Saturday, June 29, 2002

Sexism and the Aesthetic of Pornography: David Salle's Representation of Women

In Racism and the Aesthetic of Hyper Real Violence: Pulp Fiction and the Other Visual Tragedies, Henry Giroux argues against what he terms the "aesthetic radicalism" that marks the films of director Quentin Tarantino. His cinematic oeuvre "attempts to render the underbelly of society on its own terms (but really) betrays the overt racism that informs his films" as Tarantino exhibits a blatant disregard in how he justifies his use of racial slurs in character dialogue as being a part of realism, his reality. Without acknowledging and assuming any responsibility of how such language is situated within a larger history of its cultural and political meaning, Tarantino propagates through these derogatory associations the power of the white dominant group in the name or the cause of a hip brand of coolness. Giroux points this out as a conscious strategy to douse the flames of racism by trumpeting it as formalism in favor of White Boy aesthetics. A product of the eighties, Tarantino belongs to the era of Reagan-Bush predatory capitalism, a fusion of greed and egotism.

As such, this contention also applies to the artist David Salle, a Neoexpressionist painter who vanguarded the return of the figure on canvas using postmodern discourse concerning fragmentation by juxtaposing unrelated iconic flotsam with demeaning portraits of women culled directly from assorted hardcore girlie magazines. Supposedly his paintings represent a culture, "our" culture, anesthetized from the requisite moral obligations resulting from external influences within societal standards elongated by geopolitical, technological unpredictabilities. The artist overlays popular icons/symbols on top of monochromatically brushed female nudes as pornographic vignettes using collage principles to compose pseudo-narratives with actual objects to break up pictorial space. This imagery per se bears resemblance in meaning to the not-so-subtle cynicism and White Boy Cool irony as defined by Tarantino.

Is it coincidence then that Salle, also considered as the darling of the eighties art scene, incurred the wrath of feminists who found his exploitation of women pornographic too? Like Tarantino, Salle defends his social indifference through the formalistic vocabulary of art for art’s sake. How art history perceives Salle’s role then is iffy at best, impugning his dismissive callousness to such warranted criticism at the expense of social and cultural relevance by asking what the pedagogical purpose such work offer. All of which begs many questions such as:

Why does an artist reject the larger context of critical accountability to the images or works they create? Is it because of the existing Western canon of art that acts as the primary educational tool to emphasize Eurocentric dominant concerns within art history? And why is such importance placed on the primacy of Western art doctrine to interpret most art made outside these boundaries in these terms?

Sunday, June 23, 2002

A Sense of History, Or Comments from A Dialogue: Culture, Language, and Race

"Here," Tanaki-san points, "behind this boulder is where Chiang Kai-Shek in his pajamas hid from Communist troops; history changed when they found him." And the Japanese businessman on holiday tells me of when his country invaded China and of how Mao and his defeated army conducted their Long March in retreat. He keeps on, story after story, as we continue through the verdant southern Chinese countryside. Before the day ends he asks a simple question: Is modern Asian history taught to American schoolchildren? I tell him "no" and, from this point on, begin to question how history is perceived and learned as it relates my life experience.

Paulo Friere in his discussion with Donaldo Macedo speaks about combating oppression by creating pedagogical structures to allow the oppressed to retake what has been denied them through their ability to think critically and the option to act on their world as subjects of history and not objects. This pedagogical approach relates to my personal anecdote and is the same strategy employed by the African American artists Fred Wilson and Renee Green who both skewer the traditional civility that Henry Giroux referred to as the antiseptic Westernized concept of museum. Both in their work ask the question, "Who determines history?" Or in the case of my example, can a personal event, an autobiographical moment, affecting or relating to a certain group of people be regarded as history with a capital "H"? It might, if historicized within a textual and/or museological context is the point. Wilson and Green utilize installation as museum site to invert the meaning of stereotyped readings of objects, events or images, usually outside the context of what is considered art or history. Ironically, these staid institutions commission either artist to draw from their actual collections to reposition and revise another way of seeing the relationships of what the museum as a whole represents sociopolitically and multiculturally by juxtaposing the different objets d’art into an oppositional meaning. Wilson, for instance, will question the authenticity of such cultural plundering by mixing antique pewter ware with iron shackles of a slave or an actual KKK hood in an antique baby carriage. This reinvention of meaning of how the relationship of what is seen to each other changes its historical context and calls into question larger questions of who controls how the dominant versus the "other" culture is dominated. What is called into question then centers on the politicization of perceived identity as historical record. Hal Foster in his book about the current trends in American art, The Return of the Real, notes that contemporary postmodern artists such as Renee Green and Fred Wilson incorporate anthropology in their work as a critical means to impugn an "ideological patronage" for the cultural "other". The artist as ethnographer--- in this case, someone else hired to "record" your image--- exposes the irony of a "subjectified" subject being objectified. Other questions also being asked in both of these works include "who controls or determines how this type of history is portrayed?" as well as "Is what one sees on view of historical importance or value because of its context, presented under glass?"

