September 2006 Archives

September 30, 2006

Still Indie At 40?

It's funny that--oh, wait, no, it's depressing, no, it's funny, no, it's--someone like Mary Harron who has done some good films has also done some great television, but somehow it comes off sounding like a bad thing.

I'd love to see any of the filmmakers in this article try taking the Soderbergh Bubble approach and attempt to break new business and economic ground with their films, too; they sound somehow trapped in a paradigm not entirely of their own making.

All that said, John Jost, whoa.

Survival Tips For The Aging Independent Filmmaker [nyt]

Carol Vogel has a story about Damien Hirst's restoration replacement of the shark [yes, that shark]:

Such is his reputation that when a seven-foot shark washed up on a beach in July, and the Natural History Museum in London needed a place to store it until its staff was ready to preserve it, the first call it made was to Mr. Hirst.

“They asked if I had any room in my freezer,’’ he said with satisfaction. He was happy to oblige.

Swimming With Famous Dead Sharks [nyt]

When I grow up--scratch that, IF I were to ever grow up enough, I wish I could write with half the force of Ada Louise Huxtable.

Given the notoriety of the site, a passionately observant and deeply involved public, and the proven financial advantage of what goes by the dreadful name "starchitecture," Mr. Silverstein's move from standard commercial construction to high-end high style required no great sacrifice or philanthropic awakening. Good design makes excess palatable. Marquee names command higher rents. These are all virtuoso performances--architecture as spectacular window dressing and shrewd marketing tool for the grossly maximized commercial square footage that has remained the one constant through the perversion and destruction of Daniel Libeskind's master plan, a process in which vision succumbed early to pressure groups and political agendas. Call it irony or destiny, the architecture once rejected as a costly "frill" is now embraced for its dollar value.
The Disaster That Has Followed The Tragedy [wsj via archinect]

September 28, 2006

In Milano Veritas

"In terms of the way the art world functions today, 'Scene & Herd' is the new October."

Francesco Vezzoli is also working on a documentary funded by Miuccia Prada.

Scene & Herd: Burden of History [artforum]

September 27, 2006

Lost In Translation


I guess if Kaikai Kiki had wanted the name of its biannual Toyko otaku art fair, Geisai, spelled properly, they should've upgraded Walter Robinson's seat for him. Instead, as he wrote, he had to use his own frequent flier miles to get out of coach [which is the only sensible thing to do, of course, on a 13-hr flight. and the article has since been corrected]:

Murakami sat on the floor and spoke briefly about Geisei [sic] #10. It had been a success, he said, to the extent that it had given young artists a chance to show their work and make contacts.This latest fair had also begun to reach an international audience -- we ourselves were the tautological proof of that.
Now, I'm actually a big fan of Japan's otaku cultures and the DIY sensibility that underpins both the kawaii school of crafty, little artmaking as well as the whole jishu eiga/self-made movie trend. Murakami deserves plenty of credit for trying to bring this kind of creative production to the art world's [sic] attention, or to formulate a more sophisticated context for it, anyway. [That said, Murakami worship needs some context, too; while he creates the open forum for an all-comers art fair on the one hand, he happily sends his characters to the front to provide cultural cover for complicated-at-least developers like the Moris, whose massive Roppongi Hills megaplex is a Kaikai Kiki-branded project. And it sounds like the "fancy downtown hotel" [sic] where the junketeers stayed. Good to hear Tokyo's "downtown" is improving.]

But from Robinson's bemused, deracinated gaijin schtick, it doesn't sound like he even cracked the spine on Murakami's intensely argued Little Boy exhibition catalogue before he accepted the artist's hospitality. Fortunately, the movement, such as it is, is probably as uninterested in Robinson's clueless opinions as he is with trying to grasp what's in front of him.

walter_robinson_pointy_melon.jpg image: shibuyabuya

I wonder who else went? And while I'm less interested in whether they disclose the junket, and more interested in hearing what someone has to say whose pointy melon hasn't been so shaped by the art world's tiny box.

