this is what you think about when you go running in cemeteries at 8:14 in the morning

Lines For Winter

Tell yourself
as it gets cold and gray falls from the air
that you will go on
walking, hearing
the same tune no matter where
you find yourself --
inside the dome of dark
or under the cracking white
of the moon's gaze in a valley of snow.
Tonight as it gets cold
tell yourself
what you know which is nothing
but the tune your bones play
as you keep going. And you will be able
for once to lie down under the small fire
of winter stars.
And if it happens that you cannot
go on or turn back and you find yourself
where you will be at the end,
tell yourself
in that final flowing of cold through your limbs
that you love what you are.

Mark Strand


i want to stop all language
but you keep dishing out the words
nullify the past with
future tense

make your case

before i close mine.


back then

i bit your language
you fed my psychology
ate my biology

are we done yet?

slick exit

like rain gets
loud in
that same quiet
the loud
that thunder
will get
will do
under that thunder
by words washed
things are wet
(wet heat
is hot)
others leak
some must dry
from time to time
time to time to

hung. dry.

prevent all watermarks.
lay down plastic first.


is it really so bad to not want to put a period at the end of any project?

is a work ever truly complete?

Saussure proposed that words have meaning only in their differential relation to other words; meaning is the result of a system of differences without any positive terms. Taking this further, Derrida asserted that the signified itself is also the product of differential relationships between signifiers -- meaning is produced through an endless chain of signifiers. From Derrida and other linguistic philosophers/poststructuralists, the relation between experience and language is no longer seen as the relation between the original and its vessel, mirror image, or copy.

Existence, including our individual experience, is comprised of a mosaic of "texts" ("text" for a lack of a better word; see Kristeva, Bakhtin). When we produce a text, like an artwork, its composition is a collection of our experiences, filtered by the producer's subjectivity in that temporal and spatial relation, and translated into some form. Foucault would shake his finger and say, 'not so fast...you can't say producer because there is no producer, no architect; everything has always already been said.' ----well, it's this very thinking that hip theory courses want you to get muddled up in. and i did. hence, the origins of this blog site.

And so...if all the world is a text that follows through me and i flow through it, channeling data like a T1 line packet-switching device (the network exists only if i exist), why must i adhere to the notion of a period? I don't like that sort of final punctuation. Transmission is never complete. Some might say it happens in death, but all you need to do is look at a graveyard, or the Mall, to know otherwise.

When Dr. Seuss died, he had produced and left behind a massive amount of "completed works" in various media. However, there was one drawing he never did complete; despite his prolific career, he kept ONE DOOR OPEN...And that, was a drawing of cat faces. He worked on the same large canvas drawing various sized cat faces whenever he needed a break from another project, or he just felt like it. Upon his death it was determined as his only unfinished work, despite what would appear to be a filled canvas, because he had remarked one time that he could always find another place to make another cat face. That is a beautifully succinct recognition of a fact of creation --- there is always room for another cat face. No work is ever truly complete. It continues on as its own chained link. I did a performance (Mythology Machine/Chain Value) about this idea this past spring where my grad school classmates and I literally deconstructed Barthes' Mythologies, tearing out and folding its pages, in an assembly line fashion to create a chain out of the work. Originally a comment on intellectual labor and artistic creation, I was reminded of this piece as I watched MTV at the gym and saw the new (? new to me) Eminem video, Just Lose It.

"Guess Who's Back? Back Again. Shady's Back. Tell a Friend." I LOVE that he starts this song with a self-sample from an earlier recorded song. In the video, Eminem samples a host of beloved (c'mon, admit it!) Mythological pop rock/pop culture icons, each with their own interesting taboo(tabloid/ed) sexual myth(?)ologies: Michael Jackson, Pee-Wee Herman, M.C. Hammer, Madonna, Christina Aguilera...The video and song lyrics are just full of prior texts for your pleasure-seeking intertextual deconstruction experience!

--->So, I just linked to myself here, when I said "prior text." I linked to some earlier work for a linguistics course, and now I must raise the following question/statement/hypothesis:

SELF-SAMPLING vs./and SELF-LINKING = a "new" and improved art form or a new narcissistic turn in creativity?

The narcissism I am referring to is the Kristeva-on-Freud version --- The lover is a narcissist with an object, but the narcissist is someone incapable of love because his object is metaphor, not reality. "The subject exists only inasmuch as it identifies with an ideal other who is the speaking other, the other insofar as he speaks," (Kristeva). All of the figures in Eminem's video (including himself) are metaphors for a narcissistic-based relationship to sexuality for construction of the individual's identity. This whole tangent is another lens for reading how undeniably connected our constructions are to other individuals, other nodes on the network of communication, and hence, enacting existence. Ideas are just a molecule for eliciting the act of exchange. It is the act itself that confirms identity and hence existence, and all of the other details that come with it -- "reality," "time," "fact," "event," "creative production," etc. The act, the very "Verb-ness" of it, begs a lack of closure, No Periods to Terminate its Verbness into a Past Event, a Closed Noun on a Timeline -- the Punctuation of Punctuated Equilibrium.


From the self-link:


The reliance of the artist on prior texts in the development of his own artistic practice/products/performances begs the following question: If every text has always already been said, is creativity a fiction? Johnstone [2002] instructs that "creativity has to be embedded in the familiar," and that texts which attempt to be the most boundary-bending still must comment on and derive from the more familiar in order to be effective.

Eminem uses humor and prior texts from pop culture, as well as his own works to question the social construction of sexuality and its mediation by communication technologies (print, tv, etc.).

Let me self-sample here, Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes style...("it must all be considered as if spoken by a character in a novel.")...

From the 4/04 performance, Theory Will Eat Itself: Notes on Postmodernity from A-Z:

DJs sample without marking the quotation; no brackets or punctuation define the space of the sound, making it free to travel its invisible trajectory without Authorial riot. A reference to a prior text is not made for authoritative legitimation or the (re)creation of power relations through citation. Excerpts are embedded for simply the pleasure of intertextual experience, the vibe of the listener/reader.

It’s all been dubbed before. Creativity is in the manipulation of the sampled sounds, the reworking into new rhythms, laying down of rhymes over drum and bass that dubs no bass with my head(trip) man. I write beats as I type into the keys –pound and pulsate—fingers type with a clackety-clack finger nail tap tap tap, as they scratch another written record of thoughts captured, a composition escaped from the confines of its own history, laying down memories like dropping beats. A letter is a note ripped from vinyl – your pupils move left to right as you read the rhythm, dancing with the prose like a partner in in-step with your own feet.

Again, this is content from a previous performance involving a powerpoint presentation, computer spoken text (the text re/quoted here), and consuming a chocolate cake while drinking copious amounts of water.


Thanks to Blogger's "Save as Draft" function, I'm coming back to this post, days later, evidence to the anti-period method.

OR --- "Material which has been learned at an earlier stage and 'slept on,' is much more easily recalled. Some kind of REVERBERATION around neuronal circuits must be linking new material to old material, and committing new material to the long-term memory store," (from Solitude, by Anthony Storr).

Lawrence Lessig takes the idea of ideas that has been discussed here thus far into the realm of privatization and commodification via legislation that is impacting nearly all forms of cultural production today (it ain't just the music industry), in his book The Future of Ideas. Copyright is much more a Catch-22 issue today: there is a desire for the openness of the commons , yet a economic capital form is still desired/necessitated by most producers of creative works. If an idea flows through me and into another person in conversation, for example, who can really own that idea and in turn, use it as a raw material for their own production? Are quotations necessary? Should we check to see if there was a PERIOD involved in the idea? Does that "completedness" thwart its own copyrighted "protection" from derivative works?

I am tired of this question and game right now --- I tend to take the Open Source Initiative approach in relation to this, but as competition seems to filter into all areas of production these days (it ain't just the dot-coms - it's as much the dot-orgs too), there is tremendous pressure to reach some personal decision on this -- if you don't, get your own idea body guards. YIKES!

Let's just put it this way. The element of carbon, is the element of carbon no matter what body it resides in at any given temporal and spatial moment. Molecules of water are molecules of water -- we all experience the same weather, just in different parts of its spectrum.

Bottom line (literally): Punctuation is hegemony.
Are you a believer? Watch how what you ascribe to inscribes you ---



diapause \DYE-uh-pawz\ noun

: a period of physiologically enforced dormancy between periods of activity

Prior silence to this post was the result of being stunned --- my installation at Art-O-Matic was shut-down only 8 days into the show due to the building management's exertion of territorial force (they didn't like the water on the floor, despite its initial committee approval). oh well. Adios. Just hope they get their head on straight and give me back my money - and equipment (yeah, they've been holding that hostage since they literally boarded up the room). Soon.

