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Yoko Ono and the Myth That Deserves to Die -- Vulture
"In Tokyo, in 1964, the 31-year-old conceptual artist Yoko Ono organized a happening in which she screened a Hollywood film and gave the audience a simple instruction: Do not look at Rock Hudson, look only at Doris Day.

Like most of the countercultural riddles that appear in Grapefruit, Ono’s book from the same year, the instruction — titled Film Script 5 — was at once facile and mischievously impossible. (Other variations on the piece include asking the audience not to look at any round objects in a film, or to see only red.) It was also, in its way, autobiographical: As one of the few women associated with New York’s avant-garde music scene and the “neo-Dada” Fluxus movement, Ono was by then used to being overshadowed by the more powerful and self-serious men around her. (“I wonder why men can get serious at all,” she mused in Grapefruit. “They have this delicate long thing hanging outside their bodies, which goes up and down by its own will.”) The year she first staged Film Script 5, she’d already extricated herself from one failed marriage and her second was unraveling. She was still two years away from meeting the man with whom she would realize her dream of a completely egalitarian partnership — to symbolize this, they both wore white during their wedding ceremony — but the rest of the world wouldn’t see it that way. They would, of course, see only the towering, superior Him — what could he have possibly seen in Her?"



"Here is the tricky and brilliantly fearless thing about Yoko Ono’s art: It inherently makes peace with that teenage boy’s irreverent response. It invites it, even. Drawn to words like “incomplete,” Ono has always trusted the viewer to finish her work."



"When she was 13, her father — a failed classical pianist turned successful banker — advised her to give up playing the piano because her hands were too small. Yoko blurted out that she would rather be a composer than a pianist anyway, and he told her this was even less likely: Could she name a single female composer? She couldn’t, but even back then her idea of the profession was a tad unconventional. The homework assignment that most sparked her imagination had been one in which she was asked to translate a bird’s song into musical notation."



"Like that of her contemporaries in the conceptual-art world, Ono’s early work was all about blurring the line between art and everyday life. Every image is a painting; every sound is a song. More than the work of anybody she actually hung out with, Ono’s early art reminds me of Yves Klein, the impish French artist whose first piece was — in his imagination — to sign his name in the sky. It’s true that some of Ono’s ideas inspired George Maciunas to start Fluxus, but she never felt entirely included in this — or any — group. Accordingly, there’s a loneliness to the pieces from early in the period covered by the MoMA show: One subtitled Painting for Cowards instructs the artist performing the work to cut a hole in a canvas and shake people’s hands through it. Ono felt alienated by a certain stuffiness and elitism in the scene. “The avant-garde guys ... were all just so cool, right?” she recalled years later. “There was also this very asexual kind of atmosphere in the music. And I wanted to throw blood.”"



"In 1964, Ono began staging Cut Piece, still probably her best-known work, the tone of which depends entirely on the energy in the room. When she debuted it in Tokyo that year, the audience was polite, but in Kyoto, a man “took the pair of scissors and made a motion to stab [her].” Conversely, when the artist Charlotte Moorman performed Cut Piece in a convent, Ono says, “they bypassed the sexual connotation totally and just understood the philosophical connotation and the positive side, which was to be giving.”

Ono encourages other people to stage her pieces. As the film scholar Scott MacDonald writes of her Unfinished Film scripts: “For Ono, the concept of a film is, essentially, the film; once the concept exists, anyone who wants to can produce a version of that concept.” This is one of the aspects of her ’60s work that feel strikingly contemporary — in line with how we think of crowdsourced creativity in the YouTube era. Ono eventually helped Lennon translate this kind of openness into his post-Beatles identity too. Think of that famous motto: “You are the Plastic Ono Band.”

Yoko and John met when he swung by a preview of her show at London’s Indica Gallery in November 1966. He took a bite out of the apple she’d staged like a Duchamp readymade — at last, she’d found her Eve. After connecting with Lennon, it was easy for other artists to dismiss her as a sellout or a gold digger, but really Lennon completed her vision, gave her the populist audience she’d long desired. Ono’s art came alive when it broke out beyond the avant-garde, because her mission was to awaken the artist in everybody — not just those who were cool enough to know about the latest goings-on in that Chambers Street loft. “She came to think that the loss of the 4/4 beat by the art-music composers had set them up at the top of a building,” writes her biographer Barb Jungr in Woman: The Incredible Life of Yoko Ono. “Whereas for her the beat gave back the heart to the music, brought it down into the ground of human experience.” Maybe rock and roll was the birdsong she’d been chasing all along."



