Archive for 2011

A Leaf

09.25.2011  |  By
Filed under: Back Page

A LEAF, treeless
for Bertolt Brecht:

What times are these
when a conversation
is almost a crime
because it includes
so much made explicit?

(Paul Celan, quoted in ACTS, A Journal of New Writing, eds. David Levi Strauss & Benjamin Hollander, Issue 5, 1986. Thanks to John Sakkis for sending.)

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Why Not Forgive All Student Loans to Artists to Stimulate the Economy?

09.22.2011  |  By
Filed under: Essay

If big banks, credit card companies, and Wall Street firms can get hundreds of billions of dollars in bailouts and loan forgiveness, why can’t the students of America? Or more precisely, the art students of America? The way I see it is that the most creative people in the country are waiting tables, slaving away as secretaries, and doing menial jobs because their art degrees haven’t translated into earning potential. As a consequence, possibly tens of thousands — or maybe hundreds of thousands — of creative people around the country have given up their art and switched to non-art activities in order to pay the rent. So in 2009 (most recent year for census data), out of the 89,140 BFAs, 14,918 MFAs, and 1,569 PhDs granted in fine arts, just how many of those people are really making a living in the arts? My guess is: not many.

Does that seem fair? When the housing bubble popped and the economic crisis began, politicians never expected the bankers and Wall Street traders to give ... More

Brain Drain

09.22.2011  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

Accolades for smart, creative people are rarely as glamorous or lucrative as the MacArthurs. I always get a little thrill when the annual “genius awards” are announced, as the idea of an artist getting five hundred grand is a wonderful thing, something akin to winning Best Picture at the Oscars. There’s pleasure even in begrudging a ... More

Third Hand Plays: “Bodies of Water” by David Clark

09.21.2011  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

David Clark’s major internet works — including “88 Constellations for Wittgenstein (to be played by left hand),” “Sign After the X,” and “A Is for Apple” — are dense, encyclopedic Flash pieces that are replete with imagery, sounds, graphics, voiceover narration. Clark’s visual sensibility is probably closest to that of a graphic... More

Third Hand Plays: The Comedy of Encryption

09.20.2011  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

Encryption is the age-old practice of taking a message, commonly known as a “plaintext,” and enciphering it to make it illegible to the unpracticed eye — this new text is known as the “ciphertext.” Prior to the use of ciphers, messages could be conveyed secretly by simply hiding them — shaving a messenger’s head, for example, and letting the hair grow back before sending him on his way, only to have it be revealed after a drastic haircut on the other end. Invisible ink was another common practice. A very basic form of encryption i... More

Collection Rotation: Gina Osterloh

09.19.2011  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

Our regular feature, Collection Rotation. Each month I invite someone to organize a mini-“exhibition” from our collection works online. Today, please welcome artist Gina Osterloh.

(I was not able to see this installation — part of Project, Transform, Erase — but I imagine there are similarities to Line Describing a Cone, which I experienced in Frankfurt. As one enters the room there is uncertainty about what one sees, what one perceives. There is a collapse of two- and three-dimensionality, physicality, the ephemeral, and optics. Famil... More

5 Questions: Satomi Matsuzaki

09.15.2011  |  By
Filed under: Conversations

[Five questions to SFMOMA artists, staff, or guests. Today we hear from Satomi Matsuzaki, singer from Deerhoof. They perform TONIGHT as part of Now Playing.]

Do you collect anything?

For the past five years, I haven’t been collecting anything. I am fond of lightness and neatness. I like getting clothes, but then my closet gets full so I give ... More

Third Hand Plays: “Struts” by J. R. Carpenter

09.15.2011  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

The very prolific J. R. Carpenter seems, more than most writers of electronic literature, most keen on bridging the worlds between the digital and the social, creating a middle ground in her pieces where nature, community, geography, and politics can intermingle with the play of algorithm and the range of image-making abilities computers afford. Two major recent pieces, collected in the Electronic Literature Organization‘s second grouping of key works, aptly demonstrate her interests. “Entre Ville” is a project that investigat... More

Third Hand Plays: The Comedy of Automation

09.13.2011  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

The comedy of automation is present in all electronic literature works that dynamically generate “literary” content without the work of a writer; we can see it in any number of works in the previous posts, particularly in the comedies of dysfunction, recursion, exhaustion, and association. I decided to create this additional category specifical... More

Anne Boyer on Julia Margaret Cameron’s Photograph of Her Grandchild, Archie Cameron, Aged Two Years, Three Months

09.12.2011  |  By

I think Julia Margaret Cameron understood that a photograph cannot present a clear distinction between a sleeping child and a dead one. In a photograph there is no motion to indicate breath: no warm arm to touch, no murmur or cry. The connection of an infant to its own life is barely established, and for most of human history, tenuous.

