me hut journal february - 2002  


feb 5 2002
I see that it’s been exactly a year since I wrote anything here. Even though it seems like a few months ago. Time compression continues apace...and will accelerate no doubt.
I suppose much of the impetus for starting this journal was therapeutic (as well as trying to hone whatever writing skills I have). So in the spirit of the latter consideration here is a paragraph i wrote for a video piece that failed to materialize. It was 3 minutes of an 8 mm film from maybe 25 years ago (or more)...I wasn’t even sure what was on it. probably P. and some events in athens. I had plannedto burn it as it came out of the machine so maybe something was protesting since the machine wouldn’t work the night of the event.
"Between here and there it's too far
but between here and here, it's too close."
Captain Beefheart
What's over and done with, never seems to be truly done and over with. We're ghosted for always and everywhen by all the dropped connections, out of order lines, faded and crumpled photos, rolling images. Things are always moving in the forever deepening gloom of the Past, underneath the vast and depthless surface of Now, occasionally buoyed up, to the surface and even beyond, volcano-like, on the bony wire shoulders of tech.
I still suffer (and I use that word unreservedly) involuntarily from flashbacks with L. The difficult is that I don’t have such flares about P.... But I counter that to be a good thing (even if I DO feel somewhat guilty about not having severe trauma around it--unless the flashbacks with L. are tied in somehow in some weird subterranean displaced fashion; once you admit the concept of powerful subconscious, the workings of the consciousness to figure out its own machinations become horribly compromised...and suppose there WERE such a thing as telepathy either real or gesturally/bodily/materially implied---why, then the whole of any species attempts to come to grips with itself would be compromised! Under ANY circumstance though what does ‘come to grips with itself’ really mean? in contrast to what? it’s the old zen conundrum of the hand trying to grasp itself...)
I sit here in the silence of my little basement library, reading, and as I close the book the words seems like streams of ants inside, swarms of bees outside, the pressure of the antwords from inside just matched by the pressure from the beewords flying from the pages, titles of the books --- a perfect matched equilibrium, neither side really going anywhere but an immense pleasure to be had caught in the gap, suspended above various voids, suspended below various gaps, the suspension bridge itself adequate for the moment...doesn’t last long though one pressure or the other begins to bulge into the other, hernia-like.
I found this going back through some stuff. some statements from one of the lecture series:
hi folks-
sorry i haven’t sent anything out in the way of ‘guidance’ for this upcoming wednesday presentation. I’ve been busy with the new Eyedrum recordings series (‘ed Recordings’) which I hope you’ll check out. While this presentation hovers around the idea of photographic representation, the next one in INTENTION AND APPARATUS wil be on architectural sculptural practice in relation to tech.
I thought I would send you the paragraph at the very end below from the writer/philosopher Crispin Sartwell as a bit of provocation for you to chew on for the presentation.
Art/artists often assume that technology is simply a tool that can be bent as one desires. Which may or may not be true, but is certainly more complicated than that. One writer has commented that ‘there is something in life older than life’. Maybe the question is whether there is something in art that is older than art : technology or god(s) or whatever. If there is not anything ‘older’ then we might think / do about it in one way (extreme american pragmatism, anything ‘goes’ as long as it ‘works’ -- of course with art, the very question itself is : what is it for an art piece to ‘work’? is the very way I have phrased it corrupted by the very ideology/question we are trying to bring into focus?)
If there IS something in art older than art -- which so-called ‘mystical, perennial philosophies’ believe, allying art with various subspecies aeternitas of spirituality and religious fervor (which it seems many artists believe, at least under the rubric of a divinely sanctioned notion of ‘creativity’) -- then what place do the very powerful technologies which are continually evolving, have in relation to artists’ intentions? Many modern theories accord a distinctly secondary position to artistic intentionality.
These questions are especially pertinent now because it at least SEEMS that the machinic networks we humans are developing DO have rudimentary forms of what might be at least called ‘perogatives’ and ‘needs’ if not intentionalities and subjectivities. (especially considering that we can not even really be said to know what a ‘subject’ is! Can only ‘subjects’ read/do/make art? Is art pure subjectivity? Then how are we able to make [somewhat generalizable and hence mechanical] rules and judgements about it?)
There are many computer programs now that compose music, paint, write and even construct themselves (albeit in a fairly crude fashion at the moment). Is the artist really separate from and ‘above’ the technologies that s/he uses? What is the ‘added value’ that, e.g., the camera adds to the artistic palette? Does the camera itself set an ‘agenda’? Is techology really ‘value free’ as we always hear with humanist pundits? Do modern technologies of visuality really do away with the human ‘aura’ as walter benjamin thought (primarily cinema in his case but he also seemed to think that it spelled the end of or at least imporverishment of ‘experience,’ a certain human way of being in the world)-- or does tech in fact enhance and magnify to superhuman proportions the ‘human aura’ such that all other species on the planet are basically doomed. Is art the handmaiden of that process? in opposition to it? all the above? none of the above but floating blissfully to the side?
I realize that these questions are both too simple in one respect and too complicated in others and hopelessly inadequate and confusing overall but perhaps they are not TOO inchoate and can get us started thinking about wednesday a bit. Not that this will be just a ‘theoretical evening’ whatever that is, since if nothing else art/artists/curators are all grounded in specific practices, methods, economics, (machines?) etc. But hopefully we can hover around the place where the ‘rubber meets the road,’ or the hammer hits the nail etc ( I wonder what a non-machinic statement of that would be?: where the seed meets the dirt; the twig, the sky; the lightning, the ground ..... ??!! but would that be ‘art’ then or...shamanism??). And of course you can (and i expect will, unavoidably) bring your own agenda/questions/counterproposals.
At any rate, it’ll be fun and I look forward to seeing you all on wednesday.
Robert C.
(ps: if you have any questions feel free to email me...just keep in mind that i’m better at asking them than answering them ;-) )
“The forward thinking artist of the next century will make works too complicated to be grasped in a visual or auditory act. The machine will grow ever smaller and ever larger until we are hooked into huge communication systems all the time through tiny devices on or in our person. Institutions and governments will seek to control the Net and us through processes of simplification, screening, and monitoring, but will find that surveillance is impossible in the beautiful mess; the whole concept of power will have to be radically reconceived as communicative and pseudo-organic rather than ideological. The classical machine will play for the twenty-first century the role that nature played for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: it will be the object of longing and nostalgia. We will wish for industrial production in the way that Thoreau wished for oneness with nature. The industrial worker will take on the iconographic status of the cowboy. Paintings by Charles Sheeler will appear on posters in hotel rooms. People will design useless pseudo-classical machines, or they will make postclassical processors that look like classical machines. Self-perpetuating and self-annihilating technologies will make art a branch of horticulture. New and inconceivable hatreds will spring up and yield beautiful things. Beauty will be viral: impossibly profuse and self replicating and arbitrary and infectious and lethal. And finally, beauty will once and for all detach itself from pleasure, so that there is no reason for anything to be beautiful or not: no goal, no justification, only an inconceivably huge communication system awash in an arbitrary syntax of electronic impulses imploding into a beautiful death, as when you look at the remanufactured corpse in the funeral home and all you can say is, "Doesn't he look natural?" “
Crispin sartwell