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Hunting The Scapegoat

I am sick and tired of hearing about Russia. Yes, it’s probable that Russia tried to influence US voters in 2016; but it isn’t like the United States has no history in similar misdeeds. Yes, Trump and his cronies probably made tons of deals with various businessmen and politicians in and around the Kremlin. Imagine that: capitalists are corrupt.

What disturbs me is how obsessive the media—outside of Fox News—is about the whole thing. Even The New Yorker, usually not one to embrace the hype, is fully on-board with this horseshit.1

The thing is, Russia provides an out for these institutions. If Russia is somehow to blame for Hillary Clinton’s loss, the narrative will support that as history. Without Russia as a scapegoat, all of these institutions might have to look elsewhere—say, the global capitalism that Clinton’s neoliberal agenda perpetuates and massive media conglomorates both believe in and need—to see why so many felt disenfranchised with the empty promises of the Democratic Party.

      Notes
  • Granted, The New Yorker isn’t as obsessive, and their output is generally more on-point with what really matters. But it kills me to think Fox News is being in any sort responsible by not going all-in on this charade.

11:00 / 15 January 2019
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Bored To Death

I taught myself how to write in cursive by first grade. It wasn’t too difficult and I thought it would be impressive if I started to at least write my name in cursive on in-class assignments. My teacher promptly came up to me and said, “You need to re-do this and write your name in print, please.” I asked why and she replied, “Students aren’t allowed to write in cursive until the third grade; that is when you learn it.”

I didn’t understand it then but looking back it was a pretty good set-up for the rest of life; people will take any sort of authority they can to regulate others into whatever bullshit system they’re associated with.

I tried it again in second grade and got the same result, and then third grade came around and we spent something like six weeks using flour-filled trays to draw out each letter. It’s probably good that I was only about 8 years old and waited until high school before I started talking back to teachers.

19:30 / 14 January 2019
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Lineage

“Crossing Paths” at First Friday · January 2019

i’ve always had a thing for observing how people change face depending on who they are around; acting or speaking differently depending on who is in the room and what conditions of authority apply. (obviously someone may act different around a boss or a cop—these days, what’s the difference?)

i guess this began in junior high when ‘clique’ behavior simultaneously disgusted and confused me—this has grown with me as adults behave the same way however tend to differentiate themselves by class and status-quo-based levels of ‘success’

this new series is about how each person creates a different impression on one another during whatever time they spend together and under whatever circumstances may arise; that our total selves are a construction of many points of interaction, yet each singular path has its own radical definition and consequence to the whole

see more at Crossing Paths

14:00 / 11 January 2019
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Hell Freezing Over
(Will Be Televised)

Throughout the 2016 election, whenever it came up in discussion, I would say Don’t sleep on Trump. Once the primaries had been decided, I was the only person I knew who would claim Trump would win. After all, it’s the economy, stupid.

It isn’t that all Trump voters were racist: it’s that they care about racists less than they care about financial difficulty. Match up people that voted for Trump with people who had difficulty after the 2008 crash and you’re going to get a pretty big overlap.1 Yes, sure, some were racist shitheads and some were susceptible to fear, but those people are always going to vote Republican.

The thing about capitalism is that it doesn’t give a shit who you voted for or why. It’ll eat you and yours alive just the same. Neither of the parties want to admit this because the Republicans rely on it as an excuse for war (“freedom“) and the Democrats for globalization (“business“). So it was pretty shocking to see Tucker Carlson—known up until now for getting schooled by Jon Stewart and Crossfire subsequently going off-air—come out swinging against it.2

Anti-capitalism isn’t a left-versus-right position in the modern world. The political landscape is a sphere, not a circle.3 Though it wouldn’t make much sense, I suppose one could be anti-gay-rights and still believe in socialism as an economic standard for the well-being of the country. But economics and governance are not the same thing, even though they do tend to walk hand-in-hand.

It’s good to see Carlson taking this stand, because so much of the narrative on the left is anti-socialist4 that I can’t imagine the last time a mainstream figure on the right would have pushed back in the slightest against capitalism. This is a surreal thing to say, but we live in surreal times: Kudos to Tucker Carlson.

