June 25, 2010

In Honor of Sarah Jessica Parker's foray

. . . into the meta-irreality of a reality tv show set in the art world, Work of Art, below is the Bruce High Quality Foundation's audition for the show's ill-fated predecessor, Jeffrey Deitch's ArtStar. (If you're not already familiar with the BHQF, watch this first).

June 23, 2010

"There Should Be No Computer Art,"

by Frieder Nake, an early pioneer of the medium, here. The article, published in 1971, fits right into recent discussions re- the ART WORK newspaper. Nake wrote:

The discussion centers around the question "is it [computer art] or is it not art?" . . . I find it easy to admit that computer art did not contribute to the advancement of art if we judge "advancement" by comparing the computer products to all existing works of art. In other words, the repertoire of results of aesthetic behaviour has not been changed by the use of computers. (This point of view, namely that of art history, is shared and held against "computer art" by many art critics . . . .) There is no doubt in my mind, on the other hand, that interesting new methods have been found, which can be of some significance for the creative artist. And beyond methodology, but certainly influenced by it, we find that a thorough understanding of "computer art" includes an entirely new relationship between the creator(s) and the creation: [M. Bense] uses the term "art as a model for art" in this context.

[Goes on to say the art world is dominated by dealers, who invent new "styles," and how computer art is the latest fashion. Says we read complaints that "real" artists lack access to the expensive equipment required and that really interesting results could be obtained if that access were provided.]

At the same time, artists become aware of the role they play in providing an aesthetic justification of and for bourgeois society. Some reject the system of prizes and awards, disrupt big international exhibitions, organize themselves in cooperatives in order to be independent of the galleries, contribute to the building of an environment that people can live in.

I find it very strange that . . . outsiders from technology should . . . try to save [the world of art] with new methods of creation, old results, and by surrendering to the given "laws of the market" in a naive and ignorant matter. The fact that they use new methods makes them blind to notice that they actually perpetuate a situation which has become unbearable for many artists.
It just gets better from there. Follow-up here (the reference to the "Artist Placement Group, which injects artists into industry not for patronage but as agents of change" might interest you, Maureen) and here. I disagree with Nake's conclusion, but I like his observations.

June 21, 2010


is f---ing with my blogger interface. They eliminated a lot of buttons and replaced part of the interface, and the new part no longer connects to the other parts I use most; plus there are other new glitches and limitations on what I can do. Extremely annoying, having put so much into this thing, only to have it degraded by a forced "upgrade" that doesn't work (welcome to the Cloud).

I'd been thinking about migrating to WordPress . . . I'll let you know.

ART WORK: Readings

A few photos here (thanks, Ben!) Again, a great turn-out. This was the last of the three events in the ART WORK in dallas series inspired by Temporary Services' ART WORK newspaper project.

Thanks again to Undermain Theater for their support for the actors' fees, to Mark Ridlen, a.k.a. DJ DeLuxe, for the "audio surprise," to my collaborators at S.M.U. and CentralTrak, and to everyone else who worked so hard to make this series a success.

(You can also see visuals of the symposium here, and of the exhibition here. You can download a complete copy of the ART WORK newspaper issue here. For more info about the ART WORK project, see here. For more info about the ART WORK in dallas series, see here.)

June 20, 2010

Why You Can Hear Me Now There But Not Here . . .

seems clear once you see the graphic images of radio wave reception created by The Bubbles of Radio. More images at the link (via Mutable Matter.)

June 19, 2010

Some "Shakedown"

According to Information Clearing House,

"The 'escrow account' in 2010 is not $20 billion dollars. BP will put in $3 billion dollars in the third quarter of 2010 (ending September 30) and another $2 billion in the fourth quarter (ending December 31). Thereafter, it will have to make installments of $1.25 billion each quarter for the next three years. . . . [A] measure of perspective can be had by comparison . . . to the accumulated potential fines and penalties under the Clean Water Act. BP can be fined $4,300 per barrel of oil spilled as a consequence of gross negligence. With the recent acknowledgment that the spill volume is 60,000 barrels per day, . . . every 60 days accumulates a potential $15 billion fine under the Act. The voluntary arrangement to set aside $5 billion per year is meager in comparison."

