October 2003 Archives

October 31, 2003

Operation "Porsche 911"

While poking around The Memory Hole, I found a Reuters report of a 10.27 Spiegel cover story [English link] which gives many new details of the planning and execution of the September 11th attacks.

Spiegel bases their report on US interrogation transcripts of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Ramzi Binalshibh. Germany is currently prosecuting several accessories to the plot, which was hatched in Hamburg. In various ways, the US is refusing to cooperate with the trial; the transcripts obtained by the Spiegel reporters had previously been denied to the court.

Two details: The US Capitol--not the White House--was the other intended target in Washington that day, and the terrorists use the code name, "Porsche 911" when discussing the plot on the phone.

Annoyingly, according to Google News, except for Wired News, which publishes the Reuters filing, no other US news outlet has mentioned this story.

And I do mean last minute. Look at the time...

  • Dig up your VHS copies of Tarkovsky's Andrei Rublev in the pristine, never-been-rented Kozmo.com boxes, put on some bikershorts, kneepads, and your Kozmo Goretex shell, and go as a lost delivery guy, like one of those Japanese soldiers who never heard the war was over. [note: doesn't work if you've showered today. Or yesterday. And if you slept on the couch in your office.]
  • Put on a cashmere cableknit sweater, a suede jacket, and some loafers and go as Whit Stillman. [note: only works if you have showered today. And exfoliated. And hydrated.]
  • Put on a featherweight ice-climbing shell with more pockets than you know what to do with and a baseball cap and go as a director from Imagine.
  • Mosaic together a giant Powerpoint slide that says "Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs" or "War War War War" all over it, sprayglue it to some foamcore, rig it into a backpack behind your head, and go as George Bush.
  • Wear whatever you're wearing right now, don't think about what you're going to say, don't even smooth your hair, and go as a guest star on K Street.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner.

    [update: I ended up going as pregnant by tying a feto of the world around my neck, a legacy of Jason's post about fetosoap. Moral: always keep a small pile of feti handy for parties.]

  • October 31, 2003

    Sforzian Backstabbing

    Scott Sforza et al's now-controversial Mission Accomplished banner from Bush's tailhooking speech on the Abraham Lincoln

    Since before Elizabeth Bumiller came up with the term for the Times, I was a fan of Sforzian Backgrounds, the news-manipulating slogans created by Scott Sforza, a key member of the White House's advance scenery and production team, for just about every public appearance of George W. Bush. [After giving up hope for a commentary track from Sforza himself, I wrote my own interpretive post for Bush's trip to Africa last July.]

    And yet this week in a rare press conference, when he was asked about one of his Sforzian Backgrounds, Bush said, " The 'Mission Accomplished' sign, of course, was put up by the members of the USS Abraham Lincoln, saying that their mission was accomplished. I know it was attributed some how to some ingenious advance man from my staff -- they weren't that ingenious, by the way."

    Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall is rightly shocked, shocked, that Bush is trying to pin the background on the military. I hope the unsigned report in the Times is a placeholder for an impending Bumiller story. In the mean time, I'll call George W. on his transparent lie: his advance men are ingenious. [And they were behind the banner.]

    In her first report on White House stagecraft, Bumiller reported that these advance men spent days "embedded" on the Abraham Lincoln staging the speech. "Sforza and his aides choreographed every aspect of the event."

    Sforza positioned the audience/crew in the background according to their uniform color:bright turtlenecks on the fighter wing (a favorite Sforzian spot, by the way), Army standard [thanks, Dan!]Navy service khakis in the front row. And to help them blend in with the troops, he put Bush's Secret Service detail in Top Gun-style bomber jackets rather than their typical G-Man suits. Meanwhile, Bob deServi, the White House cinematographer, went the extra mile, turning the aircraft carrier around in order 1) to show a background of open sea and not the nearby San Diego skyline, and 2) to get the "magic hour" light just so on his boss's face. The banner is instantly recognizable as Sforza's--and the White House's--ingenious vision.

    The real question here is not who put up that banner, but why is Bush dishonestly and unfairly harshing on his loyal soldiers for it, both in the military and in the White House?

    Related: Sforza's version of Out of Africa
    Whitehouse Stagecraft: Is this going to be on the DVD?

    October 29, 2003

    Deja Vu

    San Diego Scripps Ranch Fire, by Hannes Neidner image:sdsc.edu

    Hannes Neidner's images from the fires in California. More at emese's photo blog [via Lightning Field and Jason]

    sugimoto_hall_of_33_bays.png
    Hall of Thirty-Three Bays, 1995, Hiroshi Sugimoto

    Hiroshi Sugimoto: I came for the Seascapes, I stayed for the Hall of Thirty-Three Bays. I love Sea of Buddhas, 1995, his series of nearly identical photos of the Sanjusangendo, shrine in Kyoto. They're generally under-appreciated, partly because they work best when seen all together.

    Fortunately, Chicago has started making up for the Cow Parade embarrassment by putting the whole series of Sea of Buddha on view at the Smart Gallery at the University of Chicago until Jan. 4th.

    sugimoto_accelerated_buddha_still.jpg
    Hiroshi Sugimoto, Still image from Accelerated Buddha, added 2013

    Also on view, the artist's rarely seen video, Accelerated Buddha, which rocks like only an increasingly shimmering animation of nearly identical still photos with a sharp electronic soundtrack by Ken Ikeda can.

