Saturday, March 11, 2006

Auditory Observations

Field trips as acid trips and vice-versa.

Metadata: , ,

Friday, March 10, 2006

Aesthetic Potential

Obviously there's no progress in art. Progress toward what? The avant-garde is a convenient propaganda device, but when it wins the war everything is avant-garde, which leaves us just about where we were before. The only sure thing is that we move, and as we move we leave things behind - the way we felt yesterday, the way we talked about it. Form is your footprints in the sand when you look back. Art consists of the forms we leave behind in our effort to keep up with ourselves, define ourselves, create ourselves as we move along.
- Ron Sukenick, from "The New Tradition"
Nothing has been said.
- Isidore Ducasse, from "Poesies"
Given the above, where to start?

The blank white screen, of course.

As always.

Forget those who say it has all been done before. They have already given up on their aesthetic potential, and yours too.

This blank white space I woke up to this morning is brand new and anxiously awaits my aesthetic hacktivism. It's a shared space of networked creation that we can collaboratively generate in asynchronous realtime.

The nomadic net artist, whose journey is full of detours, eternal returns, cyberpsychogeographical drifting, and sudden shifts of movement that blaze an unintentional path toward the formal manifestation of their artist presence as a hyperimprovisational work-in-process, is far from haphazard in his crablike movement across the sands of Time. In fact, there is a rigorous logic to the nomadic net artist's journey as endless movement.

To endure. To suffer patiently without yielding. To lucidly wander while accumulating stylistic strength. To continually build your aesthetic fitness so that you can enhance the probabilities of your staying power!

Metadata: , ,

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Avenging Horde

Who is the Celestial Bandit that so flagrantly challenges my endless creative flow and its obstinate refutation of all forms of closure?

Who - but the spy of my causality - would go out of its way to attach my own subjectivity, the one I continually brand by reconfiguring my flux identity at the drop of a hat, to the rigors of a finitude so devastatingly unreal in its willingness to derail my sense of hope and boundless futurity, that it presents itself to me as a secret advisor who reminds me that a throw of the dice never abolishes chance?

Who, I ask, is the Mysterious Narrator that invites me to disseminate all of my performative transgressions so that I can experience My Own Private Utopia and proceed through life as an emboldened scripteur whose poetic moanings unconsciously launch a programmatic illogic of sense?

Metadata: , ,

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Pseudo-Autobiographical Persona

Eleanor Antin has been visiting Boulder this week. In a PBS interview on artists into the 21st Century, she said:
"I had a marvelous art-making machine—my personas. I never knew where it would go."
Professor VJ has written on digital flux personas, claiming that he is oftentimes "situated as the perfect person to play myself as is, although the pseudo-autobiographical work-in-progress cannot help himself and is always turning the role of the 'as is' into the always premiering as if."

He continues:
Role-playing the 'as if' allows the transmitting nerve centers of my processual image filters to initialize a performative thrust of narrative momentum that resists the machinations of Time itself so that I may continue distributing my many digital flux personas throughout the networked space of flows.
Antin comes from an artistic background in acting and writing, and began her visual art career as a creative persona in search of fertile new ground to apply her instrumental performativity to. This meant becoming any number of personas including a ballerina named Antinova, or the anti-nova, i.e. the anti-star. There is a kind of dark Jewish humor to her various persona shticks, as when she relates her stomping ground in La Jolla to the pre-volcanic explosion days of Pompeii. The way she sees it, both places were/are full of "beautiful people living the good life on the verge of annihilation."

With apocalypse just around the corner, no wonder she revels in the idea that "history and autobiography are always in the present [...] They're always being invented."

Roles within roles within roles. It reminds me of Lynn Hershman's Roberta Breitmore persona.

Interesting that Lynn, Eleanor, and Carolee Schneeman all helped revolutionize the way artists use their bodies, their personas, and quite different forms of feminism, to investigate the pseudo-autobiographical narrative potential of their working lives vis-a-vis visual art, performance art, and film.

Those three together point the way to what lies ahead in the near-future (now-future) world of distributed online art and the various media platforms they can be experienced on/with.

Metadata: , , , ,

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Art + Design + Hackability

Here are some extended excerpts from a panel discussion that, when I read it, got me thinking about the upcoming visit in our TECHNE lab of artist-hacker Cory Arcangel:
Design for hackability is best described as critical and playful design practice inspired by historical and current hacker, net art, ‘do-it-yourself’ and ‘re-mix’ cultures and practices.
Hacker cultures date back to 1920s amateur radio and 1950s model railroad enthusiasts; by the 1960s a hack referred to a technologically based prank or any clever technological solution. According to the Hacker Jargon File, hacking can also be understood as interacting with computers in playful and exploratory ways, as well as enjoying the “intellectual challenge of creatively overcoming or circumventing limitations.”


