March 04, 2002


Artspost: First, I went to see both nights of "69 Love Songs"; the Magnetic Fields at Lincoln Center. They played them through in order, with simple orchestration. Everyone was hoarse by the end of the second night. The audience was warm, there was a lot of breakage of the fourth wall and informal byplay that broke the stiffness of a concert-hall venue. It was quite a treat.

Two Texting-resonates-with-the-Zeitgeist clues, both, courtesy of the Times:

1) On February 1, I wrote: "It's very frustrating to read bits and pieces of what I've observed in print, knowing that those writers have legitimacy, get paid, had a sense of rightness and purpose in their observing, while I'm flailing about without context, unemployed. In dance, I used to feel impinged-upon when I read about a piece using fairy-tale imagery, a certain autobiographical/wry voice, things that I felt were 'my' territory. In writing about outside events, the timeline is shorter...the material is carbon-dated, and access to similar work is instantaneous ... I have this theory about art, though, that works against the tenats of 'journalism'. I was not much interested in the insta-art responses, whether visual or performative, this fall. Good art about important things (a tautology) takes time, should take time. Good writing about important things varies in tone and outlook; there are various types for the different time-relationships the writer has to the subject."

From March 3, NYT: "Meanwhile, the actual events of crisis are communicated far more directly today than at any previous period in history. In 1937, it took a couple of days for Picasso to hear the news of Guernica; today, he would have watched it unfolding live on television. This immediacy and its accompanying glut of images and information is itself a challenge to artists. One difficulty in making art about Sept. 11 is that it is hard to create anything that rivals in magnitude the live images that so much of the world spent days obsessively watching on television.

In the face of this new reality, the demand that art respond literally, directly and rapidly to crisis contains an underlying note of panic: an urge to demonstrate to a broader public, through a definitive statement on something of great social moment, that art is indeed necessary, that art can still make a difference, despite a growing fear that it is not and cannot. ...

In today's total society, [Adorno (and I just bought his collected essays a few weeks ago)] wrote, "even the most extreme consciousness of doom threatens to degenerate into idle chatter." That "idle chatter" is what artists really have to worry about: the cloud of effusive, emotional responses that arises, like dust, in the wake of a crisis event. The task of the artist is to find, train and shape a voice strong enough to rise above that idle chatter — which is a process that is as highly individual as artistic inspiration."

2) A long long time ago (early 2000), I linked to "World of Awe," a lovely hypertext project. It's now in the Whitney Bienniel. This, from a Times article on the (nonaffiliated) whitneybienniel.com:

"Yael Kanarek, a New York digital artist, took a rocky landscape from her "World of Awe," one of the online works in the official biennial, and adapted it for Mr. Manetas's site. She said the digital medium's malleability made it possible for her to participate in both exhibitions, adding, "True, one is a bit stiff but all- powerful; the other is experimental and lively." Either way, she said, "I'm with my peers on both sides."

Mr. Manetas insisted that his site was not intended to be viewed as an alternative biennial, an Internet-era version of the Impressionists' Salon des Refus├ęs ... Mr. Manetas wants to make two points, neither of which has much relevance to the Whitney Biennial. As the site's collage function is meant to demonstrate, digital technology can empower nonartists to do creative things. In this environment, where anyone can piggyback on the work of others, Mr. Manetas is also concerned that the enforcement of copyrights will hinder expression.

Even if one accepts his statement that the site is not a direct attack on the Whitney, just using the address WhitneyBiennial.com implies an element of criticism. Peter Lunenfeld, who teaches media design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif., and served as one of Mr. Manetas's curators, acknowledged this. With online art featured last year in high-profile exhibitions at the Whitney and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, he said, the Net was losing its shaggy aesthetic.

"People are starting to get a sense of portentousness and pretentiousness coming out of the museum community, because that's what museums are good at," he said.

WhitneyBiennial.com is meant to restore some spontaneity to the Web. So, he said, `it's disingenuous to say that there's no critique involved," even if it is low on Mr. Manetas's priority list."

Also in the Bienniel is the work of an artist who gathers small bits of text and data from the harddrives of people who download her software; the software then floats randomized snatches across the screen. I have a file called "found" on my harddrive, which is uninvited text, images, and html files that even Norton Clean Sweep won't delete from my cache. Periodically, I move all the shards to the "found" file, with the intention of forming "found-collage pages." (my web skills are not up for this, which is the only reason I've not done it). I have animated porn banner ads, buttons, images of every genre, geometric shapes, zillions of arrows, part of an interview with Michael Ondaatje, etc.

No comments: