2/23/09

You Can Have Whatever You Like

I haven't posted in a while. This usually has happened in the past with my blogs but I am back now and will make a little post before I fall asleep. This past week or more has been the greatest of my 24 years. I couldn't be happier right now with life. Everything is going the way I'd hoped. The best things happen when you don't plan or put any stock into it. It might sound cliche but the greatest things or people can enter your life when you least expect them to. So before I divulge into my usual rant, I just wanna let those who might actually read this (although you probably already know me in some way) that I LOVE LIFE!

Now everyone can dream but a dream is something that you'll eventually wake up from. Even Martin Luther King had a dream. Today blacks and whites are still not equal. Yes there have been great strides made for the betterment of blacks and hispanics in America but there are still as many ghettos and housing projects as before. If low income housing and "planned communities" aren't racist then I don't understand the definition of the word.

The reality of the issue is that not everyone will be able to be what they want. I hear this all the time whenever someone or something breaks the boundaries of modern life. When Obama won the election last year so many people were quoted as saying that they now feel as if anything is possible. Well there are more opportunities then before in some ways. Then again reality is still rough and unfair. The reality is that the black child on the TV news will most likely not become president. That is if that child comes from one of these impoverished and purposley forgotten places were he won't get a proper education because there is not enough money or support to make sure that he succeeds.

President Obama on the other hand provides much better hope that these children will be able to live a better life. Using Obama as a role model rather then many current black role models will be way more positive in these children's lives. The problem lies in the role models these children of ghetto/project have. A person who has lots of money becomes the apple of the pauper's eye. Now generally the ones that have the money and rose up from the ghetto are one of two types. The first is a drug dealer or pimp. The next is the rap star who rises from rags to riches and live that lavish style like its the only way to be. The problem with both of these types is the they setback their community. They further oppress the oppressed by continuing to further a cause that has zero beneficial aspects for improvement. By continuing to stress that the only important things in life are money, women, guns and drugs there can never be a positive outcome from those who consider these people to be role models. It doesn't matter that these people don't consider themselves to be role models, people are going to idolize them because they have what they don't and hear about all the time.

There is good hip-hop though. Many rappers must have realized that what they say and do is a reflection on their community and therefore will make music with thoughtful lyrics. The ones that continue to babble on about drugs, money, and "shorties" need to stop in order to end racism and oppression.

2/11/09

Why Are Lawmakers so Stupid?

Just a quick thought:
Regarding this article I saw while going to check my Email:
Prison Overpopulation in CA

So the Govenator is giving his own theories to help cut down on prison overpopulation. How bout re-thinking the drug laws? Stop putting people in jail for crimes that therapy or rehab can control and fix... Morons.

2/9/09

J Camel and Jay-Z


Last night during the Grammy's, Melissa pointed out the amazing resemblance between Jay-Z and Joe Camel. Anyone who lived in the 90's will appreciate the fact that last night there was no doubt about the fact that Jay-Z looked like Joe Camel (RIP Joe). So check out this little image I created...On the left we have a picture I took of the TV showing Jay-Z last night at the Grammy's and on the right we have the original gangster Joe Camel...If I didn't tell you this you'd probably still be trying to figure it out!

2/8/09

Crap Overload!

Wow this weekend pop culture just took a huge crap on America's chest.
So Micheal Phelps, who is one of the greatest living atheletes today is made out by the media as a junkie. Why? Because the greatest olympic champion of modern time took a hit of marijuana. When I heard a scandel was amidst with Phelps and drugs I immiediatly assumed performance inhancing drugs (don't worry steriods were included in this giant media shit storm). There is only three things I have to say in regards to this story. First of all, Marijuana shouldn't even be illegal. It is common knowledge that alchohal is far worse then a little (or a lot) of THC. How many overdoeses have been related to marijauna in history? If you guessed zero then pat yourself on the back. Second of all, he is known to have smoked Marijauna (assuming that this wasn't the very first time) and won 8 gold medals in China? The man seems even more amazing with this fact. Everyone who has smoked pot knows what it does to your mind and body. As far as the mind goes it can make you very unmotivated. Yea you will have a great idea (at least you think it might be), but you will most likely never accomplish it because your too stoned. Thats not to say that pot hasn't accomplished great things. Music, art and film have all benifited from America's favorite weed. But for the most part your gonna get high laugh a lot, play some wii, maybe draw or write (most of the time it will be nonsensical), fall asleep, and then forget most of what happened in the short term. Oh yea and of course eat! The effect that it has on the body is that you might gain weight from the "munchies." So there is no possible way that Phelp's swimming career would be benifited by this. If anything it should be celebrated news...He's a fucking young man! He like millions of other people in their twenties have gotten high. Wow big fucking deal. He didn't do crack cocain, herion, meth, pcp, special k or even popped some pills and got black out drunk. This was stupid news. Fuck the media.

