I attended the FisherPoets reading at Labor Temple Diner and Bar in downtown Astoria to see my friend Tom Hilton perform. It was a wonderful and unique event. The venue was packed, standing room only. I have been attending poetry readings for decades, and I always love the ones that attach occupation to poetry practice (e.g., love me some Cowboy poets). Later, on a drive to Cannon Beach that included an astonishing NWC sunset, I asked Tom to get me a fisherman gig, so I can legitimately perform at next year’s gathering. I suggested it’s no different than Catholic high schools recruiting top athletes for their sports programs. He’s considering it very seriously, and he should, because I can do that muthaf*ckin’ poe-tree, y’all. Like Charlie Bukowski, we can go deeper, dear reader. Tonight, in tandem with writing this essay, part 3 of the Post-Storage sequence, I watched The Charles Bukowski Tapes, which I suggest the reader play as accompaniment for my text + images.
Authenticity has always been a thing in the arts, right? We owe this to Plato, and his jaundiced, republican perspective on artists. If you, O artist, are a priori designated a subversive illusionist, you’re going to take a defensive posture. After millennia of philosophical abuse from dead dude in a robe and his intellectual descendants in all kinds of quirky get-ups, no wonder we artists feel compelled to demonstrate how un-fake we are. And there’s always somebody shouting at us, the Man, the Judge, the social realist or the morals gangs, a church marm, a ghastly night manager with the ear of a king or prince. Dick Armey, Tom Delay, Adolph Hitler, I am looking directly at you! Decadent and obscene are simply flavors of FAKE! At the end of dumb things, as dumb time winds down, everything is totally fake and everyone is onto the sham, if they’re not on the take. The hollowed-out shambles of my country and quite a few others provide cover for the fabulous gay parties thrown by nitrous-sniffing cyborgs who once a year give a TED talk. I keep my ear to the tracks. Just last night my elder son mentioned the work stoppage on Bill Gates’ Chinese nuclear program. And how about Space X? Do you feel like we’re getting close?
If you cannot rewrite history, which in fact must instead be overwritten endlessly until forgetfulness erases it, you can colorize it, or desaturate it, reduce it to black and white, to grayscale. Keep in mind, there will always be critics. For amplification, read Chris Hedges’ venomous assault on Peter Jackson’s They Shall Not Grow Old. As a regular reader of Hedge’s over the past decade, and a fanboy of Jackson’s Tolkien films, I felt like a kid hiding behind the sofa listening to mom and dad argue in the kitchen. Hedges is a fanatic, and his anti-war, -masculine rhetoric strikes me as a kind of partial blindness. Demagogues as a class also hate art, when it does not reinforce their favored narratives, or undermines the primacy of the Word itself, as it (art) always should. Jackson on the other hand I get. If you can improve the thing, why wouldn’t you? Especially to memorialize a beloved relative? I would bracket Jackson’s effort with Robert de Niro’s homage to his father. I realize that false equivalence is a double-edged sword, but then movies aren’t paintings or sculptures, are they? A quality piece of furniture, however, can pleasantly add to the experience of art, a fireplace, a movie, even a super-stupid one like Christian Marclay’s forgettable phenom, The Clock. Did this guy really get all that attention for splicing together all those film bits, snippets of movies “the artist” did not produce. By the way, this is way cinema can not be classified as art. Not that corporate film people aren’t territorial and medium specific, when the novelty becomes the norm and technology threatens to shove the old winners out on their pompous, rich asses.
I am working with Jennifer Robbins on the web site for my doctoral dissertation/thesis. The collaboration has been a magic catalyst for some essential resolution for the text + images, which will be first published in a virtual format, it appears. At present, my affiliation with European Graduate School is lapsed, probably permanently so. I have not entered another program. Which has not prevented me from continuing to work on the project. Today, I settled on a title: A THING (THERE IS NO SUCH THING): 4D art, practice and thinking. What do you think? A few minutes later, scanning search engine results for my prospective title, I discovered the essay that is the kernel for my thesis: Martin Heidegger’s "The Thing," in Poetry, Language, Thought (Translated by Albert Hofstader in 1971). A massive find, and I am in a state of wonder and exultation. One has to have a lot of faith to engage in such an enormous undertaking, and approaching it as in the backwards (thunder dreamer) way only adds to that condition. More later. Finally, I think I’m resolved to use 2wovenform7 [see 2wf7 used in “7 Episodes at CGU (2006) in a simple projection configuration HERE] as my cover image/source material to introduce the text and website. Reviewing all the variations and derivations from the original marker sketch proved a revelatory activity in itself. It’s a happy day!
Mercury Retrograde will be in effect most of March 2019. It’s a good time to reflect. Remember the White Cube, the platform for contemporary art, adopted by most serious contemporary art galleries round the globe, post-WW2? The White Cube (WC) has to a great degree been disrupted and displaced, creatively destroyed, by the art fair and its white cubicle. Now the white cubicle is being impinged upon by the selfie-shop and other market dynamics and forces, including the long-emerging web-based market for art. Note the Volta NYC 2019 crisis, and the deus ex machina intervention by Zwirner/Hort, Plan B. The spellbinding pace of disenfranchisement and disarray for almost everyone except the Big Box monopoly franchises for art could put the quickest artsy adapter in a neck brace. For Believers, it’s Old Testament Biblical: "They that sow the wind, shall reap the whirlwind." It’s not as if change was avoidable, although the process might be very different. For a start the White Cube and Black Box could be formally conjoined, with a head shop serving as a hinge, and an adjoining lounge for after hours or outside-the-box happenings and goings-on in the format of Meow Wolf [LOL]. That’s 4D for ya, in a nutshell. While Earth melts down.