These questions pertain abstractly to identity and the outside (cultural, political, and historical) forces that shape perception. "What happened before?" is just as relevant a question to ask as is "why am I?" The definition of one’s self pertains not only to the psychological and the philosophical, but very much to the historical.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

Remembering Darryl Kile

Bang the drum slowly fifty seven times minus thirty three years. The thrill of the grass is gone, replaced by the greatest slump of all time. Uncle Charlie, expecting the local but getting the express, weeps.

Friday, June 21, 2002

Serve It Forth versus On Eating, a Texas Death Match

Choosing books about food to read is a funny thing. It seems a majority of what is written falls into the category of illustrated recipe collections or step-by-step cooking tips to prepare a simple or fancy dish. Up on a ladder searching the alphabetized shelves of the cookbook section of a prominent used bookstore, this notion becomes fact. Every possibility that appeared interesting as a serious book about food by its cover, nevertheless, when opened often showed many pretty pictures with a minimum of text. But luckily, two titles of interest, or rather two books written by two familiar authors, deviated, stuck out like a sore thumb, from the ocean of "flavor of the month" cooking manuals.

One book that immediately caught my eye was a slender volume from North Point Press of Serve it Forth by MFK Fisher. Subtly colored of ripe orangy mango and trendy light mauve, yet graceful, its cover features a Hurrell-influenced black and white photo of a younger MFK Fisher staring pensively off. Years earlier as a sales clerk at a major discount bookstore chain familiarized me with her name and reputation as a bigshot, a heavyweight, who wrote elegant prose about eating, food, and those involved in both. I took a chance, enamored by its refined classic cover design that whispered "tasteful" in my ear, and flipped through a chapter entitled, "The Standing and the Waiting" while crouching on a stepstool nearby.

What I ingested certainly whetted my appetite to continue on as MFK Fisher reminisced about returning to dine at her favorite out-of-the-way restaurant as a young innocent in France. At the center of her anecdote is a waiter whose perfect service a number of years ago, she absolutely requests, wanting to impress her dining companion, a notable connoisseur, with his skills. This sad fellow, weakened by alcohol, older, and only a shell of his former self, she discovers, was dismissed by the owner just that morning. But he swallows his pride for the sake of MFK Fisher and allows this man the final glory of waiting on her table. As the night at this restaurant progresses, the old guy, shaky at first, grows more confident and through immense force of will transforms himself back into what he used to be, preserving her nostalgia, her perfect moment. I imagined hearing violin strings and said to myself, "Might as well read another----just to make sure."

Next I browsed the chapter entitled, "Garum," of which a passage was read aloud during class as an example of Roman cuisine. Her account of this concocted condiment that Romans became addicted to also reveal her scholarship concerning the history of gastronomy. A wonderful writer, MFK Fisher interweaves the recorded tales of the extravagant circus many upper class Romans spent on exotic evening-long banquets just to "keep up with the Jones" and how, through sheer sensory overload and abuse, come to incorporate garum as a daily part of their diet.

It was hard not to keep reading on, so I decided, one book picked out, one more to go. I climbed back up the ladder and continued my search. Several minutes later, after rejecting a few prospects, I noticed a blue collar-sounding title called Why We Eat What We Eat, a paperback written by Raymond Sokolov. His name rang a bell as a columnist for the Natural History magazine.

