Friday, December 27, 2013

My book review: Talk To Me, Design and the Communication between People and Objects

I wrote this back in May, but it didn't seem relevant until I realized that I have to brush up on my knowledge of design for a 2D Design class I'll be teaching in January at EMU. This is going to be my last review of 2013 on the catalog/book for the exhibition "Talk to Me: Communication Between People and Objects" which was actually published back in 2011.

What stands for great design today doesn't usually translate into what interests me most at the moment: conceptual works that reflect on life.

A digital projection makes it easier to read the news, to say hello, to evoke your emotions, to play games, makes it easier to pray, to spray graffiti, to make cute hybrid animals, (and by easier I mean kind of expensive) so what? Somehow a device that is a metaphor for transferring useful information (it's meaningfulness is questionable) is meant to be lauded as progress. I see it as invention-porn, the excitement of being able to sell a million units to some people somewhere.

I think there's a problem here because all of the examples in the book assume that they represent a kind of consensus on problems and their solutions, but really it's use and audience is quite a narrow point of view. Not only that, but all of the ideas are in some way are about being so unique that it's patent is really really important. The distribution of the ideas that it contains is such that although it could inspire lots of useful applications, 99% of the time that will never happen because you'll have to pay someone for that idea that most likely came from somewhere else but was packaged better by them. If it's free that means that most likely it will ask to brand you, but most likely will do something along the lines of tracking your purchases to sell to companies. 

I'm hope that I don't come off as being anti-design or technology, I am interested in the collective aspects of both design and technology. I'm interested in objects that help us pause for reflection and honestly, I would probably like every product in this book if it somehow was made by someone anonymously and it gave names to people and companies that are willing to produce products similar to it. I like different design products, but I'm very practical in a radical way. I like computers that allow me to steal software and do my work and doesn't become obsolete after 3 years. I like that my iPhone allowed me to take video, track its whereabouts when I lost it and transfers my contacts to the next phone. In effect that means it allowed me to make art, make up for my regular difficulties in life but also to allow a semblance of its use (as an address book) to be able to be transferred easily. This is not how I define good design/technology, but what I do with this object is treat it as a different kind of tool, one which I don't mind if it tracked my every move since it could find its way back to me if I lost it, that seems like a fair trade (an iPhone is very expensive). If I don't want to be tracked, I just won't bring my phone with me, problem solved.

Perhaps what I'm trying to say is that we've got bigger problems. At this moment (I was applying to be a volunteer for GalGael in Glasgow) I have to prove that I should be able to volunteer for an organisation that I believe provides me with more meaning than any job I can apply for and yet I still have to be just as professional sans pay. Perhaps it is more important for people to take calculated risks bringing me on, than it is important for people like me to be able to take calculated risks. 

Or perhaps what most people dislike about 'design' is how it is advertised for maximum consumption, but should we be so offended by marketing? I might agree that it's appropriate to be angry at the ways that one can turn a phrase so that a 'want' appears to be a 'need' or fein that a physical product offers nothing short of 'happiness' with a dash of the 'american dream', but shouldn't we be spending our time thinking about how it's equally plausible to leverage something against itself, perhaps judo-like (trust-o-corp)? Or knowing the enemy better and through education/parenting do something that is equally powerful rendering oneself and others to be immune? And perhaps if there really was an issue with an advertisement (such as that it for example provokes subtle xenophobia) then we should instate our rights to make a response to be held up to the same volume level so that a conversation about values can take place, and a moment of reflection can occur.

Where I will end this 'review' is on the works that I did like and although I can't put my finger on what separates them from the rest, I do think it has something to do with when the design seems to crossover  into contemporary art that has greater implications, but I'll try to sum up something...

Why: It uses a culturally American angry conversation from a cult-film to affect the shapes of a traditional place setting that you have to see to believe.

Why: It anthropomorphises a picture frame that jealously messes with your other electronics.

Why: This is a small, simple tool that goes a long way to promoting individuals to develop their own business, I actually sold a work of art using this system.

Why: This work seems more like a work of art than a work of design as I'm sure these products exist already, so it must be more about the experience within the exhibition.

Why: It takes in account how technology has already changed our lives (towards artificiality) and uses it to function artificially better. There's a real interest in poetry in this person's work.

Why: This book concept is so good I wish that they could do this for every animal that people consume.

Why: Probably the easiest thing that people could recreate themselves and it almost seems like it doesn't belong in the book, but it's perhaps because it's so lo-fi.

Why: It seems almost strange that it took until 2004 for a project like this to be so popular that he has received half a million secrets, we should call this year the year of hope, because we all know how that turned out.

Why: The game is the application of survival of the fittest taken through its extreme of the cards one is dealt in life (our genes) This game would not nearly be as fun if it included socioeconomics.

Why: Taking the well understood of tracking packages to tracking crimes, it's a nice idea to promote civic participation, I'm also trying to fend off as much cynicism that I could have with this.

Why: This is probably an art exhibition that everyone thinks they thought of it, but was never able to pull it off 

Why: It reminds me of the amazing creativity that teachers can display with having no resources but given the task to explain not only the world, but the universe.
The Sun, 75cm Yoga Ball, Afroworld

Bat Billboard (Chris Woebken and Natalie Jeremijenko) 2008

Why: Imagine if this concept was used also for whales, did they ever end up proving causation between sonar and beaching? 

Why: Now that is effin' cute.

Why: It turns a game of war into pleasure

This book clarifies for me some things about the potential of design, and yet of all of these projects, no one has poetically considered augmented reality or used it in any meaningful way whatsoever. It is neither so basic that my imagination fills in the rest of the information, nor so advanced that I feel like it will change how we see the world. Also, this catalog is presented as a book with a few QR catalogs, really? I mean… really? Talk about missed opportunity.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

My art review: Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller: Situations/S(h)ituations

"The Mascots" Wood, paint, safety cone, "old pink potty chair" and behind that "Entrance" and "Structure No. 2"

The contemporary art world is becoming infiltrated with talented musicians showing off how much more cool they are than visual artists. (Ever think about how funny it is how some colleges try to claim their bastard spawn ex-students once they drop out and form a successful band? This blog is not about that.) I'm talking though about a trend of musicians utilizing the gallery space as a kind of prop to support an album release, like the Ssion and Jay-Z. And for some reason I've been thinking a lot about the confusingly successful melding of new and old with Bob Dylan's newest music video. That music video also gets at the point of where the concept of making good music and good art dissolves, whatever it is, it should entice multiple readings, multiple plays to appreciate how profound it is in its expansiveness.