Which has nothing to do much with my imagination, does it? A multi-use facility [MUF] is what I outlined to get into the Drucker School Masters in Arts and Cultural Management program a decade ago. The MUF is a conceptual architecture I have been testing, since the late 1980’s, starting with Freedom Gallery in Beckley, WV. I have over that time proven the viability of the 4D model, and its expansive, modular, nodal qualities, iterations, derivatives and configurations, which are linked to digital and analog media, applications, networks and devices. The main components are the classroom, the studio, the performance space, the storage area, the exhibition space, the archive/library, the shop, the lounge and the office. The studio consists of pre- and post- and production areas or modes. Given all those collective facets of the confab or unified whole, the peripherals and additive elements, especially in virtual domains infer the possible mirroring of content throughout the hemispheres of culture. The reach of the operation spans local2global in a logical arrangement. The all-directional nature of free sharing of free speech material and immaterial (content and context) across all existing platforms is invaluable, if one has an eye on the future platforms for art and the humanities, as an expression of science and enlightened, rational society.
The option remains to preserve the design fiction of an art business that is capable of doing anything more than provisioning the urges of the super-classes. Due to safety concerns, except for safari-like neo-expeditions, the international oligarchy reserves for itself the power of free movement, while contributing to the chaos and upheaval that ensures obstacles to free movement for the rest of us. If you get past the frustration to analyze the immediate effects, the W/inners are constructing prisons for themselves and their kind (not-Other) and using their inconceivable wealth, position, (reproductive) power to fabricate or superimpose fully materialized superstructures to serve their needs. Food, transportation, entertainment, energy, communication, exchanges/markets/economies, armies, etc, the global ultra-wealthy are securing for themselves, more or less super- or supra-nationally. They are paying for it all via the complex array of tax havens, shell corporations, money and property schemes, asset juggling, attended to armies of experts and conventional agents and agencies. They are paying off (corrupting) any public official they need to to grease the wheels of their burgeoning empire. They are exploiting corporate monopoly media tools for propaganda purposes, mostly to deflect, project and transfer any negative consequences or attention to other players. America, for instance, is not an Empire, but that is a widely dispersed assumption or media meme. How did the definition attach to the US democracy? Who benefits from the disinformation, which poisons the conversation against the nation itself, and interrupts the assignment of causation to the actor responsible for the circumstance?
Most of us would probably rather attend our lives, our families, our business, our interests, our loves, than pursue answers to broad social questions that nag at us. Because more and more people are exposed to the fraying of our communities in all dimension due to the rot of inequality, it becomes more difficult to ignore the reality. The problem is now a list of grievances: homelessness, joblessness, addiction and other kinds of madness, endless war, mass poverty or imprisonment; made intolerable, because our popular desire is not satisfied by our elected leaders, who have almost to a person been bought off my their masters. A sense of betrayal pervades our discourse, simultaneous to the lack of practical recourse to enact progressive change, to improve society, to leave a better for the generation to follow ours. America was founded to some extent on the idea of the Ideal, as much as it was founded on the practices of exploitation and extraction. The promise of America is intertwined in a Paradise narrative, that only partially represents the motivation of Americans. The conflict between the narratives is obvious to the world, and has been obfuscated by those whose selfish interests benefit from the conversion of Paradise into Hell for all but themselves.
For some of us born native into this centuries-long American Experiment, it is become quite a task to unpack or unwind the true from the false about this country, which (spectrum of fact) is complicated, often by design. The framework of the nation when it was established is visionary, which is why it has been widely emulated by other visionaries, and attacked relentlessly by those for whom liberation social vision is an existential threat. The subversion of the Thing, and the consequent effective reduction of objectivity as means by which consensus in obtainable to a base state, continuum for enshrining formal stupidity to supplant the Thing itself ~ this is what passes now for good faith concourse, or bonafide free speech. Schismatic conduct is prioritized over the creatively seductive entreaty, or call and response induction. Reciprocation is divorced from autonomy, instead of being correctly understood as a timely process, a sequential event, a serial enterprise. The accumulation of wisdom is thus converted into a parody of itself, performance gluttony. The brute force of data visualization functions like that. There is nothing artistic in it all, whatever its advocates claim. It is a lie told with tools that purport neutrality. The corrosion and eventual usurpation of ancient standards of measure are the goals of the advocacy.
Enforced service to a common cause is the representation of a disordering matrix. An artist is usually very sensitive to the notion, whether the draft refers to military service, sports team operations, or sketching an imaginary object into a real thing. Connecting the dots and disconnecting them are divergent activities. If one’s dots are perceptual (see Kusama) then random applications are a means of combining all three types of draft into a unified social medium, which can be situated in contemporary art as an ersatz lab experiment, a project, fun, decoupled from war, from sport as a metaphor for colonial slave-based, mercenary commercial game systems, and Big A art itself. The induction procedures, the protocols of Church and King, and the art that justifies and rationalized the Order they represent, are reinforced in the command and control role of the Artist supervising the fake collective experience. The anti-democratic bent in so-called conceptual, performance, tactical, etc. contemporary “arts” is often traceable to a foreign patronage franchise. The passionate support for the alien, for alienation as a central topic, the prioritizing of the abject and strange experience of outsiders constitute a subject matter whose true focus is subjugation porn. The normalizing of mass reaction, from outrage and repulsion to exhaustion and compliance, is the point.
