Flamethrower Shooting Gallery

A couple Crucible-dwelling metal/fire artists, Matisse and Roxie, have created a Flamethrower Shooting Gallery for this year’s Burning Man, which debuted recently at The Crucible’s Fire Arts Festival in Oakland, California.

Here’s a nice shot of the sooty aftermath:

flamethrower shooting gallery

Via Gizmodo, where they have more photos and a video posted.

O gramatologia é grande

Pardon my rusty Portuguese (ok, my non-existent Portuguese, which is even rustier), but I just discovered a great art blog, Gramatologia, published by the Brazilian artist Amir Brito Cadôr. Amir’s work and the work of other artists he features is predominantly text-based in many different languages, and the site is mostly visual, so it doesn’t matter if you don’t read Portuguese. Check it out.

Amir’s work is often caligraphic, and plays with type and alphabets. Here is a self-serving example of three randomly chosen pieces from his Livro dos Seres Imaginários (Book of the Imaginary Beings) that just happen to spell my name when combined in just the right way:

Amir Cador J - A - Y

Jan Olof Mallander - JI’ve discovered a lot of interesting artists and work on Gramatologia that I had never heard of before, such as Jan Olof Mallander, whose work (another “J”..hmm… is this a pattern with me?) is at right. Here is a good bio on the Finnish artist, which leads off with this bit of inspiration:

In the winter of 1972-73, the  Cheap Thrills Gallery , founded by Jan-Olof Mallander, was converted into a macrobiotic restaurant. For a few weeks, the gallery served the public vegetarian cuisine instead of art. The experiment was the forerunner of the first vegetarian restaurant in Finland. When Mallander, a macrobiotic himself, was some time later seen in a restaurant cutting up a juicy steak, he merely said: ” Know your enemy ..”

I was about to show more examples, but there is so much good work on Gramatologia, I’d be here all day, so just go check it out for yourself.

View of the new studio

I rented a huge new studio in May, then spent the next six weeks painting the walls, painting out the dark blue carpet, building desks, tables and shelves, and basically transforming it into a great workspace. Here is a view of it – click on the photo to see a larger version:

Jay studio view July 2, 2008

This view from the stairs shows the main workspace, but the studio also has an office, a back room (the “cut and spray” room), a half-kitchen, and upstairs another room and a mezzanine for storage. After years in a series of cramped spaces, now I really have room to work, and ironically all the work I’m doing right now is small.

This storefront used to be a piano store, but my (very cool) landlord John dubbed it “A Mound of Space“, after seeing the Snarkbook drawing of that name. If there’s a better name for the studio, I’ve yet to find it.

Parallel marginalia: Wölfli and Walser

Sam Goldenrule Jones writes and publishes several excellent blogs, including, Wandering with Robert Walser, “A project dedicated to Swiss author Robert Walser (1878-1956)”, a great writer I only recently discovered.

The fact that Walser was Swiss, ended up in an insane asylum, and wrote stories and articles in a fantastically small microscript handwriting, put me in mind of Adolf Wölfli. Here’s a side-by-side comparison of a famous Wölfli drawing (beating Warhol to Campbell’s Soup by four decades or so) with in image of Walser’s (described below) that I cribbed from Sam’s Flickr set of Walser images (apologies):

adolf wolfli robert walser composite

Here is Sam’s description of the Walser image:

An image of a notecard I purchased at the Museum Neuhaus in Biel, Switzerland, Walser’s birthplace. The legend says “Micrograme No. 147 (Autumn 1925); crayon, 20.5 x 13.2 cm (format original). Robert Walser-Archiv, Zurich. Copyright Carl Seelig-Siftung, Zurich. Museum Neuhaus, Biel. As I recall, the text consists of a review Walser wrote of the book that accompanied this publisher’s announcement.

These two images together remind me of a phrase that popped into my head the other day that is currently working its way through a Snarkbook and toward a drawing or painting: parallel marginalia.

Sam also turned me on to Words Without Borders, where he recently lead a “Walser month”, with a number of roundtable discussions. One in particular especially interests me, Walser and the Visual Arts, which currently only has Sam’s initial “brief list of works of art, music and film inspired by, or associated with, Walser”, but that alone ought to keep me far too busy being Walserbusy.

