May 24, 2011

Aarhus Madness


O wow.

Olafur Eliasson's Your Rainbow Panorama opens Thursday on the roof of ARoS Aarhus Kunstmuseum in Denmark. It's a 360-degree glass promenade which paints the cityscape with every color of the spectrum.

Too bad the promenade roof's not rainbow-tinted glass, too. That'd make one helluva signature on Google Maps.

Image and statement via []
More images at designboom []

Previously: Olafur: The Magazine?
Color Experiment paintings

April 22, 2011

Ghetto Busted Street View


Just when I start to worry that maybe it's wrong to care how sculpturally sweet the Google Street View's camera ball is, I see this [scroll way down], a photo of the ramshackle, zip-tied, off-the-shelf mess that is the Tele Atlas street mapping van.

Seriously, people, if you're not gonna suit up, why even come to the game? [image:]


I've been meaning to post more about this for months, but now I'm glad I waited. In January curator/writer Pablo Leon de la Barra posted Google Street View photos of the Hotel Palenque on his blog, Centre For The Aesthetic Revolution.

I need to put a [sic] after basically every word in this sentence, but it's pretty jarring to see a place you know only from an old artwork alive and well and part of the real world. Hotel Palenque was supposed to be a white man's fictional, archeological non-site, not an actual site, where people stay when they come to town, and certainly not a real, surfable place on Google Street View.


But this is all precisely de la Barra's point, too. He originally Googled the hotel because he was preparing a text on Jonathan Monk's Color Reversal Nonsite with Ensuite Bathroom [2009, above] for the Museo Rufino Tamayo in Mexico City. Monk's work is a mirrored replica of the Hotel Palenque sign, only upside down and backwards, as it would be loaded in a slide projector.

Just as the entropy of development means that once-remote earthworks are now tourist attractions on the GPS grid, de la Barra lays out how Smithson's exoticized, Yucatan jungle ruin/playground is now more fully recognized as someone else's [sic] home turf. And while it may be surprising to hear that Smithson's Hotel Palenque was only presented for the first time in Mexico in 2005, it should surprise no one to learn that Smithson sounded like a drunken gringo.

REVISITING HOTEL PALENQUE THANKS TO GOOGLE MAPS [centre for the aesthetic revolution]
Hotel Palenque, 15 Avenida 4 de Mayo on Google Maps [google maps]
Previously: non-site non-art, Smithson's Hotel Palenque
Visiting Artist: U of U lecture on Smithson


Andrew Russeth has a great post about the making of Robert Irwin's Black Plane. As part of the Whitney's 1977 survey of the artist's work, Irwin had the museum staff paint the intersection of 42nd St & Fifth Avenue, a certain heart of the city, with blacktop sealer. The image above is an aerial photo from the Chinati Foundation newsletter, 2001, which accompanied an interview of Irwin by Marianne Stockebrand.

It, along with the date of the Chinati publication, December 2001, reminds me of a proposal for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site that Ellsworth Kelly made in October. In early 2003, after seeing an aerial photo of the site in the Times, Kelly painted a green trapezoid as a stand-in for the large grass mound he envisioned, and sent his collage to Herbert Muschamp. The artist also noted that other artists he'd spoken to, including Joel Shapiro and John Baldessari, also thought that nothing should be rebuilt on the WTC site.


Muschamp arranged for Kelly's collage to be donated to the Whitney.

April 14, 2011

Powhida Street View

Thumbnail image for johns_gray_map_orgy.jpg

Barbara Rose called this partially obscured page of text "The most tantalizing fragment" visible in Jasper Johns' 1962 painting, Map, and speculated that it was "probably ripped from a paperback book Johns had in his studio." The visible word "rebel" resonated with Rose's idea that Map is akin to a battlefield map, and relates to the Civil War, the centennial of which was being commemorated when Johns, who had recently decamped for his native South Carolina, made the painting.


It turns out the page is from the short, 2-page preface to a hardcover, the 1960 US edition of Burgo Partridge's 1958 book, A History of Orgies. I bought this book, which is basically one Oxford student's quick tour through the dirty parts of the classics, followed by a brief history of sexual excesses and hypocritical moralizing in Europe, ending with a call to keep pushing modern society toward a Greek ideal of a sensible, guilt-free sexual culture.

A History of Orgies was apparently a good-, if not best-, seller, both in the UK and the US. After buying a copy online--strictly for research purposes, you understand--I skimmed through it. What I don't know about orgies could fill several books, but its argument, even its thesis, frankly, seems a bit scattershot. Perhaps more lucid syntheses of orgies have followed Partridge's? I'll wait for the orgiast literati to chime in. But it was impossible for me to read the preface without thinking of it in terms of Johns' work, and also his life in 1960-62, and the culture around him.