June 17, 2010

Knitwear to Die For

by Lisa Anne Auerbach. More here (including such finds as Sell Art--Buy Shoes and Everything I Touch Turns to Mold).

(Thanks, snarky!)

Interactive Map of BP Spill

here, thanks to NOAA; apparently updated at least daily. The map below is a snapshot as of this posting; click on the image for a larger, updated version (give it a few moments to load):

Dallas's Death Star

Er, I mean the new Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House - AT&T Performing Arts Center. (Not that I don't like it.) (Phone photos by Ben.)

June 16, 2010


This work by Don Lucho reminded me a bit of Jill Foley's (see also here.

Much more here. (Thanks, Ben!)

"ART WORK": Readings (Event #3 of 3)

This Saturday, June 19,
at CentralTrak, 800 Exposition Ave. at Ash, Dallas (see map below).
Doors open at 7:30 PM; program begins at 8 PM.

Excerpts from the ART WORK newspaper, including history, fiction, autobio, and other writings by artist/Artforum writer Gregory Sholette, artist Nicolas Lampert, author Cooley Windsor, theorist Brian Holmes, "Anonymous," and others.

Support for actors' fees provided by Undermain Theatre. Audio surprise by DJ DeLuxe. Organized by Carolyn Sortor. FREE.

(For more info on the ART WORK in dallas event series, see facebook or c-Blog. For why I took on this project, see my previous post.)

READERS (the Cast)

Josh Blann has been seen in Port Twilight at Undermain Theatre, Long Christmas Ride Home at Stage West, don’t u luv me at Dallas Children’s Theater, All’s Well That Ends Well at Shakespeare Dallas, and Goodbye Girl at Theatre Three. Additionally, he directed and acted in Green, a world premiere at the Out of the Loop Festival at Watertower Theater. Josh also spent three years at PlayMakers Repertory Company in plays such as King Lear (dir. Mark Wing-Davy), Richard II (dir. David Hammond), A Prayer for Owen Meany (dir. David Hammond), Caesar & Cleopatra (dir. David Hammond), and Salome (dir. Trezana Beverly).

Shannon Kearns-Simmons is an Undermain company member and was last seen as Monitor 1/ Donna in Len Jenkin's Port Twilight. Additional roles at Undermain include Tanya in David Rabe’s The Black Monk, Edith in Neil Young’s Greendale, Nina Iverson in The Snow Queen; Neasa, Shining City; Dorothy Wordsworth, The Appeal; Carrie Rodgers, Waiting for a Train; title role/ensemble, Margo Veil: An Entertainment; and Cate in Blasted. Shannon has also worked with Core Performance Manufactory, Echo Theatre, Theatre Britain, Risk Theatre Initiative & The Modern Stage, Kitchen Dog Theater, WingSpan Theatre Company, DMA’s Arts & Letters Live, and the Clarence Brown Theatre (Knoxville). She has worked under the direction of Henryk Baranowski, Liviu Ciulei, Peter Huszti, Kathryn Pogson, Laszlo Marton, and Fred Curchack, and has performed in festivals in Bratislava, Slovakia (Istropolitana) and Budapest, Hungary. She has performed with Mabou Mines and trained with members of Ecole Jacques Lecoq, Shakespeare & Company, Moscow School of Dramatic Arts, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, the Hungarian National Academy of Acting, Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre, and The Living Theatre.

Ryan Lescalleet most recently appeared in the Undermain’s production of The Black Monk by David Rabe. He graduated from Trinity Christian Academy, where he enjoyed playing such roles as David in God’s Favorite, Horace in Hello Dolly, and Fred in A Christmas Carol.

Elizabeth Krudewig is originally from Marshall TX. She has appeared in All My Sons, Blood Wedding, and The Seagull at Baylor University. Elizabeth is a member of the artistic team at Upstart Productions and an intern at Undermain Theatre.
(Click on the map-nail for a larger version.) To get to CentralTrak, from downtown Dallas or west of downtown, take 30 going east and, just past downtown, exit at 2nd Ave.; turn left on Ash and then left on Exposition.

