Interview with Art Crimes Web Master Susan Farrell

By Miedo12 of Valencia, Spain

By Miedo12 of Valencia, Spain

Art Crimes, the first website dedicated to archiving photographs of graffiti, is about to turn 20 years old. To mark the occasion, The Toast interviewed Susan Farrell, the creator of the site:

One of the things that makes artwork precious is that there’s only one of it. We don’t think a lot about this concept now, but at the cusp of the digital era it was a very big deal. When I worked with museums in the ’90s, one of their main concerns was: “If we make a copy of this work available digitally what will that mean about the value of the original?”

The graffiti artists had a different set of problems than fine artists. They had personal-safety issues, they had a terrible public-relations problem and they had an audience-feedback problem. They had an art-preservation problem, and they had the problem that art historians would not take them seriously because their artwork was too ephemeral.

I thought, I can solve that problem. I can create the repository of work and then no one can ignore it anymore. I can attack the public-relations problem because I can help interpret the work, I can showcase the work as important, I can help show the value of it aesthetically, and I can stand in the middle between the public and the artist and create communication both ways.

So, photographs are multipliable, unlike canvases and sculptures. Some photographers will make only one print in order to retain its preciousness, but graffiti writers never did. They took photographs and immediately printed copies to trade like baseball cards. That’s why graffiti art was able to colonize the Internet before other kinds of art, because graffiti writers had a very open attitude toward creating digital copies.

Full Story: The Toast: Bombing the Net: A Conversation with Susan Farrell, Creator of Art Crimes

Mutation Vectors: A Fantastic Death Abyss

David Bowie Outside

Status Update

Just finished recording an episode of Mindful Cyborgs with Arran James and Michael Pyska of the “post-nihilist” website Syntheticzero.

It was a great episode, and I can’t wait for it to be online, but it’s left me in a weirder than usual headspace.

Browsing

So what is post-nihilism? I should probably tell you to wait til the podcast is out. But in the meantime, here’s a bit from an article Arran and Michael wrote in the Occupied Times:

After nihilism, then, are embodied realisations of and exposures to vibrant ecologies of being offering an ultimately untameable wilderness which we participate in on an equal footing with all other bodies, even if we have an unequal ecological effect. In order to cope-with and cope-within the wilderness of being we must abandon the charnel-house of meaning and its theological tyrannies once and for all. As coping-beings we must leave our reifications behind in order to engage in post-nihilist praxis: an ecologistics of tracing these rhythms and activities, their multiple couplings and decouplings, and taking responsibility for our way of cohabiting in, with and alongside other bodies.

Playing

Finally getting around to playing A Dark Room, a text-based game I’ve mentioned before. It’s like Oregon Trail meets The Road. Dark stuff indeed.

Listening

I’ve been listening to David Bowie’s Outside a lot this week. It was the first Bowie album I ever heard, back when I was a teenage rivethead, but I hadn’t listened to it in a good 14 years. Back then I knew it was supposed to be a concept album, and that Bowie had worked with Brian Eno on it, but that was about it. From Wikipedia:

Bowie and Eno visited the Gugging psychiatric hospital near Vienna, Austria in early 1994 and interviewed and photographed its patients who were famous for their “Outsider Art.”[1] Bowie and Eno brought some of that art back with them into the studio[1] as they worked together in March 1994, coming up with a three-hour piece that was mostly dialog. Late in 1994, Q magazine asked Bowie to write a diary for 10 days (to later be published in the magazine), but Bowie, fearful his diary would be boring (“…going to a studio, coming home and going to bed”), instead wrote a diary for one of the fictional characters (Nathan Adler) from his earlier improvisation with Eno. Bowie said “Rather than 10 days, it became 15 years in his life!” This became the basis for the story of Outside.

Here’s the Adler diary.

I was never able to follow the narrative of Outside, but this page tries to unpack the songs and stitch the story together.

BTW, there were also some fantastic moments on the Outside tour, like Bowie singing “Scary Monsters,” “Reptile” and “Hurt” and others with Nine Inch Nails.

Mindful Cyborgs: Gary Weber Tells Us How to Get Our Minds to Shut the Hell Up

This week Chris Dancy and I talk with Gary Weber, author of Happiness Beyond Thought, about what we can do to quiet our internal chatter — or as Gary calls it, “the blah-blahs.”

