Wednesday, September 24, 2014

(Temporary) Good News For Food-Powered Robots

Grain and cereal staples are having another bumper crop. Corn and soya bean (soya bean, that's so cute) yields are out the roof. Good news for you starch and meat eaters (and yes, I have been experiencing sticker shock in my meat buying), not to mention you high fructose corn syrup sugary drink and candy consumer types. Bad news for food rioters.

Problem is, I prefer other things. Coffee, chocolate, herbs, spices*

This past summer, I got hold of some farm stand blueberries from Michigan. They were superb. Later, I had some really tiny, super-sweet strawberries we call Louisiana strawberries. After that, I had a hankering for some more. I bought blueberries grown in California and Florida, and I might as well have been eating plastic. Ditto the supermarket strawberries.

This is why, I think I have decided to become a fan of Slow Food. Slow food should be more properly called Endangered Food. I know the Food Movement has been around for awhile, most prominently cheered on by the likes of Michael Pollan, and I think it is time we recognize that cheap food - industrial food - is not cheap at all. And it pretty much sucks.

*Basically almost everything on my "Things I Will Miss After The Apocalypse" list, which I saw on a planting table in a dream I had wherein I had built a greenhouse in Iceland. I grew cocoa trees in it, and other fun things and their were birds of many colors living among the plants. A Dutch guy in a pilgrim suit invaded the greenhouse, broke the glass, let in the cold glacial winds, and he clubbed the last remaining dodo to death. Huh.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Expo Chicago 2014

I attended the event yesterday, Sunday. As usual, the people were more interesting than the art. Quite a cast of characters there, including one guy as thick as the Hulk, and wearing what looked like an theatrical asbestos fire curtain cut into a suit. The suit looked to be an inch thick and the guy was sweating like crazy. Oh, and I guess skinny fire engine red pants and high-heeled boots are the in thing amongst the gays and hipsters.

The art was, eh, well, play it safe for the masses type of art. A lot of pastel paintings. A lot of established artists. A LOT of flat screen TVs with fancy frames around them. As such the images were mostly static, and only a few were animated to take advantage of the TV.

I kind of wished I had brought in a dongle and a TV remote, and switched the paintings over to the Broncos vs. Seahawks game. I wonder how that would have gone down?

I also was at a booth that had a unattended tackle box open to a sheet stack of red dots. (Red dots are stickers placed next to works of art indicating they have been sold). I could have wreaked havoc and messed with heads had I stolen a sheet of red dots and visited gallery booths. Good thing I'm not evil.

Speaking of red dots, here's pics of works that I saw sold. First off was William Villalongo of Susan Inglett Gallery. William sold two nymphs.

He does some fun stuff with paper collage.

Cernuda Arte did quite well with four paintings sold.

This was a work done by the late Wifredo Lam.

This was a painting done by Miguel Florido.

Cuban art was a go this year. Not sure why. Local patrons I suppose...

John Malkovich teamed up with Sandro Miller to recreate famous photographs.  See this article.  These works will be on display at Catherine Edelman Gallery next month. When I saw this photo, I said to myself, that is one ugly broad:

David Bowie has an exhibition at Museum of Contemporary Art. He had some silkscreen prints up:

And here is other stuff I saw that caught my eye...

(Courtesy Edelman Gallery, this one needs explaining, stacked negatives that pictures don't do justice to)

Francisco (Paco) Esnayra

Sorry, don't have info

Friday, September 19, 2014

How It's Made: The Lost Wax Process From Start To Finish

Last year I did a Kickstarter project to cast waxes. Part of the plea was to produce a video that showed how the little bronze trinket rewards were made using the lost wax process. I thought the video was gone forever, as I had deleted it off my computer for some reason. Sorting through various thumb drives, I found a copy of it. I posted the video to youtube, and here it is...