    Related: an interview with Hiroshi Sugimoto [update, which I retrieved from the Internet Archive, since the original site is gone.]

    Interview with Hiroshi Sugimoto, March 1997 by William Jeffett

    Edited from Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK Catalogue Hiroshi Sugimoto, from an exhibition held 1997

    WJ. How and when did you first take up working with photography?

    HS. When I was six or seven years old, the science teacher at my elementary school taught us to make photographs with light sensitive blue paper. By placing an object on this paper under direct light we could transfer its shape to the paper's surface. This activity made a strong impression, not only on the paper, but on my mind. As I think about it now, it was as if I had started at the very moment of the invention of photography as if I was reliving the experiences of photographers like Niepce, Daguerre and Fox Talbot.

    WJ. You have lived in the United States for most of your career. How has this shaped the development of your approach to photography?

    HS. Wherever I lived, art was the only activity that interested me. But both the move to a new country and the fact that photography is a relatively young medium seemed to welcome new attitudes. However, while living in a new country, I started to deal in ancient Japanese art and consequently was involved with continuity and tradition. I think my work is the product of both of these influences.

    WJ. What does it mean for you to have a show in the Sainsbury Centre with its rich collections of world art?

    HS. The Sainsbury Centre has a collection of several works of ancient Japanese art that were acquired from me while I was still a dealer, and I feel that this exhibition of my own work brings these two parts of my life and activities together. I think it is very good to see one's work together with ancient art. Looking back gives a sense of perspective you cannot get when looking at works of your contemporaries.

    WJ. Often there is a sense of stillness in your work, as if time were somehow frozen. Indeed, time is one of the features more evident in your work, and in the past you have even used very long exposures in a time lapse. Could you tell me about your thoughts on time in your work in general?

    HS. Time is one of the most abstract concepts human beings have created. No other animals have a sense of time, only humans have a sense of time. But time is not absolute; the time measured by watches is one kind of time, but it is not the only kind. The awareness of time can be found in ancient human consciousness, arising from the memory of death. Early humans buried their loved ones and left marks at the grave site, trying to remember images of the dead. Now, photography also remembers the past. I am tracing this beginning of time, when humans began to name things and remember. In my Seascape series, you may see this concept.

    WJ. Your work has taken both natural and highly artificial subjects as a point of departure (Seascapes and Dioramas). Where would you situate yourself in relation to artifice, on the one hand, and nature on the other?

    HS. The natural history dioramas attracted me both because of their artificiality and because they seemed so real. These displays attempt to show what nature is like, but in fact they are almost totally man-made. On the other hand, when I look at nature I see the artificiality behind it. Even though the seascape is the least changed part of nature, population and the resulting pollution have made nature into something artificial.

    WJ. Do you manipulate the image? In what way does your work interrogate the process of looking?

    HS. Before we start talking about manipulation, we have to confirm the way we see. Is there any solid, original image of the world to manipulate from? Each individual has manipulated vision. Fish see things the way fish see, insects see things the way insects see. The way man sees things has already been manipulated. We see things the way we want to see. Of course I manipulate. Artists create excitement by manipulating a boring world. All art is manipulation, to take still photography with black and white images is further manipulation, but before all this the very first manipulation is seeing.

    WJ. You work in series and in this respect your work parallels the approach of movements like Minimalism or even Pop Art. Could you tell me why you have adopted a serial approach and how you see your photography in relation to other forms of contemporary art?

    HS. I see the serial approach in my work as part of a tradition, both oriental and occidental - Hokusai's views as well as Cézanne's landscapes or Monet's Haystacks, Cathedrals and Waterlilies.

    WJ. Do you see time as an important component in the Hall of Thirty-Three Bays series?

    HS. Time is an important component of all of my work. In my videotape Accelerated Buddha, time takes on an accelerated shape.

    WJ. Your earlier series devoted to the Dioramas, Seascapes and Theatres depict subjects which are not recognizably Japanese, while the Hall of Thirty-Three Bays is based on one of the most important shrines in Japan. Could you tell me why you chose this series to work on over the last six years and how it relates to your other work?

    HS. All of my works are related conceptually. The photographs of the Hall of Thirty-Three Bays extend the concept behind the Seascape series: repetition with subtle differences. Even though these images seem similar to those of the Wax Figures, I see them more as a 'Sea of Buddhas'.

    WJ. In what way does the series have a connection with Buddhist thought?

    HS. I don't think that this series has more of a connection with Buddhist thought than any of my others. It interested me, however, that I was photographing this temple, built as a result of the fear of a millennium 2000 years after the birth of Buddha, at a time when we ourselves are approaching a millennium 2000 years after the death of Christ.

    WJ. You said you made each of the photographs from this series at the same hour of the morning. Could you say why and explain a little about your working method?

    HS. The photographs were all taken between 6.00 and 7.30am so that the natural light would be soft and diffused, also so that each image would be photographed in the same light. Working at this hour also allowed me to be alone in the Temple since the monks are not around until 7.30am. Each subject calls for different working hours. Only the Seascapes allow me to work 24 hours non-stop.

    WJ. The Hall of Thirty-Three Bays depicts a sacred subject. Do you see your work as in any way engaged with the sacred?

