Friday the 13 : i.thou [ final cut ] online release

Aloha! It’s Friday the 13th! Just 13 weeks remain in 2017. I’m releasing my vaguely illegal, dangerous, feminist film online today.

Welcome to the house of illusion. Our images of each other can make prisons. Open a side door into the collective unconscious. Nothing is as it seems, is it. . .

i.thou - still

i.thou, final cut (still) – 2008-2013

I built i.thou [ final cut ] over a five year period, wrapping it up in December of 2013. David Finkelstein reviewed this work at FilmThreat before that site disappeared. He describes the work by writing ““i.thou” doesn’t exactly tell a story, but it distills the atmosphere of dozens of stories drawn from films, generally stories where a woman is trapped in the (male dominated) institution of a mental hospital, a lab, or a prison, where she struggles equally against her captors and her own, internalized sense of being “sick” or “wrong.” ”

As you watch the coda consider the stories nested into the entire work – each female character re-presented here [ Beatrix/The Bride, Nikita, Dorothy (audio only), Ripley, Kieslowski’s Julie from Blue & more ] were created by male directors who proceeded to “put them through it”, for our entertainment. Ripley destroys the nursery in which she was made [ Alien: Resurrection ] – –

I have been told that the work is “too much” – too long / the wrong length to screen in festivals. The repurposed content too big of a risk for copyright liability [ even as Richard Prince & Girl Talk take that strategy all the way to the bank ]. Too experimental [ we figured out datamoshing in the ‘oughts – this is new media, right? new forms! ]

The work presents a ‘dead girl’ in a shot extended from her original 45 seconds of screen time to several minutes. Remember, the dead girl is not a character, but the memory of her become the character. Media makes memory for us these days. This work fits somewhere in both the preceding statements.

Wear headphones for best viewing experience!

viewing notes :
– the work has three movements and a coda; visual and loops are used/considered symphonically as classical music would, in motifs
– there are ‘pauses’ in the film where the screen goes completely black, between movements
– the opening of the third movement includes complete silence
– all melting, artefacting, ‘failed video’ looks are intentional

I would love to hear your thoughts about i.thou [ final cut ]. Rose McGowan and many other women were sacrificed on the altar of this form, filmed entertainment. That is a part of this, too.

Thanks for being here. All of this madness is a part of all of us. With this art we visit it for a few minutes, and then put it down.

Jessica

the digital artist ships 2 paintings to NYC [ what? ]

After the single-shooter massacre in Orlando, a New York City-based artist started a painting project. Organized in a private Facebook group, this artist assigned Senators who have a track record of voting ‘no’ on reasonable gun regulation in America to willing artist-participants. These 54 Senators have helped prevent even the most mundane collection of data to understand how American citizens use guns. It’s a move that drives the American Medical Association bananas; medical personnel see guns’ bloody consequences in ER’s every day.

The organizer’s provided theme: blood on their hands. I signed up for Senator Howard “Ron” Johnson (R-Wi). I’m a Wisconsin resident. Ron has received an A rating from the NRA and 1.3 million bucks from gun rights groups in his single term as a Senator.

I come from a family of people who work in health care, including doctors. I’ve heard what bullets do to the body. I spent about a year working in a hospital in Pittsburgh, I loosely understand what a gunshot victim means to an ER’s workload, how it reshapes the staff’s ability to treat any other person in the ER that moment.

Its bizarre to me, the silence around the consequences of using guns. But / and then – in our daily news, we see and hear anectdotes and incidents which pile up into uncountable extremes very quickly. How many mass shootings? How many people injured?

 

Senator Ron Johnson blood on their hands

I guess Lutheran souls are expensive ’cause the gun lobby bought Senator Ron Johnson’s for $1.3 million ~

One phenomenon of the Internet is our new capability to cut through that silence. Two survivors of the Orlando shooting ~ Patience Carter and Angel Santiago ~ discuss their survival process in a media essay produced by the New York Times. I think the immediacy of personal survival narratives fuels calls for reasoned approach to regulating guns in America.

See all the portraits at Senator Portrait Project : Senators Who Have Enabled Gun Violence

New York Daily News ran many of the images in a piece on July 5 2016.

~

At the same time as the Daily News piece came out, our organizer was approached by a lobbying group, New Yorkers Against Gun Violence (NYAGV). NYAGV asked about portraiture of New York reps to the House in Congress. Our organizer asked for volunteers; Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) was included in the call. As a Wisconsin resident, how could I not?

