Thursday, December 07, 2006


Sylvere Lotringer has a new book of interviews out with Semiotext(e), this time with various characters from the Lower East Side who, collectively, perform a kind of auto-ethnographical "reading" of the life of the artist David Wojnarowicz. The book, subtitled "A definitive history of five or six years on the lower east side" is a great read, easy to get through, and quite informative about whom this artist was. It covers the good, the bad, and the ugly, but also the beautiful, the politically motivated, the insightful, the estranged, the anti-aesthetic, the self-contradictory, and the meaninglessness.

My favorite quote from the back cover of the book, by Wojnarowicz himself in relation to his experiments with Buddhism, reads:
I tried it and it made everything I did worthless: I no longer wanted to paint these images, and I no longer wanted to deal with violence. I'd given up smoking, sugar, salt, meat, and all these things. I did it for four months and it scared the shit out of me. I said, the one hold I have in the world is dealing with my expression. I can't think of an interesting way to present beauty unless it's inside of death or violence. So I gave up meditation and went back to eating sugar and pancakes and became violent again. It made me feel much better.
Not being an overly jargon-ridden academic theorist nor art historian, I will not try to unpack the meaning of that statement above, especially in relation to the work of David Wojnarowicz.

I will say, though, that from the perspective of making art, it totally makes sense. Empty thyself of all of the garbage, and there is no source material, no residue, no waste to get rid of. The artist, if they are to perform the role of shaman in an otherwise murderous, moneyed culture, can't expect to purify the world of its diseased shit by becoming purity itself. Quite the opposite really, the artist has to wallow in it.

As an artist, you process food the same way you process information. Now, I myself may consciously eat very healthily and am attracted to organic produce much more than I am crappy junk food, but what I eat is part of the process of developing my own customized artist-apparatus filters so that I may affectively remix my experience of the world while concurrently generating more stylized artworks that I sign with my signature gestures. I'm still "wallowing in the shit" of consumer-driven waste culture, but I am playing with my body as an experimental lab of organic desire that pleasantly corrupts itself in other ways, ways that can be differentiated from the next artist who imagine themselves to be some kind of cultural High Priest or mediumistic shaman. Obviously, for David, to get to where he wanted to go as an artist, meditation was not the avenue that would lead toward advanced stages of personal expression. Sugar and anonymous sex at the piers were more his style (according to the book). The Beatles, though, mixed yoga, vegetarianism, groupie sex, drugs, and meditation into something tasty, and produced trippy work like the White Album. Bottom line: we all approach the life of the artist from different formal and formative agendas.

You say you want a revolution / Well, you know / We all want to change the world. But how we go about doing that is strictly a personal thing. There is no one diet that will feed Everyman. Diet is, after all, just another word for lifestyle. And for me, that means Life Style Practice (LSP), something that every artist performs on their own (this is what I see as the "life of the artist," stylin'). David, in Close to the Knives, his memoir of disintegration, saw this LSP as an epic struggle between two simultaneously existing worlds.
First there is the World. Then there is the Other World. The Other World is where I sometimes lose my footing. In its calendar turnings, in its preinvented existence.
The calendar turnings were psycho-physiological churnings, syndicated prefabs of one size fits all meaning generation that, part of status quo consumer culture, pointed one to the ultimate Destination (capital D):
Transition is always a relief. Destination means death to me. If I could figure a way to remain forever in transition, in the disconnected and unfamiliar, I could remain in a state of perpetual freedom. [...] Destination is an entry point for the practitioners of the fake moral screens.

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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Local Hype (Part II)

The gig last night at BMOCA went very well. Boulder Digital Arts brings out a great crowd and I enjoyed seeing many people I have not seen for awhile including old friends (not old is in old, old as in "as times goes by"), former students, current students, Boulder artists, and many others.