Seeing Nicola Kuperus and Adam Lee Miller's show twice is a good idea.

Nicola Kuperus presents Adam Lee Miller for the cleanest show one might find concerning feces. As a follow up to the process based John Cage show at the Center Galleries, S(h)ituations is highly controlled, sometimes neurotic, but tightly executed. Their reputations precede them as these two have worked hard making a name for themselves as the addictively abrasive musical cult ADULT. Nicola in particular is well recognized for her stylistic photography which grew well into collaborative slasher video works. My favorite piece of the show comes out of her newest development into creating self-referential pieces, one in particular where she becomes a very large terse red bow, perfect for the holiday season.

"Angry Bow" (ed. 1 of 5) 

I am deeply intimidated by them when I see them as Musicians. They recently won a Knight Foundation matching grant to bring in guest musicians from around the world into their home as they cram 75 or so days, possibly in a row, to whip out a new album. They are quite the masochists. 

Closeup of "Billboard"

I believe I was talking to the Scottish visual artist Tessa Lynch in regards to her partner Owen who is a drummer, about the jealously that bubbles up when I think about how much fun he looks like he's having while playing drums. (Broad generalizations here about musicians) There also seems to be less assumptions that anything truly "new" is supposed to be created, it is easy enough to jam with a group of people on a whim even if proper instruments aren't handy, and it would not be unusual for ones career to consider going abroad from city to city to showcase their talents. The best part however, is that for most artists that dabble in music and vice versa, you generally find people that are willing to not take themselves too seriously.

"Pulling Wool" (ed. 1 of 3) Looping Video

Looking solely at their visual work I get the feeling that as accomplished as they are in their careers it would seem that they are trying to get their bearings again as visual artists. Besides the one-point perspective in all of the paintings all the pieces are centered. The work is focused and concise, all the subjects are contained. If a piece seems to be edging too close to being a one-liner it may be because it is evident that some of the works are made as efficiently as possible and partially dictated by Home Depot's stock of construction materials. One of them mentioned that sometimes doing art helped them to get out from becoming too burnt out as musicians, I think Jimmy Edgar would suggest that they try some meditation. The only piece that did not have a singular vantage point of sorts was "Vista Point", a fabricated urinal with steps on the side that were not actually meant to be walked upon. It provided them with the joy of watching people climb their sculpture, hear the viewers' disappointment, and come back down to be called out as a Pervert by the artists. There is the sense that they've always wanted to call everybody else out for being weird, and this is something I wish they could have explored even more through their exhibition because the element of alienation works so well in their music, why would they stop there?

They also talked of being more conscious to make the time to see museum shows while they're out touring as a band. I wonder if Nicola has seen Erwin Wurm's one minute sculptures even though some of her photos reminded me more of Abu Ghraib yoga, or if Adam knew that the city of Glasgow has given up on taking down a cone from the Duke of Wellington's head in Glasgow as subversive acts by the public. I wanted to tell them that after seeing an image of work done at the Mattress Factory they'd really love the work of Scottish artist Anthony Schrag

"Table Top (Maine)" (ed. 1 of 3)

As they said in their artist talk they are attempting to find out if this absurd experiment is going to work. They are a married couple trying to marry together all of their interests. Some tensions that were thrown around included:

The Serious vs. Ridiculous
The Individual vs. Collective
Serendipity vs. Branding
Setting something up to be a reversal vs. balance
dehumanizing elements vs. something personal 
working harder vs. anxiety of not working hard enough (but curiously no mention of working less hard)
Barriers vs. Corrals
producing a twist like a magic trick vs. multiple readings

"Vapor Corrals" Acrylic on canvas over panel (triptych) and "Table Top (Maine)" (ed. 1 of 3)

The best work appeared to be neither a reference to their dark aesthetic nor visual supplements to their records, but some of the simple pleasures of being foul. I did actually feel vulnerable staring down into a urinal when I realized that if someone else took a photo of me and cropped out the steps, I simply can't think of a believable explanation. Also again the swearing bow tickled me pink, and the way it shook, it could have been lampooning a cute Pixar character or any number of invented digital characters selling us car insurance.

There is something overly cautious about many of the works needing to be well crafted, or at least fabricated by them, when the previous John Cage show critiqued the space as a neutral white cube. If the paintings were so interested in commenting on the path of the viewer within a piece, wouldn't the next logical step be to actually mess with the viewers and go beyond setting everything up to be a stage for them to enact ridiculous scenarios to be seen by onlookers? The vantage point one sees when immediately entering the gallery seems to the dominating vantage point for the whole time you are in the show. Also, why do they get to have all the fun?

"Suggestive Floor Plan" Acrylic on canvas over panel next to "Vista Point" Wood, fake tile, paint, commercial restroom stall, toilet, toilet paper

Or what if they decided to go off the deep and just go straight dark and make some truly absurdly helpless works of art in lieu of the Bankruptcy? The city has officially been ok'ed to tactfully axe thousands of pensions, to consider selling off works from the DIA (if it can be combined with larger cuts since it's still not enough money) and do whatever it takes to square the city with the banks and creditors. All of this is paving the way for every other American city to follow suit. Someone I can't mention (since I haven't asked them if I can post this information) has said that their pension has been cut in their city by 80%. I didn't want to press the artists more on the issue, but I asked them about advice they would give to all the other artists in Detroit (since Adam also mentioned in their artist talk that one of his paintings was in part of the tiresome masculine painting) and they mentioned a conversation that hangs in the air that artists here sometimes complain about the unromantic side of being an artist: the grant-writing, the failed proposals, dealing with our own personal impatience, but also about accepting having to work really really hard. I think that "hard work" needs to be parsed here. Creative Capital is on point when they say that one needs to work smarter not harder and I would like to see everyone in Detroit more committed to professional development that considers the fluid global art scene. I don't mean that professional development in the stereotypical sense of building a solid "career", but finding a way to do justice to the vision embodied in your practice (or your personal life) and being committed to continually take risks.