    HS. The relationship between the Buddha series and religious thought is somehow parallel to the one between the Seascapes and nature. Pollution has made nature artificial and the commercialization of traditional religions has de-spiritualized them.

    October 27, 2003

    2003-10-27, Talk of The Town

    TALK OF THE TOWN
    COMMENT/ RUSH IN REHAB/ Hendrik Hertzberg on pill-popper Rush Limbaugh's hypocrisy.
    S.I. DISPATCH/ THE WRECK/ Ben McGrath on the reaction to the Staten Island Ferry disaster.
    DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY/ NOT LOST IN TRANSLATION/ Boris Fishman witnesses a major kissing of Mikhail Gorbachev at The Pierre.
    DEPT. OF SIGNAGE/THE MAN AND THE HAND/ Nick Paumgarten talks about the walking man disappearing from the "don't walk" signs.
    DEPT. OF REMEMBERING/ TWO FROM BERLIN/ Jane Kramer talks September 11th memorials with Berlin conceptual artists Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock.

    Them's fightin' words. In his Cinema Militans Lecture, Greenaway thought he'd rile up his audience at the Netherlands Film Festival with his opening, "Cinema died on the 31st September 1983." (Killed by Mr. Remote Control, in the den, if you must know.) But it's his claim that Viola'd trump Scorsese that's the real "they bought yellowcake in Niger" of this speech. He's just got Britishvision, distracted like a fish by a shiny object passing in front of him [Viola's up at the National Gallery right now.] And the conveniently timely evidence he cites seems, well, let's just say we know from conveniently timed evidence over here.

    Sleeping with the enemy, Peter Greenaway Bed Linens. image: bonswit.com Sleeping with the enemy: Greenaway texts up a set of bed linens. for sale at bonswit.com
    Greenaway argues for a filmic revolution: throw off the "four tyrannies" of the text, the actor, the frame and the camera, banishing at last the "illustrated text" we've been suffering through for 108 years, and replacing it with true cinema.

    The Guardian's Alex Cox sees video games and dvd's rising up to answer Greenaway's call, and he makes the fight local, pitting Greenaway against the British Film Establishment, as embodied by director Alan Parker. So the choice is either Prospero's Books or The Life of David Gale?? This fight's neither pretty nor fair.

    Also in the Guardian: Sean Dodson's report on a Nokia-sponsored campaign for the new future of cinema, a "festival" of 15-second movies to watch on your mobile phone. It's part of London's excellent-looking Raindance Film Festival, and it embodies perfectly the military industrial telecom entertainment complex's idea of revolution through perpetual hardware upgrading. [It should surprise no one that the little festival is at Nokia's website, because you can't actually download movies on your phone yet. Utopia's always just around the corner.]

    image: badassbuddy.comMore than rallying the troops, Greenaway and Nokia are actually tottering to catch up with the next generation. Paul Thomas Anderson's inclusion of Jeremy Blake's animated abstractions in Punch Drunk Love. The Matrix Reloaded's all-CG bullet time "camera." The Matrix launching the DVD player, for that matter. Gus van Sant's Gerry as film-as-video-game and the multiple POV reprises of scenes in Elephant. Multi-screen master Isaac Julien, Matthew Barney, spawn of Mario Brothers. And the unscripted cinematic narrative mutations of corporate-sponsored mediums like PowerPoint and AIM buddy icons.

    Greenaway's righter than he knows, but the evolution's already underway, with or without him. It always has been

    October 24, 2003

    I have a friend at the MPAA

    The folks at artblog were going through their trash and found my article on the unsanctioned trading of video art screener tapes. They were upset about my outing Chris Hughes, the Pamela and the Richard Kramlich of screeners. "Who benefits [from exposing and shutting this nice guy down]? Not the public, certainly" they criticized.

    They kindly posted my response. I don't think screener tapes automatically harm video art or artists; net net, they help spread the art's influence and impact. I still feel that writing about this practice was a good thing, and good things have come from it.

    Then I see Jack Valenti, picking yet another misleading, irrational and disingenuous fight against the evil VCR by banning screener tapes, and I worry. I worry that maybe, just maybe, could the screener tape seed have been planted by my article? After all, I worry, I have a friend at the MPAA.

    I came to Kieslowski for the fateful mystery of La Double Vie de Veronique, but I stayed for the unassuming, naturalistic power of the Dekalog.

    This seminal ten-part series of films is playing this weekend at Symphony Space in NYC. POV has an excellent write-up, with good links to get you in the mood.

    The Decalogue was one of the greatest unwatchable works of film, ever. For years in North America, the series, which Kieslowski and writer Krzysztof Piesiewicz originally made for Polish TV, was kept off of video and DVD by weird rights disputes. But it'd turn up at film festivals and cinematheques, and you'd suddenly have to figure out how to shoehorn ten hours of moviegoing into two or three days. It was an experience prewired to disappoint, or, more precisely, leave you wanting.

    By 2000, I'd only managed to see half of the installments, when an odd one-year distribution agreement brought a bare-bones 2-DVD set to the market. I snapped it up, and since then I've been steeping regularly in some of the most engrossing storytelling around.

    This year, The Decalogue reappeared in a far superior 3-disc format, complete with several Kieslowski interviews and other real supplementary material. So get up to Symphony Space for at least a couple of episodes, then watch and rewatch them at home. Of course, GreenCine rents them one disc at a time; it may be better, emotionally, to pace yourself.

