31 July 2009

Dada language

The thing I like least about Dada is the nonsense language. Sure, I get that it's a response to the journalistic language of the time, where the ideals of Western civilisation were lauded while an entire generation was being slaughtered and maimed.

However, I don't believe Dada-style nonsense language is a valid response. Apparently, Hans Arp would liberally sprinkle his conversation with nonsense words. That must have been exceedingly tiresome. Yes, Marie Osmond doing Hugo Ball's Karawane is funny, and Brian Eno made great use of a Kurt Schwitters recording, but the Dada assault on language simply wasn't very effective.

In fact, the manipulative use of language is even more of a concern now than in 1916 or thereabouts, given the sophisticated techniques that can now be deployed by the instruments of control (and that are by no means limited to language).

Look at the way the Americans have redefined 'freedom' to mean the ability of multinational corporations to make a profit. And when their Department of Defence got hassled after announcing it had a psychological warfare unit inserting propaganda into various news media, they said 'oops, you're right, we shouldn't have told anyone about it'.

Let's face it, they may have sophisticated techniques, but the people using them are still incompetent plonkers. It's not that hard to see through their tricks.

Therefore, the Common-Sense Nihilist Party's education policy is to teach philosophy in primary school. After that, the little bastards can sort themselves out.

30 July 2009

Because you asked for it

28 July 2009

Okay, that's enough. I've had enough of your ranting. I find it quite disturbing. Go away.

– Rose Miller, during her radio show, just now.

A couple of drawings

27 July 2009

And now for the Situationists

The thing to remember is that Guy Debord, like Tzara and Breton, was a right dick. What this documentary doesn't mention is that the SI fell apart because Debord expelled everyone else for deviating from his rigid ideological position.

I reckon the last thing you should do is take politics seriously. Yeah, play around and have some fun with them, but never ever take them seriously. And never ever believe in them.

Believe in nothing!

Okay, enough with the pop videos. Time for some Dada!

26 July 2009

This one's for me

(Well, it all is really.)

Destroy all monsters

Rose and I went to Mock up on Mu last night. I really enjoyed it, Rose less so. It's the latest extravaganza by Craig Baldwin, of Tribulation 99 and Sonic Outlaws fame.

Mock up on Mu
begins in 2019, with L. Ron Hubbard at his secret moonbase, the Empire of Mu. I don't think it matters overly much if I give away the ending: Jack Parsons, founder of the Jet Propulsion Lab, and Marjorie Cameron, founder of the new age movement, use sex magick to release Flash Gordon from the underground tunnels where he's been hiding with Aleister Crowley and a race of radioactive mutants. Flash Gordon of course saves the world and frees humanity from the depredations of L. Ron Hubbard and Lockheed Martin.


25 July 2009

And here's my friend Brother Love

I may have posted this before, but I don't care

I love this song, and I can relate:

23 July 2009

Bit late, but worth it nonetheless


Another of the Neoteric Sound Researchers has started a blog.

In other news, I think I may the swine flu.

21 July 2009

Library mission

After posting the previous, I took the dog for a walk and then wandered over to school to take some books back to the library and stick some Common-Sense Nihilist Party slogans up in my studio. Wandering around the early 700 shelves, I looked for some replacement library books. With the previous post in mind, I was tempted to go back to the avant-garde of early 15th century Italy or even right back to the source – the paleolithic avant-garde. (What, you say, now I'm being really silly? What academic art was the paleolithic avant-garde reacting against? The fucking shamans of course!)

But, in the end, I walked out with a stack of Dada books. One of them, The Dada seminars, looks dodgy as, but I'll give it a go. It 'developed out of a series of seminars held by the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts', which sounds guaranteed to suck the life, joy, and value out of anything.

Compare and contrast

I thought I'd share a couple of assessment comments from different people for different courses from the end of last semester:

'You are well versed with Picabia et al, but what about more recent conceptual practice?'

'You have an excellent grasp of the historical theoretical underpinnings of "Noise" ... I would recommend investigating some more contemporary thinking around these issues.'