This might just be me, but I felt like I saw Nicola seemingly berating herself for being on the internet for too long and having an inner voice telling her to work harder, which is kind of how I see myself, right now, fresh out of graduate school beating myself up in the same way. Nicola mentioned that they already have their own shit to do deal with, so taking a stab about thinking about the greater art context is a bit too much, but I would argue that it's precisely the kind of work that is necessary and it involves exploring a kind of vulnerability that I don't think that they venture into in their musician personae (they only exude badass), as ADULT, but it's the kind of visual work that she's leaning towards. It's beautiful and important and personal and it doesn't come from putting more hours in at the office...

I also read somewhere that if you're wasting time and having fun, then you're not exactly wasting time. 

"Dead End (with Ceiling Fan)" Acrylic on canvas over panel

Monday, November 25, 2013

My art review: Gilda Snowden - Album: A Retrospective 1977-2010

I came to see Gilda's Snowden's retrospective primarily because I felt like I owed her something. This is not to say that I wouldn't have come to see all of her fabulous work all in one place, nor would she herself would ever suggest that anyone "owes" anyone, but sometimes what appears as hyperbole is actually justified. She is one of the most important people in Detroit.

This is my personal list of the most positive cheerLeaders in Detroit, all of them are artists:
Mary Fortuna
Chido Johnson
Andrew Thompson
Gilda Snowden
Jack Summers

And to imagine Detroit without any one of them would feel like such a great loss, this city is lucky to have all of them, really.

I am so thankful (we are coming up on Thanksgiving after all) to know that both Chido Johnson and Gilda Snowden rooted for me to be hired at CCS which ended up being one of the most surprising and fun work experiences ever.

The reason I bring all of this up beforehand, is because I feel like there is a funny thing that happens when any of these people support you and your work. You're supposed to feel like they're your peers and yet through their overflowing enthusiasm you become only more aware of the energy that they have that makes them so good at what they do. 

Thankfully Gilda's show brings her down from the pedestal I put her up on as she reveals her values throughout this show. She comes off not as "Gilda the educator" but as the ever curious lifelong learner. The broader message is that a diverse body of work comes not from pushing oneself to produce, but that one becomes productive the more one becomes curious about ones own life and ones surroundings; and you can do this as long as you would like.

Gilda Snowden's retrospective is one of the most hopeful gestures of what it means to live in Detroit. The exhibitions does not make one nostalgic as much as it tells a story of how one person makes priorities in their life so that they can hold onto visceral moments as best as they can.

Nostalgia generally is about being unhappy in the moment because of remembering things as being better in the past. The photography embedded in Gilda's work then counters this sensation of time. Black and white photographs of friends and relatives appear sharp and present, while recent photographs from the internet still have a trace of jpeg artifacts and then are overlaid with a gauzy treatment obscuring the color photographs of her and her daughter. 

It is unfortunate that I didn't bring my 50mm to show you the detail of these images cut out from a contact sheet, it's like a precursor to Gilda's full on commitment to Facebook updates.

The technological advance of sharing images and printing them is filtered by encaustic in order for it to have the possibility of the photos being treated as "real" memory as opposed to a "doctored" digital photograph. In the era of Instagram where colors mimic the feeling of old-fashioned cameras, I imagine that there are those who believe that content can be achieved through which filter you choose over what you aim your camera towards.

Her painted constructions also reference transforming thinking with your hands into something solid, like as if a hug could turn two people into a single child. The rope on its own would not be enough as an object, nor the separate pieces of wood, but they are joined together and marked up in non-smothering treatments of warm earth-toned wax. She doesn't claim that the colors are a conscious decision as much as an economic limitation, which I find hard to believe, because it just would not seem like "limits" would be in this woman's vocabulary. The earthy colors of her constructions are very appropriate as if the work she produces suggests that art is as natural as a tree grows, colors and stencils of dates are the bark.
I took all of these photos on my GoPro so my apologies if you are averse to fish-eye lenses.

// /// //

If you read the catalog, you find out that:
  1. Gilda hates driving and therefore has walked everywhere.
  2. She names artists (who unfortunately I don't know who they all are), but she expresses the importance of knowing ones context.
  3. She explores personal histories and presents that not really knowing her relatives (because she's never met them) is as valid a reason for bringing them into the artwork as if she did know them.
  4. She whips out her CCS educator badge in order to keep the police from keeping her from taking rubbings from manhole covers for her series "City Album".
I don't know if she'd agree with me with everything, but I took the liberty of matching up those sentiments so that you can see how contrary they are to common perceptions of living in the city. Many would say:
  1. If you don't have a car you are screwed
    (Gilda might say: be tough* or get a chauffeur)
  2. Detroit is like a cultural island
    (Gilda might say: you're never truly alone in your practice)
  3. We need to talk about racial issues
    (Gilda might say: We need to be ok with looking inward too and the possibility of not knowing)
  4. Fuck tha police
    (Gilda might say: Everyone likes to learn including the police AND The best teacher is a student.)

* [In the interview with Dick Goody she is asked about a younger version of herself that acted tough in order to not have anyone mess with her as she took the risk of taking long walks through dangerous parts of the city.  She would give advice to that younger version of herself to be tough on the inside.]
I think these might be my favorite pieces of hers and they're not listed on her website currently! They are titled "City Album" and they remind me of Jasper Johns, but now they'll always remind me of Gilda being stopped by the cops.

// /// // 

The catalog is also interesting because it shows how firmly she is from an older generation of artists, abstract expressionists. Her work fits well in a traditional white-cube setting, it can go anywhere, which is something I would like to challenge her on. 

If you look through the catalog you will find a sculptural painting called "Inverness" that is for her Scottish husband, Boswell. In the digital representation of the work it is cut out of context and missing my favorite element of the piece which helps give its definition: it's shadow. 

"Inverness" is pictured on the wall next to the reception desk, I find the reference to Scotland as being really interesting considering that many of their archives in that country are mostly used by people trying to trace their family history and genealogy.

I'm harping on this because in "Still Life with Film Canisters" she focuses on making the shadow as present as the object itself. Like the missing shadow in the catalog, I believe that even more context could make her work even richer, context that may be accidentally edited out.

