October 2008 Archives

This morning I was buying a Diet Coke at the gas station, which forced the lady to get up from her chair by the radio.

"Arlo Guthrie! I didn't even know he was still alive!"

"Really! You know who I'm always amazed to hear is still alive," I said, trying to match both the tenacious age and the names' quirkiness and rhythm as closely as possible: "Studs Terkel."

Studs Terkel dies [chicagotribune]
Studs spoke at the Printers Row Book Fair in June [chicagopublicradio.org]

October 30, 2008

Drunk Floridians For Obama

Heh. My friends, this is drunk dialing we can believe in. [macdaddyworld via sullivan]

How the hell did The Onion AV Club manage to score an interview with John Hodgman??

AVC: What is the process like on The Daily Show? How do ideas get developed and refined into a bit?

JH: I can only speak to my own experience, which is not unique but specific to the contributors, such as me and Larry Wilmore and Kristen Schaal. We're not there every day. We come in twice a month and do our bits. The most common iteration is they provide me a topic and I'll think about that topic for awhile and write up a first draft a couple days before. Then I'll come in and work with David Javerbaum, the former Onion writer and now executive producer of the show, as well as Jon and some of the other executive producers of the show, to refine the idea. It will often change dramatically and we'll often all write it from scratch together, basically to fit Jon's vision of what he wants to do with the piece. And then we'll go down and rehearse it that day, and then more often than not we'll all get together in a room right after rehearsal, about an hour or two before the show, and rewrite it again, along with the rest of the show. Jon takes a very active role in shaping every word. We project the script on a wall and he goes through it line by line, makes adjustments, and makes every script sing as a result. It's really kind of an astonishing process to watch. But for someone who had been primarily used to sitting in his underwear, working on a 2000-word magazine article for a month before anyone else ever read it, that seat-of-pants writing is very nerve-wracking. Very exciting, but I did want to vomit quite a bit.


Interviews | John Hodgman [avclub]

October 25, 2008

I Love Paris In The Quarries

Spectacular. ITV took an underground tour of Paris with l'UX and the folks from Untergunther. They started in the sewer, went deeper into the quarries that provided the stones from which medieval Paris was built, and ended up--well, I'll let you see yourself where they watched the sunrise from. [thanks for the tip, lazar!]

previous explorations of the explorateurs urbains of l'UX, Untergunther, and la Mexicaine de Perforation from greg.org

Housing Slump Begins to Hurt Classic Modernist Architecture [unbeige on a story in the la times]

Frankly, I thought the biggest threat to classic modernist architecture was the teardown-happy building boom.


Just because you read the syllabus for Sforza 101 doesn't mean you get credit for taking the course.

The secret of the human wallpaper backdrop is that it works best if you have either uniformed military or a racially diverse audience.


Guess those weren't available.

[image: reuters/bryan snyder via salon]

October 24, 2008

Schoolhouse Rock The Vote

Awesome and funny. Or, I would like it to be funny on November 5th, anyway:

[via sullivan]

UPDATE: NO WAY, says Lisa Kline's publicist. Check out the update at the bottom of the post.

UPDATE UPDATE: Now the NY Times has moved the Two Lisa Klines Theory ball down the field.

The payee for several of the fashion-related "campaign accessories" receipts included in this $150,000 Palin Shopping Spree is listed as Lisa L Kine of New York City. So far, I haven't found any such person at the address given in the report.

But there is Lisa Kline, whose Google result reads, "Lisa Kline boutique clothing has hot designer jeans and dress shirts inspired by celebrity fashion style. High-end fashion in Beverly Hills..." Indeed, Lisa Kline boutique is on Robertson Blvd, the, Ground Zero [sic] of celebrity fashion.

See more Paris Hilton videos at Funny or Die

Kline also just so happens to be the source of the leopard-print swimsuit Paris Hilton wore in her ad lampooning John McCain after he criticized Obama as a "celebrity." Please, please let this be the same person.


I forwarded this Vimeo clip from Lisa Kline's MySpace page to the owners of Pacifier, the Minneapolis baby store. They say they're "pretty sure" that is the Republican Party operative who came in and purchased Trig Palin's outfit a few hours before Sarah Palin's speech at the GOP Convention.

[mini-doc] - Lisa Kline from [city of others] on Vimeo.

Let that sink in for a minute. I have a phoneathon for the kid's preschool to attend.