A sleeping i... More

Third Hand Plays: “automatype” by Daniel C. Howe

09.08.2011  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

Daniel C. Howe, like joerg piringer and Erik Loyer, can be described as both an artist and a researcher. His homepage lists a number of projects, many in progress, some merely sketches, but he doesn’t make any clear division between research and art, not surprising given his array of degrees and residencies. An early project involved developing a series of 3-D fonts, which puts him in a tradition of experimental font makers including the previously mentioned Paul Chan, who replaced individual letters with words, scribbles, or abstract sha... More

George Kuchar 1942-2011

09.07.2011  |  By
Filed under: Back Page

Collection Rotation: Steve Evans (2)

09.06.2011  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

The SFMOMA “summer of Stein” comes to an end this evening, when we say farewell to The Steins Collect, closing today. In this second of his two Collection Rotation–style summer posts, loosely adjacent to the exhibition, Steve Evans offers a Steinian twist on SFMOMA’s collection. (Steve’s first post is here.) Enjoy!

For thi... More

New Flag for Libya

09.01.2011  |  By
Filed under: Back Page

François Mori/AP

Libyans wave national flags in Tripoli’s Green Square, renamed Martyr’s Square, during morning prayers Wednesday on Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan. Libyans are also celebrating the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi.

* * *

“The children are drawing pictures of the new Libyan flag, something that would have gotten them arrested only two weeks ago.” (National Public Radio, 31 August 2011)

* * *

The first time I ever heard of Tripoli was when, as a child, in a school classroom, our music teacher taug... More

Pop-Up Poets: Yedda Morrison on Nancy Holt and Robert Smithson

08.31.2011  |  By
Filed under: One on One

This summer we enjoyed a special poets-in-the-galleries series, organized by Small Press Traffic. Inspired by The Steins Collect, the series honored writer Gertrude Stein and her relationships with the visual artists of her day. Each Thursday evening in July and August a poet gave a reading, talk, or performance about an artist or artwork on view.... More

Third Hand Plays: The Comedy of Association

08.30.2011  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

This next comedy might be the one most associated with electronic literature, as it corrals work in both hypertext and computer-generated writing. I describe hypertext a bit in the first blog post in this series; it is basically the association of different text blocks, called “lexia,” through links embedded in the text itself, commonplace on the web but still exotic in the 1990s. Important early works in hypertext include Shelley Jackson’s “Patchwork Girl” (1995), Stuart Moulthrop’s “Victory Garden” (199... More

Six Lines of Flight: Tangier, Beirut, Cali, Ho Chi Minh City, Cluj, San Francisco

08.30.2011  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd, Field Notes

I do in fact have a job with fabulous perks: yesterday’s three-hour meeting-by-requirement was to attend a compelling set of presentations, in a closed-door session, by a fantastic group of artists from six cities around the globe. These artists have been instrumental in building artist organizations or collectives that continue to make dynam... More

Wayne Koestenbaum: The Desire to Write (II)

08.29.2011  |  By
Filed under: Essay

In celebration of our landmark exhibition The Steins Collect, Open Space is pleased to present a special two-part feature from essayist, cultural critic, and poet Wayne Koestenbaum. For this year’s Phyllis Wattis Distinguished Lecture, SFMOMA commissioned Wayne to write and perform a new work related to the exhibition. His topic: painting and writing. The result: “The Desire to Write.” Enjoy. (Part one is here.)

The Desire to Write about André Derain

Matisse’s 1905 portrait of André Derain attracts me because thick paint ... More

Hey! Open Space has been nominated for a 2011 Web Award

08.25.2011  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

Thanks to the marvelous readers of SFWeekly, who have nominated Open Space for a 2011 Web Award for Best Arts Blog! We’re honored and excited to be in a stellar group of Bay Area nominees (which includes some of our fantastic collaborators).

