Archive for January, 2010

based upon “When the Jaguar Lies Down With the Lamb” by Roy Ascott

Scientists are optimists. With stars in their eyes, and “the-sky’s-the-limit” mentalities, they forge on their merry way, analyzing and dissecting the physical aspects and forces of nature of the world around us, like the courtiers in the old Chinese fable who would de-construct the mechanical songbird, but find it too difficult to put the original back together. Yet it is the hope, of the idealistic reconstruction of reality, that drives scientists to deconstruct the fabric of the universe, and accord humans a new place in it.

Puts forth Roy Ascott:

Just as globalisation means that not only are we are all connected, but that our ideas, institutions, even our own identities are constantly in flux, so too will moistmedia bridge the artificial and natural domains, transforming the relationship between consciousness and the material world.

Through advanced technologies we are evolving a double consciousness which allows us to perceive simultaneously the inward dynamic of things and their outward show……The crossovers between art, science, technology and mythology will mean that increasingly we live in the context of mixed reality…rubric of an emergent technology that deals concurrently with the virtual synthesized world…It creates environments that integrate both real and virtual worlds quite seamlessly.

Hold it right there. Doesn’t anyone remember the “Borg” on Star Trek the Next Generation? The “cybernetically enhanced” humanoid drones connected through wires and plasma membranes to the physical structure of their spaceship? Although the character Data demonstrated that intelligent androids could serve humans loyally–if programmed to–what about the robots who come to rule earth in “the Terminator”? Did the scientists who manufactured the first cyborg components at ‘Cyberdyne’ regret later what they thought of as progress?
size-medium wp-image-680″ />As human consciousness expands with access to an expanding and shared database and cultural immersion in technology, at what point do humans retain their physical integrity as entities apart from a “Matrix”? Gene Rodenberry and Harlan Ellison seemed to remain skeptical of some scientific encounters with the future of human integration with technology.

But Roy Ascott remains a perpetual optimist:

Just as telematic art celebrates the telenoia of world-wide connectivity (opposing the paranoia of the old industrial society), so moistmedia will provide new systems and structures to the emergent forms of planetary art, redefining the dynamic space of interaction and collaboration between artists of East and West, North and South, indeed of all regions of the world, however remote and hitherto unknown to each other. Poetry will always finally outlast oppression…Moistmedia is set to create a whole new post-biological universe, quite unlike the world as legislated on high in its authorised version with its apparently immutable laws.

I guess my skepticism that all “advancements” are unquestionably beneficial, makes me part of the “paranoia of the old industrial society”. That “Poetry will always finally outlast oppression”…well now that’s a nice thought, but the cybernetic drones upon the Borg might think otherwise.

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art pages

Gene Matras pen and ink illustration work

Aphelion Art scratchboard works by Cathy Sheeter

3Kicks Fine Art Studios by Matt Marchant

“morning drawings” by Gabriela Vainsencher

“One hundred awesome paintings in one year” by Anna Judd

Julia Sverchuk’s line drawings

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Shhhh…everyone be quiet, listen up; the POTUS is on deck. But for some reason, that is not reassuring to me.

As I listened to Obama, I couldn’t help but make the analogy to a preacher at the pulpit. And as I observed the congressional representatives rising and clapping, I could almost imagine them with pom poms, jumping like elated cheerleaders at a football rally. No matter what their man said, they would support him. And Joe Biden, on the dais behind Obama, smiling and nodding his “amen”. Did I imagine it, or did Susan Pelosi the Speaker of the House seem as though she was going to cry?

