Category:art

It's taking longer to gather these things together, but I just found another fascinating statement-as-question from the Q&A session of a panel discussion. This time, it's "Fractures of the Civilization," a discussion by composer/philosophers C.C. Hennix and Henry Flynt, along with John Berndt, held in June 2013 at the Goethe Institut in NYC. The talk was organized in conjunction with a realization of Hennix & Flynt's 'The Illuminatory Sound Environment" at ISSUE Project Room.

I've been a fan of Flynt's music for quite a while, but in the last couple of years I've also tried to step up my engagement with his writings, his talks, his ideas. I must say, it's exasperating; there's real genius and groundbreaking thought, action and insight there, but Flynt's a maddening interviewee, and even more frustrating on a panel. My operating theory is that he's been not listened to for so long, he can't but vent. And his views often have that determined, hermetic brittleness of someone who's had to figure out the world and what's wrong with it by himself. His far-ranging intellect and the rapid vigor with which he makes leaps and pronouncements makes it basically impossible for anyone to ask a follow-up question, or to challenge or probe something further.

My hope is that someone smart enough and well-versed enough will go deep with him on the art and music where his contributions are still only feebly understood. Anyway.

ISSUE Project Room's video of the talk is here; the question comes at around 1:19:00:

There's like this thing that I think about sometimes--
oh, thanks [gets mic]
There's this thing that we--about the Cold War, Progress science in the 20th century, there's this fight between the superpowers in order to get to some,
you know, higher place
to prove some sort of animalistic thought
When that fell apart with the end of Communism,
with this idea that,
you know, Capitalism,
Neo-liberalism's gonna go all through the world
people don't have this thing to fight against, as far as this race,
we've kind of--
the science that we have--
the futurism that we've come to
it's very social and helpful,
but it's not the futurism that we had in the 60s and 70s that idea of what we'd be like
now.
So there's this need
or something
for these
you know people,
Futurist Transhumanists,
to fill in this blank area, that's sort of this faith area that I think you're talking about
where,
you know
they're taking this place of--
basically we work more, as humans now
at some point they thought
robots were gonna
DO most of the work
And people were actually worried
what the lower classes are going to do with all their free time.
But apparently, we work more
than we did in the 60s and 70s,
at least in this country.
So there's this, like,
WANT
for
something to happen with futurism,
this futurism that might be based on a science fiction or something, but
essentially these people are running away with it
and it captures people like a relgious-type
experience.
So I just wanted to say
what do you have to say about that?

Previously: 'I'm going to fail,' or Protocols of Participation

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installation shot of Richard Prince, "New Portraits," photo: Rob McKeever, via Gagosian 980 Madison

They're getting more attention now because they're on canvas and at Gagosian, but Richard Prince's Instagram Portraits have been circulating for a while. Do we think of them differently then when he was assembling them in the spring and summer? When they were printouts on the floor instead of canvas on the wall? Or when they were $12 a sheet at karma in the Hamptons, or a couple hundred dollars a box at Fulton Ryder's B-List book fair?

There's a tension generated by the medium and platform shift. We look at images on Instagram differently than in a gallery. The images' metadata and informational context--username, timestamp, likes, comments, emoji--set our expectations as surely as a white cube and a wall label.

And what's missing, what Prince cropped, is as notable as what remains. These are not straight screenshots. Here's a screenshot from Prince's iPhone photostream, with his own narrative caption in the tweet:

Prince has zoomed in and cropped an old Sports Illustrated cover photo which he'd saved into his own photos. The composed screenshot as rephotography, his iPhone as his dumb camera. The phone's UI indexical fact presented with Prince's autobiographical fiction kindles suspicion for his whole tweetstream. But no more than any other; how true a portrait can anyone's tweet be? Or anybot's? Should we trust a social media platform anymore than we should trust a picture? Should we even read the comments, much less believe them?