Now, I'll agree that being completely unaware of contemporary practices is a bad idea. And I'd like to think that I'm not completely unaware. However, this seems to be a bit more than that. It seems to be an idea that the contemporary is a good in and of itself, and that history is irrelevant.

The idea behind the intertemporal avant-garde is that structural affinities are more important than relative spacetime co-ordinates. Linear time and historical progress are illusions. It's about grouping things according to what they are rather than when they are.

Hence the term 'intertemporal'. Compare it with the term 'international'. If you are an international whatsit, you have more in common with whatsits in other nations than you do with non-whatsits in your own nation.

In the same way, I see myself having more in common with avant-garde artists in other spacetime zones than I do with non-avant-garde artists in my own spacetime zone.* They are my contemporaries.

Therefore, the way I see it, contemporary practices and thinking are simply not that relevant to my work. And, for fuck's sake, this is meant to be self-directed study, so let me direct it my-fucking-self, thank you. And, for that matter, if every other mug is looking at the same thing, maybe it's a good idea to have a few people looking at other things. Diversity is strength, motherfuckers.

I also don't accept that either the avant-garde or painting is dead. That they are seems to be a truism uncritically accepted. I'd like to set out why I don't accept this in an essay at some stage. Hopefully, I'll be able to tweak the critical studies essay in that direction.

*Please note that this does not imply a value judgement. I'm not saying I'm as good as famous artists of the past. Far from it! I'm quite happy being a minor artist. I have no wish to be a great success. Failure is much more fun – and it sets you free.

20 July 2009

Peter McLeavey: the film

Last night, Rose and I went to the film about Peter McLeavey at the film festival. I've got a lot of time for Peter. I've got a lot out of visiting his gallery over the years, and especially from the many chats I've had with him.

The film had some interesting bits: interviews with him and his wife, extracts from his correspondence, and some photos of the old days. However, I was left with a sense that there were some important bits missing. Peter's been in the same rooms in Cuba St for 40 years, so there was a bit of discussion of how it's changed. However, there was no mention of the effect of the bypass, which I found very strange until I saw the acknowledgement for funding from the council in the credits. Oh dear. (I'm probably being highly unfair with this imputation, but, hey, it's how it looks to me.)

The more serious omission though was that there was no criticism of Peter. He's occupied a position of power and influence in the highly bitchy art world for a considerable amount of time. He will have his detractors. The only time this was alluded to was when he was talking about the importance of loyalty: 'The relationship between the dealer and artist is like a marriage, and sometimes you come home after work on a Friday to find your wife in bed with the butcher.'

I'm sorry, but this doesn't cut it. Come on! Not acknowledging criticism is not fair on either Peter or the audience. And it's dishonest. Peter's a grown up. He can take it. And, to be absolutely clear, I'm not in any way advocating a hatchet job. Rather, you put it to him fairly, allow him to respond, and let the audience make up their own minds. That's what documentaries do.

Part of the problem was that there were no interviews apart from with Peter and his wife. The director got up before the screening and said they'd shot it in three days. They may have thought that this gave them enough material for a film, but unfortunately it did not give them enough material for a good film.

This is a great shame. Rather than a document of lasting importance, we've got a puff piece, a hagiography – and I don't believe in saints.

16 July 2009

Tzara vs Serner

Much of Tristan Tzara's fame in Paris was built upon the Dada manifesto he read on 23 July 1918 in the Meise Hall in Zurich ... The Parisian avant-gardists were consequently nervously awaiting his arrival two years later, and were, according to Andre Breton, extremely disappointed at the famous dadaist, while he openly enjoyed himself, made witty remarks, repeated stunts that had worked in the past, and exploited his personal charm as best he could, 'but in an increasingly narrow field'. According to Breton, the manifesto appeared to throw open the doors, but the French group soon discovered that these doors led into a corridor that turned around on itself. Part of the disappointment, according to Malcolm Green, may lie in Christian Schad's assertion that large portions of the manifesto were the work of Walter Serner rather than Tzara[.]

