Monday, February 14, 2011

My Video Relations (Before and After Twitter)

The blog continues to suffer from a Twitter-related disease.

I have seen this disease spreading among some other peeps in my network.

The disease comes on fast.

You do not even need to "give up" blogging per se so that you can then "micro-blog."

Rather, what happens, is you start thinking: how best can I feed the birds?

Not that the birds need feeding.

Or that they specifically need feeding from you, or me.

The bird feed is like info ammo and you are surrounded by it all.


So, OK, you have your bullet-proof shit detector ramped up to High Alert.

Your role-playing character armor reveals its shiny impenetrability.

But the string of pixelated purposelessness you once subsided on is now buffering while a distant server is about to crash.

The End Is Nearing ...

... but then something else kicks in and surprises you.

It's a riff.

Something that streams the way a Breton manifesto or an Ornette Coleman solo or a postmodern novel circa 1975 (Barthelme's The Dead Father, for instance) might have done.

Formal flashback?

You've actually caught a wave and are transcribing what it feels like to become the wave.

As Ken Kesey once wrote, "It isn't by getting out of the world that we become enlightened, but by getting into the world ... by getting so tuned in that we can ride the waves of our existence and never get tossed because we become the waves."

Becoming the wave as a realtime riff with no Oulipian or Twitter constraints could be dangerous.

You might actually feel like you are going somewhere.

But where?

You write yourself into the narrative and decide you will locate this self-caricature, that is to say, this nomadic flux-like drift, into the Northwest region of the UK.

This nomadic flux-like drift actually resembles you, or some version of you that is part 1996, part 2005, and part 2012 (which is scary -- because this means you can literally "play yourself" into the future, which makes you something of a freak).

While in the UK, you see the Nam June Paik retrospective.

It's more elaborate than the reconstruction of his 1963 Wuppertal exhibition you first saw in Bremen in 2006 while attending Paik's (only) European memorial.

To start, you walk through the various rooms in Tate Liverpool, checking out the old TV gear, the shishkabob turntable mixer, the documentary photographs from the Wuppertal show including the severed cow's head right at the entry, and eventually make your way into gardens and aquariums and TV sculpture-portraits.

But it's the 1963 show, seen from a completely different curatorial perspective than the Bremen show in 2006, that really lingers in your mind.

You are now in auto-muse mode, struck by how much you have fictionalized this 1963 show in the Nam June Paik Remix you have performed for your forthcoming remixthebook.

I don't mean fictionalized as in embellished to the point of lying, I mean how you fictionalize things by reading way more into them than the normal person would, and in reading way more into them begin creating new forms of historical narrative for your own digital flux persona to wander through.

All of a sudden, your story gets remixed into Paik's story, into his-storical context.

Of course, Paik's story is too complex to encapsulate in a large scale retrospective, an hour long doco, or a chapter from remixthebook.

But that's not the point (these complexities wear us all like business suits on consignment).

Next, you walk across town and go sit down on the comfy sofas, put on the headphones, and watch the incredible, vintage video art footage composed by Paik that plays inside the media rooms at FACT Liverpool.

You are surprised by just how much Allen Ginsberg stars or makes cameos in these videos.

There is even one that features the two A-boys, Allen Ginsberg and Allan Kaprow, and the weird thing is that to make it, Paik follows Ginzy to Boulder.

(Your remixthebook has a remix of Ginsberg as well so the ensuing Ginsberg/Paik mash-up in chapter three was not that arbitrary after all.)

What was really amazing about the Paik retrospective at FACT in Liverpool, was how you could finally see how he was able to take his collaborative, interdisciplinary, social networking practice, and gradually monetize it by remixing his primary themes over and over again.

It wasn't until he began versioning his TV Buddhas and TV sculptures that the art market really took off for him.

You can't blame him for that, and he was able to keep a regular stable of studio assistants employed over the long haul, some of whom matured into incredibly important artists themselves.

Now Paik is being revered for the way he used his video camera to socialize the art of video relations.

Socializing the art of video relations is what the information superhighway (his term) has become.

As Paik once wrote, "Cybernetics, the art of pure relations, has its origins in karma. The Buddhists say karma is sangsara, relationship is metempsychosis. Cybernated art is important, but art for cybernated life is more important, and the latter need not be cybernated."

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