From east of Dallas, take 30 going west and exit at Exposition Ave./1st Ave.; loop around to continue going east on Exposition.

CentralTrak is at 800 Exposition Ave.

June 14, 2010

One Project Spurs Two Controversies:

Is art work?

And is ART WORK "art"?

For most of my life, I have not been a fan of overtly political art (although I happen to think all art works {as well as other expressions} have at least indirect political implications, by omission or otherwise). So why did I take on this project?

First, I did connect to the politics of Temporary Services' ART WORK newspaper. Society benefits tremendously from artists' efforts, yet very few artists make a living at it; indeed, many whose works are in major art museums need dayjobs to get by.

But more importantly, artists could be poster-kids for the lower and middle classes in general. People in the U.S. work at least as long, hard, and efficiently as workers anywhere in the world. Our productivity has doubled, but our inflation-adjusted incomes have actually declined. The quality of life for most of us as measured by important criteria has fallen dramatically since the 1970's and earlier (see Elizabeth Warren's brilliant presentation; see also here), and it's substantially below that enjoyed in many other developed countries (see here; see also here).

Meanwhile, the rich have grown vastly richer, and the gap in wealth between the top few percent and the rest of us has skyrocketed to an all-time high (see here; also here). As Warren Buffet's said, "It's class warfare, [and] my class is winning, but they shouldn't be." (CNN interview).

If there's been one good result from our tribulations during the last ten years, it's that many more of us have realized we simply cannot afford not to pay attention to political and economic matters, and that things probably won't get much better so long as we continue to allow the few who control disproportionate wealth to make all the big decisions (see, e.g., here).

But while the rest of us have overwhelming numbers, we remain powerless unless we understand what's going on, and organize, at least for certain purposes.

Most of us have been operating as individual entrepreneurs for years now, and there are benefits to that approach. But it's left us atomized and isolated from one another. Maybe we're ready to put our heads together to think about ways to have our entrepreneurial cake and still put food on the table.

Change for the better may not be easy – destruction is easy; creation is hard – but I happen to believe with Andy Warhol, Margaret Mead et al. that it can be done (hey, if we can change Earth's climate as a mere side-effect of other efforts, imagine what we could do if we actually tried).

But that was not the only reason I got involved in the ART WORK project.

During the last few years, I'd become aware of the terms, "relational art," "littoral art," "discursive art," "participatory art," etc. These terms have been used by various writers (Nicolas Bourriaud, Grant Kester, Claire Bishop, Liam Gillick, et al.) who define them in distinctly different ways, but there seems to be some overlap in the kinds of art they're talking about. I've found these terms to be powerful tools for thinking about a trend I personally, roughly describe as art in which the artist's main focus is the production or modification of relationships among people, as distinguished from the production of some other art object. That is, while the project or practice may yield material artifacts, or involve performance, the construction of an environment for viewers, or other things or activities we've recognized as art in the past, what's new-ish is that the artist's principal preoccupation seems to be with the creation or modification of relationships, rather than any object, environment, or even performance – i.e., arguably, the principal art "object" is the relationships formed, or the modifications made to them, in the course of the practice.

(Writers discussing the relational trend disagree intensely about the best ways to define it or to evaluate the works it might include. Such questions go beyond what I can address in this post, but they'd be part of conversations I'd like to have.)

Much of the art I've found most exciting during the last decade and more arguably falls into this "relational" category, as defined in the way I currently find most interesting. I'm thinking of, e.g., Rotozaza's GuruGuru (discussion here), Cao Fei's RMB City (see also here), Meiro Koizumi's Art of Awakening and Human Opera XXX (here), eteam's Second Life Dumpster (see also here), Graffiti Research Lab (see also here) and at least some of Good/Bad Art Collective's projects (see here; and other highly-respected artists associated with this trend and whose work I admire or find interesting include Marina Abramovic, Liam Gillick, Pierre Huyghe, and Phillippe Parreno, to name a few).

