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Thursday, March 27th, 2003
9:12 pm
Saw a lecture tonight by an art historian from Wellesly who spoke on the topic of visual culture and the art history of product logos. It was brilliant. She spoke for 45 minutes about the Land O' Lakes butter logo and channeled it in and out of antiquity, American history, psychoanalytic and feminist critique to her own work with Munch and his nationalistic murals at the University of Oslo.

Breaking down this complicated image into issues of bounty/bosom, the eroticisation of the female outsider, native american women and the theme of their "sacrifice" within art history, notions of Karitas [sp?] or Charity, nationalistic fertility and lactation, removal of the animal source of milk(butter) and replacing it with woman, the halo, the "safely dead" Indian and the history of Sioux/western land conflict in Minnesota, plus the bastardization of the logo within American popular culture (the whole knees/breasts gag)...all super interesting.

It's the first time I've been able to see in person a lecture or any sort of academic discourse being given to the texts of popular culture- specifically advertising and product logos, and it has certainly rejuvinated my hope in persuing visual analysis/semiotics of popular culture through the lens of art history.

Man am I glad I caught that one, and I will be sure to get her email address from my professor to inquire about reading lists, etc.

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Saturday, February 22nd, 2003
1:48 pm
Thinking about:

Acryllic gouaches on plastic
making a light table
still thinking about giant fake things
potential gig for LTTR, either 'curating' an issue or writing an essay
screenprinting more (polychromatic)
my thesis = postmodernity/reproduction/authorship/authenticity?
this graduate program.
film history
design history
getting a goddamn internship
polaroid emulsion transfers as postcards.

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Friday, December 6th, 2002
1:46 pm
So hard to write with any regularity here.

I have been thinking about some sculptural objects I want to make. The idea stems from finding this super tall can of shaving cream at home one day, it struck me as absolutely absurd in its dimensions and unconventional grandiosity. I laughed, it was brilliant.

So, I in that vein, I think I want to make a bathroom set, lifesize (except for the crazy length or height, etc.). Toothpaste: maybe 5 or 10 feet long, normal diameter. Toothbrush: 15-20 feet long. Soap: 5 feet long. Shaving cream: 3 feet tall, etc. etc. I want the toothpaste to be squirting itself onto the toothbrush, but in perfect advertisement wave formation. How it's perfect and there's no crap stuck to the gunked up cap and it looks fake and perfect in that annoying curlycue of dentrifice.

It's sort of inspired by the "50% More!" campagins with their extended-size. Also this guy's work I saw in a book at the Tang...he made extra tall shopping bags and the like. Also some inspiration comes from my fascination with the "perfect" world of advertising, where the Big Mac is eternally better-looking than any you will ever eat. There is no implied social commentary, I suppose the forms could be read as phallic and the associations between consumerism, product fetisization, western cultural power, etc. could be made. But this is just funny. I like funny art that can laugh off symbolism etc.

The problem lies in how to construct these objects. Here at school we have a metal shop and a plastic vacuum former, I suppose I need to learn how to use those. I plan on adding extensions to the actual life-size objects themselves. Any detail that needs to be extended or altered such as logos, text, etc. will be handpainted.

This has been an idea of mine for a while, I need to actually realize it now.

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Saturday, November 2nd, 2002
11:14 pm
Went with a class at Smith to the Fred Wilson opening at the Tang museum at Skidmore. There's a link there, but this style won't highlight them. It was cool, we showed up and during the curator's address, Fred sat down next to me (I was right in front of the lectern) and was like "You look familiar" and I was like "Skowhegan" and he was like "ahhh yes" and we shared a smile and a handshake. I am so impressed that he remembered me and confronted me about it!

Needless to say, he's brilliant. It was a sort of retrospective sampling that Maurice Berger had essentially already covered in his Fred Wilson: Objects and Installations book....maybe it was Mining the Museum, whatever. I cruised through it, congradulated him on his winning the US representation at the upcoming Venice Biennale and shared the little anecdote about me Google searching for his images and calling up his picture and putting it together. We laughed and I ate some cheese and veggies.

Also Paul Ramirez' installation was dope, nice decorative peacock-esque paintings and murals. Liked it but wouldn't buy it. Yeah, that's my lame rating rubric.

I started to get a little freaked out after the opening about commiting myself to a career in the art world, I mean come on all the wine and cheese, fame and fear, balding guys who bic their heads, black wearing, schmoozing, etc. No thanks.

