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The Creepy World of Bruce Conner | by J. Hoberman | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books
"“It’s All True,” the title of the Museum of Modern Art’s powerful retrospective of the American artist Bruce Conner (1933-2008), comes from a letter Conner wrote to one of his gallerists in the aftermath of his only previous museum retrospective, organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 1999:
My work is described as beautiful, horrible, hogwash, genius, maundering, precise, quaint, avant-garde, historical, hackneyed, masterful, trivial, intense, mystical, virtuosic, bewildering, absorbing, concise, absurd, amusing, innovative, nostalgic, contemporary, iconoclastic, sophisticated, trash, masterpieces, etc. It’s all true.

How about “sinister,” “creepy,” and “indelible”? As a fifteen-year-old Pop Art aficionado wandering through the Whitney Museum’s 1964 Sculpture Annual, I discovered Conner’s work in the form of the assemblage Couch. There was no warning. It was like rounding a corner and bumping into Death or seeing the title Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! on a 42nd Street marquee. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Claes Oldenburg’s rough, pillowy Soft Wall Switches (one of the only other pieces I remember from the show) was something I could understand as art. Couch was something else—a derelict remnant of a nightmare haunted house. Conner took a moldering, paint-spattered, wax-encrusted Victorian divan and managed to imbed it with a child-sized mummy. The simulated, decomposed corpse was nestled into a corner. On closer inspection, it looked as though it might have been strangled."



"Conner largely abandoned assemblages in the early 1960s. It’s sometimes said that if he had continued in this mode (and continued to exhibit in New York) he would now be bracketed by Rauschenberg and Johns but in fact Conner was too anarchic and contrarian a personality to be easily assimilated into the art world. From making objects, he switched to graphic work. These include intricate drawings, sometimes called mandalas, that were variously redolent of Rorschach tests, amphetamine, and the Cabala; as well as ghostly photograms, photographic work and collages documenting San Francisco’s late 1970s punk scene, and, in the late 1980s, a series of found engraving collages reminiscent of Max Ernst’s. Mainly, however, Conner made movies, some of which, like the 1978 film set to Devo’s “Mongoloid” or the 1981 piece scored by David Byrne’s “America is Waiting,” could be seen as art-world music videos—a form that Conner more or less invented."



"If “3 Screen Ray” is a triptych, Crossroads is an altarpiece. Shown in a museum, it seems like an exemplary—and rare—instance of twentieth-century religious art. Like A Movie, Crossroads is entirely fashioned from found footage, namely previously classified US government documentation of the first post World War II atomic test at Bikini Atoll during the summer of 1946.

The footage, some of it originally shot in super slow motion at 8000 frames per second, has been selected and organized but in no way manipulated, save for the addition of a soundtrack. (An audio collage fashioned by Patrick Gleason on a Moog synthesizer gives way to a dreamier drone composition performed on an electric organ by Terry Riley.)

Crossroads consists of twenty-four shots, ranging in duration from a few seconds to a final one of six and a half minutes, during which time appears to stand still. The movie’s dozen or so billowing mushroom clouds—fantastic geysers of vaporized water erupting a mile high out of the ocean, often the same explosion film from differing angles—are a sort of visual mantra. The word “awe-inspiring” barely communicates the cumulative sense of wonder and dread. To sit through Crossroads is to experience what the poet Frances Ferguson called the “nuclear sublime” or appreciate why, after the successful Trinity test of the atomic bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer might have recalled a passage from the Bhagavad-Gita: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”"
bruceconner  2016  crossroads  jhoberman  bikiniatoll  jrobertoppenheimer  film  death  terryriley  patrickgleason  moog  sountrack  art  sfmoma  moma  inkblots 
december 2016 by robertogreco
When Brian Eno met Ha-Joon Chang | Music | The Guardian
"Brian Eno: There's an issue we're both interested in – this middle ground between control and chaos. Some economists say you can only have a control model or a chaos model, that you're either a socialist or it's all about the free market. Whereas you say: "Let's find a place in between."

This happens to be an issue with the music I make. It's made for a place somewhere between architecture and gardening. It's not a situation where I'm finessing every tiny detail. I basically set a process in motion and then watch it happen. A lot of the design work is prior to the thing starting, rather than trying to keep control of it once it has started. You try to design the process carefully enough so you get the results you want and don't have to intervene. …

Ha-Joon Chang:… Central planners thought they could control everything, but there are always elements of uncertainty and surprise… The illusion that this rule-less system can organise itself has been proven completely mistaken – but we still have people wanting to believe in these extremes. …

…our black and white, dichotomous way of thinking…has really been harmful…

BE: … It turns out that anything that is called free anything isn't really. It's just constraints that you don't recognise. …

This turns out to be something that happens a lot. Once you've grown to accept something and it becomes part of the system you've inherited, you don't even notice it any longer. We don't even think that not employing children is anti-free market.



HJC: … if you try to create a world in which everything is driven by money and the market, the world will be a much poorer place.

