Saturday, September 02, 2006

Heap of Language Making Art History

Smithson was right:
"...the artist seeks.... the fiction that reality will sooner or later imitate." - from A Museum of Language in the Vicinity of Art (1968)
Think of that phrase in relation to Cocteau's quote that
"When a work appears to be ahead of its time, it is only the time that is behind the work."
Remix the two together, manipulate the data, and see what you get. I got this:
"The artist unconsicously visualizes the fiction of the moment; meanwhile, time is always trying to catch up with them so that they become a part of the past (and if it - time - succeeds in catching up with them, then it will absorb and neutralize their creatively visualized fictional becoming)." - MA
We see this happening over and over again. It's called (making) art history.

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Time Out of Mind

Aging hipsters gonna work it out.

Jonathan Lethem's interview with Bob Dylan in the new issue of Rolling Stone has this gem:
"I wrote these songs in not a meditative state at all, but more like in a trancelike, hypnotic state. This is how I feel? Why do I feel like that? And who's the me that feels this way? I couldn't tell you that, either. But I know that those songs are just in my genes and I couldn't stop them comin' out."
Yeah, right on.

To quote another Dylan version of the same: "It Ain't Me, Babe (No, No, It Ain't Me)."

As I suggested in this early draft of a "spontaneous theory" soon to appear in META/DATA, it's the not-me.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Someone once said "you are where you were when." By this, I think they meant that by being in a particular place and time during a crucial transitional period of your life-long philosophical investigation, part of your fate will have already been determined. This happens at different stages in people's lives and it's always fascinating to see where/when that happens to particular artists you either know or study. These hypersensitive transitory moments can be strung together so that they sometimes take years, and the longer the better. In many ways, it's all about channeling your astrophysical journey into the future unknown as you become the person you have somehow imagined yourself to be. Sure, the social Others you interact with (intersubjectively jam with) have a lot to do with who you are when; it's not just you. But when all is said and done, it is you who have managed to position yourself inside this Darwinian pool of potential emergence.

For alternative artists and underground writers especially, one could say that the places where you experienced some of your most seminal moments of personal transition are embedded in your psychic DNA and that at root you will always be the person you were becoming then, and for now are just an expanded version thereof. For my collaborator and friend Nile Southern, this would be the Lower East Side of New York in the early to mid '80s (me too).

Remember, MTV was just getting started, and was ripe for what we now call avant-pop intervention. Right now, avant-artists playing with new media technology might be experimenting with the net, blogging, social software, Google Earth, HDV, mobile phones, or even the dreaded "locative media." But back then it was the music video that begged for underground hacking.

The best example I know of this kind of mid-'80s styled music vid intervention was the 24-year-old Nile's music video direction of "Trust Me" performed by the awe-inspiring Mistress of Art herself, Phoebe Legere, one of my faves. Check out the vid now posted by Sexbrain at Youtube:

There are a few famous artists in the clips including the late Larry Rivers.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Hucksterism Too

According to CNN:
A man who pulled a hoax on Louisiana officials and 1,000 contractors by presenting himself as a federal housing official said Monday he intended to focus attention on a lack of affordable housing.

"We basically go around impersonating bad institutes or institutes doing very bad things," said the man, who identified himself as Andy Bichlbaum, a 42-year-old former college teacher of video and media arts who lives in New York and Paris.


Bichlbaum said Monday's prank was the latest in a series pulled off by The Yes Men, whose members have recently masqueraded as representatives of McDonald's, Halliburton and Dow Chemical.

Read more.

(Actually, it should be noted that the sessions I teach on The Yes Men are often the most popular ones during the whole semester. An article that I wrote in the '90s about their hacking cousins, RTMARK, in relation to the "toywars" between the retailer eToys and the faux art group etoy, is availablle here in both German and English at Telepolis, and will appear in my new book META/DATA.)

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Monday, August 28, 2006

Hoaxsterism Meet Hactivism

The Yes Men are back (see their message below).

Amazingly, while I was walking through a public space earlier today, there was a TV with CNN on. On the screen was one of The Yes Men delivering a speech (available here) with the subtitle "Breaking News: Imposter Holds News Conference on Katrina." The NOLA headline was "Hoaxsters dupe crowd with bogus HUD announcement." Ten minutes later, the cameras broke away to an equally stagecrafted, fictionalized speech on Katrina, this time delivered by The Grand Poobah of Hoaxster Art, the POTUS himself, George W. Bush...

----- Forwarded message from -----
Date: Mon, 28 Aug 2006 11:43:52 -0400 (EDT)
To: amerika

10:30 AM CDT


In a bold reversal of policy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today that they will reopen public housing in New Orleans and embark on a bold new plan to help former residents get back home.

At The Gulf Coast Reconstruction & Hurricane Preparedness Summit, organized by Equity International (, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson admitted that the agency has been headed down the wrong path for the last year.

"Our charter, here at HUD, is to ensure access to affordable housing for those who need it the most. This past year in New Orleans, I am ashamed to say that we have clearly failed to do this," said Jackson.

For many years, the official policy of HUD has been to replace existing HUD projects with mixed-income developments, and to disperse the remaining residents throughout the city. This policy has continued after Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of New Orleans last year, even though thousands of residents would like to return.

"We were wrong to prevent people from returning home at this critical time, especially when the new master plan was going to keep them out for good," Jackson said. "Today, it is my great pleasure to announce to you that HUD is reversing our policy. From now on, and beginning at all Orleans parish housing communities, our policy will no longer be to destroy much-needed housing, but to do all in our power to make it work."

The new plans include a significant increase in funding, amounting to 3.8 billion dollars in renovation and opportunity creation contracts in the affected communities. This is welcome news not only for the public housing residents, but also for the contractors who can help them get home. Equity International's Reconstruction Summit was chosen for the announcement because it brings together key business executives and government leaders at the local, state, and national levels to facilitate new reconstruction and preparedness solutions.

"With the know-how in this room today, and this new funding package from the federal government, we can fix New Orleans, not just for the benefit of a few but for everyone," said Jackson in closing.

For the entire text of the speech, please visit

Media Contacts:

Rene Oswin
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
451 7th Street S.W., Washington, DC 20410

William Loiry
Equity International

Erica Orange
Communications Manager
Equity International

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