20190822

Why Art Criticism Sucks Right Now (Spoiler Alert: It’s Racist): Some Context and Suggestions (2019) Torey Akers. An insightful meta-critique of art criticism. It’s focused on North America and its commercially driven art markets but many aspects of critique apply across different western art scenes. The text starts off by referencing recent blunders art medias have made (which I’d need to know a lot more about to understand), then it offers a miniature history of art criticism (at its best it was an attempt to expose cultural power structures for the public, motivated by the French revolution) and ends by providing a list of people to follow (spotted Jessica Lynne, whom I heard at Pioneer Works last fall). The text also drafts guidelines on how to make art criticism more diverse and ethical (better).

Akers urges artists to learn how to read criticism: “Artists I’ve covered often can’t tell the difference between a standard write-up (this person made something!) and a review (the thing this person made was fine, weird, spectacular, useless, etc.).”. My experience has been that in Finland artists are very sensitive to how they are written about and how their work is mediated. Perhaps due to a fear of being misunderstood they seldom provide texts or engage in dialogue which could be used as material for creative writing. As a writer I’m often left guessing what the art is, which leads to non-opinionated or even anti-opinionated texts that describe the artwork or the creative scene the work emerges from, instead of engaging with it. Artists feel scorned if I use a wrong tone. I’ve found that the safest way to write is to first draft texts into my blog, then to ask for feedback from the artists and if I get a positive response, only then continue with the text (this cumbersome procedure makes me almost an un-payed employee of the artist).

I think in many Finland artists view art writing and mediation only as marketing, not joined creative thinking.

The art world, corrupt and opaque as it is, needs diversity of voice to mount any believable attempt at contrition; improvement, if we’re being optimistic. Old-school gatekeeping has long proven the enemy of progress. […] The landscape privileges clumsy, Caucasian cowardice above all else, and whatever content manages to escape the tonal clutches of a press release is usually engineered specifically for viral ire, to say nothing of International Art English’s recklessly pestilential effect over the last decade.

Nearly a century ago, Walter Benjamin opined, “Criticism is a matter of correct distancing… It was at home in a world where perspectives and prospects counted, and where it was still possible to adopt a standpoint. Now things press too urgently on human society.”

There it is—collaboration with artists rather than short-sighted conspiracy against them, institutional critique in service of concerted efforts at transparency. That is the non-monologic model artists deserve. An absence of immediate relatability should not hamper any responsible writer from reflecting upon the merits of an art work, and it’s up to us to reverse the tides of obtuse equivocation to which we’ve grown accustomed. White writers (this one included!) can, should, and must take accountability for art criticism’s eye-watering suckage in 2019.

Place Language (2019) a collaborative sound-landscape project looking to catalogue depictive landscape terms across the globe.

The quiet hope of ‘Landmarks’ was to ‘re-wild’ even a little of our available language for landscape, to celebrate and disseminate the extraordinary ‘word-hoard’ of coinages that has flourished historically – but thinned recently – for seeing, naming, and knowing aspects of place and its more-than-human life – Robert Macfarlane

Ei läsnäoloa, kiitos! Ahdistuksesta, uupumuksesta ja kapitalismista [No presence, thanks! On anxiety, exhaustion and capitalism] (2019) Laura Hautsalo. A nice text which (among other things) exposes that mainstream media maintains a black-market for depression survival and burnout recovery stories. These black-markets feed the neoliberal narrative, that we can overcome structural injustices by freeing our minds. Hautsalo refers to Rosi Braidottis 2019 talk Necropolitics and ways of Dying (which I’m looking forward to listening). The text fits well with Kim Modigs lates Tarjoilija, festivaalissani on liikaa teoksia [Waiter, there are too many artworks in my festival]. Modig argues that some artists and festivals are producing artworks merely to appear busy and that this extensive programming makes enjoying art difficult. He also urges artists to join artists unions to combat precarisation.

