Archive for the ‘general’ Category
Nicholas O'Brien attempted to initiate some discussion of New Inc, the New Museum's incubator cube farm for artistes mentioned earlier. Mostly he got pushback from the "art and technology" sphere, along the lines of "how can you criticize it when it hasn't even started?" and some condescending speculation as to his motives from Sterling Crispin. Crispin unhelpfully reduced the argument to Turing vs Duchamp and opined that New Inc is mostly meant for residents of "Turing Land."
Struggling to get the conversation back on some reasonable track, O'Brien threw out some questions:
[A]gain what is the eventual audience for the products that get made this incubation of innovation? Is that audience the same as the rest of the museum? What will be the hopeful benefit from the cross-pollination between these communities that only a museum can provide? How do the strategies of innovation incubation funding effect the types of cultural production that will occur in this studio? How can artists in this space remain autonomous yet still "gain access"?
So I put in two more cents as O'Brien's sole unequivocal supporter (speaking up from the humanities side of the divide):
Your question "How do the strategies of innovation incubation funding effect the types of cultural production that will occur in this studio?" is the key one for me. I would phrase it: "is artistic innovation the same as invention of a product?" and say, no, it's not. The two can overlap but art is not science, or engineering. Crispin's "Turing vs Duchamp" polarity leaves out so much. The Duchamp rotoreliefs could be perceptual science, but the Large Glass is absurdist poetry - it's not about learning, earning, or making the world a better place. Where do Matta, Eva Hesse, or Oskar Fischinger fit into a Turing vs Duchamp scheme? To answer these questions you'd have to have strong opinions about art and willingness to laugh at the certainties of science. I don't see anyone with that mindset getting past the gatekeepers looking for innovation in the logical positivist sense. You would have to lie on the application form, which is what capitalism-averse artists routinely do to get Creative Capital grants.
In an earlier comment I noted some connections between O'Brien's questions regarding venture capital-funded art and Mark Ames' criticisms-in-advance of Glenn Greenwald's gazillionaire-funded investigative journalism outfit, First Look. Similar issues of intellectual autonomy are raised, and a similar veil of silence descended from "the community."
For me, as an artist trying to figure out something interesting to do with a computer in the mid-to-late-'90s, Jeremy Blake was the competition. (He won.) There wasn't much actual critical dialogue around his work, though. Blake died a few years ago, and now Michael Connor, as curator, is doing some post-mortem chin-scratching in the course of keeping the Blake myth fires burning by grouping Blake with current young Blakes. As a witness to history and the MSPaint road not taken, I hurled this Solo Jazz cup of cold water in response to Connor's Blake essay currently up on Rhizome:
The Fahrenheit 451 connection is intriguing -- a '60s vision of abstraction-as-dystopian-mass-entertainment is certainly an interesting jumping-off point for a '90s body of work. As one who watched Jeremy Blake's career from the start I'd say he hit it around '98 with Bungalow 8, depicting transparent walls of a modernist apartment sliding in and out of each other - and then it was all downhill, as his work became "pure" abstraction (such as what appeared in Paul Thomas Anderson's film Punch Drunk Love), and then the later narrative, collage-y stuff, which was the least successful work he did (except in the commercial/exposure sense). Liquid Villa was essentially a repeat of Bungalow 8, with what seemed to be gratuitous Mediterranean stylings.
One quibble with this essay is the use of "prosumer" at the end. One reason Blake was able to distance himself from new media (or what was then still often being called "computer art") was that no one in the art world knew anything about the programs or effects he was using and he didn't talk about it. The "prosumer" dialog that you've identified with artists such as Michael Bell-Smith is all about "look what we did with this or that program that mid-level professionals use." Blake's work would have benefited from that kind of demystification at any stage. Instead it was treated as some kind of mysterious painted video that emerged from the mind of a genius.
