Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Among her strange creations, Patricia Piccinini makes animals out of machines, animal-human hybrids, and stem cell sculptures:


Young Family

Still Life With Stem Cells

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Kevin Appel got his MFA from UCLA:

Tree Altered

Country Home 6 (Grumpy)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

I just finished reading Salvador Plascencia’s astonishing debut novel, The People of Paper. It is both a war on omniscient narration and a war on the commodification of sadness. What more needs to be said?

Please, read this book!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The strange sculptures of Canadian artist Shary Boyle:




Saturday, January 20, 2007

Guillermo del Toro's new film Pan's Labyrinth is diabolical on all the right levels.

The horrific violence necessary to tell this tale, set partly in Franco's Spain circa 1944, hits a pitch-perfect appropriateness: never too gratuitous, but still stark and bold and unrelenting.

With its smart dual storyline, it is both a fairy tale and not a fairy tale simultaneously. It is also simultaneously a political movie and not a political movie. Hard to articulate coherently, but trust me, he accomplishes this feat splendidly.

Sequence after sequence, the characters continually compliment the captivating imagery and camerawork. I found myself completely drawn into its world from the opening image: a beautiful shot of a dying little girl, which unravels the story backwards and bookends nicely at the end of the picture.

I think part of the reason nearly every critic on earth is in agreement over the brilliance of this film is that there are no clichés here. Imagination takes the foreground. Also, the script is masterfully written: the "real" world and the "magical" word are equally as believable, and plot clues are presented in fine Chekhovian fashion, like guns placed on the mantle in the opening act that eventually fire in the finale.

Go and see this movie. It is dark and haunting and sublime.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Gregory Euclide is currently an MFA candidate at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design:

The stable blur of the unidentified familiar

Dispersed On Shelves

Thursday, January 18, 2007

From The Nietzche Family Circus:

Out of damp and gloomy days, out of solitude, out of loveless words directed at us, conclusions grow up in us like fungus: one morning they are there, we know not how, and they gaze upon us, morose and gray. Woe to the thinker who is not the gardener but only the soil of the plants that grow in him.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Right now I'm taking a really fascinating graduate seminar in Studio Art called Text & Image. Tonight we visited the laboratory of Logan Elm Press, a place that creates some pretty handsome books. Part of the presentation this evening involved looking at various art objects: one of the pieces on hand was an edition of Buzz Spector's piece entitled "A Passage," in which Spector typed a page of text and then copied the same page a couple hundred times and then ripped out pages to form this strange layering effect:

You can actually check out a virtual version of it here.

Spector teaches in the art department at Cornell University. A lot of his work involves the manipulation of books, the use of books as art, and things of that nature. He also does super sweet stuff like this:

found copy of "Silence" by John Cage

And these, which you can see more of if you click here:

Borges/Funes, 2005

Nabokov, 2005

Calvino, 2005

And finally, you can click here to read a saucy essay from Bookslut about Spector.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Today is my mom's birthday. Since she's an avid quilter, my brother posted a few beautiful quilts over at his spot, which I thought was a very cool idea. I've decided to follow his lead:

Riverside Settlement
Valerie S. Goodwin

To see more fantastic quilt art click here and here.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

I'm sad to have to report yet another death. This time it's Robert Anton Wilson, author of the The Illuminatus! Trilogy, who died on Thursday, at the age of 74. Click here to read the NYT obit.

Check out these fantastic Lost promos directed by David LaChapelle for Channel 4 in the UK. The first version is set to Portishead's song "Numb," and the second version contains creepy character voiceovers:

Version #1 (music)

Version #2 (voiceovers)

Alice Coltrane died Friday, at the age of 69. Today, in memory of her, I'll be listening to Journey in Satchidananda while I work.

Friday, January 12, 2007


File under culinary arts: my girlfriend's brother runs an excellent site dedicated to eating healthy, organic foods. Click here to check it out.

Zak Smith illustrated each page of Gravity's Rainbow:

...all quarters of that capital, palms down on that famous blood veneer,touching only at little fingers.
(pg. 152)

...one cigarette, stubbed out before its time
in an exasperated fishhook...
(pg. 226)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The first book for me to give up on in 2007 is Jose Saramago's The Double, which is too bad because I was really looking forward to reading it. The premise enticed me; the execution disappointed me. I gave it 40 pages, which is generous, since I usually only give a novel 25 pages to hook me. The prose is meandering and abundantly tangential. The language wasn't especially pretty or provocative, in fact it was rather mundane. I kept losing focus while reading. Perhaps I'll return to it some day down the road, but for now I'm moving on.

Click here to check out an interesting OP/ED piece Zizek wrote for The New York Times last Friday.

For a chance to watch the artist's process, the following is a three minute time lapse of Pablo Picasso at work:

Monday, January 08, 2007

Although the premise sounded promising, The Beauty Academy of Kabul was a bust.

The American women involved in the facilitation of the beauty school were awful, simply awful. At numerous points I literally gasped at their audacious cultural insensitivity: how they scoffed at the Afghani women for adhering to the gender roles prescriptive of their society, how they continually judged those women by the incompatible standards of western culture.