But for me, Obama’s words rang empty. He seems to say what people want to hear, and present himself as a strong leader, but seems hollow to me. I don’t think he grasps with his heart the context of the history of the US constitution. Because he has a motivation to be an equalizer of the people of the country, he may be undermining the legality of the existing structure of the government of the country and why certain laws are in place in our system of checks and balances. Briefly he mentioned that if certain bills he suggests are not to his specifications, he would use the power of veto. Which is within his powers, true. But it seems he is more interested in throwing his weight around than in letting economic principles take their course…

There seems to be some confusion as to the economic route to take, the difference between Hayekian and Keynesian philosophies–whether to let capitalism and a free market regulate itself with possibility of choppy waters, or whether to engage in selective bailouts and government aid with increasing possibility of government at the helm. But ironically, he would as easily slap fees or taxes on the banks bailed out, to effect repayment of their loans. And although he said “it was hard to do”, the trillion dollar “economic stimulus package” was as easy as signing a paper, at the same time promising the burden would not be passed on to future generations of American citizens.

Where does the money come from? Obama continued to promise (paraphrased) that “in a country as great as America, no citizens should go without access to higher education, and availability of Pell grants would be increased to assist students, as well as tax relief.” Is education to be guaranteed then, for everyone? What are the other “rights” of American citizenship? He briefly glossed over any responsibilities associated with those ‘rights’. Is there a difference between a ‘right’ and an ‘opportunity’?
Similarly, can we regard healthcare as a ‘right’ of citizenship, or is it merely a priviledge accorded those who can afford it?

And arguing that those who have incomes below $250,000 would have no higher taxes, was laughable. Persons living (subsisting) on one tenth that income at the $25,000 level of teachers and minimum wage employees, should rest assured that they would not pay more tax than someone earning ten times as much?

The trouble with Obama’s hopes of equalizing the disparities between the US’s citizens, is that in providing equality, rather than “opportunity of access”, creates a conflict of the motivation of capitalism. Like it or not, Obama’s goals smack of socialism, the only drawback of levelling the playing field.

According to socialist thought, the inherent problems of capitalism lie in ” monopoly, business cycles, unemployment, unequally distributed wealth, and the economic exploitation of workers.” Unfortunately, what “made America great” was due in part to these very things. JP Morgan wouldn’t have invested in building America’s railroads if he didn’t think he could profit by it. Nor Andrew Carnegie have invested in steel production if environmental restrictions had been in effect to hinder him. In capitalism and the practice of free enterprise, the benefit to America is in the long run, and sometimes results are not obtained immediately with palliative short term fixes.

The benefit of socialism, is security for the citizenry. But the price paid for security is the loss of freedom to seize opportunity to profit for oneself. Whether this is moral or environmentally correct, profit is the reward for effort in capitalism, and it is the profits which have provided the benefits which have made America the great nation we claim it to be. Profit and freedom of opportunity are the reasons people come from foreign countries to make a new start in ours. And the lack of these opportunities in more restrictive governments is not as attractive.

The more America adopts restrictions and increases government involvement in enterprise, the more we move away from capitalist economics.

Economically, socialism denotes an economic system of state ownership and/or worker ownership of the means of production and distribution. In the Soviet Union, state ownership of the means of production was combined with central planning, in relation to which goods and services to make and provide, how they were to be produced, the quantities, and the sale prices.”

Centralized government control and regulation. Were we only joking that for a moment it looked as though Obama made himself the head of GM while he fired the ceo? Did we watch the government bailout Chrysler and several banks as though it were playing Father Knows Best? Is it really Obama’s place to “fix it” for us? Scary.

Scarier, is that

A December 2008 Rasmussen poll found that when asked whether Americans supported a state-managed economy or a free-market economy, 70% preferred free-market capitalism, with only 15% preferring a state-managed economy.[83] An April 2009 Rasmussen Reports poll, conducted during the Financial crisis of 2007–2010, suggested that there had been a growth of support for socialism in the United States. The poll results stated that 53% of American adults thought capitalism was better than socialism, and that “Adults under 30 are essentially evenly divided: 37% prefer capitalism, 33% socialism, and 30% are undecided”.

Looks like we’re forgetting exactly what makes America great.

