May 2008 Archives

The $19 million deal for Neutra's Kaufmann House in Palm Springs has been canceled by the sellers for breach of terms.

The Rockefeller Guest House was a New York anomaly. The Farnsworth House was bought by the architecture collector. The. Collector. Andre Balasz' Prouve is portable. After counting how many houses Michael Govan's actually added to the LACMA collection, note that the overpriced Louis Kahn house failed to sell. The Breuer trailer-house deal barely made its reserve. Now with the Kaufmann deal unraveling.

I think we can safely say that the modernist architecture market is not, after all, a seamless extension of the art market. Somebody better tell Neutra's son that he won't be getting $140 million for the old office building in Silverlake. Or $3.5 million, for that matter.

Official: $19M Kaufmann House sale 'terminated' [via archinect]


Maybe I shouldn't post about this until I win the auction, but Peter Young's Folded Mandala paintings are spectacular, an entrancing mix of hippie, psychedelic beauty and rigorously visible process.

Young left the New York art world behind literally while his show was up at Leo Castelli. The Folded Mandala paintings developed after the schism, so on a purely artistic basis, it was the right thing to do.

Career-wise, however, not so much, but then, that was his point. Young's paintings from the 1960's-1980's were the subject of two tantalizing shows last year, at PS1 and at Mitchell Algus. [Algus had the mandalas].

The shows' favorable reviews apparently tipped off a sharp-eyed estate sale watcher, who picked up this mandala, #27, just a few weeks ago, and is now flipping it at Christie's. Rather random estimate: $7-9,000.

Update: seriously, what are the odds? I'd read that Young stopped painting grids after visiting Agnes Martin's studio in the 1960's, but check out how Young explained the 1966 encounter to the Brooklyn Rail:

Working at Pace as a preparator, Young had the occasion to visit Agnes Martin’s studio. By this point, he had begun making his own grid paintings, a practice he abandoned shortly after his visit. Martin would twice play a pivotal role in his development. On this occasion Martin herself was not present but her paintings were enough to convince him that he had better reconsider his subject. He turned to images of the night sky and the dotting technique that would shortly bring him notoriety.
I notice that Young's site has many dot works that pre-date his discovery of Martin's paintings, but this 1967 dot painting, #8, is wonderful, at once abstract and yet evocative. As if it were a photonegative of a sky survey, perhaps.


Weird title for a great review: Kandy-Colored Dot-Flake Streamline Maverick [nyt]
also a nice slideshow [nyt]

May 28, 2008

Chladni Figures


Ernst Florens Friedrich Chladni was the first to devise a way to visualize the sounds transmitted by solid objects using sand. "He demonstrated the method by sprinkling sand on plates of glass or metal and drawing a bow down their sides to produce a visible vibration pattern called 'Chladni figures.'"

Chladni published engraved images of these figures in a 1787 portfolio, Entdeckungen über die Theorie des Klanges., a first edition of which is to be auctioned at a sale of The Richard Green Library of Scientific Books, June 17 at Christie's New York.

CHLADNI, Ernst Florens Friedrich (1756-1827), est. $4,000-6,000 [christies]
Previously, somewhat related: Spatial Vibration: an experiment in visualizing sound by members of Olafur Eliasson Studio

May 27, 2008

After Hours, Frankly

Interesting. The script for one of my favorite Scorsese films, his dark, odd 1985 After Hours, appears to have been heavily lifted from a 1982 performance by Joe Frank, one of my favorite dark, odd radio dramatists. Andrew Hearst has connected the dots, apparently for the first time in print.

Joseph Minion's script for After Hours began as a screenwriting class project at Columbia. His original title was reportedly Lies, which is the same name as Joe Frank's piece. The film's story, the arc, and a whole host of details significant and minor are identical to Frank's play. According to Hearst and a Salon article on Frank, the writer received a large settlement from the producers, which is certainly the least they could do.

Even more intriguing, though, are Frank's own references to the plagiarism scandal in a 1986 show titled, "No Show," which has been performed, aired, or released in 2-hr, 90-min, and 1-hr versions. [There's mention of a torrent version of the show, but I haven't been able to find it online.]

In "No Show," Frank apparently performs phone conversations with Minion, wherein the young screenwriter begs for leniency and help saving his career. Hearst thinks that Minion's IMDB profile after After Hours is thin, a consequence of being frozen out by the industry. But he still made films with Nicolas Cage and Kathleen Turner, and his current project has Lisa Kudrow attached and producing, so he hasn't been too blackballed.

