Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Today I'm wearing my The Watchmen T, which has as yellow smiley face with a blood splatter to the left of the eyes.

The barista at my favorite too-christian café commented on how I must having a kind of nice day (but not quite because of the blood); he did not seem to recognize the logo. I thought about explaining, but did not:

It's from a movie, and does not necessarily advocate violence against Walmart. Personally, I believe non-violent action is sufficient to take on the W, but it must take the form of both abstinence and activism. I do my part in the former: I do not shop there (easy for me, since it's 30 miles away). Activism?

My activism has been voting for Obama, which my turn out not to be enough. We will see. I voted for Obama in part because he advocates for nation-wide public health care. Offering a publicly funded health insurance option might be the most popular thing the government could do to combat large business like Walmart. Low-income consumers would have larger budget constraints, and small businesses would be more competitive in the marketplace, since they wouldn't have to bear as much of the cost when it comes to benefits. These two factors, in my naive mind, combine to allow Walmart shoppers the option of shopping elsewhere. Maybe. It's a nice shirt, though it's a little small for me.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Nos, II

Robert Morris's "Notes on Sculpture" parts I and II are a pair of analytical essays from 1966 concerned with producing an art of wholeness. Part II engages intimacy, size, and detail; Morris asserts that sculpture ought to be public rather than intimate, and that small scale and detail disrupt publicness (and foster intimacy).

Here are the consecutive sentences that I want to work through:

"One is more aware than before that he himself is establishing relationships as he apprehends the object from various positions, and under various conditions of light and spacial context."
"Every internal relationship, whether it be set up by a structural division, a rich surface, or what have you, reduces the public, external quality of the object and tends to eliminate the viewer to the degree that these details pull him into an intimate relation with the work and out of the space in which the object exists."

I'm bothered by what seems to be a bit of a contradiction here. In the first excerpt, Morris argues for a new sculpture that encourages active viewer participation: the viewer circulate through the object's space, establishing (bodily) relationships between the space, the viewer, and the object. This seems to me a pretty intimate scenario. In the second excerpt, the structural, internal relationships of the object itself pose an artistic problem because they create intimacy with the viewer and (as is clarified earlier) pull the sculpture apart.

The provisional resolution would seem that Morris understands intimacy much differently than I do. For Morris, intimacy-producing objects are seductive and lead to the disruption and disillusion of the art object into its component parts. Intimacy is scary. Intimacy is castrating. I think I'll stop there and get back to reading.

EDIT: Morris clarifies his conscious (that's a dangerous word) intentions (that one is too!) toward the end:

"While the work must be autonomous in the sense of being a self-contained unit for the formation of the gestalt, the indivisible and undissolvable whole, the major aesthetic terms are not in but dependent upon this autonomous object and exist as unfixed variable that find their specific definition in the particular space and light and physical viewpoint of the spectator. Only one aspect of the work is immediate: the apprehension of the gestalt. The experience of the work necessarily exists in time. The intention is diametrically opposed to Cubism with its concern for simultaneous views in one plane." (234)

Why is intimacy bad? Why is wholeness good? Why is it now important for the viewer to take time to view the piece from multiple angles? Because now we're making Real American Art! Abstract expressionism, David Smith, Anthony Caro... they're all just cubists in new clothes. NOS I and II are Morris's argument for his art being the real first American art. Cocky?

Friday, June 19, 2009


So I was using this restroom in this cute little café in Greenwood, and I found a spider in the corner, sitting in its web. I balled up a very small scrap of TP and dropped it from above into the web, taking care to not hit the spider. The first dashed expectation was that it would just fall right through; on the contrary, it stuck right in front of the little critter. My second dashed expectation was that the spider would ignore it, since it wasn't struggling or a bug. But just as I prepared my second volley, the spider started biting the wee wad over and over, and then started turning it over. I'm not sure whether the the spider was clumsy, the paper was too slippery, or if my friend simply got wise to the ruse, but in about a minute, the TP had escaped, though was a little drowsy from all the venom.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

This is Not My Beautiful House,

Have you ever driven up to a crowded red light, were there are lots of cars in every lane but one, and that one lane is a turn lane, and it's your turn lane, so you pull into it, and you wonder, What am I doing with my life?