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The rantings of a Southern Bitch-Diva

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I mentioned before that there is a show in London at the ICA opening called Talk Show, which I would love to see but that ain’t happening, so I am enjoying it through their research page. This piece of performance writing from Chris Mann, maybe if you hit it hard, I found oddly enjoyable and lovely even, though also sometimes frustrating in a wanting to shake the artist until his teeth rattled some sense out from between his lips. It plays in a cat with a mouse sort of way with the questions of the Subject, the object, the relation between them and broader questions of what language does.

A long selection of the glorious, ridiculous and down right annoying language games of Chris Mann:

ttToBe thinks it has a sense of humour. it is afterall the classic transformative object. which is only to say that its a Name. (though of course any word will Do. and coz the known is that which cant be Thought, and coz its the Sequence of, of, of Notes that make it Whistleable, the Subject then is that name given to a style of Cop. the latin for this is Form. (Grammar, that which turns the Unconscious Negation into the Conscious Affirmation, the standard Addiction .. and as you is my unconscious, and therefore Lack an Object, weÕre left with the choice of whether this is a Symptom, or a, Field, you know, whatyouseeiswhatyouget, Sense, the successful defEnce (where you both blame it for not being something Else, And love it for not being You. This, as freud used to say, is Shit. (twodownfouracross two letters, It. the Shrink. (fuck, what Is this, some sort of private joke? (though not knowing WhoÕs, is of course the demand that it fail to Translate. (the past of Past, Fucked. ( .. the Subject, the amnesiac Object. Ashamed. Humiliated. iÕm bored. (not bad. whatdya call, what Is that, Haiku for Me? (though not All metaphors is Voyeurs. some still need a noun to make them come.
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So the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London is about to launch Talk Show, which I would very much like to see. Seeing as that is not likely, barring small miracles, I have to make do with the Research and Documentation pages of their website (nothing yet on the Documentation page).

The Research page has essays, excerpts from longer works, video clips and other “specially-curated content.” Most look interesting so I’ve added the links on this page to my sh*t to read folder. The first piece is an extract from Mikhail Yampolsky’s Voice Devoured: Artaud and Borges on Dubbing and essay that “explores the relationship between the voice and cannibalism.”

The selection only looks at Antonin Artaud. Now the thing you have to know about Artaud is that he was brilliant but also without a doubt bat shit crazy. That is not the way snotty intellectuals like to put it, but it is the way I like to put it. Keep this in mind. Yampolsky looks at Artaud’s article The Torments of dubbing, a piece about French actors dubbing American films for next to nothing. Yampolsky posits that this at first glance positive article is complicated by Artaud’s “mistrust of the audible word.”

Because Artaud wrote a now lost screenplay for The Dybbuck, Yampolsky asks us to imagine the dybbuk, a revengeful possessing spirit from Jewish legend, along side the character in a dubbed film. The dybbuk steals the voice of the live human it possesses, the film star steals the voice of the underpaid French actor.

According to Yampolsky there an overtly satantic subtext to the article on dubbing, which points to how “ghoulish” it is that dubbing snatches the personality or the soul (I’m paraphrasing here).

It all boils down to Artaud losing his mind over this “question of reciprocal alienation of voice and body.” The extract does not resolve anything but leaves us with the King of Differance Derrida restating Artuad’s dilemma.

If my speech is not my breath (souffle), if my letter is not my speech, this is because my spirit was already no longer my body, my body no longer my gestures, my gestures no longer my life. The integrity of the flesh torn by all these differences must be restored in the theatre.

All this assumes the reader is familiar with Artaud’s idea of the Theatre of Cruelty, as outlined in The Theatre and Its Double. Which I won’t go into much since it has been a while since I read it. But in sassy Sheila shorthand, Artaud wanted to slap the audience around a bit- with shocking lighting, sound, performance- and in this moment of SM fun and games, would somehow lead to “a kind of severe moral purity,” to the truth.

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As my leg continues to so slowly, too slowly, heal, I continue to log just the art data part of An Exercise. Tomorrow I am going to try to do push ups and sit ups- which might be too difficult- you’d be surprise how injuring a major muscle makes all sorts of things hard to do.