Similar ethics and practices can also be found in punk rock ‘do-it-yourself’ (DIY) cultures. The general premise behind DIY is that if you do not like the way things are done, then you should do it yourself. DIY culture involves creating your own world amid the dominant culture, thereby putting power back in the hands of individuals. For example, ‘zine (short for magazine) culture is based on self-publishing and the cultural production, rather than consumption, of media. Most recently, DIY ‘zine cultural ethics can be seen in weblog or online journal communities. While ‘zines often reassemble content from other sources — and in the process create something new —‘re-mix’ practices are most commonly associated with DJ cultures. Cutting up, editing and sampling music has been described as “the evolution of our ability as humans to process, manipulate, and make meanings out of an ever-increasing flow of information.”

Like hacker and DIY ethics, remixing involves getting people the materials they need to manipulate or subvert technologies and media to their own needs and desires, to create their own messages and meanings. Further critical performances and practices can be found in net art cultures which use technology to create images and stories that challenge our understandings of technology and the world around us.


Design for hackability draws on all these cultural practices and values. It encourages designers and non-designers to critically and creatively explore technology and media, to reclaim authorship and ownership of new and existing technologies, and of the social and cultural worlds in which we live. Hackability implies more than simple customization or adaptation — it calls for redefinition. Design for hackability involves creating spaces for play where people are never forced to adapt to technology. It involves recognizing and working with tensions between people and artifacts.


These approaches ultimately lead to the breakdown of technological imperialism, where barriers for entry are reduced and playful renderings are valued above functionality.

You can read the whole panel session here.

Metadata: , , , ,

Monday, March 06, 2006

Collaboration: Shared Thoughtography and Sonic Hauntologies

To paraphrase a straightforward question I got from Steve Shaviro, who I first met while writing my experimental novels in the early 90s, as part of the Q&A session right after my recent visiting artist presentation at Wayne State: "What's the difference between writing on your own and making new media art works in collaboration?"

To paraphrase myself, I answered by saying that I thought collaboration was liberating in that it gave me an opportunity to network my practice with others, oftentimes virtually, and created a work that resonated with the others I was "intersubjectively jamming" with.

To elaborate, performing in a shared headspace of hyperimprovisational co-creation, one that feels like it takes place in asynchronous realtime, opens the work up to external influence, but an external influence that is being parallel processed internally by all of the players, one that creates its own operating context and that hacks into what I thought was my own methodology but that now gets me playing (moving) differently. This is bound to happen in any open playing field of composition, and when the operating context becomes a productive headspace for the players to lose themselves in, it makes the overall experience an enriched social performance (which isn't to say that there are not logjams, miscues, failures of/in communication, etc., but the sediment of the social experience in total almost always feels more relevant than playing solo).

Think of it as multi-linear, experiential tagging. Or how about "call-and- response" parallel processing?

Shaviro's follow-up question was: "What makes a good collaborator?"

To paraphrase myself again, I tend to focus on the shared sensibilities of the players I perform with, and like to take into account how the specific backgrounds and interests of the collaborators might inform a particular work. In a work like FILMTEXT, it was a common interest in what we termed "digital thoughtography" and the blur of the otherworldly, that informed our asynchronous, creative jam sessions. And after talking with Shaviro, I realize there was also an innate connection all throughout the creation of FILMTEXT to what some are calling "sonic hauntology" (in French, hauntology and ontology are somewhat indistinguishable in the way they are spoken and, in fact, the former term was introduced by Derrida in his book "Spectres of Marx").

Of course, this collaborative or group energy happens in filmmaking all the time, at least when it works. It's really the job of the arthouse cinema director to help conduct the networked energies and performances of the various collaborators who contribute to or otherwise supplement the creative process the director envisions as necessary to make the work come to life.

Since I have started my new "Foreign Film Series", I have come to see that the creative flow of real "indie" movie-making is very similar to the earlier experiences I had working on my new media trilogy, particularly when it comes to the constant inmixing of what we still call production and post-production. Oftentimes the creative work process challenges the artist's ability to orchestrate this all-important collaborative or group energy (in the case of film, just think of the sheer amount of time it takes to raise the funding for any serious feature-length film, to locate the cast and crew, secure the locations, shoot, edit, develop a unique soundtrack, etc.).

Although, to further mix things up, what's the difference between movie-making, new media producing, and creating elaborate works of video art that mimic other aesthetic processes that digitally manipulate the data like any hactivist would?

Some would say the materiality of the medium is at issue here. But for me it's all about the capturing and manipulating of the meta/data. I did it in my early novels too.

Metadata: , , , , ,