31 August 2005

Visible Is the New Stealth

Yesterday was a long, exciting day. I got up very early to start teaching, and once I got there it was interesting to see the reactions of my students when I told them they'd have to keep blogs. Some were excited, some seemed agonized. Most seemed confused. I promised them that, some day, they would laugh about how overwhelming it seemed, but then I felt like a deluded technosnob. Anyway, the real excitement came later in the day, when I had lunch and a long studio visit with Trevor Paglen. Like me, Trevor lives nine lives, which include being an artist, a writer, and a PhD student at Cal. (He works in the Geography dept and his office is much cooler than mine!) Trevor and I also both lived in the same small town in Germany and we're both retired punk musicians, so there was much to talk about. But mostly we talked about his current art work which revolves around a vast network of top secret US military bases and classified projects. He's doing very interesting investigations that take the form of sound art, photography, performance, installation, and much ambiguous and tactical mediaesque stuff in between. I'm looking forward to including him in Network Nature, a show I'm curating at Foxy Production, in 2007, for Rhizome.org. More on that later...

mochalicious beats

I can't get this song out of my head. I'm also currently VERY obsessed with celebrity music projects. There's definitely an art project there. Maybe a greatest hits album or an awards show of some kind. I can't believe Run DMC fronted Darryl Strawberry like this! Check the MP3!

29 August 2005

For Every Season, Teach Teach...

I guess that my summer is officially over, because I start teaching at 8am, tomorrow. Here is my course blog, for anyone keeping tabs.

27 August 2005

24-Hour Party People

Beginning this evening, there is a cool 24-hour Le Placard Headphone Festival taking place at one of this city's fine 'underground' venues, the 5lowershop. Head there and you will find one of my Self-Personalized A Cappella Serenade cassettes just waiting for you. Crack open that Art Star label and follow the simple instructions for Self-Personalization & Optimal Serenade Enjoyment (ie how to 'SPOSE It!') because... It's all about you.....

Update: Here's a Wired article about the event.

22 August 2005

How excited am I?!

I just returned from a chance encounter with a large percentage of the top-secret, undercover, internationally-dispersed artists about whom I'm writing in my dissertation. I should back up.... My friend Lynn Hershman just finished shooting a film on Steve Kurtz, of Critical Art Ensemble, and she invited me to a dinner with Steve and others, this evening. It was so fun! I was already deeply into Steve's case and work, and I was immediately endeared to him. I sat next to him and Lise Swenson, at dinner, and across from Kenneth Baker (who drew some interesting connections between the art world and the world of pro boxing!) and Josh Kornbluth, who has just started shooting the first few episodes of his new KQED interview show, the Josh Kornbluth Show. Josh and I seem to have had a few chance encounters of our own, starting with when I accidentally sat next to him at a screening of Lynn's film, Teknolust, in which he starred, and then more recently when he was a "judge" for my performance at the Berkeley Art Museum, which he kept telling people, tonight, was "quite charming." Aw, shucks.... Anyway. Afterwards, we all strolled over to Tosca, where I was pleasantly surprised to run into members of the Institute for Applied Autonomy, the Yes Men, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, the Center for Tactical Magic, and a handful of other super smart, interesting filmmakers and hacktivists. Thomas Jay Ryan (who's playing Steve, in Lynn's film) took what's sure to be an historic group photo, just as the opera music was cranked-up in order to encourage our departure. And though Thomas was toting a non-digital camera (to the techies' amusement), he promised he'd get multiples developed and send one to Steve, so that he can scan it and email it to me. Should it ever arrive in my inbox, I'll post a copy here and as an appendix to my dissertation--should it ever arrive in the hands of a publisher! In the meantime, if you've not already done so, please make yourself familiar with the FBI's ridiculous case against Steve Kurtz and consider make a donation to his legal defense fund. The ACLU hooked him up with a great defense team (knock on motherboard), but their fees are quite high, due to the scale of the case.

Update: Ken interviewed Steve, during dinner, and wrote this piece for for the 8/23/05 SF Chronicle. [Backup link.]

2nd Update: Lynn sent me the photo above, which was taken earlier in the day. I'm still holding out for the party-time pic that includes myself...