I get Speaker Ryan’s lifestyle, the whole hunting-fishing thing. I grew up here. I only mildly resented those who got out of school for a week for hunting season because that week was easy peasy schoolwork and no tests. The call for discussion is simply that. A call for discussion. Who am I to attempt to control the outcome? Enforced silence gets us nowhere. That’s what each of these politicians has done, by refusing to consider discussion of something very important to the American public.

 

Speaker-Ryan-Web

[ thoughts prayers ] House Speaker Paul Ryan

Each image started as a digital composite. Both politicians’ portraits include text layers naming their financial relationships to the gun lobby, as well as their ratings by the NRA. Those spiraling texts, created using Processing, were then composited into manipulated portraits of each man.

Scale set by the organizer meant that inkjet prints were made on 8.5″ x 11″ photo paper. I mounted each print onto firmer supports before varnishing and painting ~ I love any excuse to break out Sennellier pigments. In House Speaker Paul Ryan’s case, his role asked for gold leaf. . .

 

Leah Gunn Barrett delivering artists' portraits to the politicians who voted AGAINST universal background check legislation.

digital media : so very portable

 

[ thoughts prayers ] was also printed and delivered to the Speaker by NYAGV’s Executive Director Leah Gunn Barrett. She delivered artists’ portraits to the New York politicians who voted AGAINST universal background check legislation, and the Speaker.

So why the heck am I boxing and shipping these 2 paintings? They’re now finished, mounted on cradled wood 9″ x 12″ panels. Well . . .the organizer’s working on a show, a fundraising exhibition for NYAGV. And apparently now someone volunteered to make a film of all the pieces?

Let’s keep talking about guns and what’s going on with them, for all of us!

Want to see more work? Visit the public Facebook page for the group.

‘guns & consequences’ cancelled by bomb threat at NIU campus last night

Guns And Consequences was a spoken word event I organized in conjunction with the exhibition UNLOADED, which is on view at Northern Illinois University’s Art Gallery through October 24. Sponsored by the Center for Black Studies, the event was scheduled for October 8, 2015. It was cancelled by an all-campus bomb threat.

Yesterday I travelled from Milwaukee to Chicago and from Chicago to DeKalb. Josephine Burke, the musuem director who had programmed the show, picked me up at the Elburn Metra station. Elburn’s like a big taxi stand with adjacent parking lot, in the middle of cornfields.

Jo apologized for being late, she’d gotten caught behind a harvester on her drive to the station, its bits and pieces of corn and hay or whatever scattering across the road. I asked how the show UNLOADED had been received. She talked about how some people had seen the show, some of the talks had been very well attended, and how some of the campus who live with PTSD from the 2008 shooting incident could not walk into the show yet.

She mentioned offhand how she designed the installation, how she pulled walls from the gallery so visitors could find the exit if they had a panic attack. Then she realized that “a person could walk in and strafe the whole show.”

There it is, that fear that comes up, again. While designing fliers to support my own appearances – the artist talk for ungun, the flier announcing the performance-basd installation where I listen to visitors tell me their stories about guns – the tension slick with fear. Make sure the send and receive flier is deeply inclusive. I want to hear their experiences. All of their experiences. I am not collecting stories to make an argument. This is art, not argument.

Later I was setting up cameras to document spoken word performances by Nikki Patin , Tara Betts, Reginald Eldridge, Billy Tuggle, Mojdeh Stoakley. A three-camera shoot, for once! With good tripods. Art people know what I mean, the luxury of time to set up documentation, to pick your shots. I was goofing with Reggie, who was going to use this amazing AV setup to do something with images and words together. The trustee’s boardroom includes a remote like a garage door opener that lifts a screen out of the furniture . . . And the security guard came in and asked us to leave, all the buildings are being evacuated.

Nikki arrived at the room as the security guard mentioned “bomb threat”. Really? Really? Later when we’re all huddled under a little cement hutch-thing we joked about how a group that’s majority brown people go to a mostly-white college campus to talk about gun violence and there’s a bomb threat.

Stephen, the gallery manager, snapped photos with his iPhone, risking water damage – the sky had opened up as well with a pounding rain. And as we puzzled it out, as we thought about Jo’s statement that NIU closed some smaller campuses over the summer and it’s probably someone who lost a job – the threat was directed at all the buildings on the NIU campus, it’s not about us – I thought about the white guy who called in bomb threats almost once a week to my high school. This was fall of my Senior Year. Is it bad that I remember his name? Or compassionate? He had so much hatred. He would smile and fake his niceness but the poison was there, controlling 1,000 high school kids from a distance, with his phone.

Eventually the bus bringing Billy Tuggle and one audience member from the Metra mades it. And Mojdeh drove in. She talked about the strangeness of driving to a place every car was fleeing from.

