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Marina Abramović: Advice to the young
10:33 am



To be a great artist, one must be ready to fail, is just some of the advice offered up by performance artist, Marina Abramović in this recent interview.

This idea of failure echoes Samuel Beckett in Worstward Ho:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

Abramović seems to agree:

“I think a great artist has to be ready to fail, which not too many people do. Because when you have success in a certain way, then the public accept you in a certain way, and you start somehow involuntarily producing the same images, the same type of work, and you’re not risking.

“Real artists always change their territories, and they go to the length they’ve never been. And there, [in] this unknown territory, and then you can fail, you can risk, and that failure is what actually makes this extra, you know.

“Being ready to fail makes a great artist.”

Abramović goes on to discuss what does it mean to be an artist, how one know they are an artist and why everyone isn’t an artist.

As for performance art, it is about finding the right tool for expression, but the key element, she emphasizes, is how the artist occupies the space:

“The idea can be totally shit, the execution can be wrong, but it is just the way how he stands. That’s it. In the space. How you occupy physically the space, and what that standing does to everybody else looking at [that] person. That kind of charisma really makes the difference. It’s a certain energy you can recognize right away. And you can learn later on how to execute these ideas, and all the rest, but it is about energy you cannot learn: you have t have it—it’s just there, when you are born.”


Previously on Dangerous Minds
Sex Magick: Marina Abramović‘s Balkan Erotic Epic
With thanks to Christian Lund

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Andy Warhol paints Debbie Harry on an Amiga computer, 1985
09:10 am



When Commodore released the Amiga (which was the highest-quality desktop computer out there for a little while), they got a really good get for the product launch press conference in late July of 1985: none other than Andy Warhol. Rather remarkably, according to Technologizer, the launch event was “a black-tie, celebrity-studded gala at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in New York’s Lincoln Center.”

The Amiga always was a funny duck, but at the time, it offered better graphics than Apple or PCs, and it also offered a fantastic thing called multitasking. People who owned Amigas were known to be evangelical about the subject. As New York Magazine told it, Warhol murmured into a microphone, “It’s such a great thing. I’ve always wanted to be Walt Disney. I’m gonna tell everyone to get one.” (The bulk of that article is a rave review of the newly unveiled Amiga.) It’s apparent that the pixelated version of the Blondie lead singer qualifies as a “Warhol” “original” on the strength of Warhol executing the fill function a couple of times, but still.
Andy Warhol and Debbie Harry
Warhol isn’t exactly synonymous with forward-thinking technophilia, but in a lot of ways, computer-generated art fits in perfectly well with his sunny, democratic, and somewhat automated take on the world. After all, this is the guy who in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, penned, in what is one of my absolute favorite quotations of the twentieth century, “What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”
Amiga World
Warhol also made the cover of the third-ever issue of Amiga World (blurry PDF), which also scored an interview with the pop art master. In the introduction to the interview, it is made painfully clear how entirely crazy it was that the magazine got Warhol to agree to it. The interview is predictably amusing, and Warhol is epigrammatic and opaque and inscrutable in his oddly accessible way, but what does shine through is his genuine enthusiasm for the Amiga and computers in general. Also, out of nowhere Warhol uncorks this pithy gem: “Mass art is high art.”  It’s definitely worth a read.

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Post-apocalyptic Britain depicted in staggeringly detailed models
01:21 pm



Aftermath Dislocation Principle
In the last 12 or so years, we’ve all become informal experts on what a post-apocalyptic world would look like.  After 28 Days Later, Shaun of the Dead, The Road, The Walking Dead, Zombieland, The Last of Us, and World War Z, we’ve all experienced enough zombie-overrun wastelands to last us, well, until the apocalypse itself.

Clearly, a lot of us are wondering how this big unwieldy ocean liner we call “civilization” is going to go down when it finally does.