    [related: the effects of watching Dekalog on an impressionable new filmmaker]

    October 23, 2003

    On Transit and Memory

    Santiago Calatrava talks about his vision for the transit hub he's designing for the World Trade Center site. I'm a fan, although there doesn't seem to be a lot of design meat here.

    And the New Yorker's Jane Kramer gets Berlin artists/memorial designers Renata Stih and Frieder Schnock to talk about a memorial for the World Trade Center. Their comments seem well suited to the discourse of a year or so ago, when entertaining the world of possibilities didn't feel so escapist as it does now.

    In fact, last year, I was very impressed by their proposed Holocaust memorial.

    October 21, 2003

    More Olafur Eliasson Pix

    The Weather Project, 2003, Olafur Eliasson, Tate Modern

    The Weather Project, 2003, Olafur Eliasson, Tate Modern
    The Weather Project, 2003, Olafur Eliasson, at the Tate Modern
    The top one's shot in the mirrored ceiling.

    I'm working on it, but right now, I got nothing that'll top this.

    October 20, 2003

    American Ordealism

    Electric Earth, 1999, Doug Aitken, image:victoria-miro.comIs it a coincidence that The Cremaster Cycle, the filmic ordeal-in-a-black-box, is playing in London at the same time as David Blaine, the Brooklyn ordeal-in-a-clear-box?

    Read Peter Bradshaw's Guardian review as if you're seeing the movies for the first time.

    And read about David Blaine getting out of his box as if you thought you'd already heard the last of him.

    Late Saturday night, after a party for Doug Aitken at the Wapping Project, an artspace, the gridlock surrounding David Blaine's impending egress was blamed for the complete absence of cabs that left 20 of us (including Doug and Thomas Demand) stranded in B.F. East London. Result: a group of us walked back to our hotel in Westminster, along the Thames, for about two hours. Ordealism.

    TALK OF THE TOWN
    COMMENT/ MOVIE STRUCK/ Roger Angell on a life of afternoon cinema.
    IN THE WINGS/ POLL STARS/Anthony Lane on the screen-to-stump phenomenon.
    PLAY BALL/ BLEACHER CREATURES/ Ben McGrath on how the crowd goes wild.
    ON THE AIR/ SUPER, SUPER, SUPER!/ Tad Friend on Sir David Frostís axis of satire.
    POSTSCRIPT/ WILLIAM STEIG/ Roger Angell remembers the late artist.
    THE FINANCIAL PAGE/ RIGHT TRADE, WRONG TIME/ James Surowiecki on the late-trading scandal.

    THE CRITICS
    THE THEATRE/ HE SAID, SHE SAID/ HILTON ALS/ One-acts by Edward Albee and Samuel Beckett.
    THE CURRENT CINEMA/ YOUNG BLOOD/ ANTHONY LANE/ Christine Jeffs' "Sylvia."

    October 17, 2003

    tate update: sun worshippers

    the british public treats it as the real sun, laying out on their backs as if at the beach.

    [10/21 update: like I said...]

    Chicken cutlet curry at Tokyo Diner off Leicester Square (just west, I think)

    turbine hall, Tate modern, image: greg.org

    Just got back from the preview and party for The Weather Project, Olafur Eliasson's absolutely breathtaking installation at the Tate Modern in London. The Turbine Hall is something like 500 feet long, the full length and height of the building.

    I can tell you that Olafur created a giant sun out of yellow sodium streetlamps, but that doesn't begin to describe the experience of seeing it and being in the space. It is this awareness of one's own perception which is at the heart of his work. Not only does he use and transform this unwieldy cavern, he intensifies the viewer's sight and sense of being in the space.

    And as always, Olafur lays bare the mechanisms that create the unavoidably sublime experience, which in this case include, literally, smoke and mirrors. You can see exactly how you're being manipulated affected, and you're fine with it. At least I am.

    [update: the Guardian's Fiachra Gibbons likes it, too.]

    October 14, 2003

    On Sylvia

    After seeing Sylvia last week, I thought I wouldn't write about it again; I couldn't make it to interview Christine Jeffs, the director, and I posted in August about John Brownlow's extensive discussion of the challenges in writing the script (two crazy poets, one suicide, no rights to use the poetry itself in the film, etc etc.).

    Besides, Anthony Lane used the best line, the only line I wrote down during the screening, in his New Yorker review: "'You must think Iím a stupid American bitch,' she says to a kindly old neighbor in London. 'Not at all, my dear, he replies. 'I assumed you were Canadian.'"

    But something's been on my mind. The characters and acting in Sylvia were as restrained as Brownlow sought, a tribute to him and Jeffs (as well as the actors, of course). If they were a paint, they'd be suitably matte-finish.

    But they're in a super-high gloss movie. Literally. The film was production designed within an inch of its life. (Oops. Sorry.) Every dingy tenement wall has dazzling, limpid pools of light dancing across its mirror-like finish. Paltrow's wardrobe was as stylized and meticulous as Far From Heaven. And there were passages in the film where the classical soundtrack was simply overwhelming; it ranks right along the incessant jazz "background" music in The Thomas Crown Affair which finally rendered the movie unwatchable for me.