UPDATE: Lisa Kline says NO WAY, she's not Lisa Kline. Or at least Lisa Kline's publicist says Lisa Kline isn't Lisa Kline. I spoke with Lisa Kline of Beverly Hills' publicist, who said that, while she wishes she could take the publicity, it's not her Lisa Kline. In fact, her Lisa Kline has never even been to Minneapolis, and she couldn't have dressed Sarah Palin because Lisa Kline boutique doesn't sell suits. Also, if I wanted, she could suggest some great items from Lisa Kline's baby store on Robertson for little Trig Palin for my story. So I guess that clears that up.

I also just spoke with Jon from Pacifier again, and he's still pretty sure that the woman he sold Trig's outfit to looks and sounds like Beverly Hills Lisa in her MySpace video. I guess we'll wait for the real [sic] Lisa Kline to step forward and accept her accolades from the world's media.

update update:: it's not 100% yet, but the NY Times' Caucus Blog makes a rather persuasive, data-based case that there are two Lisa Klines, one for Paris Hilton, and an entirely other one for Sarah Palin. They have different middle initials and everything.

OK, I started picking at Politico's $150,000 Palin Family shopping spree on Daddy Types. There was an obviously inaccurate claim that the GOP had spent $295 on a sweet ride for Trig Palin at a baby store called Steiniauer & Stroller. Now I know you can't get a sweet stroller or $300, so I was skeptical.

Turns out Steinlauer & Stoller is a sewing supply store in New York City. The RNC must use a receipt scanner to put together their monthly Schedule F form detailing all their expenses. [via josh green at the atlantic]

And this whole $4,900 for Todd Palin's clothes at Atelier, "a high-class shopping destination for men"? Uh-uh.

Turns out the address of Atelier is not in Minneapolis, but "7th & 47th, New York." There is nothing high-class about that neighborhood at. all. If Atelier were a store, it's a crappy Going Out Of Business NOW! suit mill. I'm sure it's not a coincidence, though, that Atelier Designers, a trade show of women's fashion designers, was ensconced in seven floors of the Doubletree Inn--at the corner of 7th & 47th.

Some things don't add up, though; Atelier '09 was showing spring collections, not fall [aka campaign season]. And though the official dates for the show were Sept. 13-15, during Fashion Week, the RNC's receipt has a date of 9/10/2008.

But Sept. 10th is also the date given for the big $75,000 Neiman Marcus spree in Minneapolis, which clearly outfitted the Palin clan for their appearance on stage Sept. 3rd.
And Sept. 10th is also the date given for the campaign's $98 purchase at Pacifier, the Minneapolis baby store where I confirmed the RNC shopped on Sept. 3rd.

So more likely Sep. 10th was the day McCain campaign official Jeff Larson handed off his previous week's receipts. Which still leaves a bit of mystery what "campaign accessories the RNC bought on Sept 3 at a trade show that wasn't taking place for another two weeks. Perhaps some campaign staffer's sister was debuting her collection of handpainted scarves and got a little help paying for her trade show booth?

October 20, 2008

McCains For Obama

No one can argue slavery had an upside, but this Wall Street Journal video is about as good as it gets.

Some Of McCain's Black Relatives Support Obama [South Florida Times via wonkette]

"For as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on earth is my story even possible."


I just bought Jonathan Hoefler's poster from the Barack Obama store. If you hurry, 4799 more of you can do the same.

"Possible" by type designer Jonathan Hoefler, $60 donation [store.barackobama.com via daringfireball]

Here's Walter De Maria describing his early land art work, Las Vegas Piece, to Paul Cummings in 1972. According to the Center For Land Use Interpretation, the piece is off Carp/Elgin Road in the Tula Desert, one exit north of Double Negative's Overton exit on I-15. The work is now "apparently" lost:

it takes you about 2 or 3 hours to drive out to the valley and there is nothing in this valley except a cattle corral somewhere in the back of the valley. Then it takes you 20 minutes to walk off the road to get to the sculpture, so some people have missed it, have lost it. Then, when you hit this sculpture which is a mile long line cut with a bulldozer, at that point you have a choice of walking either east or west. If you walk east you hit a dead end; if you walk west you hit another road, at another point, you hit another line and you actually have a choice. At that point you decide which way to go and so forth, then you continue, you walk another mile and at another point you walk another half mile so and at a certain point you have to double back. After spending about four hours, you have walked through all of the three miles of the thing and you would have gotten your orientation because the sun will also be setting in the west and this is lined up so that all the lines are either east-west or north-south. Now I did this piece in 1969 and I haven't done an article on it because I didn't find a way to photograph it properly. You can only photograph in multiple views, you know, like this is looking east and this is looking . . . .

