Friday, March 17, 2006

Flickr VJ Set

I have a new set up at Flickr called "Social Set: Clique Here For More" that plays with stills from one of my VJ sets, matches them up with some of my recent VJ theory, and then filters it all through a narrative persona known only as Professor VJ.

An excerpt from the piece reads:
Is it possible to create a flickr-ing series of fictional memories as an alternate form (or alternative forms) of currency? Instead of trading or exchanging money, what does an artist’s dream-memory trade in? Could it be images themselves? Under what software regime would they exchange images? With who? For what in return?
UPDATE: At the suggestion of No Photo, I've deleted the image titles.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I have already received a couple of emails asking me how I made the "Social Set" piece. It was a live hyperimprovisation where I would catch the tape recording of the VJ set I did in Tokyo in midstream, capture the image that came up, then "underwrite" some improv VJ theory/fiction. Two hours and 28 images later I felt it was done, but then a couple of days later, I went back, corrected some typos, and switched out the last image that's there now.

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Thursday, March 16, 2006

Is Boulder The Future of America?

As many of my close friends and colleagues already know, I have been slowly developing this theory that the future for a progressive America depends on the successful activism of citizens working hard in Boulder County. This blog is not the place to outline the specifics, but here is the general idea:

Recent national trends have tried to portray a red and blue state map, with the blues in the Northeast, the West Coast, and the Upper Midwest, while the rest of the country is red, with The South one of the brightest shades of Republican-red. To gain national majorities, progressives are trying to calculate where in the country our best chances are for change from red to blue or even - going in small steps - purple?

There's much talk about a 50-state strategy, which totally makes sense to me, but anyone who pays attention to these things knows that states like Colorado and Montana have recently started electing more progressive state legislatures, and the Governorships out West are now dominated by Democrats.

Boulder is the "new-money" financial and intellectual capitol of this Rocky Mountain region, and when you throw techno-entrepreneurialism into the mix and think about where creative ideas for functional uses of emerging technologies will come to fruition, especially for the good of progressive causes, Boulder stands out.

Of course, there are many other outposts in the Rocky Mountain region, and the nation as whole, where advanced developments in political techno-entrepreneurialism will advance the cause of the progressive agenda. But my theory holds that in and around Boulder is where this "idea capital" mixes with real dollar capital like never before, and that the positive effects of this politico-techno-entrepreneurial capital are starting to show here in Colorado country.

The Christian Science Monitor published an article today that pretty much says the same thing, or at least gives an overview of some of the recent shifts. Entitled "Once-Republican Rockies now a battleground," the article starts off:
Streaks of blue are turning red-state Colorado as purple as its mountain majesties.

Liberal hues began to multiply in 2004, when Democrats seized control of the general assembly for the first time in 30 years. They intensified last fall, when voters loosened TABOR, a government- spending chastity belt long extolled by fiscal conservatives. This year, Colorado's color wheel is downright dizzying, as a bill to ban public smoking heats up the legislature.

This is Marlboro country?

The state's transformation from Rocky Mountain redoubt for conservative values to a proving ground for progressive policies is yielding more competitive elections here - and offering Democrats across the country a model for resurgence.
You can read the whole article here.

Disclaimer: I am not one to overplay the relevance of Boulder on the national stage, and like most Boulderites, have problems with the sense of self-importance that permeates the open landscape here. Rather, in this case, I'm just trying to approach the political dynamic in the USA from an intutive angle while observing the obvious change. I would be writing this if I lived in Hawaii too.

UPDATE: My favorite quote from the article: "It's become more liberal in aspects of health." You gotta love it.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2006

VJ Art Cred

It's interesting how much more writing is being published around the Cult of the VJ. If "VJ mythology" were a stock (VJM), it would be on a growth tear.

For example, there is the Feral House VJ Book which includes excerpts comparing VJs to underground film/art pioneers (like Bruce Conner) and Abstract Expressionists (like Jackson Pollack). One interesting line at the website reads:
Like any self-conscious avant-garde, it has functioned as both a breeding ground for creative innovators and a comfortable cocoon for the talentless seeking an excuse for their unpopularity.
We accept the above as a given, but the differences between what we used to call an avant-garde artist and a neophyte performer getting their VJ rocks off is starting to blur. That's because the software itself can be a work of art that turns the interactive-user into a kind of artistic collaborator or co-conspirator. Take, for example, Vidvox, originally started by Johnny Dekam as part of his MFA thesis project at RPI. As of today, Vidvox happens to feature Chris Allen of The Light Surgeons on the home page. Chris was playing on the bill with Cuechamp and I at our DJRABBI exhibition opening at e:vent in London last year. Chris was a VJ virtuoso and the whole night made for one great party!

Meanwhile, another published VJ book can be found here and here is yet another one that may come out eventually.

And here's the new DJRABBI show reel for those who missed it (yes, the collective is called DJRABBI and we have hijacked the DJ moniker for VJ purposes).