20 August 2005

Another day, Another review

I decided not to blog about every little article I write because many of them don't translate into a bloggable format, and also because I usually want to stop writing about something the minute I'm done, um... writing about it. I will, however, tell you about a show I went to review, today. It was called "Take Shape" (I say "was" because today was its last day, at Rena Bransten) and it featured "works by young sculptors." Since they were all from the Bay Area, I was already pretty familiar with their work. Still, I wasn't expecting to leave feeling as I did.... In fact, I usually like to run home and type-up my reviews, but I'm really tossing and turning over this one. I'm not a negative person, generally, and I like to focus my reviews on the positive (ie fruitful, insightful, challenging, "successfull") elements, if any, of an artist's work. Even though I've previously been a fan of some of these artists, I felt like the show was a major indulgence in commodity fetishism. Though I know, personally, that some of the artists included are critical of capitalism, this show was seriously lacking in criticality. Usually I decline to review such shows, but I've made a commitment, here. What's interesting is that I'm forcing myself to confront my own feelings about commodity fetishism, in relationship to the art that I make and/or "consume," in various ways...

I have a social life! Really, I do!

It dawned on me that I only blog about my work, here. I thought I'd share some personal deets. Last night my amazing, multi-talented friend and frequent partner in crime, JD Beltran, took me to a concert at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. She had extra tickets to see Coldplay and we had a date to celebrate some personal victories. I had a blast. We had our pix taken on the thoroughfare (see above), we ate greasy garlic fries, we shot some bootleg videos, and we took in a lot of fun people-watching. JD is so organized she brought Coldplay research materials with her! Other than Chris Martin dropping the names SF, Golden Gate Park, and Frisco (note to out of town friends: we HATE that word!), every five minutes, he put on an amazing show. There was some seriously awesome live video mixing going on, and JD and I felt like big art nerds as we tried to guess what kinds of cameras were being used, at different times. Mostly it was just great to hear some live, vocal-driven music. Going to concerts is like going to church, for me. Actually, my love of music started in church, but now that I'm an evil atheist, concerts are the closest I get to spiritual elation. I came home and wrote three songs. Thanks, JD!

18 August 2005

Of Blogs & Banker's Boxes

Since two separate people actually wrote to me and said they'd read my blog, today, I'm feeling re-energized about keeping the internet (that's you!) updated on my exciting activities. First of all, one was Abe Linkoln (ok, ok, the other was Tara McDowell--hi, Tara! thank you for reading!) and Abe's message made me remember that I completely forgot to blog about our blog! It's called Blog Art and that's pretty much exactly what it is. Wait until you see our green screen music videos, this Fall!! So what else have I been up to? I've mostly been sinking into my awesome new job at Rhizome. I also had a nice lunch with Gordon Winiemko, this week, (happy bday!) and spoke for three hours at that SFAI conference on art criticism (during which there was a fire drill!). Lately, when I'm not working or lunching, I'm staring into this banker's box that Creative Capital wrapped up in pretty pink foam and mailed to me. It's full of grant apps on which I am an outside evaluator. To be honest, it's hard to look at so much work at once, but there are a few gems in there...

Shout Out: American Idol Auditioners

I made the decision not to update my American Idol blog, anymore, since the project is over. Nonetheless, with SF auditions happening today (can you hear the hearts breaking, now?), I thought I'd send a shout out to the people who camped out to croon. Over the summer, and particularly in the last few weeks, I received *thousands* of e-mails from people who wanted to audition. Some people mis-took me for an Idol official, some people wanted to use my blog to advertise their Idol blogs (imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery), but most people just wanted advice. One poor girl wrote and said she wanted to be on the show because she wanted her mother to pay more attention to her and another sent me a picture and asked if she was too fat to audition. (Um, no!!) I've heard a number of sob stories and just a few disses about my voice. It wasn't hard to decide not to do it again this year--the last year I'm elligible, as a crusty, old 28-year-old--but props to the folks who made the effort. It's a hard thing to do. By the way, my Idol blog and custom moPod are still up at the New Museum, through Sept 10.

13 August 2005

Call for Paper Proposals

I'm organizing & moderating a panel for the New Media Caucus, at the College Art Association's 93rd annual conference, in 2/06. The title of the panel is "From database and place to bio-tech and bots: Relationality vs autonomy in media art" and the call for paper proposals is posted here, with only a few formatting problems... Email me if you're interested and are having trouble accessing the call.

Shout Out: Tommy Becker

I went over to Tommy Becker's house, today, to have lunch and talk about our mutual art and music projects. Tommy's currently showing some fantastic work in Bay Area Now that involves a merger of poetry, sculpture, performance, music, and video. He's one of my very favorite artists, ever. Every time he does something new, I not only love it, but I also see an interesting evolution from what he's done before, which makes it so much more compelling. And his music is great to listen to, on its own. We've just begun work on an album of songs in tribute or response to Rodin's sculptures. I can't post sound files on this blogger site, but I'll find a way to get them to you, when the time is right.

