— New RSShole


I spent the last year in the hellish, spindly grips of unknown technological forces that, for whatever reason, filled this domain with spammy redirects to pages for prescription drugs and blushing babes. Google promptly shut down all access to this domain, including my ability to access files, links, texts I had written and published (or didn’t). I spent months cleaning out every last speck of errant code, resubmitting the site to Google, and waiting. After a few months, I would resubmit the site again, wait again. And then one day, nearly a year after the initial shutdown, with no announcement, the site was back. The blog was exactly as I had left it, down to the dusty drafts filled with half-written thoughts about things like “the true is the whole” and the problematic architecture of Fishtown galleries.

I was in digital purgatory. We presume our digital output to be indefinitely accessible — this is the archive, the source of anxious articles directed at tweet-happy teens warning them of their ineradicable present. But this static view that our coded footprints are collected, catalogued, and preserved is one that is both institutional and architectural. In focusing on the originality of our output, we isolate it from its social context and relation to other systems, people, or code. If the content that we produce on the internet isn’t as freely-growing as  Deleuze and Guattari envisioned, then it is the viruses that infect that content that are the rhizome.

My website was diseased, infected — I felt what Georges Canguilhem called “disease as error”. I associated the infection of code with death, something untrue but not without historical precedent. I’ve been reading through Alex Galloway and Eugene Thacker’s The Exploit: A Theory of Networks, tying the biological and the historical to contemporary internet operations. Galloway and Thacker stitch the line between disease (epidemics, contagion, transmission) and networks. What Foucault termed the “problem of multiplicities”, the center-less, unpreventable processes of transmission and infection, is inherent in these networks, whether they are biological (pathogens) or technological (viruses). And thus, it’s not just an issue of disease but of politics, or as Galloway and Thacker put it, “the problem of multiplicities in networks is the tension between sovereignty and control.”

Sovereignty and control. My files and writings, the static sovereignty of my domain, and the control asserted in controlling access to them by a larger, mysterious force. This too is more than just a tension between individual (me) and corporation (Google) — it is, as Galloway and Thacker describe, a pitting against a far more eschatological premonition:

“Popular interpretations of epidemics throughout history often make appeals to the supernatural: the plague is a sign of divine retribution (for the colonized), a sign of divine providence (for the colonizer), a harbinger of the apocalypse, a punishment of the hubris of humanity, even mystified in modern times as the “revenge of nature.” Such representations are not limited to biological epidemics; in the network society, they are also found in informational – biological hybrids: the “metro phage,” the “gray goo” problem of nanotech, the “infocalypse,” and so on. Such narratives and representations can be seen as attempts to recentralize the question of sovereignty in networks. But in this case, sovereignty is scaled up to the level of the divine or demonic, an agency that may be identified but remains unknowable and decidedly nonhuman.”

I knew purgatory would end with either the complete, utter death of my website or the redemption of it by this divine agency. ‘Google as god’ isn’t a particularly revolutionary sentiment, but over what does this authority rule? In this case, where my domain (and likely thousands more) was infiltrated by code redirecting viewers with spam, Google manages what Bataille calls an economy of waste, excess, expenditure. The subjects to adhere to Google’s moral code of conduct aren’t individuals like me — they are the viruses themselves. The divine watches over the junk. Or, as Galloway and Thacker put it, “an excess of of signification, a signification without sense, precisely the noise that signifies nothing — except its own networked generativity.”

So I’m back.

I just wanted to get a closer look at Die, but I think that the National Gallery of Art must have some sort of secret tagging functionality, as my click to enlarge resulted in the following:

Screen shot 2012-02-20 at 12.09.42 PM

Seems about right.

I’m super excited about the second installment of Ascended Drifts, my hip hop box set project.


Ascended Drifts 2: New Jersey

Jazzy tracks from New Jersey, 1991-1999. Most artists hail from Newark, Trenton, and Jersey City, which were also jazz epicenters at various points throughout the 20th century. Horns and pianos dominate the beats with a pleasant smoothness that intersects with ideas of mortality and ego, giving each track some real murky muscle. It’s big, and it’s grey, and it’s weird, and it’s New Jersey.

Featuring tracks by Artifacts, The Blunted Crew, Brick City Kids, Da Nuthouse, Flipside Magicians, Logic, N.F.L., Nautilus, Original Seeds, Real Live, Sick Lunatix, Visual Sound, 108 Dragons, and a bunch of others.

Download here

Feedback / forwarding welcome

Where have I been? How has it been more than 2 months since I posted anything? But I’ve done so much in that time!

I made this thing in Photoshop one day to inspire myself to work more on a magazine idea.  The inspiration didn’t come, but I like the picture.  I took it at the largest underground lake in America.


I wrote an essay about a particular spambot Twitter for Title Magazine.

I published a book about Agnes Martin.  Details coming soon.  Here is a picture from it -

Picture 5

2-3 things that are on the very near horizon:

1. Another Ascended Drifts box set of New Jersey hip hop, 1991-1998.  I haven’t decided on a theme yet but preliminary listens led me to the words “goofy” or “jazzy”.

2. A book of poetry.

3.  An updated website, blog, CSS (or SASS), and an archive of Talking Pictures reading material.

I had heard about Just Another Asshole before as it made an appearance at X Initiative.  Over the weekend I saw this cover image posted on a blog & decided to do a little more digging.  Just Another Asshole was a sound art publication edited by Barbara Ess and Glenn Branca.  I wasn’t able to find any information on anthologies #1, 2, or 4 (I don’t even know that they exist), but #5 is a 77-track long compilation released on LP in 1981.  Here is the link for a covert download, or you can buy the cd on Amazon for $13.76.  But be warned: the Amazon product only has 57 tracks and the only review is by “A Customer” who gave it 4 stars and said “This album is cool,except for track 8 which is sung by lead singer- James Hedstrom. He seems to be struggling in this album.”  JAA #6 (title: “I find my mother, brim in the full udder of desire”) is a print anthology that includes work by Kathy Acker, Jenny Holzer, Richard Prince, Kiki Smith, Lynne Tillman, and many others.  I was not able to find a free copy anywhere but I did find one copy selling for $240.

So that’s Just Another Asshole.  From what I can find, it’s not quite the “hackjob” as one of my co-editors had imagined.

Brief self-promotion (I promise to blog again very soon*): I invite you to join the Google Group of Talking Pictures, my art theory book club.   We meet every two weeks in person, but I envision the Google Group to be an extension of those gatherings with events, related readings, and further discussion.  You do not have to live in Philadelphia to join, though presumably you would have some interest in reading about modernity and contemporary art forms.  Do not be dissuaded by the application – that only serves to filter out spambots.  More on Talking Pictures soon, hopefully including a website, guest appearances, and an archive. Please join and pass along!


*Including, but not limited to, thoughts on taste & consumer culture, ideas about popularity and power in brand marketing, opinions on artistic self-deprecation, views of intemporality and cinema, impressions of the perceived legislative character of the avant-garde, feelings about the supposed return to craft specificity and domesticity during the recession, theories of the most recent revival of an appreciation for low-rent philosophy, judgments of the current show at the Hessel Museum at Bard, assessments of the current state of DIY collectives in Philadelphia and beyond, conceptions of the idea of non-performance, notions of the insularity of certain forms (email chains, for instance) and whether that’s really such a terrible thing, hypotheses about subjectivity and the subjugated in photography, and conclusions about the future of New Asshole.