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recent reads and links I liked:

“Blues, booze & bbq’s” great photo-essay on the heart of soul, Burn magazine.
New York Photo Festival website and comprehensive blogroll.
Joshua Tree Music Festival past lineup
Buko.net a northwest music source
World Wide Words Michael Quinion check out “weird words”
Himalayan Art
Sound Remedies tuning forks to tame brainwaves with “biosonics”.
strange new design ideas no joke.
Art Majeur.com hosting
Helen Mirren as Sofya Tolstoy on MPR.com
Six Unspeakable Bad Films from Good Directors (review) Philly Weekly
Book of Eli reviewedphilly Weekly; Huffington Post; NPR
Should We Fear the E-Book? NPR opinion
full body scanner fails to detect bomb parts Huffington Post
England’s Security Risk “High”
Photographers Protest Over Police Search Powers London 12/23/2010
LABoral: new Mediateca Expandida
Louise Bourgeois; Ernesto Neto; c-monster.net
corporate “personhood” SCOTUS blog; Citizens united decision Huffington Post

Be sure to check out my new “LINKS” page where all these are saved.

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New term. Not as morbid as it sounds, and not to be confused with a “memento mori” an “exquisite corpse”or “cadavre exquis” is an activity in which several people contirbute portions of a final work of art. Similar to a game called Consequences, in which players write in turn on a sheet of paper, fold it to conceal the previous part, and then pass it on for a further contribution. Each participant, then is responsible for part of the “body” or “corpus.”

In a sense, the term exquisite corpse applies to any collaberative effort, even a musical jam session. But usually the composite result is a documented artifact, such as a picture, poem or story, or cartoon or video. (The technique is not the same as the non-linear cut-up style of Brion Gysin, in which pre-existing words and phrases are sliced up, edited and arranged, as used in Naked Lunch by William burroughs’ and by other Beat poets’–such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg at various times.)

The stage production Hedwig and the Angry Inch and its film adaptation heavily utilize the exquisite corpse format as a symbol. Near the end of the play/film, as the already bizarre story reaches its most surreal point, Hedwig begins reminiscing about all the relationships and events in her life that have made her feel “cut…up into parts”, with pieces going to various important people. The following song asserts that now, however, she has “sewn up” or reconstructed herself, recovered, and become whole, though as a patchwork of sorts (“tornado body and a hand grenade head, and the legs are two lovers entwined”).

In another example,

In the Montreal World Film Festival of 2006, from an original idea by Adrien Lorion, David Etienne and Michel Laroche, a group of ten film directors, scriptwriters and professional musicians took the concept to a new level with the fusion of the art of film-making and song-writing: Cadavre Exquis première édition.

Surrealists, such as Yves Tanguy, Marcel Duchamp, Jacques Prévert, Benjamin Peret, Pierre Reverdy, and André Breton, played a form of this game. And it can be adapted to any media, allowing each artist a portion of the whole, in his own styling. the methodology is open to adaptation. The original item may be modified by one person at a time, chronologically, passed hand to hand or even sent like a chain-mail. Or each artist may contribute individually to a designated block of the whole, like a quilt, grid or checkerboard, or a body-map. A bit like Frankenstein, actually.


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A corporation having the right to vote as a person? Why not just let CITIES vote, too??? They are INcorporated entities. Should these “people”, get a representative quantity in legislature too? Senators for the corporations of Indiana….Senators for the corporations of California…??? On the other hand, if corporations had their own senators, it might mean that the citizen’s senators would be less influenced by corruption.


Allright, correction needed. Corporations were not given the right to vote as individuals in today’s Supreme Court decision in “Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.” They were only to be counted as persons who have the right to exercize freedom of speech through contributing as much as they like to political campaigns. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/21/the-supreme-courts-citize_n_432127.html .

But I’m not sure now, which is worse. To let businesses buy influence through campaign contributions, or to give them an honest chance to vote outright as individuals. Businesses and corporations have expression through political lobbies now, but this is indirectly influential. Financial influence through large donations is too easily corruptible, and is why limits have been legalized in the past. Perhaps businesses should be able to vote, as they are currently to be taxed as individual ‘persons.’