Ok, finally, a snippet of Walser, from one of my favorite stories, Kleist in Thun (a title also working its way through my “system”), where Walser imagines himself as the Prussian writer Heinrich von Kleist, during the spring and summer of 1802, in a villa on a small island in the Aar River near the town of Thun, Swizerland. Here is Walser delivering the weather report, the “emotional weather report” as Tom Waits later sang:

On rainy days it is terribly cold and void. The place shivers at him. The green shrubs whine and whimper and shed rain tears for some sun. Over the heads of the mountains drift monstrous dirty clouds like great impudent murderous hands over foreheads. The countryside seems to want to creep away and hide from this evil weather, to shrivel up. The lake is leaden and bleak, the language of the waves unkind. The storm wind, wailing like a weird admonition, can find no issue, crashes from one scarp to the next. It is dark here, and small, small. Everything is pressed right up against one’s nose. One would like to seize a sledgehammer and beat a way out of it all. Get away there, get away!

I love that about Walser, how everything in his prose is alive, sentient and full of its own desire, fellow-citizens with the protagonists and the other characters who people his places.

Cage Cluster, or It Kurtz So Good

A nice composite image of John Cage cooking, from the excellent blog of the greatly named J. Henry Chunko:

John Cage cooking photos

Mr. Chunko links  to this post about a recording of John Cage: Empty Words Part IV (1973-78). But I especially like the Lichtensteiger.de blog that he turned me on to, which has several pages of John Cage material. The recorded Cage readings that strike me in this hearing as unexpected cousins of Kurtz’s monologues in Apocalypse Now, two characters I’ve never connected before.

Malevich Null – Zehn

Great exhibition photo of work by Malevich in The Last Futurist Exhibition ‘0.10’, Petrograd, 1915, from a TateETC article:

Malevich The Last Futurist Exhibition 1915

Apparently this is the only surviving photo from the exhibition, in which 21 of the 39 Malevich works in the show can be seen. More about The Last Futurist Exhibition. And take a look in this book too.

Malevich’s title of the exhibition, 0.10, is an enigma. Most appearances of it online are in references to books that are hidden behind a veil of copyright — sure, I could hike to a library and spend all day looking up sources, but I prefer to hunt online. Various references to the title include 0.10; 0,10; 0-10; Zero – Ten; and my favorite, for obvious zenigmatic pun potential, the German version, “Null – Zehn”. Here is a book excerpt that refers to the “enigmatic title” of the exhibition, which claims it should be read to mean the same thing as the black squares, namely, “something like a first veil after Nothing”. Of course, that much is obvious to anybody….

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern mashup

Sucked from the Wikiquote page for Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead and re-bejumbled:

Guildenstern: Has it ever happened to you that all of a sudden and for no reason at all you haven’t the faintest idea how to spell the word – “wife” – or “house” – because when you write it down, you just can’t remember ever having seen those letters in that order before …?

Rosencrantz: Half of what he said meant something else, and the other half didn’t mean anything at all.

Guildenstern: The colours red, blue and green are real. The colour yellow is a mystical experience shared by everybody. Demolish.

Rosencrantz: Eternity is a terrible thought. I mean, where’s it going to end?

The Player: Life is a gamble, at terrible odds – if it was a bet, you wouldn’t take it.

Guildenstern: Words. Words. They’re all we have to go on.

The Player: I congratulate you on the unambiguity of your situation.

Guildenstern: There must have been a time, in the beginning, when we could have said – no. But somehow we missed it.

Experimental Funding


No pen, no ink, no nothin’…

“No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination.”

– James Joyce (1882–1941) from a Dec. 7, 1906, letter to his brother, written from Rome in a state of disillusion. Letters of James Joyce, vol. 2 (1966).

Newsmash: January 9, 2008

Pundits threaten baby’s arm

Pregnant Marine caught stuffing puppy under sweater

James Bond execution caught on tape

Internet suicide blamed on weird weather

Disney World faked confrontation video

Nude teacher stuck on roof

Meanest mom on planet named Most Eligible Pet

Hospital error blamed on Chuck E. Cheese

Feds toss ice pioneer off bridge

Baby polar bear is probably a glowing pig

Australians battle farthest glaciers

Comedian sees Mark of Beast

Worst-Dressed celeb cuts off, microwaves hand

Girl, 2, arrested in shootout

Ikea blamed for Diana’s death

Exploding Nano Wires

This image of “Nano-Explosions” won first prize in at the November 2007 Materials Research Society (MRS) “Science As Art” competition.