Murakami, Impresario [artnet]
Previously: Tokyo Snapshots - Takashi Murakami Corp. 08/05
Geisai #10 []
Takashi Murakami interview before Geisai #10 [tokyoartbeat]

update: that didn't take long. I hear that art magazine folks Judd Tully (Art & Auction), Cathy Bird (Art & Antiques), Dan Fox (Frieze) and a couple of others took the trip. I'd be surprised if someone from the new LTB title Culture & Travel wasn't tagging along, too.

Michael Weiss's reading of the crypto-Republican subtext of John Hughes' 80's teen films seems remarkably tone deaf, even to someone who was growing up as a clueless cultural Republican teenager at the time.

On the other hand, I don't know what could be more depressing than to realize the genius behind Sixteen Candles is also behind Beethovens 1-5. Oh wait, I do know: that there are potentially four more Beethovens left.

The Political Conservatism of John Hughes [slate]

Now, after reading Regine's writeup of Marc and Sara's Wooster Collective presentation on street art, I'm double mad I missed Conflux this year.

previously V-2's Adam Greenfield on taking Urbanist icons to the woodshed

September 25, 2006

Art World Amazon Wish Lists

John Currin's list, for example, reads like his kid's birthday party gift registry.

And while I'm tempted to buy Helmut Lang that $5 John Chamberlain wall relief catalogue, I have to wonder why it's on there at all. Did he maybe think he was putting it in his shopping cart? Three years ago?

A Collection of Amazon Wish Lists [via archinect]

It is really hard, apparently, to come away in a good mood when you're a freelancer charged with writing about starchitects' hyper-deluxe modernist loft developments where the price per square foot is more than your fee.

In Vanity Fair, AA Gill does a whiny but funny but ultimately tedious takedown of the lifestyle purveyors like Andre Balasz and Ian Schrager [and their Nouvel and H&dM lifestyles, respectively], which, in turn reminded me of an article in Departures, the American Express magazine on nearly the same subject.

Curbed quotes Gill very well, so I'll leave him be [but not without pointing out that he's romanticizing our homeless street freaks from the cozy charmes of his apartment in London]; but Penelope Green's AmEx article, though far more civilized, thank you very much, essentially validates Gill's thesis that this extremely expensive, modern, luxe, minimalist lifestyle is not "about" New York; it's a global phenomenon distributed along the flight ranges of Gulfstream V's.

Below are some choice tidbits from Green's piece [which may or may not be accessible online to non-Platinum and Centurion Cardmembers, so apologies in advance if you get stiff-armed for your demographic undesirability]. It all makes me wonder where all the billionaire freelancers are who can write about this stuff from a practical perspective, free of all the baggage of raging unattainability and deflated despair that inevitably creeps in. Please, billionaires, won't you write more magazine articles?


The Venice Biennale of Architecture may have been a critical bust--both the Times' and the Guardian's people panned it, complaining that it's a book in exhibition format, or text and videos but no architecture--but I have to say, it works OK for me as a blog.

MoMA's A&D Dept. and some other folks--a lot of other folks, actually--have whipped together the Venice Super Blog, with a veritable DVD-ful of audio interviews, video clips, and Giardini gossip. It's a bit too inside football sometimes, and sometimes the posters are a bit too pleased with themselves for attending [gee, if the "entire Architecture World" really is under the stairs of the British Pavillion with you, who's supposed to be reading this?], but there's interesting enough content to make it worth reading/listening/watching.

Some personal picks: Olafur Eliasson talking about his collaboration with architects, including work on the Icelandic Concert and Conference Centre, and David Adjaye's pavillion for an OE installation. Here's a wrap-up of a panel discussion about the pavillion project, Your Black Horizon. And here's a photo of a 1:1 mockup of the IC&CC semi-reflective crystalline facade. [above]

Rem Koolhaas and his thinktank side, AMO, did a presentation on resort developments in Dubai--Olafur calls it "Rem talking about his golf course project in Dubai"--and the modernist building boom throughout the Persian Gulf. Here's a brief interview, and here's an even briefer recap.

