Robert Smithson, (digitally “preserved”) photograph of a partially buried woodshed


“I should now like to prove the irreversability of eternity by using a jejune experiment for proving entropy. Picture in your mind’s eye the sandbox divided in half with lack sand on one side and white sand on the other. We take a child and have him run hundreds of times around clockwise in the box until the sand gets mixed and begins to turn grey; after that, we have we have him run anti-clockwise, but the result will not be a restoration of the original division, but a greater degree of greyness and an increase of entropy.

Of course, if we filmed such an experiment we could prove the reversability of eternity by showing the film backwards, but then sooner or later the film itself would crumble or get lost and enter the state of irreversibility. Somehow this suggests that the cinema offers an illusive or temporary escape from physical dissolution. The false immortality of the film gives the viewer an illusion of control over eternity – but “the superstars” are fading.”

– Robert Smithson, “A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic , New Jersey” (1967)

The importance of jejune, I think, lies in the regression to a childlike state of a lack of enculturated knowledge. The jejune is a possibility-space free from the illusionistic confines of the predominant cultural biases and attitudes. Before the abuse of power enculturates a child through inversions of metaphors, calling illusions “structures”, fantasies “concrete”, etc., the child is allowed to roam free from the biased cultural confines. Sure, they lack knowledge – but this is where the play and vividness of imagination comes from. Without social responsibilities, or cultural confinement, the child’s unenculturated imagination takes control of it’s experience. It is that powerful. Haven’t you ever seen a child run around in a “rampage” interacting with apparitions of thier own imaginations, almost to the point of mentaly transforming the architecture underneath a table, into the underside of a mountain? Scale, to the child is no longer a restriction. Tables can be mountains. Mountains can be tables. The concept of a “structure” to the child is interchangeable with “illusion”. There are no fantasies of “concreteness”, or “stasis” masquerading as real. The child is closer to the entropic realities, than some adults might think themselves to be. Some children have no mania for preservation, not because they have a concept of it, but because they lack the concept of it. They evolve along with cultural attitudes, and once the threshold of free inversion and interchangeability is passed into “locked” illusionistic metaphors determined scales, they slowly die out in a cultural dreamscape, they think is a landscape. We all do.

The jejune, then – regardless if this experiment still holds true with servers, and hard-drives today – is a telling expression of the power of both the imagination, and the cultural sublimation of it through metaphorical magic tricks.

(Al)Readymade Shit

February 3, 2009

Piero Manzoni’s Shit:


There is alot of shit that passes for art. The thing, in particular, that makes Piero Manzoni’s readymade shit art, is that it is a cultural, and historical reaction to modernism. It is anti-modernist shit-art. It is a rather violent attack against the more recent movements in modernist art, like surrealism and cubism. These are, in many ways, decorative illustrations of the unconscious and theories (like Freud and relativity), repectively. They are illustrations, insofar as they synaesthetically render a provisional theory into a decorative format where it only buries the senses further into the abstractions and fictions of the mind. They are overwhelmingly cerebral, while, at the same time, annhialate all context in the museum through thier isolated illustrations. The cultural dialectic is compacted into a single point in a museum, where it drains all of its power. There is no context in this art. It is rather a mute illustration of a concept. They are decorative collages, growing from a German Ideal of the sublime or beautiful. Though, the “beauty” in it is an intersubjective cultural emergence without accounting for the dialectics-as-process of the evolution of beautiful. They are mute, immoble tombs of ideas that don’t shift. This is the modern art museum – tombs that preserve and drain art of its power, by neglecting the dialectic.

I wonder why there is a prevading “monumental” mystery about the explosive contextual scope of postmodern art. In any case, I think it is this “monumental” myth about postmodern art that allows illustrations of the supernatural to pass as art (like Alex Grey). “Art” (illustrations called art) is powerful in a misinformed culture, only because of the cloak of mystery it is shrouded in. Art is valued all to highly because there isn’t even a consensus cultural interpretation of it that even remotely comes close to understanding it. So now, decoritive illustrations of the supernatural pass as art because of the prevalent and powerful cultural myths about it.

The canned-shit of Piero Manzoni is art because of the account of the cultural context in which it is placed. It is powerful, both historically as a path to postmodernism, and culturally, because it is electrified with the power of the historical and cultural context in which it is placed. It was the beginning of an explosively explicit dialectic of many histories.

Alex Grey’s illustrations as art are (al)readymade shit.


The Surreal Undermining the Real

“[The trumpet] sounds human. It sounds like a voice. Sometimes I can get it to sound like a… another voice.” – Miles Davis (60 Minutes Interview)

Some of you might find this five part youtube series of Miles playing live with Wayne Shorter, Jack De Johnette, Chick Corea and Dave Holland fairly interesting. I particularly like the exchanges between Chick (on Keys) and Miles, beginning about halfway through 3 of 6. They are speaking to each other in notes, but mostly phrases. The conversations begin with an exchange of some notes, maybe roughly equivilant to a greeting – meeting each other in a harmony, where the mutual compassion for one another is asking “where are you?”, rather than “how are you?” The location of Chick and Miles in the soundscape is a compassionate, humble questioning. The development of conversation becomes a transcendence of Miles from himself, and Chick from himself, where these spatial entities become distinct from the person Blowing, or tapping out the notes. It is “another voice”, that is not Miles’ nor Chick’s, but an evolving conversation spawing from the asking of “where are you?” to the exchange of phrases that develop into a textural, colorful, spatial conversation of the textural, colorful, spatial play itself. They leave thier bodies, not to enter the others body, but to enter the dissonances and resonances of their creative soundscape, where the self, nor the body can seem to reach the complexity of the creative soundscape. In other words, it could be said that their bodies of experience are transformed entirely into sound (texture, color, line, space). It reaches heights of soundplay where even the body is forgotten. It reminds me of a quote by Einstein where he writes, “To really live, is to live outside of oneself.” For Miles, I think, living was living outside of his body, into the body of sound.

In these recordings, there is something surreal going on that is more real than the verbal interactions of talking. The surreal displaces the real into dreamlike status. The alternate undermines the primary, where the roles are exchanged.