Friday, December 15, 2006

Seminal / Seminar

Truth be told, I am not an academic per se (and if you keep saying it, over and over again, you just may believe it). Rather, as I often note, I am a refugee from the cultural underground who has found his way into institutionalized academic space and, since my overhead is low, have found a way to support an otherwise far out art-research practice that challenges conventional styles of artistic and writerly practice. Or so I think. Whenever I drift into this line of thought, my good friends remind me about Time magazine, the Whitney Biennial, MIT Press, the University of Colorado, Brown University, i.e. all of these "institutions" that have helped me get the mainstream cred one can use to turn floss into gold -- which somehow reminds me, in nonsequitur fashion, of Frank Zappa's tune "Montana" --

"Moving to Montana soon / gonna be a mennil toss flycoon"

You have to see it to believe it.

But back to the tension between being avant and/or pop, mainstream and/or underground. However much one finds themselves engrossed in institutional practice, it still doesn't feel right. I remember reading Ron Sukenick's Down and In: Life in the Underground, when he was relating some of his own, similar, self-contradictions, and thinking to himself: "I must be doing something wrong."

In the past I have called this unconventional style of artistic and writerly practice avant-pop. In fact, my avant-pop manifesto, written over 13 years ago and translated into at least eight other languages (most recently into Italian Spanish, on this blog), was always a call for a more hybridized, in-your-face, interdisciplinary media arts practice (iMAP). In many ways, it's nothing new, especially in relation to this figure I call the artist-medium. For example, take Vito Acconci (please).
"...if I specialize in a medium, then I would be fixing a ground for myself, a ground I would have to be digging myself out of, constantly, as one medium was substituted for another - so, then instead of turning toward 'ground' I would shift my attention and turn to 'instrument,' I would focus on myself as the instrument that acted on whatever ground was available."

Acconci - (from "Steps Into (and Out of) Performance):

This is a good starting point for any iMAP seminar, and I used it all year long to get my ludic crew thinking about where to take their practice next, especially as we ventured into unknown territory like mobile blogging, HD video, physical computing, and video social networking (i.e. making art under the influence of the "Youtube Effect").

Other issues we addressed?

My notes say:
TIME (variations on a theme):
time-based media
narrative time
asynchronous realtime

Artistic experiments in/with TIME (and thoughts of "(de)realizing cinematic time" while navigating the networked space of flows as a kind of "timeless time"):

Time Code
(simultaneity, improvisation, digital video, multiple windows, minor interaction with audio tracks, metafictional story that relates to itself as a reeltime/realtime performance, etc.)

(linear digressions, moving body as visual link through "scenes of writing," film, etc.)

Le Jette
(essayistic form meets sci-fi scenario, tension of stillness/motion, immobolity of viewer and the dreaming protagonist, film stills/photographic image as "apocalyptic frame," etc.)
I realize there are a lot of holes in those notes and the question is how does one put "meat on the bones" of those skeletal "talking points" (to which I have no answer, except improvise improvise improvise, so that the "talking points" plus unconscious reconstruction of your own Idea Channel becomes a kind of performative pedagogy or "talking book" transitioning into "talking movie" transitioning into artist-medium...)

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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Looking Back (and Forward, Again, in a loop...)

It's that time of year again when Professor VJ becomes less VJ and more Professor. This loss-of-VJ to the institutional "finishing up" of the semester takes approximately one week, at which point, if all goes well, it's back into art-mode 100% of the time until early next year.

Looking back on 2006, there's much to take account of, including finishing the page and color image proofs for META/DATA (The MIT Press, 2007), finishing my long overdue third novel, 29 Inches (Chiasmus Press, 2007), making excellent headway on a new feature-length video art work entitled My Autoerotic Muse (starring Kat Wolf and featuring the sound art of William Basinski and Twine), a few VJ performances, writing a new artist-essay called "Making Space for the Artist" that will be included in an anthology published by Intellect next year, lots of great research trips to and lectures/workshops in London, Berlin, Paris, New York, Washington D.C., Shanghai, Hong Kong, Hawaii, Frankfurt-Mainz, Detroit, San Diego, and many more too, and starting and maintaining this blog with numerous excursions into politics, the ecstasy of video art making, avant-pop lit, and other indecipherable matters not to mention the ever-present and all-too-looming virtual realities I associate with the fluxlike "anyspace whatever"...

Then there were the two blog performances/exhibitions (one at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and the other at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art), a short video work made-for-mobile-phone and on exhibit at Senet in Seoul, multiple exhibitions of Society of the Spectacle (A Digital Remix) (including the current show in the hometown venue), the launch of the ever-popular Mark Amerika Nature Photography, and a couple of really good experiences teaching two Grad seminars, one in Post-Photography and one in Integrated Media Arts.

For the seminars, I have been taking notes and test-driving some ideas for yet another book I am starting to fish my brain for, a print-cum-digital work tentatively entitled Hybrid Art. As far as I can tell, the next book will investigate this emerging "playah" we call the artist-researcher, but who might also be referred to as the artist-medium, the artist-persona, and the artist-remixologist (for example, think of Burroughs-Gysin's concept of the "Third Mind" and their very useful cut-up method as a salient precursor of contemporary remix and mashup culture, then apply the Situationist legacy of détournement to this remixological practice as way to politicize its intent, and finally throw in the narrative sensibility of Kathy Acker and the critical-collage theory of Walter Benjamin circa "Passagen Work", and you're off to the races).

More on all that after the institutionalized Professor fades, and the free-to-create VJ [artist-medium] returns...

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