Sunday, December 11, 2011

[ 1 4 ] t h e v e r b a l a u t o p s y o f b r e n t s o l n y e r

This introductory paragraph is a preface to the meta-narrative that follows. The following manuscript shall assume the form of critical analysis unto myself, an artist, but through a lens that merges the fantasy into the intellectual. From the second paragraph down, I subtract the identity of my being, re-label my possessions and birth name ethically, and observe who I am from the third-person perspective. This temporal self is transposed into a narrative where in three academic authors the extended-self fancies are engaged in a critique of his beloved artwork. The definition of meta-narrative in this scheme alludes to story created by the mind while it lives in the quintessential narrative that is reality. More concisely, this manuscript is about critical, academic analysis while the artist in reality endures a bona fide critical evaluation. The Verbal Autopsy of Brent Solnyer is a hypothesis designed for recognizing the strongest attributes of one self that existing education can only go so far in endeavoring. I believe the framework of using dreams to pursue a means end emulates, conveniently, a unified ideology of the three authors intervening. Whether these composers of words emerge from death or the present, they serve the singular purpose of lecturing our protagonist with knowledge directly from the human source.
Brent Solnyer clenches in his ghostly, fuzzy palm an ashy latte. As he bears witness to enough glacierious foam parting, a reflection of the cafe window shows progression into night. In a late afternoon hour, as echoes of society signal in array, Brent's mind becomes substantially detached from all senses besides touch. The latte is that mediocre. This feeling of anticipated bitterness carves a significant shadow below alert eyes. Digressing, bad coffee was not the paramount thing fermenting Solnyer's psyche this hour. In Brent's other pale palm, he manages his way through an iTalk 4S. For the indefinite instance in a single hour, his calendar application discloses an IMPORTANT MEETING AT 5:30 to go to. The moody Brent did not bother authoring the meeting's detail space. He knows what details await and felt doing so to be corruptive of the chance event's holiness.

More significantly, this is one of many instances where Mr. Brent Solnyer has interpreted the simulation of his own existence. This belief ferments in the crevice of his mind and devours its ways to sensory knowledge. In only paltry doses, he can rebel against his subversion into commodity by failing to 'fill in' a few steps. Ultimately, the act is hollow and Kamikaze. With the elementary act of holding a latte and fancy phone in parallel palms, this is the facile, emotional portraiture of Brent Solnyer. He is an animus of disassociation from all immediate surroundings, yet observant enough to rationalize the commodity happening about with tangibility. Besides the sense of touch, the sights are unfocused lights, the taste is bitter, the sounds are filtered, and the smell is of death. Thanks to simulation omnipresent, there is no originated truth in society anymore. Brent simply believes this Earth around him is buried in its own spectacle and has activated, if not already reached, the end of potential for ingenuity. Since all creation is a solid success and victoriously committed to memory, these commodified objects mark the end of progressive attitudes and make mausoleums out of civilian architecture. The voices Brent hears in the cafe are a reverberation of revolution's end. He is an artist. He fears with a successful object, he is at once dead.

That was the emotional portraiture of Brent Solnyer. The physical one : He is a Masters of Fine Art candidate at the University of West Oasis, no more than ten paces from the cafe. West Oasis is a miniscule desert city where its main economy takes the form of subversive casinos. These casinos shine everywhere. Brent's meeting in fifteen minutes is with three custom-issued, University holograms designed to enhance the learning experience of all post-graduate students. Schematic of the movement is underscored well in the Spectacle Allocation for Resonating Scholastics (SARS) Act of 2011. Simply put, to rationalize the rising costs of tuition across the nation and find an economically viable method of enhancing knowledge, desperate measures were taken. The regeneration process of transfusing DNA into the shape of holograms was conducted by, the local to West Oasis, Area 51. Naturally, the state of such a secluded military base was the first to employ the resources and West Oasis had a substantial bid. These holograms represent the three heroic authors of Brent's study, and in theory, the neapolitian divisions of his animus. The men are two (dead) French philosophers in Guy Debord and Jean Baudrillard, with living American activist and mass media writer Stephen Duncombe playing wingman. A perk of the SARS Act is that scientists can hologram dead intellectuals past their time. Even more absurd, holograms can be rendered of living intellectuals if they are too busy with their own schedule to attend distant meetings. It is a painful, probing process to undergo for living scholars, but such is the essence of progressivism. The act for replicating the dead into this ghostly form only confirms to Brent the focus of his psyche. Which is, we truly have come into the repetition of all originated nature. The dead themselves are encapsulated into industrialization and society no alternative but to be consumers of their memory. Brent was nonetheless ecstatic to meet his scholarly emblems, yet not the idea of their replication.

This chance visit was contracted following the accomplishment of Brent's solo art exhibit at the WOU's own Project OASIS gallery. This exhibition was entitled Evening Rises, Trapped in Dreams. The centerpiece of this secluded exhibition was a computer game entitled The Sleeper : Participation in the Spectacle which dealt with themes precisely related to intellect merging with fantasy in light of societal commodification. When word reached the public, via independent newspaper article, WOU issued immediately the three most compatible holograms for Brent's protocol critical analysis. The top brass of the department put it in writing and made it official as a supreme bookmark to the end of Brent's first, quite luminous, first semester. In belief, the visit is an experimental exam. The battle is between theories a student learns versus the unprinted source which authored it originally.

Night fell illuminously over West Oasis as Brent decided to pay the check. He walked an even line to his solo exhibition still on display, as he was meeting his three observers in the heart of it. A bronze key turns, reflecting the premature evening, and the door creaks leisurely. He meditated on thoughts from the cafe as he stepped into a black hole. This black hole was his exhibition space. All the walls were painted black, excluding a pale box of light that was a strategic projection of The Sleeper onto white. "All of the information we cherish and recite was taught to us by the current day deceased", Brent whispers with no one around. He felt suddenly disfigured and polarized by what was to occur. Brent commonly addressed matters in an adolescent shade of black versus white. "If I'm going to be critically abused by these gentlemen, that's going to hurt. Yet, if I adorn praise, it means I have solid means towards success, and thus, the formula for replication. Is living death achieved then? If this is a hit, I won't know much else to do with myself." It was a long, arduous wait for the holographic scholars. Brent bathed in the red, giant light of his computer game's projection. He felt devoured by commodity as its artifice engrossed his body.

"All I ask of the West Oasis taxi service is why they insist on replicating the second phase in Simulacrum theory?" asks the pale-blue hologram of Jean Baudrillard in a claustrophobic space. "It is staggering in its encapsulation to not think we could have red taxis, blue taxis, or even a sign on top besides the stripper!" Baudrillard lights a hologram cigarette, which is strangely legal inside of all West Oasis public transportation. The thought proved distasteful, as the taxi was in gridlock containing all three scholars for Brent's critical analysis. The distance was two miles ahead with 5:25 reading on a deliciously analog clock interface. Cautiously light conversation ensues, as the hologram of Guy Debord interjects from in the right side of the back seat. "The whole solidarity of the spectacle is a sham in itself. Yellow taxis are just a marketable ploy. If I understand you right though, Jean, the deconstruction of the taxi barter in West Oasis would lead to revolution and thus a contemporary order reborn for the better of taxi passengers everywhere?" Baudrillard ignites Debord's hologram cigarette with his own cigarettes flare. "Not what I'm saying at all. History is not cyclical. Its been burying itself in the same code since urbanization and arguably before. If one uniform taxi service dies, then another will just replace it. I'm saying to embrace the sorcerer's lie because it will never fade. Distressing the code will cause chaos and not revolution."

