Thursday, March 19, 2009

Collage by chance operations

From Virginie Corominas
For a collage, take the first magazine you find, go to the last page,
divide the total number of pages by five
and pick one element from each of those pages.

The first magazine I came across was the March issue of The New Yorker in Mission Pie cafe. I stuffed it up my hoody when I left, in fear of reprimand. If anyone was actually paying attention, it was pretty obvious.

There were 81 pages, so I cut out the 16th, 32nd, 48th, 64th, and 80th pages.
I cut out shapes in the pages and put them on some paper, using white acrylic paint as my glue-I thought it would look good, and it did.

The pages were almost entirely text. I do collages sometimes, I rather enjoy it, but I use images exclusively. I really liked the way that it looked-text as texture, and the metaphor of layering text as image. There was a nice juxtaposition of content; Pakistan-India relations, a story about rich retired people, an article about old-school lesbian separatists, film reviews, and cartoons (of which I used only graphic parts). I think this would cause the viewer to linger, deciphering the snippets of language. Even without being very involved or complex, all the words make it detailed.

I like this process, present in both the cooking and collage pieces, of using chance to determine the primary material of a piece, then following it with an aesthetic process. It can introduce things I would never try otherwise, and seems like good potential for a small series or as a cure for artist's block.

Intervention Artists

Christian Philipp Muller works in different media with themes of site and location.
Most interesting to me of his works are his illegal border crossings, one of which he submitted for the Austrian Biennale. Illegal Border Crossing between Austria and Czechoslovakia simultaneously engages art-world discourses on the site-specificity and global issues of migration and privilege.

In a similar social vein is Jens Haaning broadcasting funny stories in Turkish through a loudspeaker in a Copenhagen square. Turkish Jokes addresses the multiplicity of publics that experience a public work, and themes of immigrant community/alienation.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles' 1973 "Maintance Art" series intervention art which address feminist, class, and labor issues.
"In two performances, Ukeles, literally on her hands and knees... scrubbed the floors inside the exhibition galleries... In doing so, she forced the menial domestic tasks usually associated with women--cleaning, washing, dusting, and tidying--to the level of aesthetic contemplation, and revealed the extent to which the museum's pristine self-presentation, its perfectly immaculate white spaces emblematic of its 'neutrality,' is structurally dependent on the hidden and devalued labor of daily maintenance and upkeep... Ukles posed the museum as a hierarchical system of labor relations and complicated the social and gendered divisions between the notions of the public and private (Miwon Kwon)."

In 1983 she created The Social Mirror, a sanitation truck faced in mirrored glass. As it drove around, it reflected city dwellers' images back at them.

The Yes Men I love, and admire for their works' humor in dealing with serious and troubling issues of globalization, which makes them hugely appealing and garners them media attention in the pseudo-event tradition of Abby Hoffman.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Cooking randomly: (after rirkrit tiravanija)

go to your grocery store. photograph the outside.
go to isle 3. halfway down the isle on the right side, pick a food item.
(if isle is not food items, go to the next isle up that is food, 4 then 5...)
do the same on isle 6.
if your grocery store is teeny, (under 6 isles) get something 5 feet down the 1st isle and 2 feet down the second.
go to the produce section. starting at the very left of the produce, pick the 2nd, and 6th items in the middle-height section, and the 8th thing over high up.

photograph each item in its spot in the store, and all together on your kitchen table.

make a meal that includes all of the random ingredients, photograph it and share it with your friends.

Monday, March 2, 2009

As We May Think Response

In July 1945 Vannevar Bush published in The Atlantic the article "As We May Think," which was in many ways prophetic of technological trends, especially in information technology. To explain the kinds of advances he expects in a field which did not yet exist, he imagines other technological advances in photography, stenography, calculators, and data storage and retrieval.
His most famous invention of the future is the Memex, which computers conceptually resemble.

More interesting to me than the inventions he predicted were his observations of what allow for technology to be made and commonly used, which is material in nature, and economically driven. His mechanically imagined future technology has in fact been actualized digitally, which illustrates that manufacturing and materials technology is in fact more revolutionary and instrumental to large socio-technological changes than a single individual invention. The changes brought by the invention of the computer (a digital memex, if you will) pale in comparison to the changes brought by the availability of the personal computer.

My predictions: 1. Today innovations in medical technology are the really cool advances. It follows that the technology of the future will not be based on electromagnetism, but on biological material. DNA contians vast ammouts of information coded in C, G, A, and T rather than 0s and 1s. If we can sufficiently understand protein synthesis, we could store information on the molecular level as well. This could work well in a world where electricity is more of a commodity.

2. Even in Bush was imagining ways to send and recieve brain signals directly:

"By bone conduction we already introduce sounds: into the nerve channels of the deaf in order that they may hear. Is it not possible that we may learn to introduce them without the present cumbersomeness of first transforming electrical vibrations to mechanical ones, which the human mechanism promptly transforms back to the electrical form? With a couple of electrodes on the skull the encephalograph now produces pen-and-ink traces which bear some relation to the electrical phenomena going on in the brain itself. True, the record is unintelligible, except as it points out certain gross misfunctioning of the cerebral mechanism; but who would now place bounds on where such a thing may lead?"

As referred to in my "Jacking into the Brain" post, this technology which allows new ways to interface with the consciousness largely already exists, what is going to be done with it is the question.

Ten years ago, people were using pagers. Now people can browse the internet with their phones. Prediction: In another ten years I expect people to be able to have brain-wave controlled Bluetooth ear peices, so they can think about who they want to call and the call will be placed. Or they can open, compose, and send a text message with their thoughts. Hands free? Check. Drunk dialing? An even bigger problem.

Prediction 3: Stemcells will allow us to grow nerves where we do not have them in order to control and recieve information from prosthetics. Extra arms would be cool, and extra senses would also be neat. But if prediction number 1. is true, we can skip the cyborg stage altogether and remain totally organic.

We wouldn't be genetically engineered, we would be biologically modified. We'll just slap on some gecko traction and some stemcells on our finger tips and be able to scale walls that much better. They'll have to test atheletes and require parental consent for minors.

But I like the traditional, robotic cyborg aesthetic, I hope to see it actualized.