Not that anyone asked, but here's what I wrote about Liquid Villa in 2001, discussing a Tim Griffin-curated group show:
"Only two of the artists make direct, hands-on use of the computer. Conjuring post-human exercise videos, Asymptote Architecture's looping, slowly morphing pod-shapes on small display screens combine machine curves, body contours, and textures scanned from athletic apparel. In Jeremy Blake's DVD light-show-in-a-box, pulsating color field patterns alternate with views of a synthetic Mediterranean villa, as if to say that inside the computer, it's all just planes and colors. Both artists favor the sleek airbrushed look typical of commercial digital work and display their pieces on pricy appliances such as wall-mounted plasma screens and Apple G-4 hard-drives; this is fine, but the danger of embracing the dominant economy's techno-fetish is that (as Joseph Kosuth once said of painting) one also embraces 'the tradition that comes with it': consumption, fascination, waste."
"The Wrong - New Digital Art Biennale" has already vanished into the aether with this page promising "we'll be back in two years."
But, but, we thought the Internet was forever.
Fortunately Joel Cook made this clear and comprehensible user interface for the various pavilions, for those of us who had planned to spend two years perusing all the art data in that bursting-at-the-seams event. (Up to now I'd barely covered my own pavilion-mates).
In 2015, The Wrong should hire Cook to make their front page -- the one they had was kind of a mess.
In fact, many of the pavilions could have shed their high concept landing pages, which recalled the Flash intros of the early 2000s, and not in a good way.
In art as in life, people just want to get where they're going, not to be entertained en-route.
Max Roach, "Garvey's Ghost" YouTube I have this on a vinyl compilation, Impulse Energy Essentials
Automatic Man, "My Pearl" YouTube. If Hendrix had lived he'd likely have done a mix of prog and funk that sounded like this.
MX-80 Sound, "Crushed Ice" YouTube. From Hard Attack, a better album than the later pair on Ralph, only available as an import at the time of release.
MX-80 Sound, "Tidal Wave" YouTube. "There's nothing left but kids in vans, without pants, and they're eating pork."
Orchestra Luna, "Were You Dancin' On Paper" YouTube. Quirky Boston ensemble combining prog and showtunes.
Orchestra Luna, "Little Sam" YouTube
The Bizarros, "Artie J" MySpace. Akron!
Bonus: Network Awesome has a great collection of Can YouTubes. For those who followed the band only from vinyl across the Atlantic back in the day, it's fascinating to watch their evolution from hippie collective to the "art disco" period. Another revelation was Irmin Schmidt stepping up as stage showoff after Damo Suzuki left. Somehow I imagined him looking ponderous behind his keyboards but he's out there mingling Sun Ra theatrics with lively dance steps.
Debussy, "Sonata for Violin and Piano," David Oistrakh (violin), Frida Bauer (piano), live recording, 1972 YouTube My favorite Debussy piece, confidently executed.
Soul Odyssey, "Rapture" YouTube - Progressive house tune produced in Dallas TX (1993), when I was living there and taping Jeff K's KDGE show. Discovered by Sasha and became a global club hit.
Central Fire, "Shout Going Out" YouTube
Andrew Leonard mulled over Facebook's insanely expensive purchase of WhatsApp ($16 billion) in his Salon column yesterday. Leonard believes it's another Instagram move where Zuck buys a service all the kids are using because the kids aren't using Facebook. WhatsApp provides "a way to send text messages over the Internet without paying SMS charges to the phone companies," says Leonard. Now users will pay those charges to Facebook by staying within the clutch of its eager advertisers. The Salon headline writer calls this business decision "scary bold desperation," possibly one of the greatest fudge-phrases ever written. Scary for investors, certainly.
How many times can Facebook keep buying the loyalty of younger users? Till it blows up. It would be ideal if this happens before Facebook becomes permanently institutionalized in the sense of "indispensable for employers and law enforcement" (and artists, and the net art community) which is the direction it's been heading at the same time the younger demographic is bailing.
Update: Other theories about the WhatsApp sale include beefed-up access to the European market and lower income users, and, possibly related to any of the above reasons (youth, Euro, and/or income), "whatsapp has a client that runs on shitty nokia phones" (hat tip Ryz). We're happy with whatever prompts the juggernaut to wild spending sprees -- the "youth angle" is the funniest.
