Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Nicolas Bourriaud has Essay Writing ADD

Reading "Culture as Screenplay: How art reprograms the world" was -for one- really enjoyable. Bourriaud, while highly intelligent and undoubtedly insightful and well read, keeps an nonacademic tone. I appreciate this approach to criticism.

In relation to detournemont I think Bourriaud does a fantastic job of tying the DJ or programmer or contemporary artist in any context to Debord. Also, I completely agree with him on that.

A part of me is still mildly apprehensive to the notion of works without end. While I am one who steals concepts and ideas from other authors and artists I do think of each work individually. Plus, in digital culture most works can be so easily reproduced that there is no need to "end" them. I do see each work as collage of content and idea but . . . I'm still not convinced I guess.

What really caught me with this essay is the work of Matthieu Laurette . "Matthieu Laurette uses newspaper classified ads, television game shows, and marketing campaigns as
the media for his work." I like his hyper conscious approach to postproduction art. His work seems to -very knowingly- step out of the Duchamp, Debord, Warhol evolution of theft as thought. (I meant that in a good way.)

I was really interested in was the bit mentioned in the beginning of the essay. "Laurette is reimbursed for products he has consumed by systematically using promotional coupons ("Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back"), he operates within the cracks of the promotional system."

That seems to be an appropriation right out of Abbie Hoffman's repertoire.

This essay, moreover, has kind of left me in a Keatsian state of negative capability. I'm kind of without judgment on this one.

I'm going to let it soak in for a bit.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Deerhoof and Debord vs The Evil Spectacle

I feel as though Deerhoof's new album will be an appropriate soundtrack for this brief essay on Debord's essay Methods of Détournement as well as his film, La Société du spectacle. Why Deerhoof's new album Deerhoof vs. Evil?

Three reasons:

1. Satomi Matsuzaki's voice within such a band feels like an act of detournement in and of itself. There's a consciousness of parataxis. This feels -to me- not unlike Debord's juxtaposed footage of naked women and states men. Yes, at points the music and the vocals function on the same plane, as does any great act of detournemont but, as Debord points out, "Détournement is less effective the more it approaches a rational reply." This album, like this band, like La Société du spectacle is past meaning making in the traditional sense. We are involved in and conscious of the spectacle that we usually take for granted in the invisibly abrasively commodity driven spectacle of the daily.

2. The album is called Deerhoof vs. Evil. This has a similar feel to Debord's vision of the remix artist, taking abstractions of what was once the tangible earth, and reconstructing them. "The tangible world finds itself replaced by a selection of images which exist above it and which at the same time has placed itself recognized as the tangible par experience."

While both this essay and this film -as well as Debord's book- are filled with wonderful aphorisms. (Yes, I do think they are wonderful. Things can be bleak and wonderful at the same time. Just look at the spectacle. Just listen this Deerhoof album I'm discussing.) the prior is one of my favorite. The tangible world has become images, these images have become our tangible existence. The simulacrum encounters itself through the viewer, in the case of film.

Also, both seem to be fighting the abstract real. Evil is such a large, ominous unspecific term. For the sake of the album title I think it's facetiously ambitious but no less successful as a result.

It's akin to Debord's spectacle, everywhere and no where. It takes a conscious mind to demolish it while existing with in it. "The spectacle is not a collection of images but a social relation among persons mediated by images." The act of remix art or any art form in this way is to almost bubble out, or warp the tangible world. To be overly abrasive tears and to be unwittingly accepting does nothing but stupify.

Good art should be abrasive in a certain sense, to draw attention to it's action and intents, basically. I think Deerhoof and Debord would agree on that.

3. I like it and just bought this record today. It's the reason I'm writing this a little bit late. It was sunny. I like bikes and record shopping. I'm a dirty rotten hipster and forgot I needed to do this today. Sorry. "The spectacle is the flip side of money. It, too, is an abstract general equivalent of all commodities."

Moving on,

In "Methods of Détournement" Debord discusses some art forms that I have played around with and am interested in. Psychogeography relates directly to a Google Map project myself and several other collaborators worked on a few months ago. The goal of the project was to remix an essay by multimedia artist Mark Amerika. Other remixes of the essay involved an appropriation of Youtube videos, a sound piece mixing various websites, and a short play made almost entirely of plagiarized philosophies and artist statements.

It turns out I invented Guy-Deord. Who knew?

The thing that really fascinated me was Metagraphic writing. It was an absolutely new concept to me, initially. This has since faded. The fleeting nature of the profound moment, as Emerson might put it. Or, as Debord does, "a moment ... grown old and it may never again be rejuvenated."

