The Mental Museum

Stephanie O’Connor

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May 31, 2011 at 10:21 pm

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John Cage 4’33”

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Post World War II emerged a digital age of cybernetics. The 1950’s unleashed an IBM cyber world that has grown into its own culture; digital culture. Culture of not only bionary code exchange but now real number exchange, imagery exchange, sound exchange and inevitabley, currency exchange.  A decade later, the 1960’s merged this corporate and government rationed digital world into the art world. John Cage,  son of a keynoted engineer helped his father in radar detection which in turn exempted him from the WWII draft.  A lecturer of Digital Art History at Birbeck College, University of London coins the term “cyber feminism” surely to resurrect some notion of superiority, or inferiority (to be completely pc). Nevertheless, this lecturer writes extensively about John Cage and assigns him credit with captaining  the digital world into art. Probably the most renoun of his works, the 4’33” piece of silence, Cage’s performance seems to offer suggestion to the audience, ‘attent yourselves to your auditory surroundings, rather than to visual performance.’  And the success of the piece is to be determined by the individual and where the focus lies.  Are we entertained by the actual intention of the piece? The performance of the piece? Or are we most entertained by the intellectual converse and consumption possibly to be had post the piece? BBC orchestra has also performed 4’33” at Barbican Hall. Play with the numbers enough and one can conclude that 4′ 33″ turns into 6′ 9″ …and one can only wonder what that performance sounds like.

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July 16, 2009 at 4:01 am

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Industrial Revolution, Pedestrians and Dorothea Lange

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The Great Depression is a phrase associated with the industrial revolution. Brief phrases, some famous images and relics found in the dirt are all that are left asside from the few who may still be alive to tell of the 1930’s experience. The generation gap has opened and we are now currently in and among another economic crisis. Dorthea Lange was an American photographer who voyaged the dusty roads of the US and trailed the stories of some of those who suffered in and among her own country.   It was a great time of change; herding people across land like cattle. Instiutionalizing the word ‘home’ for many across the world, while also instiutionalizing the idea of perfection with mass genocide. What some may fail to recognize is that depression exists everywhere. Always. Depression is relative. Economic crisis  shifts a mindset. Save your money! Don’t spend it! Or… spend it! But on smart items. And what are those smart items? Whatever they are, they are inevitabley an insurance policy. But value must be in the eye of the beholder. Or, value must be in the eye of whom the beholder is surrounded. There is the phrase “keeping up with the Jones’s.” Look good, sound smart, dress sharp, talk right. The way we communicate is a very telling happening. Our body language and pronunciation is very telling. How does one pronounce, for example, the word Vietnam? That may tell where one was during a war. How does one pronouce the word Water? That may also tell where they were during another war. Currently, English is the language of an empire. It’s how we speak English now that paints on us. Photographs and slogans or perviously,  images sketched in trial are only partial pieces of the world stage puzzle. Pronunciation. Dictation. Authority. Being bi-lingual or at least knowing enough about how to get by. Dorthea Lange can be created with preserving these American sufferings during the 1930’s and perhaps, on a positve note, leaving visual legacies behind that aid us in realizing economic change.

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July 2, 2009 at 10:41 pm

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Jacob Epstein, art within art

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What can one say? The art of copying. What isn’t copied or restated or reworded? Architecture perhaps? Landscape design? The Middle Eastern practice of island building? Innovation is defined as ‘the act of innovating.’ Even a definition is restating the word being defined! One within the other within the other. This brings to mind a fractal. A fractal is defined as a term used by mathematicians to describe certain geometrical structures whose shape appears to be the same regardless of the level of magnification used to view them.  A standard example is a seacoast, which looks roughly the same whether viewed from a satellite or an airplane, on foot, or under a magnifying glass. Many natural shapes approximate fractals, and they are widely used to produce images in television and movies.

‘Many natural shapes approximate fractals.’ One that does not is the human figure; (until we introduce reproduction.) Nonetheless, the more magnified the human figure, the more abstract it becomes. Sculptor Jacob Epstein is seen here duplicating on the third dimension. A fractal then must be on the fourth dimension? And the fifth dimension perhaps encompasses exponential reproduction? Nevertheless, the photograph itself offers a precise perspective and we are shown a new, maybe less organic form of depth that could possibly relate to a fractal.  In order to magnify or zoom away from we must have a center point. Here, the center point is the piece of artwork being made, the sculpture. (Not the photograph; Which has already been made). The photograph is not the piece of art. Or is it? Zoom towards the photograph and the scultpor dissappears. So does the model. We see then a clay figure in the background and the sculptor’s hand in the foreground and a prop that supports the central clay head.  Zoom closer and we discover the center point is where the figure’s trachea and its wooden support are adjacent. Keep zooming and we come eye to eye with the dip in the bust’s throat. Zoom closer and we would see the lumpy texture of the clay. Now imagine zooming out. The model and sculptor come back into view and the studio is revealed. Perhaps other artists are there and likely tools and more scultpures can be seen. Keep zooming and we see the walls of the space, the exterior of the space, the grounds of the building, the landscape, the trees, the horizon comes into view, the sky and the clouds. Keep zooming out and the studio building itself grows smaller and smaller the people inside have already disappeared. Keep zooming and the land becomes more vast. Out out out and out and there are no fractals seen. Are there? There is no visual one within the other within the other matryoshka from this visual journey our mind has just taken… accept for the linear journey the sculptor’s work takes in replicating the subject’s face in clay.  So, if no fractrals are seen zooming in and out, can one state that this scene is then unnatural? Or maybe all we had to do to determine this was to look at the facial expressions.

