Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bar Bets Are Dangerous: A Theory.

The author happily washing down a serving of crow and theorizing with a little Kittler at my elbow.

The folks at Hyperallergic decided the debate between Michelle Vaughan and I, and I lost. I'm OK with that. The point of this blog is that theory and history and art should be fun, that art has no borders that need to be protected, but that what is at stake is what we believe about ourselves and out times, and those beliefs should be defended (if not to the death, at least until dinner time, and it's time for dinner). The debate with Michelle has been all that. Best of all, I have enjoyed reading the comments, emails and Twitter-snark that surrounded the back and forth. 

A long while back in a comment thread about a not totally unrelated idea some calling themselves "bert" and Joshua Noble suggested I read Friedrich Kittler's Optical Media, it arrived just in time to comfort me in my defeat. I haven't read far, but here is what I was thinking about when I learned that I would have to start planning a meal for my friends:
Besides the old ritualistic meaning of "carnival progression," the word "theory" - the primary word of Greek Philosophers - meant nothing other than "look," "observe," "a feast for the eyes," or even "pageantry," and first assumed the meaning of "a scholarly teaching"after or through Plato. 
Michelle wrote to tell me it was a "win-win," and I can't agree more. Congratulations Michelle and Bon Ap'!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

What Was The Death Star?

The 1967 desire and the 1977 affect. 

"On August 6, a torch was lighted in Hiroshima, where the first atom bomb had been dropped in 1945. It was flown to San Francisco and on August 27 began its journey to Washington, D.C. On October 20, several hundred people marched to the Justice Department to turn in a thousand draft cards... After the speeches, about 50,000 people set off for the Pentagon. At the other end a group of hippies was trying to exorcize the Pentagon. The brainchild of Abbie Hoffman, the plan was for people to sing and chant until it levitated and turned orange, driving out the evil spirits and ending the war in Viet Nam. The Pentagon didn't move... This demonstration was one of several parallel actions around the world. People in six European countries, Israel, Japan and Australia marched or picketed against the presence of U.S. troops in Viet Nam." Joe Feeman

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

I Want To Be An Old Artist, But Movies Are The Art Of Our Times.

Bill Cunningham New York (2011); Between The Folds (2008)

I saw the Bill Cunningham documentary the night before last, and last night watched a documentary about origami a friend suggested. In Cunningham I saw what I have wanted for myself since I made the decision in my teens to become a studio artist I wanted to be an old artist; to someday be able to look back on a long life of making art. In the origami artists, I was reminded that there are many art worlds, each with their own theories, markets, aesthetic battles, etc. That I chose to move to New York, not because I believed it was the only art world, or even the only art world that matters, but that it was the art world that seemed to offer a place for me and my particular personal aspirations. I am well aware that for an artist to say that movies are the art of our time is counter-intuitive, but at stake is what is great and why.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I Struggle To Believe That Frank Gehry Has The Force

3B6-RA-7 (1977); Frank Gehry, Beekman Tower (2010)
Frank Gehry is an architect I do not feel should be a guilty pleasure, but for some reason, he really really is. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Movies Are The Art of Our Times: A Memoir

The last Supper (1995)

Years ago I was at a dinner party somewhere in the Midwest. I was there for work, and was attending the dinner in my capacity as "the visiting artist." It was far enough from from New York City that I felt a bit like Odysseus, oar in hand. The presence of an artist was a very exotic event for my my fellow diners. New Yorkers do not find artists exotic. Here we are more like pigeons than peacocks. The only mysteries surrounding our lives, is, like pigeons, why you never see baby artists and why are our feet so ugly. But that night I was a visiting dignitary, a representative of a profession, for my land locked companions, I was the proverbial oar.

Movies Are The Art of Our Times: A Theory

Ed Harris playing Jackson Pollock as the genius of the Hamptons; Patrick Stewart playing Gurney Halleck as the war hero of Dune.

Movies do not leap to mind when we think of great art because for over a century most artists, theorists and historians have used the military metaphor of the avant-garde to imagine what is most valuable about the art of our times. Shock troops leading the charge in battle, was never a good metaphor for artistic greatness. It puts the highest value on imagining art as an environments of chaos, as artists as heroic individuals willing to place themselves at the controversial front lines of intellectual life, and over values the most explosive art. The avant-garde misrepresents both modern warfare and modern art. They set us to the task of looking for tall trees (heros and masterpieces), when we should be looking for the greatness of the forest. The art of our time is not a work of art, it is an artform: movies.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Bar Bets Are Dangerous.

The author, magnanimous in victory, with a friend (who I know prefer to remain forever anonymous), in the aftermath of settling a bar bet (I was sure Obama would win way before the primaries had even begun).

A couple weeks ago I made a bet (a bar bet) with my good friend Michelle Vaughan. Michelle is a painter, and she and I were talking about gallery shows, art theory, absolute freedom, arguing truth vs beauty - oh wait, no, we were talking about movies - and I made the off-hand observation that "movies are the art of our time." Michelle is an escapee of LA - and while I am one of those rare New Yorkers who loves LA (it is one of my favorite places), Michelle is not. She is very happy to have escaped a city that revolves around the industry of movie making and to have made a place for her self as a visual artist in a city that revolves around making art - and writing for magazines, and publishing books and a metric shit ton of other stuff, but there is no getting around that there is a greater density of galleries in this city than any other place on the planet (Irving Sandler recently put the count at upwards of 600). New York is an art town, but like everywhere else in the world, the art that New Yorkers consume most passionately are movie (just saying).