Category:interviews

OK, wow, so this is a music video by Michelangelo Antonioni, one of the first/few things he shot on video. It's a song called "Fotoromanza" from "Puzzle," the first hit album by the Italian pop singer Gianna Nannini. As you can tell just by looking at it, it's from 1984:

Here is Antonioni discussing the music video with Aldo Tassone, in a 1985 interview that first ran in the French cinema magazine Positif, but which is published in English in The Antonioni Project's 1995 compilation, The Architecture of Vision: Writings and Interviews on Cinema

You have shot a feature film and a few shorts on video: how did you find that experience?

It was a very interesting experience, even if at the time, in 1980, the techniques of transferring videotape to film weren't highly developed. The copy--on tape--of The Mistery of Oberwald is very beautiful. I don't understand why the French television didn't distribute it more widely. In America, the commercial I shot for the Renault 9 [!? -ed.] was judged the best commercial of the year. It cost eight hundred million lire to make. For the video I shot for the rock singer Gianna Nannini (the song is called "Fotoromanza"), I only had forty million lire to work with--and in fact I don't much like the end result. To make intelligent videos you need seri­ous money.

I think video is the future of cinema. To shoot on video has so many advantages. To begin with, you have total control over color. The impor­tant thing is to work with a good group of technicians. Video reproduces what you put in front of the camera with almost total fidelity. The range of effects you can achieve is not even comparable to cinema. In the lab, you always have to compromise. On video, in contrast, you have complete control--you always know where you are because you can play it back at any stage, and if you don't like it you can redo it.

The Internet tells me this is Antonioni's spot for the Renault 9. Which looks to me like at least 600 million of those lire went to Jacques Tati:

Which, apologies to the professore, is only the second best driverless Renault commercial I've seen.

Sergio Leone and Ennio Morricone drop mic and leave the stage.

[via @filmstudiesff and @Coburn73]

tender buttons.jpg
Illustration from Ed Meneeley's Tender Buttons, 1964

You may know Edward Meneeley from such art historical blog posts as, "The guy who published the subscription art slide library and newsletter which Rauschenberg refused to allow to reproduce Short Circuit in 1962 because of the agreement Rauschenberg and Johns had come to after their messy breakup," and "The guy who told me how Johns really transformed an erased de Kooning drawing into Erased De Kooning Drawing," and "The guy who was hooking up with at least Bob at the time, yow, small world."

But he also turns out to be one of the first artists to use the then-new technology of photocopying to make prints. Starting in 1964, when a friend took him to IBM's offices, where he saw a copy machine for the first time.

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Edward Meneeley, IBM Drawings

Meneeley made three print portfolios using a photocopier: Tender Buttons (1965) [top] was a suite of illustrations for Gertrude Stein's work of the same name. IBM Drawings (1966) was an exploration of the medium and its context, abstract, collaged images composed from computer tapes and other office ephemera that Meneeley found at hand. There was also a hairy, photocopied butt, presumably the artist's.

meneeley_johns_portr.jpg

And then in 1968, the year Seth Siegelaub instigated his highly influential, photocopied-book-as-exhibition project, The Xerox Book, Meneeley made Portraits: People and Objects, which included a reassembled photo collage portrait of his friend Jasper Johns. But where Siegelaub and his crew were skewing to the conceptual aspects of copying, Meneeley was very attuned to the technical subtleties of photostatic reproduction, which he interpreted as a unique printmaking medium, an updated form of lithography.

Great stuff.

Edward Meneeley and the advent of the electrostatic artist's print [rectoversoblog, which has many more images, not just the 2nd & 3rd images above]

Brent-PrintedMatter

Well that cat's out of the bag.

Joy Garnett posted audio from the Richard Prince Canal Zone discussion she, Chris Habib and I had Saturday night at Printed Matter. It's available for streaming or download at the Internet Archive. OR for remixing, autotuning, and stop-action animating, whatever you want, since artpanelsjustwanttobefree it's public domain.

It clocks in at almost an hour and a half, and who knows what you'll find in there. I was too high on life and drunk on power--I was running the projector, too-- to really remember what was said. Though I do remember something about megayachts, Perry Mason vs Law & Order; and wishing you were Rasta and/or punk. So really, something for everyone.