Now entering...A new kind of silence.

This upcoming diapause will be due to my travel to Miami for Art Basel. Fun in the Sun. Sandwiches on and of Sand.



of the facts

an intense vision of the facts,
your demand seasoned with age

clarity ruled king
yet the noises you made communicated nothing
only the silent spaces between each
said it all
the melody of speech
dripped from your lips
as you held the coffee cup in your hand

parting ways
i tried to save your song
in my memory
i tried to save your song
in my mind
in my skin
within the chapped cracks

the record was written
in time for
the descent of winter

we all showed up
we all came over
dressed to the nines
dressed to kill
already dead
ready and waiting
for the drink
of your
last song


december 23, 2003

resurrecting an emailed poem, just because L. called the other day. i miss her, but cannot talk until the weekend when the minutes are "free." our interpersonal communication - data exchange - is marked with a commodity value like the food we eat, the clothes we buy, the cars we drive. information is the new hyperCapital, and this marketplace participant is frustrated that my production is ultimately restrained by my ability to consume ($$) my own value. more news (bitching) at eleven.

(from L.)


The conspiracy's to make us thin.
Size threes are all the rage,
and skirts ballooning above
twinkling knees are every man-child's
preadolescent dream.
Tabla rasa. No slate's that clean--

We've earned the navels sunk in
grief when the last child emptied us
of their brief interior light.
Our muscles say
We have been used.

Have you ever tried silk sheets?
I did, persuaded by postnatal dread
and a Macy's clerk to bargain
for more zip.

We couldn't hang on, slipped to
the floor and by morning the quilts
had slid off, too. Enough of guilt--
It's hard work staying cool.

Written by Rita Dove


those days were much colder

biting, bitter, made for the thickest socks possible, layers and layers, the struggle of stuffing two sweaters under one jacket, needing a pair of gloves covered by mittens. winter starts before the cold gets to us here, down south. the north begins its exhalation of the past year much sooner, shaking off its leaves and tracing windows of ice out of the edges of river beds. the coldest, flatest rocks somehow become colder, more flat, with the change in temperature. all of a sudden the wind is no longer welcome, turned into an enemy that the chest and lungs fight harder against as its numbness is taken in by the nose, the reluctant mouth.

the winter is less welcome here. we are wimps with weak blood and a weaker countanence. change, even the seasons, seems so much more a challenge, something only to whine about, if you live further south.

i am tired of the retreating indoors. if it must be so, more incubation and less hibernation, please. turn off the heat. welcome the fire of numbness, pins and pains in the bare feet on the bare floor. lift open the window, lift open the sense of touch and feel the movement across the threshold, from liquid summer to solid winter. take its shape.


Counting down

to art-o-matic.

Saw a sign for a company today called "Think Play," slogan = "Everybody Plays." I have an issue with that name, mostly regarding the enforced relationship between two actions that, to me, have nothing to do with each other at all.

I was reminded of the piece for Art-o-Matic that a friend, Mark Stark, finished installing yesterday. Greg Minah and I ended up playing inside his installation in a way that would seem off from the piece itself...

A few notes to be filled in later (and I'll take a photo of the piece and get it up here):

body v. brain
hegemony of thought
relegation of senses to informants, rather than processors
dylan thomas


There would have been a time for such a word...To the last syllable of Recorded Time

the marbles that were coursing through her capillaries each had a name:

My Past
His Past

Trying to identify and recount them all, their measurement began to take command of her limbs. But then the finger tips opened up. Gravity did its thing. Marbles began to stream from her capillaries to her veins and then Out! Out! Brief Candle, Life's but a Walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is Heard No More. It is a tale told by an idiot, Full of Sound and Fury, Signifying Nothing. They dropped to the ground, pinging it with the excitement of escape, singing as they scampered down the hill to their fate marked by the sewage drain. Meanwhile, the veins bled a little too, weeping at the loss, weeping for the release, crying with the freedom.

Oh, and did we mention what happened before to trigger all this? No matter, of course, but here's a quick instruction:

See that pile, that patchwork sack, lying on the concrete sidewalk over there? Yeah, the one next to the ionic capital, next to the ironic capital building (have you checked your compass today?). I could say more about this sack, but it is what it was: a pile of dirty rags, stuffed into a sack, slung upon the shoulders of a woman and carried around for an amount of time that goes without saying. Goes Without Saying. Nothing more to Say here. Nothing more to See here. Ciao bello.

---For my BFF on her FDF.


How To Collect the Works of

Will they dig through email servers
      hard drives
      abandoned floppy disks
      cookies and browser histories
to construct our relationship, communicate it
in words and metaphors and code
      that we use/d too

Will they weave the threads of words
      digitally produced
      digitally represented
to make a bracelet of friendship
two colors thick
      (that's one for me, and one for you, you know)
so they can put it in a case
on display,
a glass case
made to be more shiny
kept more clean
than we could ever
      clean ourselves
      keep ourselves
      display ourselves
      keep ourselves

Case Closed.
Files sealed.
Weapons withdrawn. For now.

Wait, I thought there wasn't Violence in this
No chance to talk of Struggle
and Power
and General Anger,
or, Your apathy

Weren't our emotions worked out
when we hit Reply
      Letter after letter after letter after letter

(wait for


It's Oh So Quiet.

     digital dust has settled in
     and settled this
for us
for everyone
for all data collection agencies

The Work Order is Complete.


early morning stretching routines

before seven a.m.

the cat is awake
in the neighbor's window
the bird(s) is(are) awake
sounding alarms
(chirp! chirp! awake! awake!)

the leaves are awake
and dying
the wind helps them along, i guess
(there might be some secret suicide pact behind such things.)

the apple on the windowsill still smells
of waiting, waiting for the bannana,
or the pear,
to seduce it
from its own dance
of fermentation

shake dreams and early morning thoughts
from the branches and boughs
of bending trees
(they too, are dying. and they know it.)


some things just know how to let it go
before seven a.m.


An extra hour of waking time

equals an extra measure of words, letting the sugar piled too high stay on the tablespoon and scatter over the bowl of cornflakes.

I've been testing the waters, measuring the time between syllables, getting my installation/performance ready for art-o-matic...I am not going to waste any space constructing an argument for or against the art show everyone loves to hate...I am participating simply because they are letting me do what I want to do and I have a space that is all mine.
-- good enough for me to go ahead --

a few short thoughts (from the drawing board):

1. A staging area for sex is trapped under the bed of my skin, your skin
2. Speed believes no truth except the shortness of stride and the shortness of breath
3. A lack of color produces more light, less vision, tastes great
4. Can you produce more than exhaustion? Does heat become the enemy of comfort in the cold of a room that remains to be full?
5. Volumes reside in white tides of blankness. stillness.
6. HOW TO read a person like a book, by the book. Chapter 2 - Shifting While Leaning Forward Means Feigned Interest.


a bland white space envelopes while the noise closes in color saturated with the promise of progress flavored by NEW! commerce

here, in this oh-so-hopeful new space, i think of the people i am closed off from by the geography of space, time, and the chalk-tasting architecture of this building that chokes more than it creates


what bites into my tongue is the sliver of a thought that a movie scene could begin with an absence of color, a remoteness of place, and lastly, the loss of a breath breathed too shortly into my ear, just behind the ear, right where the hair starts and the skin disappears...


In response to September 16.

For a number of years I have kept this piece of paper with me, tucked in between the pages of various books and other places (I think -- I can't remember where else it might have lived, though it feels as if it was in a box at somepoint, and not just the pages of a notebook...). I found it again in my art project book earlier today, and I knew I had put it in there to remind me of something, but I can't recall what that was. All I could do with it this time around was read it, then type the words out into world with my last blog post, thinking I needed to crawl inside them to recognize their life.

The page is a standard 8x11 laser print-out, courier font, point twelve. I had folded it in half, half the other way, then half the first way again. It has four main creases that were defined more strongly by squeezing the folds with nails, not just fingertips. At some point in its history, the bottom left corner of the paper was folded in and back, adding a triangle to the topography of the page. The title, September 16, is in bold and finished by a period. There is a slight tear an inch to the right of the period, just hitting the top of "resilient" in the first sentence of text.

Whose text is this, I cannot be sure. When I found it again, before putting it in its current archive, I thought it was mine and read the words as if speaking the name of my child over and over again to a kid on the playground -- no response, no matter the persistance and repetition. And with a deep wave of disappointment over the empty pit of discovery, I remember I never gave such birth: This text is not mine.

