Some of my work will be at the VCS open studios tomorrow, including an installation using booklets of Swimming, where anyone can take a copy.
“Where people were once bored, we now face too many entertainment choices, creating a strange misery aptly termed “the paradox of choice”by the psychologist Barry Schwartz. We have achieved the information abundance that our ancestors craved, and it is driving us insane.”
Bomb Magazine’s Ashley McNelis interviewed us recently. Here’s a bite:
AM What have been the some of the challenges you’ve faced with the organization and publishing of Mossless?
GL I think the biggest challenge is that for the most part it’s just the two of us and it’s not our full time job, not by a long shot. During the entire wonderful hand making process of Issue 2, we were both full-time students with unrelated jobs on the side. So one of the biggest challenges was saying goodbye to any kind of social life outside of each other for a while and also just finding the time to get everything done. That, and because it is the two of us there is really no one to reel us in from our sometimes blind excitement and ambition. Even though it has always worked out really well in the end, the feeling of being in over our heads is just as terrifying each time.
RH Terrifying! And on top of that there’s fundraising, costly mistakes, endless enigmatic paperwork and a trove of other new fears.
Read the rest of the interview here.
On Vladimir Nabokov’s birthday, we present a series of photos made in 1958 that illustrate the great writer’s obsession with butterflies.
(Carl Mydans—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images) — Timeline Photos
I’m pounding through readings for my thesis essay which is on the role of production in art amidst a changing economic landscape. I’m seeing some stuff that’s related, but won’t really work for my essay. For now, here’s a clipping from my draft so you can get an idea of where I’m coming from:
Modernism sailed further and further from skill and craft, eschewing father after father. Post-modernism was not concerned with skill either, but unlike modernism it was not so concerned with creating a new self for a new generation’s world. It accepted the cycle, the futility of opposition after opposition, and perhaps also the slightly solipsistic notion carried along such a stubborn self-regeneration. It is in fact this what separates the modern from the post; the latter handed over the Faustian reigns to everyone else. Post-modern artists sought to liberate a repressed audience, their peers, as well as their new labor: the service. Paul Osterman explained that a new class emerged among the working, that of managers, whose labor consisted of oversight and representation. “At least since the New Deal, a clear view of how work is organized has been embedded both in law and policy,” wrote Osterman for Working in America. ”On that view, there is a sharp and identifiable divide between the activities of managers and those of workers, the former being responsible for conception and planning and the latter for execution.” In her essay Work Ethic, Helen Molesworth helpfully describes a few notable artists working in exactly this paradigm.
“Many artists and writers in the 1960s found the idea of the author’s metaphoric death [as Roland Barthes famously argued in The Death of the Author] liberating, and they deployed a variety of means to undermine or downplay their authorship. Some (e.g., John Cage) used chance operations, feeling that when the conscious choice of the artist was eliminated, so too was the artistic intention. Others (e.g., Sol LeWitt) adopted serial systems, reasoning that a predetermined mathematical logic diminished the display of artistic subjectivity. Many artists (e.g., Donald Judd) felt increasingly comfortable turning over the production of their work to paid assistants and fabricators. Still others (e.g., John Baldessari) turned to the camera, hoping that a mechanical tool would lessen any trace of their hand. And then there were those (e.g., Yoko Ono) who turned the completion of the artworks over to the viewer in a literal way, creating participatory proposals that were only considered “art” once engaged by the viewer.”
What I’ll be arguing towards is that instead of being “dominated by the logic of the management and service sectors of the economy,” we’re immersed by the information economy and are dominated by the logic of sharing.
There’s a lot of important implications that this carries but what’s most important is the recognition that art’s mindset is still in the former camp. For instance, studio practice is often still seen as a necessarily solitary practice. Here’s something that Silicon Valley is totally understanding: we work well collaboratively, and we’re increasingly homophilic by virtue of social networking. Frank Gehry’s new building for Facebook opens up their entire floor, democratising the entire operation.
I’m sure those engineers will work better there than they would in each their individual cubicles. It’ll be a while to see shifts like this happen to wider artistic practices because of how entrenched some of them are, but I welcome them.