And now for some more Boulder hype. Is it really this good? The City of Boulder would like you to think so. They have an entire area of their website devoted to recent accolades:

"10 Great Biking Cities" - Washington Post, October 2006

"Heart-Healthiest City" - (Boulder ranked #4), Men's Journal, August 2006

"Top 12 Best Veg-Friendly Places to Live" - VegNews, August 2006

"Best City for Green Meetings" - (Boulder ranked #9), Meetings and Conventions, August 2006

"Dream Towns" - (Boulder ranked Best All Around), Outside Magazine, Aug. 2006

"Top 20 Greenest Spots in the Country" - Vegetarian Times, July/Aug. 2006

"Top Places to Retire" - Where to Retire Magazine, July/Aug. 2006

"Best Cities For Singles" - (Denver-Boulder ranked #1), Forbes Magazine, July 2006

"Top 10 Brainiest Small Cities" - (Boulder ranked #3),, June 2006

"Best Places to Retire in Style" - (Boulder ranked #1), Fortune Magazine, June 2006

"Top 25 Arts Destinations" (Boulder ranked 10 for small cities) - AmericanStyle Magazine, June 2006

"Best Cities for Relocating Families" (Boulder ranked #4 for mid-sized metro areas) - Worldwide ERC and Primary Relocation, May 2006

"Top 10 Greenest Cities" -, April 2006

"50 Best places to live" (Boulder ranked #3) - Men's Journal, April 2006

"Most Vegetarian-Friendly Cities in the U.S." (Boulder ranked #7)-, April 2006

"Best City for Cycling" - Bicycling Magazine, March 2006

"Best City for Teleworking" (Boulder best in small metro area list) - Sperling's BestPlaces research firm, March 2006

"America's Top 100 Places to Live in 2006" (Boulder ranked #3) -, March 2006

"America's Best Vegetarian-Friendly Small Cities" (Boulder ranked #7)-, March 2006

"Top Biking City" - Bicycling Magazine, March 2006

"Place you dream of living" - Backpacker Magazine, February 2006

"Top 10 Places to Retire" - Bottom Line Retirement, January 2006
Not listed: #1 for inventing a new art form utilizing the Internet as a compositional, publication, exhibition, distribution, and marketing medium. Isn't Boulder where net art was born (without even knowing it)?

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Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Local Hype

Tonight I will give my first local artist presentation since the GRAMMATRON world tour back in 1997-98. The event is being co-sponsored by Boulder Digital Arts and the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. It's strange to have an exhibition in the local museum after all of this international hullabaloo over the last decade. But the curators at BMOCA have been some of the best people I have worked with and it's really great to share artwork made with my local collaborators in the DJRABBI collective.The exhibition sponsor, who go by the name The Collection, have their finger on the pulse of what it takes to make a contemporary arts scene pop with excitement in a hyped up, progressive community like Boulder. After having lived here for almost twenty years, I can finally say that the art scene is beginning to take on a life of its own, the way I have seen it happen in other places all around the world.

The local newspaper, which has some influence in this rich community of go-getters, wrote a very smart article on the exhibition:
The digital art project by Boulder County artists Mark Amerika (text), Rick Silva (visuals) and Trace Reddell (sound) is a forward-looking piece based on the 1973 film"La Socit du spectacle (Society of the Spectacle)," by French philosopher, artist and social critic Guy Debord.

Inspired by the film's appropriation of found imagery relevant to the time, the three Boulder artists conceived of a "digital remix" of the film that would lay new images, sound and subtitles on top of Debord's original. The three are known collectively as DJRABBI, a nod to both the remix aspect of their work and a Jewish tradition in which the Talmud is constantly being rewritten by rabbis to reflect modern concerns.

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Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sperm Blue

With the coming of winter, the nature of "being digital" changes, and these changes are reflected in the latest update at the popular Mark Amerika Nature Photography website where "We Take Pictures, So You Don't Have To."

On display: a short homage to nature's coming blizzard of whiteness, so fast and furious, it looks sperm blue.

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