Stephen Duncombe feels out of place in this conversation, scrunched on the left side of the back, as his personality is more thoughtful of a tangible reality. Duncombe, more political, secretly enjoys making use of commodity in the everyman's favor. In light of it, he changes the subject for Brent's sake. "Any connection between this taxi business and our boy in the gallery down there? We could lead in with a good joke to save face for being late." Guy Debord squeezes from Baudrillard taking up all the backseat space. "I've heard about this American computer game that the boy has composed. I read the local newsletter in preparation. From what I understand, it seems to embrace intellect and politics in tandem with sensory overload. He does both of the elements at once." Duncombe is relieved he actually garnered a response from his colleague, following it up with another query. "Would you think that might be an agenda to grabbing a crowd more? Appealing to the senses, but also to an academic foundation?" Debord puts out his cigarette. "I'm torn, so I'll have to witness the artwork for myself I suppose. Like the taxi, his game is replicable and can ultimately serve the purpose of capital or some autonomous rule. This can lead to the declination of society and fetishism for the devil. Yet, I know more than anyone that rebellion is a catalyst for revolution and changing of the guard. It may very well be an ironic representation of the society of the spectacle from what I hear of it. I think, in a special way, that this technology he is presenting is Marx. At once framed, but available to the globe. The game-" Debord is stopped when he sees Duncombe checking the time on his hologram smartphone. "Its 5:35", Debord promptly throws out. Baudrillard takes note of Debord's rare asphyxiation with technology. "Hypocrite." "Shut up," Debord whips back. The ride was an insult bistro until the three men were twenty minutes late for the exhibition visit.

Three panting, holographic representations of adult men sprint at the exhibition door. Their translucent blazers fluttered against one another as simultaneous expressions of men who see little physical exercise grimace. Subsequently, the men gather like three, shimmering wise men before a nervous Brent Solnyer amidst the solitude of his exhibition space. The artificial of holographic flashes react blindingly against the tangerine of The Sleeper's projection in darkness. Visualization of the scenery might allude to a magnanimous homage of science fiction films from Brent's past and Baudrillard's present. For a good while, nothing happened between the four of them. There was a surreal, thirty-second silence before anything occurred or something was said. The scholars had immediately shifted into their professional beings, which become condescending representations of their own selves. Luckily for Brent, he spoke the language of representations and did not take long to decipher the gesture. He leapt to the panicky conclusion that he should demonstrate his art game for the men. It did not take long for Brent to wire into virtual reality-

S T Y L I Z E D   G A M E P L A Y  V I G N E T T E

The website logo of Brent Solyner's address soared across the screen in bold, but simple fashion. Then came the opening slides to the story. A frustrated politician is against the will of the audience who seems to be buried in what Guy Debord would call a 'spectacle of society'. This scenario is where the masses are governed by a capitalist, consummation of what is offered versus a democratic activism. This emotion has volcanically erupted from years of build at a city hall meeting where both a school debt crisis exists and the audience is too rabid to assist in the issues. The decision all lies on the shoulder of one politician and he needs to make a decision in one minute before midnight falls tangibly and metaphorically. What occurs in actual game play is the politician's avatar battling his way through sixty levels of sensory overload. The politician, now equipped with boxing gloves of American justice, now destroys figments of the representative spectacles in society in order to discover a solution, an answer, and a revolution within. In order to combat the American distress for the American dream, the politician has a dream to find the answer. In between luscious renderings of Vito Acconcian dreamscape that involve Capitalism stages, rigged quiz levels, and New Wave style boss fights, the visuals and concept are an absurd parody of America.
Whatever emotional anxiety existed for Brent had ceased with the first syllables out of someone's mouth. Those syllables were from Guy Debord, and more recognizably from paragraph number twenty-one of his infamous Society of the Spectacle. "As long as necessity is socially dreamed, dreaming will remain a social necessity. The spectacle is the bad dream of a modern society in chains and ultimately expresses nothing more than its wish for sleep. The spectacle is the guardian of that sleep."[1] Brent performs the rare feat of looking into another person's eyes, possibly supplemented by the fact the Guy Debord he sees is not actually real. "So would you agree, Mr. Debord… that if we are to wake up from this nightmare, then society would become less a degradation of itself? What might happen when we are instructed not to dream as much?" The conversation ensues beyond quotable language. Debord himself affirms that revolution occurs by means of cyclical history after enough or all of society wakes up from its representative dreaming. Debord cites the mutiny of such totalitarian rulers as Stalin or Mussolini. He then recalls the light conversation he had minutes ago in the gridlocked, yellow taxi. Debord beckons to question, "do you think after finishing this layered game that there is a call for revolution and a literal answer for the townspeople's issues?" Stephen Duncombe with a sly smirk adds in. "I'd like to add a question to the matter. Is the revolution positive if it actually exists? I believe in political optimism by means of actual activism and not big talk." In this moment, Solnyer affirms to himself that his embodiment as an artist and his artwork alone is not dead. This was a difficult question to answer, as a first semester Masters of Fine Art candidate, and he had to submit to answering the question the only way he knew how. Brent answered with the truth. "There is no call for a particular revolution at the ending of the game. I only meditate further on the complexities of existence and how dreaming still might be the only progression to success. As for an actual answer, I only allude to austerity, but in my contextual framing I only use it to support the idea of dreaming even more. I believe without political benefits, the imagination takes over."


Every person in the room seems to be scratching their heads at this point. However, all seem to be intent on getting to the bottom of the matter. Debord throws out a positive note before dissecting again the conceptually resurrected Brent Solnyer. "Don't get me wrong, American consumer. The game looks splendid and it brings into question these ideas which are so long dead, as far as I can tell, in society." Debord admires the strife, even in sensory overload, to remain true to a direct concept. This may be supplemented by an outright homage to Debordian films where in-game, boss fights are just black screens with convolutedly humorous battles against picket signs. "I usually left screens black to allow the audience to meditate on their own fetishism for containment, but I suppose the visual is absolute shit in a computer game." Jean Baudrillard throws his cards into the hat. "Society is so layered as it is, too! Forget spectacles! It’s a miracle someone even pays mind to this kind of sacramental encapsulation that has existed since urbanization! With the world so buried up its own ass in capitalistic rule, we need certain kinds of activism to reach the minds of the willfully naive! Even if it does not actually solve anything. To call attention to the matter while industrialized in endless code alone is a wonderful initiative." As Brent suspected, he was about to bombarded by compliments for the visualization of the game, which he always pays particular attention to. Duncombe took special fancy to the artwork, which underscored his own theses on how the political left needs to escape bureaucracy and appeal again to the masses. He taps the game's instruction manual that contains a silhouette image of the politician falling into endless sky while abandoning a suitcase.