Though I'd like it to be true because it's a perfect, Frank-ian twist, I don't believe the speculation on the Joe Frank mailing lists that Minion is actually Frank. Though frankly [sic], does Frank-as-Minion actually writing After Hours seem any more implausible today than a SoHo populated by artists and weirdos, yet without cars or ATM's or more than one place to go at night?

A scroll back through the recent posts on this site will reveal my fascination with sky surveys, astronomers' attempts to systematically document in photographs the entire sky.

The broadest such survey, the Palomar Sky Survey, completed in the 1950's, was also the last to remain unpolluted by manmade objects in space. In a 1995 proceedings discussion of sky surveys, Dr D.H. Morgan noted that survey plate contamination had more than doubled since 1980. Pre-1980, 47% of plates contained an average of 1 satellite trail. Since 1980, though, over 70% of plates are contaminated by satellite trails, with an average of 2.1/plate. Some badly affected plates contain 10-15 trails, which diminishes their effectiveness for astronomical purposes.

Trevor Paglen,
LACROSSE ONYX II, from The Other Night Sky [via]

Ironically, it's exactly these sky surveys--or more precisely, their contamination--that is the subject of geographer/artist Trevor Paglen's next exhibition, which opens at the Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive on June 1st. Similar to his extra-long-distance photographs of clandestine government "black sites" and his tracking and documentation of planes used by the CIA for extra-legal renditions, Paglen uses data from amateur satellite-spotting enthusiasts to photograph top secret surveillance satellites in orbit:

Paglen photographs barely perceptible traces of these vessels amidst familiar star fields, in this way borrowing a language of scientific visualization of the cosmos. The multimedia installation at the center of the exhibition The Other Night Sky gestures toward the popular presentation of scientific knowledge in space centers and natural history museums by offering a large-scale globe animated with 189 currently orbiting satellites. Their orbits are traced via complex algorithmic analysis of data. The density of satellites is surprising, their coverage of the globe nearly complete. But the evidentiary function of the work is thwarted—although photographs are named for depicted satellites, faint streaks verify their existence, and the projections track their real-time movements, there is no information to glean from the images about the satellites themselves or their particular roles. And so again Paglen points us to the physical manifestations of the black world, while the images themselves embody the impossibility of translating such an act of seeing into an act of understanding.
Press release: Trevor Paglen: The Other Night Sky (June 1 – September 14, 2008) at BAM/PFA [ thanks elizabeth]
Trevor Paglen's site


Promenade is Richard Serra's commission for Monumenta, the contemporary arts program inaugurated last year in the nave of the newly restored Grand Palais in Paris.

Serra's work consists of five 17x4-meter steel plates set vertically along the central axis of the Grand Palais. The size of the slabs was determined in part by technical limitations of the steel mill, and in part by the dimensions of the massive, open space itself: 35m high, rising to 60m at the cupola, 50m wide, and 200m long.


So Serra Schmerra, that means the Grand Palais is big enough to exhibit my re-creation of NASA's satelloon. At least the Project Echo I, which was 100 feet in diameter. [Echo II was 135 feet, which might be a tight squeeze.] Unlike with the other two indoor venues capable of housing the work, the Pantheon in Rome and Grand Central Station in Manhattan, Monumenta gives the Grand Palais the advantage of a pre-existing, curated contemporary art context.

In recent high-profile museum building projects from the Guggenheim Bilbao to MoMA, Richard Serra's multi-ton sculptures have been the default unit of measure; floors must be able to bear and spaces must be able to accommodate a Serra. The continued utility of such Serra Unit-based architecture. Just as screen-based art tests the programmability of art spaces, presenting a gigantic yet inconsequentially light object like a Satelloon as an art object poses an exhibition challenge of a different scale.


Here is a rough artist's conception:


Now all I need to do to exhibit the Satelloon in Paris is to develop a body of work and a career comparable to Serra's and last year's Monumenta artist, Anselm Kiefer. So yeah, let me get right on that.

Hal Foster on Serra at the Grand Palais [lrb]
Monumenta 2008, including photos from the opening by Lorenz Kienzle []

Christopher Knight didn't have as bad a time at the performance/filming of Matthew Barney's "REN" as the audience members who were injured by flying glass when the backhoe went at it with the Chrysler Imperial in the auto dealer showroom:

When paramedics left, the crowd filed into the tomb -- actually the car-lined former service bay. Lila Downs, the great Oaxacan ranchera singer, wailed at a corpse laid out atop a golden Grand Am. A "menstrual shroud" was extracted from the loins of a masked nude woman. Somebody said that locusts were released in the parking lot, but I didn't see them.

Then we all drove home.