Add to the list one more compelling vision of the end of modern urban society—that of James Cauty, once one of the masterminds behind The KLF and The Orb. Cauty has constructed a vast and meticulously detailed model of a significant swath of an English metropolis—certainly similar to London, if not so identified—in the throes of a society-wide meltdown, complete with a breakdown of traditional authority, a great many flashing blue police lights, and lots and lots and rubble. Cauty used miniature model-making kits, the traditional playthings of children and hobbyists everywhere. The model, at 1:87 scale, clocks in at 448 square feet—the area represented is about a square mile—and apparently features as many as 5,000 tiny little plastic police officers. Over the last two weeks (Sunday was the last day, unfortunately) the model, bearing the title “The Aftermath Dislocation Principle,” was on display at Hoxton Arches, located under the arches at Hoxton Station, on Cremer Street in London.
The Aftermath Dislocation Principle
Partly inspired by the G20 riots of 2009 and 2010, Cauty was also fascinated by the media reportage—his chilling comment on the piece is “Nothing is quite what it seems, and yet it is exactly as it seems.” Making the work all the more sinister is that the overarching narrative is never revealed—in other words, the viewer doesn’t really know what’s going on, which forces contemplation of the individual dramas, tragedies, and victories to be found in the model but also prompts speculation that maybe this IS the modern world in which we’re living, not a projection of an imagined future.

Accompanying the huge model was a collection of several hundred mini-confrontations in a similar style, based on Cauty’s 2011 work entitled “A Riot in a Jam Jar,” consisting of a series of scale dioramas depicting violent confrontations between British rioters and police, each contained within an inverted glass jar. For £250 (about US$400) you can buy your own apocalyptic breakdown in a jam jar.

“The Aftermath Dislocation Principle, part 1”

via designboom
A whole bunch more pictures of “The Aftermath Dislocation Principle” after the jump….

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Giant floating purple finger flips the bird at Czech government
12:36 pm



As parliamentary voting gets going in the Czech Republic this week, artist David Cerny is sending a message to President Milos Zeman by floating a HUGE purple “f*ck you” finger on the Vltava River pointed directly at Prague Castle.

According to BBC News:

Mr Cerny has shocked and mocked politicians and public figures in the past, says the BBC’s Rob Cameron.

This latest piece is clearly his message to the leftist President Zeman and the political party recently set up by his supporters, our correspondent says.

It is unclear how long the finger will stay there; Cerny himself declined to say too much about the piece, telling reporters the gesture spoke for itself - what mattered, he said, was which way it was pointing.

Alrighty then…


Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Another piece of bloody street art…
03:52 pm



tampon street art
I actually had to do a double-take on this one, but this lil’ lady—as seen in Richmond, Virginia—is downright endearing! Banksy’s all well and good, but who doesn’t love a winsome piece on “the curse.”

The blood flowing into the grate is a nice touch, too!
Via Bust

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Cat Scratch Jesus Lizard: David Yow channels his inner B. Kliban
11:48 am



Last week, when we spoke to David Yow about his forthcoming Jesus Lizard: Book, he completely neglected to mention to us that he had a second book in the works. A book of cat drawings, and just about all of them groaner puns. Through his publisher, Akashik Books, Yow said:

I love cats. Always have. The only time I didn’t have a cat was a brief hell in Chicago where I lived in an apartment whose landlord didn’t allow them. At that place, I had a life-sized cardboard cutout of a cat which I named Toody. I also love wordplay. I’m the only adult I hang out with who still gets a kick out of puns. I make up palindromes. I used to write songs and poems (these days, I leave that for the songwriters and poets); in this book of cat-pun drawings, I have made a concerted effort to come up with ideas that range from really funny to really amusing. The entire litter of animals in this book are line drawings that are ‘coloured in’ with photographic textures, and each cat is dropped into a photographic setting. Yep, that’s the truth.

Cat Burglar
Cat Nip
Cat-O-Nine Tails
Et cetera. There are many more of these to be seen at Yow’s web site. And that’s the only place you’ll be able to see them for awhile. The book won’t actually be out until next summer.

It’s charming that he thinks people will like pictures of cats, but frankly, I’m skeptical. Who the hell buys cat stuff?