While Serve It Forth by MFK Fisher can be described as dessert, something sweetly pleasurable like "tangerine sections dried on top of a radiator in a French pension, then cooled in fresh snow on the windowsill to grow miraculously plumper, hot, and full," Why We Eat What We Eat is strictly "meat and potatoes," the main entree. His book is a didactic historical argument about how Columbus changed the way the world eats. Employing careful research to support this premise, Sokolov dissects his hypothesis geographically by investigating the cuisines of different cultures and ethnicities at first. He points out that most of the food items we associate as authentic cuisine endemic to a particular culture, or more specifically, a certain country most probably originates from another culture or area. For instance, most Americans know Mexican food as tacos, burritos, enchiladas, and quesadillas, but before the Spanish colonized their land, as Sokolov shows, "Mexican cuisine had no dishes with beef, pork, or lamb. There were no dairy products, no milk, no cream, no butter, no cheese. Fried Foods were unknown." Then, according to Sokolov, the Spanish settled into Mexico and brought along many domestic livestock to supply themselves with familiar foods. Eventually, their meat, milk, and cheese made the Mexican food we recognize, possible.

Secondly, Sokolov extends his supposition to include specific foods such as the tomato. A New World food, this fruit, some say vegetable mistakingly, travelled back across the Atlantic to become a main staple for Italian cooking. This so-called food revolution is responsible, as far as Sokolov is concerned, for the cross-fertilization, exchange of traditional cooking ideas and foods that ultimately created nouvelle cuisine as new inventive dishes surface from one culture borrowing from another.

Like Fisher, Sokolov travels the world to encounter first hand his food experiences. The notable difference between this similiarity is that Sokolov visits various places usually as a socioanthropologist interested in food and cooking. Fisher is a gourmet prone to the trimmings of the gastronomic world. While he is plain scientific curiosity, probing information to check its authenticity, she, on the other hand, epitomizes the finer arts of higher and better living. Her book is a poetry of gastronomic anecdotes; his book, a feast for the mind of factual information written in the first person, an exploration of the changes in the world's tastes.

Both the books I have chosen represent a love of food. Through the gourmet eyes of both Sokolov and Fisher, although his is more objective and hers more traditional, subjective, the world of food can be tasted, seen, heard, pondered, and felt. To read as I did about food from their perspective, their distinct writing styles compares to your basic two-course meal. I gorge off the big course of Why We Eat What We Eat first, leaving room for Serve it Forth as dessert. Educational, enlightening, and entertaining, the only thing remaining to do is loosen the belt buckle and sigh, "Mmm boy, good reading."

Wednesday, June 19, 2002

Remembering Vincent Chin

"They all look the same" repeated ad infinitum inside a Joseph Cornell coffin, a broken bat stabbed through her broken heart.

In memoriam the ponytailed samurai centerfielder fungoed pitching-machined horsehide, vicious line drives loudly cracked against chain-linked fence and another Chin (no relation) halved a 32 ounce Louisville Slugger longitudinally so that its violent Americanized phallus becomes a red silk Chinese fan when opened.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Notes on an alternative, parallel universe

Create a dream world sculpturally, a Mariko Mori cyberplace or postpunk Paul McCarthy kindergarten from hell. Delve beyond the unbearable darkness (or lightness) of being within. Only the shadow knows what lurks in these antechambers. Now hit the play button and record simultaneously.

Monday, June 17, 2002

Notes on a heavenly mandate

Remaking Defiant Ones politically incorrect is heavenly mandate. Yellow and rainbow tethered, skip down the lane hand-in-hand. However the straight-but-not-so-narrow voice confuses preexisting pom-pommed Grease excerpt as multicultural Logan's Run gone bad. New footage of parallel jogging speeds to dead sprint gratis grapes and coffee. Both then mistaken to be Sherman and Mr. Peabody in way-back machine rewinding their great escape from one nation, two systems.

Or promulgate Matthew Barneyish sadomasochistic metaphors. Certainly handcuffs reference aberrant sexual ties-that-literally-bind as opposite teams attract and gives homoerotic meaning to spastic three-legged race.

And the queen of the ball evolves into a celestial being.

Saturday, June 15, 2002

The Pedagogy of Disney Consumerism

In The Mouse That Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence, Henry Giroux cites the incredulous statistics of the staggering influence the Disney Company exerts worldwide in terms of the communications industry. Nearly one quarter or almost twenty five percent of U.S. households fall under their direct magical spell of media propaganda. But also of staggering importance is how these totals are designed to bombard children into becoming loyal Disney consumer/acolytes.