Temporary Services' project is definitely relational. They didn't just produce a newspaper; they recruited people nationwide to help distribute it, and they invited everyone interested to take the ball and run with it – to use the newspaper as a springboard to create their own exhibitions, discussions, or events. Their goal is to create and modify relationships – in particular, to inspire us to combine our creativity and other strengths to bring greater fairness to art workers and others, creating or modifying relationships not only among ourselves but within society at large.

(Temporary Services' project may also be related to trends having to do with collectivity and socially-engaged art practices generally, which have their notable practitioners and theorists, as well as to conceptual art. I also find it interesting that the artists chose to distribute their publication in the form of hardcopy newspapers, at a time when print is on the ropes, as well as via the project's website. The collective has been described as "working out of a Situationist tradition"; their work or publications have been been featured at Mass MoCA, The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts, the Smart Museum of Art, and elsewhere.)

But although relational art and theorizing have been around for some years (Bourriaud's seminal Relational Aesthetics was first published in French in 1998 and discusses work created in the 90's), we've seen relatively little of this kind of work in the Dallas area (Good/Bad was a brilliant, early instance; but I know of few others); and I'm aware of even less public discussion here of relational (or of socially engaged) practices.

So another motive for turning Temporary Services' project into an occasion for an exhibition, etc. was to bring more of this kind of work into view here and perhaps inspire conversation about the ART WORK project as art – relational or otherwise – or not-art.

The work shown in the main gallery at CentralTrak "present[s] projects that propose solutions for contemporary artists seeking to work outside of the 'white box' to secure greater economic autonomy during this post-market-glut economic correction" (see CentralTrak); i.e., works reflecting artists' responses as individuals (among other things). This portion of the exhibition was organized by Kate Sheerin, Director of CentralTrak, and includes works by Richie Budd, Gary Farrelly, Thomas Riccio and Frank Dufour, Ludwig Schwarz, Marjorie Schwarz, and give up. The opening reception also included "Son of Trunk Show," presented by Shelby Cunningham and featuring eight other artists.

The materials in the CentralTrak corridor focus on collective efforts (among other things). This portion of the exhibition was organized by moi and includes the ART WORK newspaper plus materials on works and/or writings by Gregory Sholette, Harrell Fletcher, Liam Gillick, Not an Alternative, Mel Chin, Lize Mogel, Maria Lind, Research and Destroy, Robert Projansky and Seth Siegelaub, W.A.G.E., Michael Corris, Hollis Frampton, Don Celender, and Julius Getman.

I think the two areas complement one another in interesting, even provocative ways.

Is ART WORK "art"? After viewing the show, one prominent local critic told me I should be an activist – implying that I should stay away from art. I suggested there could be no greater art project than to help make a better world (to which s/he objected, "[i]sn't that terribly self-absorbed?" I replied, how is that more self-absorbed than building a company or having a family?)
So yes, my own working hypothesis is that, to some degree or in some sense, ART WORK is art.

And you don't have to like ART WORK, or agree with its political orientation, or even agree that it's art, to agree that now is a good time for us to talk about those questions.
For more info about the ART WORK in dallas event series, see my previous post, or click on the "ART WORK in dallas" label below.

(The image top right is of a naturally-occurring fractal in the form of a Romanesco cabbage, from "Fractal Food." The image center left is of Tracy Hicks' Moose, from the National Academy of Sciences Online via Mutable Matter, and the image bottom right is also from Mutable Matter, apparently by the blog author – thanks, Angela!)

UPDATE: Great review of the show by Erin Starr White in Art Lies, Fall 2010. For visuals of the exhibition, see here.

June 13, 2010

Legal and Other Factors in the Decline of Labor Unions

Prof. Jack Getman's lecture explains a lot:

Symposium: "ART WORK: A Local Conversation About Art, Labor, and Economics"

Photos here. (A great crowd, esp. for a this kind of thing and this time of year.) This was the second of three events in the ART WORK in dallas series inspired by Temporary Services' ART WORK project.

Last up: the program of readings at CentralTrak on June 19 -- be there!

