Monday, April 30, 2007

"Quandry: you admire institutions -- the artist-run center; the commercial gallery; the regional gallery; the international art fair -- because they were the conduits that first brought you close to works you still admire (Shadbolt's; Rauschenberg's; Ian Hamilton Finlay's; Richard Serra's; Yoshitoshi's; Kay Rosen's). But those institutions are either too busy to care about what you're doing now, or beseiged by people just like you, or have noticed you, negatively. Eg., your work's not that good. And early work is a lot more likely to be not that good than merely adequate or (even less likely) good. So, do you want to remain subordinate forever, proposing things to institutions, or get on with the (harder; more rewarding) work of making things, getting them out into the world, and improving?

Or do you want to make work, and criticism, and a distribution system, and exhibition venues? That sounds like exhaustion. That sounds like early alcoholism, failed relationships, angry ex-friends and colleagues, bewildered institutional employees. . . .

Or like culture. Like a life."

-Writer, Critic, Artist, Curator, Climber, Contrarian Investor Christopher Brayshaw, dropping science like Galileo dropped the orange.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Untitled, BHP, 2007.

More musical chairs, more new photographs, over at the site. As usual, hitting refresh a few times is the only way to get the new stuff onscreen.

Meanwhile, Ongoing is still up at CSA Space in Vancouver until Sunday the 22nd, so if you're in the neighbourhood don't be a stranger.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Short clips from Beyond Belief - 2006 are now up on Youtube. Worth watching for the Sam Harris - Scott Atrand debate alone ( 1, 2, 3, 4.)
Atrand supplies what I think is probably the most interesting, persuasive, and downright intimidating critique yet of Harris's and Dawkin's work. His comments, angrily indignant as they might sound, are well worth considering (as Dawkins seems to be doing, heavily, from the audience in clip 4.)
Also check out Ann Druyan's inspired response to the claim that it's science, not religion, that fears the unknown.
If you're an insomniac like me, all twenty hours of the conference can be viewed here.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Peter Schjeldahl reviews Women's Work, at the Brooklyn Museum:

"The market selects art that people like to look at, whatever it may be about. This is bound to exasperate partisans of any particular aboutness, whose goal is not case-by-case approbation but blanketing justice. The conflict cannot be resolved, because the terms on the two sides—politics versus taste, virtue versus pleasure, aggrieved conviction versus disposable wealth—sail past each other. The agon’s usual form is an assault, by the party of politics, on the complacency of art lovers. It draws force from the unexceptionable truth that justice is more important than artistic quality. Activists enjoin a suspension of fun-as-usual until urgently needed reforms are in place. In consequence, social movements are always aesthetically conservative (as the great Russian avant-garde of the revolutionary era learned, to its sorrow). They siphon off creative energies to pragmatic ends. Of course, no movement will admit the inferiority of its art. It will redefine the field to make pleasure appear to be at one with virtue. Many art lovers, for their part, like to imagine a socially salubrious tendency in their takings of joy. Both are wrong.

Genius and vileness can cohabit an artist’s soul as comfortably as mediocrity and rectitude. The Sackler Center faces incommensurable choices: to advance what women corporately want or to promote what a gifted élite of women does. It will opt both ways, probably, with attendant anguished debate."
Evan Lee - 26 November, 2006.

The latest addition to Four, and my personal favorite so far. Something to do with the way the branches of the nearby (largely off-camera) tree in upper left merge with the branches of the more distanced tree in upper right to form a kind of one dimensional scrim, or mosaic, across the entire top half of the picture. And the way elements of that scrim have been plucked from it and dropped into the perspectival world of the lower half of the picture, like two dimensional players suddenley placed into a three dimensional world. And the way that, behind all this, a pair of orange and blue dopplegangers (the same but not identical) sit side by side, observing the scene, like remnants of some long forgotten act of architectural mitosis.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Stephen Shore - Broad Street, Regina, Saskatchewan, August 17, 1974

"People say my pictures are nostalgic, my pictures aren’t nostalgic, they’re nostalgic! My pictures are just pictures. When they were shown in the early seventies in New York, there was no hint of nostalgia. Some people who didn’t get them said, well, it’s just like looking at the world, why would anyone want to show me this?"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blonde Redhead - 23

Finally, new music from Kazu and the twins. Just playing it now for the first time. Title track coming down the headphones like the ghost of My Bloody Valentine. Sweet dreams folks.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Two responses to yesterday's post, both wondering if I noticed Clark's uncanny resemblance to Brock Linehan. You bet. These guys were obviously both cut from the Alfred E. Neuman template.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Larry Clark, Self Portrait 1962.