Duncombe scholastically advances on Brent on. He confers into debate technical decisions for the cerebral computer game. Duncombe quotes one of his own passages.  "What does this mean for progressives? Fashioning a politics that leans from and draws upon the popular attraction of video games means considering more than just end goals." [2] There continues to be elaboration that open world gaming alludes to how issues in America need to be solved not by direct conclusion, but by open world abstraction allowing democracy to breathe in participatory effort. It is this moment Duncombe puts forth a shocker to Brent. "So why a platforming game versus an open world sandbox game?" It was a question worth ten thousand dollars, and again, Brent could not reply with any other answer than concrete fact. "I chose platforming because the point I'm making would be more narrow, I think open availability in video games is overrated and detracts from a linear message, and it matched up perfectly with my visual capabilities at the time." Duncombe then reaffirms what Debord suspected earlier. "Yet, your ultimate point is a meditation on what could be and not an actual answer. While calling to attention the matter is noble in itself, I think a sandbox-style exploration would better suit your effort for open world question-asking." The penny dropped for young Brent Solnyer there, and he accepted the probability he would need to change further in his art career. It was a bittersweet realization for Brent. On the bad hand, yet somehow optimistic realm, this epiphany calls for Brent to recalibrate his arsenal of game making techniques for the better. This is even after he did so in attentive manner during his first semester at WOU. Yet on the absolute positive side, it means he is consistently progressing as an artist and not dead by any means of success or otherwise in his perusing for aesthetic conclusiveness. He came of age. Information is not dead. Information exists as time does itself. Brent accepted Duncombe's criticism.

Jean Baudrillard emphasizes his agreement with the matter, but with his own nomenclature. "There is a strength in referencing the certain Simulcara of mass media with media itself. Yet, in order to tap into the ecstasy that society seems to be consumed by, I should think it would be at its strongest by using a medium just as wide and expansive as that. Even though the technology you're working with is compatible with society at infinite speed, you can go even further and I encourage it. An online game is available to all, but is only participatory by one person at a time. No one person participates in the simulation alone. We're all referenced and immortalized together." Baudrillard realizes he's out of holographic cigarettes and it is almost time to go. "I find the absolute strength in challenging what you are challenging. There is no mistake about that, son. Yet, for the remainder of your degree, and I see this potential in you, you can go much, much deeper.  I think of you as a post-modernist in the most acute aura working with tools you possess. The technology itself you throw on the world's canvas speaks volumes. All you need to do is put your material out there with as little layers as possible and the coded masses will understand. This is coming from a guy too who all but worships the idea of society buried in code, kid." Jean Baudrillard was essentially entrusting Brent Solnyer to hammer against the wall of digital code with encompasses history and all, in spite of his theoretical warning not too. "I think, kid, we've reached a point where there's a fifth step after simulation. That step is deconstruction."

Brent Solnyer understood how his exhibition was a success, but it was far from the naive conclusion of the deceased object he feared. It was successful, but at once, tangible until infinity in tandem with a constantly rebuilding world of reprints, commodification, and Simulcara. Brent, after all, was interacting with holograms. These representations are artificial but can eventually take shape of truth. "Mr. Baudrillard?" Brent raises like his newfound epiphany. "In closing, what happens when I do find that type of mass media which informs the mass media I strive for? Do I become the useless artist afterward, having been successful and marked my territory for life?" All three men laugh with an old jackal's esthetic. Baudrillard, being the closet elitist he is, ends on a self-quote. "For ethnology to live, its object must die. But the latter revenges itself by dying for having been discovered, and defies by its death the science that wants to take hold of it." [3] The whole act of an artist reacting to critical analysis, and art as a whole, made more sense to Brent. He premeditated the answer all along. Its confirmation only took a fake representation of the deceased. "Look at us, kid. We're dead, we're being resurrected by some kind of fetishism for academics, but we aren’t complaining about it. Being dead has its advantages. You leave a legacy. To be blunt, you're history." All three holograms stumble out of the exhibition space, handkerchief's to sky blue sweat. Duncombe scratches the artifice of his head. "But I'm still alive. My living self teaches in a-" "Shut up", Baudrillard interjects.

Works Cited

[1] Debord, Guy. Society of the Spectacle. Canberra, Australia. Treason Press. 2002. Print.

[2] Duncombe, Stephen. Dream : Reimagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy. New York City, NY. New Press. 2007. Print.

[3] Baudrillard, Jean. Simulations. Los Angeles, CA. Semiotext(e). 1983. Print.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

[ 1 3 ] d r e a m , r e i m a g i n i n g . . . i n a n a g e o f f a n t a s y

Dream : Reimagining Progressive Politics in an Age of Fantasy... Is a book I would strongly recommend even as an entry into the world of politics for the growing mind who may be lost in its many tunnels, streams, and deltas. Or even someone who may perceive politics to be simultaneously evil but in the same instance necessary to keep order in reality. This is a book about revisualizing, politically, what the liberals/left need to do in order to reinstate their claim at the top of the game. Keeping in mind this book was written in 2007, the book would have entirely different ramifications today with current events such as the twilight of Obama's first (last?) term as president and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

In the art context, this is visualized in a whole new phenomenon : how the post-modern world can recapture what it meant to say when "life imitates art" and by my own imagination "art should not belong to the rich". Art should be utilizing the progressive forms and transmission of imagination we've come to expect from a modern society and make it its own strength rather than a liability. The old axiom is that purists reject technology for its ease, while artists born into the digital age reject modernism (lets boil it down to that word) for being behind a certain time. This is the battle between left and right for me, who often times needs a little sugar to swallow the medicine of (often times evil) politics. What we need is a "dreampolitik" : something that will keep progressivism interesting while being "cool" to the everyman which is represented by the purists. This is just the same with art itself and what ultimately translates to the aesthetic zeitgeist. Post-modernism in its anything-goes aura needs to find a way to maintain its safeness without A.) falling into a total capital mode of sustainment and B.) recapturing why we fell in love with art in the first place : imagination. Not to be confused with creativity, because good art always has an element of that. But 'imagination'… The inner self… The 'everyman'. Said best by Jean Jacques Rousseau : "Man is his own politics against superstition and guessing." Life is a series of compromises. Life is a series of superstitions that might leave the human empty and guessing when it comes time to "think for themself". We need a 'dreampolitik' to unify the everyman and the professional.

Its so real... But its so not. A unification
of intellect and emotions. Playing at our desires.

Society and politics tend to gravitate towards fact over fantasy. We see the fantasy as a distraction from politics, but if there's a spectacle in reality (grounded heavily there, for example Terry Schiavo). Art could  find a way to create this spectacle in common form, without of course, being tasteless with the subject matter. Spectacle is our way of making sense of the world. Reality needs fantasy to make it desirable as fantasy needs reality to make it believable. Bhagavad gita inspires politics for being a ruling spectacle of biblical proportions. The church is tied to the state which constantly reinspires the state and gives order. There are forms of very personal belief inspiring the formal order, strengthening it. When one side has evidence and another side has a narrative, there is a juxtaposition of force in narrative's favor. You wanna see a movie? Fahrenheit 9/11 or Braveheart?

The narrative speaks to the mind of the fantasy and yearning for spectacle, where as evidence is unmodular (Re: evolution vs. creationism, and especially Re: it in the Bible Belt.) Makes me wonder if society is ultimately in favor of modernism.. With the self-contained fantasy winning. Perhaps its chalked up to dystopia and we're seeking for the 'spectacle' to win out. Bush won by catering to the everyman (spectacle) versus John Kerry whom emphasized the spectacular self (the war hero). Who knows if Kerry would have ended up being a good/bad president, taking out of account specific details of flip-flopping and etc. It could even be argued Obama's victory (especially by heavy, right wing enthusiasts) be called a 'spectacle' victory. Marshall McLuhan, mass media writer, is quoted in the book (in paraphrase) that, "ultimately the politician will be all too fast to abdicate his politics in favor of his own image." Its on a scale now where it is certainly probable. As a matter of fact, isn't that what politics is all about? How evil! How.. distant from the everyman in fact. LIke an artist out of touch with their public, the politician might need to do just the same to unbury what has been buried. Whatever plethora of things that might be.

