Author Archives: Paul Booker

Christian Marclay

Christian Marclay is one of those artists who seems to have experimented with almost every medium out there. In the 1980’s he was pioneering the use of the turntable as an experimental musical instrument by playing intentionally scratched or skipping records on multiple turntables simultaneously. He has performed with some of the giants of avant garde music such as John Zorn and the Kronos Quartet.

He is also a sculptor and installation artist who works with found materials that always involve the idea of sound.

Tape Fall- reel to reel recorder, ladder, magnetic tape, 1989

Moebius Loop- cassette tapes, zip ties, 1994

 

Virtuoso- altered accordion, 2000

He is a collage artist who uses album covers as his medium.

And most recently, he is a video artist who obsessively cuts and splices together scenes from existing films of similar everyday actions such as telephone conversations or people checking the time on a clock or a watch.

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Craig Stecyk: The Inventor of Skateboarding as an Artform Rather Than a Fad

What I have always loved about skateboarding is the individual expression involved in the sport… Whereas other sports involve statistics and records based on a set of strict guidelines, skateboarding literally makes up the rules as it goes… In other words, there are no rules… and that is what is so beautiful about the sport. I tend to think that it is more art than it is sport…

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Damned Tornadoes Interfereing with My Art

All I wanted to do today was to go to Eastfield College in Mesquite, Texas and install about 700 arrows in the ceiling of a hallway there for an exhibition at the school called “Temporary Occupants”. My piece is called “Inhale-Exhale” and it involves the arrows interacting with the intake and output air vents in the ceiling of the hallway…

But just like every other time it seems like I have to install or transport artwork, mother nature just HAS to show me who’s boss… Fifteen tornadoes were spotted in the DFW area this afternoon, many just miles from my location, and so two hours of my precious install-time were spent sitting in the basement awaiting the impending doom…

And if that image is not enough, here is a video from the same storm of some semi-trailers being tossed about like balloons… And THAT is the tornado that was still headed toward Mesquite, exactly where I was installing artwork.

Amazingly, we dodged that bullet and my truck survived without even a hail dent. I was finally allowed to continue my installation and I was finished by around 9:00 tonight. So at least mother nature was simply a road-block and not a wrecking ball for my artwork…In retrospect, the mechanics of fluid motion that are at play in a storm are exactly the things I am interested in with the air currents in this piece on a much smaller scale. Coincidence? I think not… 😉 Here are some images I got of the finished work tonight.

"Inhale-Exhale" 2012 detail image

"Inhale-Exhale" 2012- detail image

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Nobody knows you and nobody gives a damn anyway.

I think I’ll round off the evening with one of my all time favorite music videos by a band called Wolf Parade… The song is titled “I’ll Believe in Anything”. The line from that song, “nobody knows you and nobody gives a damn anyway”, is one of the most humbling, but also one of the most freeing lines from recent rock music…

You see, when people know you, they have expectations based on what you’ve done before… But when they don’t know you, then you have nothing to lose and you are free to try anything and everything… I just wish that more established artists could realize this and get over their own success…

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Kony 2012- The New Face of Christian Evangelism

By now you’ve probably seen the slickly produced and obviously well financed video called “Kony 2012”. When you first see the video, it’s hard not to be moved by it. But what is never discussed amid all of the heartstring plucking is that “Invisible Children“, the group who produced the video, are financed in part by the National Christian Foundation, the very same group who funds anti-gay groups such as Focus on the Family and The Family Research Council. This article in The Advocate has a deeper analysis and I thought this portion of 10 O’Clock Live with Charlie Brooker was also insightful on the subject.

All of this could have never prepared me for the completely surreal and ironic turn of events within the last day or so. The seemingly angelic director of the “Kony 2012” video, Jason Russell, was detained by the San Diego police Thursday for being publicly naked, masturbating and obviously drug-induced (although his business partners claim it was stress related). The video is NSFW, so I will link to it and you can watch at your own discretion.

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Jac Mac & Rad Boy

All this talk about Nite Flights got me thinking about memories of a certain television show by a similar name.