Again, whose text is this? Who belongs to these lines, the metaphors? The adjectives? The nouns? For a short while when struggling to identify with it as if it was mine, I would say yes, this line makes sense, I could have thought this on a wet wet gray morning (this had to have been first written on a wet wet gray morning -- an Ithaca morning, a wet tree trunk morning, like suddenly stepping your sock-wearing feet into the puddle made by the shower). But the stiff-necked drama of words like "Victorian daggers," "One" and "beautiful" are not my voice at all, especially these references to age -- teenagers, children, "mess of a life." (I don't like such overt references to time.) Such perspectives on time had to be written by someone more my elder, or, someone who is young but creates their identity and life around the notion that they are so tragic their ability to write from a perspective much more experienced is merited through such naive melancholy. Besides, this text seems too worked, too revised. Over worked, over produced. It is easy to tell that it was born with an audience in mind, not just directed to the self, or the individual inhabited by the "you," by the "our."

I like parts of the text. I don't like a lot of things about it. I am glad it is not mine, but I added to the end of the last line. Can you tell? Which part is me? The difference between one person and the next is certainly more than fingerprints and hairlines --- Vocabulary, and the candor of its employment, are just as defining.

We all have our favorite nouns, verbs, expressions, metaphors, ... all these discursive allusions to experience we live and share with others to make life feel more real...

Typing the words out this morning, knowing they were not mine...it is an act not unlike the experience of wearing a friend's clothes or the pleasure of using your roommate's shampoo. Trying them on, something new without the commitment of actual change ... imagining another life ... when my roommate waits on people, he invents stories about their life, imagining the house they live in, the friends they have, if they are funny and witty or not ... i mostly wonder about what they are like in bed, what their sex style is ... are they frigid and timid? lights off only? is it jackhammer sex? who is a talker? a moaner? an Oh God or Fuck Me person? i have a theory about reading an individual's sexual style by the way they treat their paper napkin when eating, but that is for another time...

What was it about the folds of the paper I kept returning to? They mark out the history of the page, and more importantly, how many times this stranger's words were read by me, another stranger (the original writer doesn't know I exist). I think this page came from Ithaca, from college. Working in the computer lab in undergrad gave me the opportunity to be a written word spy...Like trying to see what the title of a book someone is reading on the metro, or listening in to the faintly audible noise from someone's white iPod headphones. Curiousity: What does this person think about? How do they use their words? Would I expect that sentence from her if I just saw her in the hallway? What does the subject in that paragraph really mean to him and would he come back to that idea again? What is in her Works Cited?

I believe I first found this lost text from a pile of left-over print-outs never picked up at the lab desk. I surely had it that long, (the folds are so many and so deep). The intrigue of its origin must be why it has survived so many moves to different towns, different apartments. It just keeps resurfacing.

When will it disappear again?
Where will it go?

September 16.

Only the resilient milkweeds are left standing in the garden; cocoons hang from their leaves like forgotten ornaments. A few shards of terra cotta punctuate the uniformity of the dried soil. The rosebushes have shriveled. There is no trace of the beautiful hibiscus that we planted. Sawgrass and dollar weeds have overrun everything. They're as stubborn as the birds that continue to visit the ruins of our backyard and die there. I found three carcasses, almost bones, impaled by homemade stakes, probably carved with Victorian daggers. (Wouldn't that be our tool of choice?) Doubtless, the work of teenagers as unruly and gloomy and sadistic as we were. A garden of dead birds -- how excited you would have been at the sight of this. Of course, in some sense, these ruins, the intrigue of homespun murder perfuming them, are perfect. They explain what has become of us. Surrendering the garden to merciless elements, we've tended its disintegration the way we have tended our own -- with beautiful abandon. There is something in these ruins that speaks about us, and to us, in a way that the repulsive periwinkle of roses and sickening lavender of orchids never could. We were always children of overgrowth, of sloppy excess. Disorder breathes life -- and its opposite -- into us.

One would have to know that there once was a garden behind our house to find it. So little is left of it. One finds it the way I find you: in small bits, in cryptic transmissions. Some things are obvious, naturally, but others may be just a little interference in the background that one has to zero in on. It's not that I can't picture you running through this house, or sitting in the garden, or locked up in your room (you were always locked up in your room). It's just that there has to be more than that distance between us, that blankness that separates us like morning fog. A distance that is not so much between us as it is us. I take you in slowly, in tiny bits and try to put you together. But you exceed the meager version that I come up with. You're like the sawgrass and dollar weeds that spead over every border they reach, swallowing up more and more space. At least, there is some consolation in knowing that what is responsible for this mess of life is a forced simple logic and a broken imagination that can't get their hands around a circle that isn't closed.


Well, i felt something should be here now

given all of the thinking i've been doing ---

here's something composed during the last 139 seconds (that's two more than you, Rod):

Can we stop fussing about with all of these names?

Let me use lead
As a litmus test
For all other tastes
Fall to the left of sweet and the
Right of sour

If the taste cuts like the blade
Of a sharp piece of green grass
sliced through the tongue
Then it is pure
It can be called Real.
Not a drawing.
No canvas.
Blank. Beautiful. Sharp. Green.


the eyes didn't listen to the ears

so we are still up contemplating sound.

i'm listening to live sound - a breath drawing in the chemical of a cigarette, the slow tap tap tap and tap tap and tap again of the drum stick on a cymbal.

a few weeks ago i busted out some mime moves at a party. i've never done it before, nor do i recall ever seeing a mime on anything but the tv --- i think it was on Reading Rainbow, or maybe there's just that scene in Singles...

could the voice die in its over-production, its hyper-presentation? is the mime obsolute in this culture of communication? do people who witness miming as a performative artform have a base experience of silence to draw upon in creating their response? i ask this as a couple next to me passionately exchange what looks like a debate from the tone of their body language -- they are speaking in sign language.

hands touch more language than the tongue can produce, than the lick of the pen or keyboard could ever recall. muscles have memory beyond the fiber of ink, beyond the flesh-less press of key to board.

biting your lip means you just might get it. if it bleeds, then turn the hand on yourself.

"reach out and touch someone." bye bye baby bells.

How many head trips does it take

to get to the center of nothing to say at all?

At yoga our instructor said to pick the quietest layer of silence and hear what is below that. In class tonight my professor argued that the changing of the senses over time happens, but seemed to lean more towards a somatic source for this observation...

I believe the senses do change over the course of history, but that their evolution is rooted in what sits on either dish of the scale they balance/mediate - body external (social) v. body internal (material). I see this evolution as tightly related to the cultural implications of changing technology (its impact on the auditory landscape, social impact of visual construction in communication ---). It's not just that we have cell phone ring tones that our body jumps in response to, as opposed to snapping tree branches (for example), but it is the importance placed on the relationship of this technology to our behavior patterns for communication that actually generates a shift in sound importance for the auditory sense.

i would say more but my ears sense that it is time to sleep the taste of the day away away away


easy drive-bys,

incomplete picture pieces, shifting value scales, chapters closed before read aloud, vitamin after vitamin after vitamin

Pattern Recognition, 2004
Kathryn Cornelius
T610 mobile phone digital photograph


so i'm getting tired of this planning thing

...talked to my professor about circles and lines the other day...for a while now, and especially lately, i've become more convinced that the way to stop the line is to spontaneously begin a new trajectory that does not map nicely onto any sort of patterned predictability. like when you're driving and your cell phone service cuts out because you enter, briefly, a space that is not perfectly networked --- you've really stumbled onto/into something; it changes your pace. don't be angry your call dropped. that's an opportunity if you want it. what will you do with it? i could talk on and on about frames of context, shifted footing, everyday performances and the argument of performance versus behavior, but i'm late.

disconnection is a beautiful thing. yes, i said beautiful.


okay okay

there's a profile now

who knew

an acquaintance met in san fran last may recently informed me that there are two "kathryn cornelius" bloggers on blogsite. this news comes to me like the realization that i am wearing my underware inside out -- unexpected, but not changing much. / as if living with a catherine all last year didn't confuse enough people. / and the other strange thing is that apparently the other one avidly proclaims her love of christ on her blogger profile (note the abscence of my own profile.). i guess in leiu of a virtual sleeve...

so this is how it feels to be eminem. classic. oh the simulacra.


comment this

thanks to captain pickles for noticing...comments are back --- feed it.


template my life

apparently i thought it necessary to change the design of this site; though i've slightly customized the content, i'm having "template remorse."

just the idea of mapping another's design onto the body of my text is stuffing my legs into the arms of a shrunken sweater - blah.

