July 2007 Archives

In less than thirty seconds, I could rattle off a dozen people in the real estate business, and another easy dozen in the video and film business, and a dozen in the finance business, who have incredibly, admirably, even enviably sophisticated views of art and the art world.

And yet, in two short emailed paragraphs, a hapless Atlantic Yard minion resets the real estate and banking cultural clocks to zero:

Hi, I'm working on an in house promotional video for Frank Gehry and the Atlantic Yards Project. We will be taping in Williamsburg this Thursday or Friday and are interested in videoing an artist in his or her work space. The work should be large and colorful and the space should be interesting, windows or some nice architecture. It should also be at least 700 to 1000 square feet or bigger.

This video will be shown to investors and could be an opportunity to highlight the artists work. We will have a small crew of about 8 people and shouldn't be there longer than an hour or two. We can give the artist a nominal fee of 250.00 as we have no location budget.

I don't know what giant, controversial idea lurking beneath which blithely unaware comment is more entertaining to contemplate:
  • the real estate developer's imperative for art that's "large and colorful"
  • the artist as lifestyle purveyor in an actual investment banking video
  • the already gentrifying artist participating in his own out-gentrification
  • a multi-billion-dollar project's broke-ass, indie film promise of "promotion" in lieu of "budget"
  • the idea that anyone who can afford a thousand square feet of "nice architecture" in Williamsburg these days actually makes art
  • the idea that this is all for a Frank Gehry project.

    You stay classy, too, Frank.

    Calling All 'Burg Artists: Want to Sell Out for Atlantic Yards? [curbed]

  • Quadriceptica II is an amazing exhibition of which the Cultural Directorate of Rjamusz can be justly proud, and to which anyone seriously interested in pan-national trends in current post-market cultural production must direct themselves before the onset of locust season.

    The first question to be asked is immediately answered on page 857 of the multilingual (English, French, German, Italian, Greek, Latin and Mandarin) catalogue. Quadriceptica II is being held now instead of next year (2008) because of the insight of Walter Zor, who is the President of Quadriceptica, LLC, as well as executive director of the Rjamuszan Cultural Directorate and Mayor of Belikk. As he told those of us who attended the gala press preview on the scenic rocky beach just a few kilometers’ vigorous and refreshing walk from Olde Belikk, he had been reading in the international media about America’s presidential primaries campaign, and about how each state seemed to be moving its primary to an earlier and earlier date in order to, as Mr. Roz [sic] put it in a typically Rjamuszan way, "get a jump on the competition." Quadriceptica II thus makes an intervention in the current discourse at least six months ahead of any of the 2008 polyennials.

    Lisa Evelyn-Radish's parody on artnet of the proliferation of biennials would be a heckuvalot funnier if it weren't indistinguishable from the actual, sycophantic drive-by travelogues the site's been running for reals.

    Here's Emma Gray fluffing some local friends and sources in LA--and auditioning to do some personal art shopping for the recently arrived Beckhams ["Hey! You're from England? I'm from England! We should hang out, my friend has a gallery..."]:

    On the media front in Los Angeles, changes are afoot. Angeleno magazine has a new editor-in-chief, Degen Pener, and for his suite of city pubs (under the Modern Luxury moniker) is presenting an article about the young movers and shakers of the Los Angeles art scene. And art PR guru Bettina Korek is working with Ovation TV on a documentary titled Art or Not, featuring a range of artists from Shepherd Fairey to Erik Parker, with commentary from yours truly.

    Finally, to bring things full circle -- some more artwork for the Beckhams’ pad that puts the capital "B" back in bling. At "Ultrasonic International," the current group show at Mark Moore Gallery in Bergamot station, July 14-Aug. 25, 2007, an untitled work by the UK-based artist Susan Collis consists of nothing but a pair of screws that stand out proudly in the wall, upon which a painting or other work of art may be hung. The ruse is that these two screws are the art itself. Manufactured in white gold with diamonds in the center, they sell for $3,600 -- and are cheap at the price!