But, aside from the troubling ineptitude of the American "teachers," there were two Afghani women who had immigrated to the US in the 70s, who returned to help establish the school, who seemed to be genuinely interested in teaching. Also, the students were quite endearing, and the shots of the decimated Kabul landscape are still haunting me now as I write this.


To perk up the mood, click here to check out Thirteen Photographs That Changed the World, including Philippe Halsman's super sweet "Dalí Atomicus":

Sunday, January 07, 2007

"Meaning is Fascist."
(pg. 58)

Today I finished reading my first book of 2007: David Lehman's Signs of the Times: Deconstruction and the Fall of Paul de Man (first published in 1991).

The majority of the book is devoted primarily to deconstruction itself, not specifically de Man, and more often than not it relies on juvenile jabs at the theory, sucker-punches thrown at Derrida, and failed attempt after failed attempt to debunk or dethrone deconstruction. In his limited way, Lehman uses every opportunity to mock, and he even goes so far as to condescend to poststructuralism in total, which I found hilarious in its simplicity. Here Lehman's reductive explanations of complex philosophical ideas seem even funnier to me in light of his apparent disdain for deconstruction: as with anything, ignorance breeds hate, and Lehman has plenty of ignorance to fuel his prejudice.

A chunk of the second half of the book is primarily fixated on de Man's involvement with the Belgian newspaper Le Soir from 1940-42, and by extension his participation in or endorsement of Nazism. This is the same tired old argument that always gets trotted out for show: de Man was a Nazi sympathizer therefore his theories and ideas are void of value. (Heidegger, too, while we're at it.) This argument has always seemed so amateurish to me. Attempting to link a writer's work with his/her personal life is ridiculous: as any good deconstructionist can tell you, the two have nothing in common.

Lehman actually begins to make an excellent point towards the end of the book when he offers the following example:

"If a brilliant mathematician is revealed to have behaved disgracefully in a moment of historical crisis, we may alter our opinion of the man's character but we will readily agree that the new knowledge has no bearing on his mathematical formulas." (pg. 218)

Interesting. But then he ruins it in the very next sentence by making a distinction between this hypothetical mathematician and a theoretician concerned with language and literature, i.e. de Man, as if the latter somehow reclassifies the ethical obligations of the thinker or else somehow inextricably links that thinker with responsibilities not required of the other.

To put it differently, this reminds me of the argument over Woody Allen: does the fact that he married his daughter impact the quality of his films? Or Roman Polanski: does the fact that he slept with a 14 year old mean that his films are inherently atrocious?

I find this especially interesting when discussing a deconstructionist, as deconstructionists tend to emphatically disavow pathos at every turn.

Overall, I suppose I enjoyed reading this book, if for nothing else the last chapter, which involved a lecture Derrida gave on "The Politics of Friendship."

If you don't know anything about deconstruction, this book might be interesting as an introduction (especially Chapter 4), just so long as you keep in mind that Lehman is anti and therefore his position contaminates the prose. Don't be fooled by his attacks. The poststructuralist road is not necessarily a road to oblivion.

Saturday, January 06, 2007


Please feel free to click here to nominate bright stupid confetti for a 2007 Weblog Award. I understand there are prizes and I like prizes.

Among other artistic things, Ty Bennett dabbles in painting, collage, and illustration:

Mental Spring

Valerie Lueth got her BFA in printmaking at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion:

Lazy Fallen Sun

Miss Peepshow Planet

In closing, check out my friend's short film, a three year labor of love called David Lynch's Revenge of the Jedi, which has been described thusly: "In this Jerad Formby Film, Star Wars meets the French new wave as a sci-fi fan opens the ark of the covenant which he won on Ebay and discovers George Lucas' attempt to involve David Lynch in the final Star Wars film. Lynch's missuggestions haunt this fan during his most harrowing day - if only the pizza can get there in time! It's the most ecclectic collection of in-jokes ever devised!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Tonight my girlfriend and I went with another couple to a screening of Lucrecia Martel's The Holy Girl, which was part of a Martel double feature at the Wexner Center. This was the opening night of a month long series devoted to New Argentine Cinema. Personally, I thought the film was terribly boring. In fact, we didn't stay for the second feature, La Cienaga, because we all four agreed it probably wouldn't be worth it.

I'm posting about it because although it lulled me to the brink of sleep, it serves as a fine example of cinema as conceptual art. The piece itself is yawn-inspiring until you read how the director explains the concept: "It's a very erotic movie about a girl who thinks she's a saint."

Ok. That's not at all what I got from watching it; but in retrospect, I guess that's a cool idea for a movie.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Twenty-three year old Tauba Auerbach got her BA at Stanford:


Also check out her 2005 language exploration entitled How To Spell the Alphabet:

And Shaun O'Dell got his MFA from Stanford:

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Artist Kay Rosen resides in Gary, Indiana:

Phantom Limb

Sheep In Wolf's Clothing

Monday, January 01, 2007