Contrast of all sorts as well is really wonderful in this show, which makes her exhibitions of a single body of work look like selling wholesale flowers out of plastic containers rather than the wild forest that is her studio.

Consider this scenario: The DIA puts up reproductions of artwork up around metro Detroit. Can you imagine if they purchased one of her "Bright Stars at Night" paintings and then put one up nearby where the East Side Riders put their bikes? There is energy to her chairs and those Bright Star paintings that make her tornadoes look docile. Perhaps this is not accidental either, could this express that the desire for power (what her chairs may represent) is a force that needs to be recognized and reckoned with that is far more dangerous than the inherent chaos of nature?

Imaginary Landscape is also depicted on, but I swear the image they have is too yellow, this piece ZINGS. Also I really love the couple of sentences that accompany her work, it's as if she's right there next to you while you look at the work.

This is the wording that she had next to the "Bright Stars at Night" piece: "A visual cacophony between the artificial illumination (neon, klieg lights) and the natural lights (moon and stars) in my downtown neighborhood: natural light cannot compete with man-made."

There are some people in metro Detroit that might be old enough to remember seeing the Milky Way without having to go to the Night Sky Park in Mackinaw City and there is value in questioning the technological prowess of all human endeavors. One very American aspect that comes through in her work and some of her words is that of American optimism: with positive thoughts, all is well. I would like to see Gilda also create darker themed works that continue to utilize her great sense of intuition and playfulness, because I feel that there is more criticality that she could have to offer. It seems that she pulls back from being too definitive about the fight between natural light and artificial illumination (There's a quote somewhere in the catalog that states that she considers both kinds of light are wonderful, or at least it has a different tone than the sentence next to her piece). But I would argue that it is important that one takes a stance on this issue and many others, even if it's just on the inside, because cheerleading is only as strong as solidarity, activism and resistance.

- Cedric Tai

// /// //

I would also like to put it out there that I am going to start putting together some small informal meetings of artists/writers based around the question "What makes good writing about art" as a way to meet other local artists/writers, communally share resources, and have some alternative formats to doing research and development. If you are interested, feel free to e-mail me.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

This is my version of culture shock:

This is my version of culture shock:

Does anyone know what the American equivalent is for Herculite No. 2?

Why doesn't this reading discussion group have a pot of tea going?

There are so many babies everywhere. (new projects and spaces also count as babies)

I thought I remember driving my own car was kindof fun, why does 20 minutes seem like too long now?

Besides Vince C's blog is there seriously still no critical art writing in Detroit? Isn't there a ton of money kicking around right now for this sort of thing?

/// /// ///

In artmaking news, I am looking for if there is anyone that knows how to disassemble a large xerox copy machine and can help me make alterations?

Is there an equivalent to the U of M's Property Disposition or MSU's Surplus store closer to Detroit?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Finally an appropriate entry that I can post since being back in Detroit.

Before I express my plans for "What I'm going to do next", I've taken a hiatus from making art for a bit, and I'm just reflecting, there has been a nice journal entry for every day since we got back into the US, and this is the one for today.

I've had grand plans of doing so many things now that Rachel and I have been back, but I think I'm going to stop and relax. If anyone wants to hang out, I'm free, but I don't have the energy to do anything as of yet, which includes coming over to someone's place (unless I've invited myself over), I'm kindof in hermit mode.

These grand plans included: 

  • Writing a thesis about a Detroit-Glasgow connection, but I've decided to work on it and publish that privately. 
  • Updating this blog to rehash all of my favorite moments from the last two years and the lowest points that started to occur near the end when close friends began relying on e-mail as the only form of communication as our time in Glasgow was coming to an end...
  • Posting a blog on about how I just dropped off an 'artwork' that is an archive of important documents of the last two years into Glasgow School of Art's archives based on discussions with the other volunteers and the archivists that worked there on what they wish someone had left for them.
But I'm not doing any of that sh*t because first I have to worry about: Getting an appropriate part-time job, moving out of the Russell Industrial Center, paying to get my car patched up because it could get even worse, getting things back that I have strewn around town from drum sets to computers, getting settled into a new studio that I will be sharing with Rachel, getting a new website sorted that actually does justice to where my work currently is, finding an appropriate way to rebuild the work that I had established in Glasgow back in Detroit to replace the older work, and familiarising myself with the Detroit and friends that are here considering I feel like both me and Rachel have changed considerably since leaving for Glasgow...

I haven't said it yet but... Glasgow I miss you, friends who used to live in Detroit, I miss you, friends who haven't said welcome back yet, I miss you.

Tuesday, 10th of September.

I saw this image of a friend from Glasgow, and it made me think about the kind of images I make nowadays in art...

Ian M. as filtered through a lego app.

I've never stopped loving abstraction

Pixels are somehow a part of it all to me too, 

You see the parts (the process of making patterns), the whole (the illusion of content)

I was looking at a digital image one of my very first paintings when I learned how to paint with oil, and I put it on an online account where there are a lot of eyes, telling me if they liked it, that they liked my approach, but more specifically they would tell me if they liked what they saw. (It's called DeviantArt)

But I was the only person who appreciated this particular painting, and that's when I realised that I never thought about what other people saw (because it doesn't look like anything, you're eye searches for too long for a composition that never feels resolved), it was a painting that actually helped me retrace that moment of looking at a still life, and what's better is that I even wrote (a little apologetically) about how the piece was unfinished and  went to describe what was present on the table that I had been painting and the painting assignment that it came from. 

Titled: Still Life 3 Unfinished

I could remember cutting in with paint in one direction or another to create the illusion of depth, or of discrete objects and my eyes would dart re-creating, almost repainting the image and seeing that I had worked so hard to 'figure it out'. But what did I figure out? No one else could see this organisation of good paint let alone of an exciting exploration of form. I figured out how to make me remember that act of almost tracing the entire scene in front of me with my eyes. Like a dream that has no peripheral vision and auto-corrects to assume normativity in irrational circumstances, it was about the play of construction where there is a constant flow of it being built, rather than being able to deconstruct it. 