The artist is encouraged to recycle garbage to produce “original” contemporary art. The oligarch joke in that trope is the inversion of waste models, which are part and parcel of Capitalist Civilization. The Marxist acquisition of means of production (of waste) reduces and consigns all praxis to the garbage heap. Junk is only redeemable in the scarcity model domestic economy, in the Collection of the Patron of the Arts, whose Eye saves art from disappearance and re-imagines it in a Canon, a sanctioned History agreed upon over time by the most powerful Few, the Survivors, the Old Families, as in “fantasy” Game of Thrones. Most of humanity is fodder for the cannibilizing drama depicted via the neo-serial small screen cinema, the dream machine for the new Gilded Age. The medium itself is a veritable dimensionist phenomenon, but not in the way the Media represent it (the medium), except when pressed by inconvenient opposition or just skepticism. The medium is the prime vehicle of the global surveillance network, a cornerstone of behavioral assessment and adjustment. The medium is the mind of management enforced, the foremost weapon for inducing madness on a massive scale. Fomenting sedition is the business of corporate media syndicates. Cultural erasure is the aim of the global hegemony appointed to C-Class executive seats on board of the “mainstream media.” The central characteristic of the artificial media personhood is cynicism, as a mask for anti-social psychosis, ultimately predicting episodes of genocide, and possibly extinction of the species (excepting the Survivors, of course). The most nefarious conflation evident in mass corporate media blurs the line between salvation and survival. With respect to art, the distinction is profound.
I won’t get to the Guggenheim in time to see the Hilma af Klint exhibit in Manhattan. The NY Times calls it a “revelation.” The press materials push a narrative that af Klint disrupts contemporary art history, that she displaces the white male progenitor, art hero history for symbolic color, theoretical abstraction and so on. The chronology is the basis for this argument for revision of the modern art story. Presumably, the driver of the reformation is in synch with the institutional redefinition of global art, as indicated by the MoMA shift. Af Klint jibes nicely with the urgent serum for cultural misogyny. I won’t see the Mapplethorpe photography exhibit at the Gugg either. The museum will not likely be protested and litigated, as it was in Cincinnati in 1990. The cultural map has been redrawn and continues to be. Heteronormative iconography is rarely produced for mass distribution, absent snark and irony. Not to say that channels for un-Gay content don’t exist. They do. What are they? More importantly, what are the supporting narratives for material that is produced specifically for “traditional” families, and is this a matter of content consumption, production, or dispersion. The privatization of a public imagination is almost total. The American Dream operates “more like a business,” clearly, but what is that business? For whom is it profitable, for whom is it power-providing, for whom does it increase reproductive capacity? Most importantly, how is it sustainable, and who does it sustain?
The privatization of space travel redefines man’s imaginary exploration of space, of the universe in conformity with preceding eras of colonial enterprise. America concedes its skyward gaze to the billionaire set. The oligarchic survivalist moves into the future budgeted to pursue riches in the far reaches of the galaxy, equipped with infinite life and technological supremacy, minus any accountability to, well, anyone or -thing (governing body) in the universe. Likely in the company of robot sex toys (pleasure devices) and war machines designed to never harm their owners. I would suggest all these fantasies arise from the aura of artificial personhood, except that peculiar legal construct, the modern version, the corporation is a relatively novel un-thing/thing, the creation of which refuses to make itself (AI) in its own image, but instead causes (as in collateral damage) the destructive change of actual personhood in the image of the artificial its manifest cause for existence. We do not yet know if the Universe is not wide enough to contain the mutating power of artificial personhood, for it to be subsumed in the body of creation. The conquest of personhood by the formulated legal definition of personhood is the defining feature of the dystopian present, particularly outside the gates of compounds for the plutocracy. It is not the poor who consume KFC. It is the other way round, despite the pantomimes of the present occupant of the White House, when he entertains sport champions. The cartoons of robots with people inside them, saving humanity, preventing catastrophe, protecting us from our enemies - these comics are metaphorical representations of corporate power, which fails utterly anytime it does anything other than make money for its investors, owners and executives, and to lesser degree, management.
No doubt the media sphere produces in the churning deluge of its DDoS-like waves of information, cascading images + texts that pop like popcorn into user feeds. The bombardment of Tesla and Elon Musk (who really is behind this campaign anyway?), with periodic briefs on the latest car to smash into a tree or highway divider or building and killing the driver, fails to mesh properly with Musk’s extraterrestrial activities. It also inadequately meshes with Musk getting baked with Joe Rogan, selling a flamethrower and being slapped with contempt of court suits by US government agencies. The Mad Inventor stereotype (or archetype) brushes up against the Mad Billionaire Inventor stereotype due to the financialization of the global economy, but the precedents are there, and have been for centuries, if not ages. I attended a lecture a couple of years ago by Dr. Allan Chapman at Oxford’s Christ Church Upper Library that outlined the contributions of Tycho Brahe to global speculation, travel and conquest, via technological advances in the fields of navigation using applied astronomy. Musk and Brahe seem to me to fit nicely in a category of some sort. The crux of personality in science and art transits a fine line between novelty and catastrophe. The social media-attached news feed, rooted in dumb or retarded algorithms, hashing out the oxymoronic Artificial Intelligence for today’s distracted or casual Apple News or Yahoo News or Facebook reader, tends to stack clickable freak show tales over T & A celebrity filth over the bilge of gotcha journalism, disaster porn and police blotter fodder. Good luck maintaining equanimity in that environment of detached, quasi-fictional experience!
