In conformity with the auld journo practicum, we will present the most important information in this text first thing. The rest is as they say, "just conversation." Given the blog format, it's fair to describe the architecture of the post as being "in descending order," but forgive me if I choose not to conceive of it as such. My conception of the text is more along the lines of "in defense of the unreasonable," with a nod to the late, great Yvor Winters. That notion gelled during today's fairly uneventful drive from Bushwick to the beach, since most of the congestion, except for a few tight spots on Flushing and the LIE, occurred on the other side of the highway or byway. I digress. I have opened a new Brooklyn studio, through which I hope to reconstitute or revive a bunch of previous AFH undertakings, including Good Faith Space, Occupational Art School, The Society for the Prevention of Creative Obsolescence, and of course AFH Studio B.K [v.4], plus more. I am even entertaining the idea of finally producing the AFH podcast some folks in the AFH circle(s) have been pushing me to do, well, since podcasts happened. Before that we did radio shows, like ArtTalk, ArtRadio & ArtWaves. Here are some documentation photos of the space, which I found through the Listings Project, after many months' fruitless search that spanned the USA and other lands:
The sole person picture in the gallery/image carousel above is not yours truly [PJM], but rather my godkid Misha, who is a recent graduate of Bates College and newly transplanted in BK. He is also the only actual human in the set that follows, which focuses on the first delivery to my studio, a 6' x 8' canvas manufactured by SOHO Materials, whose Brooklyn location is just around the block from my pad. Check out that bitchin' Tri-Mar custom aluminum stretcher, yo! During the pre-production phase following our securing the studio, I had considered a massive Blick order of pre-stretched canvases and a prolonged painting-endurance test to commence the day the goods arrived at the studio door. I am fairly certain that the brutally long period between my last studio-occupation and this one - a year+, the longest such disconnect in my adult/professional life - played strong in my fever-dream of piles of ready materials & sleepless nights burning out on mad painting sessions. Instead I inhaled/exhaled deeply and chose another objective. There's something to be said for getting older & wiser, and if I said it, it would probably be in blurry, confused and/complicated dimensional long-form, and contain words like "shift," "layers," "dimension," and so on. Ultimately, on a practical/production note, purchasing expensive artist materials is a purely speculative exercise for all but a few lads and ladies, and many of the remainder (the commissioned) are relegated to the informal professional category of order-fillers and commercial designers for a fractional select clientele.
The last gallery/carousel documents the space post-move-in, which move was performed with excellence by my good friends at Metropolis Moving. This is the second time I've hired Metropolis with transporting my inventory & art-making materials, and I am again nothing but impressed. As a veteran/survivor of a stint at LA Packing Crating & Transport [If you follow the link, and watch the vertical slideshow in right sidebar of LA Packing's homepage, that's me with my back to the camera, back in the day installing Jonathon Borofsky numbers] I deeply appreciate relying on a crew of dudes to handle my beloved art/matter, which in August is a sweaty, demanding workout that also requires mindfulness. Metropolis movers are up the task.
And as Forrest Gump mumbled dumbly, "That's all I have to say about that" for now. I will begin posting notices for upcoming events/projects etc., via nodes on the AFH platform, shortly. STAY TUNED!
Opening a studio in a high-rent/overhead location in August 2017 is essentially an irrational act. I'm not the Lone Ranger in this regard! My good pal Dane Carder just opened one (a studio/multi-use arts production/presentation facility in Nashville! NUTS! Best of luck in your new venture, amigo! Long live DCS! Check out his notices:
To juxtapose my course of action and Dane's with other artists can be a problematic, if entertaining exercise. I guess we could be taking pokes at President Donald, which is one angle to leverage mass attention for those who are so inclined, and as proofs that free expression has not been entirely snuffed out in present day America. See here, here, here, here, here, etc, etc. Artists trolling Trump in all media is emerging as a bonafide (trans., "good faith") genre in the arts industrial complex! Some of us recall the high hopes America's artists had for the freshly elected first-term President Obama. Many of us imagined the restoration of the National Endowment of the Arts' individual artist grants for [ugh, visual] artists, and - Athena/Minerva be praised - possibly a new iteration of those impressive AIA/WPA programs of the New Deal era... Well, that all went to hell in a handbasket, and quick, courtesy Molly McGuire-esque Patrick Courrielche and dickhead Glenn Beck! NEA caved, one assumes because Big O support disappeared, and Rocco Landesman turned out to be a spineless, dud, and Obama threw Shep under the bus, and the rest of us, too, after he got the juice he needed to get to the Oval Office. We soon learned with which characteristics of Athena/Minerva Obama sought to align. He went with War/Money, peace prize and justice be damned. Those of us at OWS/arts & culture who believed Obama would not behave as a behind-the-curtain/MGR of the anti-Occupy crackdowns and clearances, who believed he couldn't actually be an anti-art/free speech authoritarian/tyrant, were demonstrably put on notice. In 2014, as Obama's second term was winding down, WaPo's terrific Philip Kennicott reviewed President 44's #SAD arts/culture legacy for Americans, given the promise/potential his administration presented for the country, especially artists, who'd been candidate Obama's most obvious advocates...