A new image...

from the CIRCLES project

Hand in Hand in Mirror, 2004
Kathryn Cornelius
T610 mobile phone digital photograph


a few fragments from 'Fragments'

thinking about these as I collect the bits of paper from books I need to return...

"So far as intellectual 'work' is concerned, I have no idea about that any longer. What I have left is a total receptiveness in the void, where nothing is to be expected except from universal gravity."

"Another promise of fragments is that they alone will survive the catastrophe, the destruction of meaning and language, like the flies in the plane crash which are the only survivors because they are ultra-light...the lightest items sink most slowly into the abyss. IT is these one must hang on to."

--from Baudrillard's "Fragments: Cool Memories III, 1990-1995."


It's been a while...

...but I have a good excuse. Just finished a new blogsite last week to wrap up my summer course, Theories of Virtuality with Matthew Tinkcom (by far the best CCT has to offer).

Check it out: http://circlesandlines.blogspot.com


Can’t my letters be like paint?

...My sentences slope like streaks laid across the canvas? If the best gesture of my brain is my keyboard’s flutter which says “this is our/are for each other,” than can I laugh, lean back, for painting is not a paragraph and art I think is no parenthesis.

Adaptation from e.e.cummings (since feeling is first). cummings = a literary Jackson Pollack (?) -- perhaps, if Pollack must be a symbol for artistic gesture executed with orgasmic drunken abandonment (of course with a touch less self-intimate), dripping words with careless precision.

I want to eat another’s paint, soak up words with my hungry canvas stretched much too thin. Satisfy me. Someone.


L. where are you? The biggest We of I misses you!

From the Long Sad Party
Mark Strand


Someone was saying
something about shadows covering the field, about
how things pass, how one sleeps towards morning
and the morning goes.

Someone was saying
how the wind dies down but comes back,
how shells are the coffins of wind
but the weather continues.

It was a long night
and someone said something about the moon shedding its
on the cold field, that there was nothing ahead
but more of the same.

Someone mentioned
a city she had been in before the war, a room with two
against a wall, someone dancing, someone watching.
We begin to believe

the night would not end.
Someone was saying the music was over and no one had
Then someone said something about the planets, about the
how small they were, how far away.

It seemed to write me about it...

Revisiting Directions

Absence is the record of a presence not yet spoken
An extension of the hand not reflected

Restraint is an understatement when addressed in too many circles
An empty face is a pile of features upon features
touching touching touching touching

How to inhabit your space without admitting the touch of others

How to guide a moment into meaning beyond The already known, The could already be forgotten,
The discarded skin of fruit sliced
too ripe
too soon

a photograph
a peel


Green is the loneliest color you'll ever know

from the MS Word dictionary, a partnership with the Merriam Webster company:

Unripe or not mature
Newly cut and still unseasoned
Not yet tanned
Not yet fired
Envious or jealous
Pale and sickly-looking, especially as a result of nausea
Naïve and lacking in experience, especially because of being new to something
Young, new, recent, or fresh

-->end quote re: definition of green<<

Crisp white linens tucked into four corners of the bed
a glass of water on the stand, half-full
for now
before the empty sets in

these are days worth waking into
fighting heavy fingers that urge
the body back to
rest in peace

the sheets are the receipt for this transaction
an uneven, single exchange


The sea I suck in deeply, extending the fingers as oars to type waves into the words

...are splashes upon splashes of papers sticking themselves up out of books, posted driftwood -- "hey, save me first, anchor these words!" attention drawn by the highlights, maximized minimum space (black text on white) of 15-20 pages >> nevermind; due three weeks ago...

The form of the index card - constraint? release? retention? reminder?

How do we know what is important?

If it makes its way off the page, through the eyes, to the brain, signaling the hand

1. reach for pen
2. reach for paper
3. write the black ink configured as you see it,
4. record the moment of reading
5. to translate it - later - into a era of knowledge

then it is given a portable reference/record. One that can be owned, traveled with, accessed again upon whim, no need for a library check-out.

With all the information that is possible, how do we know what is important to know?

We mark its importance through its recording, picking the object closest to us for the translation:

The index card

A believer himself in the index card, Barthes (in Roland Barthes) remarked on the action of using it as a tool to record data:

"Still warm, nothing is yet to be determined of its quality: stupid? dangerous? insignificant? worth keeping? to be thrown away? to be focused? to be protected?"


you know you're On the Right Track (???)

...When your citation list for your graduate school paper includes at least 4-5 of the personalities depicted on the Theory Trading Cards. (so jealous these guys came up with this first!)

Question: Why is Tracey Emin on a card in the same deck as Goffman, Foucault, Benjamin, and Said? Was one of the creators of the Theory Trading Cards included in her tent installation, Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963-1995? I guess since it perished in flames a few weeks ago, we'll never know. (Maybe Gilbert and George know yet another something we don't...??!)


"Hell" consummed by fire

...And other British artworks, including Tracey Emin's tent piece...

BBC News

>>no comment right now, i'm too choked up, i think<<

To add to the notes in the last paragraph from yesterday's post...

I just got to some of the reading picked up while in San Fran...

Alison Bing has a great article entitled, "If You Can Read This You're Too Close: Art and Personal Space," in the Fall/Winter 2003 Camerawork Journal that closes with some remarks relevant to the suggestion I was touching upon in the last post. Bing writes,

"Should our thoughts always be clean and uncluttered? ...While comfort zones may be nice places to visit, you wouldn't necessarily want to live there."

The idea of a comfort zone in relation to clutter is exactly what I was thinking about with the construction of identity representations as produced and maintained by discourse with others...It is not as if we need to, or should spend an overabundance of time, in a state of minimal communication or passive viewing/experience. The idea of travel as a means to "unclutter" the chatter of conversation with others (and in one's own head; the sound of cicadas right now comes to mind) can be a welcome respite, but eventually you have to tune-in again, folding away the blanketing comfort of a singular voice - your own - for the mediating "reality" of the discourse that is inevitably social.


Excerpt from an email conversation...What is this beauty thing? What is clarity?

a friend and I have recently been on travel, separately getting out of DC for some time...some of this time has been good, while some has been peppered by life back home - the pressures, obligations, and other "realities" that creep into the daily representations of this "living" thing...

---to quote from the email---

that is why life is so beautiful
what is beautiful are the high tree branches i see from the fifth floor of the library where i write to you now. they are framed by a corner window and evenly sliced by dusty brown venetian blinds. their moment of movement made by the wind is the single confirmation that i am not looking at a thomas demand photograph, a construction fabricated by my own desire (desire, which is always born from absence) to see the beautiful of a life that lives less than its metaphors.


it unfolds itself before our eyes
and then the lids close.
and then the beauty stops, no longer held by the command of vision.

this time away has been good for the clear picture forming faculties of my brain
a picture, i hope, that is less informed by situational context, and one more motivated by the body and its detachable mind.

it's not always easy to figure shit out when youre mired in it
it's beautiful here

wish i could see the "it" with your eyes.

i dont want to come back
don't come back here, but don't stay there. plot your next move while the nostalgia of the familiar is sweet -- before tasting it too much turns it sour with redundancy and routine.

it's so clear here
so simple

it is the desert that erases experience with its expansiveness; the blankness of the desert doesn't ask to be filled in - response is not a demand.

Perhaps one of the reasons that clarity can be derived from travel is not just from the experience of a new place (or, the revisiting of a familiar one that elicits the effect of the new due to the difference of subjectivity experienced in the current moment, as informed by the individual’s spatial displacement), but because for that period of time, your social life ceases to exist as it was before you left. People leave the office, turn on their email assistant, telling the world "I am out of the office now and cannot respond to your message." What a great thing in this hyper-connected world to deny the possibility of communication with at least some of the individuals you are routinely required to engage in conversation. Granted, the cell phone presents an issue to this – many people still travel with them – but often the out-of-range call is so expensive to make that if cell phones are used on vacation, they are for very short, small-scale interactions. Perhaps it is the closing of communication obligations that truly delivers the clarity that can be derived from travel, not actually the physical distance (as we routinely credit; "the distance was good for me," "distance makes the heart grow fonder," etc.).