Update 2: According to Sarah Lacy at Pando Daily, it's all about photos: "According to the company’s own numbers [always highly suspect if we're talking about Facebook's numbers --TM], WhatsApp is processing 500 million images per day, compared to 400 million Snapchat ('snaps') per day, which could include photos or videos. For its part, Facebook processes a comparatively paltry 350 million photos a day, with an additional 55 million per day from Instagram." The near-Turing-complete user who's been finding places to park photos online for over a decade without crawling to "social" has to laugh at the economics of all this.
Update 3: The WhatsApp sale has become a Rorschach blot for commenters. Lambert of Corrente sees it as: "Here's what's special about WhatsApp and mobile -- as opposed to browser-based -- apps generally [quoting an NBC article]: 'The messaging app offers its users unlimited messaging on mobile devices for 99 cents a year after a one-year free trial. ... When you download the app, WhatsApp automatically scans through your address book and connects you with those who have WhatsApp installed on their phones.' That's the value of the deal; mining that address book data," Lambert continues. "It's even better than an email address book, because a messaging app is more intimate; more likely to be friends and family."
This is kind of a funny moment. Just as kids and certain superhumanly brave intellectuals are abandoning Facebook, businesses who decided it was "the internet" in terms of their business model are dealing with minor tectonic shifts of the company's own policies. Alex Pareene has an amusing article about Zuck's decision to algorithmically downgrade clickfarm headline aggregators such as "Upworthy" and "ViralNova" in people's FB news feeds, while preserving Buzzfeed as a legitimate news source, possibly because of some insider shenanigans.
A near-Turing-complete user who gathers her own news via RSS can only sneer at all the Facebook-spoonfed infants being dependent on these crappy services for information. But it's a make-or-break thing for some businesses, apparently, both on the aggregator side as well as the aggregated.
A similar edge of desperation runs through this George Packer New Yorker story about the dependency of East Coast publishing elites on the culturally braindead algorithm-writers of Amazon.com.
Which is worse, Bonesmen deciding what you read or robots? Seems to be the choice we're offered.
issac: so is hermeticism good or bad? @tommoody
tommoody: @issac - ceci moss wrote on rhizome: "Expanded internet art is not viewed as hermetic, but instead as a continuously multiple element that exists within a distributed, networked system." - i think she thinks hermeticism is bad - me, maybe not so much
More than championing a movement, hermeticism ridicules "straw hermits," perceived old-school artists who aren't down with their place in the distributed network system.
The rhetoric of the "art and technology" websites needs these self-centered curmudgeons in order to flack the New, Distributed Art of Dispersion ("NDAD" -- don't worry, it's not real, it's a counter-straw-person). Of course, cultural conservatives exist, and at fairly high discourse levels: the website "artcritical" doesn't review "isolated examples" of work, so I've been told, but requires an "event" or "installation." Talk about a stopped clock.
But after say, Facebook, NDAD itself took on a suspect aura: somehow all this sharing and distributing you were doing was enhancing someone else's bottom line. So Mark Zuckerberg has six homes because he wanted to buy all the property around his current one so developers couldn't capitalize on homes "next door to Mark Zuckerberg," and the Twitter guy bought a historic home and plans to tear it down in order to build a "green home." While all we schmucks get is a chance to be a "continuously multiple element in a networked system." These conditions make you want to unplug and go up on a mountain.
In an email convo ZW made these observations about the loss of "interiority" you have when everyone is sharing and Seth-Price-style-dispersing (we weren't talking about Price per se, but this is maybe where his curator-friendly line of thinking about "dispersion" leads you):
We are dealing with more and more creator/consumers who never went through a sort of "initiation" period in their aesthetic growth without instant and infinite access. The idea of "mystique," the appeal of the obscure, strange, cult, etc. The definitions of those are changing because of the way we can consume.