These Instagram portraits have no phone or app UI; they're all content, no interaction. You can look, but you can't like. They look like just-the-facts screenshots, but they are composed. Cropped and composited in some way that doesn't immediately register. So I began to wonder about them, and where the facts and fiction were. I tried to track down each original IG user's image, and Prince's comment.

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Sure enough, the first pic I searched for wasn't there. The portrait on the far right in that installation shot up top is credited to an Instagram user named Rasfotos, but the image isn't in Ras's stream. Prince has made them all up, I figured, we're being played, Dylan-style, by an army of conceptualist Instagram sock puppets.

Except that all the other pics I looked for did check out, and their owners are variously and appropriately surprised and bemused at their 15 minutes of appropriated fame. The timestamps and likecounts vary, but most of Prince's images seem to have been made in the spring or early summer, 14-24 weeks ago. My guess is Ras, a professional photographer, took the image down after the print-on-the-floor study was released, and he and Prince cut a licensing deal.

Which reminds me, Prince is forever deleting his own IG stream, treating it less like an archive and more like a temporary exhibition. [Maybe it's hard to feel too attached to a platform that censors, scolds, boots and reinstates you over their corporate nudity and art policies.] and everyone's vantage point is defined by their own social graph, their hashtag gatherings, and the people they surf across and follow home. This social structure is nearly invisible on Instagram's blinkered, one-screen view. And it's even harder to see from the outside; we won't be mapping or decoding Prince's IG relationship secrets without his (or corporate's) complicity. Which all means it's hard to unearth historical evidence and origins, much less meaning.

Here's an interesting tweet from April:



Of course, advertising was Prince's breakthrough editorial.

And what the hell is going on here?

francotv_ur_princestagram.jpg

Someone who's seen the Gagosian show tell me if this print made it in. It's not in any of the installation shots. Did Prince's idea for "New Portraits" really come from James €£¥%ing Franco's "New Film Stills"? Would it be better or worse if it came from a Franco #regram of a "self portrait" of Franco in front of "Franco" by Klaus Biesenbach? "So many layers"?? It's layers all the way down, bro! The timing may fit, but this can't be right.

And yet. Something Prince said in his Cariou deposition comes back to me. Asked to explain his interest in Rastas, he'd basically said, "because I wanted to be them." Actually, it was

RP: I think maybe I liked the way that they were so different.
Q. Than what?
RP: Than myself. I don't have dreads. I wish I could. I mean I think that was some of the thinking or some of the -- perhaps it goes back to the girlfriends.The reason why I took the girlfriends is I wanted to be a girlfriend.
Did Prince recognize something of himself through Franco's[!] layers of mediated desperation [Klaus's (?) term], not just an artist, but a Shermanesque shapeshifting master? Did he see Franco's and these other kids' Instagram personas and want to get in on it? Did he want to be a Nightcore? Or worse, did he want to be a Franco? Or is this just one more image, one more comment, one more layer of media we're supposed to question but probably won't?

UPDATE:

cindy_sherman_richard_prince_dbl.jpg
Untitled (Richard Prince and Cindy Sherman), 1980

And then this:

[drops mic]

As cool as it might be as an object, there's something about that "Manhattan Project Glass" window that just ain't sitting right with me. I will not be bidding.

faces_of_project_y_detail.jpg
The Faces of Project Y, detail, assembled by Alex Wellerstein, via nuclearsecrecy.org

But researching it has led me to some absolutely amazing other objects from the dawn of the nuclear age that are well worth pursuing in an artistic context.

Let's start with The Faces of Project Y, by historian Alex Wellerstein. A couple of years ago Wellerstein pulled all the recently declassified ID badge photos from the 1,200+ people who worked on Project Y, the code name for the Los Alamos section of the Manhattan Project. Then he tiled them up into one giant, 31x40 grid. It's awesome.

That's Richard Feynman smirking in the center of the detail, just above the woman with the Gerhard Richter blur. Wellerstein puts faces to other notable names on his blog, Nuclear Secrecy, and has created some swag coffee cups and other merch with the images on it. A giant print would be nice. But what's needed, clearly, is wallpaper. Rather than lose the 29 folks on the bottom, incomplete row, maybe you could get all the images as individual files, and just let it flow till the wall is full.