So, yah, I get it. The Don = #BAD [but good for ("art")business], which, if you look at it another way, might be called "inpiration," meaning, Trump is an art-inspiring figure for a generation of artsies. Further, one can ponder when the at-depth analysis of Obama's crap legacy for the arts/culture in America kicks off. Even further, as in down the rabbit hole of despair and disbelief, one can be grateful that neither of them is George W. Bush - unpunished war criminal and ARTIST.
The Dog Days of summer are upon us, but they're not really that doggy, and the surf of Robert Moses Beach is beckoning over the din of everyday Brooklyn's wholesale conversion into a cosmo Creative Class campus. Which always makes me think of Henry Miller. I heard from a trustworthy source the jellyfish won't be plentiful at the Robert Moses bathers' break for a few weeks. Not like 20 years ago. The seaside water temperature is lovely (@70˙), the heat is generally moderate (in the 70s), tanning does not yet feel blistery dangerous, and the locals are still fairly friendly, by Long Island standards (an unquantifiable metric). The storms come and go, but they do bring nice waves.
We occupy a spinning blue-green orb in a Yuge-niverse, and the wondrous-myriad of celestial bodies and physical forces in play in the cosmos affect our wet planet's matrix of tidal dynamics, if you believe Science. Water is the medium for dreaming, the Old Ones told me, so I pay attention to the arcs of fluidity and their sometimes mighty crashes, the ripples of disruption, and the detritus that floats on the surface. I try to let Flow wash over me. The froth of churning waters, the bubbles, the sheen the rain leaves on the road, the film left behind by a fine spritz, the coincidental rainbows floating in spray, tears...endless watery forms, transient in nature, carving rock, alternating states between ice, fluid and steam. Water is poetry and a Pisces loves to frolic or wallow in either and both.
Being fishy myself, I find it enigmatic that post-birth, people can only breathe underwater by artificial/mechanical means, sometimes in dreams, and of course in the imagination. I suspect I've discovered a curious thread leading to a clue that might solve a Big Mystery, but until I figure out which Mystery I'm on to, I'll stick to the task at hand, which is the temporal technical imaginary, prefaced with the opening lines of Sorley MacLean's poem The Choice:
I walked with my reason
out beside the sea.
We were together but it was
keeping a little distance from me.
Throughout this post we'll be checking in to see what some of our AFH friends are up in the summer of 2017. Our preface linked seasonal fluidity and the [ir-]rational or Not-Reason, culminating in a poetic interlude, so let's begin our mini-AFH survey by peeking at the progress of one of our favorite projects ever, The Voyage of the Hippo [VotH]! Our intrepid crew have returned to the vaunted vessel for another installment of its epic journeys. Shane Kennedy, on the rebound from his excursions in the Orient, is a key veteran member of Hippo's elite team of artist-sailors, whose captain in Clemens Poole. AFH hosted homecoming presentations for VotH at Occupational Art School at Bat Haus, and again at Good Faith Space at Standard Toykraft. We will keep y'all posted for any news about an upcoming third session this Fall. For those of you who want to track the Hippo's fantastic adventure, they post updates when possible on both Instagram and Tumblr.