PC: A satellite shot.

WDM: Well, that's true, but that's a different experience because that's an experience like a drawing but this is an experience at ground level, it's a different experience.

PC: How wide are the lines?

WDM: Ten feet wide, eight or ten feet wide.

PC: And they are how deep?

WDM: Oh, it's about a foot deep, two feet deep and about eight feet wide. The point I'm making here is that the most beautiful thing is to experience a work of art over a period of time. For instance, architecture we know has always thought about this. You go into the palace, you go into the house, you experience the different floors, you sit in certain rooms for certain amounts of time and when, after an hour or half hour or four or five hours you walk out again. You've experienced all of the proportion and relationships; you've experienced something over a period of time. Well, most sculptures have always been confined to being a single object, no mater what the style of configuration -- expressionist or figurative, whatever.

PC: You look at it from this point and that point.

WDM: You look at it and maybe walk around it and, basically, let's face it. How much time does a person spend with a piece of sculpture? An average of perhaps less than one minute, maximum of five or ten, tops. Nobody spends ten minutes looking at one piece of sculpture. So by starting to work with land sculpture in 1968 I was able to make things of scale completely unknown to this time, and able to occupy people with a single work for periods of up to an entire day. A period could even be longer but in this case if it takes you two hours to go out to the piece and if you take four hours to see the piece and it takes you two hours to go back, you have to spend eight hours with this piece, at least four hours with it immediately, although to some extent the entrance and the exit is part of the experience of the piece. So what happened, though, which was very interesting in connection with the idea of theatre or film is that to build one of these pieces becomes a major logistical economic undertaking. Like if a person wants to make a movie, we all now that it takes sixty or eighty thousand dollars to make a feature film of any kind, black and white, not too much original music and not too many name stars, and it takes four or five hundred thousand dollars to make any medium size picture and a million to two million dollars to make any decent type of major film. Well, the notion that maybe a piece of sculpture might take an investment of forty or fifty thousand dollars and . . . but when it's finished, it gives the person an experience with could take him several ours or several days to experience is something I've been fighting now for the last four years, starting now the fifth year.

The comparisons to architecture and cinema are both eye-opening. Minimalists like Judd and Flavin spoke of sculpture as space, but De Maria's talking about sculpture as time. Which is worth remembering when you sign up for a 24-hour stay at the Lightning Field.

I started poking around a bit on the making of story of Michael Heizer's Double Negative. I'd known that it was commissioned by Virginia Dwan, the incredible gallerist who was also behind Smithson's Spiral Jetty. Here's a bit of her story from Michael Kimmelman's 2003 visit with her:

She contracted him to do a work. He disappeared. Months later it was done. ''Double Negative'' is a 1,500-foot-long, 50-foot-deep, 30-foot-wide gash cut into facing slopes of an obscure mesa in Nevada, a project that required blasting 240,000 tons of rock. ''It cost under $30,000,'' Ms. Dwan says, ''pocket change for art today. I saw it only after it was finished. That's how I operated. If I believed in the artist I trusted him.''
Then I came across an interesting 1972 Smithsonian interview Paul Cummings with Heizer's earthwork colleague, Walter De Maria, two artists who romanced the desert together. I love the unselfconscious references to Kerouacking and creating an art movement. No way you could pull that off today:
WDM: Well, I drove across the country with Mike Heiser who I had been spending a lot of time with in '67. So we had this chance to have the great American Kerouac experience of driving, you know, drive, drive and it never stops and four or five days later you can make it if you drive night and day. When I had first driven the country in the summer of '63 from New York back to California, it was the most terrific experience of my life, experiencing the great plains and the Rockies, but especially the desert, you know. No, I would say the drive through Nevada in '63 was the first time I was in the desert. And that memory was to come back in the crisis. Where is the best place in the world? It's what I saw in Nevada. So it was a chance to go back to the desert for a second time and this time to start going out there often. We met flyers and we learned what it was like to fly small planes and drive trucks on these dry lakes and stuff.