An excellent and amusing interview with Larry Clark here.

Clark's made a lot of junk of late, but his bemused recollection of the intuitive processes that led to his early breakthroughs, and his subsequent feelings of disappointment at what he percieves to be the 'ease' of much contemporary art, set off major pangs of recognition in me. It's my suspicion that the 'ease' Clark is referring to is neither physical in nature ("That didn't take enough time!") or intellectual ("That didn't take enough thought!") but experiential; as in, where is this stuff coming from? Learned books or lived days? Where is the first-person anger, loss, grief and wonder? This attitude seems to be prevalent among people who grew up on Robert Frank. A kind of "that's it?" bewilderment in the face of the overtly academic. While I don't completely empathize with this reaction, I don't discount it either.

Pete Culley took a lot of flack a few months back for the following:

"...lots of really good artists are as dumb as a bag of rocks. Art existed for thousands of years before any such comparably difficult discourses were deemed in any way necessary, and could survive perfectly well without them. Unreadable jargony art writing is a very recent development, and has more to do with the postwar expansion of the academy than the evolution of art. No one could fake it at a physics conference as easily as most people fake it at an art opening. And just because elitism is hard to pin down doesn't mean that the art world isn't ridden with every variety of it. It's what the crowds at Swarm seem to like -- that velvet-rope "insider" feeling, the lure of arcane knowledge rather than knowledge."

Anyone who has ever seen Chan Marshall give an interview can attest to the truth of that first sentence. Perhaps there is something to be said for the occasional inarticulate artist. I know the counter argument by now, that an inarticulate artist is fodder for the capitalist mill, a pawn in waiting, and it's hard to argue with. But by encouraging our younger artists to contextualize and elucidate every move they make, I fear we are breeding generations of distanced, calculating careerists, willing pawns in a specific form of capitalism that they understand all too well, rather than oblivious risk takers whose obstinancy breaks down historical boundaries by simply ignoring them. I'm also well aware that the kind of inclusiveness I'm hinting at opens the door to an avalanche of trucker-hat-wearing, negative-space-pimping, martian-on-a-tricycle-drawing assholes trying to sell ignorance as a virtue, but I'm willing to live with that if it means that one or two honest to god artists will slip through with them. Kids who feel driven to respond to the world they live in, even if they aren't sure why.
Chan's new album is pretty great by the way.

Friday, April 06, 2007

100 Views - 100

Although it contradicts the projects parameters, I've decided to keep shooting views into the indefinite future. After all this time, to suddenly ignore views when I see them feels a little impossible, like trying to jump off a fast moving train. Better to kill the engine and wait till the whole thing slows down.
I won't be posting any of these additional pictures, but one or two may squeeze their way into the final 100 (so think of the online version as a 3rd draft with corrections to come.)
Thanks folks.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Saws (Old Men Hopping Around on Their Peckers, Controlled by Their Alien Subconsciouses)

"...the Chainsaw whippers attatched to the wall control hopping carts in the center of the room. The switch of the chainsaw has been removed and replaced by a modified power cord. The cord is secured to a swivel welded to the saw chain, and hangs down to the metal sheet on the floor. The leads at the end of the cord are stripped and function as the switch for the saw. When the leads are in contact with the metal, there is a bright blue arc and the saw starts whipping the cord around. When the leads come back in contact with the sheetmetal, the process continues. For the brief time that the chainsaw is on, it also turns on a cart in the middle of the room. The carts are fitted with reciprocating sawsalls which poke their blades out the bottom of the cart and hop in a jerky, agitated way. Occasionally carts collide, then work themselves apart."

-Joel Murphy

Sunday, April 01, 2007

100 Views - 99

"From the age of six I had a penchant for copying the
form of things, and from about fifty, my pictures were frequently
published; but until the age of seventy, nothing that
I drew was worthy of notice. At seventy-three years, I was
somewhat able to fathom the growth of plants and trees; and
the structure of birds, animals, insects and fish. Thus when
I reached eighty years, I hope to have made increasing
progress, and at ninety to see further into the underlying
principles of things, so that at one hundred years I will have
achieved a divine state in my art, and at one hundred and
ten, every dot and every stroke will be as though alive."

-Katsushika Hokusai, 1835.

The tower in the window has been under construction for as long as I've been working on this series. That's it going up in the foreground of view 27 and the background of view 40. It's base dominates the right halves of views 53 and 57.
The 5 story high tiled version of Hokusai's wave was the final addition, and went up in a single day.