I could look at this image with pride and know that I had nailed an illusion, and secretly what this formed, was a pleasurable palate of vibrant colour textures and patterns that would not have come together that way if I had just attempted to invent it. There was a rigour to it, but there was also a sense of that bowling ball game where you try to roll it soft enough to make it go over a hill, but not so hard that it rolls over the next hill, that is if creating each mark made up the push of a hand… 

A lot of my paintings that are unfinished have much better compositions than my overworked monstrosities. 

What I guess I'm getting at is that there are three perhaps four things that are exciting in the lifespan of this art work or perhaps this type of approach to art, making abstract paintings, work that didn't begin with a concept, but the desire to create my own problems to solve. 

There is the joy of creativity (1), something for me, but there's also myself as the original audience, a sense of pride that comes after not just that painting but seeing how it was the first of so many many paintings (2). There is also an assumption that there is an abstraction for an audience to consider its emotive qualities either from finding and recognising content but to also seeing the paint for what it is. It takes time to figure it out and there's an expectation that it should be a rewarding search (3). This particular painting is not too rewarding after one sees what the things are, after all, the imagery I selected to paint is not particularly symbolic, suggestive or autobiographical, it's a study.

But I can look back to my first paintings and say to myself, this is the beginning of why I'm committed to making art. It started from somewhere that was about trying and how fun it was to try something fairly difficult and for me and it would continue to demand mastery if I was to join the ranks of 'actual painters'. From here I can remember that I had altered a painting palette thatI presented as a finished work, which meant that I was interested in questioning the beginning, the end, and framing of the language of painting or artwork in general. 

Titled "Open Palette" and I found an alternative title that I ended up using for my first solo exhibition: "Start Somewhere"

I remember the moment when I realised that the surface that one prepares to paint on is the stage where people will get themselves situated to see the show that you put on, not the process of what it took you to get to 'the work', but I sought the mutual appreciation of the process, because it was something I wanted to share, that feeling of being creative, not being celebrated for having done creative things, but it could be work, a creative act, to look at work and be partly responsible for the meaning that is evoked.

I remember being asked for that piece in an art trade and remember thinking how disappointed this person was in me that I hadn't kept it aside for them for a trade because I sold it I believe for something like 75 dollars at my senior thesis show. There was the collapsing of the journey into a monetary exchange and I said to myself that it's alright whatever artwork goes because I'm interested in the next piece that I make, and that's where I find myself now, thinking about the work that is to come ahead. 

Shoot ahead to my last "solo" show where all the work was installed by John Nicol and I was also using the palettes of other painters to create the works, this one was by Lauren Wells.
This is me revealing the backside of a painting also part of "Indirectly, Yours"

What artworks in grad school were like that abstract painting for me? The beginning of realising that I had the "knack" for making art? The piece that I might look back and think that I haven't taken care of it fully, creating holistic considerations to firmly place it into context where it could flourish and even grow? These are not just high expectations, this is a lot of the point of art, otherwise, let's face it, these pretty pictures are just part of interior decoration. 

Taking risks plays a big role here, but it might not be the absolute first priority.

Trusting one's own instincts, I've rediscovered that my signature on that online website (that is now well populated by high school drawings of anime, furries, digital paintings and nude photography, it seems there's no place for me that there once was in the cheerleading efforts that the site represented from strangers) that it was this: Creativity comes from trust. Trust your instincts, and never hope more than you work.
- Rita Mae Brown. 

That's a powerful quote about how art is about you and the importance or celebration of creativity as cheesy as that sounds. Art depends on you to be an inspirational human being in order for it to have a chance, it demands a work ethic that too is about constant self-development. In a sense, your best work is a by product of imagining better things, and that's why that quote is not actually about creativity or individuality, it's about making the best work possible. It's about getting yourself in proper shape because good work will take care of you in so many different ways, and nothing keeps good art chugging along, but you. Reciprocity between high-expectations and chance outcomes. It barely worked or perhaps it failed, and you go on to make it even more challenging for yourself because you want to. Flow. Waves. Being. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Last week of "Indirectly Yours" starts Tuesday, ends Friday.

I made GIFS of me dancing around the work...

This is what I do when I'm invigilating for the show when I'm not writing up proposals or chatting with visitors.

It's been lovely having so many people visit the show (and sometimes multiple times!) John and I will be de-installing Friday evening and we're having an art giveaway for those who would like to give one of the plaster casts a good home.

This will take place Friday evening for people who contact me via phone but also Saturday from Noon - 2.

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I also just started to transcribe out of boredom a picture I took of a work of art by Peter Davies that I was unsure whether or not I understood the work... For some reason reading it one after another reminded me of Ross Little's artist talk when he was reading off catchy phrases to get a positive response from someone. Some things stick out, while mostly you're between imagining how effective it is and not knowing whether or not the author is sincere as the words just seem to flow to somewhere else...

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Why is British Art So Crap? There's a whole century of mediocrity and ineptitude. Why would anyone ever be interested. Take a look AT THE EVIDENCE, Pre-1990s its All rubbish

Michael Andrews Ayers Rock, Lynn Chadwick suffering man sculptures, Leon Kossof dirty swimming pools, Patrick Proctor please behave, Eduardo Paolozzi I was a rich man's plaything, Stanley Spencer religious fundamentalist, Derek Boshier Ku Klux Klan,

John Bellany too much boozing, Andrej Jackowski too much/too little acid, Alan Davie Mad Old Hippie, Art and Language crap conceptualism, Terry Atkinson the same, Paul Nash war what is it good for, John Nash shadow of his brother, David Nash family tree, Scotitsh 80's Figuration-

Celtic Authenticity Bullshit - Steven Campbell, Stephen Conroy, Ken Currie, Peter Howson, Adrian Wisniewszki all got lucky on the shirt tails of transavantgaurdia, Tess Jaray what can I say, Ian Hamilton Finlay it's all a battle at Little Sparta, Sean Scully not really British or even living here, David Hockney

started off well but all the other shit ruined it, Tony Bevan what on earth is in that paint, Craigie Aitchison he'd crucify me, Rosefinn Kelcey a bit steamy, Richard Wilson oil schlick, Sylvia Ziranek for obvious reasons, Bobby Baker cookery as art, Anne Bean, Peter Fink, Paul

