Friday, April 28, 2006

Professor VJ and I

As the end of semester draws near, the collaborative Graduate student project in my seminar/workshop is picking up steam and the team is about to go into post-production. The students were asked to "play themselves" in a meta-mockumentary about a group of students trying to make a trailer about a movie about "making a trailer for a movie that does not really exist." As I wrote in the assignment:

"All seminar participants are invited to 'play themselves' in whatever form they find necessary. This can be a direct representation of what they imagine themselves to be or a more constructed persona that taps into their unconscious creative potential while becoming a kind of emerging fictional character who just happens to go by the same name they identify themselves with on their driver's license. Of course, some may choose to see these two actors, the more direct representation of what they imagine themselves to be and the more constructed fictional persona, as one and the same entity, and may wish to experimentally defamiliarize that same entity so that it becomes something else altogether new, although when investigating a potentially new you, or cluster of you(s), please keep in mind Higgins' 'neoteric fallacy' where what is new to one person may not be new to another."

This somehow reminds me of Borges and his excellent short work "Borges and I" - a piece I am remixing this morning just for you:

The other one, the one called Professor VJ, is the one things happen to. I walk through the streets of Boulder and stop for a moment, perhaps mechanically now, to look at the arch of an entrance hall to campus; I know of Professor VJ from the email and see his name on a list of professors or various blogrolls. I like Thai food, French New Wave cinema, metafiction, my new Prius, and the taste of coffee and the prose of Sterne; he shares these preferences, but in a vain way that turns them into the attributes of an actor. It would be an exaggeration to say that ours is a hostile relationship; I live, let myself go on living, so that Professor VJ may contrive his blog entries, and these entries somehow justify me. It is no effort for me to confess that he has achieved some valid pages, but those pages cannot save me, perhaps because what is good belongs to no one, not even to him, but rather to the language and to tradition. Besides, I am destined to perish, definitively, and only some instant of myself can survive in him. Little by little, I am giving over everything to him, though I am quite aware of his perverse custom of falsifying and magnifying things.

I do not know which of us has written this page.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Talismatic Effect

Does the title of this post refer to the post-punk retro-grunge swinger band from Boulder, Colorado?

No, not really, although I guess it could be that too.

The term "talismatic effect" is one I am making up, although I am sure others have coined it. It's kind of Joycian in that it points to both the talisman and the telematic. Think of Joyce in Ulysses, where he writes:
Binding too good probably. What is this? Eighth and ninth book of Moses. Secret of all secrets. Seal of King David. Thumbed pages: read and read. Who has passed here before me? How to soften chapped hands. Recipe for white wine vinegar. How to win a woman's love. For me this. Say the following talisman three times with hands folded:

It none too subtly points to an experience that transmits itself as an object lesson in history, that is, no matter how much you try to turn it off, it still feels like you are making (personal) history, which - being selfaware of the fact that you are doing just that - projects you into an alterative state of mind, one that is astrologically favored and seemingly has magical protective powers.

It's somehow connected to that sense one has when creating a new THING in the world, where what coheres in a style of "telekinetic body intuition" is at once frightfully present but also "unnoticed" - as it has to be - since the duration of the experience as well as its growing intensity inevitably lead you to believe that what you are making has (personal) significance, and that something major is about to happen, that you are possibly on the verge of releasing yourself, of leaking yourself all over the distance that keeps getting shorter as the time draws near.

You feel it coming as if it were you coming, like Molly at the end of Ulysses when she loses normal consciousness and lets her body do her thinking for her:
O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and the pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Reading-Writing Thing

Finding time to write is never an easy thing to do, and most artists and students I know, have some kind of aversion to it. They will even make excuses to justify not writing, saying things like "I hate to explain my work" (this is usually artspeak for "I am illiterate"). But in blog space (aka as the "compositional playing field"), the fluidity of the textual sphere as a supplemental space to launch ones extratext in, challenges contemporary artists to get the words out of their system, to take advantage of the endless openings the space provides.

The difficult part is in trusting yourself and accepting what you can and cannot perform, think, invent, or otherwise poeticize/theorize on the fly (or even with constant revision). My sense is that writing is not a priority for those in the so-called visual arts because they like to think of themselves as "making things" - as if hacking into this empty canvas that I am typing these words into right now is not making something. The ability to include video, mobile phone pix, sound, and the like, make the space ideally situated for a new or multimedia artist looking to connect with an audience outside the commercial gallery system.

Fear not, Artist, maker of things. The Author may not be in you, but then again, as Foucault once asked, "What is an Author?"
I think that, as our society changes, at the very moment when it is in the process of changing, the author-function will disappear, and in such a manner that fiction and its polysemic texts will once again function according to another mode, but still with a system of constraint—once which will no longer be the author, but which will have to be determined or, perhaps, experienced.

A question we are asking in the Graduate seminar this semester is "can we write ourselves into the script as performative extratexts, and will the polysemic resonance of our leaking personas help us tell the tale of our making things up as we go along?"

But then there is the question of editing, of manipulating the data as a ____ effect.

What kind of effect?

Special effect?

What makes it so special?

How about special affect?

The art world is full of special affect. Now if only artists could write about it.

UPDATE: When I say "[t]he art world is full of special affect. Now if only artists could write about it," I am once again applying my very loose and expanded concept of writing to the action I propose, that is, one can write with pen or pencil, computer keyboard, stereo mike, HDV camera, or even using a visual dictionary like the one enacted here.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Like A Cloud

As Ron Sukenick once said
"If you don't use your own imagination, somebody else is going to use it for you."
What made Ron so great as an artist-writer and teacher was that he was a model of Progressive Writerly Action. For him, writing and making things was a way of life. It was survival. If you woke up in the morning and could not get the junk out of your head and onto the material canvas - and for him the screen offered an extensible materiality - then you were just as good being dead.

He said: "make it up is you go along" or create work that "like a cloud, changes as it goes."

Making it UP. UP was the name of his first novel back in 1967. Check it OUT (OUT was the name of his second novel).

UPDATE: In his last story, Running On Empty, Ron wrote:
It was like he had lived inside his imagination, anyway, living the life he had imagined and created for himself. The life he had imagined in his teens was almost identical with the one he looked back on in his 70s. He had even guessed well at his disappointments: obscurity, relative poverty, cult status.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

Net Connect Henry Miller

Tribeca Film Festival brings me to Laurie Anderson's new movie Hidden Insider Mountains as well as her cool website which then connects me with the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur which connects me to The 1st Annual Big Sur International Short Film Screening Series.

This then reminds me of my old aquaintance and Henry Miller Library Director Magnus Toren who I recall having great conversations with about old boy Henry and how we could post some of Miller's material on the then rock-star famous Alt-X site. This was way back in the mid-90s when I was actively generating new content for Alt-X every other day, during the rise of the, a time when we literally had to fight off - swat might be the better word - all of the hungry speculators (yes, I actually turned down a significant six figure offer to grow and build Alt-X, all so that I could continue working on GRAMMATRON without the hassle of "selling out"). Would Henry have been proud?

As Miller himself once famously said:
I have no money, no resources, no hopes. I am the happiest man alive.

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