Saturday, November 13, 2010

a short history of light

when she was a small child she could be a horse trotting or galloping around her front yard, as well as a cowboy tracking an indian, and then an indian tracking the cowboy. an uncle told her that salt on a bird's tail was the way to catch these mysterious creatures, so she ran into the woods shaking salt traps toward oblivious birds. on warm summer nights in north carolina, neighbors played no bears out tonight, a practice of hiding and finding. a few years later she became a girl detective. combing her neighborhood for clues to unknown cases, she laid out the feathers, rubber bands and scraps of paper from which a secret narrative appeared.

the most important book of her undergrad years was antonin artaud’s the theatre and its double; here she read that theater, her first art love, must signal through the flames. then she was hooked by the platonic image of reflections dancing on a wall—our only view of a reality too hot to touch and too bright to see. what she saw is that all art and interpretation of art was a RE-presentation, aimed from a source that was never quite visible but became, and continues to be, the most compelling conductor of her life.

in grad school jean baudrillard’s musing, that copies replace lost sources so that we live in a reality of copies, ushered her past walter benjamin’s 1936 essay, “the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction.” in baudrillard's writing, she had found a gate into the virtual fields of technology, where anything we can imagine may play in the light of a planetary screen.

gradually she understood that her hiding and finding were in pursuit of light itself. a few years ago she disappeared, softly dispersing into a light visible only to herself. i have not seen her since--or maybe i have in the scattered fragments of everyday things onscreen and off.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

nothing really exists in the usual way

what is art when it's made for the web?

for me, the work composed of zeroes and ones lives in the non-physical world wide web, which is its defining context. this art is meant to be seen on a computer screen by one person, generally alone. it is a private experience, as close as i can get to the interior of the viewer's own mind. is an intimate piece, not for crowds, a mystery theater piece after hesse in steppenwolf.

web art is technically ephemeral, fragile, has no weight, no physical substance, is easily stored, incurs no shipping or presentation costs, is free and available to anyone anywhere in the world who has access to high speed internet and enough RAM. the images do not exist in physical space, they are extremely public and open, but are not for sale, cannot be touched or altered by the viewer, except where this has been built into the experience. the art exists as an unnumbered multiple in a space with a forgettable address, one among trillions. while making it requires learning software or writing code, it doesn't automatically fall into "conceptual art." whatever importance it may acquire cannot be quantified in financial terms, the time duration online is uncertain; if the piece is not picked up for preservation by a cultural institution, it will decay technically and no longer be visible -- or the artist can remove it without easily found traces.

the www platform has allowed me to make a piece that is like an opera, or a novel, or a philosophical tract, or a poem, or a play, or a series of paintings, or a movie, or a drawing, or a dream -- at the same time that nothing really exists in the usual way.

this phrase, "nothing really exists in the usual way," has for awhile been the primary mantra of my life, so i'm deeply satisfied to be working in such an appropriate medium.

Monday, March 8, 2010

the king and the fool

the following was posted to a rhizome thread.

the brush up between theory and immediacy, stasis and speed, a place in the mainstream and mining the periphery is interesting as an informational cache. but theories are proving inadequate to the political/social/aesthetic moment--most clearly seen in world politics NOW.

theory is always interesting to me because it makes very conscious statements about what WAS going on a little while ago; like a museum, art theory is reified, an effort to nail down into a static template the surging aliveness of artworks flying out of nothingness faster than the speed of light. creative theory - in its bid to be part of the elite ridgeline that matters - trims, crops, and sets artworks into gated community lawns, far from the messy sites of their extraction. at best, theory is its own art form, an offering in intellectual terms taken to an auction called art history.

theorists used to hope to influence artists, and they may still in a peripheral way, but postmodernism has, i think, dissolved into a new time of looking inductively for emergent energies beneath the theoretical floor. attempts by theorists of every stripe are met by refusal from potential backers.

the theorist wants to be a ruler king, artists of interest are closer to the fool who dances sideways to evade the ruler. artistfools know that timing (not importance) is the master; spontaneity, ephemerality, giving up control to see what might arise regardless of "an artist's place in history," seems to be the only fertile ground. all the theories about art, including its economic structures, feel like history. instead of history, we want ?

some friends say that everything now is about climate change, the feeling verges on desperate, action is what counts, no more theorizing. what is "art"?