The ride home was long, but as usual my head and ears got off to the sounds of Cinematic Orchestra and I began tripping on the human spectacle, industry, progress, the dynamism of the human race...so achingly beautiful and sad.

Such a nice museum, too bad it's so far away.

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Monday, October 28th, 2002
7:12 am
Yet another idea has come to me without any plausible means with which to execute it.

I want to gather a group of people, a network of good friends who all know each other. I want them to draw the name of another from a hat. I want them to speak with a police sketch artist and describe their assigned person. No cheating, photos, tomfoolery, etc. The idea is to capture the person's likeness with the most accuracy, but much of this is reliant on memory, on the the templates provided by the sketch artist (I've seen them before, and you can pick from 15 chins, 20 lips, 5 foreheads, et cetera). I think they would be fairly large format, and hung next to smaller, uniform photographic portraits. All credit would be given to the sketch artist.

The work is in essence a collaboration. I like the role memory and familiarity plays in the execution, I like how difficult it will be to recall features on someone's face, especially someone you see every day. I like the 'customizing' of a face. I like the way it works in reverse from a typical police sketch, draw it to find them, in this one, you find them in the drawing. I like that it's a second degree portrait, captured through the translation of another. I like the implications a series of cross-racial, cross-class, cross-gender police sketches will call up. I like the idea of police state art. I like the caricaturization that will occur as people try to essentialize the faces of their friends.

The question is now how to do this. I suppose I could call up the local police station and see what they can tell me. My feeling is they have to pay people to do these sketches, so they won't be too keen on some art person coming in asking to give it a try. Someone I was speaking to about it thought they hired independently contracted artists to aid them in generating likenesses of suspects. I can't imagine this precinct would need someone there full-time to do this kind of work, so perhaps a direct connection to the artists themselves is in order. I hope it works and hasn't been done before.

Speaking of those sorts of dissapointments, I caught the movie Igby Goes Down this past weekend, horrible film, don't waste your money, but in the closing credits, I noticed someone had stolen the name for my [non-existant]production company, "Surreal=to-Reel". I wasn't that attatched to it anyway, but it made me mad that there are so many people in the world constantly thinking about things, and that sometimes these ideas overlap and they get it first.

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Saturday, October 19th, 2002
1:41 pm
So hard to keep up with a journal used exclusively to document one aspect of a life. What's it been, one month? Two seems more likely.

Today will be my first creative outpouring in as many months, if not more. I can't I won't I don't draw, which is depressing, and severely limits my artistic endeavors. I suppose it's fine after all, as I prefer to use pre-existing depictions of things to make my own interpretation from, namely photographs, and do it in the most complicated impractical way.

In a cheesy attempt to just make something, dammit!, I will be taking some emotional self portraits in the high-contrast photobooth the next town over. Said pictures will be blown up and the contrast shifted even more, rendering them somewhat geometric and 2-toned. These I will transfer via carbon copy (my saving grace) to a linoleum block. Then I will carve the image out, title them, and print them.

Ugh, I am already dissapointed with myself and I haven't even gotten ready to go take the initial photographs yet. No matter the result, I feel it is important to make these damn self-portraits anyway, for introspection, for motivation and practice.

I have but two questions: should I bring with me props into the booth, as I have done before with stunning results? And, unrelatedly: If all your "work" exists as unexecuted concepts and rough sketches in your head or in a sketchbook somewhere, is it still art? If yes, I am a veritable powerhouse of art production.

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Saturday, August 24th, 2002
3:38 pm
I had a dream last night I was in an underground subway station, in an open bathroom stitching various striped fabrics together as a token to someone, for something I can't remember.

Right before waking, the dream continued and I remember feeling vaguely awake, and wanting to recall this second portion once awake and fully conscious:

I handsewed this elaborate faux fur padded cushion to lay on while I flew a kite I had constructed in the subway station. The kite was three dimensional, all fancy like, made with a translucent, slightly iridescent fabric stretched over wires. The idea was to wait for a train to come and then lie back near the edge and fly the kite on the resulting gust of wind. At the time, this seemed highly doable, and when I woke up, I had found my mission. To build my dream kite and fly it in a latenight dark station for the tired people.

I wonder if there is enough of a gust to lift a kite, if only for a few seconds? Perhaps with a passing express train that doesn't slow down.