It seems that discourse with others is like taking a photograph – it creates, preserves, and (re)presents a version of reality (a picture of your life in that moment of time) that is not just that of the individual’s own framing, but is influenced by the context – the others’ discourse. This enters into the realm of representation and reality...Maybe what we need is a moment to ignore the other discourses that correspond to a certain reality...Like in most films (the more Realist, less-Brechtian types), for instance, the viewer is positioned in such as way as to ignore the production aspect of film-making and slip into a state of passive viewing...As Colin MacCabe argues, viewers can no longer "ignore the process of articulation by entering a world of correspondence in which the only activity required is to match one discourse against the realm of truth." If we ignore the production aspect of our socially-constructed reality for just a few days or weeks or however long our vacation is, we can blissfully derive the pleasure of passive viewing which perhaps may clear the clutter enough to gain perspective and furnish clarity on the movies lived in our minds.


this little blogger went out of town...

...while this little blogger should be staying at home, getting work done, blogging more frequently, etc. etc.

If time, i'll post from San Fran. I hope to stop at a few shows, including SF Camerawork for Pop_Remix, with Cory Arcangel (he has some stuff up that was not at the Whitney Biennial or Armory Show).

/off ->


What Is and What Should Never Be...

A friend from class told me of a conference paper she recently heard. For over a year, a graduate student analyzed one week – seven consecutive days – of footage from CNN. Her research lead her to the observation that some very interesting conceptualizations of time and its framing are embedded within the programming of the 24 hour news station. Apparently between 3:00am and 3:15am EST, CNN stops reporting the previous day's news, and begins advertising the news "that's going to happen" later on in the day (after 3:15am). This fifteen-minute interval is a sort of dead zone, the conceptual equivalent of hole in the fabric of time; nothing happens here – the past is wiped away from the slate and the future is fabricated by its framing in the present.

What CNN is up to with its programming - not just with the news but concepts of time - is illuminated by Jean Baudrillard's discussion of time and history in The Illusion of the End. As he states, "the end is, in fact, only conceivable in a logical order of causality and continuity." CNN's programming certainly does follow a linear progression, though Baudrillard's next observation really lifts the skirt on what is at stake here with this seemingly innocent news programming technique, "Now, it is events themselves which, by their artificial production, their programmed occurrence or the anticipation of their effects – not to mention their transfiguration in the media – are suppressing the cause-effect relation and hence all historical continuity."

The relationship of time to the delivery of CNN's content is a painstakingly mutually invested operation. Time must be configured in its current fashion so that the systems of meaning-making and authoritative truth delivery, that upon which news is constructed and delivered, are successful in their persuasion of audiences. From a visual language-based perspective, the news is similar to advertising in the modality it necessarily assumes and asserts in the delivery of its message. Developed by Kress and van Leeuwen, modality:

"...does not express absolute truths or falsehoods; it produces shared truths, aligning readers or listeners with some statements and distancing them from others. It serves to create an imaginary 'we.' It says, as it were, these are the things 'we' consider true, and these are the things 'we' distance ourselves from."

Thus, it is the cultural understanding of these institutions of influence (news, advertising, etc.) that "do their work" by coercion and strategic positioning of their content within the cultural context of the intended audience. Some examples of linguistic modals include "might," "should," "would," and "could," all of which situate another's subjectivity within that space and time, forever influencing their history and illusion of its end.

…Like the geosemiotics of street signs and billboard that insert their advertising messages into the context of the morning commute, the agenda and schedule of another can powerfully influence our own reading of the day, our own framing of time, its end, and our place within it...

>>> A response to this: visit the intersection of the George Washington Memorial Parkway and Rt. 29 (Key Bridge, Rosslyn) to view this painting/installation completed on Friday May 7, 2004 at 3:00am <<<

"I can see why many visual artists dislike words in artworks. They feel that words dirty the clear water that has reflected the sky. It disturbs the pleasure of the silent image, the freedom from history, the beauty of nameless form. I want to name our pains. I want to keep our names. I know that neither images nor words can escape the drunknness and longing caused by the turning world. Words and images drink the same wine. There is no purity to protect." - Marlene Dumas.


Quotation is the act of marking another's utterance...

and directly implicating the experience of their work in your own personal history. Inevitably the material we consume - visually, through words, with ears, etc. - massages the individual's subjectivity into a slightly different shape [evolved] whereby the tracing of impact equates to modification of the preexisting form.

Is Foucault still right? Has everything always already been said? Has it all been done before? If our horizon of understanding is shaped by ideology, we can also say that any discursive material [here reading "text" to be any form capable of signification] inflicts a similar effect as Althusser’s ISAs [ideological state apparatuses] on the individual's own interpretive and productive activities. Does this lead to the conclusion that we are (to use culture studies' favorite celebrity prefix) "Post-Creativity," especially now that the always already has become a slogan for its own nihilistic message?

Barbara Johnstone in "Prior Texts, Prior Discourses," (from Discourse Analysis ) defined a prior text in relation to the accumulation of an individual’s experience. This concept is brought into relationship with intertexutality (which I believe can be read, in relation to knowledge construction, as a synonym for the products of individual’s creativity) by Johnstone and summarized as the following:

"Intertextuality refers to the ways in which all discourse draws on familiar formats and texts, previously-used styles and ways of acting, and familiar plots," [Johnstone 2002]. Prior texts, then, are those texts recognized from past experience that constitute intertextual relations within a focus text. (From my previous work here).

If prior texts invariably influence a person’s subjectivity over time, how conscious are the re-workings or re-surfacing of a prior text in a “new” creative work (an intertextual production)? I believe that the tracing of any prior text to its “source” text is extremely difficult (we tried a few exhausting exercises like this in my Linguistics Intertextuality course). In some cases, it may be damn near impossible, not to mention that again, the level of the individual’s conscious recognition of an experience with a prior text influences their identification of it.

So, who thought of Don Henley when that Atari song came out a few summers ago? "Boys of Summer" was a nearly direct remake of the eighties version. I thought it was kind of cute when they switched the original lyrics from “Saw a DEADHEAD sticker on a Cadillac” to “Saw a BLACK FLAG sticker…” Is this insertion an intertextual creative production? Is the Atari’s “version” actually a “new” text? Is it because the “original” Don Henley song still exists in too many people’s lived experience of it as a prior text that the Atari song could never in this lifetime be considered an “original” work?

Obviously cover songs are a bit more black and white to deal with given the label we’ve created for them. But, I do believe it brings up an interesting point in terms of creativity, artistic texts, and the general circulation of ideas. Lawrence Lessig has written extensively and argued in front of Congress for the public commons, including intellectual and creative works. As he notes in The Future of Ideas, “In a legal sense, the regulations within which the network lives are increasingly shifting power away from innovators and toward those who would stifle innovation.” The examples he cites in the text are scary and far too close to home as an artist and as a writer. I remind myself to take the free circulation of ideas in conversation lightly whenever read Lessig [who, I admit, can be a bit over-aggrandizing at times], or generally any other text on the latest on Internet standard developments, especially the open source movement:: some philosophy:: , or other practices [here re: content] that are rapidly structuring our key means of communication (i.e. circulation of ideas) today.

An appropriate circle with which to end this today nudges towards a reading of quotation’s hegemonic weight on creativity and individual character.

(quoted from Quotation Marks by Marjorie Garber):

“If, for the sake of a crowded audience you do wish to hold a lecture, your ambition is no laudable one, and at least avoid all citations from the poets, for to quote them argues feeble industry.” – Hippocrates, Precepts


One way to get over the rain, on a Monday, nonetheless

is to roam through another’s words, another’s sculptural configurations, another’s aural landscape projected through headphones into the heart center…beats and syllables can mix to form a new mood to pattern your day. These are just some ideas to get started with, raw material for the crude coldness that you must turn into productive ways. Good luck. Best wishes. With regards. See you soon. Talk to you later. How many other phrases can signal "farewell"? How can you step back from the plate you put in front of yourself?


ANNOUNCEMENT: Monday, April 19th 6:30-9pm

Georgetown Festival of Fine Art

This is a week long event that has been developed by undergraduate student, Montana Ray, with the help of other undergraduates and myself. **I'll post more later about this event: the whys, hows, etc.

New South Building, Riverside Lounge
Georgetown University
37th & O St.
Georgetown, Washington DC

Monday, April 19th - 6:30-9pm

Panel Discussion
"Georgetown University and its Relationship with the Washington DC Art Scene"

Dr. John Brough, Professor, Philosophy
Calvin Custen, Professor, Studio Art
Kathryn Cornelius, Graduate Student, Artist
Jessica Eagan, Graduating Senior, Fine Art
Martin Irvine, Assistant Professor, Gallery Owner
Stoff Smulson, Alumnus, Artist

"Mythology Machine / Chain Value" - Kathryn Cornelius and collaborators

Art Exhibit
Monday April 19th to Friday April 23rd, 2004 12-6pm
Work by Students, Faculty and Alumni


Word of the Day = Simulacra

I have NO business blogging today since I'm back from Texas and the PCA/ACA conference and have way too much to do...