20190820

Frenchie’s Gym owner Santos “Frenchie” Ramos has passed away on the 10th of June. He was a really nice person and I always felt welcomed to his place. I saw him mostly behind his desk greeting members and chatting with friends. Sometimes he would do easy leg workouts in the gym too. After learning that I’m a performance artist, he passed me a handwritten note which read “Carlos Colón vs. Hercules Ayala” and told me to search for it online. The search led me to a video of a wresting match where he served as the referee. He later asked me if I had watched it and after complementing him on the show, he shouted: “You see! Performance artists!!” and flexed. Once after skipping two weeks of training he greeted me with a shout: “What you!? Where have you been! You will never become a champion if you don’t train!”. His gym made me feel welcomed in NYC and I was a client for five months. When I told him I was returning back to Helsinki, Frenchie acted like he didn’t understand and asked me when I’d be back. I think he tough I was polish, which I didn’t mind. I have a membership card as a bookmark and I’ve attached a cap I bought from him to my hoody, so that it acts as a shoulder pad. I really loved the view from the gym, to the Broadway/Marcy Av station and the breaths of warm air the trains pushed trough the windows. I only have one photo from the district. More: Brooklyn tough guy ‘Frenchie’ Ramos dies at age 76, owner of old-school Williamsburg gym for more than four decades (2019) Mikey Light and Larry McShane.

20190816

A thorough and nice no input mixing tutorial by Sarah Belle Reid (2019).

Build a perf-board unit of the a Simple EQ / Baxandall EQ module (the Tilt channel is still in the making). The build was an ordeal. I did how ever learn that the reverse polarity protection of the circuit works well (it even saved an IC I popped in the wrong way) and that my noisy DC 5-24v to Dual Power 12v -12v 5v -5v 3.3v supply is robust. I attempted to plan the build using various board design tools (Fritzing worked best for me) but ended up just soldering components down following the schematic.

I added two switches to my build, which can be used to bypass the capacitors controlling the bass response (27nf) and/or the treble (1nf). Changing the 27pf didn’t have much effect. I added female pin headers which can be used to insert different capacitors in their place. My first water capacitor (using faux s.pellegrino) shows a value of ~35pf and it has an effect on the sound. Next I’ll build more water capacitors, which hopefully will have higher values for more distinct effects. I’ll also have to design a front panel, which can used to mount the bulky capacitors (The one I have has ~20ml of water in it).

During my tests I’ve discovered that the electrical resistance of sparkling mineral water drops slowly (as the water loses its bubbles). I believe that this property could be used as vca of sorts. I plant to make a simple signal divider, which uses sparkling mineral water as a conductor. This signal multiplier would be useful for one-shot slowly amplifying ramps (for example adding volume). Water and electronics is a beautiful combination.

20190812

Artdeed over artwork. #ॐ

Wrote applications for the Helsinki City Art Council (Police horse movie) and Alfred Kordelin foundation (Police horse movie and exhibition).

20190811

A US focused text but fun to read. I guess many of the arguments hold true across the globe: Gentrification Is a Feature, Not a Bug, of Capitalist Urban Planning (2019) Samuel Stein.

Capitalists have serious and specific demands of the state, without which they are unlikely to function in the long term, or even on a day-to-day basis. They want the state to make big, fixed-capital investments in infrastructures that enable their own profit-making. They also want government to ensure some degree of support for people’s social reproduction, in order to assure they have a living, breathing workforce to exploit in the first place. Without these investments — planned, paid for and coordinated by the state — they have little basis on which to operate.

[Gentrification] is surely an economic and social force, but it is also the product of the state — a planned process of channeled reinvestment and targeted displacement. […] Militant anti-gentrification movements can threaten real estate capital’s capacity to realize profits, and thus transform the housing crisis from one borne by tenants to one felt by landlords, developers, and investors. This is no easy task, but it is the one we face if we seek to unmake the real estate state.

An excerpt from Fully Automated Luxury Communism (2019) Aaron Bastani. Compared to the 2018 book “Täysin automatisoitu avaruushomoluksuskommunismi” [Fully Automated Space Gay Luxury Communism] by Pontus Purokuru this feels like an educative read. The Purokuru text felt more like the authors personal reasoning why they ought not to stress about not contributing to the present day development of the welfare state, then a manifesto for a communism to come (as it was proclaimed it to be).

While the average political commentator likes to cast Marx as an idealistic dreamer, the man himself repeatedly stated his distaste for describing what communism might actually look like – what he termed writing ‘recipes for the cook-shops of the future’.

He was certain about some features of the new society, however. One was that the arrival of communism would herald the end of any distinction between labour and leisure. More fundamentally, it would signal humanity’s exit from what he called the ‘realm of necessity’ and entrance into the ‘realm of freedom’.

[Marxs] view was that communism was only possible when our labour – how we mix our cognitive and physical efforts with the world – becomes a route to self-development rather than a means of survival. […] as information, labour, energy and resources become permanently cheaper – and work and the limits of the old world are left behind – it turns out we don’t just satisfy all of our needs, but dissolve any boundary between the useful and the beautiful. Communism is luxurious – or it isn’t communism.