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June 24, 2009 at 7:42 pm

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Two men; Philippe Chancel and Henri Michaux

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French photographer Philippe Chancel has chivilerously opened his doors for all to see. In a series titled Sex Release, we are shown the face, the body and the interior of what may inspire him. Another photograph reveals she is reading french novel Poteaux D’Angle.  A book presumably about an angelic obelisk? As the photograph shows, french literature has provoked her to reveal herself to him and his film and in turn, the world. And we are left with a long and lean beauty first encompassed by her consumptions and then an offering to the eye of the lens. Offering a symbolically tempting green, not a playful heart shaped red, a figuratively child bearing pear, nor a presumably threatening yellow. Yet, Chancel shows us his series in a dyptic. Two squares. Two eyes. And she is seen with one. Or, his eyes capture her eye as one.  And what color are they? Her stomach is shown flat and a protective hand rests on either simpley her physique or her gazelle like and symmetrical genes. But nonetheless, we have knowledge now of another novel to promote and entice as a means of possible literary Rohypnol. Keeping reading alive and well, passion afloat, seemingly weightless in the air and Philippe photographing, inspired and inspiring, and in turn, the ego never dies. Merci Philippe and even more so to your presumably agreeable and confident companion. But perhaps even more credit is due to Henri Michaux, French poet, painter and journalist, who’s own affairs helped inspire such a picture story. And to the Orient, where Michaux’s first travels had so inspired him to publish his first book titled a self deprecating A Barbarian in Asia. Michaux’s precursory works are classified as Surrealistic while more recent works completed by Philippe include futuristic installation.

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June 21, 2009 at 8:29 pm

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Michalengelo Pistoletto and the figure

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Since its earliest depiction, the figure has remained a mirroring muse. Male or female, from and within one outlet to another, the figure attracts. The figure retracks, and the figure changes, bends, decomposes and in most every ecological society, the human figure must be clothed while on public display. However, choice of alter is only partial key to determining what lies within. Based on some notion of supply and demand, population dictates society’s stock. Of course not just clothes, but material, mass  and what lies beyond in general; road signs, posters, magazines and adverts, restaurants and other service facilities. How is this choice dictated? Popular consensus, budget, aestheics, practicality, or even carelessness. Filial relation, human nature and common idioms among many other elements of thought help dictate these choices humans must make on a day to day basis. With what clothe to arm themselves with, which inevidabley will have some impact, based on perception, on the remaining time and experience in the chosen garment. Not just choice, but event and company alters the thought. Carelessness or indirect unawareness are freeless freedoms of nievity and perhaps innocents in terms of altering display. If a people could come to the understanding that this is all based on pomp and circumstance, and means nothing but vanity and meeting parallel cohabitants, one can still be inclined to think egalitarianism could not be achieved. Politics, history, personal experience, memories, trama, documents and media ultimately dictate. And as creatures of choice, we are at the mercy of where the wind takes us and what we see and what we are told and how in turn we are effected and left with the representational Pistoletto’s Pile of Rags; Choice. And here we see choice mirroring gift (the body) which one can perhaps comprehend to be either bipolars or a halfway point; its median. And with that stated, perhaps the full equation of pomp, circumstance, choice, perception, reception, time and place is the secular mean. In due course, the highest frequency of occurances of the same choice then becomes its mode. And then range must be the individual length duration of which this mode can withstand.

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June 8, 2009 at 11:49 pm

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Rio and Cildo

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Cildo Meireles is a Brazilian artist. His father’s work led him as cultural attache within rural Brazil, and in turn, offered insight for the Meireles family the ways of life and beliefs of the indigenous Tupi people who live today to prove survival from early Spanish and Portugese conquest. Cildo began his artistic endevours at the District Federal Cultural Foundation and later, contintued under a Peruvian individual named Felix.  Like the natural course of modernity, Brazil is scattered with namesakes that pay homage to their native people. A satirical film titled How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman apparently portrays a fictitious image of the Tupi tribe. Nonetheless, Cildo has surely poured wine over his heart and soul and achieved Tate status with works titled  Mission/Missions (How to Build Cathedrals) depicting pools of silver coins, towers of bread and a chandelier of bones. He also created a red room of other artists, a clock room inducing claustraphobia, a powder room of spectacular foot sensation, a massive radio tower, and fake money. A 1970’s photograph shows a slim and attractive Cildo making squares over squares over squares titled Meshes of Freedom with what seems to be an unlit fag between his lips, suggesting these may be sugar cubes he is constructing.  Shaggy hair, buttondown shirt, bellbottoms and boots. Total 1970’s sex appeal dictated by the music the disc jockey offered. In the photo, his left hand’s middle and ring finger touch the palm of his right hand. The back of the postcard reads Courtesy of the Artist. Here’s to you Cildo.

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May 30, 2009 at 11:59 pm

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