"The 2014 Grammys were the night I began to wonder whether millennials would be the ones to finally reject the Yoko Myth. Ono, then 81, strutted out in a jaunty top hat, presented the Album of the Year award to Daft Punk, and danced gleefully to “Get Lucky” from her seat. The internet approved, loudly. My Twitter feed was full of people freaking out about #Yoko; the Huffington Post declared, “Sorry Taylor, Yoko Ono’s the Grammys’ Real Dancing Queen.” Here, at last, she seemed liberated from the hate and punch lines that had plagued her entire public life. Look not at John Lennon; look only at Yoko Ono. It felt triumphant, but I also found myself wondering an inconvenient question: Is Ono’s art less subversive when we’re living in a world that loves her?

The MoMA show prompts that question, too: There is something a little dispiriting about an artist who once staged a protest against the museum being warmly welcomed within its ranks. (And it’s easy to be cynical about that embrace, given the institution’s celebrity-chasing — see the Björk debacle.) But whatever its reason, the show arrives at a moment that is, for once, in step with Ono’s vision. Her meditative instruction pieces feel perfectly aligned with our mania for so-called mindfulness. Her work is being lauded by people correcting a history of female erasure — looking anew at the Doris Days instead of the Rock Hudsons. Many of Grapefruit’s pieces have a sub-140-character brevity. They feel, now, like the 1960s version of a tweet.

“Last year,” Ono wrote in 1968, “I said I’d like to make a ‘smile film,’ which included a smiling face snap of every single human being in the world. But that had obvious technical difficulties and was very likely that the plan would have remained as one of my beautiful never-nevers.” Back then, the idea sounded like a whimsical lark; today, in the age of the selfie, it sounds almost banal in its achievability. Maybe she’s not a radical — or a martyr — anymore. Maybe we’re just beginning to inhabit the world that Yoko Ono always imagined."
yokoono  lindsayzoladz  art  moma  2015  selfies  gender  subversion  internet  online  remixculture  remixing  everyday  yvesklein  democratization  fluxus  georgemaciunas  unfinished  incomplete  lisacarver  internetasliterature 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Request for Comments | Gardner Writes
"As Naughton tells the story, the young graduate students who were at the center of the Network Working Group found themselves with the future of the Internet in their hands. The big corporate brains knew about the machines that made up the network, but they didn’t know much about the network itself–it was too new, and it was an emergent phenomenon, not a thing they had built. The grad students in the NWG felt they were at great risk of offending the honchos, of overstepping their bounds as “vulnerable, insecure apprentices,” to use Naughton’s words. Crocker was especially worried they “would offend whomever the official protocol designers were….” But the work had to go forward. So Crocker invented the “Request for Comments,” what he called “humble words for our notes” that would document the discussions that would build the network.

Here’s how Crocker himself put it in this excerpt from RFC-3, “Documentation Conventions”:
Documentation of the NWG’s effort is through notes such as this. Notes may be produced at any site by anybody and included in this series…. [Content] may be any thought, suggestion, etc. related to the HOST software or other aspect of the network. Notes are encouraged to be timely rather than polished. Philosophical positions without examples or other specifics, specific suggestions or implementation techniques without introductory or background explication, and explicit questions without any attempted answers are all acceptable. The minimum length for a NWG note is one sentence.

These standards (or lack of them) are stated explicitly for two reasons. First, there is a tendency to view a written statement as ipso facto authoritative, and we hope to promote the exchange and discussion of considerably less than authoritative ideas. Second, there is a natural hesitancy to publish something unpolished, and we hope to ease this inhibition.