Below, fan-made video for Scratch Acid’s “Cannibal” (NSFW)

Previous, More Previous

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
‘Phenakistoscope’ discs predate the movies by 50 years—and are probably better
10:45 am



Phenakistoscope image
Decades of experimentation (and fun, by the way) were necessary before even the most rudimentary cinema equipment could be made in the 1890s. The great Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic experiments with the physical motion of humans and horses happened in the 1870s, but even when little Eadweard was a tot, in the 1830s, there were plenty of amusing gadgets around that depended on the persistence of vision. They went by a bunch of different names, including the zoetrope, the phantasmascope, the fantascope, the stroboscope, and the phenakistoscope.

“Phenakistoscope” was the term favored by a Belgian inventor named Joseph Plateau. (The term “phenakistoscope” comes from the Greek phenakizein, meaning “to deceive.”) Plateau’s idea was to put 10 images or so around a circular plate, each image being slightly different to its neighbor and the entire set of images being cyclical in nature, such that when the image was spun rapidly and the viewer’s gaze was interrupted by as many equally spaced radial slits on the disc as there were separate images, a cyclical set of moving images would emerge. You would have needed a mirror to use the phenakistoscope; other devices used a second disc to supply the visual interruptions.

I find all of the phenakistoscope images below utterly delightful and charming. They’re all wonderfully imaginative (some are even a little disturbing), and they were all painstakingly executed without any kind of mechanical reproduction, of course—no computers to duplicate the images or to help indicate exactly where the neighboring image should occur. (Actually, I’m not 100% sure that all of these images date from the 1830s, but at least a couple of them definitely do.)

Anyone interested in these devices is urged to visit Richard Balzer’s website or his Tumblr—you’ll find an endless array of delightful 19th-century visual trickery there.
Phenakistoscope image
Phenakistoscope image
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Happy Little Trees’: Bob Ross explains his mission in the first episode of ‘The Joy of Painting’
10:53 am



Bob Ross
I looooooove Bob Ross. Don’t get me wrong; I would consider anyone hanging one of his pieces in their home a domestic terrorist. I find his actual paintings schlocky and sentimental, but I love his attitude, accessibility, and his crusade to enable any would-be painter. So many people are too intimidated to even attempt making art. There’s something truly wonderful about a warm, encouraging voice teaching you a few basic techniques in the comfort of your own home. And “warm and soothing” was the Bob Ross trademark.

Ross actually developed his painting technique in the US Air Force, and while he assumed a “tough guy” demeanor on duty, it never really sat well with him. Hoping to leave the service someday, he wished to lead a more gentle lifestyle, and swore “never to scream again.”  Below is the beginning of the first episode of The Joy of Painting, (before he knew the show would run for 11 years), wherein Bob Ross soothes the ever-loving-fuck out of his audience members, and holds their collective hand through the process.

You didn’t have to be an expert, you didn’t even have to be good. Bob Ross was art therapy.

Via The Wall Breakers

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Even ‘The New Yorker’ agrees, most New Yorkers don’t really care about Banksy
02:40 pm



Banksy cartoon
Sick burn, New Yorker!

Recently, British guerrilla artist Banksy has taken up “residency” in New York, meaning his stencils randomly pop up, only to be immediately tagged over by local graffiti artists. And then there’s been a few performance pieces he pulled, like selling his work to unwitting buyers from a streetside stall for $60 (had serious art buyers been in the know, the pieces would have gone for about $31,000). But you know what’s kind of awesome about New York? We really don’t give a shit. Sure, there’s perpetual 24/7 Banksy media coverage, but the average Joe probably gives a Banksy stencil the same attention as he would a bodega mural mourning the death of a local drug dealer.

I’ll admit, it’s almost always nice to see public art. Whether it’s your taste or not, it’s usually better than an empty lot or a crumbling wall. But it seems like the city’s sentiment was summed up nicely in The New Yorker cartoon. There’s something extra stinging about a flippant dismiss from a New Yorker. It’s like having your white grandma inform you that your twerking is sub-par, or being told by a local beat policeman that your Captain Beefheart collection consists of only his “Tragic Band” material.