Many thanks to Chris and Joy, to Keith and Max and the PM Crew, and especially to the awesome and engaged audience. We'll do it again for either the damages hearing or the Supreme Court phase.

Cariou v. Prince Meets Iron Chef, Discussion & Crit at Printed Matter, NYC [archive.org]
Joy Garnett's flickr photoset clearly reveals I have no veto power over her photos of me [flickr]

ivan_karp_st171.jpg

I'll get back to the Rauschenberg thing in a bit, but it's already been too long that I haven't noted the passing of Ivan Karp. He had been an amazingly generous, interesting, and informative resource to me over the years I've been delving into the history of postwar art, always ready to share a story, or an opinion, a recollection, or a corrective. And I'm sad to think we won't be having any more chats. My thoughts are with his family, and especially his wife, the artist and historian Marilynn Gelfman Karp, who has also been very thoughtful and generous with her insights and stories.

marilynn_karp_st173.jpg

An anecdote in Ivan's NY Times obituary about how he and Marilynn met in what became an epicenter of the 1960s New York art world reminded me of a better version, from Ivan's 1969 oral history interview for the Archives of American Art:

So kind of unknowingly the gallery by being what it was, an outgoing open place became a center of activity. People come in here and spend a lot of time. They'd meet each other. Every Saturday was an important event at the gallery. Dozens of people standing around in the back room discovering each other. There was a lot of romantic atmosphere. Always a lot of beautiful girls there. What always made the gallery activity worthwhile for me was the number of beautiful people and especially the beautiful girls who always came in. They were always particularly welcome; as they are to day still. That's where I met my wife -- at the gallery. She brought in slides and, in fact, brought in some paintings of an artist she was interested in. And I guess I was more interested in her than I was in the painter. But I think we did show the artist. And then I married his sponsor.
This painter was Vern Blosum. When I met Blosum almost 50 years later, it was clear he remembered the sting of losing his girlfriend as if it was yesterday.

For his part, when I called Ivan several years ago out of the blue and told him I wanted to talk with him about Vern Blosum, he just laughed and laughed. The jig was finally up.

images: Ivan and Marilynn Karp from their Screen Tests, ST171 and ST173, both 1964, obviously ganked from Callie Angell's Warhol Screen Tests Catalogue Raisonne. Marilynn was also filmed for Warhol's The Thirteen Most Beautiful Women.

Seriously, people, maybe I should just start documenting the artists and avant garde music folks in the 1960s who didn't roam around in a VW Bus. Here is composer Terry Riley, published in William Duckworth's 1999 interview collection, Talking Music:

DUCKWORTH: When did you move to New York?

RILEY: I came to New York in 1965. After the In C performances, I went to Mexico on a bus for three months. I was actually looking for something, but I didn't know what. I guess after In C, I was a little bit wondering what the next step was to be, you know. And I guess what I really wanted to do was go back and live in Morocco, because I was interested in Eastern music, and at that time, Moroccan music attracted me the most. I had lived there in the early sixties. In 1961, I went to Morocco and was really impressed with Arabic music. So we went to Mexico. My point was to get to Vera Cruz, put our Volkswagen bus on a boat and have it shipped to Tangier, and live in Morocco on the bus. We drove all the way down to Vera Cruz, but couldn't get a boat; nobody would put our bus on the boat. So we drove all the way up to New York. We were going to try to do the same thing from New York, right? But I started hanging out with La Monte [Young] again and renewing old acquaintances. And Walter De Maria, who was a sculptor, had a friend who was leaving his apartment. THis guy had a fantastic loft on Grand Street. And he said, "Do you want to trade the loft for the bus?" So I did, and that began my four-year stay in New York.

Riley also had a wife and small kid at the time, and she supported the family by substitute teaching along their nomadic journeys. Amazing.