If it was the mid-1980’s and you were up late and bored on a Friday night, you could probably find something interesting on Night Flight. I’m not going to go into specifics about the show here, but I think it’s a goldmine for forgotten film shorts, music videos, interviews… and way-out animation such as this:

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Supersilent 10.8

It was a year ago today that the 9.0 magnitude earthquake hit Japan causing the resulting tsunami and disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant. Soon after watching the devastation in Japan unfold, I remember coming across this video where someone paired the hauntingly beautiful song,”10.8″, by Supersilent with footage from the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake that devastated San Francisco. I remember being floored by the video because of the parallels with what was going on currently in Japan and being helpless to do anything about it. I posted the video in my own blog and here is what I wrote about it a year ago:

The footage is from the aftermath of the San Fransisco earthquake from 1906. It kind of puts a historical lens on things that are currently happening in Japan and how catastrophes like this are viewed from those of us who are looking at it through the eye of the camera…

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The Artist Who Cut a House in Half- Gordon Matta-Clark, Splitting, 1974

Both my sculpture and my painting have always been influenced by architecture, but my first exposure to the work of Gordon Matta-Clark changed the way I think about architecture fundamentally. His sculptural work was not only about architecture, but it used existing architecture as its medium much like a stone carver used a block of marble as a medium to carve a statue from. For Matta-Clark, the house itself was the medium to be used to create the work.

For some reason, my brain has always thought in terms of architectural spaces and I think that Matta-Clark’s rupturing of those spaces exposes a lot about the psychology of the public and the private. In all of the apartments I have ever lived in, I’ve realized that the layout had a utilitarian purpose. The bathrooms line up with other bathrooms because of the plumbing and the bedrooms line up with other bedrooms for sleeping purposes. That means that in your apartment, on the other side of your bedroom wall, you may very well be sleeping literally two feet away from someone you don’t know, which has always been something I’ve had to tell myself is perfectly normal when I still think it’s creepy.

Although this video is filmed in silent Super 8, it does capture the hard work involved in cutting an actual house in half and then lowering the back half a few inches so that the entire thing opens up.

Another thing that I find interesting about this piece is  the fact that he cut the four corners out of the house before it was finally demolished… The major point of the entire artwork is the fact that it existed outside the museum, but these were the the few things that the museum could keep as souvenirs, or possibly the “scalps” of the house that was to be demolished within weeks of the completion of the work.

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ART THOUGHTZ: Performance Art

A new installment of “ART THOUGHTZ” on the subject of performance art by my favorite internet art critic, Hennesy Youngman.

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Marcin Jakubowski: Open sourced blueprints for civilization

From TED:

Using wikis and digital fabrication tools, TED Fellow Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing the blueprints for 50 farm machines, allowing anyone to build their own tractor or harvester from scratch. And that’s only the first step in a project to write an instruction set for an entire self-sustaining village (starting cost: $10,000).

Marcin Jakubowski is open-sourcing a set of blueprints for 50 farming tools that can be built cheaply from scratch. Call it a “civilization starter kit.”

I don’t know if it’s specifically a product of the recession or if it’s a periodic generational thing, but I find it very encouraging to see more and more young college-educated people going into these very idealistic endeavors such as sustainable farming at exactly a time when small family owned farms are being put out of business left and right by large corporate owned farms.

I contrast this “be the change you want to see” kind of idealism with the cynicism of my own generation and it makes us Gen X’ers seem like a bunch of pessimistic blowhards. While I do think that the spirit of DIY was very much a part of Generation X, that spirit always seemed to be aimed at criticism and destruction rather than optimism and construction. We had the bad luck of being born at the ass end of a previous age of optimism, idealism and great social change, but the party of the 1960’s was over and Gen X was the hangover.

Recently though, it does seem like there has been another sea-change in the general mood of the entire world. People are angry, certainly, and things are bad, yes, but there is also this feeling that the tiny individual can actually change the world for the better. This is the feeling that was almost completely absent during the formative years for many people from my generation X and I am glad to see it here once more. Whether it be the Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement, or these young college-educated people buying small farms, I am really glad to see a return of the idea that the individual can make a difference.

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