feb 5 2002
I see that its 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 wasnt 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
wouldnt work the night of the event.
THEN and NOW
"Between here and there it's too far
but between here and here, it's too close."
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 dont 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?
its 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...doesnt 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:
sorry i havent sent anything out in the way of guidance
for this upcoming wednesday presentation. Ive been busy with the
new Eyedrum recordings series (ed Recordings) which I hope
youll 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
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, itll be fun and I look forward to seeing you all on
(ps: if you have any questions feel free to email me...just keep in mind
that im 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?"