Appeal both to reason.. And the average homeboy.

Truth happens to an idea. You create a myth to reel the people in. One of the most effective ways to persuade people are to tap into their dreams. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend. Only imagery matters. Just as the book discusses advertising (in regard to politics)..  "Sublimation and Redirection." Targeting our needs and using them to promote. Just like the zeitgeist process… Eliminating aesthetics when old with modern ones. Adverisement is a web of broken promises bouncing off one another. When one aspect of believablity fails, you'll plummet quickly to believe another one, and another one. This is what the current politics scene tends to be, and its vague, since mistakes are extended over a period of time in the form of wars and policies passed on the Senate floor. We don't see results of pain right away… its a slow burn. I might attribute this in art to the lessened ability to accept criticism, especially in a younger generation (I sense) which is more excitable than the rest. When mistakes are made, artists need to suffer for it. Not particularly alone with fantasy or with society to cope quickly.. but as a dreampolitik where they adhere "yes my imagination is still golden, it just needs to be readjusted to fit the norm. I'm alright."

Back to the in-tolerance of criticism… Of all places, I notice this in video games and more so online. The youth are in part being raised by this sense of fantasy (the book) being buried in the mundane and hardships (growing) of reality. Thus, deepest desires (eros and thantos) expressed on screen. Buddhism/reincarnation, oldest concepts which can predate simulation, are related to dying in a video game. It is the magic circle- a circle where the outside world doesn't exist. Participation is a key to progressivism and not the myth of it. But sometimes… participation (like video games) can lead to self-indulgence and separation from society even when so connected to it. Being "so close but so far". This is where the book argues that liberals are disconnected from the public and I think post-modernism might be disconnected from the public. By too much accessibility and "anything goes"… it is a certain pigeonhole into not knowing where to go next. Its as if its no more surprises… Like our lives, like a sandbox video game, and predetermined and simulated for us to wander through. Everything is handed to us, like a safe liberal doing so, and we don't care because "we expect it". I'm not saying set the world on fire, but light a small fire under our accessibility in art to give it more structure and possibility draw the line between accessibility to everyone but more defined levels of class and difficulty both on the imagination and craft front where they are recognized with valor.. rather than only by the hour. Time is illusion to the free mind. Time exists to the contained. Wouldn't it beautiful to be constantly in midnight? Especially as the end is drawing near in some minds…

Available for download on !

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

[ 1 2 ] r e g a r d i n g t h e p a i n o f o t h e r s

Susan Sontag questions the empathy for which we, notably from this reader's perspective as an American, question the well being of affairs abroad and as so foreign policy. The book highlights importantly how war in nations far away our own, or even close, affect our perceptions of the world and how we should attack them aesthetically. The book makes a sound argument for photography being the strongest representation of humanity maiming one another for causes out of their control and causes directly in the control of their superiors. I personally limit this not just to war itself.. as a possible means of not acknowledging it.. even though it is clearly there. 

But I acknowledge natural disaster and economic woes as well. The latter can be attributed to war (not argument here) but a tsunami on Pacific shores certainly cannot. So how do we treat these then? Even the pain not caused by a firm hand (war) but arguably God's hand (natural disaster) out of control? Where do we feel more empathy than the other? Do we look at pain caused by war with more disgust because we can control it, or ignore it more because its a construct of humanity and we can't 'look at ourselves' that way? Just the same with natural disaster... look firmly with lament because no one is to blame for it or turn away because for the very same reason?

Its hard to look, yes. But its the 21st damn century.
You can write these people 'get well' cards for 5 minutes.
There's no guilt in looking at these images. No one's to blame.

In regard with Susan Sontag's "Regarding the Pain of Others", I notice a strong characteristic of photography (more specifically, the documentative photography witnessed) that removes the artist his/herself from their perception of fantasy and places it in a realm of reality. Even going so far as to give the artist another occupation from the certain techniques these daunting images need to be handled. It could be asked if photographer or documentarian is a blanket term for a certain amount of emotional or social counseling, and thus, having empathy for pain of others.

A quote on page 42. "Perhaps the only people with the right to look at images of suffering of this extreme order are those who could do something to alleviate it- say, the surgeons at the military hospital where the photograph was taken- or those who could learn from it." The more this fermented in my mind, the more being a photographer in this postmodern or 'reality' era entails stepping outside of the self as an artist and accepting alternative occupations for proper rendering of this newfangled reality. 

It could be argued concerning pain for other's through art is a form of being a lawyer… in which one might, against their natural or cosmic self, have to side with an erroneous or painful thought in order to prosper in society. Just as with the surgeon analogy… analyzing the organs which should not be seen by any decent human but themselves.

Surgeons. Artists of the ongoing 21st century?
In a precarious time of growing war and dystopia?

A book read too by this collective panel is "The Railway Journey" by Wolfgang Schievelbusch. In regard to this statement, the book makes a bold claim about the annihilation of time and space in between cities through the development of the steam engine through the 19th century. This is relevant in the 21st century, for with the death of space in between spaces, the idea of taking time to create an artistic or even romantic sense of fantasy is becoming more difficult to attain. Immediacy is key, especially in a precarious world, leaving not just the artist to render but the nearest possible citizen to analyze the proverbial spectacle, or flavor of the month. 

The discerning of the photographer as an occupation from all other occupations becomes more and more difficult as the craft itself is commodified. This could be argued for all art as well, I suppose, in an age of DIY. The question I might pose, that is if photographers (or artists) who want to empathize with the pain of the world, can they accept the ideology or technique of another job's purposes to truly 'feel sorry for' or can they simply be the machine and no more?

This robot clearly doesn't have feelings.
Perhaps its up to the person operating
the robot to give it feelings. Like in that
episode where he was implanted with an
empathy chip and went into the sewers..

In the end, the Marxist's believed that art should not be contained without the self in fantasy (Sontag argues that to be part of the issue) but out in public as art imitating life and sharing a collective whole imagination with society. We could even throw a big part of that aside. It shouldn't even be a question if art should or should not have feelings for humans or even things. Humans always should. Prime rule. For modernists and post-modernists alike. Its hard for either class to go against the grain so vehemently.. as in life.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

[ 1 1 ] r e l a t i o n a l a e s t h e t i c s

Nicolas Bourriaud, author of the recent Radicant (and one of my personal favorite readings), comes across with Relational Aesthetics : this sense of the visual frame or zeitgeist which is shared by near all of humanity in effort to not only share a strong sense of community and coexistence with another but reject the idea of being formatted by a sense of capital game or even social construct. It can be quite a sprinting around in circles, as it is arguable that art has shaped society itself and that ultimately all art is relational. But this discussion is not about art as a whole, but with art as an aesthetic device dealing with (in a way) the collaborative efforts of society at large and having them DIY so the art they search for delivers unto them the most personalized meaning they could possibly attain.

Having a discussion in public on the matter, several artists were come across, and notably Jeff Koons was on the list. Controversial as it seems, Jeff Koons is a poster child for the idea of relational aesthetics (and in the same instance the most ironic at that). He is using a factory set-up of workers and young students/young random people alike to create convoluted work that either references some ridiculously out-of-place aesthetic or self-serving homage to Koons himself, even though he barely placed a finger on the work itself.

