art strategies final, pt. II

my friend showed me a very neat project that new york magazine just produced about one block in bed-stuy. it features interviews, video, infographics, and lots of links. i’m thinking about contacting the producers to find out about their budget and timeline, and i’ll write more about what i think of the piece soon.

i also:

  • went to the creative time summit at boys and girls high school in bed-stuy
  • ran my coffee shop idea by sharon lee de la cruz, an itp resident, artist, and anti-gentrification activist
  • looked up printing pricing (1 week turnaround)pricing for printing big
  • researched a coffee shop, sista’s place, that’s been in the neighborhood for a long time
  • met daniel

so i’m wondering what it looks like to use art to support work that’s already happening. sharon asked me an important question that i couldn’t answer, which was:

“what are you trying to say with this project?”

art strategies final


  • taking exact measurements (approx. 5-6′ high by 7′ long)
  • printing a large image on newsprint
  • wood glue
  • potential legal issues


  • design
  • hosting (can this be an out-of-the-box wordpress or tumblr site?)
  • twitter/insta integration


  • finding people (feels like it would be important to share info about the project and maybe wireframes of website?)
  • scheduling
  • recording audio and video
  • editing audio and video

bill of materials

  • glue
  • water
  • mop (what kind?)
  • bucket
  • newsprint
  • printing
  • web hosting

installation and documentation

response to crary and groys

notes on crary, “spectacle, attention, counter-memory”

lays out different ideas of spectacle

  • spectacle as “imposition of illusory unity onto a more heterogenous field” or “a new opiate-of-the-masses type of explanation” or “the moment when sign-value takes precedence over use-value”
  • post-Haussmann Paris as “the visible expression of a new alignment of class relations”
  • “the spectacle as a new kind of power of recuperation and absorption, a capacity to neutralize and assimilate acts of resistance by converting them into objects of images of consumption” omg yes
  • Debord names 1927 as birth of society of the spectacle. perfection of television. “new kind of image and its speed, ubiquity, and simultaneity.” film. the jazz singer. synchronized sound and image, distribution all controlled by corporate/military/government.
  • from 1890s into 1930s, mainstream psychology’s problem of attention. “how many sources of stimulation could one attend to simultaneously?” concept of a range of attention
  • walter benjamin: “redundancy of representation, with its accompanying inhibition and impoverishment of memory, was what Benjamin saw as the standardization of perception, or what we might call an effect of spectacle.” thinking about collective memory, the potential for social reawakening
  • “Debord sees the core of the spectacle as the annihilation of historical knowledge… the reign of the perpetual present”
  • note to self: check out Henri Bergson Matter and Memory

didn’t know this:

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notes on groys, “comrades of time” with my questions/comments in bold

“Politically, we can speak about modern utopias as post-historical spaces of accumulated time, in which the finiteness of the present was seen as being potentially compensated for by the infinite time of the realized project: that of an artwork, or a political utopia.” what does this mean? 

“when the final product is realized, the time that was used for its production disappears.” reminds me of charles’ piece on rodrigo valenzuela and construction sites. he writes: “We walk under scaffolds in the hope they do not collapse on us. And later, when the buildings are complete and the scaffolds are gone, the politics of construction become invisible.”

interesting: “Today, we are stuck in the present as it reproduces itself without leading to any future. We simply lose our time, without being able to invest it securely, to accumulate it, whether utopically or heterotopically. The loss of the infinite historical perspective generates the phenomenon of unproductive, wasted time. However, one can also interpret this wasted time more positively, as excessive time—as time that attests to our life as pure being-in-time, beyond its use within the framework of modern economic and political projects.”

“One is reminded here of Camus’ Sisyphus, a proto-contemporary-artist whose aimless, senseless task of repeatedly rolling a boulder up a hill can be seen as a prototype for contemporary time-based art.” no.

“And Georges Bataille thematized the repetitive excess of time, the unproductive waste of time, as the only possibility of escape from the modern ideology of progress.” yes.


full-spectrum customer analytics: sketches

gal and i have been thinking a lot about data and privacy.

below are some ramblings for/about potential projects.

  • a facebook algorithm that recommends new friends for you based on common traits among your existing friends. it analyzes your photos for tattoos, pets, siblings, colors, and other identifiers.

the problem with this, and with some of our other data project ramblings, is that they’re not different enough from what actually happens, on the internet and off. we do develop mental models that let us take shortcuts to finding friends—shortcuts based on arbitrary things that only sometimes accurately reflect someone’s capacity to be a good friend. just because someone has lots of cat photos doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re kind ∴ good friend or a total slob ∴ inconsiderate ∴ bad friend, even though we might have developed those shortcuts in our brains. facebook algorithms probably incorporate some of the same shortcuts when it recommends friends to us. all of which is to say: still trying to find the interesting pressure points in this scenario.

