Archive for January, 2007
“Workers at the Tonopah Test Range remove a B61 Joint Test Assembly from the hole it created when dropped from a B-2 Stealth bomber (inset). Click image for larger view.” As you may have noticed, I have a special love of pictures with picture-insets. Original here.
…not for the faint of heart.
“I get confidence that certain topics are interesting because they provoke anxiety in me, and the kind of notion is that there’s certain kinds of hotspots that unite us all… and maybe if you could just broaden it out to emotion generally, but for me anxiety is the most interesting. If you can identify those spots in your personal daily interactions, you know, strange moments where you open the door and somebody doesn’t say thank you…. In all this kind of stuff there’s keys to this universality….”
[Ze Frank being interviewed by Debbie Millman on the Design Matters podcast, that excerpt is from around 11:02.]
This is a cool interview, if only because Ze is so open about his ideas and work. Millman interupts with a commercial break at the end of that quote, dammit. I want to know more about what he thinks the keys are.
[Above image: Woman in Curlers, by Larry Sultan, from the series The Valley]
“To exercise the mimetic faculty is to practice an everyday art of appearance, an art that delights and maddens as it cultivates the insoluble paradox of the distinction between essence and appearance.” – Michael Taussig, Mimesis and Alterity.
[Above image: A photorealist painting by Robert Bechtle, titled Alameda Gran Torino, from 1974. I saw this again in person recently and it'd grown in my mind. This series of his work is so undersung and only getting better with time.]
[Above image: From the installation/performance Tantamounter 24/7, by the artist collective Gelitin. The artists created a sealed compartment in the gallery, called the Tantamounter, into which they locked themselves for one week. Folks who came to the exhibition could put objects into the Tantamounter "machine" which would be "duplicated." The image shows an original and a tantamounted mini-disco ball, picture by Bela Borsodi. More information here.]
Brad can’t seem to breathe. It was love at first sight, he knows from their First Love Montage, when he saw Doris in a summer dress on the far side of a picket fence. On their first date, the ice cream fell off his cone. On their honeymoon, they kissed under a waterfall.
What should he do? Beg Doris’s forgiveness? Punch Wayne? Start rapidly making poop jokes?
Just then the doorbell rings.
It’s the Winstons.
At least Brad thinks it’s the Winstons. But Mr. Winston has an arm coming out of his forehead, and impressive breasts, a vagina has been implanted in his forehead, and also he seems to have grown an additional leg. Mrs. Winston, short a leg, also with impressive breasts, has a penis growing out of her shoulder and what looks like a totally redone mouth of shining white teeth.
“May? John?” Brad says. “What happened to you?”
“Extreme Surgery,” says Mrs. Winston.
“Extreme Surgery happened to us,” says Mr. Winston, sweat running down his forehead-arm and into his cleavage.
“Not that we mind,” says Mrs. Winston tersely. “We’re just happy to be, you know, interesting.”
Artists abuse the word interesting. I’ve been thinking about it quite a bit recently, after coming across the wonderful discussion about interestingness that’s been generated by Russell Davies and Jeffre Jackson (beautifully condensed in Jeffre’s video). I remember my undergrad doing a fine art degree and literally trying to force myself to find another damn word, though my profs used the word interesting all the time. It was a pestilence but irreplaceable. When later I was teaching art again I remember wondering why this nondescript word had a tug of such strange, unavoidable utility.
Ok, the word interesting in the art world can also function as a straight up insult. But that’s another type of chat. What I’m interested in here ; ) is the exchange of ideas between artists in crits or when discussing each other’s work. Moments when you’re honestly flogging your brain to figure out what what the heck you or the other person has made. An unexpectedly placed ‘that’s interesting’ can shave a nuance off the conversational blob, like a dart to the bulls eye.
I’ve come to think that interesting is valuable precisely because it is nondescript, not much seems to stick to it. Blandness is its crowning virtue: you can indicate your interest – like flagging the vein of gold in the granite, a simple tag – without revealing your subjective value judgement. I do or don’t like it is so much less useful for generating associations. Value judgements close the book on the conversation.
The artists I most admire have miraculous interestingness sniffers. Just when you thought you were in familiar territory, they’ll throw out an interesting that doubles neurons back on themselves and points out some very intriguing howcouldimissits. I reckon its the primary skill in the field nowadays.
“Oh shit. There goes the planet.” At top, the awesomely popular Sony Bravia advertisment, titled Balls, featuring lots of them in ambient migration down the streets of San Francisco. At middle, the YouTube viral minute appropriately named Reno Ballon Race. And at bottom, one part in a series of ads from the new Nike campaign for the Juice golf ball. The commercial shows two lab technicians launching a Juice golf ball through a gumball dispenser.
While the Sony and Nike are both advertisements, the Reno Balloon Race is a home-made time lapse video. I’ve used screenshots above to make the point, but the meme is actually about the fascination of particles in motion – a fractal dance. I’ve included links to the three videos below, it is interesting to watch how they each play out differently. Looking for more? There’s even a space balls installation (don’t let the static shots fool you, it moves too via fans in the room).
I’d hazard a guess that space balls is a visual meme that hooks something in the popular unconscious. Maybe a good clue is WeFeelFine. Yes, you probably already know, the site tracks and visualizes the emotions of people around the world by searching blog entries for the words “I feel”. One way of visualizing the data is by assigning each person/emotion to colored ball, with about 1500 bouncing around the screen at any one time. My screenshot is below, try it for yourself if you haven’t yet. I find it particularly interesting that the WeFeelFine site caps the number of particles at 1500 – as if that’s the sweet spot for what we can and wish to process visually on the screen. The balls-in-space method of data visualisation seems to make intuitive sense. We identify with it and project ourselves into it easily, almost as if it were an abstract, collective self-portrait.
A nice video here about the MIT/Wharton project called We Are Smarter Than Me. The project uses a wiki to create a collaboratively written book about web 2 – anyone and everyone is welcome to contribute. The outcome of people’s contributions so far? “And now we have ultimate chaos, they’re literally rewriting the code of the software, saying ‘we’d like to see these new features, these new functions be incorporated.’ It’d be like someone writing not just the content for a story or for a tv show, but literally changing the way you produce the show, and changing the directions….”