It was no shock to me and probably most American baseball fans that A-rod had taken steroids. He took two kinds of roids in 2003 and who knows what else before or after that. A once great sport, the MLB is synonymous with another 3 letter acronym...HGH. I am annoyed with the drawn out witch hunt that is being conducted now.Although the MLB is responsible for its lax attitudes in the past with illicit drug use, these players are the ones to blame. There is nothing to my knowledge that is healthy about steriods. All you need to do is take one look at professional wrestling...How many older pro wrestlers besides Hulk Hogan look good? Not to many. Some have died (heart attack and stroke. Both terrible effects that steriods contribute to), the majority look like Randy "The Ram" Robinson..."A broken down piece of meat." I can understand a pro-wrestler doing it. That sport is soley entertainment. Wrestlers are actors and their body is part of their charecter. Sadly many of them remain nothing more then a charecter long after they leave the ring. What I don't understand is why an athelete would do that to their body. The short term effects are greater ability to train for strength and quicker muscle growth but what is too good to be true most likely always is. Many baseball players of the olden days lived to a ripe old age, what will the future entail for these players of the "steriod age." Its a shame that I started this paragraph with the bold statement that I wasn't shocked when I heard the news. The problem is I can't trust any player of the "steriod age." This is a sad sad state for baseball. However the media needs to stop putting this on the front page of every New York paper. There are more important things happening here then rich assholes juicing it up and lying about it.

Tonight was the Grammy's...I usually don't watch and I was reminded why that was many times tonight. There were many good moments in the music industry world tonight. I'm glad Jennifer Hudson won, she is talented for sure. Blink 182 is back, which can be either good or terrible news. The Four Tops tribute was excellent. Lil' Wayne's tribute to New Orleans was excellent. That was one of the best Grammy performances for sure. On the downside there is the Jonas Brothers, who should neveer win a grammy. Stevie Wonder isn't deaf, I am suprised he didn't walk off the stage hearing the lastest fad try to perform "Superstition." Last but not least, the final award for best album was a sham...Led Zepplin was great, Robert Plant's lastest album was not...Thats all I have to say.

In conclusion I am constantly reminded how much the corporate media sucks. We are all slaves to them.

2/5/09

We The Curators

What must be in order to ensure that a curator or artist is successful in an audience’s perception of their exhibition? The most obvious preparations include the proper planning of the gallery space, obtaining the work and the general objective behind the show. We must not make any concessions to these simple factors because the general audience will take notice of obvious flaws. For a thematic show this means that the artwork should be a representation of the theme. It can either be a direct correspondence with the theme such as narration or it should provide the audience with a proper conceptual interpretation of the theme. If an audience has to spend too much time questioning why a work is there or what relevance it has, we have failed. The average museum and gallery patron is a tourist and they won’t take as much time as a professional critic, curator or artist might. In simplest of terms we should show what we wish to tell (just like in kindergarten when we all had show and tell). This means that we have to have a full knowledge of all the work that we are presenting. In a solo show the questions may be: is the focus a time period? If it is a certain time period we must look at what the artist was doing specifically then. It’s not an overview of his or her career so to speak. Is it a full retrospective? If it’s a full retrospective then what pieces in particular will we need to be certain that the artist’s career is understood and received. We can never assume that the average museum goers will have encyclopedic knowledge of the artist. Most of the time they won’t. But we should never dumb down material in our exhibition. We the curators need to direct the exhibition in a way that the theme encourages the viewer to both feel apart of the art and let them explore the exhibition. If they feel diminished or ashamed that the concept is above their heads, we need to find a way that they can make something out of the experience. In other words allow them to use their imagination and inherent knowledge to become personally involved in the exhibition. A successful exhibition should blend the lines between subjective and objective viewing. Too much cramming will cause fatigue of most viewers. Therefore a good curator has to decide what is best suitable for showing. The only way to successfully achieve this is to have an appreciation and understanding for the artists work.

