Friday, September 30, 2005

"My husband will stop beating me if I just prove that I love him more" by Senator Barack Obama

"I shared enough of these concerns that I voted against Roberts on the floor this morning. But short of mounting an all-out filibuster -- a quixotic fight I would not have supported; a fight I believe Democrats would have lost both in the Senate and in the court of public opinion; a fight that would have been difficult for Democratic senators defending seats in states like North Dakota and Nebraska that are essential for Democrats to hold if we hope to recapture the majority; and a fight that would have effectively signaled an unwillingness on the part of Democrats to confirm any Bush nominee, an unwillingness which I believe would have set a dangerous precedent for future administrations -- blocking Roberts was not a realistic option."
Wow. I'm doing laundry right now, so maybe I'll have more to say about this later, but man, wtf?

Edit: Why should I bother writing a response when this guy already has?

Quote of the week...

"You poor, hollow, blood-painted clowns. Cheering the trials and failures of your country with the same pennants and giant foam hands that you wave at your favorite sports teams. Willing to accept the most outrageous of lies, if they are spoken from your favorite talking heads, and soothe your own notions of America for you, and only for you."

Impending Doom 101


This article on the receding arctic ice shelf is a reminder that we are witnessing the first of many, many dominoes to fall. Also, nobody does info-graphics like the NY Times.
UPDATE: [10-08-05] A related post on Boingboing about this very issue. Canadian real estate futures look good!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Fluency

One of the best pieces of advice regarding drawing I've gotten since getting out of school I found in a drawing manual written in the thirties by an instructor from the New York Art Students' League. The manual itself outlines what today is your standard issue figure drawing course: A course of study based on gesture and contour drawing, with the longer studies taking one to three hours. The piece of advice is this: That drawing should be approached "incessantly, painstakingly, [and] furiously". Taken at face value, this advice isn't so great, because it resembles the worn-out advice given in art schools everywhere, "more!!! bigger!!!"; Having such advice thrown out at me in a critique is a little disconcerting, because the central purpose of critique is to present me with different perspectives on what I've done, and it insults my intelligence to presume that I wouldn't think to make more of the work, or enlarge the work.
So the drawing manual's advice is helpful only after unpacking the meaning a little. "Incessantly" just means that drawing should be habitual. The author associates drawing "painstakingly" with contour drawing, and "furiously" with gesture. This parallels something we've talked about quite a bit, many years ago: the dynamic between intuition and system.
The point of all of this is that in order to get any traction in art-making, one needs to work both furiously and painstakingly, not just one or the other. An operational flexibility is also nessecary; The flux between these two attitudes (painstaking:furious, precision:output, measured:loose) is likely what renews and reinvigorates our motives to make work, and determines how fluent we are with our materials.
For instance, Matisse was an artist that was very methodical in order to appear very loose. He kept a strict regimen of gesture drawings for several hours before each painting session, and made dozens of revisions and reiterations to his paintings. On the other hand, Calder was an artist that was very loose and cavalier about work that was ultimately very technical; this applies particularly to his mobiles, which enforce formal balance as physical balance.

Nicola—ódes, Kimon. The Natural Way to Draw. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1969.
An unfortunate title, to be sure. What it's suggesting is that art making can only be learned experientially.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Valhalla




Collecting pictures of Chicago again... Someone posted this bitching picture of Timber Lanes, one of my favorite places.
It's about as likely as any of the major religions being true, but, I sometimes entertain the idea that if we are valiant in this life, we'll meet our friends in just such a resplendent hall afterwards for beer and leisure.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Quote of the week

"It's a lot harder to bullshit someone who has the power to subpoena your records and arrest you for lying."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

“Jim, the diagnosis is not at all good.”


I have finally managed to get my slides taken and scanned and have just finished a major update of my web site. The new work from 2005 is almost entirely based on radiographic photographs of microbes which I found in some coffee table biology books in a used book store at the end of last year. I was originally drawn to these images by the surprising similarity they had in form and colour to my previous paintings. Conceptually, microbes work for me in that I am interested in the idea of painting things that actually are invisible, along with the a strained metaphor that such frightening little beasties have for my personal analysis of contemporary society. I spent much of my time making these paintings asking myself if a visual representation of biological disease could somehow represent social disfunction. Seeing as I am entirely unscientific in character and interests in general I also wonder if the fearsome invisible world of bacterias and virus are much different than the witches and demons that made us sick before the Enlightenment of the 19th century.