Anyway, here’s today’s data:

1.5 hours reading (theory, new media essay)
1 hour writing about readings
1 hour writing (rough drafts, first thoughts for potential Daily Dose)
10 minutes writing (free write part of An Exercise)

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These are rough notes, not well thought out arguments. Please keep that in mind if you decide to read.

Ocean, Database, Recut by Grahame Weinbren is the third chapter in the anthology Database Aesthetics: Art in the Age of Information Overflow edited by Victoria Vesna.

The chair of my project in lieu of thesis committee (academia cannot imagine calling an art project a thesis- heaven forbid- we are encouraged to wrap our projects in a protective coating of theory, but to suggest that the project itself has the same intellectual rigor as a thesis cannot be countenanced), anyways, she had suggested the article. I dutiful copied it and left it to molder in the sh*t to read folder.

I pulled it out of the folder today. It is fairly straightforward analysis of how the concept and use of databases are changing not only how we produce artwork (Weinbren focuses mainly on film and video) but how we consume those works. Weinbren uses a passage from Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories to establish the Ocean of Streams of Story as an unifying metaphor for his essay.

His argument is plausible though not particular compelling. Basically, Weinbren argues that new technologies using databases privilege multilinearity over linear narrative.

The best part of his essay was his description of three art films that manage to allude to this notion the narrative(s) of the film are just one possible way through the database of available material. The works put the question of their materiality front and center. All three films sound arresting. I would very much like to see them.

(nostalgia) by Hollis Frampton
Why Do Things Get in a Muddle? (Come on, Petunia) by Gary Hill
Obsessive Becoming by Dan Reeves

Weinbrun then goes on to talk about his own work for a few pages. I wished he had started with the artwork, his own and the other work and then brought in the theory. The way he wrote makes it seem that he uses the theory as a slight of hand trick so he can slide in a discussion of his own work but not look like he is tooting his own horn. Because of course, since he develops his theoretical understandings through his art practice, he must refer to his work. If he develops his ideas through his artwork, then damn it, start with the work.

Perhaps I’m jaded from reading a few too many “new media” theorists who have a tendency to think that what is happening is brand new, a “change in what it means to be human,” and that is is somehow better and truer than the old, more oppressive modes. When too often, if we dig deep enough we will find that shifts that they are trying to document are not so new; and that multilinear artworks are not really that much truer than linear ones.

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Friendship as a Way of Life is an interview with Michel Foucault collected in Ethics: Subjectivity and Truth. The interview was originally conducted for the French magazine Gai Pied in 1981.

I found it on AAAARG.ORG, which is good resource when you are in theory geek mode and want to read some short little snippet of something thick and chewy. I went in search of a snippet of The Order of Things, which they did not have, because the copy of the first chapter that I have has someone else’s notations and underlining, which I am in no mode to deal with. I want a pristine copy to mark up; so I can pretend I am exploring a new world, a virgin territory ready for me to conquer.

It is interesting to read this piece considering when it was written and think about what has happened since with the advent of an even more vocal and visible and expand GLBTQ movement and the all too brief love affair of academia and the art world with identity politics, which is supposedly now passe and dated. (I know there are plenty of problems with identity politics, but damn it some of it is useful and still being worked out in the trenches of day to day life even if the academy and snouty artsy fartsy folks distain it).

I highlight a long quote because I find it interesting to think of in light of the current battles to legalize same sex marriage.

One of the concessions one makes to others is not to present homosexuality as anything but a kind of immediate pleasure, of two young men meeting in the street, seducing each other with a look, grabbing each other’s asses and getting each other off in a quarter of an hour. There you have a kind of neat image of homosexuality without any possibility of generating unease, and for two reasons: it responds to a reassuring canon of beauty, and it cancels everything that can be troubling in affection, tenderness, friendship, fidelity, camaraderie, and companionship, things that our rather sanitized society can’t allow a place for without fearing the formation of new alliances and the tying together of unforeseen lines of force. I think that’s what makes homosexuality “disturbing”: the homosexual mode of life, much more than the sexual
act itself. To imagine a sexual act that doesn’t conform to law or nature is not what disturbs people. But that individuals are beginning to love one another-there’s the problem. The institution is caught in a contradiction; affective intensities traverse it which at one and the same time keep it going and shake it up.