I don't know how I missed the extraordinary career and sad story of nuclear sculptor James L. Acord. Thanks to Seth David Friedman for pointing me to Tom Moody's incredible 2001 tale of Acord's rare, realized masterpiece, Monstrance for a Grey Horse. I will keep reading.

chicago_pile_1_doe_flickr.jpg

Then there is the first nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1, built under the football stadium of the University of Chicago in 1942. To create a sustained, controlled nuclear chain reaction, Enrico Fermi and his team embedded uranium balls in a giant, quasi-spherical lattice of 45,000 graphite bricks, which were supported by a lumber grid, which was enclosed by a square, black rubber balloon.

chicago_pile_1_doe_flickr2.jpg

Last year the Dept. of Energy posted photos of CP-1 to flickr, and it was basically Carl Andre's greatest sculpture. Ever.

cp-1_brick_rocbolt.jpg
CP-1 graphit brick at the Atomic Testing Museum, img via flickr user rocbolt's CP-1 photo album

At least four of the graphite bricks are known to survive. Here's one at Oak Ridge. This photo by Kelly Michals is of the brick at the Atomic Testing Museum in Nevada. I don't know why you couldn't recreate the thing anew. From a window with a dodgy backstory, an untimely death, and a bunch of mug shots, to a nuclear Carl Andre Death Star inside a Kaba'a. These dots practically connect themselves!

manh_proj_window_bonhams.jpg

Here is a window from the world's first full-scale nuclear reactor in Hanford, Washington, USA. It is 3 feet high, 4.5 feet wide, and six inches thick and weighs 1,500 pounds.

I will buy it from someone who bought it from a junkyard in Walla Walla. I will strip it from its casement, except the bottom, where I will install three LEDs. Then I will attach it to an H-shaped base made of 8-inch timbers. I will attach this base to an old wooden cart.

hanford_bonhams_sculpture.jpg

I will take other, smaller windows of leaded glass salvaged from the reactor, which are 16x26 inches, and weigh 800 pounds, and I will carve some of them into sculptures. I will polish some large shards of this glass into abstract sculptures.

hanford_mushroom_cloud_bonhams.jpg

I will carve one piece into the shape of a mushroom cloud. I will set these sculptures on a basalt column mined from the reactor site. I will carve two pieces into spheres.

hanford_sphere_bonhams.jpg

Someone will cut other pieces of this glass into an indeterminate number of 2-inch cubes. Someone else will carve one piece of this glass into a 1.5-inch skull.

manh_proj_skull_evolution.jpg

I will try to sell as much of this stuff as I can through a booth at the Mineral & Fossil Co-op in Tucson. I will sell a 4-inch diameter sphere for $10,000 and a shard sculpture for $48,000 at Bonham's.

The next year, I will show more shards and the mushroom cloud and the big window at the Mineral & Fossil Co-op in Tucson. Where no one buys the mushroom cloud 'curiosity' for $150,000. I will fail to sell the mushroom cloud for $100,000 at auction.

The next year, I will try to sell the big window on the trolley at auction for $150,000-250,000.

The Internet will explode. Yet no one will ask why, if the windows from the Manhattan Project were 16x26 inches, and this one is 36x54 inches, it is not actually from the Manhattan Project, but maybe from any other period of the Hanford site's five-decades of operation, when its nine reactors and five large-scale plutonium processing complexes produced most of the plutonium for the 60,000+ weapons in the US nuclear arsenal.

And no one will ask why, if the glass is not actually radioactive or contaminated in some other way, even though it was salvaged from one of the most toxic sites on the planet, one of the first EPA Superfund sites [pdf], where specialized crews of hundreds of people spend five years dismantling structures containing such windows in ways that don't dislodge even a flake of plutonium-laden paint, to the cost of $150 billion and counting, with decades still to go, maybe it wasn't installed in a reactor? Maybe it was parts? Maybe there's any documentation or provenance information at all regarding this glass's actual historical use?

