You Stay Classy, Bruce Ratner

In less than thirty seconds, I could rattle off a dozen people in the real estate business, and another easy dozen in the video and film business, and a dozen in the finance business, who have incredibly, admirably, even enviably sophisticated views of art and the art world.
And yet, in two short emailed paragraphs, a hapless Atlantic Yard minion resets the real estate and banking cultural clocks to zero:

Hi, I’m working on an in house promotional video for Frank Gehry and the Atlantic Yards Project. We will be taping in Williamsburg this Thursday or Friday and are interested in videoing an artist in his or her work space. The work should be large and colorful and the space should be interesting, windows or some nice architecture. It should also be at least 700 to 1000 square feet or bigger.
This video will be shown to investors and could be an opportunity to highlight the artists work. We will have a small crew of about 8 people and shouldn’t be there longer than an hour or two. We can give the artist a nominal fee of 250.00 as we have no location budget.

I don’t know what giant, controversial idea lurking beneath which blithely unaware comment is more entertaining to contemplate:

  • the real estate developer’s imperative for art that’s “large and colorful”
  • the artist as lifestyle purveyor in an actual investment banking video
  • the already gentrifying artist participating in his own out-gentrification
  • a multi-billion-dollar project’s broke-ass, indie film promise of “promotion” in lieu of “budget”
  • the idea that anyone who can afford a thousand square feet of “nice architecture” in Williamsburg these days actually makes art
  • the idea that this is all for a Frank Gehry project.
    You stay classy, too, Frank.
    Calling All ‘Burg Artists: Want to Sell Out for Atlantic Yards? [curbed]

  • Artnet: Cultural Learnings For Make Benefit Glorious Art World

    Quadriceptica II is an amazing exhibition of which the Cultural Directorate of Rjamusz can be justly proud, and to which anyone seriously interested in pan-national trends in current post-market cultural production must direct themselves before the onset of locust season.
    The first question to be asked is immediately answered on page 857 of the multilingual (English, French, German, Italian, Greek, Latin and Mandarin) catalogue. Quadriceptica II is being held now instead of next year (2008) because of the insight of Walter Zor, who is the President of Quadriceptica, LLC, as well as executive director of the Rjamuszan Cultural Directorate and Mayor of Belikk. As he told those of us who attended the gala press preview on the scenic rocky beach just a few kilometers’ vigorous and refreshing walk from Olde Belikk, he had been reading in the international media about America’s presidential primaries campaign, and about how each state seemed to be moving its primary to an earlier and earlier date in order to, as Mr. Roz [sic] put it in a typically Rjamuszan way, “get a jump on the competition.” Quadriceptica II thus makes an intervention in the current discourse at least six months ahead of any of the 2008 polyennials.

    Lisa Evelyn-Radish’s parody on artnet of the proliferation of biennials would be a heckuvalot funnier if it weren’t indistinguishable from the actual, sycophantic drive-by travelogues the site’s been running for reals.
    Here’s Emma Gray fluffing some local friends and sources in LA–and auditioning to do some personal art shopping for the recently arrived Beckhams [“Hey! You’re from England? I’m from England! We should hang out, my friend has a gallery…”]:

    On the media front in Los Angeles, changes are afoot. Angeleno magazine has a new editor-in-chief, Degen Pener, and for his suite of city pubs (under the Modern Luxury moniker) is presenting an article about the young movers and shakers of the Los Angeles art scene. And art PR guru Bettina Korek is working with Ovation TV on a documentary titled Art or Not, featuring a range of artists from Shepherd Fairey to Erik Parker, with commentary from yours truly.
    Finally, to bring things full circle — some more artwork for the Beckhams’ pad that puts the capital “B” back in bling. At “Ultrasonic International,” the current group show at Mark Moore Gallery in Bergamot station, July 14-Aug. 25, 2007, an untitled work by the UK-based artist Susan Collis consists of nothing but a pair of screws that stand out proudly in the wall, upon which a painting or other work of art may be hung. The ruse is that these two screws are the art itself. Manufactured in white gold with diamonds in the center, they sell for $3,600 — and are cheap at the price!