Besides more useful tags or navigation, it's the one thing VeniceSuperBlog could've done better: raw, liveblogged info. Maybe it's a problem of too many chief curators and not enough interns.


From 100 anime movies, to 1,000 cloned machinima race cars. Here's an incredible experiment in fluid dynamics, a flock of a thousand cars at once careening through Trackmania to a Moby soundtrack.

The 1k Project, uploaded by smull [ via wonderland]


Imagine Christian Marclay's multi-channel movie mosaic masterpiece, Video Quartet, but done entirely with anime--and with a little bit of narrative laid over the top.

That's Istiv Studio's The Race, which is made up of clips and rotoscoped characters from over a hundred anime films, laid over a Weezer soundtrack. A pretty awesome way to spend a year of nights and weekends.

The Race by Istiv Studio
[google video via boingboing]

September 16, 2006

Branding Man

I know a lot of you have been asking yourselves, "Hey, what's been going on with Greg and the Belgian Waffle?" No? Too bad. Cuz I'll tell you.

The Burning Man curator known as LadyBee and I have been going back and forth in email over whether Uchronia's creators co-opted Burning Man as a backdrop for their own alternabrand-enhancing PR, whether the 1,000+ photos on flickr tagged with Uchronia constitutes a brand now, or whether Arne Quinze and his co-designers are just sending out 50,000 books and DVD's to "people in important or influential positions who help shape the socio-economic landscape and can make a difference" anonymously and with no expectation of personal benefit.

Now, as you can imagine, an MBA, ex-consultant, ex-banker would have a hard time taking a credible stand against marketing, branding, or PR, but that's not my point, and it hasn't been. I don't think there is anything intrinsically wrong with marketing per se, but I give Burning Man the institution full credit for not launching Black Rock Consulting, but instead sticking to their non-commercially exploitative guns.

But it's naive of me to have thought as I have all these years, that Burning Man somehow exists apart from the society it sought to leave behind. Just as the environmental and resource impacts of the playa can't be overlooked--they do still share a planet, an atmosphere, and a Wal-mart distribution infrastructure with the rest of society, after all--the notion that what happens in Black Rock City stays in Black Rock City is a fantasy. And all the bartering in the desert won't change the fact that Burning Man is a brand and an institution in itself now, and it has associative value that the Uchronians identified and skilfully leveraged--and they did it in a way that has Burning Man veterans defending them.

image via core77
While LadyBee has been pretty engaging, if resolute in her defense of the Uchronians, ["of course Arne puts them on his resume - and why shouldn't he? He designed and built the thing. All our artists do that. If it strengthens his portfolio, fine. What marketing scheme do you think they're going to unleash? Selling imported radiators to burners?" (Arne Quinze's co-creator Jan Kriekels has a radiator company)], and she backed off a bit from her first email ["subject: greg - get a clue!"], the Belgian she roped into our exchange started with a really petty, thin-skinned personal attack.

Burning Man's foundation is the idea that everyone could and should make art or express herself creatively. BRC is built on that creative exchange. Great. But Burning Man also has a curator, and a grant-making and evaluation process, which they use to dole out a portion of gate receipts to art proposals. It's an institutional system that bears a remarkable ressemblance to the non-playa-based art world.

Uchronia itself was funded completely outside that institution, as LadyBee explained in an email to Burning Man's staff [who'd apparently had some questions about the project, too.] And its team included between 45 and 60 "volunteers," who, it turned out, were employees of the creators' companies, and who worked at full salary, plus expenses, on the project. By that definition, Star Wars was a "volunteer" project, too.

Again, this is all totally cool, but it seems to me that if what happens at Burning Man doesn't stay at Burning Man after all, and there are curatorial decisions being made and business transactions being done, then these people could respond a little better to criticisms, alternative interpretations, or a response that's anything less than sheer, uncritical gratitude and ecstasy.