Rose calls the visible phrases "chosen and deliberately revealed," and says they "participate in Johns's game of peekaboo, which he plays with his audience, much as a stripper suggests that more will be revealed with each succeeding fan flutter," which is a kind of hilarious image, given the actual source of the text.

And just as the brushstrokes teasingly obscure some of the text, I also can't help wondering what's behind, what we can never see: the other side of the page. There are at least three Johns works from this period--Canvas (1956), Fool's House (1962), and Souvenir 2 (1964, below)--where the artist affixes smaller canvases face down on his larger work, depriving the viewer of knowing what lies underneath. I have no idea if there's anything in the first page of Partridge's preface that Johns wanted to not-show, but the full text of what he ended up not-showing is below.

Souvenir 2, 1964, which was in the Ganz collection until 1997 excellent discussion at Christie's

In the previous post, I referenced the skepticism, voiced by Yve-Alain Bois, of the usefulness of identifying [and thus being tempted to interpret] all the raw materials in Rauschenberg's combines. It's not like there's a unifying, hidden message, a Rauschenberg Code, waiting to be deciphered by some future Tom Hanks. But technology is rapidly making the once-impossible trivial, and art from the past is going to have to deal with it. It took me only a couple of Googling minutes to identify a text that Rose could only speculate on--and which Johns, if he ever meant for it to be identified, has certainly not discussed.

But this impact of instant, ubiquitous information reminds me of how Land Art, once intended to be remote and highly inaccessible, if not impossible to find, ends up on GPS systems and Google Maps. The times, they're a-changing.

Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, the preface to Burgo Partridge's A History of Orgies with pagination intact, and the texts visible in Johns' Map in italics:


I kid about Jon Rafman, but it's out of love. Just check out this incredible pano of BF wherever stitched together from different CMYK separations. It could be a Rauschenberg or something. By which I mean it'd make a great painting or print.

And which is kind of what caught me up about it; I'm sure it's just some automatic step in the Street View imaging process, but I always associate CMYK with print output, not screen. Maybe someone who knows this stuff better can explain the advantages of converting RGB to CMYK for images that are presumably never intended to leave the digital world.

2/12 update: thanks to a Guardian slideshow of 9-eyes, we now know this was shot on CM-4009, north of Polan, Spain. It also appears to be the effect of a wonky rear-facing camera. Similar spectral striations appear all along the road, interspersed with a patch of b/w or desaturated imagery knitted into the pano, which I assume isolates the effect to a single camera. The CCD striations contrast nicely though with the occasional appearance of their optical equivalents: old-school lens flares from the sun. Ironically, the particularly awesome glitch Rafnan highlighted seems to have been removed or reprocessed. Another reminder that Google is watching the watchers.

Google Street View's shiny balls
Google Lens Cap View
Walking Men, or the Google Street View Trike has a posse--who delete images of themselves when they're published on blogs

People often ask me, "What is it that makes your Google Street View Art so different, so appealing?"

Actually, no one asks me that, they just send me "Hey, look!" emails with links to Jon Rafman and Michael Wolf. But if they did ask me, I'd probably go off about Bergson and the flaneur's gaze and Deleuzian notions of cinematic time and the panoptic surveil--

"Hey, look! Shiny object! Want that!"


Seriously, chrome that bad boy in an edition of 5, please. I'll keep the AP.

via Behind The Scenes with Street View [youtube]


"Our lives are spent trying to pixellate a fractal planet." - A. King in Society. [via mathowie]


We went to Monticello this weekend--Jefferson was a complicated guy, brilliant, thanks for the Declaration etc, etc., but wow, high maintenance--and came away with a question about the Latin motto in the Jefferson coat of arms, which adorns the gate of the family cemetery where Jefferson and his white lineal descendants are buried.

Though we got the gist of it, the motto, "Ab eo libertas a quo spiritus," had enough prepositions in it to make it hard to parse. But as we walked down the hill, trying to figure out "eo," we realized we probably couldn't. All we could do is look it up, and then we'd know.

That's the binary situation the net has put us in: we either know something now, or we know it the instant after we look it up. There's no figuring it out, no hints, just the answer.

Of course, this isn't true for everything, or even most things--Google's not just cold telling me where Jasper Johns' Flag is, that's for sure--but it's true for enough things.

And that kind of bums me out a bit.

As for the motto, it does turn out to be a prepositional mess, which Jefferson may have added himself: "The spirit (comes) from he from whom Liberty comes," or "Liberty comes from he who gives life."

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Since 2001 here at, 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 that time.

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