The internet/tech did so many of the things I thought as a teenaged "outsider" were the solution to so many cultural problems: it has demonetized creative work, leveled the playing field in regards to means of production and distribution, etc., etc., but it has also leveled the means of measuring effect. According to all the ways I understood/experienced it, the underground, counterculture, etc. no longer exists, or can exist in the way it once did, because the personal, "interiority," cannot exist in the same way.
Instead of a hero reclaiming interiority, the mountaintop hermit continues to be an undesirable to new media pundits -- it's the artist equivalent of the mini-Greenberg. A bugbear the system needs in order to justify itself to itself.
Rene Abythe made a video, reposted here, depicting the OptiDisc gif as a portal to time and space, which you can have on the dashboard of your car, along with your connections to Twitter and Facebook. In states where it's illegal to text while driving, you can journey into a wormhole to other universes. At least, your mind can, as your body flies through the windshield and your car mows down innocent pedestrians. No different than what would happen, really, if you were checking your friends' statuses at 60 per.
Discussion on the Muff Wiggler modular synth nerd forum (multi-page / single page) of the SID GUTS module for Eurorack, which incorporates a vintage SID (sound interface) chip from an old Commodore 64 computer. The module is designed to port that characteristic lo-fi SID sound into the analog hardware environment and sounds great, but cuts off much of the functionality of the chip if you have the Commodore (and a tracker program, as Nullsleep notes on the forum) or an Elektron Sidstation synth (an amazing device, although Not Truly Hardcore in that a savant in Sweden did much of the programming for you).
The SID chip has 3 oscillators, each of which generates a variety of waveforms. In the Sidstation, and presumably trackers, these can be programmed as wavetable synths, giving rise to the familiar, still very desirable, arpeggiated arcade sound.* SID GUTS uses one oscillator as its main voice, a second oscillator to modulate (only) the triangle wave of the first voice, and ditches the third oscillator. You could buy 3 SID GUTSes to get a chord (as one Wiggler pointed out), but you still wouldn't have access to the wavetables. You can do a few interesting things with control voltage inputs to tweak the SID GUTS' sound, such as using an LFO to toggle back and forth between ring-modulation and "sync" mode, or to switch between waveforms in real time. And of course you're getting the SID chip's analog filter, which some Wigglers think is divine and others a throwaway.
The biggest drawback to the SID GUTS (which possibly had a limited run and may not even be available at this point) is that, unlike the Sidstation, the module doesn't come with a SID chip! The guts, if you will. You have to fish one out of an old Commodore or shop on eBay. There were a few different versions of SID chips made, and again, the Wigglers are divided on which is best. So you could spend $400 for the SID GUTS and still find a bum chip and not get the best use of the thing.
*A "long-time SID programmer" on the forum asserts that the SID chip "these days... can produce extremely sophisticated sounds, you would not believe (way beyond than these blip-blops). Even, there are more ways to trigger a voice and all sounds different (hard restart alone is an important sid-sensation factor). Wave-scanning-tables are also super important."
Contemporary Art Daily's semi-official documentation of Michelle Grabner's show at MOCA Cleveland [hat tip schwarz] has, among other items of interest, a streaming version of her video as a member of CAR, Dale Chihuly Glass Camp for Boys (scroll about halfway down), 2002, which I saw in her then-gallery in NYC and had been looking for reappearances of.
One of the highlights of the Joanne McNeill editorial era at Rhizome.org was this Jack Womack interview.
Have been reading Womack's books and highly recommend them. Most were written in the late '80s/early '90s, when parts of Manhattan were still grungy, so by the dot com era the books' visions of militarily cordoned-off neighborhoods seemed somewhat off the mark. Manhattan has only gotten more fabulous, and Womack didn't foresee the Internet as mass soporific keeping the plebes down, but the books' essential truths about who is really running things have only grown more stark in our present era of "inverted totalitarianism," as political philosopher Sheldon Wolin terms it. Every day in every way, to paraphrase a fellow Womack reader, it's becoming a Dryco world.