      Notes
  • Another reason to hate the Democratic Party: Bernie would have won. His message just needed a proper PR campaign at a national level to translate to the needs of lower-to-middle-class suburban whites.
  • “You need to go to one,” Stewart saying of Carlson and journalism school, is still one of my favorite owns ever said on television.
  • Much like time. #truedetectiveseason3
  • —fuck the democrats fuck the democrats fuck the democrats fuck the democrats—

09:00 / 11 January 2019
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Inside The Lines

A piece done in Florence last year, finishing up the Part II series.

18:00 / 10 January 2019
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Ordinary Intersections

I forgot my headphones today. A full day of work at the library and coffee shop planned and I fucking forgot headphones.

Headphones provide a strange type of alienation from the world: self-imposed. A cue to the world—a visual Away MessageI’m not available right now. More than that, since the iPod’s first campaign through the modern Beats ads, they’re somewhat of a status symbol (no matter how dumb that status looks).

I try and be pretty aware of their use. I don’t understand wearing headphones absent-mindedly on walks. The sonic experience of both nature and the city can be equally enthralling.1 I also don’t get why people wear headphones when they drive, because of, well, you know. Safety concerns and all.

But a modern coffee shop is practically intolerable without some noise. It’s impossible to walk through a crowded cafe in America and find any square footage where you can’t hear some of the most inane bullshit you’re likely to experience all day.2 So tepid are Americans to discuss the society of our day that I’ve had art censored from cafés in Portland (of all places) due to their political nature. Some respond by talking about things out of their control—sports teams, the weather—and the response for me is to listen to something chaotic.

(The library is almost the complete opposite; the stunning silence almost begs for preferential sound to allow for focus, a way to keep the brain on a cycle while dealing with information and research and workflow. I can barely focus on the fact I’m having trouble maintaining focus on anything. A rather idyllic First World Problem, I know, but it’s these little inconveniences that can seriously fuck up the day’s output.)

      Notes
  • It wasn’t too long ago when Being Present was the hipster fashion phrase of the moment; how anyone could reasonably say they were aware of the ‘moment’ while wired into social media, the internet, music, podcasts, etc., is beyond me.
  • Long gone are the days of Les Deux Magots. Let’s face it: most conversations people have are, at best, barely tolerable to those involved. Nobody here is solving world hunger; most of the time they’re just deciding what to get for lunch. Business owners may not want to risk conversation that could be ‘offensive’ to customers, but that just further proves the influence of commerce outweighs any sense of sociopolitical self-preservation we have as a culture in America.

13:00 / 10 January 2019
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Tragic Spectacle

I find myself reading and re-reading texts that foresaw the age of the internet but were still published in the pre-digital era—McLuhan, Debord, Baudrillard—and can’t help but wonder what they would write in 2019 were any still alive to see how prophetic their texts truly were;

The alienation of the spectator, which reinforces the contemplated objects that result from his own unconscious activity, works like this: The more he contemplates, the less he lives; the more he identifies with the dominant images of need, the less he understands his own life and his own desires. The spectacle’s estrangement from the acting subject is expressed by the fact that the individual’s gestures are no longer his own; they are the gestures of someone else who represents them to him. The spectator does not feel at home anywhere, because the spectacle is everywhere.

—Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle

Each day offers new opportunity to observe how unable America is to comprehend the shift we are experiencing. Yesterday’s Oval Office address was met with liberal demands for fact-checking, as if proving Donald Trump a liar would somehow this time make a difference.

Obscene is an accurate definition for what Americans seem ready to give up in exchange for ‘normalcy’—seemingly unwilling or unable to realize that what we experience now is the new normal. There is no going back in time, there will be no re-setting of the rules of politics come the next election cycle. Late capitalism and its effects on the body politic is an exercise in existential natural selection: adapt or die.

They tell us, “everyone must do their part,” if we want to save our beautiful model of civilization. We have to consume a little less to be able to keep consuming. We have to produce organically to keep producing. We have to control ourselves to go on controlling. This is the logic of a world straining to maintain itself while giving itself an air of historical rupture. This is how they would like to convince us to participate in the great industrial challenges of this century. And in our bewilderment we’re ready to leap into the arms of the very same ones who presided over the devastation, in the hope that they will get us out of it.