Why does giving corporations a legitimate representative voice in Congress, smack of the same complexities as legalizing marijuana..? As always, it seems as though the best choices are merely choosing between the better of two evils. At least America isn’t socialist yet, though.

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Specifically Avatar, for all its fabulous effects, would not interest me at all, except to enjoy the effects. But the 3D experience itself, like most carnival rides, tends to leave me feeling nauseous instead of entertained. I’m a little leary of the “immersive” audience experience. I like reality the way it is. These things remind me more and more of what life might be inside “the Matrix”.

It reminds me that many action movies these days seem to be filmed indoors, on a soundstage in an atmosphere of claustrophobic darkness and what is meant to be mist, but seems to be blue smoke. Batman Returns, all the Vampire series, anything ‘inner city’, leave me with the feeling I’ve been immersed in a subteranean environment too long, and I leave the theatre eagerly to enjoy fresh air and daylight!

It makes me wonder if what we mean by “entertainment” these days is instead immersive conditioning to an alternate environment. But I like reality the way it is — outside the movie theatre.

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“Chip tunes”…what the heck? Are these like iTunes? Was there something before Mp3 and Midi files? What are they?

When I have questions about anything, I usually call upon Wikipedia for answers. Wiki recounts that:

The earliest precursors to chip music can be found in the early history of computer music. In 1951, the computers CSIRAC and Ferranti Mark 1 were used to perform real-time synthesized digital music in public.[1]

In the late 1970s, video game consoles and microcomputers started to have integrated circuits with dedicated sound logic. A notable early example is the TIA chip of the Atari VCS (1977) featuring two voices with separate volume and waveform setting.

As several microcomputers were marketed with their music and sound capabilities, commercial music software became available for many models. An early example is the Atari Music Composer released in 1980 … In order to really take advantage of the sound chips, programming skills were required.

Arguably the most influential piece of hardware in the development of chip music has been the MOS Technology SID, the sound chip of the Commodore 64 (1982).

In 1981 a chip was developed by Robert Yannes called the MOS Technology SID. The SID is a mixed-signal integrated circuit, featuring both digital and analog circuitry, which mechanically creates sound, as compared to computer software which only emulates it.

Among the simplest sounds are the simple, single tone beeps and clicks we associate with computer operations. But as complexity increases, sound can be modulated or modified to mimic realistic tones. The SID chips had

three separately programmable independent audio oscillators (8 octave range, approximately 16 – 4000 Hz) ,
four different waveforms per audio oscillator (sawtooth, triangle, pulse, noise), three attack/decay/sustain/release (ADSR) volume controls, one for each audio oscillator and a ring modulation, filter, and programming techniques such as arpeggio (rapid cycling between 2 or more frequencies to make chord-like sounds) .

All these features gave the sound created in the early 80’s, unique characteristics. SID can refer to the chip, or to the MIME filename extention of these audio files. Retro sentimentality among audiophiles and computer gamers, has even renewed a demand for songs from this period of music. And many musicians simply prefer the sound coming from the audio chip to that which can now be emulated through software.

LABoral, for example, features an exhibition new Mediateca Expandida, explores the role played by music in the adoption and manipulation of obsolete technologies: vinyls, old computers, game platforms, etc.

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based on the article Dance Kitchen by Dustin W. Leavitt; Kyoto Journal
Having never seen the Asian dance form called “Butoh”, it is interesting to hear how it might be explained verbally, rather than visually.  One might as a comparison, try to describe the movement known as “ballet”, and compare it to “modern dance”.   One might compare mime to Mummenschance, and Olympic floor routines to Cirque du Soleis.  Personally, I feel that Cirque has more to do with costume and theatrical calisthenics, than choreographed dance.

