31 December 2006


I am going to think about this one for awhile, and may or may not get to post anything substantial on it. For now, just noting that I have read and enjoyed the conversation about ego started by Bill Gusky, taken up by Ashes, and further explored by HLIB.

I think ego and individualism makes art less interesting, that mining the individual self for meaning is, first and foremost, a total fucking bore in our confessional, therapeutic (I would say Sextonesque) culture. And yeah, I want what Ashes wants. I like this a lot:

I think I am probably on the same page as Gusky, in wanting more art and less ego, more art where the artist is transparent. Where an artist is conducting the fluid motion of meaning through elements and into the waiting ~mind~ of the recipient, and where the recipient is understand broadly to include the artist and the environment also. All of us are participants in that environment, and we understand art to be a kind of play that we do to increase our understanding of ourselves in our environment.

This is an eastern mentality; it's stepping aside to allow truth to emerge. So I like it because it suits my interests--I am a wanton Japanophile and martial arts geek, compulsive i ching consulter, terrible-but-long-dedicated yogi and occasional buddhist. But I also think that this kind of thinking is a potentially useful new direction...

...a way for artists to act as servants and not as court jesters or bad children.

30 December 2006

Gap Jujitsu 2: Truth and Interconnectedness

Disclaimer: the relationship of this post to that column of yore is tenuous at best. I am mostly just riffing. Besides, I am sure that Jerry Saltz has gone off to think about more interesting things. I am still, however, thinking about how Saltz wound up invoking the T-word:

In this imperfect realm we experience the undeniable, elemental truth that sometimes, just by making or looking at art, we might discern the full range of human possibilities.

The buddhist dilletante in me thinks it's fascinating that Saltz threw out the word truth in the context of talking about this disconnect between one's inside life and one's outside life, seeing as how that's the dharma. There is no actual disconnect, this perception of a disconnect is an ignorance and the cause of all suffering, and the truth, or reality, or enlightenment is nothing more or less than the understanding that there is no existence that is not connected to every other existence.

I am a conflicted and totally unenlightened person. The disconnect between one's inside life and outside life seems crucial to me. It's so interesting, it's the most interesting thing about humans. It seems to me that it's the thing that keeps people, who are physically so weak compared to other top-tier predators, doing amazing things. We have no big teeth or claws, we can't run fast or anything. We have nothing but the fact that we consistently think we can. True, this makes us deny reality all the time, but for every GW Bush there's a David slaying Goliath. There's a Rosa Parks or a Cesar Chavez. There's a Tim Hawkinson or a Yes Man. Why give that up?

I have spent a distressing number of hours with numb legs in dark rooms listening to other people discreetly fart, desperately trying to get enlightened and at the same time wondering if enlightenment is such a good idea. Boddhisatvas have no reason to strive, and there is something I don't trust about that absence of striving. I am so Western that way. I completely believe that the disconnect between inside and outside is an illusion, but I can't stop thinking about what a useful illusion it is.

My buddhist hero is Robert AF Thurman, who is unenlightened and I can't help, with typical arrogance, hazard a guess at why. I think it's because he's so delightfully enthusiastic. He's a striver.

But on the other hand, there is something fundamentally interesting about the word truth in the context of the dharma. It actually starts to make sense, because objectivity stops being such a problematic lie. In other words, the word truth stops being Jerry's Truth or Deb's Truth (the one with the most power gets to be the one with the True Truth). Rather, truth becomes something that stands outside Jerry and me that we both share but neither controls.

What I think is interesting is the way art is about truth and about a lie at the same time. If art was just about truth then going to the dharma talk would be the best art around, but it's not. Art is fundamentally about the disconnect. We want to see our suffering. We think our striving is beautiful. So instead art does this freaky dance. It talks about the lie of our individual selves, and when it's really good it does this in a truthful way. It does attempt to do what Saltz is getting at, it does get at this elemental thing. But the elemental thing seems to be a big lie that we all share.

17 December 2006

Another DeCerteau Remix = Another Reason To Love Leisurearts

This Charlie's Angels image is part of a larger Dilletanteventures Project

It is no secret that Leisurearts consistently tickles my art-v-life bone, and these thoughts about Ben Highmore focus much of this thinking on the difference between research and writing...

...and I would of course argue that there is a distance or difference between research and any creative work. And I would argue that this distance, this gap between that knowledge that moves you to action and the product of that action is exactly where all the magic happens. It's moving from the inside space to the outside space--private experience to public experience. That transition between private and public is where and how all the poetry happens.