The concern from a media philosophy standpoint arguably is sustenance. The question is whether the criteria fits the media, because an agent can always claim, like Jon Stewart did, that his job is entertainment. The Gladiator meme (“Are you not entertained?”) riffs on the real issue. The stuff humans have done, are doing and will do for entertainment is eyebrow-raising , to say the least, by any current measure of prudence, sensibility, morality or even legality, depending on the situational citation or anecdote. Boredom is the bane of the Wise. Boredom is the mother of Entertainment and the starter or Master of Wars. The popular cultural analyst is attentive to the Bored demographic, because the click-hungry virtual media must be fed, and the bored user is a target, because the bored user is a mark for consumptive addiction pushers. To promise the Bored an endless supply of respite from their affliction (boredom) is to hack or bridge the complex abyss of engagement that separates the balkanized Self from all not-Self material or immaterial. To deliver is to hatch a junkie, who will gobble at the trough of your deliverable until you cease to deliver. Sure, once the stream is set up, the patterns of feeding established, the terms of payment arranged, the quality of time modified then minimized, the media pimp or pusher can squeeze the junkie ruthlessly and relentlessly.
In due course, which is to say, over time, Boredom is the harbinger of atrophy. The best cure for atrophy is Shock. It is a savage cycle. An incidental, accidental or collatoral value of contemporary art is its trackable nature, which owes much to the convention of the archive morphing into its virtual mutation the database. The art world feasts not only on boredom but also on the Bored. It cultivates them, because in the networks of the super-wealthy exist a great variety of species of the Bored: the Pampered; the Pretending; the Pantomiming; and so on. Once all one’s natural needs are met, and one is saturated, if not satiated by plenty, beyond enough, the attractiveness of boredom is the fashion of realism. The cruel direct their boredom to the exponent of cruelty, which is a sinister pursuit indeed. Pleasure seekers who descend into boredom crave satisfaction beyond desire, and find the banal, the nullification of the body as a giver to please the mind. The residual sensation of touch becomes a hateful reminder of passion lost or wasted and replaced by the binary patterns of boredom and satisfaction, the processes of which reduce to the Identical. Boredom is the seed bearer of the Covetous. To covet is to know the urge to horde, to collect, to gather for oneself everything, which is the opposite of a Thing.
The intensity of the encounter is a feature of contemporary art presentation practice. Precisely how the viewer comes to art is a function of management, marketing, buzz, plus the architecture of the installation and the thought that goes into shaping the encounter. The viewer experience balances physicality, proximity, emotional content, visual context and chance, plus more. No encounter can be conclusive, nor should an installer strive for conclusion. A few years ago the Met in NYC displayed “The Boxer,” and then the Michelangelo drawings. In my (4D) assessment both were terrible exhibition failures. The mass of viewers destroyed the zone for exchange that must exist for art. The problem from an administrative point of view is balancing the concept of permanence and the temporary with value and meaning. The lens through which arts management peers at a masterpiece is tinted by the urgency of compromise, concession and critique. Contemporary arts management is underwritten by the absolute imperative to fail art, but not too badly. Meanwhile, achieving corporate goals, private or non-profit, is the paramount duty of management. Those goals are set by committee, in tandem with accounting, reflecting the necessities of development, as well as the focus of the institutional master or masters, owners or prime stakeholders. Maybe a museum cultivates and counts numbers - of visitors, of hits on its website, of dollars in its general fund. The corporate fiduciary duty will impose itself over the imaginary infinite lifetime of its artificial personhood, quite simply because that is its function and design.
What does it take to kill an artificial person? An artificial pistol? Where does one bury an artificial person, or does on cremate it? We witness the demise of corporations frequently enough to know something must happen. What is the proper ritual? Who does one invite to the wake, to the burial? The erasure of a corporate charter is a profound event. According to the Court, artificial people possess the right to Free Speech, and that mode of expression may take form of money, which is fungible. Should the company logo be buried with the dead corporation. Should company cars, a fleet if the size of the corporation warrants it, be interred with the dead artificial personhood? Should all actual persons employed by the company face the same fate as the company to which they have linked their destiny? Indemnification is a key characteristic of the legal profile of the artificial person. Does this feature extend post mortem? These and other questions apply to contemporary art, which is integral to corporate identity on many levels, and travels through the artificial person syndicates into actual, private person networks and nodes and back into the corporate fold, sometimes with nothing but the stroke of a pen. Provenance, acquisition and deaccessioning are the on- and off-ramps of contemporary art in transition. These are points at which the secondary market, the auction house, the insurance broker, and the collector adjudicate the flow of art between private and public spheres. To say the system is rigged is to state the obvious, given the available market data and anecdotal accounts of its practical performance. The reality of the art industry is dimensional and does not reduce to, for instance, matters of currency and taste.
The Art Star is a marvelous fiction. Media dissolves the history of art so fast the bubbles of notoriety barely have a moment to reach the social surface. The insistence of those who argued successfully that art, like all else, must run more like a business, in their shallow heyday, sought to apply the Brand to artists. Dumb and desperate artists believed their hype. The corporations monopolizing art commerce adored the momentum branding enjoyed in the ranks of competition artists propelled by their BFA and MFA programs into the thick jungle combat of artistic careerism. The only winners were the galleries who could afford to endlessly grow their stables, without spending a penny, who, in other words, possessed A-List Branding themselves, and the raunchy players who leveraged brand identity into various episodes of exploitation and depravity on the fringes of art world conventions, fairs, festivals, bi- or triennials and every other convergence of the artsy elites, public and private. The BRAVO network art show starring Jerry Saltz and other notables, Work of Art, proved a hilariously ghastly new media abortion of a program. Work of Art itself puts to rest the nominal genre of reality TV, and thank heavens the zombie effect never revivified that abomination. WoA did have value, though. It revealed much about how TV studio people view the artist, the art world, art and the power of media, their medium.
