sophcw at gmail dot com
Scrape your knee, it's only skin.
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I know basically nothing about visual art. I know the names of some painters and I enjoy some paintings, I’ve had a good time at museums and exhibitions, but if you want to get into why an abstract painting is good or not all I can give you is my gut reaction, and I’m not very practiced at even that. Brian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings, which I was at earlier tonight, helped me understand a little bit why people enjoy visual art so much. What struck me most about it was the center, almost “aleph” shaped piece, which unlike the other screens, remained one solid color throughout, absent of any shapes or designs. It seemed to change colors quicker than the outside screens, which would shift from one pattern to another as pieces were highlighted or darkened, added or subtracted, at an almost unnoticeably slow pace. Staring at the center, which seemed the natural focal point, you could watch it go from bright green to grey, to black, to purple and hot pink, while what surrounded it remained relatively constant, only occasionally revealing something meaningful. I thought about context, how important it is. The center’s color completely changes your perception of everything surrounding it, whether it’s the brightness of color or the lack of it completely. It highlights parts of other pieces you may not have noticed before. It’s all controlled by a complex but chaotic algorithm, which will probably never repeat the same pattern twice. I couldn’t help but think that it was a lot like life: a series of mostly random events colored only by our perception. It’s good to remember that things can look different from the outside, and even if it’s hardly noticeable, everything is always slightly changing.
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I recently went through sudden, drastic life changes that were completely out of my control and not by choice. All of a sudden, there was no stability in my life; everything I’d viewed as constant slipped away. In this weird way, it became a catalyst for a drastic shift in my creative life as well. When the bottom falls out and you have to crawl your way out, when you get to the top, you’re alone— and you’re different than you were. If you let go and give yourself over to it, you’re lighter and freer, too. The album’s about fiercely holding on to what’s true and unapologetically abandoning what’s not.
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‘Capitalist Realism’ is the ideology that now structures our world, the idea that, in the words of Margaret Thatcher, there is no alternative. Neo-liberal capitalism seamlessly occupies the horizons of the thinkable. Within that framework, what does the emulation of the creative visual forms of the corporation signify? What’s with post-internet artists and all their corporate swag? Looked upon favourably, it suggests an ambition for the work. The visual language of the corporation is the language of the possible. Who structures our visual environment on a daily basis, but advertising agencies working on behalf of corporations?
The move towards brand language marks a desire to engage with the visual cultures of daily life. In adopting the form of the commercial policy document, artists are shifting the context of their work back to some form of social engagement, and that’s a tacit admission of just how ineffective contemporary art discourse has been in making practical and pragmatic interventions into the real world of everyday life. Instead, the utilisation of the language of the commercial sphere, then, signifies a genuinely radical shift from the forms of post-socialist contemporary art that came before, in the form of Relational Aesthetics — an attempt or desire to produce art that engages with everyday life, which changes the social or political world it is produced in. We can lament that there is no other political framework in which radical social engagement can occur, but we cannot really deny it.
Huw Lemmey at Rhizome.
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The accidental audience’s attitude toward what it sees is deeply predicated on the neoliberal vision of cultural migration, but its willingness to strip images of their status as property is so aggressive that it deserves a term of its own: image anarchism. Whereas image fundamentalists and image neoliberals disagree over how art becomes property, image anarchists behave as though intellectual property is not property at all. While the image neoliberal still believes in the owner as the steward of globally migratory artworks, the image anarchist reflects a generational indifference toward intellectual property, regarding it as a bureaucratically regulated construct. This indifference stems from file sharing and extends to de-authored, decontextualized Tumblr posts. Image anarchism is the path that leads art to exist outside the context of art.
There is absolutely no one-to-one correlation between our stance on piracy–that it’s the undeniable agent of cultural change, that we encourage remixing, re-appropriation, and creative re-use–and what this shitty t-shirt represents. When corporations like the shirt’s designer, Freeze / Central Mills, Inc., steal fragments of our work and sell them at behemoth chain stores like Kohl’s and Burlington Coat Factory, they are not adding anything to the cultural conversation: only creating a commodity to gain capital.
We’re definitely not the first band, or artist, that this has happened to. It seems like every week a big-box retailer is selling a design mined from independent culture. If nothing else, it’s been interesting to see an idea percolate through culture, beginning in one place–a song, which happens to be ours, but which probably consists of emergent little shreds from all over the place, too–before taking on a life of its own and eventually being eaten and re-disseminated by the mainstream.
Ultimately, we know this is all ephemeral. Retailers capitalize on trends, cycling them quickly to market before they die out. This shirt was made to be disposable, its design engineered to move units while some perceived cultural cachet still has legs. By the time we figure out what to do about the infringement, it will be long gone from shelves, as good as forgotten. Tomorrow another band or designer will get ripped off, and populist ire will be leveraged behind someone else’s cause. The wheels will keep on turning, but we’ll still be standing right here, solidly, always making new stuff, trying to make sense of it all.
Claire & Jona
YACHT on having their design and lyrics appropriated on a t-shirt sold at Kohls. Read the whole post.
This includes an interview with a hair extension. By Kelley McNutt.
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I wrote about “teenage girls,” Kate Durbin, Kitty (Pryde) and an art student named Kelley McNutt for Flavorwire. I have been thinking a lot about this and related subjects recently, so this piece only really scratched the surface of what I’m interested in exploring in this area.
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We were making something, but mostly we were playing, and in that playing the entire world disappeared and we forgot ourselves. In a way, it’s the most creatively alive I’ve ever felt, and it’s something I’ve chased after in some form or another in every recording session I’ve ever attended or every live show I’ve ever done. When I was at my very best as an artist, I wasn’t looking for prestige or adulation or money or stability, I was playing, and I didn’t care what people thought because they were just an abstraction—like some German insomniac TV viewer in 1974 or some still photographer whose name you forgot because you’re too stoned—and the time just flew by, just disappeared, and I don’t know where it went.
As sweet and well done as the end of 30 Rock was, I can’t help but see Community as its funnier, smarter and more compassionate offspring. The best 30 Rock episodes are as good as Community but Community never got as lazy or simplistic as a lot of the worse parts of 30 Rock did. Even when Community is way over the top it’s still totally fascinating and I think represents where all art is heading, whether that’s a good or bad thing.
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Crane says. “I want to remove everything icky from discovering underground art.” He motions downstairs. “I want New York to have one of these. I don’t want people to think New York City is full of cliques of swill.
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