And certainly no one will ask about the downwinders of Hanford, and the soldiers and employees and their families, who have suffered from birth defects and cancer for the entire span of the nuclear age, and who have faced stonewalling, footdragging, and abrogation from the government and the military.

A blogger looking at this situation, who was initially drawn to the window because of its resemblance to minimalist sculpture, and its macho-retro-sexiness; and who would then get a little hot and bothered because he has a thing for Cold War-era spheres; and who knows his way around an auction, would probably start digging. And then he would try to piece the story together, and try to get into the mind of the people involved. And it would keep him up late, when he was supposed to be doing other work. And then in the morning he would decide that the whole thing is screwy from top to bottom, and makes absolutely no sense at all, and what is going on with our world and history and politics and people and money.

September 23, 2014

Untitled (Muji Tote), 2014

muji_tote_2014.jpg
Untitled (Muji Tote), 2014, 19.5 x 12 x 1, acrylic on muslin

It's been brewing for a long time, basically every time I see that painting it sticks to me like the smell of a campfire.

It really should be a product, a utility, an it bag for real men, no matter what part of Brooklyn they're traversing.

But it never comes out right. No one will print right to the edge, and it really must be printed right to the edge. It could be screenprinted, but my queue's pretty stacked right now. Printable heat-transfer paper frankly doesn't do it justice.

kimye_condo_hermes_papp.jpg
image from The Internet

Wouldn't you know, Kanye and Condo had the answer: just paint the damn thing. Which is a hard thing to accept sometimes. For some people. Who don't, as a rule, paint. Anyway, here we are.

My favorite part of the whole thing now is that Muji Tote could translate into Anonymous Death. So even though there's only one, and Kimye get first dibs on it [the 24hr clock starts ticking when I hit publish, get your 2nd holds ready], this really is for everyone.


September 22, 2014

Google Glass Art Project

google_art_praha_01.jpg

From the moment it launched, I've been trying to figure out what the Google Art Project would look like in real life, what the relationship is between the physical world we inhabit and the spaces and objects we encounter and the digitized pano simulacrum of Google Street View.

google_art_praha_03.jpg

What would these blurred Picassos at MoMA look like IRL? Or these pano-distorted Kellys, or this blur-encased Noguchi table in Chicago? Or this clock, or table, or borrowed bust at the Getty?

google_art_praha_02.jpg

Though a few slipped in at the beginning, even a year ago Google seemed conscientious about avoiding or removing images of its Street View crews at work. In the Spring, the Google camera cart and its operator were still being blurred out of panos at the Getty.

Well, now I wonder if Google's wondering about itself. This morning Google Art Project tweeted these panos from the Votive Hall of the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, and I swear, I've never seen a more Google Mapsian space in my life.

The lighting, the reflectivity, perspectival polygons in the air, the glass vitrines with text stenciled on them, little placards floating on wiry stands, the crispy way these matte-finish urns get backlit by the vitrines and end up looking like digital renders of themselves. And then holy crap, what is this thing in the doorway? Now it's like they're just trolling us. Us and Dan Graham.

google_art_praha_04.jpg

Google Maps is not hiding anymore; it's taking selfies. And it's remaking the world in its own image. Googleforming.

google_art_praha_05.jpg

Click the arrow, come on in.

google_art_praha_07.jpg

Turn around, look back, see where we were. Where you were. Where we were.


Getty Museum View, or Seeing Google Seeing
Man With A Pano Camera

glitch_gallery_opening.jpg
hello, new headshot

I wish I could be there right now, for the opening, but I'm stoked to announce the inclusion of some work in a group exhibition at Glitch Gallery in Charlestown, Massachusetts titled, "Challenging the law without infringing the law." The show is curated by Primavera Di Filippi, and includes Brian Dupont, Sara Hendren, Esmerelda Kosmatopoulos, Kofhschlag, and Sara Newman & Matthew Battles.