BUT, here is something worth thinking about given the discussion of language and its distribution: The Word of the Day today, over at Merriam-Webster Online is "simulacra." Check it.


The desire to inscribe

one’s thoughts into the surrounding world is innate. From birth, we begin marking surfaces around us: crayons on walls, finger paints on paper, chalk on sidewalks. We learn soon after that the skin is a surface good for remembering – for recording phone numbers, recalling addresses, reminding us of appointments and places to be. Occasionally the marks on the hands take the shape of funny faces, cartoon characters and other playful amusements. As our years grow, simple recreations fade from priorities and the hands become less and less a place for recalling anything at all. We mark instead paper with fine pointed ink, day timers are filled with new priorities to remember, and the finger tips are worn more then the flesh of the finger as typing takes precedent over the act of manual inscription.

A few years ago, well, in 1996, a film came out called The Pillow Book. The female lead character was Japanese and much of the emotion of the film centered around a birthday tradition she held with her father: each birthday he would paint Happy Birthday wishes in Japanese characters on her face. As she grew older, the tradition continued, but with changing sensations brought on by her sexual experiences with other men in her life. The pure physicality of the act of writing – and the intimacy established between one’s writing another’s text – is a pleasure often overlooked. When we write, we are literally drawing our thoughts onto paper, using the same tools of the artist; there is no difference between the artist and the writer at the moment of executing a creative act; the high is the same high.

I recently went to a tattoo convention in Tampa, Florida (after delivering a conference paper; not my main trip motivation, unfortunately). After coming back, tattoo-less, my cousin and I had a debate over “what to wear” on one’s skin for the rest of life. She told me of a project called “The Tattoo Book,” or something like that. Apparently there is a woman who is tattooing one word on one person – each a stranger – and photographing the tattoo, eventually comprising her novel from the photos and producing her text. I do not like this idea at all. What a violation to be marked by another for another’s own project. (I am still undecided about this tattoo-based art piece by Santiago Sierra...) Even with consent, and laser tattoo removal, to create such a mark on another’s body in such a way without intimacy…I don’t think I could live with it. A girl I knew in college tattooed “hope” in her own handwriting on her body, location undisclosed. That idea I like much more since there is such a stronger connection between the meaning of the word (not definition, but personal value) that will be a part of the visible skin for such a long period of time. No, I don’t have any tattoos, and I cannot think of a single word with that much value to me, personally.

Barthes, in A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments, said that when we are in love we are really only speaking to ourselves, about ourselves, for ourselves, and therefore the language of love is one of solitude; in love we are only projecting outward our own desire to hear ourselves. This voice should be constantly enacted in a process of self-inscription, so that the mind sees the words it wants to hear reflected on its own flesh, rather than obscuring the voice that the one we might love may wish to speak. We should give the words we desire to hear to ourselves first: a contract in which we bind ourself to ourself, in writing. At least pen and paint can wash away over time, as feelings and priorities change -- as our self-discourse evolves.

Language is a skin: I rub my language against the other. It is as if I had words instead of fingers, or fingers at the tip of my words. My language trembles with desire. —A Lovers Discourse: Fragments


What if we were to read with the mind attached to the body?

To feel the physical impact of the words spread across the page --- Grass becomes a synonym for the hairs of the arm as it lifts to turn to the next one --- Stumble is to literally break one’s own fall by the already sitting position during the act of drinking another's sentences --- Vastness is the hungry stomach’s cavity of waiting between paragraphs, chapters, strung across experience as bits of cloth on clotheslines, white flags of standing [sitting] strength, not surrender; firmness is the grip on the book and the fingers’ comfortable strain to have softness while shelving the writing of someone else, accessing words through the orifices of the eyes lifted over the palms, face up, touching text to find texture.

Too many times we lose awareness of the physical body in the act of its intellectual pursuits. Living parallel lives, performing different functions yet supporting each other’s act, the disembodied mind thinks itself dominant over the body while the body remembers and whispers, Hey, I’m breathing here…


Construction is a viral condition

spreading throughout nearly all the areas of town I frequent. There’s a modernist spirit to construction that I believe acts on our sentiments silently so that we tolerate its obstacles and interferences: Construction = a sign of Progress, advancement, improvement = a flashing, recycling of capital, “Everything is Fine!” “We are building a strong future!” Or, as a sign in Chinatown reads, “[insert company name] Working Together to Improve Real Estate Values.” What are these values? Who gets to “work” on them? Where do they come from? What do they say? Who participates?

The physical signs that move into an area undergoing construction communicate obvious messages – Yield to workers, Caution men at work, Slow during construction…Less noticeable is the message whispered by the orange plastic fences that redefine the shape of pathways… Fences are blockades creating Insider/Outsider relations. They are Body Movers, Orchestral Conductors directing the rhythms and movements of the body in everyday foot-travel. The body becomes challenged to renegotiate its habitual movements in the space, especially if the path is one you take everyday to work, home, etc., a path nearly etched into the code of the body’s software 0101move01left0101now0101shifttotheright0101slight1010ly0000001

We are used to being channeled by other forces: roads, sidewalks, lines painted on the insides and outsides…all of these structures act on us in a quiet, persuasive way, waving us on with a breathless “go this way.” With so much of life engaging our brains, not our bodies, the physical aspects of moving literally through life are relegated to the background, white noise to our clear objectives in life. Less and less do our professions – wherein the bulk of our time and energies are spent – employ the body in a way that reminds us of its mortality, and amazing ability to feel pain and then repair itself. A slap in the face reminder of this was given to my body in the jolt experienced as I flew over my bike handlebars a few weeks ago. Since then, my jaw has mostly healed, and I have just a strip of scar tissue on my chin. Death and disease still remain processes we don’t deal with very well (speaking from my own experience). We change our topography, our “Real Estate Values,” more than we deal with the difficult, uncomfortable stuff. And there are so many ways to insulate us from feeling anything at all…[Quick short list]…drugs (prescription and illegal), alcohol, gambling, QVC, food, Give Us This Day Our Daily Starbucks…

More then ever there is a need to communicate the body’s experience, to reconnect without a “Do It At Home” yoga videotape. If we can abandon the language of movement that has become dominant and normalized in the everyday, the body’s voice can emerge to express its physical experience of life, and hopefully quiet the chatter of the brain that thinks it knows everything.


E is for Etiological

Last month Greg Allen (of greg.org) posted some good comments in response to my commentary on the obscuring impacts of postmodern language (and general academic jargon) in trendy art writing. I apologize for not realizing these comments were there until yesterday, which is of fortunate timing as I have had some similar thoughts on the topic since the original postings.

Greg said:

"Sometimes uncommon terms ARE required, to talk about specific things in a nuanced or particular way. Or because they carry with them the weight and association of the school of thought which brought them to prominence."

First, yes, I agree with the association aspect. New terminology is developed within fields for specific purposes, often due to developments in research, technological innovations, etc., and ultimately the circulation and reproduction of this language serves a role in the self-legitimation of the field. A certain amount of value that translates to cultural capital for the speaker/writer using the word is also embedded in the transmission of this language from sender to receiver. Last month I gave a presentation on this to my former policy research team that included a pictorial representation based on the notion of protein binding (I won’t go into all of that here, but this is a picture that generally represents the concept). Basically, for the language to stick and the data to transfer successfully, there must be similar value systems encoded within the individuals during the chain of communication. So, if I’m reading an article that uses the word, "etiological" (Greg’s choice example), and I don’t understand its application to the topic at hand (even if I know the definition of the word), its placement within the essay or article and any additional symbolic weight its sender intended is lost; the word did not bind to my receptors. Whew. Enough Biology this morning!

Second, I definitely agree that “sometimes uncommon terms ARE required” for they themselves allow access and insight into a topic that maybe shouldn’t be addressed in overtly simplified, pedestrian language. I began to address this topic on 2/28 when I wrote (briefly) in frustration about the relationship between writing poetry and writing about art. I had a conversation about this the other day with a friend who also writes poetry. The observation is that perhaps any writing, when not just transmitting data, can always be considered somewhat deliberately clandestine. Depending on the purpose of the sender, the concealed nature of the writing may be to elicit a physical response, emotional reaction, or otherwise different sensory engagement with the transmitted text. Unpacking the meaning becomes a playful a treasure hunt with the reward at the end of the rainbow unknown and perhaps different for each receiver, or as Greg said,

“And ultimately, converting everything into instantly comprehensible terms would diminish the effort/reward that comes with discovery and learning.”