It had been a long evening of checking off source materials: Richard Prince, Paul McCarthy, Charles Ray, Kiki Smith, "Cleopatra," Al Gore, etc. The industrial coupling was pure Survival Research Labs, the Northern California heavy-industrial performance troupe that has been artistically disemboweling the military-industrial complex for 30 years.

Still, most interesting was the crypto-performance going on around the crypto-Egypto main event. Plenty of official cameras promised future "REN" shows, while performance shards were carefully collected.

I used to think that the most interesting thing about Barney's work was how he made it, or got it made. I'm not surprised that Barney's pressing his luck in the home the Live Studio Audience.

Matthew Barney's 'REN' [lat via man]

Unless they were on a group tour to Italy or something, my grandparents watched the Lawrence Welk show every Saturday night. When I was trying to score the second installment of The Souvenir Series, the one based on my grandfather's old dry cleaners, I really wanted to find a way to use Lawrence Welk music, and a young composer and I wracked our brains for a way in. But it was just unassailable, impervious to any kind of deconstruction or irony.

But maybe it was just too much and too soon. Watching Bobby Burgess and Cissy King dance to a 1977 big band arrangement of the Captain & Tenille classic, "Love Will Keep Us Together," I realize that Lawrence Welk is what it is, a wholly realized artform all its own. Somehow only 353 other people have realized it, too. [via archival clothing]

Turns out yesterday was Mr. Burgess's birthday!

The Suck Cola Registry # SC0005, originally uploaded by gregorg.

In 1996, I went to some weird little Internet expo at the New York Coliseum. The folks from were there, and I got this bottle of Suck Classic Cola. It was my first piece of WWW swag [no one really said "dotcom" yet in 1996 who didn't work for Time Magazine.]

I know of one other bottle. At least until he quit, it was on the bookshelf in a friend's office at Time Warner [which, ironically, was built on the site of the NY Coliseum]. Except for three <3-hour periods when I moved, and this morning when it dropped on my foot, mine has been in my refrigerator since 1996.

1996 was the year Suck memorialized Coca Cola's beautiful utter failure of Gen X marketing, OK Soda by calling for OK fans to send them cans, promotional materials, even vending machines.

It is in that spirit, but without a bunch of old Coke bottles coming to me, that I hereby inaugurate The Suck Cola Registry, a virtual gathering of all the world's remaining bottles of Suck Cola.

If you have a bottle or know of a bottle of Suck Cola, please add it to the Registry. by providing the following data:

Cola Owner
Cola Photo [jpg or URL]
Cola Location [i.e., city/state/country, not "in a box in my storage unit"]

After your Cola information is reviewed and validated, you will be issued a Suck Cola Registry Number. I have designated my bottle SC0005, having reserved the first four Registry Numbers, SC0001-SC0004, for co-founders Joey Anuff and Carl Steadman. Thank you.

Related: 10 OK Soda cans [empty] in various designs and excellent condition, currently $1 on eBay

"Bush's last round of golf as president dates back to October 13, 2003, according to meticulous records kept by CBS news."

So glad to know the media is so meticulous. That's almost two months after the August date Bush claimed to have stopped golfing.

Bush: I quit golf over Iraq war [afp/yahoo]

P.S.: The complete quote from the title, "I call upon all nations to do everything they can to stop these terrorist killers. Thank you. Now watch this drive." was made on a tee in Kennebunkport on Aug. 4, 2002. ["Before Golf, Bush Decries Latest Deaths In Mideast |
Upcoming Holiday to Be No Vacation From Strife", washpost

May 13, 2008


This is awesome, like OG William Kentridge in real space. MUTO is a new stop-action animation by Blu, a Buenos Aires artist, where I guess/hope they have different etiquette about painting over someone else's art on the street.

MUTO a wall-painted animation by BLU from blu on Vimeo. and blublog [via waxy]


I wrote a few months ago about making a dining room table following Italian designer and theorist Enzo Mari's 1974 Proposta per un'autoprogettazione, roughly translated as "A Project for self-design." Mari's goal was to effect a critical examination of the objects around us and the system of design, manufacture, distribution, marketing, and commerce that brings them into being. He did this by developing blueprints for a houseful of furniture that could be made from standardized pine lumber, in a day or two. The designs require only the simplest saw cuts and a hammer. And if you get the lumberyard to cut the lengths for you, it just requires a hammer. As Mari explained in an interview:

these items are not intended as alternatives to industrial ones, their creation is intended as a sort of critical exercise on design, and this is the reason why this experiment was called home design, not home production. The user, in repeating the operation, which can never be a slavish repetition...the designs have no measurements and while you are making them you can make changes, variations...when making the object the user becomes aware of the structural reasoning behind the object itself, therefore, subsequently he improves his own ability to assess the objects on the market with a more critical eye.
The EFFE table I want to build requires two sizes of board: 1x2 inch pine for the structure, and 1x8 planks for the top. In 1983, Mari explained that, "As regards material, the easiest to acquire is undoubtedly still the wooden plank." Undoubtedly. So I headed down to the nearest hardware store, where there were several hundred varieties of curtain rod finials, but no lumber. I was told I could order pine boards of these dimensions, and they'd come in about a week. Couldn't my contractor get wood for me? So I went to Home Depot, which had pine boards in several grades and dimensions. They were all from New Zealand.