We had a lot in common; we knew the whole situation so that gave us something to talk about and from that point it became interesting that he would change from shaped canvas painting to sculpture, and I was at the point of changing from steel sculpture into the land sculpture. So it was a move that we both wanted to make at the same time. We have both been developing the land sculpture simultaneously since that time, five years ago, just about until today. We're really starting the sixth year. I mean, you know, we did it. It's something that two people could do that one couldn't, really, create a movement, because if one person does it, it is almost an eccentricity, but if two people are doing it and then they influence two others or three. It takes no more than three or four or five people to make a movement and then those people of course can have a hundred or two hundred or five hundred or a thousand following them. But the key idea is to develop two or three people. But it's not necessary, sometimes three or four or five people could be working simultaneously. Like this guy Richard Long was working in England, walking around in the fields in '68 also. That was completely independent simultaneous development...

The mention of flyers and deserts reminds me of Antonioni's Zabriskie Point, which I've been watching lately. James Turrell is another flyer--and land art biggie, what with the Roden Crater and all. Don't think I've heard much mention of that. Of course, there was Smithson and The Plane, but that wouldn't be till '73. Anyway, here's more De Maria on one paradox of land art:
We've fought a lot of the same people; we've shared some of the same patrons, the same gallery like Dwan, Frederich for a while in Germany. Now he has another gallery. And all of our same problems remain, like to make earth art exist in the face of a lot of the same structural problems that still exist. Galleries are not set up to back major sculptures.

PC: Right.

WDM: There's nothing set up to sell major sculptures. Museums do not commission major sculptures, even though they go off and spend five million dollars on an old painting. And not only that, a lot of people don't believe that it really exists. There is still a lot of misconception that it exists only for the photograph and not for itself. It's so far away that maybe everyone in the art world knows about our sculpture but not even one thousandth of one percent of a person has ever seen one of the pieces with is a very interesting conceptual and visible aspect of something that is massive. So, with all of these confusions and contradictions still inherent in the work, one could see another five years of good problems and hopefully some good solutions coming up. [emphasis added]

And it turns out that De Maria created his own trench-in-the-desert land art in 1969, Las Vegas Piece, which is just up the road from Double Negative. Or should I say "road." CLUI says it's located on Carp/Elgin Road, which, according to my father-in-law's GPS navigation, is the same dirt road that passes alongside Double Negative.

De Maria talked about Las Vegas Piece in the Smithsonian interview. But when he reports Dwan's account of visiting it, it is Kimmelman who waxes a little romantic:

It consisted of dirt paths he cut into the Nevada desert, going nowhere. In my mind -- maybe Walter would say this is untrue -- the desert setting, the heat and sun and emptiness were so important to the work because you were made to feel absolutely alone. First, it was a safari to find it, and when you did, you were separated from everyone else if you wandered down the paths, because the land was uneven, although it looked flat from far away, so you would find yourself on the far side of a rise, alone in the desert.

''I love the sense of isolation and solitude. But at the same time Walter's art almost pushes a spectator away, as if he's saying, 'Stay back.' ''

And so it goes that the foreboding environment of the desert itself moves to the foreground of the land art experience. It's part of the mythology and story of the piece, told and retold without firsthand confirmation by the 99.999% of art world citizens who don't actually go. Like this NY Times travel article starring Dave Hickey and his wife as daring land art tour guides:
Mr. Hickey's wife, the curator Libby Lumpkin, had suggested that Chris and I drive into the desert to see Michael Heizer's earth art piece from 1969-70, "Double Negative" (doublenegative.tarasen.net). A work I was curious to see, it was famously hard to find. She had us meet her at the Las Vegas Art Museum, where she is the consulting executive director, to get directions.


She warned us to take plenty of water. People had died, she claimed, after losing their way on Mormon Mesa, where "Double Negative" is carved. The Internet directions she'd handed us turned out to be more precise on paper than in the featureless landscape. After driving an hour and a half northeast to Overton, we followed a dirt road up the side of the mesa.

Rocks on top threatened to puncture the oil pan on the Neon, so I parked. We stumbled around, visoring our hands against the sun. Nothing in sight looked like art.

We flagged down two cars but no one had ever heard of the work. Discouraged and clueless, we were heading back to the city when we saw an S.U.V. The driver, an elderly man from Overton, had been to "Double Negative." He pronounced it a "tax dodge," but agreed to lead us there anyway.

Now I want to go back and see what's up with De Maria's Las Vegas Piece, but not only is CLUI's coordinate map hopelessly vague ["The site is 37 miles down the road, off another small trail."], not even they can be bothered to confirm its continued existence. All they say about it is, "Apparently, no longer visible."


