October 2, 2014

Untitled (Truitt EBAY)

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Anne Truitt's been an inspiration to me for a very long time, but I'd never wanted to make one of her works. Until now.

Previously: Truitt AMAZON, I guess

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?

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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.


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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

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Category: art

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eBay Test Listings
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It Narratives, incl.
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HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
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