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SHELFLIFE #31A: THERE’S A SUCKER BORN EVERY SECOND

[BUILT] 11.22.2010 by visitordesign

THERE’S A SUCKER BORN EVERY SECOND
After laughing, coughing, cutting, burning, touching and screaming–breathe. Inhale the actions you live every day. Record your most familiar thought–the one you so often have but never do. This thought is a good idea. Trade it with someone for a piece of a second they wish to forget. Exhale your idea. Inhale their memory. Live in the piece given to you–imagining the entirety of the second that surrounds it–while its supplier holds your thought and makes it concrete.

2010 fall

“If ever a second of this footage is used without our consent, we’ll have to have another conversation.”

“I never signed anything, but promise the tapes won’t show up anywhere.”

Such dialogues often devolve from there. The moments we remember via the media we make are pre-commodified. That they should exist solely as artifacts of what Fluxus Movement founder, George Maciunas, described as “Non-Art Reality” is unbelievable. It confounds those who have made professions of spectacle and habits of profiting from it. Contracts, releases and agreements now define the digestibility of the experiences we consume before we so much as lift our forks to them. Maciunas described such commercial “bourgeois sickness” as EUROPANISM. He prescribed inclusive, democratic actions and editions as creative vaccines against it.

Fluxus participant, Yoko Ono, in her 1964 book, Grapefruit, playfully urges the readers of ‘COLLECTING PIECE II’ to place someone on a stage and examine them: weighing, measuring, counting, questioning, dismembering, burning and ultimately–recording. The question of what is to be recorded is open-ended–the performer, the observer and the process each equally valid subjects. The challenge in the seventh-step of ‘COLLECTING PIECE II’ is in making a recording with the same ambivalence expressed while counting and measuring.

Actively constructing objective recordings is difficult. Recordings are reflections of impressions etched on observers by a world perpetually demanding remembrance. Recordings are both the ways we’re bruised by the things we are and the burns that scar what we compulsively remember. The most beautiful recordings are those whose subjectivity screams so subversively that not a ripple of agenda disrupts the placid illusion of their objectivity.

THERE’S A SUCKER BORN EVERY SECOND is a 24-frame memory-scar–a silent one-second performance of ‘COLLECTING PIECE II’. In the guise of a series of freely exchanged t-shirts, SUCKER re-contextualizes a VISITOR-made recording to weigh the history of its subject; presenting her dismembered–24 times–while the conviction of her words is questioned and their meaning measured. SUCKER deconstructs a forbidden moment of Non-Art Reality in the interest of enticing its viewers to channel the radical energy of its subject’s work, Grapefruit. Inciting both thought and action while re-examining how willing a collaborative public is to participate in burning idols, SUCKER presents a conduit through which participants’ good-ideas are exchanged for conceptually commodified Yokos.

To participate in this free edition, visit http://www.vdny.net/sucker


SHELFLIFE #30A: PROMISES WRITTEN IN WATER POSTERS

[BUILT] 09.13.2010 by visitordesign

“Habib, you need to see this film. We have to start thinking about the posters. I’ll be in New York with a DVD–THE ONLY DVD–next week.” We met over sushi. I was instructed to watch and destroy the little piece of plexiglass within 24 hours. 24 hours later, armed with tin-snips and a nihilistic grin I clicked the hook of my speakerphone in the presence of a witness, destroyed the disc, discussed its contents and began thinking about the posters for Vincent Gallo’s new project, ‘Promises Written In Water’. This was late September of 2009.

Having seen, months before anyone, what was mutually agreed would become the most vilified project screened on the 2010 festival circuit was an honor. Having been asked to reflect its unflinching refusal to assume the role of anything remotely resembling what plot-device-dependent critics or attention deficient audiences consider ‘a movie’ was a privilege. ‘Promises’ isn’t a movie. I refer to it very intentionally as ‘a project’ because that’s what it is. It’s a psychological experiment. It’s the painting of a still-life rendered in extreme chiaroscuro that draws you in at a museum–the one you sit contemplating for 75 minutes while re-inventing the moment that inspired a painter to meditate upon a single frame of life for days, weeks or months before that meditation was considered a finished canvas.

Directors dream of the interactive film. They agonize over the technology to bring them there–acquiescing along the way to the lazy novelty of gimmickery like 3-D as a means to con some simulacra of ‘reality’ from the hackneyed concepts and overwrought exposition absent from a ‘real’ life rich in natural dimension and spontaneity. The efforts of Hollywood’s lo-com-denom-thinkers are for nought. The interactive film exists. It’s ‘Promises Written In Water’. Gallo’s already made it. Stop searching. Shut the server-farms DOWN.

