Archive for March, 2011
more Web 2.0 canvas painter painting
"H.M.M.J. 2 (Coda Only)" [2.6 MB .mp3]
More from my collaboration last year with Travis Hallenbeck: he came to my studio and we played a "live MIDI" set. This is the end of a longer section I am working on. This does something sort of Debussy-ish at about :23 that I really like.
As explained last May:
A desktop computer plays MIDI files that we prepared in advance. One channel goes out to my gear: the Sidstation synth and Mutator analog filter. All the rest of the channels go to Travis's setup, which includes a midi mixer and Roland MT-32 sound module (see YouTube demo and this diagram).
So it is a live performance in the sense that the computer is dispensing a stream of MIDI on-off notes and we are changing settings on our gear in real time.
I was recording the performance, and did some minor post-production mixing, mostly for EQ and levels.
Travis' part got some heavier reverb this time around.
stage posted the dart boy, frankhats the lipstick, i melded them
Cross-posted to Paddy Johnson's blog:
With all due respect to Paddy and my esteemed online colleagues:
I dislike that simple net art diagram and all the pretentious assumptions it stands for ("art is like, on the net, and happens in the space between computers, like wow") and wish it was not on the front page of the GIF show website. GIFs happen on the screen where they are made and the screens where they are shown, not in some vague in-between place. It's true that GIFs can be collaborative and take elements from various locations on the web but they are not an "art of the network." That is MTAA's position but it is an old, Web Art 1.0 position (art solely as critique of invisible hegemonic structures) and doesn't speak for at least one artist in the GIF show. I also dislike Kevin Bewersdorf's hippie zen new age "art circulating through our chakras" GIF--that is no better as an alternative. DH Lawrence might have liked the idea of the solar plexus as the seat of creation but I'll take the mind, thanks. I made my own "art happens here" GIF seven years ago and don't feel like posting it again. I basically don't care "where the art happens."
Update: Nothing wrong with code in art; it's code as art, in the self-conscious, semantic, Charles Harrison/Victor Burgin/Art & Language sense, that gets old. Only one artist in the "Graphics Interchange Format" show is particularly concerned with the latter (a two-person team). Unfortunately they speak persuasively to the man who designed the website, from what can be gathered from the blog discussion after the above comment was posted. "[T]he position of the GIF is shaky enough that you're going to be remembered together or not at all" is how he bridges disparate philosophies of working online: not too encouraging from someone who is supposed to be explaining a new style of working. It's awkward enough being reduced to a file format (a necessary fiction most artists would accept for the sake of context) without being told your art career will sink or swim depending on how it fares.
Update 2: The above-linked thread grew progressively nutty. If you have the stamina to read it, please note the number of times my arguments are paraphrased, each time with increasing levels of speculation, paranoia, accusations of disloyalty and ingratitude, and plain old ad hominem abuse. The case for a difficult artist bucking the show for reasons of ego (as opposed to simple disagreement on principles) is vastly amplified.
Update 3: Sally McKay thinks the (cross-posted) statement above constitutes "polemical attachment to a medium." It's hard enough defending your own words without having to defend ones others ascribe to you.
A few years ago I bought a 13" Toshiba analog TV on clearance to use for showing GIFs burned to DVD. It has a really beautiful clear picture and strong colors. The input jack is wearing out now; I embarrassed myself in a recent studio visit wiggling the RCA plug to keep the image onscreen. (Later I learned that if I duct tape the cord to the floor it will keep the jack aligned.) This got me thinking that I would really like to keep working with these screens, just for the aesthetics of them. Just one or two--not interested in collecting them. But finding good ones basically means trolling ebay and Craigslist. [Insert rant about capitalism, planned obsolescence, waste, and thwarted consumer desire.]
(In case it needs to be mentioned, Nares was part of the No Wave in NY and played guitar in an early line-up of the Contortions.)
GF, a philosophy student, interviews FP, a visual artist with an MFA in studio art who shows in top museums around the globe. In his studies GF has come to think that contemporary philosophy, whether of the British analytical or continental post-structural model, is specious nonsense, so he seeks out an artist who famously scoffs at his discipline as it is currently practiced, to get her thoughts:
GF: So you don’t think philosophy has a defining feature?
FP: If there is a defining feature, it’s a secondary one, which is strange. As open as philosophy has become, it’s still very much constrained by one very conservative characteristic. That thinking is only thinking insofar as it is accepted into the academic system, or at least expressly wants to be part of that system. By this I mean it’s philosophy if it’s in a peer-reviewed journal, or it’s philosophy because a journal is where it belongs. It’s philosophy if it’s validated or presented as such.
