— New RSShole

wallflower wednesday

I have been thinking a lot about the ethnography of the image, semiotics, and discrimination shrouded by art.  I just purchased this book by Morse Peckham, and I am tingling with excitement.  Peckham’s pragmatism may not be one for the ages, as I was unable to find any influence of his work beyond the occasional citation.  This man is a gem.  Here’s what he wrote to the editors at NYRB in 1971:

I believe it to be an error that a theory of art is “rightly and inevitably evaluative.” (1) Any proposition can be used as a basis for judging art. (2) An indefinably wide range of propositions has so been used, and new ones will be thought up. The process will continue as long as there are people and art, and the question cannot be resolved. (3) So to use a proposition is to judge art on the basis of whether or not it is an exemplification of a proposition. Such activity ascribes to art a lesser value than the propositions used to judge it. Individuals intensely concerned with evaluating works of art appear to have as their central interest the severe restriction of the number of works of art to be taken seriously. (4) We judge art because we judge everything else. Value judgments of works of art are of great interest sociologically, but of little or no interest in understanding works of art.

Let’s also note this little sentimental proof was wrapped in his response to a review of five of his books by Christopher Ricks (who, apparently, “really did quite well. To be sure, he made a number of blunders, as was to be expected.”)

So, in contemplating the axiom that the meaning of a sign is the response to it, I’m sharing Kenneth Fitzgerald’s essay in Emigre #48 “Skilling Saws and Absorbent Catalogues.“  It isn’t particularly related to aesthetics and semiotics, but it does feature a great little nug from MP: “It is clear that art is useless, that perceiver and artist are arrogant and indifferent. … Art tells us nothing about the world that we cannot find elsewhere and more reliably. Art does not make us better citizens, or more moral, or more honest. It may conceivably make us worse.”

Today’s selection of links is all about corporations and branding and young people and art.  I don’t know where I got the idea.

Rob Pruitt: The Andy Monument, 2011, image courtesy of Public Art Fund’s website, photo by James Ewing

The Art of Selling Out” in The Observer – the market at work in the studios of Hirst, Koons, Murakami, Emin, and Turk.

Aggressive Artist Group Botches Occupation of SoHo Non-Profit, But What is to be Done?” on artinfo.com – Thanks, Becket.

Five Myths and a Menace” in Standpoint – on 5 economic myths that have saturated politics. And Adam Smith. And why Adam Smith is “the great authority on Anti-Protectionism — as the man who first told the world the truth so that the world could learn and believe it.” Yeeeaaah.

What, Me Care?” in Scientific American – Young people are less empathetic than their 1980 counterparts. They are also more narcissistic. This has been scientifically verified by Scientific American.

Brand States: Postmodern Power, Democratic Pluralism, and Design” in e-flux – “In its current stage, state branding has not yet seen critical, alternative, or counter-hegemonic approaches. We will conclude that the recognition of network power as a form of structural coercion provides the best starting position for the development of such alternative approaches to state branding.”

A Brief History of the Corporation, 1600 to 2100” in ribbonfarm – exactly that.

A teacher once told me that I should never apologize for anything.  I have a very hard time believing that, but I’ll give it a try.  My absence from this blog?  Yes.  I’m not sorry.

As some know, I have been burying my ostrich head deep into the warm sand of net art for the current show at little berlin.  I will be posting my essay for the catalog shortly.  For today’s Wallflower Wednesday I wanted to post some essays and articles related to the practice of making art on the internet.

Manifest.AR at little berlin

The Territory of Versions in Kaleidoscope On Olivier Laric.  A thoughtful analysis, though it falls prey to that internet-eradicates-hierarchy trap which I wholly contest.  There are a lot of keywords here.

The Web is not a Gadget in Seed Magazine A review of Jaron Lanier’s manifesto, You are not a Gadget, which suggests that the internet is the death of creativity.  I disagree.  The reviewer also disagrees, but suggests that a “human-centrism” needs to be brought back to the web.  I disagree, because that doesn’t mean anything.

Hidden Bits: A Survey of Techniques for Digital Watermaking by Chris Shoemaker Precisely as the name suggests.  A great independent study project from Union College.

Separation Anxiety in Stanford Magazine Method Man said “Let me know it’s real son, if it’s really real”  I think the author Joan Hamilton, ’83, would like that lyric.  She only used the idea of the real vs. virtual 18 times in her essay.

New Productive Systems in 491 Brad Troemel’s oft-linked essay on critical frameworks and contemporary practices.

I know it’s not Wednesday.  Okay?  Whatever, I’ve been at the beach all week.  I’m still at the beach.  I don’t care.  This is island time.

Beach art is pretty spectacular, but I think I will save that for a different post.  Today I’m thinking about images and two-dimensionality beacause what could be more two-dimensional than a life not at the beach??????

“In Defense of the Poor Image” on e-flux This is actually smart.  And about reality.

“That Was Then: The Art of the Before-After Photograph” in The Smart Set: “On the web the before-and-photo flourishes in its ideal state, as stripped down and essential a form of storytelling as a Henny Youngman joke…In the super-efficient world of the web, it’s just set-up, punchline, set-up, punchline, with the trudge of “and then” disappearing like Faith Hill’s eye-bags and back fat after the Photoshop wizards in Redbook’s art department have had their way with her.”

“Image and Consumption” in Key Ideas: This is more wandering blog post than anything else.  The comments are pretty good.


People are talking about death a lot right now, or at least one death in particular.  I am not interested in talking about that, but I am interested in the metaphorical implication of death with the unnatural.  2 tracks plus a B-side for today:

“The Death of the Author” by Roland Barthes in Aspen

“The Death of Books and Bookstores” by Michael Dyer on Design Assembly

“The Rise of Network Culture” by Kazys Varnelis on Networked Publics

I wish I had more time to update this blog.  I am around, I promise–perhaps too around, to the point where I don’t have much free time anymore for spending hours getting lost on JSTOR.  I’m trying to get a few posts banked during the weekend now, as I have zero free internet time during the week.  Let’s see if it works for now.

So, this Wallflower Wednesday also happens to be Ash Wednesday.  I was supposed to be in New Orleans, woozy from too much pre-Lenten celebration but now it turns out I’ll be in Philadelphia, sober and working.   Something to read will make the day go quicker.

How cool is it that Columbia has the entire Abolition of Man online?  I guess it’s not terribly surprising considering the entire book is only 70 pages long or so.  Here’s Chapter 2, The Way. Maybe this is a little cliche and stodgy to use as a link for today, but I didn’t want to do anything explicitly Christian or religious.  This is more a lecture on the universality of ethics, which can be applied to the transfiguration, sure, or it can stand to inform daily life in general.  Plus, I think C S Lewis is just the bee’s knees.