Robert Storr says that the curator should not think of himself or herself as the artist, but as the planner (first essay in: Paula Marincola, ed. What Makes A Great Exhibtion? Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, 2006). To this statement I agree. You won’t be successful if your trying to create your own artistic statement through the artists works. However, I do believe that it is helpful for the curator to have a general knowledge of aesthetics, and being artists themselves will be beneficial to understanding certain situations that may arise in the exhibition planning. Generally most artists tend to be greater problem solvers then the general population. Problem solving is almost always going to come up when you’re working with an exhibition. Constraints with the space can always be an issue. It is important to address whatever is going to be a potential problem in the earliest stages of exhibition planning. Being an artist myself I understand the issues that might have arose in the artists mind as to what their aim was. Therefore I would be more comfortable to advise an artist as to what should be or shouldn’t be shown within the context of their exhibition. A good curator is kind of like an editor. All good editors need to have an understanding of how an author writes and an understanding of the language. Sometimes it will prove to be impossible for us to get a well-known work by an artist. We must learn to work around this problem, which usually makes the exhibition even more successful in the end (in the case of a retrospective it will be problematic, especially, if this is the first of such exhibitions for the artist). If you can prove your point for the show without stating the obvious the show might be even more valuable. Bigger museums typically will be able to get almost any loan they might want if they work things out well in advance. But that doesn’t always mean that their exhibition will be better then the smaller space. Some of an artists lesser known works are more pivotal and important to their career. You can have a very successful, memorable, and important DaVinci show without the Mona Lisa. The worst exhibitions for me are those that force-feed famous painting after painting into my head if I am already familiar with most of them. The MoMA is guilty of this in the past and present resulting in overcrowded exhibitions where I am completely turned off by the show so much that I end up angry with the artist and the museum!

Other key considerations we must think about have more to do with the nitty gritty aspects of the exhibition. Something that I like to call “accessories.” Labels are important but need to be limited if we are curating and art exhibition. If you have been to a museum you have probably seen people crowding around a piece but spend more time reading the little description then actually allowing themselves to take the art in “as is”. Labels should be to the art as a director’s commentary is to a movie. First and foremost the museum visitors should be engaged with the piece of art, then the label should only provide any additional insight to the piece or the artist. In terms of labels and graphic design, less is always more. Once again we want the art to speak for itself in every single case. Another thing to consider is whether or not to provide acoustic guides. Acoustic guides are usually very popular with tourists; I see tons of them at MoMA all the time (I am only picking on the MoMA because it’s one of the best-known museums that I enjoy visiting. Other large museums also use these techniques). Again referring back to what Robert Storr says in his essay: “The case made for audio guides is that they help members of the public to enter the artists world, but the fact is that they are more likely to keep them out…” I couldn’t agree more. First and foremost, not every single piece as you may have known is represented in the acoustic guide. It also takes a huge amount of importance out of the artwork. We are unable to spontaneously respond when some docent babbling on is distracting us from the artist’s intention and the works emotion. However I am partial to brochures. Small and well-designed brochures are always a nice way of summarizing the exhibition and provide visitors with a nice souvenir. I would keep my brochures to a minimum with key images that will remind people who already saw the exhibition of their visit. I might encourage visitors to only take a brochure as they are leaving the gallery. It seems logical to me to have a summarizing brochure at the exit of the exhibition rather then the entrance. The simple reason behind this is that as curator I wouldn’t want my audience to have their noses in the brochure and lose the experience of the exhibit.

Finally it is my opinion that in the end it should only be left to the curator what goes into the show. I read an article a few months back in ArtNews about the pressure that is put on both directors and curators to include either specific pieces of work or certain ideas for exhibitions. This pressure is due to the board of trustees. A board of trustees generally seems to consist of rich investors who (up till recently maybe) come from Wall Street. Generally these people have little to no extensive knowledge of art history and only care about their investment making a huge profit. I won’t deny that profit is extremely important to a museum’s survival (unless that museum is government funded. Which is something that really should be considered…ahem Barack Obama). Pressure from these people will only result in a bad show. A curator needs to be assertive, not passive aggressive. When a good show results in good press (from the media, critics, art historians, and knowledgeable bloggers) then the museum will achieve worthwhile and desirable credit. If the producer had more say over a director in a movie, the end result would be less artistic, dumbed down, and the movie more or less will flop.