So all this time I imagine that Michael Heizer's Double Negative, dug into the edge of Mormon Mesa, is like the lost earthwork, no one can get to it, no one can find it, &c., &c.

Turns out
the thing's an hour outside Las Vegas, like 15 minutes from cheery downtown Overton, which is an exit on I-15. At least I assume downtown Overton's cheery; we didn't actually make it that far. Turned off by the airport, took Mormon Mesa Rd. across, then turned left onto, uh, Double Negative Way, just before the cattle guard.

If Spiral Jetty was this easy to visit, there'd be a day spa there by now. Or at least a Cracker Barrel.

driving directions to get you almost all the way to Double Negative, then you just drive slowly north along the scalloped edge of the mesa, three scallops, and you're there!

October 13, 2008

October Surprise

I was talking with an artist friend yesterday, and he made a reference to "Krauss's 'Sculpture and the Expanded Field'," and I was all, "huh?" And he was all, "WHAT?" And so I was like, "Don't know it," and he was all, "Dude, it's canon. First handout they give you when you get into art school." And I was like, "And who reads October unless they're being graded on it?"

Still, once he explained her postmodernist proposition for sculpture, I was like, "Expanded Field? We're soaking in it!"

So I read it, and yeah, I knew that; it's basically the idea that in the late 1960's, artists challenged and expanded the definition of sculpture, or to flip it around, the logical structure of artists' practice expanded beyond the finite, inherited modernist definition of sculpture. There's even a fancy diagram to explain why what Robert Smithson, Richard Serra, Robert Morris, and others of the era were doing is not modernism, but is sculpture.

Anyway, here's a PDF version of Rosalind Krauss's "Sculpture and the Expanded Field". Get an education so you don't embarrass yourself like I did. [sic and/or heh]

October 8, 2008

Citroen 2CV x Hermes Mashup


It's like unfinished project night around here. Hermes unveiled its reskinned a 1989 Citroen 2CV6 Special at the Paris Auto Show to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Deux Chevaux. Not that anyone needs a reason to luxe out a 2CV, of course.

All the plastic dash and door panel elements have been outfitted in stitched Hermes leather; the rubberized roof has been replaced with Hermes canvas, and the seats--which are removable, remember, and could thus be used in a pinch as picnic or beach furniture--were recovered in leather and canvas. The whole thing was given a paint job that probably cost as much as the donor car itself.


This is pretty close to what I planned to do when I bought my 2CV Charleston in 1995. At the time, I was a pretty heavy Ghurka customer, and I had become friends with the executives and owners of the Connecticut-based company. They had just begun a furniture upholstery sideline a couple of years before, so they were pretty amenable to my request to redo my 2CV seats in Ghurka saddle leather. Rather than bring the seats--or the car--from France to Connecticut, we figured it'd be easier to ship the hides to an upholsterer in France.

Which is where the project died. Ride-pimping culture was not too prevalent along the Cote d'Azur. The carrosserie folks I contacted in Monaco were extremely uninterested in working on an insignificantly scaled project on a dumpy little car like a 2CV. But the Citroenistes were even worse. "No. A Charleston seat is grey, quilted tissu," said the indignant Citroen upholstery specialist when I asked him about recovering my seats.

So I kept the seats I had, but I added a bamboo sunshade on the roof, which, I'll point out, the Hermes 2CV does not have.

Paris 2008: Citroen 2CV6 by Hermes [autoblog]

I suppose before I order and read Mafiaboy's book is as good a time as any to mention that the as-yet-unannounced animated musical screenplay I've been noodling on is a kind of fantastical retelling of the Mafiaboy hacking attacks and their aftermath.

Starting in 2000, and throughout the whole Mafiaboy saga, I published regular updates and links to news coverage of the search and the trial at mafiaboy.com. It was my my first blog-like web publishing endeavor, but I could never get Grey Matter to work, so I just kept adding posts [sic] to the single html page by hand. I guess I oughta dig that one back up.

mafiaboy_seanjohn.jpgHere's a 2001 snapshot from archive.org.

My interest at the time was in documenting the superficial lifestyle shorthand the media used to describe hackers generally and Mafiaboy specifically. Because Michael Calce, Mafiaboy, was a minor at the time, the Canadian press was forbidden from publishing his name or picture during the trial. This complicated the press's attempts to celebritize Calce, though it never stopped them from trying. By the time I took the site down, I'd sold about 20 Rocawear jackets and a bunch of other merch through mafiaboy.com's affiliate links.