Entertainment for Disney then becomes a deliberate educational power as an extension of the corporate ideals and culture of white middle-class suburban society "to shape the public memory, national identity, gender roles, and childhood values…to determine the role of consumerism in American life." Because of the ubiquitous permeation of its well-groomed lovable, family-oriented public person advocating wholesome fun, the interior mechanisms driving this cultural engine is oftentimes confused as purely fantasy. Sure, other critics as Giroux points out, decry what Disney has come to represent, but what of the overt corporate "cultural imperialism" which insidiously masks the swindle of fulfillment that the general public literally buys into?

This is a lesson not so unfamiliar to my upbringing as the first memory I learned of art related to Walt Disney. In class, whenever I drew a facsimile of Mickey Mouse, rather than be complimented on my budding artistic skills, the general response from teachers and even some classmates took forms of warnings against copyright infringement. Stories about being sued by this fascist monolith hell-bent on preserving the sanctity of allowing no one else the opportunity to profit from their creations certainly placed the fear of God in my mind. That this cultural machinery could teach me at that young an age to view this cartoon character not as something delightful and warmly cute but cold and of the adult world hardened my perspective.

Throughout the globe, children find solace from the drudgery of compressed life in the fantastic retreat of what Disney offers on the surface. Everywhere one turns is evidence of Disney utopia. So in the parlance of pseudo-Disneyspeak, How could something so harmless as a bunch of cartoons and their related theme parks be so bad for you? This danger pertains to issues of a larger corporate vision to monopolize and privatize the spaces once considered noncommodified.

Friday, June 14, 2002

Notes on NeoOrientalia

Paul Rand designs Orientalia is a many splendored thing. Just like the world of Suzie Wong according to Eero Saarinen recontextualizes circa Man in the Gray Flannel Suit chic as postminimalist object or decor.

Here twin curved Herman Miller plywood chairs, one painted porcelain blue, the other trimmed lacquered red sit beneath oblong Barnett Newmanesque tryptychs framed in blond bamboo. And latticed screen panels painted faux Bauhaus accordion sumi-e patterned wallpapered walls. Embroidered silk curtains decorate bare aluminum casement windows while tasseled Chinese lanterns emit tinted light through Mondrian-colored glass. It becomes a new floating world where styles hybridize the yin and yang into acculturated Modernism.

Thursday, June 13, 2002

On Gastronomy (for Bob Loescher)

Part of the hoi polloi, descendent of rural peasant stock is certainly all the wrong pedigree to wax poetic about nouvelle cuisine. But growing up in the Chinese restaurant business did afford tiny peeks at the gastronomical multiculturalism that is Trio. What helped immensely to ease the uncomfortable feeling of being out of place can mostly be atttributed to watching the Food Network as for what to expect.

The evening started off well enough as the hostess checked our coats and then led us to our reserved table. Being addressed as Mr. Lee by the entire waitstaff took some getting used to as I can only think of my father as ever being called that. Seated, what struck me odd about Trio at first turned out, after some thought, to be deliberate.

Exposed copper piping wove in and out through sheer fabric, billowy clouds, suspended on the ceiling. Cherry bentwood chairs, handcrafted in a modern style, clashed against the unpainted red brick fireplace and French countryside whitewashed cabinetry. A trompe l'oeil mural of a meandering ivy canopy on cracked terra cotta-colored stucco spanned across the opposite wall. Abstract gold and purple vaguely Asian shapes on muted blue-grayish ground monotypes embossed on deckled paper hung throughout the intimate dining room in simple white frames. Then the bulb above my head clicked on. All this interior decoration fit the eclectic motif of a cosmopolitan cuisine of Asian, French, and Mediterranean influences. Trio really refers to the three cooking styles combined to create something unique and contemporary.

Michel, our pony-tailed maitre d', handed us our menus as the waitstaff set a wicker basket of freshly baked bread on our crisp white tablecloth set off by blackish marble slab placemats. I opted to save some time and sounded very much in the know, pronouncing the word, "degustation" so as to solicit only the slightest smirk. After ordering two glasses of merlot, Michel informed us it would be the chef's choice to design our own degustation, but asked if there might a particular food to be excluded from our dishes. My companion, Madeleine objected to any rabbit being served in favor of the house specialty salad out of deference to her own pet hare.