When Christo "gave" the "Gates" to the world, he kept trotting out his figure for how much he spent--$20 million, he said--while the boost the project gave his own art sales and holdings--in a private, pre-"Gates" interview, Jean-Claude claimed they had $400 million--was almost never mentioned.

The "Gates" was what it was, and Uchronia is what it is. But one of the things it is is a page in a portfolio for a "creator of atmosphere" who sells his own brand of edgy counter-cultural buzz to corporate clients like Compaq, Diesel, and Rem Koolhaas.


In a previous post, I characterized the Belgian designers behind Uchronia, a giant pavilion at Burning Man constructed by an army of their firms' employees and others of new wood and then burned to the ground, as "self-aggrandizing eco-idiots." Christine Kristen, aka LadyBee, the curator of art projects at Burning Man, takes issue with my characterization. The designers are not, it turns out, eco-idiots. regrets the error.


The Belgian project at Burning Man was a stellar example of community and generosity, funded by two Belgian business owners who regularly do community based art projects worldwide. The wood they used was last-quality Canadian wood destined for the dump. Additionally they are planting trees in Belgium equal to the wood used, and all leftover wood was donated to Burners without Borders, a Burning Man group that does relief work in Louisiana and Mississippi.

Get your facts straight before you criticize. You mean-spirited comments make you seem...petty and vindictive. I managed this project for Burning Man and there was virtually nothing objectionable in it. In fact these two business owners are trying to promote community through art-making and are very generous and forward thinking.

Though her explanation doesn't entirely contradict Treehugger's description of the wood used as "virgin pine," it is a welcome correction.

For the rest of my response to LadyBee, see below. And for documentation of the Uchronia brand, check flickr.


There is actually discussion online that this photo has been Photoshopped and that GWB didn't actually step on the flag during a photo-op visit to a September 11th memorial near the WTC Site.

Sorry, it's very real. Reuters photos of the event show the flag mat [WTF??] pre-positioned precisely in front of the photographers' position, a classic Sforzian composition, albeit one that went horribly wrong [as far as these things go.]

There are additional pictures of Laura Bush walking on the mat, and both of them standing on the flag. [Jason Reed/Reuters via Yahoo]

Gawker Media: always pushing the envelope of integration of content and advertising. "Does it smell like smoked mozzarella out here, or is it just me?" [gawker]

Now the story can be told. It's interesting how long it takes stuff to bubble across the Internet. A recent spate of blog discussion of Claude Lelouch's 1976 cult short film, C'etait un Rendezvous was prompted by the film's mention in GQ this month. Similar waves of discovery and amazement accompanied, in reverse chronological order, the pairing up of Rendezvous with a follow-along Google Map, and a couple of years back, the film's triumphal re-emergence on DVD after lingering for decades in bootleg-VHS obscurity.

But in the spring [Mercredi 24 Mai 2006, precisement], Lelouch took some French TV dude along to re-travel the route and talk about the making of the film. The result: answers for a lot of the rumors, questions, and legends that accumulated around the film. Too bad no one bothered to ask Lelouch before now. [But then again, my point is, I'm kind of bummed that I'm only finding this out now, four months after it was shot.]

1) Lelouch was driving
2) his Mercedes 6.9 [which he still has, which is one of my alltime favorite cars]
3) because the pneumatic suspension would produce a much smoother image.
4) The Ferrari audiotrack was dubbed in afterward.
5) The woman at the end is his wife.
6) The whole thing was done on a whim, after shooting something else with a car-mounted camera, and using a leftover magazine of film.

My favorite line of the whole interview: "Yes, I was scared. I was scared of running out of film."

C'etait un Rendezvous The Making Of
{youtube via jalopnik]
French discussion and transcript from April []


Or in Larry Silverstein's case, Fumihiko Maki. [ap/yahoo via gawker]

Andy has some video of some in-game developer commentaries that are included in the Half-Life 2: Episode One. They're a cross between a typical DVD director's commentary track, hyperlinked footnotes, and a first-person video tour. Fascinating.