I had to get back into the building to collect my suitcase; Jo needed to lock up the camera equipment. I did the fastest teardown I could. Jo inadvertently alerted security to us being in the building by pulling down a shade in the window.

We were asked to leave again, this time by a gentle Hispanic security guard who said “We chose not to hit the alarms. That would be too much.” Instead they walked through every floor of every building. This is what you do when you have a bomb threat on a college campus that survived a thing.

I thanked him for that, profusely; the evacuation was triggering enough. He said, “I’m just glad I found you in there before the dogs came through. They wouldn’t have liked finding you.” He had a long night ahead. Bomb-sniffing dogs had to visit every building on campus.

[ audio ] We Miss You, Ana Mendieta [ spoken word ]

The body does and means so many things. 

Perhaps the simple acknowledgement of relational violence as human experience can help us celebrate those lost to it. Should or should not, it is what is, for a lot of people. How do we witness it? The taboo needs to go.

Let’s put our mind on who she was, who she remains. A whole woman who made her own choices, who struggled with and argued and created from her experience, from her body. . . She told us how to remember her, in the relentless documentation of her art. Lets do that.

~

First draft written May 30, first performed at The Green Mill Open Mic & Slam on Sunday, June 1. After a few more edits, recorded this performance using a DSLR at the Lethal Poetry Words That Kill Anything Goes Slam on June 5.  After absenting my body from the piece, and with no audio mastering, well, here you go.

The action We Wish Ana Mendieta Was Still Alive,  performed by artist Christen Clifford and the feminist No Wave Performance Task Force, was documented in Hyperallergic’s writeup Artists Protest —- ——- Retrospective with Blood Outside of Dia:Chelsea.

~

Thanks Mojdeh Stoakley for camera operation, thanks Lethal Poetry for the stage, the audience, the love. Thanks to Christen Clifford & No Wave for doing and saying.

ode to completion : i.thou

i.thou now stands as a 40 minute experimental film.

The stills collected here are moments from the making process.

The film is as much about the illusion of filmmaking as it is the illusion of perception, the malleability of our senses . . . A meditation on social vs. personal [ lived ] identity. Lived self and the dance of projection.

It’s also a 40-minute hallucinated, irrational, unbelieved, outrageous homage to women who have disappeared – – an imagined resurrection of the body of ‘the dead girl’ so many stories are built on in our media.

Silence, voice, image, experience, ownership . . .

. . . I’m putting the final touches on the audio mix today and tomorrow.

[ thoughts from the gallery of stills on flickr ]

motoi yamamoto’s salt installations

motoi-yamamoto

 

poetics of annihilation : motoi yamamoto’s salt installations

“In Japan, [salt] is indispensable in the death culture… In the beginning, I was interested in the fact that salt is used in funerals or in its subtle transparency. But gradually, I came to a point where the salt in my work might have been a part of some creature and supported their lives. Now I believe that salt enfolds the memory of lives.” Motoi Yamamoto

the comprehensibility of dying squid

Earlier this evening I saw Bill Viola’s “Hatsu-Yume (First Dream)” in an intimate screening. The artist was present, along with faculty members and an audience of thirty to forty people. We sat in a small auditorium in a small, excellent liberal arts school.

“Hatsu-Yume (First Dream)” is about eighty-five minutes long. On the surface, it scanned like Chris Marker’s film, Sans Soleil. I say ‘on the surface’ because it was just a moment that inspired that connection – the moment ‘pachinko’ is on screen, and then, later, a man lighting a cigarette, one of the only completed human gestures in the piece. If Sans Soleil had been made on video and without the narrative, then they could be twins. Instead they are distant relatives, only connected by the fact that the audience is considering moving images that, scene by scene, unfold like a photo-roman . . . if each of the photos is a technically-perfect, gorgeous long moving-image shot. Oh, and both works were shot in Japan – Viola’s in its entirety, while Marker’s Sans Soleil was mostly filmed there.

What’s the distinction between video and film? As Christopher Zimmerman put it in the liner notes for the evening’s get together, “”Where film is a succession of individual still images … video consists of constantly vibrating signals.” That’s key. In each work’s case, the maker’s use of the form is perfectly mirrored in the expression of content presented by that form. Marker’s film is a series of shots, of images expanded. Marker uses mostly jump cuts as he provides a long sequence of images which become narrative, when paired with the voiceover.

Video, particularly analog video on tape, is about signal. Talking about his work this evening Viola repeatedly referred to signal. The technical metaphors for him, of signal being a way of accessing an inner world or imagined world, of signal’s liquidity, its nature as carrier of light ~ that’s the core of the medium for Bill Viola. The series of scenes transitioned by fade-to-black are usually slow-mo. Visual information shifts in a series of liminal perceptual spaces; the viewer can lose themselves in sensory input or decide to recognize the information displayed on the screen.

