Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How Artists Must Dress by Roger White at N+1


Excerpt:

The affluent artist may make a gesture of class solidarity by dressing poorly. She is advised to keep in mind that, at an art opening, the best way to spot an heiress is to look for a destitute schizophrenic. Middle-class or working-class artists, the destitute, and the schizophrenic can use this principle to their social advantage.

The extension of fashion into the violation of norms of personal hygiene and basic grooming constitutes the final arena for radicalism in artists’ fashion. Brave, fragrant souls! You will be admired from a distance.

Fucking Hilarious. Read the rest here at n+1. The article is featured online at n+1, but it is a preview for a print publication by The Paper Monument, which Roger has an integral part in as co-editor. This first pamphlet, on manners  in the art world, promises to be informing and amusing. You can find it here at the Paper Monument store.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 7:26 am  

Thursday, July 23, 2009

My New Favorite Browser Game – PAC MONDRIAN by Prize Budget For Boys


I can’t believe I never heard of this before. It’s PAC MONDRIAN by Prize Budget For Boys. I saw it featured over at Rhizome today, but it was made in 2002. Pictured is a screenshot I took of the Broadway Boogie Woogie map.

pacmondrian

Here’s the text on it from their website:

“Even though he was in his 70s at the time, when Mondrian arrived in New York and heard boogie woogie jazz he just had to get down! The energy of the jazz rhythms pulsing through his body soon found their way down his arm and out his brush when he “put a little boogie” into his paintings.

Mondrian’s goal for painting can easily be read as a description of the intricate percussion of contemporary dance music. He sought the “destruction of melody which is the destruction of natural appearance; and construction through the continuous opposition of pure means–dynamic rhythm”. Techno itself.

If Mondrian was around in the 90s, he would have been a raver.

During that era Pac-Man thrived as an underground icon that was seen on t-shirts and stamped on pills because of a meme that circulated on rave message boards:

“Computer games don’t affect kids. I mean if Pac-Man affected us as kids, we’d all be running around in darkened rooms munching pills and listening to repetitive music.”

If you’ve ever played Pac-Man or known a Mondrian, the game should be immediately familiar to you. There are a couple surprises, but I’ll let you find them on your own. Enjoy!

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 2:15 pm  

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cheap Art or Thrifty Treasure? Does Cost Really Equal Value Anyway?


hirstfake2

Joerg posted a few musings on the affordable print trend (especially, and understandably, among emerging artists). Paddy posted a response, and Joerg replied in another post. I have no interest in continuing the clothing style metaphor, as obviously black is always the new black in any NYC based industry, but I posted some thoughts in comments over at AFC, but I’m bringing it here as well.

The discussion revolves around lower priced prints, “value,” the artistic experience, the “original” experience, and a plethora of problematic concepts that make me want to run back to The Mechanical Age. I’ve picked out the photobook related discussion as applying to my work and the majority of photographic work that I enjoy.

Personally, no one seems to think that a 50 dollar photo book is exceedingly cheap, but there’s an average of 40-60 images in any of mine. So, they’re non-darkroom prints, and are a bit more than half the size of my exhibition prints, and come out to less than a dollar each.

People would think that I’m insane if I was selling prints that size for less than a dollar, and I would be, I think, but the book is still my original “work” – that’s the art to me. So it does have a special status, not just viewing the work in a different manner. It’s the actual art object and the sequence is extremely important. In fact, I am constantly on the verge of telling people that I really hate photography, I just like books and sequences of ideas, I just happen to work in pictures made with cameras. Who cares about “photography?” Anyway, thoughts for another time.

A book, at least any good book, is always a lot more than a collection of cheap prints. So like the comment above, while I’d never even think of buying a Frank print, I love having an old battered copy of his book.

ny_strand_book_store_12th_and_broadway_13_100

I don’t know. I hardly even care about prints. But I grew up with computers, so maybe I’m used to the art coming to me.

I still like looking at a nice painting though, for some reason.

Also about treating cheaper objects with greater disregard – do people really do this?

I have always thought that if I mistreat something it is because it is easily replaceable. That has nothing to do with how much money you paid for it. Just because you were able to get an 8×10 print of an amazing photograph for 25 dollars once does not mean you ever will be able to again. Anyone who has tried to find a copy of Suikoden II for the Sony Playstation understands this concept – a game that was in bargain bins almost the week it was released now goes for upwards of 180 dollars on ebay. It’s because it’s rare and it’s rumored to be quite good.

We tend to associate value with price, since we routinely pay very little money for say, a toothbrush or a paper cup, but I’m sure a huge amount of people are bargain finders and tag sale treasure hunters. The price/value concept only really applies to true commodities, consumable goods, mass manufactured products. So while some art is certainly editioned, good stuff still feels like something to be treasured – spill coffee on that polaroid you bought from the amusement park vendor, and you’ve still lost the only copy of something important to you. Who cares about the price, that was your record of a first date! Or, alternatively, your Stradivarius you happened to find at a rummage sale.