Program at CentralTrak: "ART WORK: Readings"
Where: 800 Exposition Ave. at Ash, Dallas, TX
When: Sat., June 19, 7:30 - 10:00 pm

Readings of excerpts from ART WORK, including history, fiction, autobio, and other writings by Temporary Services, Artforum writer Gregory Sholette, artist Nicolas Lampert, author Cooley Windsor, writer Brian Holmes, "Anonymous," and others. Support for actors' fees is provided by Undermain Theatre; organized by Carolyn Sortor. Doors open at 7:30; program starts at 8:00 PM.

(You can download a complete copy of the ART WORK issue here. There's also more info and links re- Temporary Services and the ART WORK issue/project here.)

June 12, 2010

Made in Internet: "Background Story"

by Kristin Lucas. "A sequence of fair use background images arranged for aesthetic and formal reasons, paired with a short story assignment generated through Amazon's Mechanical Turk in response to the image sequence."

(Thanks, Paul!)

Freud and Veblen

(Thorstein) having been mentioned in conversation earlier this evening, when I found the image at right in my inbox (I like shoes), I thought, displaced beard?

Can't resist quoting that Wikipedia entry on Veblen:

He combined sociology with economics in his masterpiece, The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), arguing there was a basic distinction between the productiveness of "industry," run by engineers, which manufactures goods, and the parasitism of "business," which exists only to make profits for a leisure class. . . . Although Veblen was sympathetic to government ownership, he had a low opinion of workers and the labor movement and was hostile to Marxism. As a leading intellectual of the Progressive Era, his sweeping attack on production for profit and his stress on the wasteful role of consumption for status greatly influenced liberal thinkers seeking a non-Marxist critique of capitalism. Experts complained his ideas, while brilliantly presented, were crude, gross, fuzzy, and imprecise; others complained he was a wacky eccentric. Scholars continue to debate exactly what he meant in his convoluted, ironic and satiric essays; he made heavy use of examples of primitive societies, but many examples were pure invention.
I hope that's all true.

June 10, 2010

Packing Tape

Tape Installation, Odeon, Vienna (2010), by numen/for use.

Via boingboing (thanks, Ben!)

June 9, 2010

Merton's Chat Roulette Improv

(Thanks, Misty!)

If You Liked Embedded Reporting, You'll Love the "Fake Lake"

Apparently, in order to keep most of the media away from the actual G8 summit, the Canadian government plans to house most of the media in a specially-constructed replica far from the actual summit site:

"Summit organizers are constructing the artificial lake inside Toronto's Direct Energy Centre to showcase the actual site of the G8 summit hundreds of kilometres away in Huntsville, Ont., June 25-26. The temporary media centre will host all but about 150 of the estimated 3,000 journalists from around the world covering the G8 . . . ."
More at CBC News.

The cost for a few days of simulated news? $1.9 million, which includes $57,000 for a fake, 10 cm.-deep lake and $407,000 in consultation, management and other fees. More details at cnews.

Talk about The Society of the Spectacle . . . . And, laugh at Alex Jones; but at least he's not deterred by a lack of accommodations.

Want to See: "Rabbit Test"

Directed by Joan Rivers; with Billy Crystal, Alex Rocco, Roddy McDowall; (1978) 84 min.

"Joan Rivers' sole directorial effort, Rabbit Test features Billy Crystal (in his first starring role) as a nightschool teacher and long-suffering virgin who, after a night of passion, defies medical science to become the world's first pregnant man. Rivers' trademark brand of button-pushing comedy runs wild in this absurdist riot of raunchy humor and gleefully tasteless gags calibrated to offend, well, just about everybody. Includes cameos from a host of character actors and comedians including Imogene Coca, Alice Ghostley, Paul Lynde, and the director herself. It's inconceivably funny!"
(From BAM.)


"Our mission with The Second Program remains as before--to bring to Dallas international work that for the most part would not have any other venue in this area. The format for 2010, however, is very different. Here is our schedule of events:

"July 22 - Premiere showing of Brent Green's feature film Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then at the Dallas Museum of Art.