This immediately makes me draw allusions to that of a more commodified or 'mainstream' mode of working, not unlike that seen of such locales as a Disney studio or a film set. Its a single director calling the shots while, to a less romantic but true degree, his minions are doing all the technical specialties for him. Is there any evidence Jeff Koons can do any of this himself? It ultimately boils down to 'does it matter?' Well, if I want to like or not like him, yes I think it does matter considerably. In film its easy. We know the director went through digging in the dirt to learn his wares, from the telephoto lens to the 80-foot-high crane shot. He or she would either know these techniques or perish while trying to make a coherent craft. Contemporary art is different. Since it imitates life to dearly around the turn of the 70s, it takes less than a strong imagination combined with technical prowess to accomplish goals but rather a more aware mind of the world outside of themselves. This begs even further the question of if Jeff Koons is capable or not of being 'an artist'.

The contemporary art equivalent of Tommy Wiseau.

All this talk defend Koons (I'll stay on him for a bit) praises him for being able to 'game the system'. Okay. So who outside the art world cares? This is one of those instances where the adolescent cry of "I don't get it" has validity, whether its age 10, 20, or the outsider in their 40s. Art should be designed to alter reality and give beautiful (or just the opposite, with similar poignant effect) perspectives on the world lived in, whether it be modernist or post-modernist (both classifications achieve this in one way or another). It can be considered a masturbatory affair where the worst of both pre-mentioned classifications are taken out and placed into a category : Koonianwerk. You have the self-indulged craft for craft's sake of modernism and the gross meta-art indulgence post-modernism brings. I can understand gaming the system exists in all races of labor in life. The white-collar that cons his company for thousands and gets away with it isn't sung any praises (I should hope so, for his/her sake). And I praise the person who cons the art game... for the BETTER. Rebellion and question of power should come at advance guard to something more productive, and not be fist pumping for fist pumping sake (re: craft for craft's sake). If its only asking questions and while not instigating change, especially while only deconstructing a system, it has no place being a detriment to those who depend on the culture. Change is good, only for the better.

Can you imagine this guy shouting
"war is bad!" but issuing more troops. Well..
for the most part, we don't have to imagine..

To quote the book itself, "If, for a long period of time, the artwork has manage to come across as a luxury, lordly item in this urban setting... the development of the function of the artworks and the way they are shown attest to a growing urbanization of the artistic experiment." All this is saying as we are becoming a participatory spectacle where the idea of D-I-Y has become not just a dream but accessibility. People besides the artist his or her self can experiment whether the artist likes it or not. The weaver of media just needs to in this manner to adapt rather than fall behind in a lightwave of time, becoming the legacy and not the present. The present is in fact 'legacy' and nostalgia for the past is ill advised, since the present is just a simulation of the successes the past gave us. There certainly is a market in relishing in the romantic past and reselling it to the present, but I deem that all too precarious. Even from an interactive viewpoint (re: video games and intellectual properties). The idea of selling 'retro' to the present in all its shifting desires seems like skating on a bridge of ice over the heart of the Arctic. It, strangely enough, would seem even a safer bet to ride not just (or not at all) the wave of the present, but look to the future from the present using experimental tests based on what knowledge we know. Success by bringing the past to the present ignoring relational aesthetics? Miniscule and momentary. Success by bringing the present to the future taking into account a more global viewpoint? You 'are' the bookmark in history, not matter how big or small. You were a part of it, not unlike an historic election or turning on the TV to discover cars are electric.

Only by 2-6 souls will actually step foot on this.
But to be a part of the stream witnessing it and
amplifying it with aesthetic tribute is a positive rush.

[ 1 0 ] h a s m o d e r n i s m f a i l e d ?

Has modernism failed? No shit. But this book, in the contemporary context, isn't asking about 'what ifs'. Its about formulating the backbone and "why is" for why post-modernism is such a predominant force in our culture and art (and for certain people, how it might even allude to post-post modernism, but that's another story). First published in 1984, scribed by the author Suzi Gablik, it begins to suspect to transition from craft for ultimately craft's sake and internal meaning towards witnessing capital defining the craft and meaning becoming extroverted to a mass, societal zeitgeist.

It all starts with Marcel Duchamp, as always does most conversations involving mod/post-mod. The first instance where we see the object becoming alienated from the craft which created it, because it is arguable that there is any craft at all. Yet, the object is altercating meaning in society, so who is one to argue that art must simply be a painting or drawing concealed in the proverbial squared circle? On page 24, the Marxists have something to say along this issue as well, in which "art for art's sake is corrupt". In laymen's terms, as if that weren't simple enough, art simply for the self gain and self exploration is trash, while art that serves the community and collective thought is ideal.

Public enemy number one.

And it is quite easy to get buried within that precariously metaphorical grave of only serving the self. First, one must overcome their own medium and transpire that into relating to the body of knowledge outside of themselves. A name for the medium they must overcome is 'style', which is quite a double edged blade, where in style may detract relational aesthetic it gains in personal strength and message. If you will, a personal emotion the artist has invested in the work versus only being a tool of society. Once that tightrope is walked, then another by the name of 'the self identity' must be crossed, which also relates quite wholesale to style. With just as many ramifications towards investing the self in a piece... The self identity may be relatable to more of a genre of class than we may think, and it may depend wholesale on current societal dys/utopia, but in the end a higher percentage of viewers may 'miss the point' because they are not who the artist is.

King of cinematic stylists. Yet relatable as holy f---.

In such a same instance, one might find it easy to stay clear of a system of the system and just continue to do style and style alone easily because it is a tempting matter. This is very inaccurate. Susan Sontag herself, a photographic theorist, would definitely agree that photographs are a form of capitalistic venure where its constant barrage and flow creates a spectacle out of world events which allows the ruling class to keep surveillance on the world and media. Surveillance is the key word here, where the artist is simply not allowed to retreat inside his or herself like an all-romantic fantasy any longer. Whatever must flow into the machine of knowledge must have relevance to this wide body of knowledge, and such, a larger percentage of the unfamiliar and 'pre-constructed thought' is left, as Kaprow would mention, to die in the gallery once it has been submitted forever for incarceration.

A solution is to begin finding spaces which do not recontextualize the object into a self-serving one (as in, a possible self-serving gallery space), but spaces which ultimately serve the need of a world constantly under surveillance and need for relational aesthetic as opposed to 'original' aesthetic. Which is most everything modernism stood for : the powerful auteur who could only create originality. Not to say nothing anymore is original, but no matter how innovative something in the 21st century looks, it is a reference point back to an original simulation.

Trying to steal from the store of 'indulged fantasy'? Hard these days.

I think about the idea of simulation itself, in regards to modernism/post-modernism, it terms of collecting intellectual property for one's self and not letting that copyright material get into the wrong hands (which are any hands but the own hands). How much of that 'intellectual property' can one person actually call their own? This is where mere intent escapes as a scape goat for the artist because that doesn't work in the world of dollar bills (because everything is commodified right?... we can put price tags on it?...). Everything seems appropriated, and my fear of it is that anything original in this modern age will in turn be 'unoriginal'.. In which there's a 'lack of it'. Whatever will be innovated is just a play off something that existed before. Whatever is new is a re-render of something retro. And whatever that is actually innovative will be in too meager amounts of a more glamourous time... Until the art game (society?) itself is reversed on its polars and has a epiphany of cataclysmic proportions.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

[ 0 9 ] s i m u l a t i o n s

Simulations, by Jean Baudrillard, is a meditation on the fact that it is useless to meditate for there is no origin to be found of the objects of society or our own identities. There was an origin, make no mistake, but beyond that in certain spades and until when the industrial age changed the game, everything has become a reiteration and coded modulation of the lawful, governing body which came before it in order to supposedly make utopia not such a far instance. But like a typical comic book villain or even a naive child who brandishes the paintbrush, not every instance of simulation and image viewing is truthful or righteous.