The emergence of viable online marketplace alternatives [which span EBAY, Saatchi, Artsy and a host of template or CMS-driven experimental gallery formats and funding/purchasing formats, including subscription, dealer-down, percentage of sale models] has pinched the tail of the actual market. For a couple of decades the inevitable demise of the “real” marketplace seems just around the bend. The economic reality remains: the proportion of actual to virtual is 60-40%; for a crisper picture of the field dynamics, which are not art biz specific, see Chip Cox. Yet we can discern patterns from the classroom to studio to gallery to museum and the academy, bookstore, archive or collection, cycling through form into substance and back to form over time. The art world pattern outside time is superficial and susceptible to pendulum swing-like shifts in taste, interest, attention, whatever. The contemporary art pattern on the other hand resembles deep, invisible market flow, perceptible to elite analysts capable of immediate projection and value prediction. Most outsider/insider configurations are not-unexpected evacuations of the contemporary art sphere. Push and pull motion for the optical experience is a recognizable facet of the medium itself. The estimation of distance, which requires conception of center, propels the shared intuition of acceptable, practical intervals to separate (and bind) de-centralized events, nodes and materials. The program must be temporal-spatial in order for it (the program) to work, much less serve the field like a utility. The major auction houses were really the first syndicate to solve the logistics, primarily because they had the material resources to invest in the solution, but also because they exist outside most regulatory scrutiny, most of the time.
The latest venture to cross my radar is Artfare. I like it for a few reasons. The model conjoins a nice mix of stuff you would want such an operation to make doable. Artfare is a website. It is a virtual gallery. Artfare is pushed through virtual platforms via direct contact. They have a good list. Artfare is an app. It facilitates face to face meetings between collectors and artists. It is a GPS-enabled device. The product can therefore be data. Analysis and diagnostics can be the product. Production (manufacturing) is done by someone else (the artist), somewhere else (other than the Artfare business office). Art is sexy tech. The artist list (stable) is curated. The platform is slow-grow, and exclusive, which indicates pragmatic management, but slow grow/exclusive also indicates a specific type of tech to market engineering. The launch is NYC-based/centric. For an artist, Artfare represents a market change. The destruction of the middle market for art translates to opportunity for other segments of the industry. There is potential for an artist studio to morph into a platform, to be reconfigured as a multi-use facility, to maximize the value of the artist Brand and the value of studio production. One can already see this occurring in the Art Star class over the past 30 years or so. I’m looking at you all: Hirst, Koons, Kusama, Murakami, down the line! The rogues’ gallery! The truth is, the upper reaches of the power artist elite more or less require one to maintain a factory for inclusion in the Serious set. Nostalgia for the Pollock mode of making has gone the way of the dodo, along with nostalgia, and art, as such.
If the artist embraces the superstructure that incorporates capital, manufacturing, marketing, distribution, property (real, intellectual and objective), management versus labor, accounting, inventory, HR, and so on, then the artist should expect the product of the system to conform to other like systems. Does such art satisfy? Is art ever tantamount to a product? I have a problem first of all with the assumption that anything put into words equates to art. The inequality of word to art is as extreme as the imbalance between haves and have-nots, which at least exist on a scale of agreement, whose poles are The Name and The Number. That Which Is Writable or Which Can Be Said need not be expressed as art to exist. The thinkable includes art, although art is not contained only in the thinkable. Art can express as the unthinkable. The truth in the unwritable, unsayable, unthinkable thing is in its absence from a beginning proscribed in any divine word we know of. Art clearly is not Biblical. Art does not have its Genesis in a Jewish tribal religious manuscript. The viral media phenomenon of that Word and the absence of art from it (the Talmud/Bible) is one of the historical cornerstones of Western Civilization, which, like everything has discovered and explored art, converted or conquered it, extracted it from its Nature and exploited it, and then used it to justify and rationalize Civilization itself. Civilized art, in its own Word is Tautological.
A normal, real (not-artificial) person can only comprehend the Tautology of the Word of Civilization through a fictional medium. Art is not fictional, although so much of art represents or depicts false narratives. The preset narrative of art is fictional, like all preset narrative. Nothing in art is predetermined. The craft aspects of an art object however are another thing altogether. The entirety of a good stretcher, frame, prepared substrate, paint and so on, is a prepared to artistic specifications. The compatibility of the determinate and indeterminate aspects of art is a function of the unifying quality of the process by which art appears and remains apparent. The time function of art is resisted through craft and proven over time. The quality of art is simultaneously autonomous and contingent within the determined material features of art, which features help designate art as art for a viewer, but also function to conserve the art itself for as long as possible, in the best condition possible. Re-litigating this point never succeeds in destroying art and its complementary craft elements. The longevity of art and art crafts contradicts, for instance, painting’s death, in the same way that breath contradicts the mortality of a person. One can argue the person is deceased, but as long as the person continues to breathe, death has yet to arrive. The question of whether art will outlast humanity is unknowable. The more interesting question would be, “What would be the point, if art outlasts humanity?”
The ubiquity of the corporate presence presupposes un-being as the preeminent culture driver in line with the syndicate fiat, the credit card. The dangerous imaginary money of corporate money demands a never-ending supply of corporate cultural production, the cult of entertainment. The hilarious episodes of Captain Marvel and Ghostbusters (2016 version) illustrate the confounding of the marketeers pushed by HR departments, responding to C-Class fatwas, being woke to focus group results and kept up-to-data by politico-demographers whose kids will go to school at Harvard or Stanford or MIT or Oxford. What confounds the PR set? The defiant, dissatisfied and well-informed consumer who refuses to be made compliant to the short-term ROI necessities of public-corp existence. When disenfranchised choose not to accept blame and project guilt in the social exchange, and surrender to the commodity rehabilitation programming of corp-soc systems, they annoy the entitled masters of the economy. One of the most bizarre features of the post-2007-8, as the Austerity (for the 99%, not those who caused the crisis through fraud and other criminal behavior, and just plain greed) regime was contrived and implemented from the top-down, was the drumbeat from elites chastising the victims. Even as banks, hedge funds, insurers, ratings agencies, co-opted bureaucrats, corrupted politicians, law dogs, academics/economists, captured journalists, ministers preaching on the godliness of wealth, and so many in the professional, “white collar” classes almost to a person got away with their part in the most massive bottom-2-top redistribution of goods and money in human history, the industrial mouthpieces from each sector explained to the pillaged classes that they would need to expect less, suffer more and not blame anyone for what “happened.” As if the scam was tantamount to weather.