The beauty of ‘Promises’ lies in its coarse simplicity. It’s simple because, with two exceptions, the anchors that make movies movies have been removed. It’s not that they never existed. They existed. They were consciously *removed*. The project wants nothing to do with digestiblity. It wants to be the fiber to wring the putrified celluloid waste from the creases of your mind and frankly, it doesn’t care if you can’t be bothered to see how psyllium makes that trash you consume just a little bit better for you. It doesn’t care precisely because it *IS* interrogative. It asks you to lend it your vulnerability–to use it as a mirror by which its constant and active retrieval and reconstruction of memory can become your own. It demands that you reflect with it upon the most absurd corner love has ever backed you into and that you impossibly throw that moment on the table, not as a memory, but as an object–EXACTLY as it existed as time–or how your stuttering mind wishes it ought to have happened. If the project fails to resonate with a viewer, half of that failure is rooted in the viewer’s own narcissistic inability to empathize. The other half of that failure is rooted in the viewer’s never having submitted to the wild winds of senseless, unconventional love. Primal interactivity. The viral film.

The documents branding ‘Promises Written In Water’, like the project itself, refuse to be movie posters. Each print is hand-burnished letterpress on unreasonably-fragile proof-weight newsprint. The letterpress blocks are roughly jigsaw cut from cheap, warped poplar and etched in such a way that only imperfect registration is assured. After rolling a soy-based ink atop the nearly 4′ x 2′ wood-block collage and rubbing the prints out one-by-one, they’re hung on a clothesline to dry for at least 3 days and then individually trimmed to size. The prints rip, dimple and dent with even the most precious of handling. Gallo calls them ‘paper-collectibles.’ I’m making exactly as many as we need–of these one-sheets and of the much-larger, more-complicated 2-sheets.

SHELFLIFE #29A: THEY GROW UP FAST – STUDENT #2 / BOY ( NEON SCULPTURE )

[BUILT] 01.27.2010 by visitordesign

This is the sibling sculpture to the female sex-traffic victim neon. Surprisingly—or maybe not—abducted boys who aren’t trafficked into rough-trade are generally indoctrinated into militias, armies or guerilla groups as child soldiers. I guess the pragmatism of that enterprise seemed to me a more shocking reality to illustrate than some easy homopedotableaux. That children are ever-increasingly racked as surplus resources to exploit and dispose of in the dumpsters of brothels or the mountains, jungles and deserts of countries in conflict is intriguing.

It’s intriguing because just as commonly, America’s becoming a stress-shocked, prescription-doped, permissive parent. It collectively glances away as its teens are enmeshed in sexually-coercive relationships where a notable trend of forced-breeding as branding starts blipping away on statisticians’ radars in beat to the cadence of the marching boots of plane-loads of teens drip-fed into the military’s surge-stream. Coercive breeding and American hegemony as opportunities for children to method-study an emotional atrophy once—maybe, hypocritically, still—considered so savage in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Near/Far East and South/Central America are now little more than extra-curricular pursuits American parents overlook on the busy agendas of their own children.

Additional info on They Grow Up Fast here.


Dimensions are around 80″ x 24″ x 30″.
3-stage neon sculpture on child’s school desk. Edition of 4 plus artist prototype.
Price available by request. The GIF below is animated
(depending on your browser, you may need to wait around 30 seconds for the animation to begin cycling).

SHELFLIFE #28B: CARFIRE

[GIVEN] 12.29.2009 by visitordesign

THIS VEHICLE HAS BEEN SCHEDULED FOR REMOVAL. Looking over this book for the first time in a few years just now, I’m realizing that the cover has a replica of a sticker from the NYC Department of Sanitation Derelict Vehicle Removal Program adhered to an offset-printed detail of what looks to be a fried, black, car body-panel. The sticker’s filled out in ballpoint pen to mark my book’s place in the edition. John Furgason and John Ayala signed #18/100 at 9:57 on 11/21/03 and stamped the sticker, “000018”.

As a child growing up in New York, the ubiquity of carfires around the city was magical. My great grandmother lived and died on Houston & Sullivan. I don’t think she ever really spoke English–nor did she really need to–living in a neighborhood that was still then largely Italian. We’d often drive down to her apartment to grab and shuttle her over to the rest of my Mom’s family on Staten Island. That meant barreling down the FDR Drive to East Houston from the Upper East Side. East Houston was bewitching. Hookers, addicts, explosive graffiti, squeegee-amputees with piss in windex bottles and blood & shit-stained t-shirt rags soiling car windshields worse than they’d been pre-squooodge. That stretch was Lower-Manhattan’s funhouse. More than any of those other attractions, though…the carfires always got my little boner going. TV says, “Car catches fire. Car blows up.” It kind of works that way, but not really. It’s more like, “Car catches fire. Car burns and burns. Gas tank catches. Car catches more awesome fire.” There’s this incredible sigh of auxiliary flame, but there’s no real concussive force.

Carfires…East Houston, Harlem, the South Bronx I loved being stuck in traffic in any of those neighborhoods. There was always something burning. I’d just sit there in the backseat of the car, anxiously gnawing on the plastic and foam upholstery of our car’s door–hypnotized by whatever vehicle, barrel or building happened to be blazing at the moment. All of that makes Furgason and Ayala’s book particularly attractive.