    Baffled at Gray's logrolling, Tyler had wondered yesterday if artnet had any editors. I think the problem with artnet's suck-uppery is that they do. Here's Walter Robinson reporting on a collaboration between the artists Takashi Murakami and Kanye West:
    Though he’s living the life of a Grammy-winning hip-hop star, West seems to have a real admiration for Murakami’s lifestyle, describing him as "a god in the art world." During a recent tour of Japan, West visited the artist’s Kaikai Kiki studio and took his own souvenir snapshots of Hiropon, Murakami’s life-sized sculpture of a bosomy anime pinup. The two men had their photo taken posing in front of the work, an image that is part of an illustrated report by Akiko Kato on the Kaikai Kiki website.


    During his stop at the studio, West showed off a diamond-encrusted crucifix that he had designed himself -- "Breathtaking," wrote Kato, "Christ’s eyes shined blue" -- and then went on to sketch an idea for another amulet design. West asked Murakami to add eyes to the drawing, and "an unexpected collaboration was born!" The sketch was clearly the inspiration for the neon creature from Murakami’s Can’t Tell Me Nothing cover, and the necklace West wears in the Can’t Tell Me Nothing video looks like the Kaikai Kiki drawing.

    "We think that he [West] and Takashi share this eerie ability to concentrate and approach everything with utmost seriousness," Kato concludes. The report also hints at another common interest between the two superstars -- Louis Vuitton, whose brand Murakami famously revitalized several years ago. West entered Murakami’s studio wearing a colored Vuitton pouch. Both of the rapper’s new singles refer to the luxury handbag maker (Can’t Tell Me Nothing includes the words "And what’d I do? Act more stupidly/Bought more jewelry, more Louis V;" and Stronger includes the lyric "I’m caught up in the moment, right?/This is Louis Vuitton dime night.")

    Sounds like that Kaikai Kiki junket Robinson took to Tokyo last fall is still paying off in cuddly reportage:
    The point is, I am a sucker for this collaborative stuff. So Geisai #10 was an easy sale to me. A one-day art fair for art students and young artists, open to all comers, Geisai #10 was organized by art superstar Takashi Murakami in Tokyo on Sept. 17, 2006. About 800 young Japanese artists packed into a big hall at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center. The price of a booth started at about $210, for which you got no walls and no electricity -- thus, there were aisles full of young people sitting on the floor, surrounded by their works, most of them as cute as can be.

    It was great.

    Murakami’s art production company, Kaikai Kiki, flew me over to Tokyo from New York for the weekend, along with a handful of other western art critics, putting us up in a fancy downtown hotel that had the sleek glass and stone design of a corporate skyscraper. They ushered us around in vans and fed us at fancy restaurants.

    I had been petrified at the thought of taking the 12-hour trip in coach, so I finally figured out how to turn all those unused frequent-flier miles I had into an upgrade to business class, where the seats are like the recliner chair my dad used to have in our family room. This -- eating, sleeping, watching TV -- I could handle any time. Like I said, it was great.

    It turns out that Murakami is way more than Japan’s answer to Walt Disney...

    It's hard to tell where the parody stops.


    Alright, I will grant that a 54-carat, flawless pink diamond would push the fabrication cost of an 1,100-carat pave' and platinum skull beyond the $3-4 million I was able to account for.

    Still, it's worth noting that the whisper number for Damien Hirst's outlay has crept up as well. When his skull went on display, it was $20 million, then it became an unknown amount, was it 10 or 12 million pounds? Now it's reported as $28 million. Uh-huh.

    Anyway, flickr user Red Clover Pix has a set of photos from the construction of the skull. Remarkably, the photos appear to have been on flickr for almost two months, and yet they've received only a few dozen views. Were they only made public now?

    Red Clover Pix: Damien Hirst's Skull [flickr via supertouchblog via notcot]
    Previously: Diamonds Are Forever! TODAY ONLY!! The Costing Of Damien Hirst's Diamond Skull


    Historians of the moving image take note:

    The first commercial footage shot with the Handsfree-Transporter Cam Transport, wherein a Steadicam operator steers a modified Segway with his crotch, was a moving [sic] performance of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" by a Dutch marching band at the 2006 Nationale Taptoe in S'Hertogenbosch.

    For aspiring Cam Transport users, the bar has been set very high indeed.

    Meanwhile, I hope the second shoot will be at Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center; those fellas need some help with their camerawork pronto.