Dinner began a minute later with Steven, another waiter, offering a white artist's palette of domestic caviars with share mirrors of seafood. Dollops of green wasabi, clear Absolut vodka soaked, traditional black, orange Northwest Salmon caviar complemented the bits of egg and red, finely-chopped salsa and shrimp. Just the arrangement of this color wheel inspired enough guilt not to dig in.

Our second course reemphasized the triple blend of cooking traditions as I was presented with a Bento Box of different nontraditional sushi and tempura. More American ingredients such as raisins and walnuts were substituted for seafood making for a delectably fresh crunchy texture. Also served was a wild mushroom and parmesan risotto perfumed with white truffle oil. This seemed a calculated pun of rice-based food to throw off the usual preconceived notions of pilaf.

Roasted American red snapper doused with sweet and sour leeks, red pepper-kaffir lime sauce as well as Maine sweet shrimp and crabmeat wontons in a smoked salmon-hijiki broth consisted of the third course. Color me enviously green when my companion received the snapper and I got the wontons. What I ate were gigantic ravioli wontons that tasted wonderful, but of course, to eat wontons, no matter how exotically prepared, sort of defeats the purpose of finer dining for me.

For the intermezzo, Steven brought out two small stemmed glasses of berry-rhubarb granita. Naturally sweet ice without being too sugary, our waiter informed us this break would cleanse our palates for the next course, our main entree.

Applewood smoked tenderloin of beef with yukon gold potato puree,charred onions, and wasabi infused veal reduction certainly atoned for the wontons. To stress the contrast of All-American red meat (cooked medium rare) with radishy wasabi drew attention to the sublimal theme of the chef's magic of juxtaposing Japanese with traditional Midwestern fare. Madeleine oohed and aahed over the honey and lavender glazed pheasant breast in a caramelized salsify, bittersweet tangerine sauce. She marvelled too at how the chef contemporized what could be a very rural dish with a westernized Asian sauce.

After this gluttony of gourmet cooking, we joked about not needing to drive through Mickey D's on the way back to grab some real, substantial fast food. Even though the portions appeared modest, it suited the entire gastronomical experience and two and a half hours of fine dining only makes up with quality, what is lacking in quantity. Besides, we came to understand that many tiny dishes amounted to one gargantuan meal.

Finally, dessert, or what Michel called assiettes. Now we witnessed wry, sardonic melodrama. Just to throw us for a loop, the kitchen dreamed a sampling of creme brulee, root beer float, chocolate dried cherry bread pudding, and perfiteroles. Imagine our laughter when we realized how French met Main Street, U.S.A. to whip up this humorous comment to end our degustation. Wise guys, we thought, but loving it. Try as we did each dessert attacked our tastebuds with rich chocolates, sweet fruits, and drizzles of numerous sugary flavors. Yes, we fought the desserts, and the desserts won.

Madeleine, a health buff (nut), whined about not eating for the next few days in addition to forcing herself to run a few extra miles to work off all the rich desserts and food. I felt sated to eat many creative foods, prepared to make me a king for the evening. I walked in Jethro Bodine, a country bumpkin stumbling around in Beverly Hills, and walked out a prince. That, after all, is the reason to try new things.

Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Notes on my hared lip

Spiralled stanchion jetty slanted in descending order revamped, the center of which containing a polka-dotted spinning dial, offsets either an abstract (and unstretched) canvas as Oriental rug or perhaps glossy Twister pattern mural.

Suppose entire installation relocated to accentuate a right angle so that it somewhat resembles a poor man's version of the Persistence of Memory but outlined by pujii stick barriers. Then standard dialogue between wall to floor interrupted if formal composition transgresses traditional demarcation separating perpendicular planes of figure to ground relationship.

Actual enamelled discs of varying thickness substitute for flat circles transliterating two-dimensional space for three-dimensionality. And maybe the imaginary lines projecting from the hypotenused area beyond incompleted cube could be developed as enclosed interior.

Next step then is to reject site in lieu of object as architecture. Build a series of boxes copying Donald Judd, except each one larger than the previous with the final rendition room-sized. Inside, paint all surfaces (including ceiling and floor) as described above.

Or Larry Poons banging Yayoi Kusama threesoming Sol Lewitt. A decorative orgy of geometry quoted and footnoted.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

Notes on the cone of silence

Getting smart exponentially eighty-six times louder implodes inner ear drums speaking popular cultural tongues. Something chaotic, something controlled acts as narrativized object maybe. Constructed cones either stalagmite or stalactite or even Luddite megaphones in pairs regurgitate tin cans attached by a string into Doric columns.