"July 31 - Opening night of The Second Program at Conduit Gallery, an exhibition curated by Charles Dee Mitchell featuring work by David Askevold, Jon Gitelson, Matthew Day Jackson, Luke Murphy, Jason Rhoades, Erin Shirreff, and Bill Viola. (Exhibition continues through Aug 28.)

"August 4 - Dallas premiere of Rape of the Sabine Women by Ann Sussman and the Rufus Corporation at the Angelika Mockingbird Station. (This screening is made possible by a generous donation from Karen Erxleben Weiner.)

"August 7 - An evening of short films curated by Bart Weiss at Conduit Gallery.

"August 18 - Area premiere of Double Take, a film by Johan Grimonprez at the Angelika Mockingbird Station. (This screening is made possible by a generous donation from Half Price Books, Records, and Magazines, Inc.)
"More information on all these events can be found on facebook."

(By the way, some of you have assumed I'm involved in The Second Program; I am not. The Video Association invited me to co-curate again, and I'm grateful for their support of my efforts past and present; but the main reasons I did the first The Program were to get to see a ton of work and bring my video art education up to date {as well to share as much of it as possible with you}, and after the first The Program, having accumulated ca. 90,000 words of succinct notes on works I'd seen, I felt I'd gotten far enough along with that for a while and wanted to focus more energy on other projects. I'm delighted that Bart Weiss and Dee Mitchell are carrying on without me, and I plan to enjoy every bit of The Second Program. Hope to see you there!)

June 6, 2010

Categories: "Titles as Context" and

"Greater than Sum of Parts": I Think I Had An Accident (2009), Reuben Lorch-Miller.

June 3, 2010

What Happened to the Middle Class?

From "Zombie Nation," posted at MUTE, 2006-05-10 by Paul Helliwell :

The term zombie entered the English language as a result of slavery, in Robert Southey’s History of Brazil. William B. Seabrook’s book The Magic Island, a first-person account of Haitian voodoo rituals (like Maya Deren’s much later Divine Horsemen), inspired White Zombie, 1931, the first zombie movie. In this we see a sugar plantation owned by Bela Lugosi and staffed by zombies. One of the shambling beasts falls into the grinding machinery and becomes at one with the product. This images anxiety about stolen labour on the part of both producer and consumer embodied in what at once unites them and keeps them separate – the commodity. By 1968 and George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead, filmed in de-industrialising Pittsburgh, their passivity was the passivity of the mass non-violent resisters campaigning for civil rights. They lumbered because they were inevitable, the mass in human flesh to be sadistically destroyed, interested only in increasing the number of zombies – apocryphally by eating their victim’s brains. By Dawn of the Dead, 1978, their very existence is overproduction: ‘When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth’ – zombies were the proletarian dead proletarian shopping. ‘But why have they all come to the Mall?’ asks one of the living, ‘I don't know… I guess it must have meant something to them in their lives.’ For Web 2.0 users, like the human survivors in Dawn, incarcerated by the zombie hordes in a shopping mall where everything is free, this anxiety of stolen labour can only increase (despite the muzak). Beneath the glossy reflective surface of the commodity is putrifying zombie flesh – humanity is not superfluous in the age of globalised production but only its ‘creative’ part is recognised (leading to its haunting by the latest in a long line of unquiet Marxist spectres).
More at the link above. See also Elizabeth Warren.

June 1, 2010

Exhibition: "Non-Profit Margin" (Event # 1 of 3)

Possibly excessively complete visuals here.

This exhibition at CentralTrak is the first of three events in the ART WORK in dallas series inspired by Temporary Services' ART WORK project. The exhibition runs through July 24.
Still to come: the symposium at S.M.U. on June 12 and the program of readings back at CentralTrak on June 19; for more info, see the "ART WORK" in dallas Facebook page or my previous post.

UPDATE: Great review of the show by Erin Starr White in Art Lies, Fall 2010.

For more info about the entire ART WORK in dallas event series, see here.

World's Slowest Porsche

Re- ART WORK, a Dead-On Letter to MoMA

from Hollis Frampton; see a more legible version of all five pages here.