    It's as if Jeffs was able to pare down some aspects of this wrenching story-- namely, the script and the acting-- but either lost confidence or was overruled on others. Or maybe the ultra-lush imagery and melodramatic music is meant to mitigate the utterly depressing story. Whatever it is, it doesn't stick together any better than Ted and Sylvia themselves.

    October 14, 2003

    Goin' to London

    Olafur Eliasson, Your Sun Machine, 1997, image:Sao Paulo Bienal Your Sun Machine, Olafur Eliasson, 1997 Marc Foxx Gallery. Image:Sao Paulo Bienal
    I'm heading to London for a few days.

    Going to one friend's exhibition opening and another friend's art fair. I'll be doing a little reporting, even though I'm not sure where to find the "Internet" over there.

    I have a great idea; at a moment to be appointed (but it has to be today, in time for my trip), everyone goes outside and marks up the outside of their building with their wi-fi network information. Then, a few minutes later, we all disperse into the crowd.

    Forward this message to all your friends.

    October 14, 2003

    2003-10-13, Talk of The Town

    THE TALK OF THE TOWN
    COMMENT/ SOLO ACT/ Elizabeth Kolbert on the Presidentís lonely ride.
    DEPT. OF SPIN/ PACE YOURSELF/ Ben McGrath at last weekís Democratic debate.
    SHOWTIME/ LAWYER WALKS INTO A BAR/ Ben McGrath at a talent show for New Jersey lawyers.
    POSTSCRIPT/ GEORGE PLIMPTON/ David Remnick on the writer and Paris Review editor.
    THE FINANCIAL PAGE/ THE COUP DE GRASSO/ James Surowiecki on the crime of being overpaid.

    October 13, 2003

    From the Dept. of WTF

    "It's Nike Ground! This revolutionary project is transforming and updating your urban space. Nike is introducing its legendary brand into squares, streets, parks and boulevards: Nikesquare, Nikestreet, Piazzanike, Plazanike or Nikestrasse will appear in major world capitals over the coming years..."

    And where does this new and friendly revolution begin? Oh, where so many of western civ's not-so-great-after-all ideas heil from: Austria. "Starting from 1 January 2004 Karlsplatz (in Vienna) is going to be called Nikeplatz."

    ! indeed.

    [via Archinect]
    [update: this turns out to be art by 0100101110101101.org, which released it's press release Oct. 10, four days after Nike denied its involvement, and a full three days before Archinect or I posted it. Don't let the facts get in the way of a good conclusion, I guess.]
    [update 2: and to answer reader Chris's question, no, all of Austria's not all that bad after all. Schwarzenegger's our problem now, anyway.]

    October 13, 2003

    2003-10-13, Talk of the Town

    TALK OF THE TOWN
    THE CAMPAIGN TRAIL/ THE "D" WORD/ Jane Mayer on the long shadow of Michael Dukakis.
    THE HUMAN CONDITION/ AGELESS, GUILTLESS/ Adam Green visits the psychotherapist Albert Ellisís ninetieth birthday party.
    MAIN EVENT/ AND IN THIS CORNER/ Ben McGrath watches a talk-radio T.K.O.
    DEPT. OF DIGESTION/ A MAALOX MOMENT/ Howard Kaplan learns the finer points of sword swallowing.
    CASUAL/ GEORGE W. BUSH, NEWS JUNKIE/ Andy Borowitz on the White House grapevine.
    COMMENT/ FRENCH KISSING/ Adam Gopnik on when Jacques met Laura

    Lost in Translation soundtrack, image:amazon.com

    Context isn't everything, but it counts. We just got back from seeing Lost In Translation with a multi-generational crowd, in the movie theater around the corner from Holly Golightly's brownstone. As they say, it's the little differences:

  • "Gorgeous sheets." --Woman of a certain age behind us, upon the cut to Bill Murray sitting on the Park Hyatt bed. [300-count egyptian cotton? Nice, but could be better, lady. Now pipe down.]
  • "hahahaha." --me, laughing alone at the previously unrecognized 4:20 reference.
  • "nice soundtrack." --me, wondering if the limited edition soundtrack is out yet.
  • "soundtrack'd be better if the idiot in front of us'd stop proclaiming Shinjuku landmarks to his mother/sugar mama. It ain't no Harajuku, pal. Now pipe down." - me.
  • "I loved it." --adult children of the sheets woman, after it was over.
  • "I hated it." --the sheets woman.

  • October 12, 2003

    Chia-Church

    Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey's grass church, image:guardian.co.uk

    The artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey and their team of 15 people plastered the walls of a church in South London with clay and grass seed. Read their diary at the Guardian and watch it grow to Graeme Miller's soundtrack.

    Related: visiting information from the London International Festival of Theatre
    More info on Ackroyd & Harvey and Miller on Artsadmin

    Friday, I met an architecture professional who was on the LMDC jury last summer to select the architects for the World Trade Center site design study. We spoke about the Memorial Competition, details of which were familiar to this person.

    The juror was deliberately cagey, but said the Memorial jury was down to ten proposals: "And when it gets down to ten, the lines start to sharpen." Asked about the timeline, this person said, "very soon," but when I bounced the rumored names of finalists, the response I got was, "you know more than I do, then." (Which is so clearly not the case, it's almost embarassing.)

    October 11, 2003

    about making films, really.