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Tuesday, August 20th, 2002
6:27 pm
Here is what I have been thinking about regarding my own work/psychological tendencies:

I am a hoarder by nature. I have major issues throwing anything away as of course, it may come in handy later. I also have a problem with stockpiling things, when I was younger it was weed or whatever, now it's polaroid film, cigarettes, anything that comes in multiples and is expendable. I'll use the example of the film: I found a good deal on Polaroid film in a discount palace where I live. I bought it, $14.90 for 30 exposures. I shot a few pictures, than became increasingly anxious to conserve my remaining film. I needed to get more, even though I had barely began to use up my reserves. I think it's the whole idea of having a great amount of something...the act of having it....and then seeing it depleted....it grates on me for some reason, makes me anxious. So I dropped another $30 on more film, and now I have more than I could ever stand to use. Silly me.

The idea of many of the same thing is a theme I really enjoy. One day, driving by the University, I was thinking to myself about how many Christmas light sets were on that campus, in the dormatories, etc. and what it would look like to collect all the lights into one giant pile and say, 'this represents Umass'. I want to find things specific to most households, but still unique enough to collect en masse and display to illustrate how once accumulated in the same place, these previously isolated objects become an army of similarity and unification.

Of course, the act of forcefully and systematically collecting the one or several types of objects I would choose to hoarde might prove to be difficult and require a great deal of diplomacy and explanation. It's worth a shot, to satisfy the urge in me to collect and sort such mundane things and expose their multiplicity.

What to collect now lies as the question.

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Saturday, July 27th, 2002
2:13 pm - When worlds collide
Yesterday I made hot wings for Whitfield Lovell.

I got a B+ in my Critical Texts in American Art 1945-Present class. My professor Debra Bricker Balken is all up in the art world shit. She just wrote a book about Philip Guston and is curating a huge show, I was leafing thru a book at work about some dude's early American photography collection and she had written the preface. She teaches at RISD I guess.

I got an A- in printmaking. Sidney Hurwitz, my professor, teaches at BU. He went to Skowhegan and lectured in the 60s. His books are in the 5 college libraries.

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Wednesday, July 10th, 2002
4:23 pm
I returned the Arthur Danto lecture today...it was a little dissapointing, I had no idea what the topic of the lecture was about, and he spent 2 cds worth of time comparing the works of 2 ancient Chinese landscape artists. A little difficult to get into without being able to see the slides, but interesting to hear about a more Eastern take on the copy and the copyists duties and responsibilities to the original. He has an amazing vocabulary, but is kind of a disjointed speaker.

I'm gonna go with the lectures on video for a while. I brought home Vik Muniz and Janine Antoni tonight. So cool to think that these folks were actually in my dinky little shit town!

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Monday, July 8th, 2002
11:08 pm
I saw the Barnett Newman show</underline> at the Phildadelphia Museum of Art the last day it was up. All in all a fantastic show, with earlier drawings, the paintings, and some beautiful ettchings, aquatints and serigraphs.

Newman is the only artist of the New York school I can get down with, probably due to his minimalist and colorfield tendencies. Several of the galleries were particularly moving, and I found myself walking from room to room wide-eyed at these megalithic and bravely simplistic paintings.

Some of my favorites:

Urial, 1955 (crappy image, the colors are so saturated and intense in person)

Untitled Etching #1, 1969. The even tones in these aquatints were fucking amazing.

To get an idea of the scale of some of these paintings:

Voice of Fire

"The size of these works served several purposes, one of which was to declare the artists' ambition. Another was to create art too large to fit in people's homes, thus preventing the works being used for merely decorative purposes."

I couldn't find an image of Anna's Light, probably my favorite piece in the show, and many others that were gettin' me off.

We had to rush through the rest of the museum, but I was able to briefly see some of their sexy Duchamp collection, as well as Brancusi's Bird in Space, one of my favorite sculptures, Jasper Johns' Ale Cans, some Calders, Cornells, Braques and Picassos, as well as a shitload of arms and armor in their extensive collection. Someday, I will come back and see it all.

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Monday, July 1st, 2002
11:44 pm - I like clever art
I was labeling slides at work today and stumbled accross the work of Vik Muniz.

How was my life functional without him?!

I was attracted to theseCollapse ) even before I knew who did them...I saw one in a magazine once, I think, and then later in the bathroom of an NYU dorm.