I like this notion of “discovery and learning”…Instant access to an inherently nuanced subject – art – seems like a drive-through, commercial-speed approach to criticism, education, etc. on the topic (is it really possible anyway?). However, writers do run the risk of isolating their audiences by engaging forms of writing and vocabulary that is too removed from their experience. I end, again, with admission of my own guilt in this arena; if graduate programs are going to indoctrinate students with a postmodern dictionary of vocabulary, then it should also come with a users manual.

Thanks, Greg, for your comments!

A call for entries...

...I'm preparing for a performance piece that addresses the concept of postmodern rhetoric. It will take place next month (more details to follow).

As the topic of postmodern language has been discussed here quite a bit, I'm asking for submissions of your favorite vocabulary words from the thesaurus of post:modern:ity. Consider it an opportunity to vent by exposing the words that get under your skin and in the way of general communication.

Email me or post as comments...Thanks!


Imprinting the body

Patterns of prior experience imprint how we relate to the new, and negotiate our body and its spatial relations to the environment we have not previously encountered.

Like making love with someone for the first time, the body starts its moves in its old familiar routine, unaware the previous pattern doesn’t quite fit with the new body below. A sort of re-wiring has to be performed in order to rid the limbs of its habituized responses. A process of re-learning to embrace the flesh of another must occur if a climax of harmony, balance and synchronicity is to be reached. For a moment the body relives the memory – the smell of the skin is that of the lover before, the hair and skin tastes similar and the muscles are of unchanged flesh – then, just as quickly, the memory is replaced by the shock of the new. We cannot sniff out something recognizable; the senses must abandon its relics, and clean house to make a room for this new body. Acceptance of all of its hows and whats and ises and is nots inform the level of the pleasure derived, and inevitably, the color of the memory made new.

Encountering anything new in life involves a period of discomfort, however long or brief in duration, and the necessary confession that we simply Do Not Know how to handle what is before us. Perhaps this is why we bring the old to bear upon the newly encountered. By re-membering, we can re-program our body and mind to take in and derive something tangible from this foreign experience. In linguistics this is akin to the concept of “prior text.” A “text,” in this case, is defined as any entity that can become embedded with signification. Barbara Johnstone, in her chapter “Prior texts, prior discourses” [Discourse Analysis], discussed how the concept of prior text can be used to understand the recognition of “something old” in “something new” (more on prior text).

A more academic application of this concept --- Each field has its own canon of valued prior texts that are (re)produced in its students/laborers. Thus those graduates with art history degrees are sought after for gallery and museum positions since the degree accreditation assumes “prior text knowledge” of the field’s valued canon. One can easily see how some disciplines make this process of teaching/learning necessary to its own survival as a field.

However, when something new is encountered that cannot be immediately explained by the past, we seek out the memories we can twist and turn to mix into an understanding of the present. For example, we may conjure up dead artists from long ago to make sense of a contemporary's practice, describing her methods as similar to "The Great Master Painter _____." Or, we reference specific artworks that we believe parallel a newly encountered work, "that reminds me of _____ by ____." Hence the mutation of artist names into styles, like "Judd-esqe" or "Warholian."

Warping the past to fit the current moment, calling up such memories elicits a moment of nostalgia for that prior experience, the prior text applied in the new moment. Milan Kundera paraphrased in Ignorance that “nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return,” derived from the Greek “nostos”- return and “algos” – suffering. When recalling a past experience, we know we cannot actually return to that moment of initial pleasure (hence, the yearning and suffering) wherein that experience was embraced and patterned into the mind and body’s history. There is a physical aspect to recollection that demonstrates our memories do not reside in the mind alone; prior texts are rooted within the body. Some massage therapists believe in the ability of myofascial release as a technique that can produce psychological benefits from the discharge of negative memories trapped as toxins within the fascia layers between muscle and bone.

Nostalgia is also described as a connection to home, or familiar experience. Hence sayings like, “I feel at home in your arms,” or “home is where the heart is.” Finding a home in a person…When the pleasure of new becomes warmth of the familiar, of another like our mirror image…this is surely what Pablo Neruda was referring to in his poem, “The Song of Despair,” when he repeated the line, “In you everything sank!” The weight of the past becomes heavy when regret is involved, and light, only when the whole of the body senses the pleasure of former experience in feeling out something new, renegotiating physical relationships through re-wiring psychological patterning.



Blogging is so damn cool 'cause it's put me in touch again with two of my favorite people, Michael Forgione and Jon Kallas! Yea! A new slogan for blogger should be,

"Blogger. Putting the 'found' in the 'lost and found'. Now, isn't that special?"

Now back to regularly scheduled programming...Here's a list of writing to come:

1. Hair bands, prior text, the canon of art history and contemporary conceptual art.
2. Douglas Gordon & 24 hour psycho -- I know, I know, it was a while ago, but I've gotta say something about it.
3. The Smithsonian Internship Experience -- Updates from the field-less field.
4. And if the wireless powers that be make me happy and give me a connection near my hotel in NYC this week --- "Live from NY it's the Armory Show/Scope Blogger made-for-the-net mini-series drama." With the practice, patience and endurance of a seasoned marathoner, I am going to attempt to write about my adventures with G in NYC this week/weekend. I'm packing my Power Gel and extra socks. Give me the pavement baby.
5. A new site design (Tyler thanks me already).

...As always, this list is probably too ambitious, but I've been on painkillers all week from this damn bike riding injury...I'm slowing getting back into things. No helmet, just a jaw and chin injury, but my brain was shaken up a bit.

For now, a Warhol quote (Warhol in prep for a paper I'm delivering at the PCA/ACA conference next month):

"I broke something today, and I realized I should break something once a week...to remind me how fragile life is."



...Or at least the wordy ones are...

That is my problem too.

It becomes a problem when you force poets to get paying jobs as "regular" writers...Their artistic sensibilities escape, leak out into the lines that are supposed to be writing about someone else's art, not creating their own.

But do we really need to lock them into a cage? Maybe the way to get rid of all bad writing about art is to refuse anyone but poets to write about it. Then we don't have to worry about communicating over-theoretical, power dynamic-laden, canon re-creating, self-indulgent text that manipulates the opinions of audiences before they ever (if ever) even experience the work themselves.

But then where does the function of "intellectual labor" come in? How can we turn a dime by knowing how to twist a few words into an expression that produces an effect with the same impact of tangibility that comes with sight, touch and sound?

And here I am reminded of lyrics by Tori Amos that summarize this outburst of frustration:

"I guess you go too far when pianos try to be guitars."


No Way Out

Art as background images for book covers

In my intertextuality class last semester I made a case for the circulation of artist images in non-"traditional" art venues/mediums as a source for creating intertextuality, or what marketing calls synergy -- the linking together of products/images/artworks/etc in an individual's mind that informs her/his experience of the company/artist. Marketers hope that synergy will lead to the development of product preference, and later, nearly unaware and impulsive [like muscle contraction], product purchase. I believe that there is also something unconscious happening to our perception of artists and artworks when we experience them in other venues, like on the cover of books. Whether or not we know the image is of an artwork, the image is still imprinted in our memory, creating the opportunity for making an intertextual connection between that previous experience of the image, and a later one.

My case study: Damien Hirst. I am not going to go into all of his strategically brilliant examples of mastering his own synergy, however I am going to make note of one particular example, the cover of Will Self's book How the Dead Live.

Now, Amazon has two different versions of the cover, one hardback and the otherpaperback...both of these US-release version don't have the cover I'm discussing...The UK paperback release had Hirst's 1991 work The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a rather appropriate piece given the topic of the book, but also since Hirst and Self are often viewed in British media each as the "bad boy" of their mediums.

Self included an interview-style conversation with Hirst in his book, Junk Mail and has commented on the High Art Lite scene of which Hirst is considerned not only the President but also a client. Not so coincidently, they are both members - and have been kicked out of - the infamous Groucho Club in London (a place not unlike NYC's Soho House; the pool was in an episode of last season's Sex and the City, fyi).

Hypothesis 1: Synergy/intertextuality, directed by flow within media and social networks, increases the cultural capital of the artist and economic value of their work.

Or, as Hirst said...

"It's about minimum effort, maximum effect, and people who work and play in a way in which you can't separate one from the other..."