It faded last night, as I was going to sleep. The English and German alphabet was, initially, an act of Metagraphic writing. Both alphabets use letters from French and Italian. This is why the symbols do not represent the sounds. English is not a phonetic language in this way. Where as French and Spanish are.

Another, older example of this is the Japanese language. Wanting to keep place with the Chinese art of poetry the Japanese used Chinese characters to construct the first Kanji. So, Debord's idea for Metagraphic writing, while not necessarily new, has proven to be revolutionary in the case of at least three languages.

So in the end, like most things, nothing is new. It's always been here. "Plagiarism is necessary. Progress implies it.

It's a matter of how we deconstruct and reconstruct it. There in lies the rejuvenation.

Hey, come to think of it, Satomi Matsuzaki -lead singer of Deerhoof- is Japanese. Is her voice, placed in an esoteric American rock context, an act of detournemont? A sort of MetaAudiodacticism?

Did I mention they had a new album?


It's pretty great. I just got it. but I like it a lot already.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Thoughts on Open Source, Creative Commons, and "Free" Culture in the Vain of Obsolecense

Obsolescence is one of my favorite abstract concepts. Abstract Concepts being of course my favorite, as it eats itself. Obsolescence does something similar. For those within it they exist in a vacuum of sorts. Though -as we all recall from 8th grade earth science- nothing can exist in a vacuum. Yet here we are, existing.

A "vacuum fluctuation" or an error occurs which allowed -from the start- creation. The vacuum was manipulated, a literal paradox occurred in a vacuum. Andrew Joron places the universe corollary to what the surrealists defined as l'hasard objectif. "In such cases, randomness momentarily acquires structure, an arrow-shape that pierces the mesh work of a system's sustaining feedback loops... the Universe itself is thought to have resulted from a random 'vacuum fluctuation.'"

Or as Shelly might put it, "... a sword of lightning, ever unsheathed, which consumes the scabbard that would contain it."

I know, holy fuck! Right?

While Shelley mentions this in relation to poetry, directly, Joron is discussing the centralized global power structure the U.S. is encountering opposition to by way of terrorism.

What does poetry, a restructuring of global power dynamics, and copy right law have in common?

They all are changing dramatically as a result of the internet. There no longer is a need for centralization.

Web 2.0 realized this a few years ago. I'm listening to ThruYou right now, a site devoted to composing beautiful music pieced together with Youtube clips. Is this the new composition?

Well, yeah, kind of.

Is this different than how I arranged my original thoughts through the lens of Shelley and Joron?

Well, no, not really.

Are either of these copy right infringements?

That's to be decided.

As intellectual copy right becomes obsolete by way of the internet so do we. Our senses have a conscious construct. We are perpetually aware of what makes up our consciousness. As I think of Joron, I hop on Google books and search vacuum before running to my bed-side bookshelf to grab the tangible copy, made by a press on the other side of Denver. I link you to it. My thoughts fade as you become aware of their construct. Your pre-perception fades as you move from my use Joron for obsolescence to Joron's use of vacuums in relation to shifting diplomacy.

You use a vacuum in your own way. Poof! vacuum fluctuation. The Universe is born out of this for the first time. Still, it was here before.

We exist in paradox. Surrealism is the new realism because we're aware of it.

Web art is aware both of it's obsolescence and it's manipulation of open and closed source material. It's conscious connectivity overwhelms us. It's Kant's sublime. It's shitty reggae sublime. It's horrific to compare those two things.

Still, as we step away from that moment we no longer desire it. We've had it. It's wonderful and grotesque. It's living in a large city for a few months, two weeks after realizing the D runs express from Columbus Circle to your stop on 125th.

It's realizing how little you know. It's embracing obsolescence. It's becoming Shelley's unsheathed sword of lightning forever consuming the scabbard that could never contain it. It's existing in paradox.


Vacuum Fluctuation.

In this way I wholly embrace open source material and detest copy law in the same way I detest censorship. Both inhibit creativity. Both frighten me.

What interests me, is the awareness of theft. The awareness of the overwhelming puts me in the community of obsolescent art. One example is an erasure of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. The work begins with his material but through a process of erasing and then reconstructing I have my own. I've then been sneaking lines of this piece into my own work. I have little clue where his words and my words meet. They've become a new work.

Remix art is the new Lenny Bruce. Or George Carlin

Thursday, February 3, 2011