The other work I saw in his slides was of artificial cloud formations, the animals and objects vaguely rendered in wispy stuffing like this:
More fluxus-esque stuff, a bowling ball with 3 casters attatched to the bottom. And these wire sculptures, (I think, hard to tell in a teeny slide on a light table) simple line images crafted from wire.

At any rate, I am thoroughly excited by his work, and sad I had no idea who he is before.

He was a lecturer at Skowhegan in 2000, I have to check out the tapes

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Wednesday, June 19th, 2002
11:17 pm - "Piece de Resistance"
From GQ, nonetheless!

A very wise man and treasured friend from Scotland told me this, and I did not want to believe him: Science defeated art long ago. You may not want to believe it, either, but it is true. "After all," he said, "what is digitalization but the reduction, the compression, of the entire range of life, its sounds and its visions, to...zeros and ones." It's a sobering thought. Yet here and there, pockets of the resistance fight on, refusing to surrender. Let us praise, then, the Super 8 movie camera. No, it's not the lightest camera to carry with you. No, it's not the most practical camera to use, especially since each film cartridge contains only three minutes of film. And, no, you can't download your images. But what it captures is the richness of that messy, unstable thing called life on that messy, unstable stuff called film. If you care about life--and if you care about how you preserve your memories--Super 8 cameras are worth the effort. --Michael Hainey

"what is digitalization but the reduction, the compression, of the entire range of life, its sounds and its visions, to...zeros and ones" right the fuck on.

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10:13 pm
Maybe I am an asshole but...

Hannah Wilke is hot.

From SOS Starification Object Series, 1974-82. Black and white photographs and forms molded from chewing gum.

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Sunday, June 16th, 2002
11:50 pm
I have been feeling on this minimalist kick lately.

Initially I felt wary and negatively towards the "all-white canvas" crap, and still do, but I have come to embrace the self-nullifying, ego obliteration of it all. I must add here, that I have always seen myself as a populist, and any art that is not claiming to come from a place of the subjective is a friend of mine indeed, however far it can go in a subjective and personalized world. Not that this art is populist, I don't think anything in a gallery can be due to it's classist nature. "Burn down the gallery!" has oft been my battle cry, or is it "Evict the gallery owner and retrofit the space into cheap, rent controlled artist's studios and living quarters!"? In any event, I really appreciate the stoic self restraint. However, the one tenent that seems to link Minimalism to it's conceptual progeny, the proscribed role of artist as idea machine before artist as creator really gets on my nerves. A work of art (even non art) untouched by the hands of it's conceptual mother is alternately fascinating and frustrating to me. Fuck Sol LeWitt. It's one thing to enlist unpaid crews of humble (as well as unpaid and uncredited) college students to paint in the colors of one of your wall drawings to illustrate the upheavals of authorship in the 20th century, but altogether another to use that as a means for the actual creation of your entire body of work! The William Morris in me is pitching a conniption over this crucial and neglected link between artist and craft. It's understandable if you need assistance in a foundry to help cast giant works in steel, but to never set foot in said establishment?! Heresy!

And the machismo imbued in certain works (ahem, Serra) which have come to maim and even kill people in gallery installations is a little unnecesarry and seems the antithesis of this Minimalist ideal.

I digress... I think I may re read Sontag's "the Aesthetics of Silence" for that essay was able to convince me like no other of the sheer beauty and simplistic transcendence of the minimalist ideology.

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Saturday, June 8th, 2002
7:48 pm
Check, check and check. They had all I was looking for at the stationery store, but damn, $9 for a small sheet of unmounted linoleum?

Artists to speak at the Skowhegan Summer 2002 Lecture Series:

Whitfield Lovell
Geoffrey Hendricks
Melissa Meyer
Tania Bruguera
Betty Woodman
Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle
Robert Storr
Rackstraw Downes
Eleanor Antin
Amy Goodman
Kay WalkingStick

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Friday, June 7th, 2002
10:07 pm
ahhhh. My novelty refuge....

After my ambiguous yet pleasant interview at the art school today, I drove home puzzled...did I get the job? Not sure. Dangerously, I am assuming so, because the actual librarian is supposed to call me by the end of the week. *Sigh* Initially, another week of downtime seemed likely to drive me insane, but in the throes of guilt and stagnation, I have taken it upon myself to do something. That is, get linoleum blocks, tracing and carbon paper, t-shirts, and photocopier access...to hopefully produce something of aesthetic value to me.

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