Take the latest Banksy performance piece, wherein a meat truck of stuffed animals is animated to, I don’t know, show the horrors of factory farming? There’s a presumptuousness to that piece—“Hey, did you know that factory farming is really inhumane?!?” “Why no I didn’t! At least not until I saw that really earnest and heavy-handed social commentary rolling down 8th Avenue!” Plus, I saw a drag queen do something similar (but better) two years ago.

And that shit had glitter.

When so much of your hype stems from your anonymity,  it makes perfect sense that New Yorkers would be largely unimpressed. It’s a city full of anonymous people, so that whole supposedly edgy anonymity novelty just doesn’t move us. You don’t want to be seen? Awesome, ‘cos we don’t have the time to look. There’s dog shit on the sidewalk and bike messengers and taxis to dodge. There’s so, so, so much going on. Why would we pursue a coy “anonymous celebrity,” when we have tons of artists in the minor leagues, desperate to get their real names out there? It was tourists who bought those Banksy originals in Central Park, and I have to wonder, if Banksy revealed his identity, would his fans (and the media) continue to be so enthusiastic about his work?

Perhaps we Banksy-shruggers just don’t “get it”—I never claimed to be cultured. But I really do think that his brand of “spectacle” simply doesn’t translate very well to our fair city. Below, you can see his venture into short film, wherein Syrian rebels shoot down Dumbo the elephant with a rocket launcher, shrieking “Allahu Akbar!”. It’s ironic, it’s political, it’s vague, it’s Banksy. It’s a another brand in a heavily branded city, and we have shit to do.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Macabre Edwardian LOLcats featuring dead animals
02:49 pm





There is a grand tradition of photographing cats in silly situations and adding humorous captions that’s as old as photography. Over a hundred years before and, there was Brighton, England photographer Harry Pointer and his “Brighton cats” series.

During the Victorian era Pointer discovered an untapped market for visiting cards and greeting cards featuring anthropomorphized cats with funny or sweet captions, doing things like having tea, demanding dinner, rollerskating, and taking photos themselves. Pointer created about 200 lolcat portraits in his “The Brighton Cats” series by 1884. He made a killing selling these images on visiting cards and greeting cards.




Pointer’s cats were also very much alive.

You can’t say the same of American photographer Harry Whittier Frees’ subjects when he came along thirty-six years later. Frees did similar tableaux using pigs, rabbits, dogs, and cats but usually without funny captions. Frequently dead cats, because they hold still better. Many of the twee domestic scenes he set up also included eerie-looking china dolls. He wrote in Animal Land on the Air that his images “represent an almost inconceivable amount of patience, care, and kind attention, as well as a very large number of spoiled films.” Maintaining the fantasy that all of the animals he used were alive and squirming around.

Frees wrote:

Rabbits are the easiest to photograph in costume, but incapable of taking many “human” parts. Puppies are tractable when rightly understood, but the kitten is the most versatile animal actor, and possesses the greatest variety of appeal. The pig is the most difficult to deal with, but effective on occasion. The best period of young animal models is a short one, being when they are from six to ten weeks of age. An interesting fact is that a kitten’s attention is best held through the sense of sight, while that of a puppy is most influenced by sound, and equally readily distracted by it. The native reasoning powers of young animals are, moreover, quite as pronounced as those of the human species, and relatively far surer.

Frees began his cat portraits in 1905, when he photographed the presumably alive family cat wearing a party hat at a birthday celebration. Like Pointer he made good money selling the reproductions for postcards, calendars, and publications. But it takes much of the “lol” out of “lolcat” to use dead animals in poses, like something out of Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses.



If Frees’ contemporaries knew that many of the animals in his photos were dead, they probably didn’t care. Victorians and Edwardians had no problem photographing dead things, including their own relatives, going so far as to pose with them in depressing family portraits before burying them. There are still people who take pictures at funerals, but come on, North American funereal customs are awful enough without that being a widespread practice.

The amount of patience required to take a camera-phone picture of live, active, wriggly, uncooperative cats is impressive. But using the old-school photographic techniques? Pointer must have had a Zen master level of serenity. Frees was admittedly resourceful and found a cheap, easy, pragmatic solution to the problem. He was still, however, a creepy bastard.

Via Retronaut and Vice

Posted by Kimberly J. Bright | Leave a comment
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