… Human beings' capacity to "waste time" is a miracle – but that's exactly what art is for. …"

BE: It's not only money, it's also other forms of accountability. Look at education in this country. I've just had two daughters go through the system here, and nothing mattered at all, as long as they could get through their A-levels. It doesn't matter if you don't actually understand a word. I could see some of their friends who were good at remembering things, but had no clue at all about what they were talking about, who got A stars.

HJC: In that system, curiosity is actually a great disadvantage. Which means that any creativity gets lost

BE: It's to do with the act of quantification. It's part of the money thing: something that you can put a figure to immediately assumes a sort of authority, even if it doesn't deserve it.

… Quantification is a big temptation for society because it looks like control. …

BE: … Tom Wolfe says something in his book The Painted Word about how four curators, 12 collectors and six critics determine an artist's career. Something like that.

This is why the art world has such incredible inertia, because once those people have invested their highly important opinion in something, they're very unwilling to change it. Whereas if you've bought an album by a band but then you don't like their second one, you just say, fuck it, the second one isn't any good. …

HJC: … we used to call them tempura shop records – it sounded as if someone was deep-frying them.

BE: Nearly everything good starts from imitation.

HJC: It's actually a good illustration of how art can be done in a very non-hierarchical way. The success of this guy, Psy, is because he didn't try to protect his work too much: he let everyone copy and create their own versions. So you have versions with Voldemort from Harry Potter ... my children are hooked on finding Matrix versions. Some are actually brilliant!

BE: It's a brilliant idea to make something that, like a module, can be plugged into any part of the culture.

Culture does change the way we think, just not in the propagandistic way. Art can be a model of how otherwise something could be done. How else it could be? When you see a piece of art, and you think, "Wow, that's wonderful", part of you wants to know, "And how did it get to be that way? Ah, it got to be that way by that mechanism. This is how it's done."

[…]

And very often a work of art is a way of looking at the outcomes of an idea. It's very clear in novels – in fact, the most clear example is in science fiction: you describe a world, and you try to describe how if things were like that, they would turn out. That "what if?" question is a central question that makes human beings successful creatures. We are capable of saying what if this, and what if that, and comparing those outcomes. We love that question, and art is one of the ways we keep rehearsing our ability to answer it.

HJC: It's a great point. The problem is more with the way people think and not the content of it. Human beings are very prone to this black-and-white dichotomous thinking, so if you're a socialist country you allow no market and squash any dissent, if you're a capitalist country you're supposed to – although in fact, many countries don't – you're supposed to put profit and economic growth before any human values. But paradoxically, these two ways of thinking are the same, in the sense that they have this one grand principle to which they are willing to sacrifice everything. This is why when many communists give up communism, they become ardent free-market supporters.

BE: It's a cliche: the ex-Trot.

HJC: I know quite a few ex-Trots who work in the IMF. So if you understand art in the same way Brian does, it gives you the ability to think about alternatives, think about possibilities.

BE: It allows you to think about uncertainty. One of the characteristics of people, whether on the left or the right, is that they can't tolerate uncertainty. They don't want a system with any leaks in it. They want to think they're capable of battening everything down – and if only people would fucking stick to the rules, it would work. When those systems don't work, it's always because, in their opinion, somebody didn't play the game correctly.

HJC: Yes, it's never their principles that are wrong, it's the people who are the problem."

[So much more…]
creativity  tomwolfe  capitalism  socialism  dichotomy  values  pussyriot  games  rules  jacksonpollock  ex-trots  imf  modular  modularity  imitation  gangnamstyle  k-pop  artworld  inertia  culture  us  uk  a-levels  testing  quantification  time-wasting  wastedtime  inbetweeness  ambiguity  gray  grayarea  psy  interviews  conversations  2012  surprise  paradox  architecture  economics  ha-joonchang  politics  philosophy  music  uncertainty  brianeno  art  terryriley 
november 2012 by robertogreco
David Byrne's Journal: 12.14.11: "You 'Da Boss?" Collective Creation
"Others have preferred to view the social insects, not as social cities composed of individuals, but as single super organisms—more like one being made up of millions of semi-autonomous crawling “cells.” This would mean that these towering termite mounds and the tunnels of the ant colonies might represent the clothing or shell that belongs to a collective whole being…

If we make that leap, then we too can be seen as sophisticated works of “soft” architecture. Just like the cities of the ants, bees and termites, one would never imagine that our little cells would be able to individually make and organize a structure as complex as we are. If we reorient our viewpoint, and can see ourselves as a kind of ant colony, we get a frightening insight that maybe our sense of free will is not much more than that of the ants and termites. Our most beautiful cities, and maybe we too, are not much more sophisticated than those of the social insects."
deborahgordon  wikipedia  collective  collectiveaction  collectivecreation  nature  insects  occupywallstreet  ows  creation  art  music  indeterminacy  terryriley  johncage  buddhamachine  madlibs  williamsburroughs  exquisitecorpse  yvestanguy  joanmiro  manray  bernardrudofsky  hivemind  consilience  2011  freewill  timbuktu  architecture  socialinsects  networks  organisms  cities  creativity  collectivism  politics  society  economics  davidbyrne 
december 2011 by robertogreco

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