Some of my most prized materiel possessions I only got for a couple bucks. Almost all of my artistic treasures I got for free or trade. My favorite copy of a book is often one I found at the town dump.

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You get my point.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has rarely equated original purchase value with emotional or aesthetic value. Why would I start with art?

It certainly seems that the commercial art world applies “value” in a weighted manner, with monetary interest driving much of the action. If someone’s prints are selling for a million dollars, they must be good right?

Whatever.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 8:02 pm  

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Coley Brown in Montreal – Growing Up With Patrick Tsai


My pal Coley just sent me a message about a show he’s having in Montreal at The Emporium Gallery. I’m about a couple thousand miles too far away to make it to this one, but perhaps you aren’t.

GrowingUp_Exhibition_Invite

It stems from his work with Patrick Tsai, which you may have been introduced to through their blog, Growing Up. It’s got the same name and I’m sure it will be just as enjoyable.

While I find the sponsorship by Converse a bit strange, I can’t really comment on it without knowing anything about it – I assume it means that they’re making something of a production of this one, something hard for many young artists to do without some kind of support.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 3:23 pm  

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ebay Auctions Ending Today


Just a quick reminder that all our ebay auctions are ending today, starting early in the morning and ending late at night. So if you want any of those movies, games, Japanese imports, comics, etc, a lot of them are still at 99 cents.

We’ve got to clean house, so I’m happy to let them go for cheap, but I’d like to get all this stuff out of here. Best of luck and thank all of you for helping fund our future arts endeavors!

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 2:31 am  

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Gray Days Interview/Feature by Jordan Tate


Jordan Tate, a Fulbright scholar and artist with some very interesting work of his own, contacted me for a little Q+A about my most recent book, Gray Days, which he posted at his blog “I Like This Art.”

Here’s an excerpt:

Jordan: There were a few things that specifically drew me to the work, and I was wondering if maybe I could ask some vague questions that could get us somewhere productive. One of the aspects that drew me into the work was the film-specific aesthetic, not in the use of grain or color palate or any sort of preferential film v. digital usage, but in the inherent acknowledgment of photographic process evident in processing marks, chemical stains, and light leaks. Quite possibly, I am sensitive to this sort of treatment because of a strong conceptual interest in medium-specific contexts and self-reflexive works, but regardless, it brought me in.

In some ways this is what interests me about contemporary Dutch photography, but their aesthetic sometimes balks at formal composition or thematic cohesion in a way that I find less appealing than your work. It was also the use of diptych that I found interesting, with some images paired and some left alone, yet still organized in book form. Were the pairings mostly formal, organic, trail and error type of diptychs (I view them this way rather than recto-verso) until something felt right, or was there any sort of conceptual narrative to how the book is structured?

Ian: I’ve been very interested in the physical manifestations of photographic process – though perhaps more in a metaphorical or purely aesthetic sense, instead of a technical one. They tend to represent a shift in how I felt about photographing in general – embracing of fear, acceptance of failure, perhaps – and I’ve written a fair amount along those lines. Maybe you saw the article published in ahorn magazine? Here’s the link: On Fear And Photography

While an art student, I had many debates with my teachers about the “right” and “wrong” of creating images. Phrases like “underexposed” irked me, because of their inference of a “proper” exposure. To me, the “correct” exposure would always be the version of the image that had the emotional impact that reached me the most. Often times that would be the image at the end of the roll, or the one with the light leaks, or the one four stops underexposed. When I showed these to teachers out of context, they were almost always under appreciated, but I think after several months editing, they were allowed to be what they were.

Read the rest here.

He very kindly edited it together without a lot of our interim banter, and it may be a fairly clear presentation of my ideas on the project, which I haven’t done very often since I’m not finished with it yet. All feedback is of course appreciated! I’m working on the final text now so I can release with the blurb book contest.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 11:05 am  

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Our Lives in Grid – An Ebay Quilt


So I’ve just graduated from art school. Hopefully I hear about the job I interviewed for tomorrow, but in the meantime it’s time for us to sell everything we own for 99 cents on ebay.

It’s very sad for me to say goodbye to all my videogame consoles, SNES Carts and PC Games, DVD collection, comics, etc, and I’m surprised I’m actually feeling nostalgic for these old Dungeons and Dragons manuals, but it’s also kind of freeing to be getting rid of so much stuff.

I was inspired by Penelope Umbrico, and her amazing craigslist collages, which Pete Halupka showed us while he was visiting a couple weeks ago. So I put together this grid of everything we’re letting go. I’m thinking of printing it on a blanket, like a quilt, so we can wrap yourself in all our possessions. Hm. Maybe not. We do need a new blanket though.


Oh yeah, you can buy things. All out auctions end next saturday. Buy a dvd for a buck (whatever people bid it up to, I guess) and help Beth and I buy film and canvasses. It would be nice to know some of this shit might go to my friends. I know you want my old pokemon cards. Some crazy from Australia seems to.