You can see the similarity to blogging right away. At least two primary Network Working Groups are involved: that of all the other people in the world (let’s call that civilization), and that of the network that constitutes one’s own cognition and the resulting “strange loop,” to use Douglas Hofstadter’s language. We are all of us in this macrocosm and this microcosm. Most of us will have multiple networks within these mirroring extremes, but the same principles will of course apply there as well. What is the ethos of the Network Working Group we call civilization? And for those of us engaged in the specific cognitive interventions we call education, what is the ethos of the Network Working Group we help out students to build and grow within themselves as learners? We discussed Ivan Illich in the Virginia Tech New Media Faculty-Staff Development Seminar today, and I was forcibly reminded that the NWG within sets the boundaries (and hopes) we have with which to craft our NWG without. School conditions what we expect in and from civilization.

I hope it’s also clear that these RFC-3 documentation conventions specify a praxis of intellectual discourse–indeed, I’d even say scholarly communication–that is sadly absent from most academic work today.

Would such communciation be rigorous? Academic? Worthy of tenure and promotion? What did these RFCs accomplish, and how do they figure in the human record? Naughton observes that this “Request for Comments” idea–and the title itself, now with many numerals following–has persisted as “the way the Internet discusses technical issues.” Naughton goes on to write that “it wasn’t just the title that endured … but the intelligent, friendly, co-operative, consensual attitude implied by it. With his modest, placatory style, Steve Crocker set the tone for the way the Net developed.” Naughton then quotes Katie Hafner’s and Matthew Lyon’s judgment that “the language of the RFC … was warm and welcoming. The idea was to promote cooperation, not ego.”

Naughton concludes,
The RFC archives contain an extraordinary record of thought in action, a riveting chronicle of the application of high intelligence to hard problems….

Why would we not want to produce such a record within the academy and share it with the public? Or are we content with the ordinary, forgotten, and non-riveting so long as the business model holds up?

Or have we been schooled so thoroughly that the very ambition makes no sense?

More Naughton:
The fundamental ethos of the Net was laid down in the deliberations of the Network Working Group. It was an ethos which assumed that nothing was secret, that problems existed to be solved collaboratively, that solutions emerged iteratively, and that everything which was produced should be in the public domain.

I think of the many faculty and department meetings I have been to. Some of them I have myself convened. The ethos of those Network Working Groups has varied considerably. I am disappointed to say that none of them has lived up to the fundamental ethos Naughton identifies above. I yearn for documentation conventions that will produce an extraordinary record of thought in action, with the production shared by all who work within a community of learning. And I wonder if I’m capable of Crocker’s humility or wisdom, and answerable to his invitation. I want to be."
gardnercampbell  internet  web  online  commenting  johnnaughton  2011  arpanet  stevecrocker  via:steelemaley  networks  networkworkinggroups  ivanillich  standards  content  shiftytext  networkedculture  networkedlearning  blogs  blogging  inhibition  unfinished  incomplete  cicilization  douglashofstadter  praxis  cooperation  tcsnmy  sharing  schooling  unschooling  academia  highered  highereducation  authority  humility  wisdom  collegiality  katiehafner  matthewlyon  rfc-3  rfc 
september 2014 by robertogreco
David Foster Wallace's Unfinished Novel - and Life - NYTimes.com
[Quoted here, but never bookmarked. Thanks, Nicole, for resurfacing.
http://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/6839277872/unfinished-brian-eno-and-konrad-glogowski ]

"Fortunately, one of the human brain’s many tricks is that it automatically finishes unfinished things. This is remedial psychology — Sensation-Perception 101. If we see part of a circle, our mind closes it. If we see part of a word, our mind fills in the mssng lttrs.

Something analogous happens, I think, with unfinished novels: we always end up finishing them with something. We fill in the blanks, unconsciously, with what is closest at hand: the gestalt, the legend, the vibe, the tone, the aesthetic of the author in question. This is, after all, part of what a great author does: he trains us not just to receive his vision but also to extend it — to read the world (its landscapes, people, events, texts) in the peculiar way that he would have read them. He infuses the world, almost like a religion. (After a few Dickens novels, everything starts to look Dickensian.) So it makes sense that we would carry that vision through to an author’s own last work.