But all the aforementioned forms of performance art, are created and to be decoded by the western mind.  Butoh originates in Japan, and must be interpreted through eastern culture.  Visually westerners may see and interpret the form, but they may not understand the cultural significance. According to Dustin Leavitt, Butoh is

strange, dark dance form created by Hijikata Tatsumi in Japan during the years following World War II. Critic Mark Holborn has written that butoh is defined by its very evasion of definition. “Hijikata’s dance was literally called Ankoku Butoh,” he said, “meaning black or dark dance. The darkness referred to elements — the territory of taboo, the forbidden zones — on which light had never been cast… It is both theater and dance, yet it has no choreographical conventions. It is a subversive force, through which conventions are overturned. As such, it must exist somewhere on the social periphery… It is a force of liberation, especially within the conformist Japanese social structure…”

Ahhh…the “social periphery”? Something which overturns conformist Japanese social conventions?

Later works were heavily invested with transvestitism, sexual perversion, and violence, the purpose of which was not to comment, nor even to shock, though that was often their effect upon the audience. Rather, they were enlisted as means of undermining the barriers of convention that held the body in thrall. Located at the heart of darkness, violence and sexual perversion were Hijikata’s Jacob and Angel, whose true struggle was not against each other, but rather against the authority that manipulated them both; they were the keystones whose removal into the light of scrutiny would cause the vaults of the unconscious to sunder.

Well speaking generally, ballet as a genre didn’t tend to violate social conventions. In fact, it’s formalism was breached by dancers who pushed western boundaries, such as Nijinsky, bringing chaotic and passionately liberated modernism to dance. In his time, Nijinsky was seen as shockingly different than what staid and conservative audiences were used to. His dance “Rite of Spring” broke it’s own social conventions, ushering in new and freer forms of movement. So Butoh’s Hijikata would seem to be the Asian analog.

During the early years, when Hijikata worked with Ohno Kazuo — who is credited with butoh’s co-creation — Ohno’s son Yoshito, Kasai Akira, Ishii Mitsutaka, and Tamano Koichi, butoh was an essentially masculine dance form. In the early 1970s, however, he began to work with three women, Kobayashi Saga, Mimura Momoko, and Ashikawa Yoko. Hijikata’s collaboration with Ashikawa was transformative. Through her he investigated the practice of metamorphosis as a gentler means of breaking down the myth of the individual, the first step in the process of reintegrating the body with its analogous exterior and interior universes. He led his dancers through exercises, sometimes lasting years, in which they assumed other life forms — animals, plants — with the objective of exchanging the isolation of individuality for a sense of communion with nature, of infusing the subjective body with firsthand experience of adapting itself to its place in the natural order.

Most similar to the western concept of modern dance, in its movement free of formality, Butoh differs to the extent it’s participants engage in more meditative immobility–something that westerners, used to a barrage of visual stimuli and bold action, find more difficult to accept as entertainment.

And yet, what is “butoh” as compared to other dance? Perhaps it is more the expression of the individuals.

“Butoh is dancing,” she says reflectively. “Butoh is dancing… stomping on the ground.”

Hijikata’s ankoku butoh sought, through the body, to access a liminal, pre-Babel world where the relationship between sign and signifier is not separate, but motivated, a world described by critic Eguchi Osamu as one in which all hierarchical relations fragment and are replaced by a “mandala woven from words and resemblances which, as it swirls around, creates correspondences between all things.”

“It’s so straight!” Hiroko continues. “All dance is the same. With butoh we are kind of making a new genre, but the unique point, or the most important part of this dance form, I think, is what really makes that form… You know, the dance sometimes just forms and forms and forms and then space. Like, sculpted the body out to the shapes, but the point is: how come those shapes comes out? Anno, what makes you run? What makes you cry? What makes you laugh, and all those things. And how come this hand moves this way and not this way? You know, those inside things.

“And also, you know, the human body have that same space as outside universe. So individual people have that same universe inside. And all the vocabulary, already there. Everybody has all that vocabulary already.”
She gives me a hard look. “We has eyes to see around, but sometimes we forgot to see inside.”