I think there is some truth to this still. People fighting against same sex marriage do not want what they see as other, what they castigate as immoral and depraved, to be seen as anything like their partnerships. If a sizable portion of the LGBTQ community is legally settled down into domestic situations that share the same headaches as heterosexual ones- mortgages, health problems, bills, never ending chores, battles over whose turn it is to cook dinner, having to schedule sex due to lack of time and energy- all the hallmarks of domestic “bliss”- then it becomes harder to say look at those depraved sinners who are nothing like us. When they point people will see normal seeming harried couples.

There are problems with the GBLTQ drive to mainstream, which I won’t go into now but instead will point to writers like Patrick Califia and Mattidla Bernstein Sycamore for criticism on the drive to assimilation.

While we like to laugh at how ridiculous their tactics can be, as in the National Organization for Marrige’s Gathering Storm video, I think Foucault’s observation made way back in 1981 was prescient of the intensity of groups like NOM.

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2 hours art promoting (bits and pieces)
34 minutes art research (watching The Politics in the Room)
20 minutes writing (about research)
10 minutes writing (An Exercise free write)
1 hour writing (Daily Dose)

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The Politics in the Room is a collection of videos instead of exploring politics in general, try to follow “the politics of the room” one is in. I’m am counting it as a reading because I’ve been saving it to watch and think about and because any collection of videos loaded with theory counts as sh*t to read as far as I’m concerned.

I was underwhelmed by the collection. It may be because I am a bit cranky from dealing with an annoying, tiresome injury that makes it hard to do much of what I need/want to do for a bit over a week now. Or it may be because these pieces really are not that good or interesting. Goddard is boring/tedious in a good way, these videos, as a whole, are boring/tedious in a bad way.

I rejoiced at the few moments of humor that lightened the mood. I suppose my main criticism is that as a whole the videos in this collection take themselves too seriously, are too artsy fartsy in an unoriginal way. And I can get down with some artsy fartsy.

I enjoyed the first one by Claire Hope even though I don’t know if the world needs more almost but not quite Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus type pieces. I couldn’t quite suss out if the artist believes the differences are biological or not, but it did not interest me enough to watch again to figure it out.

The eighth video by Mayling To had some nice moments but overall was a boring regurgitation of passages of psychoanalytic theory with a little bit of visual commentary.

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I’m logging the data from three days worth of An Exercise because I previous logged the April 18th data under April 17th.

4/17/09
30 minutes art facilitation
30 minutes reading about art
1.5 hour writing about art
1 hour “rehearsal” (warm ups, make-up, costuming, preparing)
1.5 hours performing
1 hour writing (Daily Dose)
10 minutes writing (An Exercise log free write)

4/18/09
1 hour proposal writing
1 hour “rehearsal”
1.5 hours performing
10 minutes writing (An Exercise log free write)

4/19/09
30 minutes writing in character of Bishop Bishop online
30 minutes project work (buying a copy of play I’m hoping to direct)
1.5 hours “rehearsing” (include time after play doing photos)
1 hour proposal writing (Acrosstown Repertory Theatre)
3 hours proposal writing (Crawl Space Residency)

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1 hour proposal work
1 hour “rehearsal”
1.5 hours performance
10 minutes writing (free write)

I have begun to see some light at the end of the injury tunnel. The leg is beginning to heal. I still have limited range of movement. It still is swollen. And when I get up first thing in the morning it is a incredible painful, awkward experience. The muscle contracts so tightly during the night that I cannot put my heel on the floor. I had the normal hell waking up today- but I was able to do more without pushing it. Moving is getting a little less awkward. All of this is exciting because it means eventually I’ll be able to start the walking part of this project. Ooh, and ride my bike, too.

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In the guise of Bishop Bishop</a>, I get closer to my goal of doing The Daily Dose of the Good (and Not So Good) Words.

If you decide to follow any of the links, I feel I must warn you that Bishop Bishop is not your normal sort of preacher. Bishop Bishop is loud, salacious and provocative. Bishop Bishop may or may not believe in god and doesn’t give a fig about the afterlife. Bishop Bishop preaches about the economy, sex, gender, politics, the meaning of life, the complexity of it all, sex, more sex, religious life- which is what many preachers deal with, but Bishop Bishop is way far to the left of most popular preachers.

The tick of eros

Off the cuff

Off the cuff: Amputee Porn

See more progress on: Write 12 Daily Doses in April 09
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