Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Mobile Phone Video Art Classics at EAF

My solo exhibition Mobile Phone Video Art Classics opens at the Experimental Art Foundation in Adelaide, Australia, on Friday. A preview is happening on Thursday night. Check the site for details.

This solo exhibition is curated by Melentie Pandilovski who I sense is much more creative and "out there" than me. Compared to him, I'm just another in a series of fall-into-place mock artists who double as closet bureaucrats. Truth be told, most of the other curators and gallery directors I work with are far more creative than me and much more risk-taking in their professional work as well. They generally share a genuine love of the creative process, maintain an activist connection to the cultural networks they intersect with, and constantly innovate ways to build their exhibition programs into leading-edge cultural events. They work very hard as art world entrepreneurs who design the contextual framework for each exhibition they curate so as to keep their preferred artists relevant within an ever-shifting experimental arts scene.

In many ways what they do is conceptual art par excellence. Most of the so-called conceptual artists who role-played artists-as-administrators did not have the entrepreneurial zeal required to innovate the programming environment. Once Conceptual Art had been left behind by the next set of innovative developments in the art world, it was the real administrators-as-conceptual artists (no role-playing required) who ushered in the next of the new. In addition to fine-tuning this admin praxis that curates the ongoing aesthetic play of history, these figures -- under the guise of both commercial and nonprofit ventures-- try to turn a buck out of this adherence to serial innovation or at least attract the necessary grant funds to keep the spaces running. That is far beyond my capacity.

The thing that keeps me going creatively and culturally is that I seem to have a talent for the art of remixing (of Being Professor VJ) and have never felt awkward using whatever source material I find attractive at any given moment of my life to generate new sensations out of the creative process itself. The final output or formal manifestation of whatever I am creating as well as the way it gets distributed has never been particularly relevant to me. When the Internet opened up a more immediate global audience for artwork that experimented with the net itself as medium, I was happy to play on that field too. But there was always something about live performance, print, theatrical screenings, digital theater, indie radio productions, and even the seminar room that felt quite relevant for the creation of unique works of art as well.

As far as I'm concerned, whosoever interacts with the artwork and how it appeals or bores or excites or sucks the life out of them has never really meant that much to me except in the instance of some close collaborators whose own creative position may be at stake. Rather, it's the social networking skills and live gamer attitude of those who are using the blurry space between the elitist art world and the underground cultural scene to instigate new thoughts or even interventionist actions in their local environment that keep me in the game. In the 90s we called this form of method acting "Avant-Pop" and for some it still resonates to this day. In fact, next week, I'll be remixing some "Avant-Pop" lecture tracks at the Mediakunst 2.0 event in Ghent (more on that in my next post).

As I once wrote in the dedication to my second novel, Sexual Blood, I'm in the game to connect with "free thinkers everywhere and nowhere." Networking with the international art scene is a full time occupation. It requires a great deal of multi-tasking and collaboration as does any other business. The payoff, real and/or potential, is never clear for most of the players in the scene. Will your work break out in the commercial marketplace? Will you get the tenure-track position in the university city of your dreams? Will the corporate culture find itself in desperate need of your skills-set and recruit you to their team under terms favorable to you and your ongoing need to feed the artmaking habit? Will you wake up one day and realize that you, yes you, have the capacity to take on the charge of experimental art administrator who self-consciously applies the "defamiliarization filter" to the cultural life of the city you now live in? Or will you burrow back underground, the only place you can make the work that feels right to you, the work that captures not only your own take on contemporary life, but speaks for a generation still getting its foothold in the mud? Sometimes it's just not that clear. In general, what is clear is that once you're in the mix, you inevitably find yourself wanting MORE. But more is more than wanting MORE. It's the desire to experience an ongoing satisfaction that is itself more-ish.

This is what makes playing in the international art scene so much fun. "Fun" is a useless and self-consciously relative term but don't let it fool you. It has deep meaning. I tend to be happier when I am having fun Being Professor VJ while running circles around the morose self-administrator who believes that Being Professor VJ is a constant struggle that eats away at the chance to enjoy life at its more-ish apex. I think of this blander version of the happy Professor VJ as my Anti-Apex Twin. Which of the VJs is liable to show up while slogging away at slow moving book projects and forever in postproduction feature-length films and videos is never a sure thing, but one thing is clear: it would not be worth the effort to continue on with these projects were it not for the thrill of meeting and collaborating with the personas being constructed in the supra / meta / hyper/ hybrid / space that triggers this self-admin regulator in the first place. Without the regulator budgeting my unconscious projection of what is possible, the novelty-generator could very well bury himself in endless creative output that all starts looking the same. This must be why I am holding back on finishing many of my major projects this year. Or so the happy VJ tries to convince himself. This way, the logic goes, I can pace myself and not have all of these outputs start stepping on each other's toes.

The exhibition at EAF includes three works:

Mobile Phone Video Art Classics.


Society of the Spectacle (A Digital Remix).

Excerpts from this blog will be printed up and posted on the wall as they were in the solo show in London this past summer.

The blog. It creeps into my thinking, my dreams, my physical installations.

As does my mobile phone, my VJ software, the ongoing metafictions and chop-up poetries, my therapeutic sound recordings of the ocean waves and trade winds here in Hawaii, the hactivist interventions into media environments that act morally superior while attempting to defy whatever illogic of sense I may be operating under.

Is it possible to operate under a sense, even an illogical one?

To do so would be an opening.

And in this opening, I would continue to play my next hand, pulling for the inside straight but only drawing a pair of tens that somehow still wins the pot anyway. But then there's the next hand and a voice that asks: "Are you still in?"

There are other endings as well.

Overwritings too.

They are all on exhibit in Adelaide.

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