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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Reading Films

Monday, March 13, 2006

Memories Are More Source Material

Taragno writes in and asks:
In the spirit of fostering discussion about how to apply critical standards to 'net artists,' I need to ask:

Is memory -- of our own past(s), of others' pasts, of creative efforts that have gone before us -- a liability? Or just problematic? Or a way to allow us the knowledge of just how traveled our potential path may be/have been? (Am I just begging this question? Is it THAT obvious?)

Are all aesthetics equal? (yours, mine, Cory Arcangel, Ann Coulter, Raggedy Andy, Jay Bennish, Leni Reifenstahl?) And if all aesthetics are equal, is there any need to differentiate value of one from the next? Should we just spend our days searching for random Web pages and grooving on what comes up? Explain.
Although I should be clear that I am not going to try and "explain" anything, least of all the thrust of my theoretical poetics, I am open to the possibility of intersubjectively jamming with commenters/contributors via call and response:

So here is a response:

1) Whereas critical readings of net art work are useful in helping us manipulate the metadata we are continually generating in whatever discourse networks we happen to be operating in at any given moment in time, we may want to choreograph our "thoughtographical" movements away from the institutional straitjackets of the art-world establishment while simultaneously opening ourselves up to the creation of (social) networking protocols that enable open source lifestyles and the actionary agendas that come with them to flourish in the network culture like never before. Back in the early days of net art (way back in the 90s), the most notorious artists were always quick to point out that we were not interested in what the critics and museums thought about our work, and certainly never supported any kind of evaluation standards. We were getting more hits on and links to our sites than any of the curators, gallery directors, or critics could ever dream of. In some ways, that was the critical measuring device. I can certainly understand why someone might find that problematic - and see how that would annoy knee-jerk modern and postmodern elitists alike. For a slightly humorous take on all of this, see the Introduction to Net Art, particularly section 4B.

2) Memory is more source material. It is always part of the mix, always fighting for my attention as I unconsciously trigger my hyperimprovisational performances. In this way, my memories are selfish, like the selfish gene you find in memetics. Was it James Joyce who referred to this source material as "memoreme"?

3) The question a hyperimprovisational performer has to address while tapping into their aesthetic potential is: what fragments of source material will you be sampling from so that you can further manipulate [hack into being, invent yet again] your pseudo-autobiographical work-in-process? And if you are accessing this source material in an unconscious way, then can you really say that you are making this work of art as an extension of your free will?

4) Each artist/writer/nomadic wanderer has to create their own path.

5) All aesthetics are not equal.

6) The unstable system, the unreliable narrator, and the nomadic net artist, conspire to turn your experience of the world into a "consensual hallucination," which in another post I suggested was a literary invention. That is, if you are looking for ways to add your critical voice to the big bowl of rhetorically-charged, mixillogical soup, you may want to stir things up by turning to narrative discourse and persona-inflected myth-making. This has more to do with strategically tapping into the unconscious, sublime maneuvering of the critical artist-player, than with filtering your creative energies through a predetermined set of standards developed by any kind of preordained critical establishment.

7) To quote Sukenick again:
"Narrative thought is, moreover, a powerful form of discourse if only because we all make use of it as we create our own life stories from our experience [...] If we are to revive a critical and ethical counter force, we must move away from 'spectacle' (Debord) and 'simulation' (Baudrillard), and in the direction of the arts – and especially 'fiction' – conceived as argument about experience rather than facsimile of it."
- Ronald Sukenick, from the Introduction to "Narralogues"

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Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Power of Nightmares

It ends up the whole terror network thing starts in Greeley, Colorado.

Or so suggests this fascinating BBC doco on how, in the past, our politicians offered us dreams of a better world, but now trick us into allowing them to protect us from our own worst nightmares.

But who is writing these B-grade horror movie scripts and why are so many media consumers buying it?

This is exactly why the whole Dubai ports dealy-thing went terribly awry for the neo-con Bushies. Their predictable, endlessly repetitive, moral narrative that tries to fictionally paint our complex world with simpleton black and white colors signifying good and evil while tough-talking their "you're either with us or against us" rhetoric, has now backfired on them as the skies turn grey. And isn't it interesting that many of the same folks who took the neo-con militaristic propaganda shpiel hook, line, and sinker, are now wondering what the fuck is going on as the worst administration in US history sells our ports away while mindlessly painting rosy scenarios around the civil war in Iraq as it gets far worse every day and proves that these chickenhawk losers are going to actually LOSE the war?

EVERYBODY knows this now.

To those who willingly tried to defy the rest of us living in the so-called "reality based community," one quick Q: feeling duped, suckas?

You should.

Time to script your own (un)reality.

Believe it or not, Father does not know best.

You're on your own, kids.

UPDATE: the three eps of The Power of Nightmares are available here (Google it right off the top of their home page).

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