In a way it is unfortunate that our perceptual capacity is enlarged to the extent that simple, 2D caricature is not as viscerally gratifying as it has been in the past. Possibly one upside from the threat of an era for Chinese global conquest is a retooling of 2D practice. In fact, the phenomenon has been happening since the East and West “opened up” to each other over the past several centuries. The Postwar tech revolution in Asia, to which so much manufacturing has been relocated - to destroy the labor movement in Europe and America and enrich the Geek-plutocracy and the stock exchanges/investors they prop up - has produced a collateral effect. The aesthetics and design principles of the Orient have of course migrated to and saturated computer-/device-rooted, networked New Media. What does that mean? It is as stupendous moment for contemporary art, for one thing, and this reflects the phenomenon in Postwar Europe, especially Germany, where art, particularly painting, uncorked and a remarkable blossoming occurred. Corporate global syndicates, a few consumptive governments, and all the new international millionaires and billionaires would love to co-opt the artsy upside to World War, mass population displacement, and the technologies attaching. What do they really deserve? If one studies the era at depth, carefully, it becomes obvious that the rich bastard classes derived enormous, even unimaginable wealth, prestige and reproductive power in all the usual ways: through extraction and exploitation, predatory lending, fraudulent and deceptive practices, opportunism, graft, grift and cons, economic blackmail, third-party force; basically stealing and cheating. See William K. Black for a sober perspective. The fix was in.
The conceit of ‘programmable matter” in the Bill and Melinda Gates constellation of global interventions is intertwined with speculative venture investment in a global vision in sharp divergence from the pre-Crash 2007 conception of humanity and our modes of social organization. The tech-takeaway in the aftermath of Y2K and the tech-bubble bursting, and many other temporary upheavals and imaginary catastrophes in the field, must be that no monopoly-busting regulator, no sensible opposition, no accounting measure, will dent the veneer of the FUTURE. Yet, impossibly, politicians like Sen. Elizabeth Warren and US House Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez are coming out, calling for the breaking up of Big 5 tech. Europe implemented substantive privacy regimes for American-based internet companies, although corporate media muffled the importance of these rulings. The power to control messaging on issues affecting the operations of Apple, Alphabet, Amazon, Netflix and Facebook is not complete, obviously, and the capacity to restrain FAANG domination still exists. The movement toward a global resistance to all manifestations of international supremacist plutocracy is iterative. It does not appear with the emergence of any particular technology. Nano-, algo-, bio-tech, IoT, AI, Cloud, Big Data and so on all are part of a dimensional system that in unequally delivered to the world it affects. The technological conquest of everything presupposes the neo-Conquistador replacing the thing with nothing, then taking the thing, while everyone (except the conqueror) is absorbed by nothing. So far the plan is working 99% of the time, almost everytime.
We are by necessity predisposed to fall backwards into the “sharing economy.” The Obama “HOPE” PR message and the propaganda for social media as a one-way wealth. Understanding a thing as a gift is essential to accepting art on its own terms. The debasement of “sharing” is possible within the economy of dereliction, but the amputation of sharing from human society causes circular devastation with certainty. To rationalize the purposeful dejection of humanity is to posit madness as an article of exchange. The permeability of the democratic social fabric, a feature inherent in free society for free exchange, can be exploited. The protocols of exploitation by now are well defined, proven in fact. The effects are demonstrably scalable. A challenge to the exploiter must be mounted to defend freedom. The successful confusion of cause and reflection ensures the agent of exploitation will succeed. The diligence of the citizen to soberly assess the condition of freedom is a responsibility both personal and collective. The imperative of art is its gift as freedom of expression, consisting of elements for the individual and of the commons. Art is made of things. It is made of elements like cadmium. Art’s mediums are water, oil, plastic polymer, etc. Other substances that make art art are clay, stone, wood, cotton or linen. Anyway, the art object is made of things, which make it the thing it is, and a human being or group of us are the medium that make the art thing, too. The thing art is irrelevant without more people to receive art, but this reception is not a taking. To experience art is to receive freedom in the modality of gift giving and reception.
To attribute an energy dynamic to art imprints the thing with poetics. The danger of associating poetry and art arises from the compulsion of the Word in any configuration. That is, until 4D fiction is established and comprehended. The inculcation of form by contextual representation is metaphorical. Idealism is a priori a rebuttal of existence in the present. Poetry does not have to be ideological to indoctrinate a thing, because language will do that for poetry and the poet. Command in language is a state of overturned being. The surrender of freedom to language argues against any Manifesto that dictates freedom to the reader. A fair hearing for free expression is impossible in, for example, English. However, humanity exists til now in the exercise of the freedom to attempt freedom by all means available. Language, even the Word of God, and man is not god, is bereft of freedom, except within God, and so one must wonder whether the devotion of the person to any god is fictional. A unitary god, a single God, is as much a useful design fiction as divine function for linear man. The polytheistic pantheon is a collective extrapolation of the personal experience of a god in man. Yet man must learn to pray, and is at his best when he prays to be free. This is the prayer that gives art a divinity that can extend to the viewer a sense of self within holiness, a perceptual clue to wholeness. A universe composed of finitude is still a Power of 1.