    Baffled at Gray’s logrolling, Tyler had wondered yesterday if artnet had any editors. I think the problem with artnet’s suck-uppery is that they do. Here’s Walter Robinson reporting on a collaboration between the artists Takashi Murakami and Kanye West:

    Though he’s living the life of a Grammy-winning hip-hop star, West seems to have a real admiration for Murakami’s lifestyle, describing him as “a god in the art world.” During a recent tour of Japan, West visited the artist’s Kaikai Kiki studio and took his own souvenir snapshots of Hiropon, Murakami’s life-sized sculpture of a bosomy anime pinup. The two men had their photo taken posing in front of the work, an image that is part of an illustrated report by Akiko Kato on the Kaikai Kiki website.

    During his stop at the studio, West showed off a diamond-encrusted crucifix that he had designed himself — “Breathtaking,” wrote Kato, “Christ’s eyes shined blue” — and then went on to sketch an idea for another amulet design. West asked Murakami to add eyes to the drawing, and “an unexpected collaboration was born!” The sketch was clearly the inspiration for the neon creature from Murakami’s Can’t Tell Me Nothing cover, and the necklace West wears in the Can’t Tell Me Nothing video looks like the Kaikai Kiki drawing.
    “We think that he [West] and Takashi share this eerie ability to concentrate and approach everything with utmost seriousness,” Kato concludes. The report also hints at another common interest between the two superstars — Louis Vuitton, whose brand Murakami famously revitalized several years ago. West entered Murakami’s studio wearing a colored Vuitton pouch. Both of the rapper’s new singles refer to the luxury handbag maker (Can’t Tell Me Nothing includes the words “And what’d I do? Act more stupidly/Bought more jewelry, more Louis V;” and Stronger includes the lyric “I’m caught up in the moment, right?/This is Louis Vuitton dime night.”)

    Sounds like that Kaikai Kiki junket Robinson took to Tokyo last fall is still paying off in cuddly reportage:

    The point is, I am a sucker for this collaborative stuff. So Geisai #10 was an easy sale to me. A one-day art fair for art students and young artists, open to all comers, Geisai #10 was organized by art superstar Takashi Murakami in Tokyo on Sept. 17, 2006. About 800 young Japanese artists packed into a big hall at the Tokyo Big Sight exhibition center. The price of a booth started at about $210, for which you got no walls and no electricity — thus, there were aisles full of young people sitting on the floor, surrounded by their works, most of them as cute as can be.
    It was great.
    Murakami’s art production company, Kaikai Kiki, flew me over to Tokyo from New York for the weekend, along with a handful of other western art critics, putting us up in a fancy downtown hotel that had the sleek glass and stone design of a corporate skyscraper. They ushered us around in vans and fed us at fancy restaurants.
    I had been petrified at the thought of taking the 12-hour trip in coach, so I finally figured out how to turn all those unused frequent-flier miles I had into an upgrade to business class, where the seats are like the recliner chair my dad used to have in our family room. This — eating, sleeping, watching TV — I could handle any time. Like I said, it was great.
    It turns out that Murakami is way more than Japan’s answer to Walt Disney…

    It’s hard to tell where the parody stops.

    HowTo Photoset: Damien Hirst’s Diamond Skull

    hirst_skull_howto.jpg

    Alright, I will grant that a 54-carat, flawless pink diamond would push the fabrication cost of an 1,100-carat pave’ and platinum skull beyond the $3-4 million I was able to account for.
    Still, it’s worth noting that the whisper number for Damien Hirst’s outlay has crept up as well. When his skull went on display, it was $20 million, then it became an unknown amount, was it 10 or 12 million pounds? Now it’s reported as $28 million. Uh-huh.
    Anyway, flickr user Red Clover Pix has a set of photos from the construction of the skull. Remarkably, the photos appear to have been on flickr for almost two months, and yet they’ve received only a few dozen views. Were they only made public now?
    Red Clover Pix: Damien Hirst’s Skull [flickr via supertouchblog via notcot]
    Previously: Diamonds Are Forever! TODAY ONLY!! The Costing Of Damien Hirst’s Diamond Skull

    Sorry, we got cut off. You were saying?