Exploding Nano Wires

“Nano-Explosions Color-enhanced scanning electron micrograph of an overflowed electrodeposited magnetic nanowire array (CoFeB), where the template has been subsequently completely etched. It’s a reminder that nanoscale research can have unpredicted consequences at a high level. (Image: Fanny Beron, École Polytechnique de Montréal, Montréal, Canada)”

Aerial Hajj buses are words jostling for position

From SF Gate’s Day In Pictures today:

Mecca Hajj bus parking lot

“Hajj overflow: A parking lot in Arafat, Saudi Arabia, is packed with empty pilgrim buses as more than 2 million Muslim faithful gather at nearby Mecca, the site of Prophet Muhammad’s last sermon 14 centuries ago.”

No fear in San Francisco


Daniil Kharms – subversive nonsense

daniil-kharms-1932.jpgThe fiction featured in the August 6, 2007 issue of the New Yorker, So It Is in Life, is by Daniil Kharms, a Russian author with a short, hard life extinguished under Stalin in 1942. His work, just now published in English for the first time, has drawn critical comparisons to Beckett, Camus, and Ionesco. Wrote Kharms in 1937: “I am interested only in nonsense, only in that which has no practical meaning.”

Here is the editor’s introduction to the short short stories published in the New Yorker:

Born in St. Petersburg in 1905, Daniil Kharms was one of the founders, in 1928, of OBERIU, or Association of Real Art, an avant-garde group of writers and artists who embraced the ideas of the Futurists and believed that art should operate outside the rules of logic. In his lifetime, Kharms produced several works for children, but his writing for adults was not published. In 1931, Kharms was charged with anti-Soviet activities and briefly exiled from Leningrad. In 1941, he was arrested by the N.K.V.D. for making “defeatist statements”; sentenced to incarceration in the psychiatric ward of a prison hospital, he died of starvation the following year, during the siege of Leningrad. It wasn’t until the late nineteen-seventies that Kharms’s playful and poetic work began to appear in mainstream publications in Russia. Several books followed, as did festivals in Kharms’s honor and critical comparisons to Beckett, Camus, and Ionesco. The following texts have never been published in English.

Each of the pieces in the New Yorker is only at most a handful of paragraphs long. Here is one of my favorite passages, written in 1932-33, which eloquently describes and issue I deal with all the time in my own work — remembering ideas long enough to get them down on paper:

I suddenly had the impression that I had forgotten something, some incident or important word.

I painstakingly tried to remember this word, and it seemed to me that it began with the letter “M.” No, no! Not with an “M” at all but with an “R.”

Reason? Rapture? Rectangle? Rib? Or: Mind? Misery? Matter?

I was making coffee and singing to myself all the words that started with “R.” Oh, what a tremendous number of words I made up beginning with the letter “R”! Perhaps among them was that one word, but I didn’t recognize it, taking it to be the same as all the others.

Then again, perhaps that word didn’t come up.

Notes the Wikipedia entry on Kharms (italics are mine):

In 1928, Daniil Kharms founded the avant-garde collective OBERIU, or Union of Real Art. He embraced the new movements of Russian Futurism laid out by his idols, Khlebnikov, Kazimir Malevich, and Igor Terentiev, among others. Their ideas served as a springboard. His aesthetic centered around a belief in the autonomy of art from real world rules and logic, and the intrinsic meaning to be found in objects and words outside of their practical function.

By the late 1920s, his antirational verse, nonlinear theatrical performances, and public displays of decadent and illogical behavior earned Kharms—who always dressed like an English dandy with a calabash pipe—the reputation of being a talented but highly eccentric “fool” or “crazy-man” in Leningrad cultural circles.

Notes the Wikipedia entry on the OBERIU group:

The great Russian artist Kazimir Malevich gave the OBERIU shelter in his newly created arts institute for a while, letting them rehearse in one of the auditoriums. It is reported that he said to the young “Oberiuty” (as they are called in Russian): “You are young trouble makers, and I am an old one. Let’s see what we can do.” Malevich also gifted a book of his own (“God Is Not Cast Down”) to one of the founders of OBERIU (Daniil Kharms), with the relevant inscription “Go and stop progress!”.

Go and stop progress! Beautiful.

Cinematic stains of the great directors: Antonioni

In honor of the passing of the Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni last month, here is a shot of the ink spilling scene in L’avventura, and then three alterations of the image as it passes into memory:


Chiseling a painting to life

Sometimes, scraping away many layers of paint that ain’t workin’ is best accomplished with a sledgehammer and chisel, at least when the painting is on plywood.

Now it’s ready for a new beginning.