Captain Clemens shared in an Hippo Tumblr entry what I would say is a poignant, on-topic meditation for those of us applying cost-benefit analysis to our urges and impulses to engage the irrational, especially in its "dangerous adventure" form and modality. Prioritizing responsibilities in a managed world that emphasizes productivity, consistency, risk-aversion, conformity, comfort, consumption, etc., is naturally an exercise that routinely marginalizes an enterprise like Hippo. Not that there's a project "like" Hippo anywhere. Here's an excerpt from Clemens' post, "Back Aboard" :
Years passed. Work, school, money all kept me from putting together a new voyage. These are all reasonable excuses. However, this past year, living and studying in London, I began to consider that these excuses had a familiar ring to them. They are the same excuses that potential shipmates would use to decline my father’s offers to sail aboard Hippo during his decade bouncing around Europe. They were reasonable excuses then too, but now it occurs to me that there is very little about Hippo that is “reasonable” in that sense. Her world is fundamentally unreasonable in the context of contemporary responsibilities. Sure, with my father gone, it’s no longer simply the absence of responsibilities that allows me to jump on a plane and head to whatever funky harbor Hippo finds herself in. Now, to create this experience I have to make her seaworthy, I have to organize a crew, I have to find that harbor. All of this in spite of the pressures of work, school, money and everything else.
Let's these deep waters behind us and move into a different current: Today we shall be down-layering VR, up-fronting the output of tools like the new version of Corel Painter (2018) that I downloaded this week and am using to build a bunch of the images for this blog, and touching on a range of strategies for envisioning culture as a crucial, if mysterious, means by which we can enhance our collective odds of survival. Setting aside the temporarily down-topic VR, can we talk about Painter immediately, since I so rarely do anything like "product review," unless we apply that critical genre ID term to my sharing assessments of art shows? Impressions, after a week of Painter 2018 use:
- The first thing I noticed was the disappearance of the "movie" option, prompted upon opening a new document. I used Painter in the past to build animated gifs/simple animations that were a staple in my 4D+ arrays. My initial usage of this animation feature in Painter (1998-9) was directed toward solving the issue of Motion in Western Art. #SAD
- My Mac mouse is clearly and in some aspects annoyingly insufficient for working in the Painter modality. I will have to pop for a stylus. The mouse causes the canvas view to zoom in and out while I shift the cursor during use. #FRUSTRATING
- Many of the most powerful features of Painter are not executable through intuitive processing. The user must learn the actions and familiarize herself with the manual, the workspace, and shortcuts, etc., to get at the best tools in the toolbox. Integration of these features in one's workflow will only result from a dedicated study of the program and its use-designs, which I find tedious in some respects, and not similar to cultivating craft in actual studio painting. #DIVERGENT
- Painter has many fantastic correlates to studio painting, though, refined over years of program upgrades, add-ons and modifications. This is evident primarily in the "brushes" and other media application instruments, including the virtual substrates and their integral behaviors. One can work with Painter extensively and still uncover novel means for building images in the software. However, Corel continues to bundle some of its coolest inventions - for instance, bitchin' hawt brushes - in for-purchase add-on packages, ostensibly as a revenue booster. #LAME
- I bought Painter instead of Photoshop, because Corel did not replicate Adobe's subscription model for the program's users. GOOD FOR YOU (& US) COREL!!! The P-shop model is horrid for many reasons, which I will discuss elsewhere. #EVIL
- I appreciate that Painter maintains its GUI architecture through many upgrades. Having interrupted a nearly 20 year-old computer-based 4D+ art practice to focus on the doctoral thesis composition, and returning to the platform, Painter's interface consistency means I am still oriented, even after a few years away. I cannot say the same with respect to Photoshop and Final Cut, for instance. Thank you, Corel! #HUMANE
- SUMMARY: Painter remains awesome! [Four MILOs out of Five]