    I've been very quiet about my actual filmmaking activities of late, mostly because they've been pretty sparse. My efforts to re-edit Souvenir November 2001 have been stymied by Final Cut Pro for a while, and I'm coming to grips with the idea of re-building it from scratch. Well, from a late-stage EDL (Edit Directions List), actually, which is the cut-by-cut source code of the film. That'd mean dumping all 80Gb of my media, so it's an irrevocable decision, which I've been avoiding making.

    But this week, I've been invited to show and talk about my work in November (More details to come.), so it's about time to pull the trigger. Of course, movement on that will also impel movement on the re-scoring effort, too. Sometimes a deadline can be a very helpful thing.

    Beyond this non-working on film, I've been researching and began negotiating for the film rights of a novel. It took a while to trace the rightsholder (the book had been out of print in English for many years and was recently reissued.) and to fill in the backstory of the book's creation. The writer's estate is represented by a small but very sharp agency in Europe, so my very early mornings have been full of iterations on the contract points, a lot of phone calls, etc. Makes me feel productive, but exhausted. It's very interesting and exciting, but not something I can really post about in realtime detail, you understand. As soon as it closes, you'll be among the first to know.

    But enough about me. (Heh. As if.) POV points to a new (to me) filmmaker weblog, Nyurotic, which is quite engaging. Ang Mito is a documentarian, whose film screened in the Work In Progress section of this year's IFP Market to very positive reaction. Mito posts her rollercoaster experiences at the Market. Definitely check it out.

    October 10, 2003

    Discussing Mystic River

    The first rule of Mystic River, on the other hand, is don't discuss Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil.

    The director of both films, Clint Eastwood, talks largely of the former with Michael Parkinson in the Guardian.

    Not at all related: my examination of the unexamined similarities between Midnight and Spike Jonze's Adaptation. [Buy Adaptation on DVD. Whatever you do, don't buy Midnight. Rent it if you insist, but don't say I didn't warn you.]

    October 10, 2003

    Discussing the WTC Memorial

    The first rule of the World Trade Center Memorial Competition is don't discuss the World Trade Center Memorial Competition. OK, technically, it's the second rule, and it actually applies to publicly identifying your own design proposal, but whatever.

    Many entrants and many more followers of the Competition are discussing it, though, on multiple venues online. Most voices are earnest; some are a bit weary or cynical. Some are pained, or painfully critical; some are self-aggrandizing to a disturbing degree. For my part, I try to stay engaged but circumspect (except for an occasional lash out at the hearts-and-minds-numbing involvement of a shill like Peter Max).

    Here are some sources for unfiltered WTC Site Memorial Competition reading:

  • Wired New York has very serious forums, including "Memorial Guidelines," but most WTC-related posting happens in "Ground Zero Developments."
  • DesignCommunity.com's "How did your WTC Memorial Turn Out?" is less intimidating to post in, which is both good and bad.
  • Posts on The NYTimes Forum, "Redeveloping the World Trade Center Site," may hint at what the paper's Letters editors have to deal with on a regular basis.

    A recurring theme across all the boards: exuberant comments by one William Stratas, a web developer/Competition entrant from Toronto. For undiluted, effusive Stratas, check out his site, Planetcast.

  • October 9, 2003

    On DVD's

  • POV looks at The Film Movement, which moves, um, films--indies and foreign films, mostly-- through a combination of theatrical release and subscription DVD's. Interesting but not ideal, she finds.
  • Felix Salmon looks at Directors Label, which is launching with DVD collections of music videos by Spike Jonze, Chris Cunningham, and Michel Gondry. It's all very RESfest, as it should be, since it's the same company. [On the same day my video art bootlegging article ran in the Times, Kelefa Sanneh interviewed this directin' trio. You can either buy or bootleg the interview.]
  • DVD's turn out to be the arbitrary driving force in (some) fashion. If I could have any less tolerance for the supercilious pretenses of designers, I'd be Guy Trebay, who bursts some bubbles in the Times: "John Galliano often has some canned hoo-ha he uses to deflect attention from the fact that, like everyone else at a certain moment in fashion, he bought a DVD of the documentary about the San Francisco drag troupe, The Cockettes. At least another stylist cops to copying 2001: A Space Odyssey.
  • Remember, Soderbergh's Schizopolis is finally coming out on DVD this month, thanks to Criterion.
  • No DVD link list would be complete without a plug for GreenCine, the thinking person's Netflix. Sign up today.

  • October 7, 2003

    Monorail! Monorail!

    You know, an inbred political town with an soap opera HBO series soap opera is like a mule with a spinning wheel; no one knows how he got it, and danged if he knows how to use it.

    to wit: Jennifer 8. Lee's NYT article about the starstruck powers that be in Washington DC lobbying to appear on K Street, that not-cool, new lobbying show. Lemmings. Last year, at their children's and interns' behest, they all angled to be on The Daily Show. Were New Yorkers this doofy about Sex and the City?

    And in an interview with Jonathan Darman for Newsweek James Carville explains how his real and TV worlds collide: "Iím kind of like those soap opera stars that get slapped in the supermarket."

    Also interesting: Carville talks about his involvment in the remake of All the President's Men, even though his "real kind of dyslexia attention problem" keeps him from sitting down and actually reading the script.