Previously: Walter de Maria's stainless steel sculptures, including a musical instrument for La Monte Young, produced in 1965

June 7, 2012

The VW Appears

merce_vw_cage_trust.jpg
image: copyright the John Cage Trust, used with permission

So awesome. Last winter, I tried to dig up all the published firsthand accounts and references of The VW Years, Carolyn Brown's term for the early days of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, when the troupe would tour the country in John Cage & Merce's white VW bus, which Cage had purchased using the winnings from a rigged Italian game show.

In addition, I've tried to figure out what happened to the bus itself. So far, no luck at all. But when she was helping with the transfer of the Cunningham Foundation archives to the NY Public Library, John Cage Trust director Laura Kuhn spotted this little image of the company hanging out next to the bus. And she very graciously sent it along. Many thanks.

The VW Years, Ch. 1
Ch. 2, Remy Charlip & Steve Paxton
Ch. 3, John Cage
The VW Years: Carolyn Brown, Part I, Part II

johns_usuyuki.jpg
Usuyuki, 1981

Alright, Katy Martin, who made two incredible Jasper Johns films in the late 1970s when you were practically a kid. Uh, actually, yeah, that's about it. Just watch them.

Harvard's Sackler Museum just opened a show yesterday, "Jasper Johns/ In Print: The Crosshatch Works and The Logic Of Print," which features several complex, multi-screen prints Johns made in 1977-80 at Simca Print Artists in New York. Martin's Super 8mm films documenting the making of are included in the exhibition.

Silkscreens (1978) is a hypnotic performance film showing the printers' rhythmic routines as they create the 27-screen print, The Dutch Wives (1978).

On her website, Martin mentions folks like Yvonne Rainer, which makes sense, but Silkscreens also makes me think of the 1974 film Humain, Trop Humain, if Louis Malle had shot it in an cramped printing studio instead of a Citroen factory. Great stuff, and with a great, remixed, found/ambient soundtrack by Richard Teitelbaum, which, according to folks who know, like John Pyper, would drive actual printers crazy.

The other, longer film, Hanafuda/Jasper Johns (1977-81), combines footage of Johns himself working on two print editions, Usuyuki and Cicada, with audio excerpts of his interview with Martin. Johns kept complicating my notion of silkscreening as a very photomechanical process by repeatedly and extensively painting right onto the screen.

Whether it's calculated or sincere, Martin's unassuming questions seem very effective at getting Johns to talk. And after getting so much out of him, my favorite question is the last one, which is only in the published transcript, and which he tries, too late, not to answer:

KM: And then I wanted to talk something about meaning but

JJ: About what?

KM: Meaning. In the work. But I wasn't sure how far to go with that. But I can't help thinking about meaning to some degree.

JJ: Well, you mean meaning of images? I don't like to get involved in that because I--any more than I've done--I tend to like to leave that free.... The problem with ideas ís, the idea is often simply a way to focus your interest in making a work. The work isn't necessarily, I think-a function of the work is not to express the idea.... The idea focuses your attention in a certain way that helps you to do the work.

Thumbnail image for rausch_johns_short_circuit.jpg

Well this is interesting. I don't know how I missed this before now, but Albert Vanderburg was the associate editor of Portable Gallery Bulletin whose 1962 article discussing the impact of Rauschenberg's inclusion of Johns' flag painting in Short Circuit prompted Johns to write in. According to Vandenburg's own recollection, that's not all it prompted:

We had behind-the-scenes access to many museums and galleries and came to know many artists we might otherwise never have met. It was often necessary to move paintings in order to properly light and photograph them and it was a touching experience sometimes to see the backs of famous canvases. Ed had the habit of photographing any interesting work he spotted in back rooms even though I sometimes grumbled over the shambles it made on the production end. The negatives were printed in reels the size of a motion picture, then cut frame-by-frame and mounted in cardboard holders, so a beautiful Picasso sandwiched in between Roy Lichtenstein and George Segal exhibitions didn't make for efficient processing, not to mention packaging and promotion which meant all those interesting individual items had to eventually be found a spot in the catalogue with suitable companions since we had long since given up selling individual slides.