Developments (VR; & artist software like the venerable Painter, the first such digital media program I tried, back in the early 90s - in Santa Fe, at a recorded-for-broadcast Studio X demo by Ash Black and another practitioner whose name I can't recall; and ...O... let's say, the recently, brutally hacked/gamed Game of Thrones) suggest in the virtual realms most anything we can think of and code can be visualized, can be sensitized, can be experienced/manifested sufficient to the extent of an object-oriented desire-satisfaction - and hacked/exploited. Which brings to mind my EGS instructor Lev Manovich. He was recently interviewed on a Chelsea rooftop by Hunter O'Hanian for the CAA News Today. Lev had some choice words for contemporary art:
Lev drifts through a lot of territory in his conversation with Hunter. He seems largely unfazed by the general trauma afflicting Russo-American relations, the convulsive condition of immigrant discourse, the harried moral turpitude of Big Data Industries and their Police/Surveillance State partners, currently. And why should Lev be fazed!? It's a gorgeous summer in NYC and the digi-cultural life is grand! & in case you were curious, dear reader, this analyst has concluded there is no truth to the mean-spirited rumors that Lev somehow is involved in putting President Donald in office, or that he has any connection to Wikileaks. The same conclusion holds for the e-flux gang, by the way. They're focused on "The New Brutality" over the break - as opposed to the "Old" one(s) - and one can guess that novelty works for brutality as it does for immateriality generally, click-click. Another one of my favorite EGSers, Geert Lovink, contributes an absolutely ESSENTIAL text to the latest edition of E-FJ: "Overcoming Internet Disillusionment: On the Principles of Meme Design;" if you are going to consume any theory before class resumes in the fall, this is the pièce de résistance AFH recommends! Reading Geert's dynamite essay is like getting smashed in the mouth with 4oz. gloves by Conor McGregor [MILO: Can the Notorious do it again August 26th?]. Lovink targets the frivolity and impotence of a spectrum of culturati tactics, which largely fail to effectively stymie the onslaught of tyranny in the ballyhooed Technological [and/or] Information Age. He asks us a lot of sharp questions:
We’re overwhelmed by media events that unfold in real time. Is this spectacle a smoke screen for more drastic, long-term measures? What’s our own plan? The politically correct strategies of “civil society” are all well-meaning and target important issues, but they seem to operate in a parallel universe, unable to respond to the cynical meme design that is rapidly taking over key sites of power. Are there ways to not just hit back but also be one step ahead? What’s on our minds? How can we move from data to Dada and become a twenty-first-century avant-garde, one that truly understands the technological imperative and shows that “we are the social in social media”? How do we develop, and then scale up, critical concepts and bring together politics and aesthetics in a way that speaks to the online millions? Let’s identify the hurdles, knowing that it’s time to act. We know that making fun of the petty world of xenophobes isn’t working. What can we do other than coming together? Can we expect anything from the designer as lone wolf? How do we organize this type of political labor? Do we need even more tools that bring us together? Have you already used Meetup, Diaspora, DemocracyOS, and Loomio? Do we perhaps need a collective dating site for political activism? How can we design, and then mobilize, a collective networked desire that unites us in a “deep diversity”? Is the promise of open, distributed networks going to do the job, or are you look for strong ties—with consequences?
And Geert reaches out to a bunch of smart folks for answers, people like Nick Srnicek, Alex Galloway and Gabriele Coleman. Whereas Lev offers keen observations of the current scene(s), and valuable tech/art/culture/educational historical insight, and a progressive trans-nationalist/political perspective on vital issues, such as the subsumption of art by ubiquitous technology, the power of platform over the white cube, the momentum of mass affecting programming in a bunch of cultural systems and institutions, Geert does not appear to read the tea leaves of change with the same level of acceptance that Lev conveys in his comments and responses. &, much to my joy, Lovink memes Baudrillard hard! But if this neat topological survey (Lev, e-flux, Lovink) so far is all skewed toward a commie plotting of the graph, never fear, beloved AFHer, we'll be getting to the Red State (HA!) American state of the arts soon enough. If you're desire for additional concentrated doses of DIM TIM-sanctioned brutal-edge fare in small-chunk format (for the beach, y'all), play a little catch-up with the spring issue of N + 1, and remember, as DT himself sez, "It can always get worse!"
