Thursday, January 22, 2009

Making the Band

In what must rank as one of the classic understandings of direct marketing, coupled with a broad definition of a soundtrack, Walton Creel’s eerie and experimental “Shooting Loading: An Audio Companion for the Series Deweaponizing the Gun”, became available on iTunes today. One might think here of the ambient music of Brian Eno, or the experimental explorations of Cage, or Subotnick, but, somehow, this soundtrack is entirely unexpected.

One must wonder how rapidly this will move up the iTunes downloads charts.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Blank/Decks Ride into Town with Vinyl Sidekicks

The UAB Visual Arts Gallery is presenting a benefit exhibition entitled Blank/Decks featuring customized skateboard decks and vinyl Munny toys. The exhibition is on display now through January 30th, and features works by Jason Varone, Amy Pleasant, Clayton Colvin, PUSH Designs, Jane Timberlake Cooper, Lisa Michitti and others. Over the coming days I will be featuring selected images and information about the project.

The deck pictured above is by Erin Wright/Asylum Designs. He has titled the work "Elemental Man: Create/Decimate". Available now, by silent auction. Contact the gallery for details.

Right Here, Right Now

A visit to New Orleans to view Prospect.1 revealed that sprawling biennials, in their very nature, are diverse in quality and experience. Highlights of the exhibition include Mark Bradford’s Mithra in the Lower Ninth Ward, Deborah Luster’s Chorography of Violence at the Old Mint, and Willie Birch’s multi-panel drawings on display at the New Orleans Museum of Art.

What seems clear, however, is that large exhibitions such as Prospect require an intellectual commitment that is in part a cross between excessive consumption without processing and what I term “art guilt” at the incapacity to closely view every single installation.

One wonders how our visual culture developed to a state of what I term “checklist viewing”, one in which our experiences of art become as much about how much is seen as it is about what is actually seen. This approach to viewing seems to equate quality and quantity, a proposal most of us would dismiss in almost any other context. As conscientious viewers, we experience an obligation to understand every thread that the modern day curator lays behind as they work their way through the exhibition labyrinth.

In the end, what is evident is that, perhaps, smaller is not necessarily better, but it is certainly different. In relation to Prospect.1, the experiences were mitigated in part by venues that were not open when I arrived. That doesn’t mean they weren’t open, it just means at that precise moment I couldn’t view them. The end result is that a component of the cultural discourse being constructed remained out of reach, to be partially filled in by my experiences and knowledge of the artists in question. Sometimes, return visits proved more fruitful, but not all viewers have the same motivations, interests or opportunities.

I am inquisitive about the long-term significance of the biennal-inspired model for viewing art. I wonder how it affects our capacity to think deeply about what we see. As the clock ticks closer to closing time, do we too merely pass by believing that we undestand what artists wish to say, or do we risk a somewhat smaller, yet deeper, dialogue with what is right here, right now?