"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?