  • a performance piece in which we work for a data company and pitch our analytics services to a client. our company also has a data derivatives branch that repackages information we get from our clients so we can sell it to our other clients. data bundles are graded from top-shelf AAA down to B3.

“Our services help clients optimize product distribution, target prospective data points more effectively, grow revenues, and harvest more data.

The keystone of our business is our in-depth “Customer Portrait” parsed from analytics bundles we have access to through our Insights Initiative—a partnership between Deloit, Complast, and Faceboop.

Through our Data Derivatives branch, we also work with clients to develop their own data-backed revenue streams so they can capitalize on their customer-provided insights. We have expertise structuring data packages that maximize profits and preserve privacy through our proprietary Randomized Identifier Reassignment algorithms.”

we actually started exploring this project in more depth. for the classroom setting, we wanted to create “customer portraits” of some of our classmates, which involved using facebook and google to find information about them, their interests, their families, and where they live. i got increasingly uncomfortable with the kind of work we were doing to put together the portraits, even though we knew they’d ultimately be used in a performance critiquing the exact thing we were doing.

a conversation about this scenario comes up in every art theory class i’ve ever taken—the one about institutional critique and when it becomes not critique anymore, when it just reinforces the thing it’s supposedly critiquing. usually, i’m talking about it from a spectator’s perspective. it felt really different to actually have to make a decision about whether to continue a project. similar icky feelings stopped me from pursuing elements of my “white people in coffee shops” project, and they also stopped me from pursuing a weird internship.

i’m still trying to figure out what to do with this information. do i need a system for deciding when to stop and when to keep going? what do i gain by stopping? what do i lose by stopping?

additional reading/watching:

c. davida ingram, “i wish a motherfucker would”

c. davida ingram has been making work in seattle since 2006. jen graves describes one of her first pieces:

“Her earliest performance in Seattle was a 2006 piece called Come Hungry that involved making dinner for strangers from Craigslist. The ad she placed on Craigslist read: “Black woman willing to make your favorite meal. You bring the ingredients. I prepare. Come hungry.” These were one-on-one performances for white men done in the privacy of Ingram’s home. The interactions were “actually really human,” which is saying something, since they started from the inhuman premise of black submission to white desire.”

last year, she produced an interactive community art project called I Wish a Motherfucker Would where she invited people to the james and janie washington house in seattle’s central district, a historically black and? but? rapidly gentrifying neighborhood. the washingtons were artists and longtime community activists. someone who was at the event wrote:

“There were so many opportunities to boldly declare your wish for a better future.  Upon first arriving we were able to take a piece of cardboard and a Sharpee and write out our wishes using the phrase, “I wish a mother f—– would…”  You could then record your wish via audio and/or by posing with your sign while photographer Zorn B. Taylor snapped your photo.  It was nothing short of amazing.”

throughout the house, ingram situated sculptures—a mound of yams, piles of unprocessed cotton—and staged performances—like the dreamer in the greenhouse who you had to sing to in order to enter. all the performers and the photographer were people of color. photos and descriptions of the event depict a lush, softly lit, ritualistic space. other-worldly, but with obvious historical roots and referents.

i didn’t make it to I Wish a Motherfucker Would, but i did get to see and hear some of the artifacts from the event at a panel a few months later: audio recordings of people sharing what it felt like to like to dream, to hear and see other people dreaming, putting their dreams on paper, experiencing the environment ingram had created. for me, even the recap was powerful—an extension of the work itself.

while the project was significant on its own, it was also part of a larger constellation of work in the city instigated and/or supported by ingram, local community groups, and art institutions.

moma: conceptual art, walid raad, etc.

moma has so much cool stuff up right now. their documentation is much better than mine:

  • Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980 is a really refreshing, not u.s.-centric show of conceptual art, which lines up well with what we’re thinking about right now in my art strategies class
  • walid raad. just listen to him talk about his piece, “pension arts in dubai”
  • picasso’s weird brain and the resulting sculptures. my favorites are his studies of absinthe glasses and stringed instruments that he made between 1912-1915. also, the anatomical sketches (photo below)

that “tabula rasa” piece reminded me of this part from the lippard reading:

tabula rasa

notes on lucy lippard

Six Years: Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966-1972

  • the 1960s liberation movements exploded “heroic, patriarchal mythologies”; conceptual artists were “unfettered by object status”
  • conceptual art centers the idea, uses cheap and ephemeral materials
  • Conceptual art: “acceptively open-ended” vs. Minimal art: “rejectively self-contained”
  • lippard worked in multiple mediums: writer, translator, curator
    • felt limitations of the genre of art criticism
    • “writer-collaborator with the artists”
  • 1968, Art International, ultra-conceptual art emerging in two directions internationally: art as an idea and art as an action
  • bypass traditional art dealer/gallery situation by having shows outside of galleries, united by publications that were art, not just about art
  • discussion of how semiotics academicized Conceptual works; they were “political but not populist”