    Handsfree-Transporter.com > Cam Transport > Videos [handsfree-transporter.com via coudal]


    Good to see he's taking a brave stand against the one museum that isn't contemplating opening an annex on the west side of Manhattan, though. You stay strong, Mitt. [image and scoop: tmz.com, story and aide's inane excuse for Romney's equating his opponents with an international terrorists, via tpm]


    I only discovered the Chinese government's published evisceration of Michelangelo Antonioni's 1972 documentary Chung Kuo - Cina after I thought I'd finished my Cabinet article on Scott Sforza. Jonathan wondered if Susan Sontag's On Photography might have a relevant idea or two in it, so I broke out the old copy--and found Sontag's discussion of Antonioni's "extremely reactionary and despicable"...camera angles [!]. It made for a sweet, surprisingly symmetrical ending to the piece.

    Intrigued, I searched around for the full text of the 1974 Renmin Ribao Commentator pamphlet she quoted from, but it wasn't online. So I ended up buying a copy, and scanning it in. It's a fascinating read, and it should have been online long ago.

    While the North Korean government is known for bombastic turns of phrase, the Chinese under Madame Mao had a really rousing, articulate, no-holds-barred style of denouncing its enemies and whipping up its populace. Not that the internal political motives of the pamphlet are at all unclear; but it's entertaining. Antonioni's criminal techniques weren't limited to camera placement; his cinematography, use of color and light, editing, and sound editing were all reactionary imperalist tools as well. I don't know if this is where the Dogme folks got it, but the Gang of Four's condemnation of non-diagetic sound is easily as vicious as anything Lars von Trier could come up with, and twice as funny.

    Anyway, the entire text is after the jump. The numbers in brackets are the page number/page breaks. If there are any typos or formatting errors, please let me know. Enjoy, comrades!

    From Theresa's blog, The Wit of the Staircase:

    From the French phrase 'esprit d'escalier,' literally, it means 'the wit of the staircase', and usually refers to the perfect witty response you think up after the conversation or argument is ended. "Esprit d'escalier," she replied. "Esprit d'escalier. The answer you cannot make, the pattern you cannot complete till aterwards it suddenly comes to you when it is too late."
    But what if you didn't know it was too late? What if you're right in the middle of the conversation? What's it called then?

    Can I just say, I've reached a point in my life where I don't know what's left to accomplish? I mean, how can I top the thrill of getting to write for Cabinet Magazine? I just don't know.

    I've had a puppydog crush on Cabinet since Issue 3, where they interviewed John Cliett about the implications of his definitive/exclusive photos of Walter deMaria's Lightning Field. Then there was the magazine's plan in 2003 to lease the ten tiny, lost slivers of surveying-mistake-generated land that Gordon Matta-Clark once bought from the New York City government for his unrealized project, Reality Properties: Fake Estates. What began as an offhand bemusement grew into an exhibition at the Queens Museum and a book--and an important contribution to the resurgence of Matta-Clark's influence on the art world. It can be self-conscious and super-nerdy, but the magazine consistently finds overlooked and convincing perspectives on the culture and art taking shape around us.

    Whenever I read it, I was never able to imagine how to write one of those Cabinet essays. What offbeat subject did I have a slightly too obsessive familiarity with that a dozen art history phd's didn't already turn into 300-page dissertations? Then guest editor Jonathan Allen and Sina Najafi emailed me out of the blue, asking if I'd like to interview Scott Sforza about stagecraft for the special issue on Magic. Uh, YEAH.

    Sforza never came to the phone, though, so instead, I ended up with an attempt to put a bit of political and visual context around the exercise of control of the vantage point. I also threw in some discussion of the impact of the switch from binocular [eyes] to monocular [camera/lens] vision and the construction and interpretation of media images. For good measure, I connected some dots from Sforza to Andrea del Pozzo to the spiritualist photographers of the 19th century to Jan Dibbets to Michelangelo Antonioni. Susan Sontag and Gilles Deleuze provided much of the theoretical seasoning, along with a rather candid Karl Rove, circa early 2001. To top it off, there are the incredible anti-Sforzian photographs of GWB's visit to Monolia shot by Iwan Baan.

    I tell you this now because the article isn't online, so you should all go re-up your subscriptions pronto so you can read it. I still can't believe it's there.