~

During Q&A I admitted to the artist that I was so tired I was closing my eyes in the middle of the opus. Viola interrupted me to reply, “That’s OK, I slept through parts myself.” About two-thirds of the way through the film there are shots of dying squid, on a Japanese fishing boat. They’re beautiful. Captured in the highest fidelity Sony cameras available at the time, glossy, a particular coral peach, they are just dying. We watched them die, in slow motion.

Squid death was discussed by the academics with some horror. Kira Perov, Viola’s creative partner, spoke to the difficulty she had when they were originally shooting the work on the fishing boat. She struggled with the question of putting the equipment down to rescue the animals. It horrified her to watch them die.

~

Today, I took a long trip to a small town in Wisconsin to meet the artist, to see the work. Bill Viola’s work has sustained me for a long time. I am a multiple near death experience survivor; Viola’s own NDE experience deeply informs his work. His work is oxygen for me.

On a Greyhound bus I split my time between Twitter and Facebook attempting to find out if my Boston friends were OK. What in Gods name happened there. I somehow kept my stomach firmly in my belly, not becoming nauseous even though the fragments of information did not piece together. Made me disoriented. The speed of (dis)information, insistant squabbles about authenticity, tweets that stated “quit just retweeting things”. The utter lack of clarity as major news outlets chose the wrong information to publish to those who still use TV, and then retracted, then asserted something else.

~

The long slow shots of dying squid made sense. Watching the beautiful, projected analog video – no, I couldn’t look away. It was slow. In its slowness my mind and heart were allowed to come into a shared rhythm of comprehension that respected my whole being. Horrifying, yes, but in a comprehensible way, an acceptable way.

Now I pick out the shrapnel from the fragmented “communication” about the bombings at the Boston Marathon out of me. I have a bit of skill witnessing difficulty like this, I’ve practiced with the ‘poetics of annihilation’ attention/artwork over the years. Yes, I say, once again, media’s doing it wrong. I think we already know that.

artist statement : the ungun project

I’ve been making unguns. I steal pictures of guns and make something else with them. Yes I’m trafficking in stolen guns when I do this. Aesthetic vandalism. Wasn’t the Matrix trilogy founded on that image of ‘bullet time’, the old Native American ghost dance promise that we could stop bullets?

The act of aesthetic vandalism neuters the image of the gun. The images become ~ if they were actual objects, were they actually fired, they would misfire, fire into themselves, or not fire at all.

Humans can express a nourishing connection with each other using guns only by relinquishing them.

I started working with still images, which I ‘broke’ using databending techniques. Then I started making gifs.Then I decided to make a longer video, pushing the image into word-definition space. The dance of illusion, projection, metaphor. I sampled audio from popular entertainment that uses guns so much in their narratives that, as a friend once put it, the movie is really “gun goes on adventure, gun beats the bad guys, gun gets the girl, gun gets revenge” . . .

I’m witnessing illusions of “political ramifications of ideas about guns” shatter social relationships between otherwise reasonable people. Histrionic reactions to the object, in many directions, prevent people from having reasonable conversation. The object, and whether or not or how it is regulated, shatters our ability to discuss the thing sanely.

trigger quilt

 

looper

The question goes like this: “If you could go back in time to kill Hitler when he was a child, would you?”

I like this question better. “If you could go back in time to be the Jewish neighbor who relentlessly intervenes in Hitler’s childhood, to interfere with the abuse and neglect poured on him by his parents, to teach him kindness, to teach him that no person needs to be a scapegoat, would you?”

homicide watch: journalism from the poetics of annihilation

A website documenting every homicide in Washington D.C.

http://homicidewatch.org

Simple, direct reporting that could not happen without the ‘net. Innovative – the content works outside the ‘newspaper’ model. The site removes the narrator from story, which suits the content, a social trauma almost too difficult to narrate.

The site uniquely provides a wailing wall, or public emotional container for those affected by the crimes profiled. The click-response, the intimacy of the internet allows for this kind of virtual community around grief. Something like Facebook or Twitter simply capitalizes on the ‘net’s illusion of immediate connection. In this context, something else can play out, answering a social need [providing a container for grief] in a unique way.

Documentation of the mechanisms of justice applied to each particular situation, simple witnessing without the intervention of the narrative voice of the reporter. Presentation of court documents in each case, instead of a narrator telling us about what was filed, who was charged in each case.