DO YOU STEAL?

Well do you steal? Are you a plagiarizer? That has always been a major question in Modern Art...

Today I came across an article regarding the artist Shepard Fairey (previously mentioned in "hitting the books" post). It appears that AP alleged that he infringed upon their copyright on his famous Obama campaign poster. Fairey's "Hope" became the most famous image of Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign and it is now in the collection of The National Portrait Gallery in D.C. It will be in the upcoming show at the Contemporary Art Institute in Boston. It was even commissioned by the official campaign team of our 44th president.


In terms of creating work or designing you need to think both ethically and creatively. There is something that is called fair use in America. Fair use is basically the definition of appropriation. The act says that fair use is dependent on how much of the original is used and how it is viewed in juxtaposition.

If its appropriation its not theft. If you make the image your own by either changing the way others view it or completely distorting the image to create something completely different (the subject matter no longer reflects the original) then its not in any way an infringement on the original image. When I look at the photograph owned by the Associated Press and then at the artwork by Fairey I see two completely different images. One says "this is a picture of Obama..not art. I see these images all the time in the press...Its good journalism." The other says "this is a piece of street art for a grassroots movement. Hundreds of thousands of people took this image on their own, posted it in the streets, on buildings, all over. It was used in a movement similar to " Look at Andy Warhol, Duchamp, Richard Prince, Barbra Krueger and more, they "borrowed" like crazy and they are in art museums. Richard Prince can be best used in the argument as to whether appropriation is art. Prince literally took a picture of an existing photo, blew it up and that was his new piece. Now when you look at his cowboy series for example, the photos were taken from Marbello Cigarette advertisements. These ads were deceitful of the American West and the cowboy image. You look at them and are confronted by the question, "is it real?"

Richard Prince's appropriation is a perfect example of post-modernism. It plays with the question of what makes a cowboy real. Are these images when taken away from the original context of the cigarette add any more real? Do they depict the American west and the "cowboy" image any greater in his context? To me this is the definition of post-modern art. Now am I a fan of Prince's work? No I don't think he has the merits of many of his contemporaries (I prefer Cindy Sherman who appropriates ideas but uses original source material). But is it art? Yes it is...It belongs in museums and art history books.

I will say that some of Fairey's work seems to lack substance. Meaning that he seems to be appropriating just for the hell of it. But plagiarism? I came across an article that has resurfaced. Its by an artist by the name of Mark Vallen. Vallen accuses Fairey of being a complete hack and plagiarizer (Read his article here and then make your own judgment). However, take for example the images bellow. Clearly you can see the original image on the right of Yellowstone was the basis for Fairey's appropriation. But looking at the two images do you see a difference in use? Yes...One is an advert for tourism in Yellowstone, the other is a political parody that only used the ad as reference. They are completely different products in the end.

2/2/09

There Was a Football Game Last Night?

Of course I knew it was the Superbowl because everyone couldn't shut up about it. I wonder if those HDTV's that were on sale especially for the occasion sold well in this economy. Its a decent effort though, I can't argue that HDTV's are simply amazing. I had no interest in the game last night but then again I am not a football fan. I do enjoy watching a good competition though and the last two years haven't disappointed in terms of a well played game. I admire professional athletes and their dedication to their sport and their body. They certainly work hard but I never have agreed with the amount of money that they get. I understand that a professional athelete is a celebrity...I also don't think celebrities need to make more money then an entire third world nation. We would have a much better education system in this country if teachers got even half as much as the average celebrities salary. But there are those atheletes who make the most of their salary and are very charitable. Barry Zito gives a ton of that insane contract the Giants gave him on charity and donates even more of his time to worthy causes (I am really glad the Mets didn't give him that money though). There are a lot of stupid and arrogant atheletes (even more celebreties) who don't deserve any of the money they get. Football has had a long history with criminals. The worst of the worst is OJ, and I'm glad to see he finally lost everything. But every single season I hear about problems with pro football players and the law. These morons have the greatest experiance of their lives. They have the chance to play professional sports and make a ton of money. They have a chance to be role models and help those who aren't as fortunate. But they are just rich gangsters. Instead of shooting someone on the street, they'll do it at some posh club. Its a joke. Anyways congratualtions to Pittsburg.