    [Update: as it turns out, K Street 4 was a flashback to July, giving mostly backstory; it appears there is a story, just not a script. Consider for a moment that we may be watching for the wrong thing; it's not at all about the political issues, cameos or adlibs, but a dramatic story that unfolds so offhandedly it catches us unaware. K Street may turn out to be brilliant.]

  • Making money with micropublishing: Matt Haughey & PVRBlog (via Anil)
  • Making money with macropublishing: OJR on Time, Inc. & AOL (via mediabistro.com)
  • Micro vs. macro idiocy: Indiewire on "unprecedented in-person meeting of Indiewood chiefs" convened to write a letter to Jack Valenti (via TMN)
  • Grant's slow descent into karaoke (also via Anil) (My own theory of karaoke: more than just Japan's revenge on the world for losing WWII, it's v2.0 of Japan's own New World Order, The Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.

  • October 5, 2003

    Bloghdad.com/The_Making_Of

    Excellent NYT discussion with Steve Young, the screenwriter of NBC's Jessica Lynch TV movie, on how his script changed and took shape as the "definitive" version of Lynch's rescue shifted underneath him.

    October 5, 2003

    Mac Daddy

    The MacArthur grant is the Nobel Prize for the rest of us. Seriously, if you're not married to a brilliant astrophysicist, you're never gonna be like, "unless it's the King of Sweden, we're not here," to your assistant. And even then, you'd probably be getting up at 5AM anyway, because you're eighty years old.

    Sarah Sze during the installtion of her piece at the Fondation Cartier, 2000, image: cartier.fr
    But the MacArthur Fellows Program goal, "designed to emphasize the importance of the creative individual in society," casts a pretty wide net. Almost anyone doing something that has an impact is, at least theoretically, eligible for the "so-called genius award." And the famously confidential selection process helps cut down on the self-importance of geniuses who'd otherwise wear their lives out mugging for the prize.

    With the exception of inveterate schmoozers Diller+Scofidio, who should probably cut their man at the Times, Herbert Muschamp, in for a piece of that obligation-free dough, most of the visual arts recipients are pretty low-key: Janine Antoni, James Turrell, Errol Morris, Vija Celmins, Ann Hamilton, and Sarah Sze (a friend who just won, and who has a bunch of geniuses on her technical team, too. Congratulations, all! Woo Hoo!).

    [Hmm. No conceptualist poster children, and an element of the excruciating in all those artists' work. Artistic genius, it seems, is grueling work. Let me think about these aesthetics of Genius and get back to you.]

    If anything, the MacArthur grant is designed to strip away all the tedious or boring parts of giving--proposal writing and ranking, grovelling, project oversight, accountability, the weary feeling people are just after your money--leaving just the payoff. ìThe call comes out of the blue and can be life-changing,î says MacPres Jonathan Fanton, and indeed, these calls lead coverage of the award. It's the institutional philanthropic version of porn, which, I guess, is better than the prostitution model they're replacing.

    Now if you'll excuse me, I've gotta get back to shaking my moneymaker on the street corner, getting the attention of a John (T. Mac).

    Related: You have four days to see the Sze at the Whitney.

    A barritone. At first, I assumed it was my cabaret-singing neighbor (who's performing in "Croon" at the Firebird Cafe, 365 West 46th St., Thursdays-Sundays through Nov. 2. Call 212-586-0244 for times and reservations.) but it lacked his flair. (and the songlist is different, too.)

    October 3, 2003

    'Kickers

    I recently informed a disappointed Allen & Co. that greg.org is not considering a bid, and my reasons for not getting plastic surgery have nothing to do with not knowing where Stephanie Seymour gets her fat harvested. But thanks to Elizabeth Spiers, I now have an excuse to visit New York Magazine.

    Though she explained the origin of her new weblog's name, The Kicker, on her own site, where I come from, um, down on the farm, 'kickers are boots, boots that connect up from time to time with piles of dung. This may explain why Spiers put a connection--or link, as they say 'round here-- to my site.

    All of which led me (via Google, the indie's Lexis-Nexis), to Lillian Ross's 1995 New Yorker hangout with her 10th-grade, Manhattan private school girlfriends, "The Shit-Kickers of Madison Avenue." You all must read it. And not just because now, eight years later, these are the women making notes for a vapid tell-all book about the publicist industry when they should be dolling up Lara Shriftman's invitations with a "cute stamp.")

    Peter Max, who presumably made art protesting the Vietnam war during his cosmic 60's hippy days, clearly found alternate paths to self-actualization, paths which lead to becoming The Official Artist for any and every sense-free bureaucracy he could find.

    Peter Max's treacly WTC fundraising poster, image: petermax.com
    With all the service he's given the Federal Government--including the INS and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission--perhaps he was under the impression that he didn't need to pay income taxes on that $1.1 million. [And when you realize Max's sentence was teaching art to schoolchildren, you wonder who really paid for his crimes: the artist or the kids?]

    Anyway, now that that pesky expert jury has disbanded, the talent-blind administrators of the Pentagon Memorial project got back to business as usual, namely, commissioning an Official Piece Of Crap from Peter Max. According to the WashPost, the Peter Max Pentagon Memorial Fundraising Poster will be available for sale at http://www.att.com/mil [Q: Isn't that page's title, "AT&T Military Headquarters," exactly what Ike warned us about?], which is unusual, since Max's most widely distributed recent work was the cover of a Verizon phone book.