    From Theresa’s blog, The Wit of the Staircase:

    From the French phrase ‘esprit d’escalier,’ literally, it means ‘the wit of the staircase’, and usually refers to the perfect witty response you think up after the conversation or argument is ended. “Esprit d’escalier,” she replied. “Esprit d’escalier. The answer you cannot make, the pattern you cannot complete till aterwards it suddenly comes to you when it is too late.”

    But what if you didn’t know it was too late? What if you’re right in the middle of the conversation? What’s it called then?

    Cabinet 26: “Perspective Correction”

    Can I just say, I’ve reached a point in my life where I don’t know what’s left to accomplish? I mean, how can I top the thrill of getting to write for Cabinet Magazine? I just don’t know.
    I’ve had a puppydog crush on Cabinet since Issue 3, where they interviewed John Cliett about the implications of his definitive/exclusive photos of Walter deMaria’s Lightning Field. Then there was the magazine’s plan in 2003 to lease the ten tiny, lost slivers of surveying-mistake-generated land that Gordon Matta-Clark once bought from the New York City government for his unrealized project, Reality Properties: Fake Estates. What began as an offhand bemusement grew into an exhibition at the Queens Museum and a book–and an important contribution to the resurgence of Matta-Clark’s influence on the art world. It can be self-conscious and super-nerdy, but the magazine consistently finds overlooked and convincing perspectives on the culture and art taking shape around us.
    Whenever I read it, I was never able to imagine how to write one of those Cabinet essays. What offbeat subject did I have a slightly too obsessive familiarity with that a dozen art history phd’s didn’t already turn into 300-page dissertations? Then guest editor Jonathan Allen and Sina Najafi emailed me out of the blue, asking if I’d like to interview Scott Sforza about stagecraft for the special issue on Magic. Uh, YEAH.
    Sforza never came to the phone, though, so instead, I ended up with an attempt to put a bit of political and visual context around the exercise of control of the vantage point. I also threw in some discussion of the impact of the switch from binocular [eyes] to monocular [camera/lens] vision and the construction and interpretation of media images. For good measure, I connected some dots from Sforza to Andrea del Pozzo to the spiritualist photographers of the 19th century to Jan Dibbets to Michelangelo Antonioni. Susan Sontag and Gilles Deleuze provided much of the theoretical seasoning, along with a rather candid Karl Rove, circa early 2001. To top it off, there are the incredible anti-Sforzian photographs of GWB’s visit to Monolia shot by Iwan Baan.
    I tell you this now because the article isn’t online, so you should all go re-up your subscriptions pronto so you can read it. I still can’t believe it’s there.
    Cabinet 26: Perspective Correction: The beguiling stagecraft of American politics [cabinetmagazine.org]

    “Viewfinder” Opens July 14th At The Henry In Seattle

    There’s only a partial list of artists included, but the premise of this show holds a lot of promise. Though I would hope that assimilation has more to do with exploration and manipulation, not just funny camera angles:

    Since photography’s inception, our world has become an ever more visual culture, where deciphering media images is an increasingly important form of literacy. Viewfinder provocatively suggests that we see photographically and that contemporary artists assimilate the camera’s mechanics as they compose technically and conceptually complex work.

    Viewfinder runs from July 14 to December 30 at the Henry Art Gallery [henryart.org via archinect]

    UbuWeb Sitdown With Archinect

    There’s an excellent, loong interview on Archinect with Kenneth Goldsmith, the artist, poet, dj, theory karaokeist [?], professor, and web developer behind the incomparable UbuWeb.
    Ubu began with just texts, and as collections and formats and partners came their way, it’s expanded into other media: sound, performance documentation, artist film and experimental video. The focus remains resolutely on the undeservedly inaccessable and out of print/circulation.
    Goldsmith: “My only regret though is that there aren’t fifteen or twenty UbuWebs.” They talk about theater, dance, and architecture Ubus, but I confess, I have a hard time seeing how those might come together as well as Ubu’s collection of conceptual/concrete poetry. Could happen, though. Anyone have some unlimited bandwidth and server space? There may be a MacArthur in it for you.
    UbuWeb Vu – Kenneth Goldsmith [archinect]