Except when it gets better! I'm sure many of you are wondering how the middle finger of my left hand is healing. Well, the power of art to precipitate positive change is evident in the analog-digital, too! Witness:
That image/project-update [CONTENT!] will serve perfectly as we segue to more serious, stuff! Jim Carrey has come out of the closet/studio, and is joining the ranks of celebrity amateur artists, many of them actors, one of them a former President, some musicians and even dead ones. Carrey's emergence via social video yielded mixed reviews. The range of responses is itself phenomenal. My favorite is the critique posted on Sir Elton John's YouTube channel with a clipped version of Carrey's promotional material/high-production value video, or "documentary" :
This short six-minute documentary about Jim Carrey’s passion for art was surprisingly delightful. The video from SGG goes behind-the-scenes to explore Carrey’s creative talents in painting. The video takes a rather fascinating look into Carrey’s artistic side and travels into his inner artistic persona. The video, which is narrated by Carrey, goes inside his head and delves into what fuels the comedian’s art.
We have known Carrey to be a brilliant comedic mind, but in this Vimeo video titled “I Need Color” we are treated to Jim Carrey the artist as he spills his heart onto the canvas. Carrey has been drawing and painting since he was a young child and he continues to create art as a 55-year-old man. Carrey’s paintings are definitely not bad for someone who used his ass cheeks to talk to people in his movies.
Which reminds me, I really need to update my NOT-ARTISTS tumblr. I have so many entries to add! Sir Elton is already done, however:
Meanwhile...The Big "A" Big Apple Art "world" is proportionally gone even more global than usual, with its diaspora attending the fairs and/or biennials and whatnot, or yondering in the Hamptons, or wherever the yachts and private jets port/park. ArtForum's Diary is the go-to chronicle of the wayfaring art-elites. In many of Manhattan's Brick & Mortar artspaces, reliable Dark Matter minions and mostly-unpaid interns are tending the white-cubic fields of artsy dreams, while the players play. Anyway, that's the line the heavies pitch as they name- and destination-drop among themselves and the adoring, tag-along big A art press, and any plebes within earshot. Tis the season (traditionally) for the Group Show, and crazy episodes of angsty abandon and sweat-drenched wildlife - or so I hear. Staying cool in the cultural jungle of NYC in summertime is a state replete with obvious contradictions. For those inclined to simplify their frenetic lifestyle like the Man in the Yellow Hat used to do via station wagon or other more modern transport, take heed: Lyme disease is the cloud hovering over the Hudson Valley/Upstate pre-school-starting getaway; pandemic-scale climate change is materializing as a poppy seed-sized bloodsucker!
Not everyone blew town to GTFO of NYC. Core DDDD member, ca. Y2K, Brent Stewart and his buddy Willie Stewart put on a helluva project at Pioneer Works in BK, titled Grand Ole Opry. The notices were splashed across the art presses, and the reviews were excellent! Shane told me about the installation/performance series late in the exhibit run, and I didn't manage to visit PW until the final day, which was a gorgeous Sunday in Red Hook. Director/curator Gabriel introduced himself while I was chatting with the receptionist. We talked about Kauai (I was sporting Lauren's "Hanalei is my BAE" cap), Nashville, the Stewarts, and more. It was my first time at PW and my experience was super, thanks to Gabe and the PW staff! Later, Gabe put me together with Willie (Stewart), who had been relaxing upstairs after the long night Saturday, with its stacked and packed power lineup of muso acts. Willie and I talked about Shane Kandy, Party Cannon, Springwater (where Willie had last seen me) and that was that.
Here's a sample of what Brent was up to, back in Nashville, when we collaborated in our 4D+ collective days.
These are strange days indeed. But "strange" is a relative term, as anyone who ever saw the real Party Cannon knows. To quote DIM TIM again, "It can always get stranger!"
August 2017 will feature a couple of eclipses, one of which promises to be a major American spectacle. If you lend credence to the narratives of some hopeful stargazers, who mark August 8 as the Lion's Gate portal and denote the interstitial phase between the August lunar and solar eclipses as a profound period, a great opportunity for spiritual progress, for courage to blossom. etc. Which is TIMELY, because the apocryphal rackets apparently threaten to engulf the existential mundane or even consume it entirely, forever. A shared Normal seems to not be possible ever again in the caterwauling American mass consciousness [LOL - whatever those things ("Normal"/"American mass consciousness") are, Joe! I might as well be referring to Griffins & Jabberwocks]. Political tensions are relentlessly tightening in the chaos swirling around Trumpian gridlock, the stock market is bubbling to record heights (22000+), and, of course, Mayweather and McGregor are slated to fight in Las Vegas August 26th, 5 days after the total solar eclipse, and murders/collapse/missiles/bankruptcy/investigations/ODs/fires and so on, plus lots of music festivals, and identity-rooted A-List scandals! Plus WW3 could go ballistic - no, really! USA v. North Korea/Russia/China... Like, at any second! Read the story in the SUN!