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Stuck In The 70s

Back in August of 1996, I was driving cross country back from Seattle to Chicago. I stopped in Osseo, Wisconsin for lunch at the Norske Nook. I had meat loaf, mashed potatoes, peas and carrots, and then a big piece of blueberry pie with vanilla ice cream.

Needless to say, what with this gut bomb in me, basically a thorium reactor in my belly, I started to get sleepy on I-90. Round about near the Tomah rest stop, a driver in a car next to me honked his horn and woke me up out of a probably several second slumber. That realization sent a surge of adrenaline through my system that allowed me to pull into a rest stop to get a nap.

But I've often wondered if I didn't die that day.

In which case, all this, the near twenty years duration since then, is perhaps a delusional afterlife experience, and hopefully some Helpers will be by soon to tell me I'm dead, and it is time to move on into the larger universe.

Or perhaps this is all some compressed relativistic death experience, and only a few seconds have passed since I crashed my car in '96, and this is the experience my brain goes through: the neurons suffer screaming oxygen deprivation as the blood pirouettes out of my severed head, which rolls on down I-90 next to other pieces of me.

It's not that I have any eldritch suspicions about this, it's just that that is a memory etched in my mind that is a signpost for a very different counterfactual outcome. One in which I do not exist, and you, dear reader, are not reading this.

And, if such strange thing can happen to individuals, can it happen to nations, or worlds?

Could it be that, in the same way I'm a little bit stuck in 1996, that the US of A is stuck in the 1970s?

Doesn't it feel that way? I'm told the zenith of western civilization was 1978. (I'm not entirely sure about that, as the physical convergence of the cheeseburger, french fries, and chocolate malted first occurred in a Chicago Walgreen's in 1926, so...)

But it could be that that was that, and everything has been just a mass hallucination since then?

Dude, the colors!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Back to Wax Working

I've a commission to make five molds for a sculptor who works primarily in clay. He handed over his ceramic pieces for me to mold in silicon rubber with plaster mother molds. If he is happy, I'll makes waxes from the molds and cast them for him, and then cast bronzes for the wax.

The deadline is end of October because these pieces will end up in Sofa Chicago (Sculptural Objects and Functional Art).

In my spare time, I'm back to making waxes which I plan to throw into the mix of casting his pieces. So far, just doodles, really.

Making this one made me stupid happy like a twelve-year-old. I call it "Space Tick Waffle Saucer".

I also made three small bronze machinerettes for my brother for this birthday...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Curatorial Positions Available in the Nostalgia Industries

I recently subscribed to Medium. I don't often read it, but one thing I find a little distressing is they have a read time posted for the article.

"This article will take two minutes to read.".

"This article will take thirty-six minutes to read".

I don't know who determines that. I've never seen an article that took longer than forty minutes to read.

I understand in the internet age that deep reading skills are atrophied and disappearing. Even though I object to the phrase "deep reading", I understand how the need for the term happened. After all, very small attention spans go back to the Golden Age of Television, and the near-epilepsy-inducing split-second editing harkens back at least to the Banana Splits Hour. All those Saturday morning children hopped up on sugary cereals and drinks...

So, perhaps they should have come up with the term Deep Watching. You know, sitting still in front of a TV and absorbing one entire show without flipping channels. If it happened, it never occurred after the invention of the TV remote, or cable...

Which leads me to the title. Eventually, TV will be part of the nostalgia industries. TV will be for hobbyists and enthusiasts of what Bruce Sterling called Dead Media. Now, though Chairman Bruce came up with the term long before anyone thought it necessary, his category is now subsumed within mine.

As I've stated in another essay, my definition of Nostalgia Industries are any human activity or artifice, that is supplanted by something more modern. Example: LPs, film cameras, manually operated looms...

Take the LP boom, vinyl records are being made again, and styluses, and people like analog sound. You also can find buggy whip manufacturers, and even, yes, stone knapping kit manufactures (in case you want to make a stone hand axe). The fact of the matter is, no matter how sophisticated and digital we become, we can't live entirely in our heads. We like, and need, things that can be handled, and that are part of the word, part of the natural world, that are simple, homely, and... real. It is likely that we shall remain as embodied minds inhabiting a physical substrate (rather than, say, being uploaded into a supercomputer to live an unencumbered virtual life), and as such, we would prefer things that can be handled, that are... real.