First off, it wasn't that nice-looking, but buying processed wood from the other side of the world in a 100,000-sf store seemed to contradict the spirit of the autoproggetazione project. Under those circumstances, Jeff Bezos' critical response to the furniture design industry made more sense. [When he started Amazon, he made the desks out of hollow-core doors and sawhorses, a scrappy tradition the company continued.] But I didn't want the aggressively cheap improvisation of a Bezos Table in my house.

The place where I saw the biggest piles of untreated pine lumber was, ironically, Ikea. The warehouse section near the store's exit has palletsful of bookcases, chairs and beds, all flatpacked and ready for assembly [home production?] What would happen if you treat Ikea as your corner hardware store, and use their flatpack-optimized, mass-produced furniture components as the raw materials in an entirely different design?

ikea_trofast_tower.jpg ikea_ivar_shelf.jpg

Looking through the Ikea hacking communities, it seems no one had tried to make an Enzo Mari table from Ikea parts before. While Ikea publishes detailed dimensions for their assembled products, there's no information on part specs. Over the course of several trips to Ikeas outside New York and Washington, DC, I identified every Ikea product that looked like a promising source of pine parts, and I measured each piece of wood.

Though there are many pine products at Ikea, there are just eight products or series whose parts come close to standard 1-by lumber dimensions. I'll put them in the next post. Then I'll calculate the various combinations to figure out things like the optimum use of material, the least amount of cutting, the cheapest/most expensive, the closest to Mari's design, and the most successful table. We'll see how it goes.


related: the 2002 reprint of Autoprogettazione from Corraini is much harder to find than it should be [abebooks]
previously: Autoprogettazione: The Making Of An Enzo Mari Dining Room Table

The Palomar Observatory Sky Survey was sponsored by the National Geographic Society. Over ten years, between 1948 and 1958, astronomers at Cal Tech's Palomar Observatory used a 48-inch Schmidt Telescope to create the most advanced sky survey ever, a comprehensive portrait of most of the visible universe as seen from the Northern Hemisphere. [Actually, the survey detected objects of a magnitude of +22, one million times fainter than the limits of human vision.]

When completed, the 935 pairs of glass plates, one filtered red, and one blue, were compiled into the Sky Atlas, which was published over the years on paper, glass, and film.


I first found out about the NGS-POSS about ten years ago I was visiting a physicist friend at her university office. There was a reception in the department library, and we wandered off to explore, and ended up in a rear stairwell, where she showed me a large, grey, metal flatfile on a landing. Inside each drawer was a stack of large, slightly curled photographs. They were printed in the negative; instead of glowing stars on a black sky, each page was light silver, flecked with linty black specks. There was a string of numbers--right ascension and declination, it turned out--on the top of each print.

Two print versions of the POSS were published, one 14x17" format in the 1950's and 1960's, and another, 14x14", in the 1970's. The version I saw was the former. Paper turned out to be the least useful format for astronomical analysis; glass and film were much better, and since the POSS plates were scanned into the Digitized Sky Survey in the 1990's, the print version of the Sky Atlas is obsolete by several generations.

So besides finding an extant copy gathering dust and taking up space in a university physics department somewhere, the logical [sic] thing to do is to print an entirely new set from the original plates.

Two sets of original plates were created, one to work from, and the other to be "stored, unused, in the dome of the 200-inch telescope on Palomar Mountain, where it will be available in the even that the plates in Pasadena should be damaged or destroyed by some catastrophe."

At least that's where they were in 1963 when R.L. Minkowski and G.O. Abell wrote about the NGS-POSS for K. Aa. Strand's Basic Astronomical Data, Vol. III of Stars and Stellar Systems. They described in some detail the characteristics of the Survey, as well as the making of the prints. [Strand's compendium also includes descriptions of earlier sky surveys, which I might get to later.] After the jump, some excerpts from Minkowski & Abell's paper, pp.481-6, on the production of the Sky Atlas


The hand that picks the nose shakes the hand that rules the world. For another seven months. [ap via wonkette]

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 May 2008, in reverse chronological order

Older: April 2008

Newer June 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