Question then of static versus kinetic (audio or video) activated by motion sensor dictates whether form follows function or vice versa. Clear glass wired for short distance gobblygook or Donald Judd solid forms?

Monday, June 10, 2002

Death to All Flying Things, part two

Surgeons transplant recycled cadaver ligament to rebuild damaged knee. Time of operation accelerates, the ramification of Frankensteinian electrodes, instantly rehabilitating injury via medical tricorder. The concomitant wear and tear bionically repaired certainly recalls science fiction.

Robin Cook presaged a Soylent Green future lying in coma where unanimated bodies dangle like slaughtered meat awaiting reprocessing. Such is modern reality that echoes the postmodern culture of conspicuous consumption. Everything and consequently every being is replaceable. But is advanced biomedical technology truly dystopic?

Fractured Patellae is now Torn Labrums.

Saturday, June 08, 2002

Lolita revisited

How Vladimir Nabakov opens Chapter Five of his novel Lolita is pure scatology. Imagine "THE DAYS OF MY YOUTH as I look back on them" and probably what comes to mind is something maudlin, in need of Kleenex. Certainly Nabakov agrees, but he chooses to wipe away another bodily substance. Nostalgia tends to blur memory but not for Humbert Humbert. For the author these reminiscences "seem to fly away from me in a flurry of pale repetitive scraps". He reworks this "pages of the calendar falling off" metaphor as the lyrical simile "like those morning snow storms of used tissue paper that a train passenger sees whirling in the wake of the observation car." His genius of observational detail gives "body" as it were to these words in both a literal and metaphorical sense. The reader happily follows the dorsal physicality of memory as the "butt of his joke" or palpable fecal imagery to be easily expelled, flushed away.

What a wise guy he was. And what a masterful writer, too.

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Watching Television by Brian Doyle

"Soon I had a TV in my own room. I watched TV as I ate breakfast in bed on my ET (the movie) TV tray …The TV in my room was a Magnavox…It, however, had both cable and remote control."
-Brian Doyle, Remembering TV at Home

Imagine, if you will, a place not unlike where you live, a comfortable space to sit back and relax. Think about the room where you watch TV and welcome to the Doyle Zone.

Sculptor/video artist Brian Doyle loves to watch television. Television consumes much of what interests him. In fact, his art reflects his fascination with its culture and technology. For Brian, the boob tube is more than just an electronic vehicle intended to broadcast mindless drivel to dumb down the masses. That would be too Phil Donahue. No, what appeals to this artist in addition to the sociology of its overall influence or what Marshall McLuhan coined the "medium is the message", is the three-dimensionality of the actual equipment, its housing, its shape or its objecthood as sculpture.

What identifies his work is his choice of the instrument to transmit these ideas. The television set becomes an integral part of the interior, another piece of furniture in the domestic sense. "Love Seat" is his sardonic and sadistic sofa converted into an electric chair. That he intends to strap the viewer into this contraption questions the relationship between the TV and the user (addict)/ audience. In this as in all of his work you can sense the physical presence whether real or implied of a television set. This connotes a space or non-space that explores the movement inherent of this distance that leads to what Brian refers to as the paradox of motionless movement or static mobility.

One of his few works to exclude an actual television set, "Take a moment for yourself (Saddle Arm)" deals with static mobility as an interactive sound sculpture. An upholstered couch arm constructed as a seesaw horse, riders who mount this oversized teeter-totter can hear the growling sounds of thumping noises, of tires running over road reflectors at high speed. Try as you may to buck back and forth, no distance is actually traversed. It is an illusion of time to convey nonexistent travel as with television.

Brian extends this concept further in his installation "FLT 346 with option to pause." A television is lodged in a ceiling like a balloon escaped from a little kid's hand, becoming a fleeting childhood memory. The image played on this set is of the sky in motion, as seen from an airplane window. Clouds pass by in an endless loop as the viewer, uncomfortably ensconced in a slanted armchair, hear the constant drone of jet engines. It is a scene of travel, but without context, neither here nor there, his non-space. The viewer can use an upholstered remote control altered to either play or pause the video. This is an effort to push the distance between the TV and the remote, to accentuate the sense of connectedness the user experiences utilizing the remote through limited options.