We want you to believe we're not paying any ta-.. Well that's another story.

This simulation of lifestyles and humans themselves speak volumes about art. I'm thinking less in modes about the originality and postmodern aspects of art, but more closer to the actual inception of craft and difficulty scale in art. The difficulty in art has become simulated through time as we enunciate on the possibilities of its rendering. A fine art drawing, with the right mechanical DNA, can be done in seconds. A movie, with simply a group of friends and the right SLR HD camera, can be simulated on the level equal to or better than Hollywood. Levels of difficulty unknown. Hyperreal standards which is becoming of all mediums in art. I don't know who to trust when it comes to critiquing a film anymore. Was that genius pan shot I just saw some idiot sliding the camera across his kitchen counter?

I'm not against the idea of it... Its just making a spectacle of the institution.
Which is inevitably swallowed itself by the simulation.

It often times requires blood and death to reinvigorate the cycle of power and simulation. Relating back to the CYCLICAL HISTORY of the Debordian spectacle, rebirthing once people realize and start revolution. When the spectacle is at its weakest, so is a simulation. A spectacle is easier to manifold than a simulation. Hence, failing the real, here we must aim at order. And that order may entail some gruesome things when it gets written on paper. Tormenting the dead in order to allign the past into a commodifiable and ductile object for craft. Reutilizing the essence of the 'perfect Indian' for historical romanticism, for example. They used to be quite the savages as far as legitimate historical documents is concerned. But as the book mentions Disney, Disney itself saw to it the Indians were human enough in its own iteration of Pochahontas. As a matter of fact, Disney is the Kong-Kong of simulcara. Disney referenced the not-so-immediate past and made, not a societal mockery of it, but a 'rejuvination' of it by recalling its tale. Its almost as if it were Disney's intellectual property as they recalled it in digital animated form. And we all know how representative 24 fps is... Digitalry is psychoanalyitic like film (Walter Benjamin)… We are the variables this endless code is tested against, resulting in constantly differential outcomes. Past industry, we now modulate what tests do to us and only through extensive recording can tell what is to be simulated as good and truth. It requires a break in history to readjust everything.

But every history is a malleable form, itself. I think about it in terms of legacies, in a certain way, or eras of past civilization which we 'presume' are the originals.  The concept of legacy in itself is arguable, in which it may consist as an element of social construct. Placed within the fine arts context, and most succinctly a post-modern age involving digital aesthetic, the idea of the self contained imagination is no longer of relevance in a world of shorter distances from city to city. This is relevant to the legacy of art, for we see a clashing point between an era where the imagination was cherished versus an era where our lives and common things we to may very well be 'art itself'. Just as importantly, this is relevant to legacies in a global society where we witness a superflous amount of ideas being appropriated from dynasties which emerged prior to our own. The difficulty for individuals to attain their own dynasty is extreme, for probable vectors of origin are now being occupied by past accomplishment. Thus, the challenge for global society, which runs parallel to the art world, in finding its own definite legacy in time is more difficult without either subtracting lucrative material (art imitating life) or simply falling into dystopian themes. In short, legacies of the romantic yesteryear are challenged to take concrete form in modern living, since their ideas are already realized repeatedly by a sort of trial-and-error.  This naive spectacle can be attributed to never finding the origin point of creation lawfully or aesthetically. Are the grand legacies we consider timeless and without peers just a simulation of something which occured beforehand?

To finish with... I found an instance of hyper-hyper realism. Pro wrestling… Is as real as it gets. Some say it is fake, but its just as "real" as any movie, television show, or fiction novel you'll read… And then some. It is the closest to original, as the neanderthal expression of people telling stories with their bodies relate back to the stone age. It is "very" aware of its own simualtion, recording its own history, and becoming its own bubble. The stories are fake. The pain is real. A hyper-hyper simulation.

Gee that sure looked fake. Just as fake as your Harry Potter, you snobby hypocrite.
(Apologies to the reader if they are not a snobby hypocrite.)

Friday, October 28, 2011

[ 0 8 ] i n s i d e t h e w h i t e c u b e


Portland's Holy [Art] Space

I have come to a certain truth where in the most important rooms a person will walk into, in this life, are remembered from the information one inserts into it as opposed to being force fed the information. I remember my experiences in Portland while surveying its streets and array of gallery bravura. After the excursion, I came to realize that these white spaces, and thus the walls artists create their work inside, are a nexus between Earth and heaven with its own by-laws and intuitive government operating it. I infiltrate these white spaces and it moves me to discern some set of unwritten rules that are enforced in both gallery and holy church alike. Invented laws that I could think of may include “thou shalt not put hands on the grail/ pedestals” or “obey the context in which our thoughts are presented or do not enter henceforth”. To the typical John or Jane Smith who is simply admiring the work, it is an effortless, clear matter of obeying these commandments that instantaneously remove itself from reality. Yet for the artist to fit within the holy space, the idea of entrusting in a white walled context may conclude at discontent towards personal identity, disembodiment from original intent in a new simulated world, and the precariousness of losing sight of reality while pursuing art. In a post-modern age, art is most certainly about imitating life as life is about imitating art. Yet, in the pursuit of imitating 'reality', these attempts take on superficial forms themselves which can end up being self referential and often intolerant of the world outside of them. I think of the positive and negative connotations this might have in reference to convoluted spaces such as a gallery space or holy church. Brian O' Doherty's concepts in his book Inside the White Cube have just as much relevance in the art world today as religion does in the world today : a very substantial amount. I was invited after reading to reconfigure how I percieved both.

Over the period of three days, I adopted three galleries (respective to each day touring in Portland) for critical and practical reflection. I'll clearly establish each gallery as a simultaneous bio with criticism and why they are like the proverbial holy temple. Each of the three obtain a very noticable similarity for they all strive for ‘the neutral zone’. All the while, all three still have very separate notions of paperwork, bureaucracy, or even politics which surround keeping a gallery alive in midst of metropolitan overcrowding. This is one instance where my perception of these exhibition spaces change in regards to O'Doherty's theses on the white cube. Politics, in an age since the 90s (beyond O'Doherty's time), has begun to take over the art scene as a means of keeping it economically viable and commercial. Thus, the easier model between modernism and post-moderism for keeping this model afloat is the former. Modernism entails a sense of the artist absorbed into their own creative fantasy. This notion rejects the Marxist by-law that art should be a public affair outside of one's own romantic wishes. This is how I see both holy church and gallery operating in the contemporary age : for the most part shut out and convoluted from society. "Either be contextualized in the space or be excommunicated" is what the gallery walls beckon to artists. Naturally, with such a contained realm inside itself seeking monetary reward or some backing to keep itself alive, political gaming will come into play within its own walls which have no relevance to anyone outside of that magic circle. This is where I find the gallery space detrimental to the art in its pure context, in much kindred liking to the holy church where religion in America is not a part of state. It is up to the artist to interpret society with their own worlds and not the cathedral that houses them. When a gallery that houses work does this is when art becomes a precarious tool.