If you accept an optimist's view of history, that humankind and knowledge and progress continue forward, then the Nostalgia Industries are a guaranteed growth regime. There will always be jobs in the Nostalgia Industries. Moreover, curatorial jobs will be the types of jobs that there are. Rewarding jobs, filled with dignity. This is a good thing. Skills will be retained, threatened materials will be required, conservation and restoration techniques conserved and refined. This requires that we bring a sense of stewardship to what would otherwise be little better than a life of mindless bacterial replication and consumption. (And we know how that's going, with a thousand times the extinction rate prior to our preeminent rise upon the planet).

But it gets better! Consider, for example, that as each formerly new artifice or industry becomes obsolete, it can in turn be combined and permuted with other obsolete forms of artifice! So, like wood cuts? How about sampled woodcuts, edited upon a clunky old computer, printed off using a clunky old 3D printer or similar gadget. Like those funky old wearable computational devices? Spruce them up with intaglio techniques, embed them in a really nice piece of textile cranked out on a power loom.

The thing is, though, and rather like avant-garde art, you can't do the new unless you understand the old, and you can't understand the old if it disappears. All the more reason to preserve not just human things, but the very substrate that allows humanity to exist at all: the natural world. As such, hobbyist fetishism just might help play a role in trying to conserve as much of our world as we can, which would be good for everything.

The possibilities, the longer we hang around as a species, could be endless...

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rubber, Meet Road

Briefly, and hopefully, solely for this year, my political predictions.

It's gonna suck.

In Illinois, Bruce Rauner will take the governorship. Bruce Rauner will suck as governor.

Illinois, known for a corrupt state government, is going to move down the path of a different kind of corruption. Rauner, a vulture capitalist like Romney, who thinks that term limits are a good idea (term limits are anti-democracy and basically mean that you, the voter, are too fucking stupid to know when to get rid of someone), has proven himself to be every bit the careerist politician that he denounces. He claims that, as a rich guy, he will incorruptible and can stand up to special interests. Funny how that claim never manages to pan out in real life. Why, even the Founding Fathers couldn't live up to that claim.

When Rauner is elected, you will see the same crowd enriching themselves off the public dole. True, new characters will be introduced as the state sells off much of its assets to Rauner's cronies. (And not just Rauner's cronies. In politics, everyone gets paid, especially the opposition). Payments will made for privatization of state services, which will entail shuttering public institutions in favor of services provided by Rauner cronies, to the tune of shoddier products, shittier services, and in smaller dollops. There is no reason to think that the neoliberal trend started under Reagan/Thatcher will reverse itself before another generation is wasted. My prediction is that Illinois will become a failed state like Somalia... or Kansas. Still, the .01% will do very well from this failure.

Likewise, at the federal level, the Senate will go Republican. This presents an interesting problem for the GOP. Formerly, their strategy was to obstruct, or at the least, sit on the sidelines and piss and moan. This strategy worked well enough so long as they were not in power. Well, with a gerrymandered forever lock on the House, and then a majority in the Senate, Republicans will be forced to govern.

They realize they have a problem. I know that they don't have a solution. As such, Obama will enjoy an easy two years of lame duck presidency, happily vetoing whatever dip-shittery the GOP Congress spastically squirts his way. The GOP seems quite determined to turn the 2012 presidential clown car into a 2014 congressional clown frat house.

Great for entertainment purposes, not so great for the average American citizen (especially those who fall below the predatory economic extraction borderline into the Harvest Zone - that area where, if you are the wrong color, or of the wrong birthplace, or don't earn enough, you will be harvested by the appropriate private and corporate-owned-public instruments).

So, if you thought life wasn't shitty enough, get ready to not be disappointed!