January 2008 Archives

Daniel Thompson, the guy behind Clean Flix, [1], Flix Club, an Orem, Utah video store that, like Clean Flicks before it, edited sex, nudity, and swearing scenes from Hollywood movies, has been arrested for paying for sex with 14-year-old girls.

One of the girls' moms found the $20 bill and asked where it had come from.

The booking documents state Thompson told the 14-year-olds that his film sanitizing business was a cover for a pornography studio. He asked the girls if they would participate in making a porn movie, but they refused, the documents state.
Police found a "large quantity" of pornographic movies inside the business, along with a keg of beer, painkillers and two cameras hooked up to a television. Thompson told police he didn't know the teenagers were under 18 or that they were paid for sex. He said pornography found at the business was for "personal use," according to the documents.
Reminds me of the hypocritical conservative zealot who was outraged at the occasional nudity in the foreign films shown at BYU's International Cinema program. He demanded that he be allowed to screen and edit out all the smut himself.

[1] update: oh wait, the place is just some me-too outfit called Flix Club, not the original Clean Flicks. I thought 31 was too young to have been starting businesses based on the single nude scene in Titanic.

update update: alright, Clean Flicks connection re-established. The Provo Daily Herald explains that Thompson was a Clean Flicks dealer until that company went out of business. Then he re-opened under the new Flix Club name, until he was closed down last year in a separate court ruling.

Former sanitizer of rental movies is accused of paying teens for sex [sltrib via thr]
Clean-film business was front for porn, police say [heraldextra.com]
Previously: nude scenes at BYU


At the risk of devolving into an Olafur fanboi site, I'll mention that I was flipping through Take Your Time, the photodocumentary magazine published by the studio in November. Turns out there are multiple shots of the making of for the quasi-brick tile installation in Tadao Ando's Yu-un house project for Japanese collector Takeo Obayashi.

Here are some much-reduced screenshots from the PDF version. It's one of the remarkable things of Take Your Time, glimpsing the extent and diversity of the indsutrial/production processes which generate Eliasson's art objects. Outsourcing fabrication is so commonplace these days in the art world, but Olafur's approach is the diametric opposite. He develops these highly specialized production capabilities for what's essentially a very-low volume factory. The R&D'll kill you, but the gross margins on those tiles has to be phenomenal.

Above: In-house production and packing of the tiles.


The installation template described by one of Eliasson Studio's architects, which incorporates randomly generated position instructions applied to the AutoCAD diagram:


Construction crews installing the tiles in Tokyo [l] and the finished wall [r]

Previously: And what do you do, Mr. Ando?

Olafur: the Magazine??


He's a tough guy and a really wonderful architect whose work has sent me on more than one pilgrimage in my life. But even so, I can't help but feel a little sorry for Tadao Ando. The most dazzling, sophisticated and successful spatial element of Yu-un, the guest house he built for a longtime friend, is not by the architect; it's an art installation by Olafur Eliasson. [The serial Ando client, Takeo Obayashi, is the head of one of Japan's leading contractors and a contemporary art collector.]

Ando sounds kind of testy and defensive in the Architectural Digest profile of the project, and he seems to get far more credit for Eliasson's work than he should:

Yu-un’s courtyard, however, is different from any Ando has designed before, and it created challenges demanding the delicacy of a diplomat. “We had some struggles with so many designers and artists on board,” says Ando. “We had many discussions with them, and it took time to find good solutions without compromising my design.”
Despite its name, Architectural Digest has always taken an extremely circumscribed view of architecture. In the magazine's relentlessly tasteful, decorative hierarchy, every service industry employee has his place: architects define space and structure; interior designers transform, synthesize and finish; artists and tradespeople provide the raw materials for the realization of the designer's vision; and when the client is a collector, art serves as the appropriate symbol of his wealth and taste.

The subtitle of the article--“A Surprising Modern Design Blends Ornament and Restraint"--and this awesome quote from Ando are a one-two punch for art's function:

Of course, I work with a lot of artists. In Los Angeles, I’m making a guesthouse and exhibition space sort of like Yu-un, and we’re doing things with Damien Hirst and other people with installations on the surfaces. So it may become common with this kind of project where one installs treatments on certain surfaces.
ornament. surface. treatment. Brunschwig & Fils, meet Fischli & Weiss. Scalamandre, Carl Andre. Uh, and please use the service elevator next time.

Which goes a long way in explaining why there's next to no information or context at all about the 7,000 oddly shaped, platinum-glazed tiles that were the source of so much Ando consternation.