How could you have missed the absolutely mad controversies swirling about the ICA Boston Dana Schutz exhibit, or the fake-Indian mess enveloping Jimmie Durham's show at the Hammer? Maybe you were too busy reading other artnet News stories, like the one about Seattle Art Fair organizers shilling "Old Fashioned Art" to the Tech Collector (whoever the F**k that may be - surely not the gnomic, pilfering Gates or Zsuckerbug, since the latter is saving his piles of Bitcoin for a 2020 Presidential run... Remember: "It can always get worse!"). Or maybe you were reading the one about Cindy Sherman's Instagram launch, which is sooooo SELFIE/USSIE! Or you might be the more down-type of art-newser, and instead scanned this one, titled "Sorry, We’re Closed: Dealers Explain the Painful Process of Shutting Down an Art Gallery." Anything's better than following the slow-mo train wreck of American health care legislation, or the plight of Mississippi auto workers trying to unionize a Nissan plant. If there's one thing that's consistent throughout the turmoil, it's that we don't have to wonder what Bernie Would Do (#WWBD).
By the way, Bernie has a webpage listing artists who support him. I noticed Shepard Fairey's name on that list. I also noticed that almost all of the accomplished creative people listed are not artists (painters, sculptors, etc.) - which is something I would make a YUGE deal about normally. Except it's Bern. Please take a moment and visit the Artists for Bernie site. You'll feel like you're chillin' at Robert Moses, catchin' waves, gettin' wet, dreamin'. As the Illuminator said, "ANOTHER WORLD IS POSSIBLE." Cue our final quote, a huckleberry by the aforementioned Yvor W:
Thus we see that the poet, in striving toward an ideal of poetic
form at which he has arrived through the study of other poets, is
actually striving to perfect a moral attitude toward that range of
experience of which he is aware.
In closing our 4D+ scan of the fraught arts & culture topology, can we all agree that for most anyone it all adds up to a confusing mess. If you happen to feel fed up with the way things are shaping up, you ought not despair in isolation. Whether one is primarily concerned with politics, economics, society, or the intangible spirit of the moment and its representation or expression, the confusion and messiness are pervasive and sustained - which is a mediated perception. Any excellent Novad learns the intricacies of design reality to parse the fiction and its parallax effects. To wit: Really, the only winners right now are identifiable, and they include the prime beneficiaries of the burgeoning (22000+) stock market's complexities. The status quo is, to put it simply, complexly designed to enrich and empower a tiny fraction of humanity at the expense of everyone else, and that complex apparatus is functioning amazingly well. The rest of the chitter-chatter is a distracting force-field camouflaging this fact. The ArtWorld writ large is complicit in the masquerade, which is why Lev's contention that no one (he knows) takes it (contemporary art) seriously is disingenuous, to put it nicely. Even if it's true that the definition-resistant/retarding "ArtWorld" and "contemporary art" - a straw man which Liam Gillick loves to outsmart and punish - are not entirely equivalent, neither are they divergent. They occupy the same fractional fringes and central institutions and interstitial zones that network them and facilitate the flows of money and power that drive said network. You see, the exclusive "AW" and "con.art" matrix consists not just of abstractions, systematic forms and architectures. The matrix is populated by actual people who lead partly virtual existences in the .gov/.com/.org and /.art media-spheres for real action and quid pro quo/status quo influence. It's not all that hard to find out who those people are. For one thing, they frequently love to put their Big Names on shit. For a second, they love to appear on prestige lists and at premier events. Even the ones who don't for legal reasons usually have to at times come clean about their interests, investments and derivative fortunes. Only the outlaw oligarchs must operate entirely off-grid, but every now and then somebody slips up and a good analyst catches a whiff of the particulars and shares them with the hoi poloi. The practice of discovering who's who is similar to finding ticks on a dog or child, or your own body, or your lover's.