- Tom Sandqvist, Dada East

What is with these avant-garde poets? Both Tzara and Breton were ruthlessly ambitious creeps. Walter Serner, on the other hand, was a stand-up bloke, as this article, badly translated from the Dutch, makes clear:
Serner, dispossessed as he is, sees stronger then most how easy people can be made enthusiastic for a cause and are willing to die for it. The reason for him is clear: boredom. Most people really do not know what they are doing, their lifes are dull, and therefore they are easy victims of ideas like Nationalism and anti-semitism.

Against this alienation Serner puts a radical form of subjectivity. Where the point
is not what you are, but what you want. Because especially if you're not honest with your wishes and desires you'll be an easy target for swindlers. The result is that you'll be continuously hiding for yourself and only can go along with the game of corruption and hypocrisy that the world plays with you. So that you'll become an easy target of that same world. Therefore be always conscious of what you want, and don't let them put an identity on you, stay in motion, and disappear when you come to a point of inertion.

In short play with the world and do not let the world play with you.

Tin eyed?

We say someone has a tin ear if they are unable to appreciate the subtleties of music or speech. It's funny that we don't have an equivalent term for images.

When I was chatting to my new assessor yesterday, they said something astounding. I'd been explaining why I was planning to have a play around with abstraction and painting techniques. I pointed out that I'd been doing the watercolour and oil glazes technique for a couple of years now and said that I didn't want to just do the same thing over and over again until the end of my days.

My assessor told me that they considered all painting to be the same.

I was gobsmacked. I had no response to this. It's like saying everything played on a piano is the same. Of course, it was exaggeration for effect, but it's still a deeply stupid thing to say. And I'm meant to take this person seriously!?

15 July 2009

A new semester

The new semester started this week. There are a couple of changes from last semester. I've got a new assessor, and instead of the sound art elective there's a paper on fine arts research methods. Oh, and we've got put on a group exhibition as well as our studio projects. That's in five weeks. I've no idea what we'll do for it.

I think the new assessor will be fun. I've had a bit of a chat and given them homework to read. There might be a new face, but some of the sentiments haven't changed. There was a line about how I'm heading towards a 'post-studio practice' but it's like I've got one foot stuck into the studio. An analogy with those electronic ankle things prisoners on home detention wear was made. I suggested instead a collar that blows your head off if you stray too far.

Unfortunately, I'm not sure I'll have much time for painting. I've started preparing a couple of larger-than-normal canvases to do some piss-around abstraction on. The idea with that is to just have a play around and take the opportunity to not have to come up with some finished, resolved work. Except I'm not sure I have that opportunity. There's a whole lot of assessment due in about five or six weeks, as well as a show that I'll need, well, finished, resolved work for. I think I'm going to have be quite ruthless.

For this research paper, we're to keep a journal where we critically reflect on our studio practice. That is, of course, what this blog is for, though this is probably a bit too all over the place to properly count.

12 July 2009

The fucking Puddle!

The Puddle are playing with MarineVille on Friday at Aunt Daisy's Boathouse in Titahi Bay and on Saturday at Happy.

The last time I saw the Puddle – a couple of years ago at that blues bar pub on the corner of Cuba and Vivian Sts – they fucking rocked. George D Henderson did a solo set first that was blistering, and a pretty good warm up for the Puddle. They were busy in the studio then, and now they've got a couple of new albums out.

They've even got a video for a single off one of their new albums:

10 July 2009

Useless motherfuckers

At the end of the last semester, I put a notice up in our studios asking whether anyone was interested in going on regular gallery visits this semester. The little bastards don't do it off their own bat, and the school doesn't organise them.

Quite a few people got back to me saying they were interested and what a good idea, etc. So I set up the first one for 11am yesterday. It was bitterly fucking cold, yes, but it wasn't blowing a gale or pissing down. How many people showed up?

One. One fucking person.

Too fucking passive indeed.

The only excuse I'm accepting as valid is the person who had a lumbar puncture instead.

01 July 2009

Too passive

I've just got an email sent to everyone in my art school class: 'You are too passive. Speak out or fuck off.' When I answered, it got bounced cos whoever it was deleted their email account.

Well, they get points for trying.
visitors since 29 March 2004.