I'm interested to see what the book's like and how close the media image of Mafiaboy was to Calce's account--and to see how coincidentally right and wrong my imagination is about what it was like on the inside. Though as the screenplay's gone through several drafts, the particulars of the real life Mafiaboy's internals have come to matter less and less--i.e., not at all--to the movie story.

The synopsis on Amazon.ca--and the title--sound pretty broad, and make me wonder if there wasn't quite enough story to fill a book. We'll see.

'Mafiaboy' writes book about the day he shut down the Internet [nationalpost via, uh, wired, maybe? I forget]
Buy Mafiaboy: How I Cracked the Internet and Why It's Still Broken [amazon.ca]

Two essays, each interesting and thoughtful on its own, crossed my desk this morning. I think they're inter-related.

First from the always spatially aware Geoff Managh on the seemingly irrational landscapes of presidential campaigning:

...President Bush had stopped off this morning to speak about the credit crisis "with consumers and business people at Olmos Pharmacy, an old-fashioned soda shop and lunch counter" [1] in San Antonio, Texas.


The idea here - the spatial implication - is that Bush has somehow stopped off in a landscape of down-home American democracy. This is everyday life, we're meant to believe - a geographic stand-in for the true heart and center of the United States.
But it increasingly feels to me that presidential politics now deliberately take place in a landscape that the modern world has left behind. It's a landscape of nostalgia, the golden age in landscape form: Joe Biden visits Pam's Pancakes outside Pittsburgh, Bush visits a soda shop, Sarah Palin watches ice hockey in a town that doesn't have cell phone coverage, Obama goes to a tractor pull.
It's as if presidential campaigns and their pursuing tagcloud of media pundits are actually a kind of landscape detection society - a rival Center for Land Use Interpretation - seeking out obsolete spatial versions of the United States, outdated geographies most of us no longer live within or encounter.


All along they pretend that these landscapes are politically relevant.

Then there was Matthew Dessem's perceptive and awesome explication of The Criterion Collection's seemingly inexplicable inclusion if Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay's 1998 oil-drillers [!] turned-astronauts-save-the-world disaster epic, Armageddon--which quotes the much-missed David Foster Wallace:
Critics who thought Armageddon was a sort of terminal end point for filmmaking (which is to say, all of them except David Edelstein, as far as I can tell) missed the point. Janet Maslin, for example, wrote, "Armageddon tries to tell a coherent story of guts, young love and space travel." But I don't think it does try; it's not really interested. You wouldn't criticize Star Tours or Batman: The Ride for shoddy characterization or wooden acting, and it doesn't seem fair to me to treat movies like Armageddon as though their writers and directors had the same goals as, say, Tarkovsky. David Foster Wallace put it best (in "David Lynch Keeps His Head"):
Art film is essentially teleological; it tries in various ways to "wake the audience up" or render us more "conscious." (This kind of agenda can easily degenerate into pretentiousness and self-righteousness and condescending horsetwaddle, but the agenda itself is large-hearted and fine.) Commercial film doesn't seem like it cares much about the audience's instruction or enlightenment. Commercial film's goal is to "entertain," which usually means enabling various fantasies that allow the moviegoer to pretend he's somebody else and that life is somehow bigger and more coherent and more compelling and attractive and in general just way more entertaining than a moviegoer's life really is...

The level of personal wish fulfilment in Armageddon is pretty easy to pick out; it's worth noting that Michael Bay also sells a kind of national wish fulfilment. Armageddon has a serious hard-on for the early days of the space program, specifically for the sense of national purpose it gave the country. In fact, the movie suggests that that America, that national conception of ourselves, is still pretty much what we are, as you can see below.



In case you miss it, this shot is immediately followed by one of the astronauts saying "Kennedy, we see you. And you never looked so good!" Of course, he's talking about the Kennedy Space Center...or is he? The point is, these sections are shamelessly manipulative and there's nothing delicate about them. Nevertheless, they have an elegiac tone that's more moving than anything else in the movie. And they seem motivated by a genuine longing for a national purpose, and national heroes, for a more innocent version of America. Of course, that America never really existed, and Armageddon offers Bruce Willis as just the sort of national hero we're looking for, but hey, you take your pleasures where you find them...