If you’re in Savannah, you don’t have to pay shipping, I’ll bring whatever to you.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 6:38 pm  

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Greg Rutter’s You Should Have Seen This


Greg Rutter is a good man. He made a list for you.

It is a list of “99 Things You Should Have Already Experienced On The Internet Unless You’re a Loser or Old or Something”

And it’s a good list. Some of the items are purely for nostalgia value for those of us who have experienced them already, but this is a list you need to brush up on if you are going to be sticking around this here internet. While Peanut Butter Jelly Time could only have seemed extremely interesting when I was 10, it’s required reading for Internet Memeology 101. So is this other stuff.

And much of it, of course, is insanely funny. It’s nice to be reminded.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 6:42 am  

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Portrait By Elizabeth Heppenstall


Here’s a picture of me by Elizabeth Heppenstall. Her website is horribly horribly out of date (in fact, it’s only using random temp text and images from her archives in many sections) and it’s my fault, since I host it.

june011a

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 4:24 am  

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Robert Lanham at The Morning News


From this article, on hipsters and inward facing negativity:

As was true with the hippie, another contemporary archetype that’s proven to be here for the long haul, there’s obviously plenty of cultural baggage that accompanies the hipster. All of which, of course, has been thoroughly and exhaustively mocked. Apathy. Trust funds and entitlement. Nihilism. Gentrification. Celebrity worship. Lack of originality. Naiveté. Random stupidity. None of these annoyances is essential to the DNA of the hipster, but all too often, well, you meet some self-absorbed, entitled moron in a panda suit.

But let’s get real. For every cynical slacker sitting around “ironically” watching The Real Housewives of Orange County and turning his beard orange with Sparks spittle, there’s a legitimate artist who’s working his/her ass off, dare I say it, doing something cool. There’s no contrived lack of aesthetic to the films of Michel Gondry. He’s an artist, and yes, he’s cool. There’s no artificial, ironic detachment to the music that TV on the Radio produce. They’re artists too, and yes, they’re cool. And perhaps it should go without saying, but hipster profiling is about as effective as racial profiling. Owning a pair of skinny jeans and living in Bushwick doesn’t make someone cool. But it doesn’t make them a hipster douchebag either.

That’s why the knee-jerk hipster rage, perhaps best exemplified by Douglas Haddow in the Adbusters article,“Hipster: The Dead End of Western Civilization,” seems so overblown. “The hipster represents the end of Western civilization,” writes Haddow. “[A] culture lost in the superficiality of its past and unable to create any new meaning. Not only is it unsustainable, it is suicidal.”

I hate to call bullshit, but a quick Google search of the author reveals an article about hipsters who paint graffiti murals in their bedrooms and an author photo that looks suspiciously like something you’d find on Look at This Fucking Hipster.

Which reinforces my point. The rage and self-loathing associated with hipsters has become more annoying, more naive, and more artificial than hipsters could ever hope to be.

After all, in the rubble of this fury, what remains for artists and bohemians who are legitimately trying to be part of a counterculture? You get the sense that if Jimi Hendrix were to show up in Echo Park today, he’d be publicly mocked in a style section piece on blipsters for wearing a feathered fedora. Duchamp would have given up as soon as he appeared on dadaist-or-douchebag.com. And Warhol would be demonized as a hipster gentrifier for setting up his factory in a Brooklyn warehouse. Critics continue to complain that we live in an era where all art is derivative and devoid of substance. But if Hendrix, Duchamp, or Warhol were alive today, we’d be doing our damnedest to derail their self-expression, dismissing them as fucking hipsters.

As Pandamonium illustrates, there’s no shortage of hipsters worthy of our mocking. But our challenge is to make the distinction between the artists and the pandas. Otherwise, when the next generation finds its own Jackson Pollock, John Coltrane, or Dorothy Parker, we’re likely to stifle their talents with our misappropriated cynicism. Or worse, we’ll turn them into a joke.

Lanham points out the worst side of adbusters, and similar publications, which often have quite intelligent commentary: they can also border on shock jock style outrage, instead of complex reporting. It should be obvious that “hipster,” just like “suit” or any other coded social placement, isn’t a satisfactory way of understanding a person. One can hope that we’d be a little beyond pointing fingers and spouting lines like “the dead end of western civilization” for something so frivolious and undefinable.

I could go on for a long time about this, but the article mostly speaks for itself.

Irony is healthy, to an extent, and commentators like Carles use pop culture as a launching point for sometimes poignant and sometimes hilarious questioning. However, hate, and self hate, is not productive in the long run, and blogs like Look At This Fucking Hipster, while good for a quick laugh at times, aren’t really any different than hypothetical albums of white trash and rednecks, or fat businessmen. Laughing at other people because we think we are better than them is nothing new and will never disappear.

Now, if you desire to laugh because the human race in general is insane, please do so. We shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously.

posted by Ian Aleksander Adams at 7:23 am