I guess I’ll just have to see it. 🙂

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Louise Bourgeois
Ernesto Neto

Spiders give me the creeps. Especially thirty foot tall ones that remind of the huge monsters in HG Wells War of the Worlds. I’ve always wondered about the recent artworks popping up of giant spiders, and complementary but unassociated takeoffs, huge cloth installations that resemble cobwebs or spider nests, large enough for humans to wander through. Who are the artists behind these? What are they trying to express?

My initial impression, upon seeing the towering metal spiders, organically disjointed welded edifaces, is to react as though the creatures were like any arthropod you’d find in your home–to squeal, cringe, and flee to find some method of disposing of it. There is nothing attractive about the piece at all; more than repulsive, it is a monstrosity–a monster. I’d feel equally attracted to the creature Sigourney Weaver dealt with in “Aliens”. The display might be appropriate in a museum at Paramount movie productions, but to my mind, completely inappropriate as a decoration for a public plaza.

Now how does the artist possibly rationalize these creations? And the curators who paid millions for them? There is even something slightly sinister about the “beasts”. They look like people-eating monsters. Could it be, that these symbolize that the Hollywood myth of secret world domination by aliens is more than a myth? I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s harbored these suspicions secretly while listening to the politically correct explanations put forth by the organizations which purchased them…lol.

Apparently Louise Bourgeois is the woman responsible for the idea of the large spiders. She is now 93 years old. Not exactly the type to design beasts for Hollywood. Her work is instead, analytical of family dysfunction, and to be taken as a symbolic psychosexual archetype. The spider is a mother, caring for its young and carrying the marble eggs literally with her, weaving a life as Louise’s own mother wove a life for her from lies and deceit, covering up the reality that her father had included his mistress in their lives with the role as Louise’s nanny. The monstrousness of the piece reflects Louise’s bitterness toward both her parents for the falsity of the life they created together. The spider sculpture is called “Maman”. Mother.

Her recurring forms are spiders, flora and fauna, breasts, phalluses and vulvas, cocoons, pods, totems, and cages. And there is little ambiguity to their genesis, meaning, and dénouement. In Ms. Bourgeois’s art, the spider’s web is often synonymous with the tapestry and the womb. The figure — strange yet familiar; intimate yet distant — is a phallus inspiring lust, a relic to be worshipped, and an animal or weapon to be feared. The home is a prison and a torture chamber; and the family, no less than love, communion, and sexual longing, is woven together by strands that bind, suffocate, and kill.–Lance Esplund

Which is still my initial feeling. That the sculpture gives me the creeps; there is nothing “motherly” about it at all. It may as easily eat you. The psychobabble may be the PC explanation, but there may be a meta-meaning to the seven sculptures that were eventually produced, one steel and six bronze castings. (I am reminded of the Lord of the Rings.) They are in display in several countries. One to Canada’s National Gallery, one to the State Hermitage in St. Petersburg, another in Havana Cuba, one at the Guggenheim in Spain, one at Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum, and the last at Seoul Korea’s Samsung Museum of Modern Art. The steel version is currently on loan to the Tate Museum of Modern Art. It previously was displayed at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Jardin des Tuileries Paris, and at the Hirshhorn Museum Washington, DC. I think the UN should have it’s own, lol.

Now Ernesto Neto finishes weaving the web that Louise Bourgois created the mamma spider for. Apparently totally independently of her and her concept, his artwork would be the perfect accomodation for her monstrous beasts. Apply any descriptors you like, Neto’s netted structures resemble huge, cathedral-like cobwebs, complete with eggsacks in the center. The humans are invited to wander through what may look to them like a safe haven, but which turns out to be the belly of the beast. For all the inviting pillows and incense disguising it as a cross between a Moroccan harem and a Catholic church, the structure is still a monster’s nest.

And we are still Sigourney Weaver wandering curiously through the alien’s pod.

I don’t think I like that.

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