    Huge Props

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    So if you’re going to see the Richard Serra exhibition at MoMA–and you should, it’s really quite spectacular–you should see it when the museum is closed, because then you have the whole place to yourself.
    A friend John and I went last Tuesday morning, and we started on the sixth floor. By the second room, it was obvious that the experience of the show was really incredible. Serra’s an artist who, by design, almost prevents you from seeing multiple examples of his work; they’re site-specific–not just permanently installed in or made for, but actually about the site and the experience of being in it. By the second Serra, then, you realize you’re in rarified territory. And the first three room-filling works you encounter at the entrance of the sixth floor space really makes this clear.
    The silence was shortlived; there was a crowd of middle school students sitting on the floor in the next gallery, which was crowded with very early works. I wanted to go grab each of these kids by the shoulders and shake him, saying “Do you know where you are? Remember this!” But I figured they’d figure it out by the time they got downstairs.
    Was it Peter Schejldahl who mentioned how sad and domesticated the corral of prop pieces looked? I’m afraid he was right. I’m also afraid I couldn’t imagine any other way MoMA, with its constant crowds, could show the precarious work. These delicate, human-scale pieces are not the Serras around which the new building was designed, and it shows. [The hands-down best prop piece I’ve ever seen, by the way, was in the office of a dealer on 24th street. It was a square metal sheet held up by a roll that sat on the floor like a lead umbrella. The fleshy soft surface was in seductively pristine condition, too, a testament to a life in careful storage, I guess.]
    The massive second floor galleries, where Serra’s early lead and timber scatter piece seemed so lost in front of the Twombly when the museum reopened, now seemed complete. The torqued ellipses and ribbons of Serra’s late/current period are, as John aptly pointed out, our real Peace Dividend. They’re made possible–and made–by advances in Military Industrial design software and manufacturing. Prowling around NASA in the past, I’ve seen utterly utilitarian instruments, objects, and components whose stunning aesthetics would drive a hundred MFA’s into the web design business.
    Serra seems like one of the few artists to make a sustained, legitimate attempt at actually engaging the means of production of the Cold War. And when you consider the price tag of the new MoMA as a purpose-built context machine for these works compared to, say, the Pentagon’s weekly expenditure in Iraq, the ROI is off the charts.

    serra_circuitii_moma.jpg

    All that said, my favorite piece in the show was not, in fact, one of the sexy, transporting, transformative curved mazes on two, but a much earlier piece on six. [It could be, but it’s not To Lift, the 1967 piece made of sheet rubber, which is easily the most elegant.] Circuit II, [1972-86] is a giant prop piece which has been in MoMA’s collection for a while. Four straight steel plates are wedged into the corners of a room, creating an unsettling, compressed void where they would intersect. Circuit II was installed when I first moved to New York; it was in the Philip Johnson annex gallery known as the basketball court, which, at the time, had been the largest space in the Modern. The simplicity of the execution and the visceral spatial experience left a real impression on my fragile little just-graduated college mind. It was a kind of non-academic awe that my skeptical art history professor’s cursory lessons on contemporary art had not prepared me for.
    I’d like to say I felt that sensation again, but to be honest, the new sixth floor galleries are so high, and the beautiful skylight overhead was so open, Serra’s once-overwhelming plates felt a bit quaint and conceptual, the idea of awe instead of awe itself. Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe it’s not so much the work, but my own spatial nostalgia, the kinaesthetic memory of it, that I’m loving so much, that thrill of paradigm-shifting discovery when you’re young and stupid–and your paradigms are due for several hefty shifts. Maybe Richard Serra’s works are not just shapers of space; after you’ve encountered them once, they become manipulators of time, too.
    Richard Serra Sculpture: Forty Years [moma.org, thanks alex]

    Ferran Adria Exhibiting In Documenta’s ‘G Pavilion’

    chez_pim_bulli_beets.jpg

    Holy smokes. Artforum reports that chef Ferran Adrià is participating in this year’s Documenta 12 in Kassel, Germany, by leaving a table for two open at El Bulli every night for exhibition visitors. El Bulli is in Costa Brava, outside Barcelona. Barcelona, Spain.
    D12 director Roger Buergel will select two people at random every day during the 100-day run of the exhibition, who will receive airfare and dinner. El Bulli is officially known in the Documenta program as “the G pavilion.”
    [Though judging by David Velasco’s predictably self-important Artforum reportage, a free ticket away from Kassel is just what this Documenta requires.]
    Adrià’s G Pavilion [artforum]
    Adrià traslada su participación en la Documenta de Kassel a “El Bulli” [lavanguardia.es, google trans]
    image of El Bulli’s beet ribbons via chez pim’s stunning photos. [chezpim and flickr]