Download and Notes: Mindful Cyborgs: Episode 38 – Empirical Emporium Beyond Selfie Blah-Blah PT1

Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s “human-hating horror comic” Nameless

Nameless_612x380

Entertainment Weekly is running a three page preview of Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s forthcoming comic Nameless, which sounds a bit like a return to some of the themes explored in The Filth. Here’s Morrison’s description:

Nameless is my first collaboration with Chris Burnham since we wrapped up our run on Batman and it’s our first no-holds barred horror comic—a disturbing anti-human voyage to the hopeless outer limits of cosmic nihilism and cruelty, in the company of six doomed astronauts on a mission to save our planet from an approaching asteroid. Needless to say, they get far more than they bargained for.

In my superhero comics, I’ve tended to be a cheerleader for the human spirit, but Nameless gives me a rare opportunity to articulate a long-withheld sneering contempt for our miserable species, with its self-serving, sentimental, suicidal self-delusions and its greedy, willful ignorance.

Inspired by the dark side occultism of the Tunnels of Set, by pessimist philosophers like Thomas Ligotti and Ray Brassier, and by our culture’s unstoppable, almost erotic, obsession with its own destruction, Nameless is a light-hearted romp through the sunlit meadows of a baby unicorn’s daydreams!

Not.

Thomas Ligotti and Ray Brassier were, along with Morrison and Alan Moore, key influences on True Detective.

Full Story: Entertainment Weekly: First look: Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham’s human-hating horror comic ‘Nameless’

Here’s the first of the three pages:

Nameless-01

EW also has a preview of Morrison and Frank Quitely’s take on the Charlton Comics (the inspiration for the Watchmen characters).

See also:

Extinction Aesthetic

Grant Morrison dossier

Mutation Vectors: East Bound But Not Yet Down Edition

Portland-Map

Portland neighborhood map from Home Team Portland

Status Update

We’ve been house hunting. As in, to buy a house.

Nothing quite lays class warfare bare like house hunting. It makes you aware of both your own privilege and knee-jerk prejudices, but also your place in the hierarchy of things as you find out just house much houses in certain parts of town cost — and how much money you actually need to make to live there. (Houses in the Alberta district are going for half a million dollars — who has that kind of money?)

It also makes more clear the less obvious, to me anyway, reasons that certain housing trends perpetuate themselves. For example: in general, buyers of single family homes don’t want to live near renters, or multi-family housing units. Affordable housing buildings are right out. You might not mind living next to an apartment building, but if you lose your job and have to sell your house, will you be able to sell it? Even if you find someone who doesn’t mind living next to an apartment either, that person has to also consider selling it further down the line. Even if you don’t mind living next to an apartment building, and you have a dozen people interested in the house interested in buying your house and also don’t mind, they might still pass on it, worried that if they have to sell it down the line, they won’t be able to find someone who doesn’t mind living next to an apartment building.

So other people’s prejudices and preferences end up influencing your own behavior, reinforcing development patterns in place for decades. Weird stuff.

Anyway, we’re probably gonna land in East Portland (the area east of 82nd ave). I’ve been obsessed with this part of town for a while now, even before I thought we’d end up buying a house there.

I could read stuff about East Portland all day, but here are a few starters:

If you really want to go deep, The Oregonian has an ongoing series on the area. And a couple years ago they did a series on how the Portland area’s subsidized housing has been clustered mostly in East Portland, instead of being distributed throughout the city — even though such clustering is against state law.

The place we’re likely to end up living is quite nice. It has paved roads and sidewalks and grocery stores and access to public transit. But I get worked up thinking about how badly other parts of East Portland got shafted.

Browsing

Listening

Mutation Vectors: Accelerated Brand Engagement Edition

schwa

Browsing

Everyone likes to live in a media bubble, but conservatives even more so. The media bubble that more and more people are choosing, however, is the one created by their favorite brands. That’s right, ‘“content marketing” is eating both journalism and paid advertising. (See also: Amway journalism)

BTW, if you love engaging with brands, then you’ll love Schwa.

Elsewhere, People are still talking about neoreaction. Meanwhile, #healthgoths and net art people are talking about accelerationism. (Thanks to Jay Owens for those last two. She follows this stuff pretty closely.)

My most interesting find of the week came today, though I doubt many others will be interested: East Portland Historical Overview & Historic Preservation Study.

Last week my computer told me that my cat doesn’t love me. Now it says that that my cat thinks I’m a giant unpredictable ape — which is true — but does indeed care about me. I’ll keep you updated, via your computer, what my computer tells me about my cats’ emotions.

Reading

The Peripheral by Wlliam Gibson

The new Great Dismal book, The Peripheral.

Watching

Friday I started rewatching True Detective season one. Tried watching The Strain over the past couple weeks, but ran out of fucks to give it midway through. But Boardwalk Empire just finished its last season ever, so it’s time to watch that.