So until there's an Artistical Digest that's at all interested in art beyond its merely sublime decorative function, here's some background on those tiles:

The complex shape--technically a rhomboid dodecahedron, I think, and so more brick than tile, really--was dubbed a quasi brick. It emerged from Olafur's ongoing collaboration with the Icelandic architect and former Frei Otto student and Buckminster Fuller disciple Einar Thorsteinn. Rhomboid dodecahedrons are one of five space-filling polyhedrons, shapes that can stack on themselves and fill a solid space. Like a cube, but without the regularity.


Eliasson has been interested in the form's dualities--raw/manufactured, manmade/natural, random/ordered, mathematical/elemental--for several years and has shown it often. The artist used black, double-fired tiles for Soil Quasi Bricks inBlind Pavilion at the 2003 Venice Biennale, they were, among other things, an evocation of the crystalline forms of Icelandic basalt columns, which are created when molten lava collided with ice. [Check out Gitte Orskou's "Inside the Spectacle" (pdf) for more discussion of the Pavilion and a related 2-D floor installation in 2004 in Reykjavik, Frost Activity.]


There were fired quasi bricks on the shelf in the Model Room, the fantastical math toy-filled installation of Thorsteinn's form-making activities which they first showed in New York in early 2003. [It's in the SFMoMA show.] And even before that, in 2002, Eliasson showed a wall of the quasi brick forms of bent steel at Basel. Let that one get away, unfortunately. It seems so cheap in retrospect...

Anyway, Googling around, I found an account of an architect who worked in Eliasson's studio who was involved in the Obayashi commission. It's an enlightening look at the artist's process, but the architect, Andreas Eggertsen, also makes a lot of interesting observations on the experience of working with an artist and incorporating science into the design process.

There's even a description of the studio team's struggles with Ando and the construction crew in Japan. Turns out the quasi-bricks' apparent randomness was the problem:

The idea of the quasi brick is that it is an expression of high complexity. The quasi brick is a space filling geometry based on “fivefold symmetry”, a mathematical description of a quasi-chaotic geometry, which was found by a physicist in the 80´s.

The bricks can be rotated into 6 different positions, and put together randomly they create a very complex pattern. As the Japanese are a very thorough people they were not pleased when the construction had started and we had not supplied them with a list of how each brick should be rotated. As there were thousands of bricks, we had not figured out a way to indicate the exact rotation of each and every brick and thought that it would be easier for the construction workers to rotate the bricks themselves on site.

We did not realize that the Japanese were going to be so confused by this. They could simply not work without a drawing that showed them exactly what to do. So when we received this e-mail we got a bit frustrated. The construction had already started and in order not to delay the entire project we had to supply them with new and accurate drawings the following day.

To draw the rotation of each brick in Autocad would take us a week of work, so we had to figure out something else. We were getting a bit stressed, trying out different ideas to create a diagram that could illustrate the rotation of each brick, when the idea to use Matlab appeared to generate a random series of numbers from 1-6 dispersed over as many rows and columns as intended in the design. The numbers were then pasted into the Autocad file and soon the diagram was drawn and we could send the drawings before dawn.

Well if you put it that way... The construction workers on the boxer-turned-starchitect's project for their boss's boss's boss's house didn't want to be the ones deciding which way the artist's tiles faced? No freakin' duh.

It's all fascinating stuff, but I can't imagine any of it ever showing up in the pages of Architectural Digest. Nor can I picture it working its way into Ando's own practice. Though he and Eliasson share an obsession with the spatial characteristics of light, Ando's method seems positively atavistic and instinctual compared to Eliasson's. The sight of Ando scrawling his name and a sketch with a fat, black crayon on the wall at the opening of his 1991 MoMA exhibition was a formative experience for me. I'm fine to cut AD loose; they're a hopeless cause. But it's too bad that even after working with him, Ando apparently can't see the depth behind Eliasson's work which, while created in a totally different way, shares so many ideas with his own. But you know how temperamental these artists can be.

Tokyo Jewel Box: A Surprising Modern Design Blends Ornament and Restraint [architecturaldigest.com via tropolism]
Putting Science to Work in Art [nic's a&d blog]
In 2005, Thorsteinn exhibited his own work on five-fold symmetry space and form in Copenhagen. Heady stuff. [einarthorsteinn.com]
[images except top, via olafureliasson.net]


From the Great Opening Paragraphs Department, Matthew Placek interviewed NZ documentary filmmaker Pietra Brettkelly for V Magazine:

In March of 2006 I traveled with Vanessa Beecroft to Rumbek in South Sudan on two separate occasions to produce an image for her latest project, VBSS. Vanessa asked me to produce a painterly, Madonna-esque image of her wearing a custom-made dress by Maison Martin Margiela burned at the hem. There were two slit openings for her breasts in order to nurse two orphaned Sudanese twins. Vanessa was and is trying to adopt the children legally.
The vapid, superficial, self-absorbed aesthetic fetishist in Brettkelly's new film, The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins, will be instantly familiar to anyone familiar with Beecroft's perennially hackneyed work, which has been a lowpoint of at least two Venice Biennales [the most recent one is in the film].