—The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection

The warnings that these philosophers voiced before the internet era regarding the overwhelming power of the information economy fell on the deaf ears of a generation that largely—and ignorantly—enjoyed its profits; one to which that very economy has since allowed for any individual to completely disassociate reason from society.1 From here on out we will endure the whims of those who control the tightening noose of capital, and until that issue is reconciled there will be no avoiding its representatives.2

      Notes
  • Not to mention the fuckers are profiting wildly from it all.
  • With the flaunted riches of unearned wealth and a strict belief in nothing but the market, Donald Trump is the ultimate capitalist; Hillary Clinton would be something like second place there, too. Delusion is the belief that these people will go away—or even remotely represent the true needs of people at large.

18:00 / 9 January 2019
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Negative Space (Antigram)

Presentation has always been an important cornerstone of anything related to media. Slick production is what separates mainstream music from basement recordings. Photoshop takes already-attractive people and makes them marketable. Any ad agency will have a web site as overindulgent as their content.1

By now, virtually all media, architecture, product and graphic design have been freed from ideas, individual passion, and have been relegated to a role of corporate servitude, carrying out corporate strategies and increasing stock prices. Creative people are now working for the bottom line.

Corporations have become the sole arbiters of cultural ideas and taste in America.

Our culture is corporate culture.

—Tibor Kalman, “Fuck Committees (I Believe In Lunatics), Looking Closer 4: Critical Writings on Graphic Design

First Friday

First Friday

This self-regulated importance of presentation has always been an annoyance to me.2 This has been central to the art shows I’ve been a part of, and certainly the ones I’ve helped build.

One of my favorite things about our First Friday shows is how difficult they are to photograph. The Warehouse is an awkward, shifting space with what little lighting we have focused on the walls; too cramped to get anything but wide-angle shots and too divided to ever show the extent of work & workers in attendance. Like most good things, you have to be there to experience its truth.

First Friday
First Friday

First Friday

In a world increasingly designed for vanity, one would hope that art would provide refuge from such a superficial dystopia. But as fashionable galas for the entertainment elite flourish, the general obsession with wealth and status seem to parallel the art world’s increased submission into the palm of capitalist pride.

Vision and representation are significant aspects of art and culture alike, yet mainstream influence maintains dominance of these concepts with capital by way of sterilization and homogeneous production.3 Our mainstream culture can’t even eat noodles without some grotesque influence and associated commentary; it seems we’ve sacrificed asking the question But What Does It Mean? with the resignation that none of this means anything unless somebody is getting rich.

      Notes
  • This extends past social organization and into the realm of the individual as well: what a person wears is substantial in their perceived place in society at all levels. Nobody in business will take someone in a track suit seriously, while the punks will be skeptical of anyone not dressed in black. The only thing I’ve ever liked about Mark Zuckerberg is that he probably has attended board meetings in a hoodie.
  • In my undergraduate intermediate photography class—exclusively shooting medium format film on a Holga—for my final project I put my portfolio of prints in a shoe box and sat the box in the corner of the gallery, where all the other students had arranged their framed prints on the walls. I wanted my photos to be held, looked at up close, appreciated. The teacher did not take kindly to this sentiment and nearly failed me. Fuck ’em.
  • For how brand-obsessed millennials seem to be, it always shocks me how vastly unoriginal most are in their design efforts.

11:30 / 9 January 2019
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To The Barricades Again

The Police At Church

A Fire In The Square

going through some boxes, packing things up in the studio, found some developed but unscanned film—these from (one of) the protests about the Trump immigration policy—if memory serves it’s around the time of the initial travel ban

still it boggles the mind that marches like these could snake through the streets every day and be simultaneously 1.) about some new hateful atrocity of governance and 2.) equally ineffective in creating any substantial change

PSU Students

Solidarity

Stormtroopers

16:30 / 8 January 2019
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4-5

Once and future publications

—if all goes to plan, Distorted Perspective Vol. III will be released in April—

—(keep working keep working keep working)

00:45 / 8 January 2019
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