Archive for January, 2009
work in progress - MSPaintbrush screenshot - 259 KB .png 1440 x 900 (all the blurry parts are being cut out and thrown away - I only want the struts for the collage)
"Rotary Connection" [3 MB .mp3]
The drum and guitar/bass part were previously posted as "Trog 2000." The piano and organ parts changed it considerably so it got a new name. Air quotes around all instrument names in this post.
Have heard some variation of this somewhat xenophobic theory about a Chinese Marshall Plan before, but am not cynical enough to have imagined the U.S. Marshall Plan in the 1940s was primarily about creating markets for a postwar over-capacity of American goods, sorry:
What’s interesting to see in this story [about Chinese input into US bailout plans last fall], especially the top where the Chinese leaders give American institutions a well-deserved tongue lashing, is the way the Chinese fail to see that they’ve already had the benefit of their investment in American mortgage-backed securities. In fact, the recycling of Chinese profits into American mortgage debt is beginning to look like a 21st Century Marshall plan gone awry.
By investing in the US, the Chinese primed a consumption pump that created demand for their goods. That demand absorbed the huge number of workers coming to the cities over the last decade and accelerated China’s growth. In other words, the Chinese encouraged and enabled the irresponsibility of American households because it created demand for their goods.
After World War 2, the US faced a crisis of productive over-capacity. The solution was to send a lot of money to Europe that would then be used to buy American goods. In the case of the original Marshall plan, the sorry state of post-war Europe gave the plan a humanitarian glint. But that shouldn’t mask the real value of the Marshall plan or its intent.
Flash forward fifty years and you have China eager to raise the standard of living at home. Only this time, North Americans are tapped out, not because of a devastating war but because of devasting dotcom bubble bursting. There’s no way to dress this one up as the good guys coming to the aid of their fallen cousins.
That’s a shame. I don’t know what the final accounting was on the Marshall plan loans. I’d be curious to know. But in reading these stories, I’m beginning to think the Chinese are being a little disingenuous when they keep demanding that their investment in US securities be safeguarded.
digitally altered photo of collaged digital printouts; sketch; work in process; "B.A.W." etc
second digital version
Didn't realize AOL pulled the plug on its blogs and some other hosted services at the end of last year. (Had a link to something on a "hometown blog" and read the abrupt notice of cancellation of all such blogs). Here AOL tries to solicit some good natured holiday humor and gets an earful from users:
Before there were "blogs" there was AOL Journals. People were more real there and not just blurting out worthless opinions like on the other blogging sites. AOL pictures was not only a good way to share your pictures, but was also a great fail-safe to store your invaluable pictures should your computer just up and die. These were quality services that, in my opinion, were unmatched by any other website or online community. AOL used to be a name you could trust. Now they just seem so shady...informing people (if you even get the "memo")... with less than a months notice...that they no longer will have a certain service. And the alternatives we have? Photoworks sucks! Blogger isn't as personal as Hometown was. Give me a break!
Regarding Jeff Sisson's online project "Bodega List," the following exchange took place at Rhizome.org:
Comment by Tom Moody
January 21, 2009 1:08 am
I think this is a good idea... My fear with a project like this is that its "success" is defined as getting reblogged by Rhizome and We Make Money Not Art and then it gradually falls apart. Remember Street Meme? An Eyebeam-launched crowdsourcing project where people identified graffiti tags out on the street and there was some kind of ranking system. The system was never completely functional and the creators lost interest in I think less than a year. But it didn't matter because the main tech art portal/aggregator sites all gave it the big thumbs up. I'd like to see the Bodega project become a popular NYC institution, loved outside the tech art ghetto and enduring for many years, a real urban resource celebrating these non-chain store, practically invisible but vital institutions, so prove my gloomy prognosis wrong.
Comment by Brian Droitcour
January 22, 2009 2:30 pm
A bodega is something you search for with your feet, not the internet. If you need a bodega you just walk down the street until you find one. What makes this idea interesting to the "tech art ghetto" is its absurd nonfunctionality, its joke about the internet as an out-of-control database that catalogs things that don't need to be cataloged. The project starts to look misguided and silly if you inject it with a social conscience by saying it celebrates "practically invisible but vital institutions." They're only invisible if you never leave your computer to go outside.
Comment by Tom Moody
January 28, 2009 11:00 am
It's refreshing to be criticized for having a social conscience, since I'm usually "insulting artists" by being apolitical. My point is once you have your little moment of absurd non-functionality it's on to the next project. I was imagining absurd non-functionality on a rather grander scale, with lots of New Yorkers actually participating in this thing. I believe something could be an urban resource and still kind of a joke. We-love-bodegas-but-not-really.
A review I did of a Feigen show curated by Tim Griffin in 2000. Shortly after this was published Griffin moved to Artforum, and quickly became the editor. Sadly, two of the artists are now deceased, Susan Goldman and Jeremy Blake. In a nutshell, Griffin's show attempted to spice up some standard gallery fare with digital concepts and jargon but some of the work actually crossed the new media vs artists-with-computers divide in interesting ways.