Evidence of the Modernist perspective reviving itself this prevalent day and age is The Museum of Contemporary Craft. The gallery is a successful place within the city repression with, as one would guess, a heavy legacy concerning craft and a very extensively framed solidarity towards history in lieu of progressive movement. O’Doherty writes that, “with postmodernism, the gallery space is no longer "neutral". The wall becomes a membrane through which esthetic and commercial values osmotically exchange (79)”. This statement does not implicate that Modernism is dead, but humorously enough, that Modernism is absorbed into Post-Modernism. Modernist commercial value, history included, may be marketed to the public eye for profit. The gallery currently houses four exhibits in a two-story building, of which, two I will select for reference. I will put a vignette on Cutting Her Own Path which is a retrospect highlighting the cut-out craft of Nikki McClure and Northwest Modern which is a self-reliant document of the museum’s ceramic displays from the year 1950 to 1964. Of the three galleries, I feel MOCC will most exemplify my vision of the gallery space being simultaneously holy and militaristic. In this scenario, militarism applies to an artist’s work and how it endures a brash recontextualization from studio to gallery or gallery to gallery. Just as a human cannot switch from religion to religion without understanding a monothestic law for both, the artist cannot go from a gallery to gallery without understanding the same autonomy as well. If it is a different space it is a different military for sake of the gallery.

The second gallery I highlight, following the day of observing MOCC, is The Disjecta. For scale comparison, The Disjecta is only one floor tall but makes up for that in the expansion of space across ground floor to equal that of the total mass of MOCC. Refurbished from an old bowling alley, the focus of The Disjecta frames itself in a manner toward public service and accessibility for both local Portland artists and established artists by special application, invitation, or both. Rather than a militaristic temple of art-holiness, The Disjecta serves as more of a sanctuary for the weary artist whom with the offering of an application may work in a miniscule penny-per-square-foot studio. The exhibition on display was an installation and mixed media set by Iranian-American, University of Oregon professor Tannaz Farsi. Her display illuminates what it means to live the American dream. Immigration, with themes of entering alienated realms, finds a home entering alienated spaces such as the art gallery. By natural situation, the immigrant finds his or her self already recontextualized being in another country apart from their own. I find it to be an intriguing sense of meta-art having an immigrant be an immigrant to the gallery space. I should think, ironically, the person who knows least about their surroundings (the foreigner in a gallery) is less susceptible that the religious laws which govern the gallery may be too demanding. I predict travel abroad not just for artist or missionary alike, but all educated people, will become wildly popular.

Lastly, we shift scale to a much more humble gallery in size with the Fourteen30. The smaller space, which is roughly the size of a gas station, emphasizes the importance of filling the white space with ‘thought’ versus ‘craft’ and how such a bantam exhibition ground is run by not a collaborative brain but a single, possibly objective, curator. On display at the time was a modest, but intellectually selective, painting exhibit by Grier Edmundson where in the lawful way of seeing the white wall was violated when the artist made his own darkly textured wallpaper to occupy the walls. This is in opposition to an eggshell white religiously washing the walls clean, giving false avenue of uncontextualizing space. The wallpaper put forth by the artist recontextualizes its own presence and derives the gallery of an opportunity to draw first blood with its own history. The Fourteen30 gallery is an almost sacrilege example of not the holy temple defining the disciples of artists within, but the disciples deciding what is preached. What they preach is simple : art.

I find it a great leaping off point to bring into discussion how the artist may alter their lucid, daunting surroundings with their work rather than becoming victim to them. I spoke directly with the curator of the Fourteen30 Jeanine Jablonski and she tells me that Edmundson was the first of her artist roster in a period of time to attempt the task of doing the wallpaper act. In reference to the initial Salon de Refuses instigated by painter Jean Courbet in 1855, O’Doherty explains, “I suspect he did nothing startling; yet it was the first time a modern artist (who happened to be the first modern artist) had to construct the context of his work and therefore editorialize about its values (24).” I critique that the decision of Edmundson to mask the white away from the status quo of white walls was simultaneously hysterical and dynamic, just as much as it was for Courbet when he first did so as a rejected dreamer of Modernism. I conclude that Edumundson’s decision to perform this act was not birthed out of rejection but as an accepted rejection. This artist rejected the by-laws of the holy temple and did not become governed by unwritten passages which dictate them. The eye is betrayed because the formality of presentation, much like the morning shower routine, is cast aside. Staying with that metaphor, its like taking a long, hot bath when you have to be at the office in ten minutes. Meanwhile, the romantic spectator whom reports as an outsider and not with insider knowledge becomes bewildered since there is context behind the wallpaper decision outside of their grasp (or at least content they cannot understand). The context of which is nearly immature irony; the paintings themselves were simply blunt, colorful lines on a big canvas. “The Eye looks down on the spectator; the spectator thinks the Eye is out of touch with real life. The comedies of the relationship are of Wildean proportions; an Eye without the body and a body without much of an Eye usually cut each other dead (O’Doherty, 50)”. Edmundson finds a helix of solace in the midst of this civil war. The eye is flabbergasted as its religious monocole snaps in two whilst the spectator has no earthly clue what to make of it from heart (without intellect) alone. As an artwork, I find his exhibition abysmal. Yet, for rejecting the holy temple considering the exhibition as a work of art in itself, it is glorious. Form is certainly content if there is an effort made to connect dots from discovery to realization. In many ways, it is the mantra of post-modernism. At times, we don't know if we can classify this wallpaper act as art because it emulates so tightly the notion of life. This undeniably creates a magicial entity, altering in one stroke our considerations of how to analyze not just the artwork in a holy space but the holy space itself. The space around the artwork should not be exempt from the artwork, and it would be naive to excommunicate as so.

Coincidentally, the Museum of Contemporary Craft has its own cyclical battle with the Wildean proportion of chasing one’s own ass. Take for instance the dual exhibition in MOCC of Nikki McClure’s signature paper cut outs and the historical, self-reference of its own ceramic exhibition history. The issue, respectively, with each is that it either represents such a barbaric retreat to a spectator sport of craft enjoyment or celebrating the eye that commands the holy church/gallery. The fourteen-year document of ceramics in the MOCC involves the display of large, vintage photographic prints of jurors analyzing these pots, ceramics on pedestals arranged aesthetically, and books of recorded information surrounding the installation and destruction of each piece throughout the years. To my critique, this is meta-art in the distasteful sense. The idea of a curator celebrating the work of a curator in a live gallery while hundreds, if not thousands, of ambitious artists are waiting their turn in the wing to express their wares are left space-less is a crime of limiting creativity. With the limitation of creativity comes the rise of bureaucracy and politics which will in turn become a new sliding scale on how artworks will be accepted in the future towards these holy temples. The idea of this gallery regenerating within itself apart from life as a whole almost alludes to academia where the teaching happens nowhere but within itself. Ben Shahn writes in The Shape of Content, that galleries “become almost monastic in the degree of withdrawal from common society; and thus their art product becomes increasingly ingrown, tapping less and less the vital streams of common experience, rejecting more and more the human imperatives which have propelled and inspired art in past times (6)”. Ironically, through the celebration of Modernism in a Post-Modern age, adulthood in contemporary society suffers from losing support to this form of ingrown politics that artists must go through in order to survive. I consider exhibition spaces as a public service that should be equivalent to law enforcement or health care. I do not give my full support to these spaces which deem itself holy unless they serve artists more than they serve its invisible commandments. My goal as an artist is to not fall into commodification of this force. Not for the sake of my wallet (clearly) but for the sake of my art which is my own invisible law and family. I would not sell out my religious beliefs for another religion hastily, and I will not do so with my artwork. It is my hope that fellow artists will not fall into the militaristic vein as well.