So please take a look at the images and later punish me with harsh criticism as it makes me stronger.

www.jasonbenedict.com

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Commercialism vs. Academia. I hope no one wins.

Jerry Saltz wrote a bit for Artnet a couple days ago regarding what he sees as an impending clash between idealistic and polemic academic ideas, and homogenizing commercialism. It’s pretty straight shooting, and encompasses our previous conversations about our perceptions of the art world here on “The Astromen”.
While Chelsea strikes me as some chi-chi approximation of a strip mall, in my opinion it is probably the most appropriate venue for the type of art that is shown, which is quite varied (taking in stride what the article notes about the infrequency of female artists, which is disturbing.). Mr. Saltz isn’t claiming the art isn’t varied, he’s claiming it’s conservative. This is fair enough, but is entirely contingent what one thinks is progressive. Variety and impermanence is far more important than some shining city in the sky, the Babylon of the article. Further more, I’d much prefer to have my art adorn strip malls and the gypsum board walls of middle-class dwellings, rather than temples (museums). In any event, I personally don’t foresee a grand assault on crass commercialism being launched from the various MFA programs and bohemian hip-kid cafes. If it happens, even, we won’t notice it, blink and the revolt will be over. That’s the beauty of the market. Technology and the fluidity of capital assure stasis in change.
You wouldn’t be able to tell from this write up, but I thoroughly enjoy Mr. Saltz’s writing. One thing is for sure, he isn’t the cheerleader that many other art writers are. I swear though, these guys are in a competition to slip into each essay at least one or two thesaurus words that no one outside of a doctoral dissertation would use. This article uses “sclerotic” near the end of the article. Any guesses? It means, “relating to the tough white fibrous outer envelope of tissue covering all of the eyeball except the cornea.” Which I guess means, “blind”.
Speaking of obtuse words in art-related documents, did we ever figure out what “Lapsarian” means?

Link to “The Battle For Babylon” by Jerry Saltz, from Artnet.com.

Bring me the skull of Pieter Brueghel the Elder!

I made a trip to Powells on Sunday to score some Nag Champa, but also walked away with a bitching coffee table book of art by Pieter Brueghel the Elder. Now, I must have been high on cheese sandwiches and hotdogs the week we talked about this guy in Captain Bob's class at SAIC, because, Astromen, this guy was the shit. I have no lanugage to describe how wonderful this guy's paintings and drawings are. He's personal in theme without injecting himself, and he was absurdist and surrealist 400 years early. Fucking FANTASTIC!!!1!

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Forget the News Agencies . . . READ MORE ASTROMEN!

I found this last week amid all the stories about the approaching apocalypse. A very good argument for why someone like Pete´s editorial musings are at the very least more interesting if not more valid than any paid columnist.

Opinions No Longer Free: Somehow, We'll Soldier On

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Voices from New Orleans

Listen to last weeks This American Life (Real Audio Stream) and share in my five minutes of hate for law enforcement personnel (everywhere). Here's to you guys! Hope you got enough people killed in the past few weeks to compensate for your tiny tiny penises (FYI: I hear crotch rockets work for that too, but unfortunately they won't help you let poor people die [bummer])

Praise Billmon!