If memory serves, I was given this book in 2004. It’s a pretty exceptional conceptual info-piece. Almost entirely composed of video stills from Furgason & Ayala’s film of the same title, CARFIRE‘s an impressionistic study of dynamic, incidental sculpture in the industrial landscape. Details, portraits and under-the-hood porn of freshly-torched autos litter the first-half of the book–each image or image sequence assigned a catalog number. The second-half of the book resolves the histories of the images. A primary appendix describes each of the previously-numbered vehicles by location, make/model, color and year. A second appendix marks the locations from Appendix A’s table on aerial maps. A final appendix is reserved for incidents sniped from a police scanner and witnessed mid-flame.

carfire book cover

SHELFLIFE#28A: M.D., F.A.C.S. HAIKU ZINE VOL. 1

[BUILT] 12.22.2009 by visitordesign

I don’t have the attention span for creative blocks. I procrastinate my way around them by inventing newer/quicker projects to cough-up with Heimlich-like thrust. The first of what’ll be a two to four-issue stretch of M.D, F.A.C.S. Poetry Zine was my most recent heave of creative bulimia.

I was born on the Upper East Side of New York City. I’ve lived there most of my life. The neighborhood has the same perverse magnetism that homeless men shitting in phone booths, crime scenes, multi-car pile-ups, serial killers, bottled siamese fetuses and pregnant crack addicts have. It’s a Morrissey fan’s wet-dream–a wilted daisy to tear flaccid petals from–all the while mumbling,”she hates me. she hates me more.” The Upper East Side’s a bottomless banquet of pop-corn vulgarity and beer-battered decadence, and the shame I carry knowing that I’m an alum of the Madison Presbyterian Day School is enough to make me want to gift every anxious mommy-business-card-toting, wait-list-play-group-attending mother in the ‘hood an Hermes-boxed, stainless-steel razor blade for Christmas. That, or… write a zine.

M.D, F.A.C.S. is my trophy room. After a 2-week safari–armed with only a pen, a book of cloakroom check tickets and an intimate familiarity with the migratory habits of the garishly wealthy–I’d accumulated the shorthand genomes of a dozen botox-rigored corpses in dire need of taxidermic attention. Two-dimensional pen and ink busts upon Haiku pedestals would be the aesthetic. Each set of trophies would be displayed behind a vitrine bearing the tools of the hunt. The entire exhibition hall would be cloned 200 times–stapled, folded, chopped, signed and numbered.

Neighbor, won’t you sniff my sawdust and hides? Please?

M.D., F.A.C.S. HAIKU ZINE VOL. 1: Upper East Side Women

mdfacs cover
mdfacs note spread
mdfacs haiku spread

SHELFLIFE #27B: X-GIRL CATALOG 1995

[GIVEN] 12.22.2009 by visitordesign

I promised more of these catalogs. Here’s another. Dorien, Carisa, Pumpkin and Chloe look incredible. Memories retrieved by leafing thru this look-book: drawing a tattoo for Dorien and taking her to get it inked before tattooing was legalized in NYC; having Chloe recklessly wheel me around Rita and Susan’s roof in a shopping cart while I filmed No Neck Blues Band on super-8; shooting Pumpkin at Guv’ner gigs; invading the X-Girl shop on Lafayette with two nude girls painted orange, wielding ray-guns and decorated by Phil Frost for an unreleased film that Phil and I made; all of Mike Mills’ great TG-170 posters wheatpasted atop much of lower-Manhattan; Kim’s then-omnipresent Bonjour bag; High-Octane.

Thurston also once told me about a Bad Brains video in which Carisa can be seen headbanging in the front row. I guess I’m recollecting that as well.

catalog jpgs:
part 1 | part 2

SHELFLIFE #26B: MY FIRST NOISE RECORDS

[GIVEN] 12.18.2009 by visitordesign

I have every record anyone’s ever given me–EVERY RECORD. In fact–I rarely buy records, so nearly every record I own is an object of sentimentality. Santa brought me these three noise ragers on my third Christmas.

They were tucked into a Sesame Street 7″ case and were part of a suite of gifts that included my first turntable–also a product of the Children’s Television Workshop. I loved these records–always preferring them to my Disney Soundtracks, Hokey Pokey albums and holiday-specific superhero audiocomics. In the canon of children’s recordings, these noise records perhaps only eventually took a backseat to Frog & Toad and Why Mosquitoes Buzz In People’s Ears.

The fact that I loved them so was perplexing to my mom–who JUST. WANTED. A NORMAL. CHILD–a boy who’d sing along to normal music–communing with his peers thru song. Fate, however–rarely one to subscribe to the hopes and dreams of mothers–blessed her womb with a hellion who’d scream his entire life away in tongues of industry, zoology and appliances.

noises volume 1
noises volume 2
noises volume 3