Listening

Joy Division, like a good miserablist.

Remembering the Max Headroom Incident, One of the Creepiest Hacks Ever

I wrote a bit about the Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion for Wired today:

Around 9 o’clock on November 22, 1989, Chicago residents witnessed this epic hack. The evening news sportscast cut out, and a person in a strange mask appeared, dancing around in front of a spinning piece of metal—a rather dark incarnation of Max Headroom, the rather inexplicable character at the heart of the British TV series Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into The Future and two subsequent TV shows. On these shows, Headroom had a tendency to interrupt the broadcasts of the fictional TV station Network 23, but this wasn’t an authorized appearance by the character. It was a real pirate transmission.

After about 30 seconds, WGN’s technicians were able to override the pirate signal. “Well, if you’re wondering what’s happened, so am I,” the station’s sports anchor Dan Roan said when the signal was restored. But two hours later, PBS affiliate station WTTW’s broadcast of Doctor Who was similarly interrupted. This time, the pranksters were able to broadcast their entire video, complete with audio. And what nightmarish audio it was. “Yeah, I think I’m better than Chuck Swirsky!” the infiltrator announced in a high pitched, distorted voice, referring to the Chicago area sports announcer.

Full Story: Remembering the Max Headroom Incident, One of the Creepiest Hacks Ever

Vice Motherboard has the most in-depth look at the incident that I’ve seen, and those looking for something longer than my piece but shorter than the Vice piece should check out Chicago Radio and Media‘s article. And the Chicago Tribune‘s contemporaneous coverage is worth a read too.

Technoccult: The Game

technoccult-screenshot

Eliot Gardepe has released a computer game called Technoccult: Covenant. No, it doesn’t have anything to do with this site, and no I haven’t been in touch with the developer. I found it on Twitter.

I downloaded it, but haven’t had time to play it much, but it appears to be an interactive fiction/adventure game in the Maniac Mansion/Ultima/DejaVu style. (Oddly enough I’ve been thinking it would be fun to work in this medium myself). Oh, and it’s got a drum ‘n bass soundtrack.

Ridley Scott to produce adaptation of Jack Parsons biography for AMC

From Boing Boing:

The colorful life of Jack Parsons as revealed in the biography Strange Angel by George Pendle will appear on AMC in miniseries form, according to a Deadline report. Ridley Scott and David Zucker will executive produce the series, which will be written by Mark Heyman (Skeleton Twins, Black Swan).

Full Story: Boing Boing: Ridley Scott to produce miniseries on rocket scientist, occultist Jack Parsons

Previously:

Jack Parsons web comic

Make Magazine feature on Parsons

Stage play about Parsons

Audio play about Parsons

The Collected Writings of Jack Parsons

Mutation Vectors: Double Dose of Doom Edition

gamergate-flag

Status Update

Feeling exceptionally bitter this afternoon, and since I missed last week, you get a double-dose of doom this time around.

Browsing

Lots of good writing about GamerGate and trolling since last I posted:

And at least a couple answers to the question of what to do about it:

I don’t know really know what this and this are satirizing, but I found them funny anyway.

In local news: Oregon’s governor is corrupt and/or incompetent, but the Willamette Week makes a strong case that he’s still better than the alternative. Meanwhile, Rick Turoczy points out that Portland is becoming a marketing technology hub. Which makes sense since Webtrends is our one big tech startup success story (since SurveyMonkey moved away and Jive, which also moved, isn’t necessarily a success), and Wieden + Kennedy is a real anchor-company for the city. It also occurs to me that thinking of Portland as an ad agency town helps explain much of the city’s transformation over the past few years. Elsewhere, The Baffler editor John Summers said “When you’re in Portland and you don’t own your own house—if they’re bringing in tech people, you should just pack your bags.” And it’s not just tech bros coming. It’s ad tech bros. *shudder*

Meanwhile:

Oh, and the Washington Post reports that the Siberian Mystery Crater might have been created by thawing methane gas, and if that’s the case then we’re proper fucked.

A lot of people like this piece where Quinn Norton tries to find some hope in a doomed world, but I’m sorry, I just couldn’t get through it. But maybe you’ll find some comfort there? If not, perhaps Drunk Jeff Goldblum will cheer you up:

Watching

I rewatched Funky Forest and it gets better with every viewing. It’s pure mad genius. No, it doesn’t make any more narrative sense on rewatching, but it starts to make its own sort of internal sense, the way the most absurd of dreams make sense while you’re dreaming them.

Reading

The Epic Struggle of the Internet of Things by Bruce Sterling

Listening

But I feel like I’m about to go through another doom metal phase.

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