Perhaps the coolest, though, is a commentary where they show how an in-game video projection--where a game character's talking head appears on an in-game monitor--is made. Turns out the clip is actually "shot" "live" in a walled off part of the game, and "broadcast" to the monitor. It's like in-game machinima or something, which is a bit to recursive for me. I think my head will explode.

Half Life Developers' Commentary []

September 4, 2006

Called That One

The last mention of Lee Siegel on this blog was also the first. Since about three hours after he published that dumbass comment about Twombly, I've basically taken pains not to read his criticism. Life was just too short. And judging from the whorls of justified complaint and outrage in his online wake, I think it's just as well.

For all the serious crit and insights into Siegel's folly, the best response, though, has to be Dan's comment on Grammar.police, which came during a thread on Twombley's Whitney show: "I frankly don't think we can fully appreciate Twombly's carpeting choice unless we understand that he is gay."

Jed Perl, on the other hand, has duped me into reading him again and again, even though I usually find him to be a cranky and retrograde wet blanket. I guess I can't fully appreciate Perl, even though I understand his taste in tapestries.

Advantage: Blogofascists [grammar.police via man]
Previously: Fatuous Writing Makes Art Lovers Head Explode!
How Conceptual Art Is Like A Renaissance Tapestry


A swoopy playground for hipsters built by an army of volunteers in an arid, rocky landscape? Alas, it appears they haven't heard of reclaimed lumber in Belgium.

Uchronia, by Jan Kriekels and Arne Quinze at this year's Burning Man Festival [sfgate via archinect]
Anyone who calls themselves "the spirituals"... plus, they built off the Black Rock City grid. []

update: You're kidding. these self-aggrandizing eco-idiots burned this thing, made of virgin pine, the night after The Man. [via treehugger]


It took over 600 years to complete [from 1248 t- 1880], so it should surprise absolutely no one that it takes the Cologne Cathedral [or Kölner Dom] over 60 years to fix a broken window.

Gerhard Richter has been commissioned to recreate a 20m tall window for the Cathedral's south transverse; the original was blown out during World War II, and the design was lost. The new Richter window will consist of 11,500 handblown glass squares about 10cm each, in 72 different colors; the design was inspired by Richter's 1974 presciently pixellated painting, 4,096 Colors, which has been overlaid onto window's original Gothic mullions and tracery.

The top donors to the window's fabrication costs [estimated at 350-400,000 euros] at the end of the year will receive a signed thank you memento from Richter, as well as invites to the Spring 2007 dedication. [I'd certainly hope so.]

Cologne Cathedral at wikipedia. also, see and read details in German at [via artnet]

At Adam Greenfield of and elsewhere will be giving a talk I'd go to just for the title alone, even if it weren't about rethinking the superheroes of 20th century urbanism: "Killing The Fathers, or: If You See Jane Jacobs On The Road..."

We need to come to terms, in other words, with the fact that fetishizing Jane Jacobs' long-lost Hudson Street gives us, ack, Celebration; that the Situationists' collapse of public/private and work/leisure into "unitary urbanism" mostly turns out to mean having to listen to some clueless bozo yawping into his mobile in the Starbucks; that Archigram's headlong embrace of the disposable ethic looks ever more embarrassing in an era when resource wars loom as the most likely endstate of all our most cherished plans.
I've been on something of a Situationist/Constant's New Babylonian binge for a couple of weeks, and with the ideas I had for the WTC Site Memorial still gnawing on some remote part of my brain, I will probably be the future-old-kook with a sheaf of crumpled schematics stuffed into my satchel on the front row, waiting to ask him woefully underpunctuated questions.

Conflux lectures, 9.17.06 []
Reversals, inversions, anticipations, returns []

Previously: my WTC memorial proposal, part 1, part 2, nov 2003; my angsting over it, mar 2005. I posted my embarassingly designed poster/entry on flickr [I used powerpoint; it's all I had at that moment.]

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.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Posts from September 2006, in reverse chronological order

Older: August 2006

Newer October 2006

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
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
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99