The show is the first time that Untitled (300x404), a project I began in 2009, is being exhibited IRL. The work's original is a 300x404px jpg image of a Richard Prince Cowboy photo, but the most widely known manifestation is the print edition published by 20x200.com. [Which is once again available, btw, in limited numbers.]

If you're in or near Charlestown, I hope you'll check out the show.

Glitch Gallery Exhibit 005 -- Challenging the law without infringing the law, opens Sept 20, 2014 [glitchmonster.com]

September 18, 2014

"Untitled" (ArtEverywhereUS)

fgt_aeus.jpg

September 15, 2014

Untitled (happy place), 2014

TAN_happy_place_pp1.jpg
Untitled (happy place), 2014, 15.5x11 in., digital print on glossy stock, ed. 25+5AP, $100, shipped.

From Robert Smtihson & Mel Bochner's "The Domain of The Great Bear" to Gerhard Richter and Ellsworth Kelly's special editions of Die Welt, I've been interested print as art. A couple of years ago Printed Matter turned up a big stack of Inserts, a tabloid-sized portfolio of full-page artworks by the members of Group Material. The Public Art Fund helped the collective produce 90,000 copies, which were inserted in the Sunday New York Times on May 22, 1988, and distributed downtown and in Greenpoint/Bushwick. [even then.] A few turned up at Printed Matter a couple of years ago.

Group Material member Julie Ault recalled that they'd negotiated for nearly a year with the NY Daily News, but that when they submitted the artworks, they were rejected "on the basis that 'it wasn't art it was editorial.'" That tension or ambiguity is one of the things I like most; it upsets a seemingly small but persistent expectation.

I also love The Art Newspaper's art fair editions, reported and published on the spot every day. And when I saw this page from this summer's Art Basel paper, it seemed like an almost perfect object. It includes an excerpt from TAN editor-at-large Georgina Adams' book, Big Bucks: The Explosion in the Art Market in the 21st Century which, like so much of the page, provides a salient, vital picture of the moment.

It's taken me a little while to get it just right, but I am pleased to present Untitled (happy place) as a print in an edition of 25, with 5 artist proofs. It is digitally printed on gloss stock, handstamped and numbered, and measures 15.5 x 11 inches. It will ship flat for USD100.


September 13, 2014

Maybe I Should Paint Them

One of the quotes that sticks with me from Richard Prince's deposition in Cariou v. Prince:

Q. All right. Now, you say you picked up a book on them?
RP: In -- literally, yes, I picked up a book.
Q. Okay. And that's the Yes Rasta book --
RP: Yes.
Q. -- that we've been talking about, that's in front of you? okay. now, down a few lines you said, But I love the look, comma, and I love the dreads. What did you mean by that?
RP: What do you mean what do I mean by that? I just said it. I love the look and I love the dreads.
Q. What did you love about the look?
RP: I love the way they looked.
Q. How so?
RP: I don't know how to answer that question, how so. I love the way they looked. I mean that's usually I get -- that's how I respond to images.
I think maybe I liked the way that they were so different.
Q. Than what?
RP: Than myself. I don't have dreads. I wish I could. I mean I think that was some of the thinking or some of the -- perhaps it goes back to the girlfriends.The reason why I took the girlfriends is I wanted to be a girlfriend.
I think some of the attraction that I had to some of these people who looked like Rastas in St. Barth, hanging out at the bars, I said to myself, Gee, I wish I could look like that some day.
So if I can't tweet like that maybe I should paint them. Maybe that's a way to substitute that desire. I mean that's the only way I can answer that love question.
Then he goes on to talk about his stepson turning him onto the reggae cover band Radiodread. It's really awesome.

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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

Category: art

recent projects, &c.


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

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"Exhibition Space"
Mar 20 - May 8 @apexart, NYC


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


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

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

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