Saturday, March 04, 2006


The righties are having a serious heart attack over the Jay Bennish episode. It's OK for the righties to spew their venom over the ultra-conservative airwaves, but when it comes to free speech in the classroom? The righties want to have it both ways.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Exactly 20 years ago, my main man, Frank Zappa, was literally in the crossfire over the influence of words on impressionable children. Back then, the battlefield was music albums. During his appearance on Crossfire, Zap made these idiots, from both the supposedly left and right, look like precursors to The Mayberrry Machiavellis that would soon direct the moral ineptitude that became the predominant characteristic trait during the reign of King George The Second (uh, that would be the one we're living through this very minute). Here's the video clip (it's a big file, for 20 minutes of "frank" dialogue). Keep an eye out for his foretelling of the inevitable "fascist theocracy" he saw coming down the pike.

Bottom line:
"Do you know what you are? You are what you is. You is what you am. You ain't what you're not. So see what ya got." (from the album "You Are What You Is").

Metadata: , ,

Friday, March 03, 2006

The Motor City Critico-Hacker Connection

Speaking of Art-Car Talk, this week I am fortunate enough to be in the Motor City giving the DeRoy Lecture at Wayne State University. The Deroy Chair of English, Steve Shaviro, is by far one of my favorite contemporary writers of theoretical fictions (his term). His blog, The Pinnochio Theory, is quite popular for those who like smart, critical investigations into what I have previously called avant-pop culture.

Shaviro wrote an excellent review of Ken Wark's The Hacker Manifesto which you can read here.

Meanwhile, Wark reviews Paul Miller's Rhythm Science here.

UPDATE: While you're at it, check out Shaviro's most recent book, Connected, or What It Means to Live in the Network Society.

Metadata: , ,

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Pulse and Glide

As a follow-up to my last post, especially in relation to the quotes from Dylan and Duras, everything I do now, the way I operate, somehow connects to my current method of making new art works, a methodology that I readily associate with the hottest hacker car out there, the Toyota Prius. I call this method of art-making "Pulse and Glide". Rather than engaging in full-on pedal to the metal, where you just burn it from both ends in hopes that you reach the finish line before totally running out of gas, you instead apply the least amount of energy needed to get the car moving while slowly pulsing the accelerator up to the point where you know you can just let it glide on its own. Once you're gliding, everything feels like its flowing in smooth space and, as a bonus, you start getting great mileage from the work you create.

That's Art-Car Talk, and I'm your host, Professor VJ.

Metadata: , ,

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Cultivated Glitches

A cultivated glitch takes place when information is intentionally aestheticized as an artefact of communication. In the simplest of terms, and like all stylized hacks whatever the medium you are working in, it comes across as an infraction, an interventionist boundary crossing, what in football terms might be called an illegal procedure.

But illegal according to whose rules?

The open playing field of composition has no preset area of space demarcated as "out of bounds" and if it does, it's usually some kind of arbitrary parameter put in place by the artist to help direct your creative power. Locating ways to direct your creative power is not the end of the world, although sometimes you would be wise to intentionally conserve as much as energy as possible so that when it's time to break the line, you bust through with a force you never quite knew you were capable of delivering.

Bob Dylan, in his new book, says that the best artists who live the fullest lives are, in fact, energy hoarders. Which reminds me of something Marguerite Duras once said about how she is at her strongest when she is doing nothing.

Could the cultivated glitch, the intentional breakdown of communication stylized as an aesthetics of information, suggest an aesthetics of failure?

To make of failure a howling success, is what Beckett was after.

Metadata: , ,

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sporting A Woody

Score one for Woody.

You know who I am talking about: Mr. Manhattan himself.

Except this time, with Match Point, Woody takes on London as his location for the challenging intellectual cinema that he creates for viewers when he is at his best. There is less humor here than in his comedies, but then that's the point. Rather, the work is a philosophical investigation into the role luck plays in all of our lives. The movie goes out of its way to say that yes, hard work has its own rewards, and may help you lead a better life, but luck itself can give you the greatest advantage. Think of those in power now who, regardless of what they do, seem to always weather the storm. Lucky bastards, they're getting away with murder.

The film has a major "art" thread flowing throughout it. There's the Tate Modern, the Saatchi Gallery, sardonic jabs at creative class struggle, and muse-like appropriation of the "star-in-waiting" played by Scarlett Johansson whose character, Nola Rice, is an unknown American actress from - of all places - Boulder, Colorado. The backdrop of tennis helps metaphorically situate Allen's philosophical concerns too. After all, here is a sport where love means nothing. But is it blood sport?

I don't like to summarize dramatic plots, so I won't do that here either. Besides, plots are graves, are they not? It's time to bury them.

I prefer to integrate my movie-going experience into the flow of everyday life events, like I did here, in my Oz blog which I wrote back in early 2002 while living in Melbourne, Australia (the excerpt linked to here was published/exhibited at The Iowa Review). Check out the section called "Walking Scene: The Market" for the riff on David Lynch, MULHOLLAND DRIVE, Twin Peaks, Britney, Boulder, and the JonBenet Ramsey connection.

UPDATE: when I first read about MATCH POINT, I saved a quote from Woody that I thought was both funny and prescient:
"It's increasingly difficult in America. I can get financing, but studios there don't want to be thought of just as a bank. They want to participate[...]I can't work that way. I want the money in a brown paper bag and to give them the film a few months later.

Metadata: , , , , , ,

Monday, February 27, 2006

Indie, Indeed...

Let's face it: even if you are lucky enough to get funding for your indie art film, there's no way you're going to be able to nail down theatrical distribution for it.

Case in point: Wellspring is starting their own DVD distribution label as a last resort. And the films they distribute usually buy into the Sundance version of "independent" that makes life seem so teenage angsty and full of unremediated quirk.

The so-called arthouse cinema scene is in the dumps because it can't compete with Hollywood in getting the best art work out to movie theater audiences. And now those who make low-budget artflix are looking at HDNET as a potential savior, the reason being that HDNET is implementing a strategy with Steven Soderbergh to make one million dollar pics in true HD that will be released simultaneously in Landmark theaters, on DVD, and on cable TV via the HDNET channel.

That's great if you want to go that route, and for some arthouse auteurs, they will dream of HDNET instead of Hollywood. But none of them carry the Hollywood reputation of a Soderbergh, which suggests it's not so indie after all. It's just a wee bit ahead of its time in business terms. Everyone who pays attention to these things knows that the future of cinema is a model where the work is delivered to the viewer wherever they are (home, school, work, or via nomadic devices for when they are on the go). The emerging audiences for arthouse cinema will probably have "movie theater venue" at the bottom of their list of places they expect to view their fave flix. It ends up that the future Fellini's of the world will be distributing their work independently, not even considering the movie theater opton, and will do it from their own (or collectively generated) website, occasionally with the help of new media intermediaries who really need access to their "data" and can help increase the work's exposure.

But in the meantime, what?

Wait until your Maverick Prince comes?

Both Godard and Herzog have said this, and I will too: do you want to make a film? Get yourself a camera, and start shooting. Take that data you capture, log and capture it into Final Cut Pro on your Mac, and start editing (i.e. "manipulating the data"). Make a soundtrack if you want or engage with creative collaborators to help make it more fun. Apply your artist plug-in filters where necessary.

Once it's ready for viewing, then start distributing it: read the self-distribution manifesto, start your own DVD label, create mpg versions for video iPod and PSPlayer, blanket cool film, video, and media art fests with entry applications, and think about making some or all of it available via a video blog (a vog).

Vertov would be vogging right now, if only he could.

Metadata: , ,