Robert Smithson believed that history is a facsimile of events held together by flimsy biographical information. Brian Doyle incorporates this concept into his art to include television culture. In "Raise", an installation with white vinyled rope stanchions and two televisions suspended from the ceiling, the artist continues to allude to the non-space of the public arena. A looped videotape shows the artist seated on a raised platform raising (seig heiling?) his right arm to gain attention. The audio plays the "back from commercial break" guitar riff intermittently that suggests the artist is located in the audience of the Jenny Jones Show. Here, the television set and its transmitted images become inverted to reflect the willing fascism of popular culture, the omnipresence of television and its pervasiveness in our private lives even in public spheres. It encourages you to tune in and watch as the morality plays of a contemporary nature rule the airwaves in the postmodern forms of Jerry Springer, Rikki Lake, and Jenny Jones. Everywhere you go, it is impossible not to see its power. TV is Go(o)d as his elevated monitors that abound in this open public space can attest.

So is it wrong to worship at the altar of television? Brian thinks not, counselor. Forget your NPR liberal whining about the wasteland of television. Learn the new language being communicated by the Madison Avenue-coveted target audience range of eighteen to twenty-eight years old that rejects this dystopian model of a culturally dysfunctional society.

The humorous edge to the message of his medium provokes us to rethink outside of populist terms the role of what television can mean in our society. It is too easy to blame the mass culture of TV for the loss of High Culture. The modern world, our contemporary milieu changes and adapts to the new technology constantly. Brian Doyle is part of this brave new world that embraces the vox populi within the institution of television.

Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Postscript for a many-splendored thing

1. go to the corner
2. face the wall
3. kneel down
4. straighten your back
5. grab your earlobes
6. raise your elbows
7. hold still

Tuesday, June 04, 2002

A pugilistic response

Even Joyce Carol Oates agrees. A cartoon anvil the size of Palookaville weighs heavily when pummelled against unbrined tissue. So is that Vesuvius or Sinai?

The Marquis of Queensbury rules every three minutes still while kidneys jaundice and rabbits punch. But the sweet science never defies cranial logic. Just ask any great white hope (not Bob) about the nutritional value or lack thereof per cauliflowered ears. Next time feign a right and work the body.

Monday, June 03, 2002

On the importance of being Oscar Gamble

First comes cotton, a Bozoed afro, not to Harlem but the Bronx Zoo. Thirty one times the blind man with a pistol shoots his bouffanted, clenched fist thrust upward and outward. So black is beautiful but power below the belt infatuates. Picture an unpulped Jules (the Southside hitman), recodified and twice removed resurrecting Shaft as neofunkified Victor Mature isometrically parting steeled pillars.

Next follows the crouch, his Answer to the question of who the man be, helmet flopping off defiantly five- inched unaerodynamic coif. No watermelon man for the rightfield stands, only Geoffrey Cambridge bedecked as Coffin Ed jiving Clyde the Glide and Raymond St. Jacque nee Grave Digger Jones.

Always remember if inside, yank it; if outside, spank it; if down the middle, crank it. And get Christy Love because the downtown hardwood strutters still vex how Chocolate Thunder brought down World Be Free.

Sunday, June 02, 2002

The Joy of Abstract (House) Painting

Life imitates art and vice versa aptly describes the polychromatic palette freshly rollered throughout. Pure, uninterrupted color flowing from one room to the next. Why use gessoed canvas when empty walls suffice. Spreading pigment albeit commercial grade acrylic latex reincarnates Romantic notions and Neoexpressionistic passions, turpenoid notwithstanding. Just ask Ellsworth Kelly if painting is antediluvian, rather than dead as contemporary art dictates. Gaylen Gerber certainly made a decent living so far following this strategy.

But a multi-hued house eschews popular notions of interior aesthetics as work of art to assume the white cube itself. The venue metamorphosizes from a exhibit space to a place of exhibitionism. Thus art becomes wedded to decorating within a Duchampian context. Such is the postmodern offspring of Architectural Digest meets Frieze.

And that poor restless soul Mondrian (whose Neoplasticist self propagated how all aspects of design to be a part of daily life and limited to a basic grid structure of horizontal and vertical lines with areas of primary colors to achieve a dynamic balance) just rolled over in his Modernist grave.

Later today the importance of being Oscar Gamble.