Another example that got me on this subject today... Edward Burtynsky, and his 1996 work, Nickel Tallings No.34 . Analyzing my own "intertextual" experience of this artwork, I first saw the photograph in his exhibition at the Canadian Embassy.

And today, I came across the book This Overheating World and immediately made the connection. I don't know if the publisher licensed the work or not, but the images are too similar to avoid making a link. The meaning of this intertextual relationship? It is different for each individual.
How did I find the book? Randomly...a funny thing happened on my way to blog today, which made me think of this artwork [the only image I could find was this adaptation of the work] --- I can't remember where I saw it, nor can I remember the artist's name, but I found the book at this site when googling the artwork's title.

What was the funny thing that started all of this? A squirrel was digging in the dirt by the sidewalk. Normal, right? Looking for a burried nut, one would assume. Except that there was a hypodermic needle right by where the squirrel was digging --- Who knew that the squirrels of our nation's capital are in such a desperate state?! And, ironically, this was all taking place near the bushes of the St. Stephen Catholic Church.

Hypothesis 2: Google is a spider weaving the intertextual web of >online< experience.


One-liners and Drive-bys

Tyler at MAN contemplated his recent NYC gallery walk on his blog today, musings that I have myself been thinking about for a while now...He asked for comments...So here they are:


Tyler: "...Such is the problem with much conceptual art: Once you grasp the idea, you often don't need to look at the art."

This is what I refer to as a "one-liner," an artwork that creates its presence less from its visual representation and more from a singular concept that drives the experience of the work. [I wrote about this back on 1/25/04 at collected works]

Think of it as the "low fat" version of milk or ice cream or [insert your favorite food here] -- something essential from the original is missing, but after you get used to the taste of it (skim milk versus whole milk), you don't realize that the product you are consuming is a fundamentally different experience from the original. After months of drinking skim, go back to drinking whole milk and it tastes completely different -- almost sickly thick, creamy and too heavy. Gross! Gimmie the skim again and save the whole milk for the grannies!

Working from this metaphor, consider the long-term impacts of consuming fat-free or lite products...How is it messing with our digestive systems? Consider the digestive system as the parallel to the part of the brain that derives pleasure from the experience of artwork. What are the long-term consequences of experiencing these one-liner artworks? How does that mess with our expectations of artists and artworks?

Cliffort Geertz called for thick description in ethnography writing, putting anthropologists to the task of achieving a deeper understanding and reading of the meanings embedded within actions observed in cultures. A multi-faceted reading of an artwork is nearly impossible with the one-liner since it simply does not provide depth beyond a single concept.

Hypothesis 1 – Much of the one-liner art is from a younger generation of artists, those that are receiving as much accolades -- without thick criticism -- as are many of the pop music stars of today.

Hypothesis 2 – Why the one-liner version of conceptual art? Perhaps these artists are unconsciously demonstrating what happens when you grow up with your experience informed and indoctrinated by the language of advertising. Maybe the one-liner is the artistic manifestation of the cut-to-the-chase, low-fat, one size fits all, have it your way, join the low carb revolution, get it while its hot, advertising message.

If we are getting an advertising slogan from one-liner conceptual art, does that mean that an exhibition is like the “stuff” between sections of a sitcom, a conglomerate of commercials?

Is walking from gallery to gallery like channel surfing on a lazy Saturday?

Tyler: "Everyone who looks at a work of art subconsciously puts it to a test in the first three-to-five seconds they look at it. I know I do. For me it's a very straightforward test: Do I want to look at this? Is there something here to keep me visually engaged?"

Do we stick with this channel or move on? Do we let the one-liner message seep in? Do we try to derive something more from a commercial or do we just get the logo imprinted into our memories, and to the company’s hopes, conjured up later?


Tyler: "As I sat on the train, I wondered if the nature of the Chelsea crawl, 30-40 galleries in six hours, creates or contributes to that. Or does it just discipline the art-goer to look closely and recognize what s/he already likes?"

Is gallery-going turning into a drive-by experience? Or perhaps more fittingly, a Drive-Thru experience, one Big Name Artist to go, Super Size the video art fries and make it a medium Triple Thick One-Liner Shake…Oh, you don’t do the Triple Thick? Okay, give me a lite Coke, I mean, Diet Coke.

Pace. Anyone who has ever trained for a marathon can tell you that pacing is essential. If the pace of everyday life is about cramming everything you can into a tiny window of time…

[multi-tasking in the car: eating a breakfast bar while driving to work, listening to your sister’s latest crisis and giving advice on the cell phone, planning what your post-work activities will be]

…how can we expect that won’t impact our should-be slower activities and experiences, like gallery-going? Even the name for the activity, “gallery-going” is an active verb acting on us. Replacement? No suggestions right now.

Is all of this a serious red flag, an alarm to answer to? Maybe not...Until I hear of TiVo partnering with the Guggenheim...

Coffee today: Double cup, one sugar, and yes, some heavy cream, save the skim.


It's been a long time...

I've been off-line for both deliberate and unintended reasons. So, here's a running list of the things I've been thinking about - a lot - over the last week:

1. plasticity - genetic version and chemical engineering
2. love, and the need to have a lack there of right now...
good good good article
And, per my favorite author...(Milan Kundera in Laughable Loves):

"My loves are a stage upon which nothing is happening."

3. writing and DJs...okay, so this topic has been in my mind for months now...might post some recent writing on it, later...

4. Weak Social Bonds and network theory...Part of this is the six degrees of separation thing. Ironically, very ironically, Kevin Bacon was in a movie on the tv that was playing in the background during a weekend charades-like game I was forced into by some friends visiting from out of town...The game and the recent relations between me and my friends from high school got me thinking too analytically again...

The game was played by a friend during a corporate retreat and brought into our ever so exciting Friday night activities (yeah. quiet long weekend. much needed after three days of working with a metal brake).

The Game: Each player puts four names of characters or people on four separate sheets paper. These then go into a bowl. The group is divided into teams. There are three rounds to this game. The first round requires that each player from each team uses as many words as necessary to describe the person on the paper selected. Once that name is guessed by the team, another paper is drawn, and this continues until a minute and a half has passed. Then it becomes the other team's turn. Each name guessed is another point (obvious goal: be the team with the most points at the end of three rounds). Second round requires that the person that is "it" (like in $25,000 Pyramid) describes the person using only two words. The third round consists of gestures only - no words - to describe the person.

What I observed that was really interesting to me (and my overly intellectualizing mind; annoying, I know) was how quickly the names of the people were reduced to singular entities -- their "essence" was minimalized to a simulacra-like advert slogan, a one-liner. And this "one line" became learned by all, regardless of the team, throughout the three rounds.

Example: Janet Jackson and Lil Kim. You can guess what the gesture was to visually depict Jackson. Early on we learned that Lil Kim had a similar breast-baring moment in some other popular televised event a year or two earlier (I can't recall which one, but again, that is unnecessary because all I needed to know for the functioning of its place in the game was the highly contextualized one-liner that was made of Lil Kim -- not the history of the event referenced or a deep knowledge of the person for that matter). So, quickly after round one, Lil Kim became known in round two as the "Other Boob." Both teams shared this representation and in the third round when a breast-gesture was made -- Jackson, then Kim, were both thrown out in succession as potential answers to the clue.

Another example was British actor Cillian Murphy, unknown by most in the room, but after the reference to Killian's Red was made, he became the "beer guy" and the gesture of pounding and slamming a pint. Since this game was played by eight people, it was fascinating to watch and see which ones of us had the more competitive short-term memories for these one-liners...and the more effective skills for communicating, not the individual's references, but rather the references that would be most understood by the members of their team. All and all it was fun exercise in observing social interaction, group learning and game theory in action.

5. What the hell is going on between my sister and I?? We are four years apart, but the generational difference is huge. What constitutes such a large gap despite the difference of a relatively short period of time? I got into a conversation about this over the weekend...I've thought about this before and hypothesized that it has its roots in the speed of technology that is different today from prior generations...increasing speed brings more rapid cycles of fashion which influences the formation of value systems, which to me, are the visible loci of generational differences. A way to measure this? Who knows. I get really frustrated by the difficulting in translating theory to "real-life" experimentation and research. Again, another reason that I'm looking forward to this internship at the Smithsonian - ethnographic research, something formal to ground a highly theoretical experience in CCT as a "culture" person...Ah, I always complain about that program...I wish it would just admit that it wants to be a technology/policy/business program and get on with it. Regrets, I've had a few...

Note: Sinatra makes a nice accompaniment to metal bending and cutting. Oh, and Coors Light helps too. Yea for Jersey art-making vacations.