Burwell Bow Gamelan embarassing drum bashing, Brian Catling VIDEO SEANCE, Kipper Kids scatological slapstick, anything associated with Robin Klassnick mail art etc, Caroline Bergvall nonsensical boring poetry performances, Bloomsbury they all shagged each

other Vanessa Bell have a bath, Duncan Grant do the Charleston, Clive Bell significant form, Henry Lamb new England art club, all crap, camden Town group, Walter Richard Sickert Jack the Ripper apostle of mad art, Spencer Gore Rule Brittania, St Ives group a lot to answer for, Peter

Lanyon Cornish paste, Roger Hilton Oi Argh Argh, William Scott post Rothko abstractions from reality, Terry Frost poor mans Elsworth Kelly drawings, Bryan Winter wiggly lines, Patrick Heron blame Matisse, Barbara Hepsworth holes a hole (see Rachel Whiteread), Ben Nicholson flat reliefs, and the

constructive tendency such as Victor Pasmore turncoat, Claude Rogers he of the Euston Road School a Real Place and William Coldstream Original Slade Measurer, Adrian Heathmore 50s style abstraction see Helion and the constructionists Anthony Hill, Kenneth and Mary Martin double trouble, Naum Gabo played with kinetics and perspex, so many

useless groups, Alfred Wallis crazy fisherman dude, Gwen John shagged Rodin, brother Augustus John most famous ever Welsh artist, Rodrigo Moynihan objective abstraction father of Danny the great writer, Therese Oulton very nasty ugly surfaces, 

John Virtue lost In the countryside, Victor Burgin what does consumption mean to you, John Latham throw the book at him, Stuart Brisley lock him up with his Xmas dinner to stare at it, Barry Flanagan piles (of shit) Graham Sutherland British surrealism, Sir

Roland Penrose the leader, John Piper Nostalgic Romanticism, Wyndham Lewis (Percy) mr avante grade blast Vorticism, David Bomberg hold on, CRW Nevinson their Futurist rival, Ivon Hitchens sweet, Prunella Clough enough, R B Kitaj calm down angry man, so called London group, Frank

Auerbach much paint wastage, Lucien Freud antisocial behaviour, Francis Bacon supposedly the star one, British pop art, Allen Jones he likes em on all fours, Richard Hamilton Independent group 11 commandments, Peter Blake Americana in the suburbs, remember brotherhood of ruralists, David Inshaw creepy English scenes, Patrick

Caulfield see Lichtenstein, Pauline Bety the only blonde in the world, Peter Phillips another 60's also ran, Gerard Laing Robert Indiana's assistant, Joe Tilson box pop, America stole Pop, Jeffrey Camp is he, John Hoyland groovy in the 60's not now, Michael Moon Strip Paintings,

conceptualism fucked all that stuff over, Albert Irvin every office has one, Basil Beattie playing up, Bernard Cohen zany- capt. Shit eat your heart out, David Remfry stop I think I might puke, Edward Burra Low Life Scum, Beryl Cook fat slags, Eric Ravilious

greenhouse effect, Jacob Epstein sex and nudity, Eric Gill with a thrill, Cecil Collins I promised you a miracle, Ken Kiff wild child, Philip King tea la la, Richard Smith tailspin, Jeremy Moon died young, Bridget Riley HEADACHE images, Barrie Cook sort of spray gun version, Michael Kidner coloured in version, 

Peter Sedgley 2nd rate striped op, Michael Dillon Op structure, John Walker liked cheapness, Allan Charlton how and why, Alan Green like Ad Rheinhardt/Barnett Newman, William Green boring action paintings, Anthony Green a really big hit, Peter Joseph abstract significance through colour, 

Gillian Ayres give me Sam Francis any day, Kenneth Armitage hammerhead,s Eileen Agar assemblage, David Tremlett MESSED UP the walls, Susan Trangmar forest projectors. Tony Carter was at A. Reynolds, Leonard Mccomb fuck off gold leaf homo erotic figure that Wallinger

copied, Stephen Mckenna kitsch, Clive Barker chrome, William Holman Hunt Preraphaelite sexual corruption, Cathy de Monchaux talcum powder, Euan Uglow another Slade measurer, Adrian Stokes lot of still life, Jack Smith kitchen sink, Ivor Abrahams cock up, Maurice,

Cockrill Anthology suite, Norman Adams warrior angel, Sarah Raphael a little world turned upside down. Paule Vezelay really Marjorie Watson-Williams, David Mach killer sub, Richard Deacon bent wood, Tony Cragg SCRAP YARD, Anish Kapoor powder puff, Lisson/now object

sculptors, Bill Woodrow lost it, Adrian Berg what a drip, Frank Dobson clunky figures, Andy Goldsworthy sticks and stones, Chris Drury leaves and twigs, Jo Stockham used to be in lots of shows, Stephen Willats social comment, Ian Breakwell De La Warr dance, Howard Hodgkin too

many city breaks, William Tillyer poor mans version, Terry Setch skateboarders, Norman Ackroyd over atmospheric, William Turnbull primitive modernist, A footnote to colorfield - John McLean, Geoff Ridgen, John Golding, Gary Wragg tai chi, Alan Gouk ab ex via

French realism, Jock McFadyen inner city, David Tress gritty Landscape, Conroy Maddox see Magritte etc, Tom Phillips collects postcards, Glyn Williams the professor, Elizabeth Frink existentialist bohemian, Helen Chadwick Schlocolate fountain, David Medalla bubble machine, John Goto socialist conceptualist

montage, Mary Kelly post partum document, Gilbert and George Bum Holes, Langlands and Bell rhymes with hell, Avis Newman poor show, John Murphy barking, Maria Chevska give us a break,Sonia Boyce blankets from afro hair wigs, Alison Wilding

