Friday, December 15, 2006

Seminal / Seminar

Truth be told, I am not an academic per se (and if you keep saying it, over and over again, you just may believe it). Rather, as I often note, I am a refugee from the cultural underground who has found his way into institutionalized academic space and, since my overhead is low, have found a way to support an otherwise far out art-research practice that challenges conventional styles of artistic and writerly practice. Or so I think. Whenever I drift into this line of thought, my good friends remind me about Time magazine, the Whitney Biennial, MIT Press, the University of Colorado, Brown University, i.e. all of these "institutions" that have helped me get the mainstream cred one can use to turn floss into gold -- which somehow reminds me, in nonsequitur fashion, of Frank Zappa's tune "Montana" --

"Moving to Montana soon / gonna be a mennil toss flycoon"

You have to see it to believe it.

But back to the tension between being avant and/or pop, mainstream and/or underground. However much one finds themselves engrossed in institutional practice, it still doesn't feel right. I remember reading Ron Sukenick's Down and In: Life in the Underground, when he was relating some of his own, similar, self-contradictions, and thinking to himself: "I must be doing something wrong."

In the past I have called this unconventional style of artistic and writerly practice avant-pop. In fact, my avant-pop manifesto, written over 13 years ago and translated into at least eight other languages (most recently into Italian Spanish, on this blog), was always a call for a more hybridized, in-your-face, interdisciplinary media arts practice (iMAP). In many ways, it's nothing new, especially in relation to this figure I call the artist-medium. For example, take Vito Acconci (please).
"...if I specialize in a medium, then I would be fixing a ground for myself, a ground I would have to be digging myself out of, constantly, as one medium was substituted for another - so, then instead of turning toward 'ground' I would shift my attention and turn to 'instrument,' I would focus on myself as the instrument that acted on whatever ground was available."

Acconci - (from "Steps Into (and Out of) Performance):

This is a good starting point for any iMAP seminar, and I used it all year long to get my ludic crew thinking about where to take their practice next, especially as we ventured into unknown territory like mobile blogging, HD video, physical computing, and video social networking (i.e. making art under the influence of the "Youtube Effect").

Other issues we addressed?

My notes say:
TIME (variations on a theme):
time-based media
narrative time
asynchronous realtime

Artistic experiments in/with TIME (and thoughts of "(de)realizing cinematic time" while navigating the networked space of flows as a kind of "timeless time"):

Time Code
(simultaneity, improvisation, digital video, multiple windows, minor interaction with audio tracks, metafictional story that relates to itself as a reeltime/realtime performance, etc.)

(linear digressions, moving body as visual link through "scenes of writing," film, etc.)

Le Jette
(essayistic form meets sci-fi scenario, tension of stillness/motion, immobolity of viewer and the dreaming protagonist, film stills/photographic image as "apocalyptic frame," etc.)
I realize there are a lot of holes in those notes and the question is how does one put "meat on the bones" of those skeletal "talking points" (to which I have no answer, except improvise improvise improvise, so that the "talking points" plus unconscious reconstruction of your own Idea Channel becomes a kind of performative pedagogy or "talking book" transitioning into "talking movie" transitioning into artist-medium...)

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Blogger flic said...

A good question to ask would be: Why do you feel that "you must be doing something wrong"?

7:02 AM  
Blogger Professor VJ said...

The Sukenick reference, where he says "I must be doing something wrong," refers to the underground artist's self-image that they are destined for poverty and obscurity and that that's a good thing. The underground creed maintained that if your artwork was breaking into the margins of the mainstream, then something must be wrong (something rarely considered these days). But in his book, Sukenick points out that the artist-purity shtick just doesn't fly anymore, especially given post-Pop art and Beatnik culture where Allen Ginsberg created a new model of the artist, i.e. one who could stick to their avant-roots while actively engaging with mainstream society to change the curve of culture.

10:03 AM  

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