In the spirit of the art that connects binary creation to the geometry of the visible universe we can discover a link to things of every kind. The urge to define is a perfunctory action preceding salvation in obliteration. The imprisonment of choice isolates the inhabited body from it habitat. The environment for choice is the universe of all choice, which is a form of freedom of imagination, which precedes formal expressive freedom, if not selfless exultation. All creation in itself is the object of joyful man. Expressively complex, people through each other and ourselves diversify the means of expression, without exhausting the remedies for experience associated with pain, such as grief. The dimensional nature of expression is formed from the connection of events to things. The thing for humanity is art, and art is dimensional. The object has dumb measurements. The thing is intelligent before it is labeled and numbered, and its intelligence is contained in the parameters of it integrated freedoms. I am free to move in my car on an American highway, only as long as I have a drivers’ license, am not transporting anything illegal, drive under the speed limit, observe traffic rules, and on, on and on. Gas is a limiting factor. The engine and other mechanical systems for operating my vehicle matter. Etc. Now, how free should I feel, in my car? Freedom of imagination, freedom of expression - am I measuring these extensions of myself? If I am, does a measurement of freedom itself reveal or explain how free I am in my existence, personal and collective? More to the point: If I were truly free, what would I imagine; and what would I express? An artist must ask these questions every day, and his art should serve to answer these questions, for today.
I watched Pork Chop Hill last night on Netflix or Amazon Prime. My Uncle Bob was a Korean War veteran, who saw combat duty in the actual field in and around the stylized scenario depicted in the film. Gregory Peck, Robert Blake, Martin Landau, George Peppard, Rip Torn, Harry Guardino, Woody Strode, Gavin McLeod, Norman Fell and others establish an ensemble that performs eloquently in a modern war movie. The image of police action in Asia set the table for movies that followed, even for recent classics, like Saving Private Ryan. This morning I am merging the rant of Chris Hedges, discussed above, and Pork Chop Hill. The memory of my relative, who received full military honors at his funeral and was quietly proud of his service toward the end of his life, colored my viewing of the movie and the Hedges’ essay. Without amplifying the statement, I will mention that in the past few weeks, two female elders in my circles of family and tribal affiliations passed away, after long, productive lives. Both women were impressive in their own ways. They lived on opposite ends of the North American continent, Jean and Jan, but they were bound invisibly. They belonged to a generation of people born a century or so ago, who witnessed radical changes in the world. The American Century is a media meme, and like every fiction, hovers over truth like the blade of a thresher. Which does nothing to diminish the reality that appeared and is disappearing with the passing of each participant. We are all moments. The moment, with few exceptions, is a thing, of which there is no such thing.
One of the first vinyl records I listened to with enthusiasm, of my own volition, was Jim Croce’s Photographs & Memories: His Greatest Hits. “Time in a Bottle” is one of the songs that moved me as a young man, albeit one who had no real clue about the content of Croce’s musical, lyrical reflection on love, memory and time. Painting in Morris Graves studio shortly after he died, I produced a series of still life paintings, using the bottles I found in the studio, which Graves had used in his own iconic paintings. An alcoholic has specific associations with The Bottle. In a warlike Civilization every aspect of humanity is infected or at least inflected by the presence of war, unless one endeavors specifically to ban the reference in the projection. That undertaking is far less daunting that one might imagine. The appeal of Jeff Koons owes much to his ejection of war from his production and persona. I can see how some of the men and women who perceive the world, industrial relations, Civilization, historical and chronological time, material exchange, romance and sex, bodily sustenance, Nature, really all things, as facets and dimensions of interlocking warfare. Warfare is stylized conflict, and the 20th Century marked the end of war style over substance. Vietnam, the atom bomb, the trenches of WWI combined dissemble any quaint idea of war. Style requires quaint ideas, which serve the mediocrity of tyrants usually, in everything they attend but tyranny. The notional value of war was lost in its derivatives, to put it the earliest phrasing of the 21st Century.
Should the destruction of realism for war be celebrated? If one is a pacifist, one has an interest in going to war with war. The tactical killing of peace is forever a pastime of the warlord, and so tit for tat. What the bigger picture reveals however is that virtuality is destroying realism across a spectrum of human endeavor. Virtual war displaces War and replaces it with a simulation, which then evolves into simulacra. The endgame is nothing. End program. The future of Singularity is intertwined with wars past. The resonance of the heroism of soldiers in battle is located in the secret embrace of lovers forever, in human time, if not universal time, which for us is unknowable, or fictional. The power to kill another person and the profound bio-synchronicity of romantic love situate as experiential nodes of man, and the fictional narrative people compose for themselves. The mashup of war and love only makes sense in a 4D, beyond binary, configuration. Within the dimensionist continuum we find other meaningful components for human life: sickness and health, birth and death, gathering and ritual, and more, throughout which we want music, poems and art in ample supply. The system of living for humans is crumbling now, and our world seems to fall apart simultaneously. Is this real life? Will virtual robber barons succeed at displacing and replacing religion, kings and queens, magic, of which the greatest is love? Will God be virtual? Will man in his dream machine forget to dream? Who will engineer this perceptual takeover? We already know who would like to, and we have seen the beginnings of virtual art, and it is heinous and ugly to the keen eye, because it is fundamentally inhuman(e).