    Untitled (America)

    felix_pools_sophiefels.jpg

    It’s actually happening. Ever since it was first announced that Felix Gonzalez-Torres would be the artist representing the US at the Venice Biennale, I’ve kind of held my breath to see if it would actually come off. And it has.
    The New York Times plays to the ambiguity of meaning and open-ended experience in Felix’s work, which I guess is diplomatic. But to anyone who delves into Felix’s work and the politically charged ideas that underpinned it, I can’t see how this exhibition of these particular works, which had to be approved by the State Department, can be read as anything but an unfettered indictment of the present administration, its policies, and the culture of fear, authoritarianism, corruption, and bigotry that it foments and feeds upon.
    Part of me is baffled that curator Nancy Spector and the advisory committee who recommended Felix’s inclusion “managed” to “get the work by” the State Department. But the more realpolitik side thinks that it’s just evidence of the total disregard and disinterest the administration has for something as irrelevant and inconsequential as art. In some random gallery somewhere. In Italy. Made by a dead Cuban homo. And fawned over by a passel of rich effete liberals from New York and who else? That’s it.
    So really, it’s like two indictments, pushed up against each other, a damning pair.
    felix_posters_sophiegrel.jpgAnd speaking of pairs, the posthumous pools look absolutely stunning. I’d wondered and doubted about them when I first heard of the project, but a while back, Andrea Rosen and I were talking about them, and their validity, not just as work, but as Felix’s work, really sunk in. Now to see them–or to see pictures of them, we’re not at the opening this year–they are spectacular. And to remember that the original commission for them was scuttled when a university official learned Gonzalez-Torres was gay, well, they fit all too well with the rest of the show.
    Hats off to flickr user SophieGrel, who is the first to post any real photos of the Biennale, including the beautiful detail above of the pools in the rain. Another favorite, which will no doubt be repeated over the next five months, is the abandoned posters around Venice.
    I remember realizing I was getting closer to Felix’s show at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris as the concentration of people carrying free, rolled up posters increased. The inverse, seeing how far and how long people will carry the posters before they decide to leave them behind, is an interesting metaphor for something, too, I’m sure. What that is, I’ll leave to your own interpretation.
    Previously: 1985 Act Up 1989 FU State Dept. 1996 Died 2007 Venice Biennale
    Death and Venice
    “On Politics And Art”, transcript of a 1995 interview Rob Storr did with Felix Gonzalez-Torres,

    Diamonds Are Forever! TODAY ONLY!

    hirst_diamond_skull.jpg, image: science, ltd and white cube

    First things first: if someone DOES buy Damien Hirst’s diamond-and-platinum skull, it won’t be for $100 million. Any shlub billionaire walking in off the street would get 10% off, and any actual collector would get 20%. So if someone’s been around the art block already, that’s where he’ll start talking.
    Second, by floating a $20 million cost figure, Hirst is taking a page–and a number, even–from Christo’s playbook that likely has more to do with setting a context for potential buyers than with the actual outlay.
    Hirst told the Times, “The markup on paint and canvas is a hell of a lot more than on this diamond piece.” but the difference is far less than it first appears.
    8,160 diamonds but only 1,100 carats, those are some small stones. A quick glance at the Rapaport Report will tell you what dealers would pay for 1,000 carats of 0.125 carat D-F stones. [0.23 carat D IF stones are $4,900/carat retail on BlueNile.com. Comparable 0.5c stones are double that, so let’s assume comparable 0.125 stones are half, or $2,500/c retail.] Depending on how far back along distribution chain Hirst was able to reach, the actual cost–or if you’re cold about it, the actual “value”–of his diamonds could be a half, a third, a quarter of that.
    Diamonds, it turns out, are a lot like art: heavy on perceived, light on actual, value. They’re are no more or less intrinsically valuable than dead flies, another medium Hirst has employed for his art. The only difference is the cultural assumptions of decadence or disgust attributed to them [and given the bloody, terrorist- and tyranny-funding origins of so many African diamonds, decadence and disgust aren’t mutually exclusive.]
    Apart from their subjective value, then diamonds and art share an aura of exclusivity. Which turns out to be almost entirely artificial as well. Diamonds have been historically rare because of their geographical concentration and the difficulties in extracting them, but the DeBeers cartel has also manipulated the supply and perceived scarcity of diamonds for over 100 years.
    Even as diamond stocks from beyond DeBeers’ direct control have entered the market, it remains in dealers’ and suppliers’ economic interests to maintain the DeBeers-created industrial and distribution system–and margins. But those monopolistic days are numbered.