GF: So if I just do something that I consider philosophy out in the street, it’s not philosophy? It wouldn’t be identifiable. I mean, it wouldn’t be a book or something, maybe a rant through a bullhorn.
FP: Your bullhorn rant would be philosophy since you consider it such.
GF: Why, because I say so?
FP: Sure. You’re the one validating it.
GF: Like Ayn Rand or Timothy Leary or whatever. So thinking that’s self-aware is philosophy, even if I’m the only one who ever knows about it.
FP: More or less. If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?
GF: I always thought it would. I never understood that one.
FP: Most times thinkers are looking outside of themselves for validation of their ideas, where in fact, should they have the strength to recognize it, their work is work insofar as they deem it so. It just gets more complicated when other things come into play, like wanting to be recognized by an acceptable audience or to get tenure or whatever. A lot of it is ego driven.
You may have determined this is fiction. It's based on actual interview where a philosopher who isn't embarrassed by her own quest for professional validation dismisses similar striving by artists as an insecure, ego-driven craving for recognition.
An intermittently entertaining, crowded, not-so-well compressed video from the collective Paintfx.biz appeared on Rhizome.org recently, without a word of critical commentary. Much of the still imagery on Paintfx suggests a glossier version of abstract illusionist painting from the '70s: a one-off borderline kitsch movement where the artists made swirly marks and then painted airbrushed shadows underneath them so they appeared to hover in an imaginary foreground space.
One might ask, what is the point of paintfx.biz? Is it a critique of painting (been there, done that), a critique of the assumptions of paint programs (barely investigated), or a cross-critique where the painting critique interrogates the paint program critique? None of the above, I think. Rather, the painters on the site seem to like painting and paint programs quite a bit! As one of them said, "We were popping huge boners off of juicy gestural marks and we thought it would be fun and easy to make a lot of those." De Kooning dutifully spins in his grave. Boners also seem to be popped over any effect that pointlessly bodies up brushstrokes with CGI. Surely all these effects can't be good.
The image below is a detail from a larger painting circulating on tumblr that may or may not be ultimately sourced to the blog Barriobajero.
What we have here is an algorithm that models the flow of paint, based on variables of viscosity, air resistance, surface sheen, etc. and an artist working rigidly within the parameters of that paint program (which seems to imagine weightlessness in a deep three dimensional space). There is no stepping outside the box to break or question the programming. The result is that same "wow" you get when a new effect is introduced in a Hollywood movie. OK, show me the next effect. In Baudrillard terms the paint is "hyperrealized," carrying with it an implication of tawdry emptiness: like a bodybuilder impossibly bulked up on steroids. Whoever made the Barriobajero painting may be thinking in those terms, or may just think flinging the virtual paint around in three dimensions is "cool." In either case, the hint of polymorphous alien sexual abandon is counteracted by the frozen polish of the image.
In the '80s and early '90s, beginning with the Neo Geo period, quite a bit of discourse came out of New York about hyperrealized, simulated painting. Essentially it was a way to keep painting in the galleries after its assumptions (the authenticity of the gesture, etc) had been critiqued to death in the '60s and '70s. A lot of this poMo abstraction was pretty good, and most of the painters didn't actually think painting was dead. Nevertheless, exaggerated, pumped up, highly artificial marks were a signature of this period. Above is a detail of a painting by James Nares. The slight transparency of the paint makes the brushstrokes appear three dimensional; every drip is treasured and fetishized in a way that would have been unthinkable to '50s painters. This is pre-digital FX painting, with the marks made in a single muscular stroke.
Jonathan Lasker also traffics in simulated, artificial-looking abstraction, though he has said he would rather make "the first new painting" than history's last. He applies his thick, vaguely Plasticine-textured
pigment with monomaniacal, almost childlike deliberation--these slabs of ooze don't need airbrushed shadows, they cast their own. Above is a detail found via Google Images.
All the above images are digital, of course--jpegs--simulations of simulations. But the question is, if New York School painting was already in the nth state of critique, what is added by taking the critique online or "virtualizing" it? Does it reinvigorate painting by introducing new problems to be solved? Is it like computer modeling used to study weather patterns or subatomic particles, to find out if painting can fail or succeed on a material level? Is it a critique of the role of photography in representing paintings, taking "retouching" to preposterous extremes via Photoshop? All of that begs the question: If you can make anything with a computer, why model paint, as opposed to say, germanium? Why the continued attachment to this art of the cave era?
made with canvas painter, mspaint, mspaintbrush, and photoshop (the last for conversion from BMP to GIF and some of the layering)