This explains an uncanny aspect of unfinished novels: the way their real-life back stories usually seem like something the authors themselves might have written. Max Brod’s famous nonburning of Kafka’s unpublished writing, for example, only reinforces one lesson of the unincinerated work: that the suffering individual is no match for the big bullying system of the world. Similarly, Nabokov’s “Original of Laura” (the blockbuster unfinished novel of 2009) played out like something out of “Pale Fire”: a mysterious manuscript written on index cards, squirreled away from the public for decades, then released with an elaborate apparatus that makes you wonder, slightly, if the editors were actually crazy. The publication of Roberto Bolaño’s “2666” (the blockbuster posthumous novel of 2008) mimicked a Bolaño story: porous and unresolved, with the tantalizing possibility that there’s still more of it secretly out there somewhere, getting ready to leap out at us and unsettle everything. It’s as if an author’s unfinished work is his last and best (or the least improvable) fiction."



"These complications are further complicated by the fact that it’s hard to even talk about how “unfinished” “The Pale King” is. The book is a collation of material that was left in Wallace’s office at the time of his death — 12 polished chapters stacked neatly on his desk, the remaining hundreds of pages scattered through notes and files and disks in various stages of revision. All of which is yet further complicated by the fact that, in his finished work, Wallace always used incompleteness, very consciously, as a narrative tool. (“Infinite Jest” ends nowhere, with a million big questions unresolved.) A truly unfinished Wallace novel, then, is exponentially hard to chart — it’s as if Picasso had accidentally tipped a bucket of blue paint over the corner of one of his blue-period paintings. How do we distinguish between intentional and unintentional blue? What does unfinished unfinishedness look like?"
davidfosterwallace  2011  samanderson  unfinished  thepaleking  cocreation  writing  death  incomplete  unknowing  notknowing  posthumous  novels  books  publishing  vladimirnabokov 
august 2014 by robertogreco
The Interstitial Library
"The Interstitial Library's Circulating Collection is located at no fixed site. Its vast holdings are dispersed throughout private collections, used bookstores, other libraries, thrift stores, garbage dumps, attics, garages, hollow trees, sunken ships, the bottom desk-drawers of writers, the imaginations of non-writers, the pages of other books, the possible future, and the inaccessible past.

In a sense, this library has always existed. However, until now it has had no librarians, no catalog, and no name.

The Interstitial Library does not aspire to completeness. Indeed, we champion the incomplete, temporary, provisional, circulating and, of course, interstitial. Above all, we aim to acquire and catalogue those books that are themselves interstitial: that fall between obvious subject categories; that are notable for qualities seldom recognized by traditional institutions; that no longer exist, do not yet exist, or are entirely imaginary."
temporaryservices  temporary  provisional  unfinished  incomplete  taxonomy  ephemeral  shelleyjackson  christinehill  humor  art  collaboration  library  philosophy  borges  classification  cataloging  2004  libraries  books  interstitiallibrary  ephemerality 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Empires: The Film by Marc Lafia — Kickstarter
"…feature length documentary film and new media project which explores the impact of networks on histories and philosophies of political thought. We have spent the last year interviewing an extraordinary array of leading international thinkers on the ideas, philosophies and technologies including social and capital movements that are shaping our sciences and social structures, in our networked world."

"No formal system of power has lasted forever." —Saskia Sassen

"It's way easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of the current order." — Michael Hardt

"It's not even that we've bought into the notion of our own enslavement by capitalism. We bought into winner-takes-all syndrome. … We don't rebel against the system. It's not even a question as to wealth anymore. It's a question of believing that you can be at the center of the network…winner …losers… We are not individuals any more — we are brands." —Greg Lindsay

[via: http://varnelis.net/blog/empires_a_film_on_networks ]
hacking  selfbranding  branding  communication  facebook  twitter  technology  global  web  internet  scaling  scale  scienceofthenetwork  individualism  corporatism  capitalism  media  film  power  documentary  documentaries  kickstarter  2012  geertlovink  nishantshah  michaelhardt  anthonypagden  manueldelanda  jamesdelbourgo  cathydavidson  alexgalloway  wendyhulkyongchung  floriancramer  nataliejeremijenko  kazysvarnelis  saskiasassen  marclafia  networkculture  networks  unfinished  incomplete  cities 
june 2012 by robertogreco

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