Which makes me think that complaining about the irrelevance of political space is like critiquing the incoherence and narrative of Armageddon. The landscapes of the American political blockbuster are designed to provide wish fulfillment and a sense--however fictional or misguided--of "national purpose"--and ultimately, of a "national hero."

As this remarkable montage of the US president [2] addressing the world shows, the common landscape of Armageddon's politics is the flat, square--and as Dessem points out, time zone-free--space of the television screen:

Minor Landscapes and the Geography of American Political Campaigns [bldgblog via city of sound]
#40: Armageddon [criterioncollection via goldenfiddle]

[1] as the photo shows and a bldgblog commenter points out, Olmos Pharmacy has actually been reinvented as Olmos Bharmacy, "a combination soda fountain counter and wine bar."
[2] For a second I was worried, but then I realized that it was the other 1998 space-object-destroys-the-earth movie, Deep Impact that had the black president.


In 1989, artist Rudolf Stingel published Instructions, an illustrated booklet showing how to make one of his silver paintings. "He challenges the process of creating a painting and questions the concept of the canvas and that of authorship," says Christie's in a paraphrase of the curator Francesco Bonami. Christie's is selling a 1998 silver Stingel painting [whatever that means, we'll get to in a second] in London in a couple of weeks. Christie's explains how they're made:

The works begin with the application of a thick layer of paint in a particular colour, in the case of the present example silver enamel, to the canvas. Pieces of gauze are then placed over the surface of the canvas and silver paint is added using a spray gun. Finally, the gauze is removed, resulting in a richly textured surface. When seen in conjunction with the DIY manual, the Warholian nature of Stingel's work is difficult to refute: technical methods of factory-like production, which are openly communicated and question authorship, contrast the provoked coincidences that result in individual monotypes. Particularly, a parallel to Warhol's so-called Piss Paintings comes to mind: both artists test the methods of what can be considered painting, while simultaneously emphasising the carnality of the practice by combining coincidence and will in a process solely focused on the canvas's skin. With Stingel's works, the aggravation of the derma creates the rapture.
I love it, except that the challenge to authorship is merely a conceptual pose, one refuted most immediately by Stingel's signature on this painting and its £120,000 - £160,000 sale estimate.


Bonami reads the Instructions as "tricking you into learning how to do a painting for someone else." Which, though, is the neater trick: following the artist's instructions and making a Stingel for myself, or getting someone to spend £200,000 on an identical painting from the artist's factory because it has Stingel's autograph on the back?

The invocation of Warhol and the Piss Paintings is illuminating, and not just for the works' focus on a painting's surface or skin--or derma. Such process-oriented practice, which embraces a degree of randomness, conveniently results in serial works of unfakeable uniqueness. They don't need stamps of authenticity; the object is its own fingerprint. With minimal documentation at the time of creation in his studio, Stingel's collectors will never face scandals of authorship like those engulfing the Warhol Estate's authentication board. According to the board's self-contradictory interpretations of Warhol's Factory processes, mass-produced silkscreens that Warhol never saw can be accepted as works, while a documented self-portrait can be rejected repeatedly.

On the flip side, though, if Stingel really wanted to challenge authorship and treat each painting as a "cell" that only gains meaning from its connection to countless others, he'd get more traction by treating the world's DIY Stingels as intrinsic parts of his own work. Locate, document, and show them in galleries and museum retrospectives. Let them be bought and sold in the secondary [primary?] market. Then when one of those works shows up at Christie's, we'll talk again about questioning the concept of authorship.

Lot 319: Rudolf Stingel (b. 1956),
signed and dated 'Stingel 98' (on the reverse)
oil and enamel on canvas
32 x 32in. (81.3 x 81.3cm.)
Executed in 1998
Estimate: £120,000 - £160,000

Rudolf Stingel - Selected works [paulacoopergallery.com]

October 3, 2008

Etsy Sellers For Obama?

2008.10.02 - 538 VP Debate-9, originally uploaded by Brett 538.

There are a few folks with Magritte-esque, absurdist posters outside the Vice Presidential debate tonight. Though, "Mo' Monkeys, Mo' Problems" is sweet, I think it unfairly singles out monkeys. So my favorite is "This is an owl."

What does it say about the election mediascape that a dadaist poster stunt could just as easily be a dog whistle for some invisible target demographic as a marketing tool for goldenpalace.com? Though there's not a URL to be seen.

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

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Posts from October 2008, in reverse chronological order

Older: September 2008

Newer November 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