Happily, their Kickstarter fundraiser to continue publication recently met its goal. Check that project description for Laura Amico and Chris Amico’s bios and more information surrounding the project.

Thanks to @aaronsw for the link to this in-depth supportive post from Clay Shirky. That discussion fascinates me from the practical standpoint of managing an internet startup company, which the Kickstarter fundraiser was, in part, built to address.

 

run run run : rashid johnson’s fugitive body

Happenstance and a work meeting downtown got me near enough the Museum of Contemporary Art to stop in today. Glad I did, as Rashid Johnson’s show Message to our Folks gave me plenty to consider. Here’s one axis of thought about the work.

The installation-driven work gave me elements of a marred home interior. Flooring, a gallery of wall photos, “oriental” rugs, furniture installation. Fire-branded wood flooring; rugs and furniture defaced in clean, intent gestures. Spray paint has as much intentionality on one rug as the crosshairs machine sewn into a carpet in a separate room.

My personal sense of home is the residence I make in my own body. I find Johnson’s defaced house imagery incredibly compelling.The argument of any cultural hatred (misogyny, racism, homophobia, xenophobia) is, truly, the negative cultural projections written on the body of its targets.

 

 

rashid johnson : single work, installation view

 

Smashed mirrors provide a broken self-image. Who gets seven years bad luck for making this work? No, the bad luck is having poor mirrors, messages that do not reflect the truth of who you are or what your potential might be in this world.  Mirrors reflect the body, physicality, the [perceived] object in which a person lives. A culture providing a broken self-image – and then you live with that . . .

 

 

run run run

Run run run. Don’t let them catch you out late, don’t let them catch you walking by yourself, carry yourself shoulders back, wear jeans, the tighter the better, they can’t rip them off easy. Run run run. Rape culture trains women to live in fear of being caught by strangers. How do you carry your keys as you approach the locked door of your apartment? How do you vary your walk home, to not make yourself a target? How do you make sure you don’t make eye contact, but know who’s staring at you on the train?

Run run run. Remembering walking through Bloomfield in Pittsburgh with a friend, stopping to dig in my purse for something and he said “Not here, you’re making yourself a target” and I hissed at him “I am not, I know where everyone is standing on this street”. The crosshairs machine-stitched into the carpeting – its written in the lining of the room, in the wallpaper of your mind, in the carpeting of the psyche. Of course I think of Trayvon Martin, but I also think of Johnny Gammage, who died “driving while black”. And I think of all the targets that hate culture puts on anyone’s back, for any visible, physical reason at all.

Run run run. Hm, frying pan or fire? What humans do not size up, categorize, sort, by appearance, by status, by the metadata attached to the person? Where is the predator who has created the broken mirrors upon which to cut one’s self image?

Run run run.  How has your house been defaced by cultural programming?

For a sense of the whole show, check out artnet’s full photo essay over here. (link takes you to another RUN piece inside the show). Rashid Johnson’s Message To Our Folks is at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, through August 5 2012.

I feel like ‘little miss obvious’ writing about this, the work speaks so clearly to me. Would love thoughts from others about it.

refreshing the the poetics of annihilation

Sometimes the mistake comes from seeing it all the way through to the end, without having begun.

The ease of overplanning facilitated by computers kills work the cradle. Once the imagination knows what the trip is going to be like, it doesn’t want to take it.

The drafting process is the first third of the path to having the work exist outside the mind/body. Editing is the second third. The audience meets the work, ‘publication’. The last third.

Each stage has its own demands, its own peculiar kind of sweat.

 

I live in a culture steeped in violence. There is violence in the work. Or there is consideration of recovering from violence, contending with it. I have made work that is psychologically or spiritually violent, yet I sit on it. Right now, I do not want to inflict it on an audience.

I am an American. Like other Americans I walk around with the blood of indiginous people on my feet, with the blood of slaves on my feet, with the blood of domestic violence on my feet. History soaked our nation’s birth with blood. We consume images and stories soaked with violence.

We can create peace. How do we create peace from a violent fabric? How does the transformation happen? Does it start with forgiving the past we have inherited, in order to simply let it drop, in order to make something new?

The poetics of annihilation are my name for looking at the violent stories of the 20th century, looking at our inheritance, and figuring out what to do with those stories. There is so much: the US government infecting african-americans with siphilus. The German government killing millions of civilians. The US dropping atomic bombs on Japan. The hundreds of millions of acts of war that individuals perpetrated at the behest of their governments.

How do we choose to witness this? We have our methods of recording, our films, our books, our internet. How can we face the weight of that violent fabric woven by those who went before us, and move forward without re-making that?

How can we, the talking monkeys, see, but not do?