To try:

  • faked and publicized a press release to a Whitney show describing demographics of who would be included, then projected work on the side of the museum, ultimately pressuring the Whitney to change who they invited to participate
  • “parasite” magazine in a “host” magazine with shared curatorial responsibilities, i.e. each contributor fills 8 pages however they want; periodicals as the art themselves.

To look up:

  • Museum of Normal Art
  • Rosario Group (Argentina)
  • Art Workers Coalition
  • Luis Camnitzer

coffee shops, continued

i’m still thinking through this coffee shop project. i think there’s an environmental element, too. which is not surprising since race and colonialism and environmental destruction go together. here’s a sketch for a performance i’m thinking about:
disposable everything
disposable everything

and the set:

fracking photos and plastic flowers
plastic cup production photos and plastic flowers
instead of coffee production photos
instead of coffee production photos
instead of these plants
and instead of these plants

and my response to marina’s questions/comments:


sarah sze at tanya bonakdar

i’m so glad marina sent out an email about sarah sze’s show and artist talk at tanya bonakdar gallery.

notes on the talk i didn’t hear

i trekked from bed-stuy to chelsea to hear sarah speak. i was early, but all the seats were already taken. more and more people filtered in and smushed together to stand in the back of the room. i asked a guy who was recording the talk if he was livestreaming, and he said no but that the gallery would eventually post video of the talk on their website. with this piece of information, i left the smush to check out sarah’s work and will watch the video of her talk when it gets posted.

i do think galleries should livestream talks like this and in a way that lets people write in questions during the q&a session. not everyone who cares about art and artists can get to galleries easily. this system doesn’t have to be fancy—there could be a hashtag for the talk that people could use to tweet their questions in, or folks could just tweet at the gallery.

this artist talk at a gallery in chelsea is packed. who got all the seats? everyone who arrived on time or 5 min late is standing around uncomfortably. why don’t galleries livestream stuff like this?


notes on the work

a visual vocabulary of threads and shards and shreds, sharp and reflective and delicate. one sculpture: splotches of paint create patterns across thin blue strings, weighing them down. the splotches are fall-colored, tiny paint leaves. a sze strategy: a natural-looking thing (leaf) that, on closer inspection, is a not natural thing (paint) composed in a way that feels like it should tell us something, should mean something. a data visualization, but we’re not sure what the data source is. in another part of the room, gray muck on human-size mirrors keep us from seeing ourselves completely. did we make the muck?

a sculptural piece in another room—a dark room—is made of blue tape and glass shards and light and wires. a plastic water bottle doubles as a vase for dead grass. you hear water trickling from a plug-innable thing you could get at home depot. a clock shows you how many hours and minutes and seconds have passed and are passing. a useful piece of information from the press release (there are no titles of lists of materials anywhere):

A computer within the sculpture scrapes data from a NASA website that measures the distance between Earth and the Voyager 1 spacecraft, which has been in orbit since 1977.

downstairs, scaffolding precariously supports a world of huge ladders, careful arrangements of thread and skins of paint draped over wire, shreds of images. paper coca cola cups sit on the ladder rungs, left by the people who were just climbing, attaching something or plugging something in somewhere up there. how does it all stay standing?

sarah sze’s work about the environment: delicate and exposed af


very belated, mostly not useful notes on systems

Ed Shanken, intro to the book “Systems”

first wave of cybernetics: how systems can preserve homeostasis through feedback loops; self-regulation; bodily regulatory systems, home thermostats; artificial intelligence and robotics

second wave of cybernetics: reflexivity; scientists as active participants in their experiments;

third wave of cybernetics: emergent behavior of complex systems; self-replicating “live” systems; Turing machine; cellular automata

hans haacke as a third wave exemplar:

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the importance of art for thinking systemically:

Screen Shot 2015-09-30 at 12.50.45 PM
Gregory Bateson, “Style, Grace and Information in Primitive Art”

very freudian.

i’m for any and all mentions of procrustean beds:

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really into this (both under mary catherine bateson, “our own metaphor”):

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