In other words, I would pick yet another kissing fight with Dilletanteventures, if only I were here. But I am not. I am not here! I am really busy and I cannot be blogging my evenings or mornings away right now.

15 December 2006

I'm Not Here

Back in Mid-February!

08 December 2006

Gap Jujitsu: The Power of Having an Inside And An Outside... Probably Part One of ???

Warning: unformed thoughts ahead! I've been meaning to write about this paragraph, attributable to Jerry Saltz, for awhile now:

There’s a new psycho-social space, mainly American, that increasing numbers of artists are probing. Painter Charlene von Heyl has put it this way: "While almost everything in the outer world feels messed-up our inner lives aren’t altogether messed-up." This paradoxical disconnect is neither a state of denial nor one of enlightenment. It is extremely palpable, however, and may help explain why so many Americans are taking prescribed psychoactive drugs when, really, they’re only having reasonable reactions to the echo chamber of information and images that reduces everything to a squalid pseudo-narrative of garbage. Whatever’s happened, Robert Rauschenberg’s famous "gap between art and life" has turned into a new vividly dissonant gap between inner and outer life.

And I have not quite managed to push my fist-pumping and my outrage together into one cohesive nugget. On one hand, this difference between inside and outside is such rich terriain. But what is being said here? I keep falling back on the weakest words... like should. It is so easy to say that Saltz should see that this disconnect is absolutely the same as denial; that artists should be charging into that "vividly dissonant gap"--that this gap should be more fun to explore than one's own backyard of the known.

Yeah. This is the problem with the word should. What a thought-flattener. It turns whatever you were thinking into grousing, and it denies what actually exists. The space that Saltz is pointing out is interesting--it has the potential to be powerful. And I like that he's using von Heyl's powerful, body-based approach to begin talking about what he is calling a psycho-social space, but I would call a path toward really good stuff. That disconnect between inner space and outer space is what gives you the power to make disasters into challenges. That disconnect is mind over matter--it's what gives the mountain climber the strength to reach the top, and it's the platform off which intellectuals leap. It's the fucking foundation of visionary thinking.

For this reason, I disagree with Saltz's assesment that this disconnect is neither a state of denial nor a state of enlightenment. It's both! Just as this disconnect gives the thinking person the power to see a problem in its entirety and apart from oneself (and I would think of this position as an enlightened one), it also gives junkies and their codependent families the power to keep each junky addicted. This disconnect gives you the power to go ahead and buy new huge Range Rover and at the same time talk about your commitment to the environment. This disconnect between inside and outside is inherently human--it is not a new feature of the American landscape. But it is increasingly relevant, as we all watch a Bush Administration in denial create a horrifying bloodbath in the Middle East.

The presence of the disconnect is not the point. It's what is being done with it that's interesting. Saltz goes on in his review to use the word truth:

In this imperfect realm we experience the undeniable, elemental truth that sometimes, just by making or looking at art, we might discern the full range of human possibilities.

And yeah, this is where I would go next as well. Funny things happen to the word truth when you start thinking about it in terms of this disconnect. Objectivity disappears, but other kinds of shared terrain become more visible. But man... That's another post.

07 December 2006

Crapture: Definition

How's this for surprising? I got a ruffled email this morning because I used the word "crapture" to describe the efforts that are currently gracing the Whitney at Altria. Rather than gently mock the emailer's sensitivity, I am happy to offer a definition:

Crapture is any sculptural effort that is made out of stuff, like Pins, Toothpicks, or Scraps of Plywood instead of a medium like Steel or Bronze. You could also define crapture as sculpture that is about our contemporary condition of too much stuff. Good crapture does not overcome what it is made out of. Rather, its meaning springs out of what it is made of.

Crapture is not a value judgement, it's a category. And Burgeoning Geometries is a really interesting show that is wall-to-wall crapture, and since I have made crapture myself and am currently knee-deep in tires and that plastic insulation that surrounds copper wire... a review is forthcoming.

04 December 2006

Blog, Interrupted.

Not much to say these days. That monsterpost I was going to do about LA collapsed into something altogether too personal... too much about why I love New York so much, even though it's a terrible place to make sculpture, and I would never want to go starting some hiphop-style Coast Feud.

Rather than let this post devolve into a fantasy shooting scenario in which Charles Ray busts a cap in Matthew Barney's ass outside Gagosian... it's time to change the subject.

Burgeoning Geometries is opening at Thursday at Whitney Altria. This looks like it's going to be Crapture at its finest! I dig Phoebe Washburn, the Queen of Collapse, and I definitely want to see what Jason Rogenes is wreaking with styrofoam these days.