    Cabinet 26: Perspective Correction: The beguiling stagecraft of American politics [cabinetmagazine.org]

    July 19, 2007

    On Seven Days In May

    I cannot get me enough of John Frankenheimer. Last week, I stayed up way too late when Ronin came on at 1AM. While reading an interview with David Talbot, who just published a disturbing book about Robert Kennedy and the internal battles the Kennedy Administration fought against the right-wing Military Industrial Complex crowd, he mentioned the novel, Seven Days In May. Talbot says that Kennedy wanted the novel--a bestseller about a military plot to overthrow the President--made into a movie "not only as a shot across the bow to the generals but also as a warning to the American people."

    Frankenheimer shot Seven Days with Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster and Ava Gardner in 1963, just a year after The Manchurian Candidate came out. What's most amazing to me--well, where to start?--is the way certain parts of the film were shot over the military's obvious opposition.

    Kennedy aide Pierre Salinger wrote that the President "conveniently arranged" to be out of the White House for a weekend when Frankenheimer needed to shoot, as if the only objection to be raised was one of logistics. Meanwhile, for at least two shots, Frankenheimer shot around the Pentagon's non-cooperation by surreptitiously filming his actors boarding an aircraft carrier and entering the Pentagon itself. It just blows my mind to imagine this happening today. Never mind that the US military was fully onboard with helping make The Transformers for some reason.

    imdb data, also Seven Days In May production stories [wikipedia]
    David Talbot Interview: Don't Call It A Conspiracy - The Kennedy Brothers [10zenmonkeys.com]


    No way, how much do I love MVRDV? The Rotterdam architecture firm just won the competition to build an extension to the city's Museum Boijmans van Beuningen that will house some public space, but also storerooms and archives for the collection.

    Their design, which preserves the open space of the museum site, looks like an Ikea Lack side table. I only hope it's not made of pressed sawdust and glue shrinkwrapped in PVC.

    MVRDV planen Museumserweiterung in Rotterdam [baunetz.de, google trans, via archinect] IKEA Lack side table, $14.99 [ikea.com]

    July 13, 2007

    Mittstorm: n.

    1) What the public affairs office of the LDS Church finds itself in the middle of because of the presidential candicacy of church member Mitt Romney. The deluge of media inquiries is to be met by an army of interns.

    There's only a partial list of artists included, but the premise of this show holds a lot of promise. Though I would hope that assimilation has more to do with exploration and manipulation, not just funny camera angles:

    Since photography’s inception, our world has become an ever more visual culture, where deciphering media images is an increasingly important form of literacy. Viewfinder provocatively suggests that we see photographically and that contemporary artists assimilate the camera’s mechanics as they compose technically and conceptually complex work.
    Viewfinder runs from July 14 to December 30 at the Henry Art Gallery [henryart.org via archinect]

    I'm not going to go into detail about my dismally bored disappointment with Michael Bay's Transformers. [Did snap-together transforming sound effects fetishists get enough to work with? Because us ID4-meets-Godzilla-scale, screen-filling apocalyptic battle porn dudes were totally cheated. Even The Clone Wars was better than this.]

    But as I was reading up on the AllSpark this morning, I learn that in the TV series, it was the receptacle of all the consciousnesses and fuelled the machines' existence. And it was originally called The Oracle--and also The Matrix.

    Walter Murch writing on BLDGBLOG:

    Sometime after the success of his film Blow-Up (1966), the Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni visited Manhattan, thinking of setting his next project in New York. Confused and overwhelmed by the city's visual foreignness, he decided to listen rather than to look: to eavesdrop on the city's mutterings as it emerged into consciousness from the previous night's sleep. Sitting in his room on the 34th floor of the Sherry-Netherland Hotel, Antonioni kept a journal of everything he heard from six to nine in the morning... Perhaps some inadvertent sound might provide the key to unlock the mysteries of this foreign world.
    The only way this could be cooler is if Soderbergh showed up with footage he shot of a Scott Sforza-produced photo-op at the Spiral Jetty.

    "Manhattan Symphony" by Walter Murch

    "New York from the 34th floor overlooking Central Park/ The soundtrack for a film set in New York – circa 1970" by Michelangelo Antonioni

    New York City In Sound [bldgblog]

    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 July 2007, in reverse chronological order

    Older: June 2007

    Newer August 2007

    recent projects, &c.

    Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
    about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

    TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

    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

    "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.

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

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