    christofle_centerpiece.jpg

    In 2003, Wired reported on two companies who were developing technologies to manufacture flawless diamonds for use initially in jewelry, but the real goal is to revolutionize the semiconductor industry by making diamonds economical enough to replace silicon. From there who knows how cheap diamonds could become?
    Before mass production techniques were developed in the 1890’s, aluminum was a rare and precious substance, too. For example, in 1858, Charles Christofle made an extravagant centerpiece from aluminum for Emperor Napoleon III’s Chateau de Compiègne. By the turn of the century, aluminum was being used for luggage. Now I have an aluminum centerpiece decorating my table: a pyramid of empties made for me by Diet Coke.
    If there’s any significance at all to Hirst’s skull, it’s as a symbol of a far-reaching, manipulative cartel of dubious ethics at the center of an elaborately collusive web of mutually beneficial delusion. Whether that’s the diamond market or the art market or both, as subjects go, it’s not bad at all.
    On the bright side, Hirst may be onto something in his quest for museological immortality after all, even if our grandchildren are paving their driveways with diamonds a hundred years from now. By employing master craftsmen with royal warrants to create an object of superlative, if fleeting, value, an object that has been the subject of religious, artistic, and cultural interpretation for millennia, and an object that doesn’t take up even a fraction of the vitrine space of, say, a tiger shark in a tank of formaldehyde–Hirst may have guaranteed that at least one piece of his art will be shown in a museum a hundred years from now.

    crystal_skull_brit_mus.jpg

    Update: Hirst suggested the British Museum would be a good spot for his skull. A reader reminded me that the British Museum is the home of the Crystal Skull, which was a controversial hit in the Age of Aquarius [ie., the Seventies]. That’s when no less an authority than Leonard Nimoy suggested the only way the Mayans–or was it the Atlantisans?–could have carved it 3,600 years ago was with extraterrestrial help. Turns out it was manufactured in Germany in the 19th century. And like all the world’s Crystal Mystery Skulls, it originated with a French art dealer in Mexico named Eugene Boban.
    If the British Museum is looking to deepen their holdings of shiny, over-hyped skulls made by charlatans that lie irrelevant and forgotten within thirty years, Hirst may be in luck. Then again, judging by the similarities between the Museum’s photo of the Crystal Skull and Hirst’s own images, it looks like that was his plan all along. And he’s only out a couple million pounds to pull it off? Brilliant.

    My So-Called Audience

    When I heard that Christopher DeLaurenti used body mics and a mini-disc-equipped vest to make his surreptitious recordings of orchestral intermissions, I was like, “Half the recording is probably the squeaks of his leather vest. What he’s actually capturing isn’t just music; it’s his experience of listening.”
    As I read on in the NY Times article about his new CD, I was pleased to learn the “Seattle-based ‘sound artist’ [quotes? please, this isn’t Seattle -ed.] and composer” agreed:

    The recording itself became a performance, he said, because every movement of his body would alter the way the sound was captured. “I became entranced in doing it,” he said.

    The illicit nature of the project not only informed the recording process, it provides the aural rhythm, a 6bpm directional bassline:

    He honed a technique of often shifting his posture and moving around. “Most people are not observant and rarely look at one thing for longer than 10 seconds,” he said.

    Any John Cage reference or influence is always welcome around these parts, of course, and the transformation of ambient sound into music is one of my personal favorites.
    But Cage also had an interest in the transformed roles of peformer, composer, and audience. In a 1972 interview, he said:

    …more and more in my performances, I try to bring about a situation in which there is no difference between the audience and the performers. And I’m not speaking of audience participation in something designed by the composer, but rather am I speaking of the music which arises through the activity of both performers and so-called audience. . .