My favorite Billmon piece from this week...
For the true connoisseur of cynicism -- and I'm talking about myself here -- the past few days have been about as good as it gets: the political equivalent of an all-you-can-eat buffet at a Mobil five star restaurant. Everywhere you look, you can see mounds of mouthwatering hypocrisy, steaming heaps of juicy lies, fat slices of self-serving spin, and, of course, a bottomless tureen of hot buttered bullshit, fresh from the White House lavatory.
I would write something about my own life, but I don't think anyone wants to hear about the dark, brooding, empty spot inside I filled tonight by buying a seventy dollar jacket.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

From the Ministry of Information Retrieval


I think it would be a shame not to share this document that has been sitting on my hard drive: It's a record of a project I did a few years ago when, prompted by a school assignment, I catalogued garbage purloined from trailer parks around my parents' house. The results were quite educational, and serve as a reminder that, though we live moment to moment... "Now I am at work... Now I am enjoying a beer and the company of my friends... Now I am brushing my teeth... etc."... all of those moments promptly don't exist the moment after. Almost all of what we'll leave behind is garbage, and everything that isn't garbage now, will be someday.
I thought that this old project was pertinent, particularly with Alex's mention of Found magazine in a post a few weeks ago.
I've compiled the documentation into one PDF file, kindly ignore the cripple-ware blue text at the bottom of each page. My conscience drove me to smear out last names and addresses. There are two samples in the document, there was a third, and while it held some goodies, I decided including it would interfere with the existing plot arc.
Link to "Reverse Marketing" a.k.a. "Trailer Trash" document.

Some of the "provincial" types in my class were telling me this week about a hunting range in Texas that features hunting via web-cam and robot servo-arm. Creepy.
Link
UPDATE: Speaking of remote death... When we were gaming this afternoon, we got quite a chuckle out of some Dead Milkmen lyrics. I thought I'd post some links to a couple of their videos: (In Real media format) "Peter Bazooka" & "Big Time Operator". Via the Blank TV site.

Quote of the week

"And the sheriff of Gretna, LA proved that every country has war criminals. Most just don't have a war to commit crime in."

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Shameless plug: ACORN PROJECT

I recently received the new demo that my brother's touring funk band cut. It is part of a show they did in the Spring. The band is based out of Bellingham, Washington which is a small hippie community/college town near the Canadian border. There is a lot of music there and such hip kid bands as Death Cab for Cutie got started there before being being fully assimilated into the Seattle indie pop scene.
You can find a small bit of local press about ACORN PROJECT here and here, simply announcements of upcoming shows. I have put together a provisional ILLEGAL DOWNLOAD WEB SITE where you can acquire the latest and greatest "blues-rock/psychadelic funk" . . . as we can never be too specific.
Remember, illegal downloading makes your power grow as a super-villain.

UPDATE
You can find more complete information about the band on this music community website, (with downloading that has expressed written consent.) Also ACORN PROJECT will be playing September 23rd at the Showbox, which is the premier roadhouse in Seattle. Name your favourite band and if they toured to Seattle they probably played there. As far as my download page that flagrantly defies any copyright and intellectual property laws, I received an email from the band that contained these comments:

"Someone should be arriving shortly to break your legs, and possibly
steal your shoes...I'll get back to you on that one."

"By the way, my lawyers will be sending some things your way
about that. Things like contracts, consent forms,...sepinas, court orders, warrant...you know the usual legal stuff."

"Oh no, he's crossed over from everyday villiany to cartoon
super-villiany!"

Monday, September 05, 2005

Boardgame, 09-04-05

This is the final state of a six player, three-and-a-half hour Zombies!!! game we played yesterday before going to the infernal redneck karaoke bar. Rusty won. He's the orange dude on the helipad.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Winsor McCay


Although many recognize R.F. Outcault's Yellow Kid as the original newspaper comic, Winsor McCay was the first of a very few artists who've made their real estate on the comics page fertile creative territory. (My other favorite newspaper cartoonists are Breathed, Herriman, and Schultz.) For the first few decades of the last century, McCay split his time between his daily strip and his vaudeville act, which consisted of him drawing very fast in front of an audience while keeping up a constant banter. He is credited for inventing cell animation to create an animated dinosaur, named Gertie, which was projected behind him, with whom he would interact during each performance. His strips include The Dream of the Rarebit Fiend and Little Nemo in Slumberland, which he made for William Randolph Hearst's syndicate. His drawing has a consistency and sophistication that very few cartoonists achieve. Thumbs up!
Little Nemo on the web: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Note: Much of the text on these scanned strips is illegible, sorry.