    The most annoying thing: At one time, the Military Industrial Complex did produce some amazing art.

    [thanks, Tyler, for just ruining my day]

    To explain how I came up with my Souvenir series of ultimately inter-related short films, I went into an extended discussion of Krzysztof Kieslowski's Dekalog with someone recently. Now it turns out Riverside Studios in London is screening the entire Dekalog starting Sunday as part of its Krzysztof Kieslowski Season.

    It's not like it used to be, when you could only see Dekalog in festival screenings. Now there's a 3-disc DVD version available, marginally better than the 2-disc set released briefly in 1999. There's also a boxed set of Three Coleurs out now. Still, Kieslowski's films can be visually mesmerizing; see them on the big screen when you can. [Unfortunately, I'm getting to London on the 15th, three days after the Season ends.]

    At the opening of his discussion of Kieslowski's work, the Guardian's Derek Malcolm reminds us that Pulp Fiction closely beat out Three Colours: Red for the 1994 Golden Palm at Cannes. What kind of world would we live in if Kieslowski, not Tarantino, had won? Hint: Tarantino describes his latest films, Kill Bill, as a "duck press of all the grindhouse cinema" he's ever seen. If it's all the same, I'm going with wabbit.

    Alana's wonderful Venn Diagram, "Compleat Diagram of Strange Persons 2003" inspires me to refine the similar universe I have post-it noted on foamcore under the bed. Stay tuned. [via TMN]

    As befits a Washington hipster, Listen Missy posts in near-realtime about K Street and her friends&fans post back. We all post because we care, Steven. Because we care.

    Coming yesterday: A limited-edition Lost in Translation soundtrack CD, complete with on-the-set pictures by Sofia Coppola. [via Fimoculous]

    TMF, TML runs a piece on covering the death of George Plimpton that his a little close to home. "Jacob Weisberg, Editor, Slate: Well, it's a no-brainer. Really, what do you do? Call a couple of people up and then transcribe their responses verbatim? And, you know, failing that, cut-and-paste quotes from existing interviews. Probably one of the easiest forms of journalism there is." [Jacob, have I got a story for you. via Gawker]

    A couple of weeks ago, the Port Authority bought out Westfield America's lease for the retail areas of the WTC site, temporarily emptying one chair at the master plan negotiating table. The square peg mall developers from Australia just couldn't accept that South Street Seaport, SoHo, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and Lincoln Center were all the mall Manhattan needs right now, thanks.

    But as the Observer reports, yesterday uber-leaseholder Larry Silverstein announced deals with three of the biggest brand names in the architecture business to "collaborate" in designing the office towers envisioned in Daniel Libeskind's master plan. Norman Lord Foster, Fumihiko Maki, and Jean Nouvel will each design an office building, which will sit alongside Santiago Calatrava's train station and the David Childs/Libeskind Freedom Tower, creating a veritable archipalooza of classy-ness. Larry's bubba'd be so proud.

    There's been alot of anxious hyperbole about what the WTC site will eventually look and feel like, how the process is going, and the supposed failures associated with Libeskind "losing control" over his "vision." More and more, this process--and the proposed greatest hits list of architectural statements--reminds me of the master plan for Berlin's historic hub, Potsdamer Platz.

    Renzo Piano created the master plan, which was divided, charmingly, into the Sony Center and the Daimler Center (which Piano also designed). Related: An exhibit, "Planning Potsdamer Platz," was at the National Building Museum (among other places) in 1999. And The Potsdamer Platz: Urban Architectures for a New Millennium, a book by Yamin von Rauch.

    Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

    comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
    greg [at] greg [dot ] org

    find me on twitter: @gregorg

    about this archive

    Posts from October 2003, in reverse chronological order

    Older: September 2003

    Newer November 2003

    recent projects, &c.


    pm_social_medium_recent_proj_160x124.jpg
    Social Medium:
    artists writing, 2000-2015
    Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
    ed. by Jennifer Liese
    buy, $28

    madf_twitter_avatar.jpg
    Madoff Provenance Project in
    'Tell Me What I Mean' at
    To__Bridges__, The Bronx
    11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
    show | beginnings

    chop_shop_at_springbreak
    Chop Shop
    at SPRING/BREAK Art Show
    curated by Magda Sawon
    1-7 March 2016

    do_not_bid_or_buy_iris_sidebar.jpg
    eBay Test Listings
    Armory – ABMB 2015
    about | proposte monocrome, rose

    shanzhai_gursky_mb_thumb.jpg
    It Narratives, incl.
    Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
    Franklin Street Works, Stamford
    Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
    about | link

    therealhennessy_tweet_sidebar.jpg
    TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
    about

    sop_red_gregorg.jpg
    Standard Operating Procedure
    about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

    CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
    Canal Zone Richard Prince
    YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
    Decision, plus the Court's
    Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
    about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

    weeksville_echo_sidebar.jpg
    "Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
    Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
    about, brochure | installation shots


    HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
    Printed Matter, NYC
    Summer 2012
    panel &c.


    drp_04_gregorg_sidebar.jpg
    Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
    background | making of
    "Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

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    Canal Zone Richard
    Prince YES RASTA:
    Selected Court Documents
    from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
    about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99

    archives