    When a piece like 4’33” is ultimately peformed/composed/experienced in each listener’s ears and head, does it still make sense to keep using an implicitly passive term like “audience”? Does it matter that DeLaurenti declares himself an artist, not just an audience member? Does it matter that he published his work? Or that he released a commercial recording?
    DeLaurenti’s project also reminds me of another artist of the experiential whose practice is also technically illegal: the videocam-wielding moviegoer Jon Routson.

    routson_chicago.jpg

    Routson used to shoot video while he was in the movies, not to create a bootleg of the feature film–justifiably afraid of getting caught, Routson usually didn’t even look through the viewfinder of his camera, which turned the secreen into a skewampus trapezoid–but to document the experience of watching a movie. Ambient, quotidian life became art; art was what the artist did–including sitting through three screenings of Mel Gibson’s The Passion .
    Looking back on how he developed his early studio practice, Bruce Nauman told an interviewer [pdf] that he wondered, “… what an artist does when left alone in the studio. My conclusion was that I was an artist and I was in the studio, then whatever I was doing in the studio must be art.” And in the cases like DeLaurenti and Routson the studio is expendable.
    guy_ben-ner_elia.jpgBut artists like Vito Acconci, who made video art from his daily doings, and at-home dad/artist Guy Ben Ner, who transforms primary caregiving into production by enlisting his kids as characters and crew in his video works, have it easy.
    The two bootleg guys face a unique challenge because their experience involves consuming–and recording–someone else’s intellectual property. The most remarkable thing about the Times’ intermission article is how laid back almost all the orchestra spokesmen are about DeLaurenti’s recording. Granted, no one’s going to go ballistic to the Times in a culture feature, but it’s like winning the Turner Prize compared to the draconian treatment that Routson faced.
    Maryland criminalized videotaping in a movie theater while the Baltimore artist was still making his works. He moved production to New York for a while, but the film industry’s aggressive campaign against ‘piracy’ and the subsequent changes to federal law ultimately forced him to abandon his series.
    So all the world’s a stage, and we are merely gloriously players. And playwrights. And composers. And artists. Except that large swaths of our production–our lives–are declared the exclusive property of the expensively counselled copyright and trademark industrial complex. All the world’s a store, and we are merely consumers. Meanwhile the cameravans prowling our city streets are from Google. All the buildings on the Sunset Strip seems really quaint right about now.

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    The Concerts Found Onstage While Everyone Else Takes a Break [nyt]

    Now Fit To Print: Holland Cotter’s Hippie Flashback

    holland_cotter_flashback.jpg

    Look, wasn’t born in time for this “Human Be-In” of which the Grey-haired Ones speak, but I own shagpad.com, so don’t think I’m not down with the groovy, psychedelic 60’s. But if going to the Whitney triggered a flashback to my drug-addled youth, I don’t think I’d write about it in the New York Times:

    Say you were a middle-class American white kid in 1964. What were you listening to? Jan and Dean, the Shangri-Las. Surfers and bikers. Then you and some friends see the Beatles on their first American tour. They’re so new: four skinny, pale, dandyish guys with femme haircuts singing “Love me do.” The girls in the audience scream. The boys cheer. Ringo shakes his mop and the boys scream too. Hysteria. It’s a high.
    Four years later the Beatles are in India, and you’re in college, at a concert, smoking grass and this truly unusual woman named Janis is swinging her hair across the stage. She’s commanding you to take a little piece of her heart. She’s white but sounds black, and she’s reckless, eyes closed, right at the edge of the stage. She’ll fall! Does she care? Outside there’s a war, and the world feels weird, but not in here, tonight.
    Then you’re tripping, and Jimi Hendrix is up there on some other stage with this tremendous light show cued to the pulse of the cosmos exploding behind him. No flowers now. No mellow. He strangles the national anthem, then ignites his guitar. Someone behind or beside you whispers: Detroit is on fire. A Buddhist monk torched himself in Saigon. People are making draft-card bonfires. Flames are spilling out of the music, spreading off the stage and into life. You don’t know where acid stops and reality starts.