house of cards, Simo n C all ery dreary, Grenville Da vey can where d d he 11 ' twont. a edon1 an road, Introverted performances., avid Leapman day glo, Rrchard Long \va.Jced n" 'll:J.Y' Hamish Fulton .... .....
way, Rashaeed ,.,. ••• ,., $-tcve c-,..... ;11n:tl•ll•rydo.·..-it:<', I an Jones iru .. d.~d:rtv:iiJ.t,Pe rry Roberts vanished ..,..,."'" big Chisenha1eshow, Kerry Trengrove tun ne lled out, Bruce Lacey t he womelliser, Paula Rego a st urbed fairy taleStchr 15 topher Le Brun
f ly in g h o rse s, Ma ggie Hambling 1e.dy1 Stephen -..ckrey one paintin g over .,,.the:r, '..·ibdl~-• u,.~d. rc, .l e:"" H'"" lt.•n nt ·t. .. r.d 1 , S an d ra Bl o w counterpoint to ¥~~hat .,.,ctly, Reg B u t ler poor ma ns D avid Smit h , Noel Forster ll .Jer patterllpaintl H enry
Mun all o'er grid pnintin p;, My les M....,.., more Slade measuring, J o hn Brat by see Alic e Heel, Eil een Cooper school of whatever, Stephen Farthing po:.intl~!!: painting, Ronald Moody Ja1."4 like 11,ure., J•hn W"llllam Waterhouse W:-'~
John Lessore !. dcr· a"1en tal S unday lunch, IIIIa rio Rossi t he end, David Troostwyk Monochrome har d e d g e" s ilhouettes • , :i:l '- ~li nuclear e;:ilil :!J ~~r;:))p!h.!l Kate Whiteford nasty green and reol Painted Installation•, B J h n crap photo r ea 1 . • ' t
en o nso 1 sm . T 1m Scot
peach Wh e e iS r •wid An ll•&loy swing low, W:U\a.mitr:"ltet' de4iea gr ... it rtuu~ Wo~'O H STI!f:ll Engli•h o"PRES"'<>I'II<" Jwlillfl Tra vely.,. ht ! !ked Pawl kloe, Anth any Graaa I ~dl.'VMe, Sto.phcn C~x s am. rrl ~fl ll•r~arl ,..,,.,n .nan e:r known te llrl, Nicholas Pepellls mea.s, GUll r:ummins wt1rtt Q Circus, 80 e Ji)®]j}"
Whl h a w . .. >119~~ crepuo("o,l h r _..,, • • .-.... . . e Sl •u x W•nktt, J•hnWr ., J'A''-''F·It a• ... ••h~ro,Wlllla m lhth e n ntln po rt.a ~t o f h 1S Ch1 ldren 1n fancy dress M- h I Rothenstein . . . yl y
ro a d wor ks , FIIDEJIICI( CUNIMC GlOOM GlOIMGUICII, Antllony s 1
' tC ae han! co•-c cruc1frx10n , Mit hael Petry fiber
P d _ K 1 framed pigment, Mona Hatoum on the stre n gth o f he r early performance work, Andrea F ish e r hand rau Elis a b e t h Blacka dder fl ill st
1 o ptics eter Kennar Wages of SinS Pat au man J c orny ower u rat ons, Be r nard M d
' ' 1 t he North se a Shaheen MeraU EMBARAss 1Na com me nta-ry a bout ethnictty, Mic;hael Ayrton da rk & OO'J@[ii)~\ID'@~ demonic ,1•10,., 1, 1'1ttho01y ,ry ca ows agresSitle d d . I B tha Huws SOt\9 or ' ncand orthals dancinq Michae l v awsho n marbled
. w o un e a:_r;,~ .. ~~ Mln~n n r t . figur•tl"e p• ln tlne •. John craxton Cl rei:! mer . Ge rald WHd • drllf1k • dirty, Mlil rC vaux left ftall ou t , Mar K I..I OIC:::U tcr Wat Jas p6t latins bof(rle nd apparent ly, KnlsMon Hot klng s ert ef all over broken up ab st ract i on .
ctt oc, , Ke>t.h VJ.t:l!het.n ~:-ry ~;; · -•~ · -•-' Robert F ' 1
. C r Cina h ., .. ,. . Chels e a, Adrian Henri k ind of poet painter, Brian Ch a lkley .31 so someti mes Da wn, fl•snc .. ~r .. Gandalph, Sheila Fell i t
from hfe, Harold
Cohen the d'udeS ro er raser, 0 1n t 9 pa n er Y lanclsc a>pes llkeA nne Redpath
s ,uanne Tre ister s u s taine d f a n t asist, Susan Hiller psychotropic su p e r nat u r a l wo r k- spooky, Leigh Bowery at s ome g rim esta tedown East EOI~~&, eauumln" •• m:: . ~:l~p ~~· -Davld Robillar~ afriend of Gilbert and ,.
, . in D V i d W ' f t h 111 • )II -.:,.,.Ia lore a rt, u; LoWT)' -~ , •.d·.c.-;ek rr. 1'1 .... u u. - tAo!tl, :ot-":- • rrro ~lck to fllooa, !1\I.>On De:-~'- M•art .... ot•• /-4).r:q~ - ·ns. Paul W\ anlc-y - I' lti~t.e. r1p -. l'i 'I H , at raw de,- , George wit h St'T ibbly wrttJnu , Zarrna B L photos on she tve• •bowt upbring e g, ~ t Peter R•nd•II.Page 3 ::. s Grac: e .s it sucks, Ken Howard stl.ldb studl o u ... , Ana. Ma.r a. pacheco claustrophobia, Bill Jae klm o ut of t he wood, Pa.ul Nea~u a b it
... \M Gormley dar k a ngel, William Furlong AUDIO ART, Vong Phaophanit Lao1.1a~ r lC .a VSII1ret~h Housh lary lrmi•n mysticism, J ohn Gi bbons ... . cho ~· Pt ure ' J•hOI Newlins , £r\C. Ba inbrldge,_large sea 1 e fake fur sculptures, Ou s ta v M e tzger THREW
touc hy feely, Dh1 11 Mist ry 1,,r: tj'purc at, r:,,.-, wlf o ot W illiam T urnbull , Michael Kenny Wounded by love, Wilhemina Barnes-Graham more soppy St Ives abstraction from nature, ?."l l.J: p Sutton there la 1 ... pnc t 1n the .. ·nods , KoithArutt •.u.w.,.n , JohnWNkln
ACID ho pe washed h~~ han.u, Henry ' I¥ trust fund, Wt n 1 fr e d N1cholson feminine views of nature, Henri Gaudier BRESZKA -the idiot~ . Robyn Denny he got
tl ' ltutl c, J• "" S' "' " s arsc e he re, Joan Eardley gorbals diehards, James Abbot McNeill Whistler lavish lifestyle dandy and wit, Charles Rennie McKintosh designed Glasgow, Henri Gaudier Breszka - the idiot, Nicholas g'ree n monsters, Cerl 1\ic ~;'l(d.~ see Braque, Malcolm Mi>rley _m .,.,,y, Li l iane: Lljn Cl')'a tl l ll all a, Monica
"'~'Jl!l h P lu mb · ma l abs tractaons, Frank Bowhng a.r..m • • 1 f
R a u s ehe nberg a ll .-.; :::.~• Jo n · grooveso~ e mlnl • . Bob La w outlines, Keith Mdow improve<~ reproductions, "~lD\J\J~ MorriS over 0 De Chtrlco, Ed wo.1'd Wadsworth more CRAP Brit
• r • M K ve r own hideous patntlngs, Ja ..... M ...... ~oo b~d Agn es Martr n&, ..
ld g iving . , la n c ee .,.rill check this out and Robe rt MacBryde the other one, Celia Paul transcendental portraits, i·Shan hierenber@, appalling S\lb • Fro~o~d fi~ltion
surrealism, Robert Colquhuon TH E FO RT U NE teller -Magnus vo• ··· ;:t~ ny Car• ..... .... dumber Ha mad Butt polson gas i n glass t ubes, CnrdWcighL Uepham Junction, lan Stephenson horrible speckled paint effect