On a less heinous note, Nikki McClure in the MOCC was more a celebration of the successful artist whom crafts with the nearly non-existent arsenal of an x-acto knife on black paper. With nothing, she created an empire for herself. The gallery was arranged on the bottom floor with a superfluous arrangement of rectangles and squares framing each “cutout” (some were prints of cutouts) around the white wall space. It is already well monkiered in society that her craft is extravagant and the work itself occasionally presents political commentary that is well masked beneath a veneer of Modernist repetition. I give kudos for remaining so formal and yet subtly radical in that aspect. I deem it as disobeying the temple in order to propose a better operation.

Yet, McClure does what Edmundson did : She recontextualized the walls of the space she inhabited. The way she performed this celestial feat was obnoxiously simple : fame. 
This is the idea of the [art] celebrity, with established technique, rejecting the holy temple that essentially defined her. McClure enters into a mode of being a representation of herself. What this means is similar to the situation with the Museum of Contemporary Craft’s display of ceramics. What has become successful will become a representation of itself and commodified for further success as far as the holy temple of gallery spaces is concerned. Only what has been made successful goes out into the world, and upon reminiscent when it returns, it returns as a God that must alter the space it inhabits. If this successful art form or God does not get its proper parade in white walls, there is no recognition of its initial success or history thus leaving time to start again foolishly. In an age where galleries need to profit for itself or succumb to relocation or refurbishment, I believe such institutions as the Museum of Contemporary Craft need to ride out a recollection of its own history long enough and create representations of its own importance to re-feed the eye and trick the proletariat into thinking its feeding itself. The holy temple of this gallery is essentially retelling the same story that has existed since the early 20th century. Many in the 21st century still believe the hoax as it appears fresh and bedazzled. This may very well be the definition of Guy Debord's "spectacle". The church empahasizing its own image rather than religion.

The Disjecta illuminated what appeared to be a hope for evolution beyond a convoluted, Modernist state (and with it, the wonderful crafts contextualized by the chambers of prayer). While there were apparent flaws in its execution, as this is an obstacle that arrives to a new gallery that has relocated several times, its intentions were pure and to build on. Jumping off the previous record of the MOCC, The Disjecta realizes the danger of representing only itself within curatorial and academic circles and wishes to extend its focal lens to a broad, all-comers scope. This movement includes actual studio space in catering toward the up and coming artist in Portland and amateur space for the novice (non-professional). The novice space is far too small and meager in comparison to the cave of wonder which is the gym sized area for professionals. To me, this is playing ‘lawyerball’ with battling the galleries’ need to realize its self-importance. It takes advantage of a notion Guy Debord points out in Society of the Spectacle in relation to Brian O’ Doherty. The spectacle's estrangement from the acting subject is expressed by the fact that the individual's gestures are no longer his own; they are the gestures of someone else who represents them to him. The spectator does not feel at home anywhere, because the spectacle is everywhere (Debord, 7). In other words, The Disjecta makes good on its promise to advertise independence to its disciples, yet also makes it its victim in white walls. Like a false religion or God promising good will to the disheartened, the gallery only proposes the simulation of sanctuary to the amateur artist. In the end, the artist is lied to, but I suppose this goes for all advertisement-consumer relationships. This relates back to my issue with the self contained, white walls : that it can be self-referential and should be a precarious consideration for exhibiting works in a contemporary age.

The Disjecta may simply be a practitioner of good business while also applying practicality in human survival. In a disaster situation, businesses may commit bad situations to opportunity, taking advantage of human need. While The Disjecta is non-profit, it also certainly is encompassing the lust for public exposure and prestige in the art world, once again contextualizing not the artwork only but the non-superficial artist for aligning with the gallery space in question. Once again, the danger in this being that while artwork has broken free of the horizontally primed frame, the frame only just became bigger to encompass things that only ‘appeared’ to break free. We could even extend this metaphor wider from the gallery to the entire city of Portland. The artist in a wide city might seem lost and report to the holy temple of the Disjecta for a new path in art, nonetheless only committing themselves to another set of (city) government where it is perfectly legal to exhibit. For example, a public park may be a good locale for this type of artist. 

At this juncture, in order for the artist to incinerate the chains of stolen identity and rebranding, they must alienate themselves from the idea of belonging to anything but the self. It often feels as if we can no longer experience anything if we don't first alienate it. In fact, alienation may now be a necessary preface to experience (O’ Doherty, 52). Life experience is commonly dubbed in society as those dynamic situations without end we dangerously advance toward. In this scenario, it is advancement outside of an institution and into urban freedom. Artists, as much as they can, must find this muse outside of institutions desiring to contextualize the intent of art. My goals as en exhibiting artist shift into not finding the holy island which will consume me and my artwork, simply by association. My goal as an artist is to have association with the world and not be commodified by gallery as holy church or business alike. I want my art to imitate the most core sense of life, beyond simulation, in this contemporary age just a O'Doherty warned I should.

In simile to McClure, the only true way to be a chaplain of an art temple is to be its recognized God from success out the gate. It is at this point one questions if they even want to make successful art in the mold of a status quo. I feel this is the light wave of reactions to Post-Modernism constantly revisiting art institutions where nobody desires to have their identity and persona confiscated by artificiality. The only thing artists want to be confiscated by is life, which from birth, the artist is a victim to. In the unified breath of art and life, Alan Kaprow writes, “The old daring and the charged atmosphere of precarious discovery that marked every hour of the lives of the modern artists, even when they were not working at art, vanishes. Strangely, no one seems to know this except, perhaps, the "unsuccessful" artists waiting for their day (22)." There is no waiting for discovery, as whoever was destined to be discovered has been discovered. It solely depends on a curator with an ultimate monolithic vision, often hard to be tampered with. Life contextualizes the person and their art as does a gallery. I simply cannot call a gallery ‘life’. This brisk visit in Portland has refocused my lens through which I see the ostensibly neutral space of white. It may appear pure, but the bureaucracy and theatricality behind it ultimately drags a history behind it ala post modernism, and that history will never fade. My own work has always questioned in the virgin space through a judgmental eye. Coincidentally, my work will not entirely change, for my suspicions have only been strengthened of the precariousness of what my career beholds. Society, local or global, contextualizes everything into an eye of providence which sees all. At each opportunity, like everything in life, I shall survey the fine print and make sure I am me. The challenge in life is to live full. The challenge in art is to create full, with no exterior assistance.

Works Cited

O'Doherty, Brian. Inside the White Cube, The Ideology of the Gallery Space. Berkley  & Los Angeles, California. University of California Press. 1999. Print.

Shahn, Ben. The Shape of Content. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Harvard University Press. 1957. Print.

Debord, Guy. Society of the Spectacle. Canberra, Australia. Treason Press. 2002. Print.

Kaprow, Allan. Essays on the Blurring of Art and Life.  Berkley  & Los Angeles, California. University of California Press. 2003. Print.