    Also, if I were reviewing an exhibition that fills two floors of the museum, I might actually, you know, talk about more than two of the objects on view. So there’s a Rauschenberg and a Peter Saul, and a Haeberle photo? Were the parenthetical mentions of Archigram and Verner Panton included because they’re in the show? Maybe the Times needs to call Lily Tomlin in to talk Cotter down.
    Through Rose-Colored Granny Glasses [nyt]

    Bombardment Periphery, Rotterdam

    mothership_brandgrens.jpg

    As part of Rotterdam 2007 – City of Architecture, the city commemorated the 15-minute-long German bombing on May 14, 1940 that destroyed the city center, precipitated the Dutch surrender in WWII–and ultimately provided the occasion for all that new architecture. The area destroyed by the bombs and the ensuing firestorm is demarcated by the Brandgrens, or Fire Limits:

    The Fire Limits
    14.05.2007
    On Monday 14 May, in the evening, Rotterdam 2007 City of Architecture will illuminate the fire limits of Rotterdam’s city centre with over one hundred light beams.
    The fire limits mark the areas of the city that were destroyed by the bombing on 14 May 1940 and the ensuing fires that broke out. From 10.45 pm a blaze of light beams on these boundaries will light up the skies, making the true impact of this devastating event visible throughout the entire city.
    The bombing ‘only’ lasted fifteen minutes but managed to destroy practically all of Rotterdam’s city centre. Even before the war ended, it was decided not to replicate pre-war Rotterdam when reconstruction began, but to turn the city into a modern, revitalised city. The fire limits highlight the differences between the old and the new in many places in the city centre, which although visible, have never been experienced as a whole before. On 14 May 2007, the art producer Mothership will illuminate the entire fire limits, stretching almost 12 kilometres, turning this historic event into a sight that everyone can see.

    Such a prominent spatial use of spotlights as a memorial these days obviously evokes references to the Towers of Light memorial. Like the World Trade Center version, this project, produced by the art collective Mothership, is intended as a temporary, ephemeral precursor to a permanent memorial demarcating the Brandgrens. But that’s actually not the most interesting part of this project for me.

    firelimits_mothership.jpg

    Though the memorial’s official path through the city was only recognized in February, the idea of the Brandgrens has been as integral to the post-war identity of Rotterdam. The Fire Limits [or as Mothership translates with a bit more thesaurian flair, Bombardment Periphery; Babelfish translates Brandgrens as “Fire Boundaries”] is a commemoration of a Nazi attack that uses the Nazis’ own vocabulary of spectacle, specifically Albert Speer‘s 1934 Lichtdom, the Cathedral of Light, at Nuremburg. The rendering [above] reads almost like a direct quote of Lichtdom, in fact.

    Lichtdom.jpg

    As it turned out, Bombardment Periphery looked uncannily like a re-creation of a nighttime bombing, with evocations of anti-aircraft searchlights, groundlevel glow, and illuminated cloud cover. I’d be very interested to hear what the reaction was to this event [the commemorating, that is, not the attack.]

    brandgrens_2.jpg

    It’s a bit absurd, but the first image that comes up in my search for night-time air raid photos was from Los Angeles.

    La_air_raid.gif

    In the early morning of February 25, 1942, unidentified flying objects were spotted over Los Angeles, triggering a massive anti-aircraft barrage that killed three civilians [three more died of heart attacks] and sparked a flood of bitter criticism and controversy. No definitive explanation has ever been made of the objects. The incident was inspiration for Steven Spielberg’s comedy [sic], 1941.
    The caption for this photo, which ran on the front page of the LA Times, is incredible:

    Scores of searchlights built a wigwam of light beams over Los Angeles early yesterday morning during the alarm. This picture was taken during blackout; shows nine beams converging on an object in sky in Culver City area. The blobs of light which show at apex of beam angles were made by anti-aircraft shells.

    The obvious question, of course: Is next February 25th too soon for someone to recreate a wigwam of light beams over Culver City?
    Bombardment Periphery Gallery [enterthemothership.com]
    Rotterdam2007: The Fire Limits [rotterdam2007.nl]
    West Coast Air Raid [wikipedia]