Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Procedural Notes

The basic move is to pick it up
and look at it. To close your eyes,
form its image, and put it down.

Another way is to look at it
and pick it up. Then open your hand,
form its image, and look away.

If you feel sleepy, get up, walk
around, shake your arms,
roll your head, talk to yourself.

There is the method of pushing
and of glancing. In reaching for it,
there is an application of longing.

Peel it off the appearance, stick
it onto the surface. After
the fact, before the act. The image.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Your blonde guitar, my plaster Buddha

When Wittgenstein described himself as "someone who cannot quite do what he would like to be able to do,"* he probably meant that he couldn't write like Kate Greenstreet.

The first issue of Absent is here.

*In Culture and Value, p. 24. It's the same remark in which he says "philosophy ought really to be written only as a poetic composition."

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Flowers of Emergency

for Asmund and Søren

Horse Holistics, i.e., Bush Flowers, are to be
taken during an emergency or crisis. They
help with trauma, anxiety, injury and/or
any emotional crisis or individual
responsibility. This is Emergency Essence.
I.e., Angelsword, Crowea, Fringed Violet,
and Dog Rose of the Wild Forces.
Negative condition: panic, distress; yes,
but you must really fear a positive outcome:
ability to cope, navigation, documentation.
Then there are, of course, the Flowers of
Emergency Childcare Services. This is a short-
term, recreational emergency and needs are met
by gift baskets, Godiva chocolate,
fruit baskets, Teddy bears and pad rations
packaged neatly and completely with a snack mix.
Essences for dogs and cats only: a natural
herbal remedy for accidents, stressful
situations, trauma, fear. Gift emergency:
a blissful bouquet of white and blue flowers
will tell your loved one they make you $79.99
(as shown). Emergency Sandbag: rainbow, crystal,
clay, expanded, and technically sandless.
Facial mask: blue healin' love monkey.
Emergency Music: Hoping Flowers Bleed Horace
Horse Tranquilizer. This emergency plan has
been designed for Charles and will be updated.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

These Purely Formal Questions of Arrangement

For some reason Nicholas Manning's comment to my last post has been hidden from view. Here it is in full:

What's so interesting about this model for me is that it makes me think of a probably important distinction between two different types of collage that up until this point we haven't really explictly made.

For on the one hand there is this type of collage, which is purely about choice and formal arrangement, (though interestingly Lynch does not at all consider here the role of choice: the bits of paper are considered "random" and the choice of the material apparently "unimportant"), and on the other hand, collage which includes the introduction of "original gestures" on the part of the artist: that is, the cubist painter or Rauschenberg painting over collaged surfaces with marks which are recognisably his or her own, marks which must have, I think, a different statute to that of the found and arranged material.

For it seems to me that these marks, though still governed by such rules of arrangement as Lynch outlines, are still to an extent different, and make the confrontation and interaction between more-found and less-found materials (in order not to say "found" and "original") infinitely more complex than these purely formal questions of arrangement imply.

For it is almost like the confrontation of two entirely divergent theories of art and artistic creation (inspiration and techne perhaps, or Plato and Aristotle), and it is this, I feel, over any formal devices, which leads to the often stunning complexity of collages' aesthetic statements.

I wonder if the most important distinction here is one between pure collage and hybrids of various kinds. This also goes for Flarf, where there is no rule against "writing over" the collaged the materials with "original gestures". The point, for me, however, is that collage focuses the writer on "purely formal questions" precisely by setting the problem as one of arrangement ...

... and selection, I should add. Nicholas is right to point out that Lynch's exercise does not include this aspect. But I did leave out Fig. 51d: the finished product called Cliff with Cloud in which he adds a piece of paper obviously either made or selected to that end.

In any case, my questions are largely formal. What I like about collage/flarf is that it approaches form as the selection and arrangement of materials, instead of something that is violently imposed on content. This strikes me as a more sane approach to both the origin and the terminus of the art work.

Monday, December 04, 2006

How to Make Collages

[This post is excerpted from John Lynch's How to Make Collages (London: Thames and Hudson, 1961), pp. 68-71]

Fig. 51a

Fig. 51b

Fig. 51c

In figure 51a four simple white shapes have been torn from a sheet of heavy paper and dropped at random onto a sheet of gray cardboard. The shapes are not complicated or particularly interesting in themselves. Their relationship to one another in this accidental arrangement is dull. Why? Because the indispendable elements of tension and interaction are lacking.

In figure 51b a more interesting contrast has been created between the two left-hand pieces in relation to one another. The straight edge of the thinnest piece is in opposition to the jagged edge of the piece above it, and a certain amount of tension is felt in the resulting space between the two pieces.

In figure 51c the arrangement has been amplified. These four variations on a rectangle are aligned in such a way that the contrast has an abstract interest. Two opposing factors are involved--the shapes themselves and the spaces between them. They begin to suggest something--a cliff, perhaps. Their placement makes the gray cardboard part of the composition rather than a neutral background, which it was in figure 51a.