"Compression," Feigen Contemporary, New York, NY, December 2, 2000 - January 12, 2001
(originally published in Art Papers, May/June 2001, p. 44)
This exhibition, curated by Tim Griffin, a founding editor of artbyte magazine (and currently art editor for Time Out New York), attempts to link the art and cyber-discourses by asking: "What kinds of depicted space do we encounter when digital materials enter the picture?" Even with the collapse of the dot-com economy, this is a timely inquiry, since our living environments, work habits, and media views of reality continue to be shaped by software engineers, and artists are well-equipped by training and temperament to look over their shoulders and ask--from a conceptual and design standpoint--exactly what the hell they're doing. Although Griffin included a range of high-, low-, and no-tech work that purportedly addressed the question, unfortunately too many of the pieces required theoretical uploads from his exhibition essay to be relevant.
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.
Stephen Hendee bridges virtual space and gallery space without succumbing to cliches about the state of the art. His work might be called "proactively dated": using Foamcor, electrician's tape, and colored lights he creates walk-in environments recalling the faceted, wireframe landscapes in Steven Lisberger's retro-futurist (and still seductive) movie Tron (1982). Hendee's installation in "Compression" resembled a digital Fort Knox, with stacks of cartoon SIMMs (Single In-line Memory Modules) in place of gold bars--a fitting symbol for the (old) New Economy. Alternatively, the room full of boxes could be a kind of architectural history simulation, futuristically representing the not-so-futuristic storage warehouses that dominated West Chelsea before galleries and dot-commers came along.
Susan Goldman also practices reverse engineering, making handmade models--in her case 2-D--based on digital originals. Although her quirky arrangements of typography, pictograms, and clip-art look very "cyber," she draws and paints them entirely by hand on canvases or sheets of vellum. Her decentralized compositions and scatterings of fonts recall CD covers and club flyers from the rave underground, where graphic artists like Designers Republic and Switzerland's Buro Destruct challenge the fetishistic clarity of conventional illustration with semi-private, "wild style" languages. Unfortunately Goldman adds little to this oeuvre by hand-rendering it--the thin, spidery line she uses to enclose and define every form quickly becomes monotonous.
Which leaves three artists whose work, however compelling, had nothing inherently to do with digital space. Michelle Grabner coated two adjacent walls with white flocking and sprayed it with an infinitely subtle rainbow of pastel colors. This shimmering dematerialization of a gallery corner could be called "de-rezzed" if one wanted to give it a cyber-spin but could just as easily be about subverting the white cube with happy, fuzzy crafts. Dike Blair's elegant Zen gardens of display paraphernalia and slick home furnishings from outlets like IKEA and Home Depot could relate to "flagship stores" and other (digitally?) designed environments, as Griffin suggests, except that, by arranging these materials incongruously and applying photos to their smooth surfaces, Blair seems more interested in de-contextualization than "branding." Last, Diti Almog's paintings of nested, Albersian rectangles are all about the grid and "windows," and so is the computer, but so what?
Jack McHugh from the Big Picture blog:
[Jeremy] Grantham reminds us that there are really only three ways to deal with a broken credit bubble [such as the dot com era's]: 1) liquidate (the deflationary route the U.S. took after 1929), 2) stimulate enough to allow for a long sideways period of repair (a la Japan after 1989), and 3) inflate enough to reduce the real value of the debt burden. He mentions a fourth way out — blow an even larger bubble in another asset class (e.g. housing). Unfortunately for all of us, this was the path chosen by Alan Greenspan when faced with the broken equity bubble of 2000-2002. Instead of allowing our economy to face the music back then, he set in motion (and even cheered) the events that have led us into our current predicament before retiring to the lucrative lecture circuit. Perhaps we should all take the time to pen a note to the Maestro and offer him what golfer Nick Faldo once said to the irritating British press: "Thanks from the heart of my bottom."
Don't really expect anyone to share my sense of tragedy about being forced to live in a smooth, anti-aliased Steve Jobs kind of world while surfing the web. But you can't stop the complaints from this page.
Sorry, there is a difference between Zen-like acceptance of conditions as they are ("a million computers interpreting things a million ways, man") and letting some Adobe-addled web designer shove his or her bad ideas up your crack. And having that be the *only* choice.
Case in point, let's consider what said web designer did to Charles Westerman's enlarged GIF [update, 2016: reposted here].
Viewed in Firefox 2, it's as seductive as an Ellsworth Kelly painting. [screen shot of moving image - a fleet, fast-loading 23 KB .png!]
Viewed in Firefox 3 (or on a Mac) it looks like a student just discovered the blur effect in Photoshop (and did nothing else to the image). [screen shot of moving image - a bloated 388 KB .png because it now has those "tasteful" interpolated gradients!]
If that's just random chance, fine. But it's a decision made by humans (to give your browser "zoom" capability for entire pages including images and not just text) and it's the taste of humans and that is not a force of nature. It can be ridiculed!
This isn't just a plea for designers to respect web artists' pet "lo fi" projects. There is a difference between rendering photos and rendering graphics. Making photography the default norm for the web is wasteful and unecological and part of our corporate masters' project to turn the web into TV so they can sell us more shit (and still fail in business).