12 August 2005

A New Assignment

As of Monday, I will be the Editor and Curator at Large for Rhizome, an amazing organization of which I've been a member for many years. Rhizome is an affiliate of the New Museum, and "is an online platform for the global new media art community. [Their] programs support the creation, presentation, discussion and preservation of contemporary art that uses new technologies in significant ways." I’ll be editing their publications, Net Art News and the Rhizome Digest, plus working on special editorial projects. I’ll also be curating shows and public programs on their behalf and acting as a sort of ambassador in the community. I am beyond thrilled about this job. When they offered it to me, I felt like my favorite café was calling to ask if they could start paying me to consume their product! (Sorry, it's the best example an excited caffeine addict could give!) They wrote this very sweet press release about my appointment. If you’re not already a member, check it out!

10 August 2005

Dinner with Donald

Tonight I'm going to Donald Kuspit's keynote lecture at the SFAI Art Writing Conference. I'm really looking forward to it, as it seems that lately he's been trying to draw connections between digital art and "older" forms. A good example would be his recent essay, "The Matrix of Sensations," on ArtNet. He talked quite a bit about the transition(s) from impressionist and modernist painting to new media, vis a vis the isolation of data points. For what it's worth, I just want to say (to someone, somewhere...) that a year (or so) ago, I proposed a conference talk about impressionist painting as a precursor to (or, rather, itself a form of) information art and the proposal was turned down... But then I'm not a contributing editor to Artforum... I'm just a blogger prone to ellipses....... :) Anyway, the other conference speakers (myself, Kenneth Baker, Susan Landauer, Mark Levy, John Rapko, and conference organizer Mark Van Proyen) will all be going out to dinner with Kuspit, afterwards. Should be fun!

Update: The talk was interesting. Kuspit's quite the entertainer, but he makes no bones about being fairly opposed to feminism. First he mentioned that he and the Guerilla Girls received honorary PhDs from SFAI at the same time, and called himself a Guerilla Boy. But then he talked about how Hans Breder's not getting his due credit for "conceiving of and making" Ana Mendieta's work, and then he asked "whatever happened to Diego Rivera?," which elicited some hissing... But he spent most of his time talking about how art history is killing contemporary art. In other words, he pretty much just read this article. Dinner was more interesting, in part because I sat next to Larry Harvey, the founder of Burning Man. Kuspit's very interested in Burning Man, partly because so many other people are interested in it.

09 August 2005

Wilde on Writing

That subject line was only for the very pop culture-obsessed cum non-grammatical fanatical-types among us. I'm feeling extra sensitive about dotting my t's and crossing my i's because I'm preparing to give a three-hour workshop at the San Francisco Art Institute's upcoming Art Writing Conference. It should be a good means of snapping out of my post-Hawaiian summer haze and gearing-up to begin teaching, again, at Cal, in a few weeks. Meanwhile, I also noticed that the conference will be the backdrop for a presentation of the awesome Oscar Wilde play (yes there actually was a reason for the headline), "The Critic as Artist." Love Wilde, love the play, love it all... It reminds me that I recently went toe to toe with my friend Jonathan Keats (a very Wildean character!), over a few pints, about whether the critic's work is art. Jonathan and I both wear that dual artist/critic badge and we had surprisingly different takes on the role of our own criticism. I'll leave you to wonder who fell on which side of the fence. Interestingly, I do recently find myself invited to perform or exhibit in a number of "artist/curator" shows... Could this be a new genre? Should it be? No, seriously, I wonder...

03 August 2005

deep in the heart of memory lane

I've been dying to update you on a few special projects, but so much is behind the scenes, right now, that I'll have to save big announcements for another day. For now, I'll tell you about something I'm not doing. I'm not attending the reunion of Central High School's class of 19?5, in San Angelo, Texas. (If I tell you what year it is, you'll inevitably think about how I'm too old or young, depending on the context--needless to say, it was in the previous century and I'm one of the very few left who are unwed and without children...) Actually, I never graduated from High School, there, but many of my long lost friends did and I spent some seriously formative years stomping around San Angelo (mostly as one of the Robert E. Lee "Rebels"), en route from Germany (where I was born) to California, as you can see in this photo from that "big hair" era, which is sufficiently ink-stained like all good school photos. Anyway, I won't be making it back to the city whose closest airport is the Southern "home town" of our current President, but a big hello to those who are there. I'd love to hear from you, if you're out there, fellow Bobcats! I've come a long way from when you used to walk by me and my friends and chant "nerd herd" (though, surprisingly, I'm still a big nerd) and I'd love to catch-up! :) There's also an amazing contingent of former Angeloans, out here in SF (Ryan Junell and Cecil Williams being among the coolest), so this would be the perfect spot for a West Coast rendezvous. Call me!