You can help vote Open Space into the finals from now through August 30, when the online voting close... More

Third Hand Plays, “The Quick Brown Fox …” by Alan Bigelow

08.25.2011  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

Alan Bigelow has been one of the stalwarts of electronic literature for over a decade now, careful never to stray too far into what could be simply called “digital art” or even avant-garde poetry, building an impressive body of multimedia works that are both innovative and accessible. The artist statement on his website, “webyarns,”... More

Pop-Up Poets: Brent Cunningham on Hanne Darboven

08.24.2011  |  By
Filed under: One on One

This summer we’re enjoying a special poets-in-the-galleries series, organized by Small Press Traffic. Inspired by The Steins Collect, the series honors writer Gertrude Stein and her relationships with the visual artists of her day. Each Thursday evening in July and August a poet gives a reading, talk, or performance about an artist or artwor... More

Third Hand Plays: The Comedy of Duplication

08.23.2011  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

My seventh comedy ties into many of the tropes common to new media discourse. Most prevalent among them might be the loss of the “aura” — that which obtains around an object of religious veneration, in Walter Benjamin’s original formulation, partly because only the elite were allowed to be in its presence — in the digital object, which ha... More

Wayne Koestenbaum: The Desire to Write

08.22.2011  |  By
Filed under: Essay

As we enter the last few weeks of our landmark exhibition The Steins Collect, Open Space is pleased to present a special two-part feature from essayist, cultural critic, and poet Wayne Koestenbaum. For this year’s Phyllis Wattis Distinguished Lecture, held on June 2, SFMOMA commissioned Wayne to write and perform a new work related to the exhibition. His topic: painting and writing. The result: “The Desire to Write.” Enjoy. (Part two, next Monday.)

The Desire to Write about Blue Nude
Writing, alas, is never nude. Grammar cloth... More

Third Hand Plays: “Palimpsest” by Alison Clifford

08.18.2011  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

Alisson Clifford first came to my attention through her digital setting of a sequence of e. e. cummings’s poetry, a marvelous Flash piece called “The Sweet Old Et Cetera.” Especially impressive was how she managed to preserve the kinetic aspect that the poems themselves already had as still images; cummings’s poem “r-p-o-p-h-e-s-s-a-g-r,... More

Four Saints in Three Acts: An Opera Installation — in Rehearsal in SFMOMA’s Phyllis Wattis Theater

08.17.2011  |  By
Filed under: 151 3rd

Video: Willa Koerner

A short clip of Ensemble Parallèle rehearsing for Four Saints in Three Acts: An Opera Installation. This new production of Virgil Thomson and Gertrude Stein’s landmark opera — presented by SFMOMA in association with YBCA — previews tomorrow evening, and runs through the weekend.

The production is a collaboration between contemporary chamber opera organization Ensemble Parallèle (production design by Brian Staufenbiel, conducted by Nicole Paiement), composer Luciano Chessa, and artist Kalup Linzy, and pairs Thomson’s final score for Four Saints with the premiere of A Heavenly Act, a new opera-installation by Chessa, with video and performance by Linzy and libretto by Stein.

Details.

Tickets!

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Pop-Up Poets: Evan Kennedy on Marie Laurencin

08.17.2011  |  By
Filed under: One on One

This summer we’re enjoying a special poets-in-the-galleries series, organized by Small Press Traffic. Inspired by The Steins Collect, the series honors writer Gertrude Stein and her relationships with the visual artists of her day. Each Thursday evening in July and August a poet gives a reading, talk, or performance about an artist or artwor... More

Third Hand Plays: The Comedy of Simulation

08.16.2011  |  By
Filed under: Projects/Series

The internet has been characterized by acts of fakery since its inception; in fact, the general tenor of one’s attitude toward information on the web in the 1.0 era was that it was immediately of suspicious character simply by having been posted without the imprimatur of an editor or publisher. Certainly, times have changed: Wikipedia is considered a legitimate source for information of all natures — history, for example, which is the object of much contention when governments or even religions (when it comes to evolution) alter it to suppo... More

Anonymous Comic Book Antiheroes Protest BART Rider Slaying

08.16.2011  |  By
Filed under: Field Notes

Rule number one for BART cops: DON’T SHOOT THE PASSENGERS. Hell, you have my permission to beat the BART riders with billy clubs, handcuff them, arrest them, tase them, pepper spray them, but for God’s sake, DON’T SHOOT THEM! Everyone knows that when cops shoot you they aim at your head or your chest. Cops don’t shoot to wound or disarm, they shoot to kill. If I am wrong please enlighten me. And whatever happened to rubber bullets? If BART cops have the green light to shoot at riders, can’t they at least use rubber... More