Seems that OCR recognizable text only goes so far...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

My upcoming events at the Centre for Contemporary Art (Glasgow)

The 2HB Launch for vol 16 & 17 is today starting at 7:30

And also there will be a solo show by Cedric Tai and a solo show by John Nicol, July 5th

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Things to explore while in Glasgow

Before I left Detroit I wrote a top ten list of unexpected places to see art.

Now that the end of our time in Scotland is coming (it's August 22nd) I chatted with artist/performer/ball of energy, Jamie Wardrop to come up with an ultimate list of things that one must do in Glasgow and what's worth seeking out. There is an emphasis on things that are free, but also kinds of immersion that would be similar to someone who lives in Glasgow.

In no particular order and no particular time frame:

1. The Glasgow Museum Resource Centre and their free tours everyday at 2:30, sometimes specialist tours...

2. GalGael in Govan, (but nearby the Ibrox subway station not the Govan one) and their weekly evening meal on Thursdays at 6.

3. Lawn bowling, I particularly enjoy the scenery of the one next to the Kelvingrove museum.

They don't even ask to see your proof of residence. 

4. Following someone to a random house party and losing track of time

I still have no idea where I was that night, but it was great!

5. Trongate 103, (Sharmanka, Transmission, Project Ability and the Print Studios are all located there)

Kinetic Theater by Eduard Bersudsky

6. The Glasgow School of Art*

7. Find a music gig... could be in a bar, a flat, a studio, a warehouse, a poetry club, opera house, no matter where you find it, a lot of the music is damn good.

This is at the Bothy at the Hidden Gardens nearby the Glue Factory

8. Seeing a nice high view from the Lighthouse* (also has an exhibition space inside)

9. Hang out in an alley (the location of Douglas Gordon's EMPIRE sign, stereo*/the old hairdressers)

10. Find a favorite view on one of the 6? hills (my selection would be the Necropolis, the Hen run in the Mackintosh building, the stairwell from the JD Kelly, and I've heard there's a good lookout point from a hill in Queens Park on the Southshide, Govanhill)

11. Get sweaty from dancing at the Sub Club or the Arches

12. Being hungover in Kelvingrove Park

You may also find yourself munching on a lot crisps or candy... no regrets, only vague cheese memories 

13. The trail along the river towards the Botanics maybe have a nice cup of tea on the way from Tchai-Ovna

I probably should've used a picture of one of the arches, but you'll see them... So here's some dogs!

14. Take a bus up to Loch Lomond and go hill walking (maybe from Luss)

15. The Barras, People's Palace, Winter Garden, Glasgow Green

16. Tour something underground (underneath the Citizen's theater where old stage sets are, the disused railway tunnels)

17. One of the usual free museums: Kelvingrove, The Burrell Collection, Transport Museum

18. Galleries: CCA, Mary Mary/Kendall Koppe, SWG3, Common Guild, Tramway, Studio 41, Glasgow Sculpture Studios/The Glue Factory, GOMA, Modern Institute, David Dale  (

Richard Wright's wall installation through the large window of the Modern Institute

19. Mono - Good Press - monorail (record shop/buy local zines and press/home-brewed beer and soda)

20. Rediscover the Southside (there may be too much to write in here because things will probably just keep popping up, but there are plenty of gems from Glad Cafe to the Grand Ol Opry) Checking out the really big mansions in Pollockshields on the way to House for an Art Lover*

An image of all the posters/postcards from past shows at the Southside Studios

20. See a play or performance or be part of an experiential work at the Tramway, Citizens Theater, the Tron, or do Play and a Pint

21. Attending an event that happens only once a year and is almost a secret 

Installations throughout the Brunswick Hotel
- Undergraduate Degree Show at the Glasgow School of Art* (the secret is that a lot of people come to just see the Mackintosh building, but they won't be able to access any studios, if people plan it right, they can see almost everything AND all the work of the students, MFA and M. Litt included)
- Insider festival, camping, music, sells out fast
 - Glasgow Open Day (Unbelievable access all over for example you can the old sets below the Citizen's Theater where you can see old sets and the clyde that's coming up from below you) 

* means that somehow Charles Rennie Mackintosh is involved.

Also there's these tours (I went because it was affiliated with someone from the Couchsurfing community):
The very popular FREE Ghosts and Mysteries of Glasgow walking tours begin a New Season of FREE tours on Sunday July 7th @ 7pm from outside Cafe Nero on St.Enoch Square. Evening tours will be Sunday,Monday and Wednesday and AFTERNOON tours will be Tuesday and Thursday @ 2pm.

As stated all tours are FREE but places must be booked in advance. This can be done by texting the Tour day and the number of places you require to 07950 947239.You will receive a confirmation text in return.

Although Tours are Free it would be nice if you tipped the Guide as all money raised will be donated to local kids projects..
Thanks in advance for your support and PLEASE pass this info on to all your friends.