One of those backroom items created another of my stormier sword-crossings with the Powers That Be. Before Jasper Johns appeared publicly on the scene, Robert Rauschenberg had created one of his "combine" sculptures which included a small all-white example of the American flag series which later helped make Johns a major star. Ed had managed to catch it before the work was withdrawn from public view. Not fully aware of the undercurrents, I wrote an article about the political influences in the New York art world and used that work as an example of ways more established artists lend a hand to up-and-coming ones. I had meant it admiringly but it was taken just the opposite, complicated by the fact that the special relationship between Rauschenberg and Johns had ended and had not yet emerged from a sour phase and perhaps even more so by the fact that the small Johns painting had itself become more valuable than the work as a whole. Their dealer, Leo Castelli, read my article, telephoned and told me I was a "beetch" and forbid us to sell the slide of the work. So when I designed the catalogue called "The World's First Pop Art Newspaper", the slide was offered as a free special bonus. Although Leo forgave Ed and continued to cooperate with future photography sessions, he never forgave me. I thought then he was a silly little man and I still think so while giving him due credit for the absolutely brilliant job he did in helping make Rauschenberg, Johns, Lichtenstein and others into the giants of twentieth century art which they later became.

Ha, yow, not often you hear Leo Castelli called a silly little man, but not often you hear him calling someone a "beetch," either. Good times. Also, it was not an all-white flag painting. Unless, of course, it was. The vintage photo I've been using [above] was taken by Rudy Burckhardt and dates from, I think, 1958. I didn't realize Meneeley and Vanderburg had their own shot, too. But maybe there's a Portable Gallery Bulletin slide floating around out there somewhere, and maybe it shows a white flag?

UPDATE: I can't find any copies of Portable Gallery Bulletin for sale or in archives, never mind "The World's First Pop Art Newspaper." But Joel Finsel's extensive bio/blog of Ed Meneeley has a photo of Ed's own, lone copy, from early 1963, probably the next issue after Johns' letter:

portable_gallery_pop_cov1.jpg

Hmm, Finsel also quotes the paper as offering "a free color slide of the Beatles!" which I guess one could get confused with Johns.

The Panther's Tale: 014b [pantherhawaii.com]

And speaking of big universes and small worlds, I'm starting to listen to the 1991 recordings of John Cage's Diary: How To Improve The World (You Will Only Make Matters Worse), and just ten minutes in, I'm reminded that Cage's childhood friendship with the unorthodox-but-nearly-canonical Mormon scholar Hugh Nibley is the most unlikely Mormon/modern music connection since La Monte Young [grandson of Brigham].

Without intending to, I'm going from lake to lake
Salt air
Salt Lake
Hugh Nibley
I hadn't seen him since high school days
I asked him what he thought about other planets
and sentient populations.
"Yes," he said, "throughout the universe.
It's Mormon doctrine."
We'd said goodbye.
I opened the door of the car,
picked up my attache case,
and everything in it fell out on the grass
and the gutter.
His comment:
"Something memorable always happens."
Which, hmm, if it only served to get me into a transcribing-and-posting mind for the next excerpt Cage read, then it's worth it:
Things we were going to do
are now being done by others.
They were, it seems, not in our minds to do.
Were we or they out of our minds?
But simply ready to enter any open mind
any mind disturbed enough not to have an idea in it.

April 29, 2012

Big Universe, Big Data

Ross Andersen has a fascinating interview with JWST scientist Alberto Conti about the orders of magnitude increases in the amount of astronomical data being gathered these days:

There are two issues driving the current data challenges facing astronomy. First, we are in a vastly different data regime in astronomy than we were even ten or fifteen years ago. Over the past 25 to 30 years, we have been able to build telescopes that are 30 times larger than what we used to be able to build, and at the same time our detectors are 3,000 times more powerful in terms of pixels. The explosion in sensitivity you see in these detectors is a product of Moore's Law---they can collect up to a hundred times more data than was possible even just a few years ago. This exponential increase means that the collective data of astronomy doubles every year or so, and that can be very tough to capture and analyze.
How Big Data Is Changing Astronomy (Again) [theatlantic]
Related: posts on the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey, an early decades-long attempt to photograph the universe.

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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: interviews

recent projects, &c.


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

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

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

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

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

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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -
about

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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" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots


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

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

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