construction, for the Earth’s future projection of itself for itself.
38 Pattern Recognition
Eventually, the exposed features of cycles inspire curiosity in the mind of the intrepid viewer. Patterns crave detection. An artist usually is a curious person by nature. Some artists are notorious creatures of habit. Repetition is vital to progress for a craftsman. A technique is the product of cyclic action. To achieve greatness as an artist is to refine and improve one’s art. To do so requires technical advancement through progressive application, starting at the conceptual and finishing with an object. Anti-artists naturally argue the opposite case. In 4D both ideas of art are right or wrong, depending on the stage of production. The studio is where the truth begins. The art tells that truth and proposes an answer to the question, “What is art?”
39 A Picture Is a Kind of Wish
I remember when photography was not allowed in an art museum or gallery, and many other parts of society. Privacy was not erased by virtual projection of self and the collective into social media, which is not society. The harm done to humanity and democracy is little understood. The developments to which I refer are relatively novel. To suggest that all change must be embraced in the spirit of progress is stupid and dangerous, and wrong. In the art world* the power shift toward the Contemporary market is radical enough to be termed a coup. The erasure, disenfranchisement, and displacement of many facets of art culture, economy, community and tradition in the interests of furthering the ambitions of art industrialists has caused great harm. Art is civilization’s “canary in the coal mine.”
40 Chasing Perfection, Finding Unity
The Ideal underwrites Art. It also subverts it. Art at its best rejects Plato and perfection every time, disproves it, illustrates the folly of idealism, of perfectionism. The artist who discovers the secret of the perfect flaw has jumped a practical level immediately. Machines pretend to perfection, which is basically formal worship of a copy of something. Design standardizes quality, while applying the cost benefit analysis to consigned labor, which standardizes failure for any project. The arbitrary is not the same as selectivity or choice. The presence of narrative does not compensate for aesthetic inadequacy. Rigor is great, prowess is better, genius is marvelous, but endurance, equanimity and tenacity are equally valuable for the artistic enterprise. But über alles, Joy, like a mountain, magic.
41 The Platform, Time and the Arcade
I have done quite a bit of thinking about Main Street. The Disney version represents a specific vision of social facades, and the media philosopher should be giddy to deconstruction that fabrication, especially in the pursuit of post-Marx, -Ford, -Net solutions to societal fragmentation. Those who embrace the dystopian version of future projection with tremendous ease will have no good use for the Disneyfied imaginary construct. Which has little to do with art or happiness, or even usefulness. The observation platform dedicated to scientific analysis of universal phenomena, sited in close proximity to ye olde House of Worship ~ now there is a grand proposition. Better yet, wrap it round a posh destination hotel or resort boasting magnificent natural assets. Artists ought to know to suggest there is more to offer outside the borders of such projects. Which is problematic, given the laws of popular attraction, in late-stage Capitalism. The short answer is always “property value.” One can take comfort in the belief that some day that term (property value) will again have no meaning, anywhere.
42 Integrating the Dark with Blur
Darkness offers a space in which edge disappears. This is true of light, unless the line contains color and/or tone that contradicts the enlightened extreme. The dark can be counted on, on the other hand. Blur is a condition, as much as an effect. People, like me, who possess an optical handicap, perceive the world as blurred. If you know nothing else, you adjust and increase reliance on other senses, get better at estimation, improve your pattern analysis, and so on. If you at some point are fortunate and have your vision medically corrected, through lenses or surgically, you will revel at the crisply focused real world. The secret to imperfect sight is that it won’t last very long, anyway. Humans, and human sense organs, are very fragile, and have a limited duration. An artist who illustrates the truth about sensual existence is singing to the choir a pretty discomfiting tune.
43 Symbiotic Skins
Xanthoria elegans is an eye-catching alpine “lichenized species of fungus,” according to Wikipedia. That orange is fabulous. So are the wild flowers growing along the Matterhorn trail. Juxtaposing the be-hatted costumed character [whose fake fur is roughly the same hue as X. elegans (shout out to Johann Heinrich Friedrich)] with that rusty-looking, rock-mounted stuff is I guess a facile composition move, unless I simultaneously strike a conversation about “skins,” which has a specific reference in New Media, for gaming, avatars, digitally enabled or enhanced cinema, cyberpunked animation and fiction and more shit like that. “Skin” is the best kind of polysemic. Its a term that drifts into so many conventional and unconventional regions: Redskin; the biggest organ in the human body; surface for most anything; the stuff you shed when you’re morphing, like a reptile, into a bigger, badder version of yourself; etc. In the broadest conceptual gear-centric analysis ~ which means we’re talking about machines, now, perception-extending, time-/event-capturing technology ~ the photograph and video, camera-based imaging, adds a bit of skin to any incident its pointed at. It also indicates some concern happening “behind the camera” in the mind of the operator, unless he or she is simply shooting on instinct, which is maybe a chimerical notion anyway. Interactivity adds dimension to the configuration. Check out the difference between the kid’s pose and the passerby’s. Nowadays, we spend time suspended in complex, networked states of lensing — am I a model or a shooter, at any given moment, within systemic media and its ideatic creep? In response to this circumstance, inspired by X. elegans, I enter the term Creeping Skin into the virtual discourse.