In Transthesis, or Notes on Dimensional Time, I commented on hara-kiri, or seppuku, in response to a Peter Drucker essay on Japanese art and society. The antique version of self-disembowelment for the Japanese died with the soldiers in the caves of Iwo Jima, who blew themselves up, instead of surrendering to Marines, who may or may not have been inclined to accept surrender under the circumstances. Now that we are all friends and allies, and the dual global-strategic menace of a China-Russia alliance absorbs the low-energy Axis of Evil, we may wish to revisit the concept of duty to the cause, and its inverse, the ritualistic suicide as mechanism of resolution for failure to successfully carry out the assigned duty. In such an end the cause is abandoned and left to the more qualified. At least the self-killing in that social organizational device is redemptive of honor. Honor is a fictional narrative in war, and love also (pertaining to coupling rights, social offense, and whatnot). At the core of the fiction is the complex binary configuration, War upon Oneself. “An Army of One” was the slogan that replaced “Be All You Can Be” and was in short order replaced by “Army Strong.” The rate of veteran suicide in the aftermath of the Army of One era is tragic. The Walter Reed Scandal during the Bush (W) administration and continuing through the Obama administration, presumably to the present, illustrates the neglect with which corrupt political elites perceive and treat the nation’s heroes. The shift to accelerated for-profit or privatized national under the fanatical neo-cons and neo-libs, since selective service was sent into political remission, has been long-term disastrous for America on many levels. The same can be said for the health care and penal systems, local to federal policing, education, sports, art and more. Business has become suicidal. The artificial personhood doesn’t care if you kill yourself. It’s only interest is in whether it makes or loses money in your demise, productivity stats aside.
Doing research for Post-Storage, I clicked on a link to an obituary page on a funeral home website. The actual location is Deridder, in western Louisiana, serving the residents of Beauregard Parish, not far from Texas and Lake Charles. The Myers Colonial Funeral Home and Crematorium site belongs to World Wide Web era that is dear to my heart. The shift from old to new media is most compelling on portals like Myers’, which demonstrate democratic potential in networked computing and communications. Another more recent instance I am proud to cite is The Memorial Day Foundation, whose executive director is my dear friend and coffee pal, Paul D’Elia. To upgrade memorializing our dead we can effectively, inexpensively keep databases that are easily and quickly accessible through logical forms that are excellent refinements from early versions. Many of them look pretty. Search engines are much advanced. The design options for presenting lists of image + text informatics now is practically unlimited! The croud-sourced evolution of content + context is one of the most impressive stories of the early days of personal computing, and outside specialized channels, rarely gets the deserved attention. The Attention Economy ensures this outcome. One of the features of the old web, that reveals it is still a functional ecosystem, like American democracy (both endangered) is the “Zombie” default for abandoned or neglected portals. By now I would guess there have been billions of sites built and left unattended, like graves of virtual nomads. Then there are long-sustained and therefore beloved sites like Wet Canvas, where people converge when virtual space gets too cold and lonely. Virtual Isolation in the ethereal wired world order is a soul destroyer. Survey the search engine results to find the husks of webmasters who fried and self-quarantined, never returning to their keyboards. (see Pi for a properly romantic and geekified representation of the progression ~ still fresh today).
On Kailea Beach I took my first nap as an adult. Technically, okay, that is not true. I actually napped in the passenger seat of the rental car, because I was just too paranoid to pass out in public. I videotaped late afternoon surf sessions there, featuring mostly young locals playing around on short boards. I body-whomped in all kinds of waves at Kailea. The lifeguards are absolutely outstanding. I saw them perform perfect rescues in very difficult conditions. I will always feel attraction at the thought of Kailea, which is prompted by the Name, on the obverse of my painting, and other sensations that exist in my experience, contained in my body at a cellular level, and in my memory, now facilitated by technology. Even if I can’t watch Kailea specifically, I can check out the Kauai shores through web-cams, 24/7/365. The streaming technology for surveillance is vastly improved. There are some side benefits. The same can be said for drones, for GPS. Surgical science has improved tremendously by America’s production of undeclared wars, post-911. So has extractive psychology, and logistical incarceration. Preventative criminology is a booming research and practical field, as are experiments in mass enforcement of doctrine and emotional push technology (see the Chinese Social Credit system and the Facebook scandal revealing scientific experiments on non-consenting users/subjects in 2014). At what point do we 99% demand that the thing (in this case we refer to the image falsely representing something) match its fictional text, context, subtext, and both be juxtaposed with the real thing? So people can choose between the two, and begin reforming circumstances to 4D existence and perception.
The act of cleansing and purification is multivalent in human experience, but it is consistently present in our collective consciousness. Water, earth, air and fire are natural elements used in ceremonies for people to treat the maladies that afflict them. The ritual aspect extends the application of the healing to physical and non-physical or metaphysical aspects of our lives, both personal (private) and collective (public). The introduction of growing things to the procedure in a way enables a cleansing ceremony to remain contemporary. The sharing of prayers in a group setting can bring home the details of the troubles one faces, and facilitate the deployment of specific protocols for releasing or expelling the thing that causes disharmony, internally and/or externally. I prefer ritual communities in which no money is formally exchanged, which have no pay-to-play component, in which the leader is a trusted servant with no means to enrich him- or herself by way of the community of persons that leader serves. I love places like hot springs, ocean pools, and other special natural places for healing. Usually people have enjoyed the benefits of such places for a long time, and those benefits are widely understood, a first order common knowledge. The underpinning of the latest vestiture for the Commons is a very human urge to heal what is broken inside us. The expression of that urge does not necessarily reflect its other, natural manifestations. One shouldn’t expect the Yellow Vests to resemble a purifying Puja, except in structural, abstract analysis. Why? The cause of the malady, the disharmony, the Mouvement des gilets jaunes attempt to remedy has an artificial cause.