NY Magazine has a nice takedown recap. It puts the interview in fashion-friendly V into interesting perspective; Beecroft's collaborator and the outsider director make what are rather contorted attempts to be nice and non-judgmental about what is a transparently repulsive, self-damning project. Good stuff.

Filmmaker Pietra Brettkelly on artist Vanessa Beecroft's new quest in the Sudan [vmagazine.com]

‘Art Star’ Vanessa Beecroft: Slammed at Sundance [nymag]

The sonic precision and cohesion of the Coens’ films have much to do with the close collaboration between Mr. [Skip] Lievsay and Mr. [Carter] Burwell. Extensive discussions between a film’s sound editor and composer are rare, given typical post-production schedules. It’s customary, Mr. Burwell said, for the two parties to meet only “at the final mix where everyone will be arguing about what should be the loudest.” But Mr. Burwell and Mr. Lievsay, having worked on all 12 Coen films, have figured out a cooperative approach. “We try to be complementary, or we stay out of each other’s way,” Mr. Lievsay said. On some films, like “Barton Fink,” they have gone so far as to divide up the sonic spectrum for individual scenes, so that one of them tackles the high end and the other the low end.
Hearing the wallpaper glue unpeel with unnerving clarity in Barton Fink was one of the first times I was aware of sound as a designed, not just found, element of filmmaking. Now I wonder which one of the Coen's guys did it.

Exploiting Sound, Exploring Silence

Choire's got me hooked on the NY Times archives. Here's the headline of an April 2, 1947 review of a MoMA show that contains an early mention of Jackson Pollock:

UNUSUAL ART SHOW OPENS AT MUSEUM; Display of Paintings, None Less Than Six Feet in Length, Is Offered at Modern Art
That the show was titled, "Large-Scale Modern Paintings" makes it only slightly less interesting.

As they say in the bayou, when it comes to preserving our modernist architectural heritage, you can't trust a hillbilly as far as you can throw him.


The Union Tank Car Dome, the first industrial-scale geodesic dome, built by Buckminster Fuller in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1958, was demolished without notice in November 2007 by its current owner, the Kansas City Southern Railroad. The dome had been the subject of some local preservationist attention for several years, and it would have been eligible the National Register of Historic Places this month.

At 384 feet in diameter, the Union Tank Car Dome was the largest dome in the world when it was built. The 80-foot glass dome inside it was a superfluous flourish, added just because they could. [image below via bfi.org]


While we all lament the loss of such an architectural treasure and bemoan the predictable philistinism of the owners, let's also take a quick look at a few mitigating dome factors:

The dome was in the middle of freakin' nowhere, and I don't just mean Baton Rouge. Even by Baton Rouge standards, the dome's in the middle of freakin' nowhere. The kind of nowhere that's only 2000' away from Google Maps' lo-res image cutoff.

KCS had had the dome for sale for years, dirt cheap [see point above], and willing to go cheaper. In 2001, when a local architect spearheaded an early preservation campaign, the whole place was just $500,000, negotiable. But then the guy moved to England. Oh well.

If the international community of Fuller True Believers can't rally a measly $500k within 10 years, or entice an architecture collector to buy in the industrial fringes of hillbilly country, just how long should we expect said hillbillies to wait around?

Union Tank Car Dome, RIP, where's another kick-ass Fuller structure with an ignorant owner just dying for someone to offer to take it off their hands? Architecture's collectible now, right? So where are the dealers? Where is the registry of sweet, OG modernist landmarks for sale? We've seen this with the Paul Rudolph houses, where the only outrage is too late and from people not willing or able to pony up.

What Buckminster Fuller needs is an Eric Touchaleaume and a few Robert Rubins. Touchaleaume's the guy who dropped into Congo in the middle of a civil war to airlift three of Jean Prouve's Maisons Tropicales out of the line of fire. With collector-scholar Rubin's help, he restored and placed two with museums--and sold the third to Andre Balasz for $5 million.

The real problem, though, is that Fuller attracts too many hippies, and anyway, evangelizing organizations like the Buckminster Fuller Institute are more interested in the number of domes and the problems they solve--"Today over 300,000 domes dot the globe."-- than in preserving the currently obsolete artifacts "by" Fuller. If there's a Fuller Preservation Crisis, they don't seem too concerned about it.

Demolition of historic “Bucky Dome” a stain on KCS [kansascity.com via things]

Richter window
Originally uploaded by Ralf Stockmann
Seriously, the Cologne Cathedral is so on my list of places to visit, once the sunlight returns. I love this photo.

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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about this archive

Posts from January 2008, in reverse chronological order

Older: December 2007

Newer February 2008

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