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Archive for June, 2009

SHELFLIFE #22B: EXPERIMENTAL-VISUAL-CONCRETE

Friday, June 26th, 2009

A good deal of the work I produce is fundamentally about language and word-play. When I first stumble over a concept, brush my knees off and decide whether I’m gonna curb this thing and make a bracelet from its bloody teeth or take it home, clean it up and help it grow up into more than just an intellectual trip-hazard, I flip thru my bins of cultural memory. Is it something I saw somewhere and am about to re-hash? If it is, can I step it up and own it? That’s tough with book-art and text-centric conceptual art–mostly on account of a necessity to adhere to some sense of rigorous visual simplicity that subverts more elegant ideas by encoding them in the algorithm of plain sight.

That’s where freaky academic surveys like EXPERIMENTAL-VISUAL-CONCRETE: Avant-Garde Poetry Since the 1960’s come in handy. This book’s a language fan’s New Wave Hookers. It’s got it all plus a merry-go-round and a harem. I expected a mostly visual survey when I first tracked the book down. I’ll admit to a certain amount of frustration when I flipped thru it and realized how heavy it was with essays. I was thumbing past occasional reproductions of lettrism, experimental typography, poetic holography, video poetry and fluxus sound-poetry and was cognitively gut-punched by how unfamiliar I was with so much of what I was seeing. That disorientation coupled with the intense density of academic commentary led to an initial reaction of, “what is this bullshit!”

But I stepped back and thought about it. I read some of the essays and made sense of the book’s editing. I accepted the editors’ structural and evolutionary concepts–and more importantly, accepted the book as a valuable proof of how primally ideas excite consumers, harvesters and aficionados of molested text.

avant-garde poetry

SHELFLIFE #22A: GAY FUCKING SNEAKERS & SADDLE

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

I’ve received a lot of email about a shirt that Thurston Moore wore on the Jimmy Fallon Show last night. That shirt was the fallout of the Choir Practice watercolor edition I released earlier in the year. That edition was the fallout of the wallpaper designs that the pages of BUT THEY DON’T BLINK are hand-painted atop.

Since I picked up a laser engraver, I’ve gotten into the habit of creating vector artwork from my ink drawings. I repurpose the vectors into all sorts of one-off projects that never really see the light of day. The shirt Thurston wore is exactly that. It doesn’t exist. It’s not a product. It isn’t for sale. I’m so perplexed by people’s momentary infatuation with the issue that I’ve been addressing it via the following reciprocally confounding statement:

“The graphic reflects america’s collective willingness to roll over and take it in the ass from industrial agriculture. Meals, much like sex, are best enjoyed as stimulating interactions between two people. With food, the most satisfying transactions are those made between consumers and their local farmers. Neglecting these interactions results in freakish displays of primal boredom which, when eventually studied beneath the microscope of tabloid gossip columns, generate whispers and speculation about lifestyles and leanings. Whether food, sex, fashion or art, boredom is the energy that mutates us and that mutation begins on our plates.”

My girlfriend responded to the statement with, “I thought it was about taking a shit in your partner’s ass as an alternative to procreating.”

I revised my perspective. “Well, yeah, but that’s more or less the same thing as factory farming.
They shit on your dinner plate as lo-com-denom effort to sustain life.”

thurston shirt stencil
a freakish display of primal boredom

So, that brings us to handcrafted leathergoods etched into deerskin likely churned out of some vile deathfactory somewhere–leathergoods featuring the design on the shirt Thurston *almost* wore on the show…

gay fucking saddle
[ more custom bike saddles here ]

gay fucking sneakers

SHELFLIFE #21B: PHIL FROST MAIL ART

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

This was one of the best, most enigmatic pieces of mail unintended for opening that I’ve ever tried to open. When I explained to Phil that I’d tried to get at the contents, he laughed–adding, “you did? that’s funny. there’s nothing in there.” nothing except for glue. I’d given him a book on mail art and he in turn, in time, sent this my way.

phil frost mail art

SHELFLIFE #20B: COPY VOL.1

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Leah Singer’s film work has always been mind-blowing. Her live performances with analyzer projectors are some of the most phenomenal bits of visceral human interaction with technology that I’ve ever had the good fortune to see. I remember when she first started talking about her concept for COPY. I was excited to see how her relationship with media would translate from film to serial book art.

At the time, she had been working in the archives of the New York Post as they were migrating to digital storage. She’d found a treasure trove of inspiration in the ruby-lith film that had been used and then, apparently, stored after being exploited to create photo knockouts in the pages of the Post. Drawn to the mysterious abstractions presented by the disembodied ruby-liths, Leah started editing simple, abstract layouts from the forms. They were essentially silhouettes. I’ve always been suspicious that an art director working on Apple’s iPod silhouette campaign stole the premise from the several volumes of COPY that had been released before anyone ever associated a silhouette with an MP3 player. I still am. Ad agencies steal oodles from underground ephemera.

Here’s the cover and centerfold from Leah’s first release:

leah singer\'s COPY vol. 1

SHELFLIFE #21A: FENDER SONIC YOUTH STICKERS

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

I was asked on a Thursday to contribute designs to a sticker-sheet for the soon-to-be-released ltd edition lee ranaldo and thurston moore jazz blaster/jazz master guitars. It was suggested that the designs be submitted by the following Monday–on a weekend rich with NYC springtime hectic. In the interest of time and submitting work I knew I’d be happy with, I reheated a couple of things I’d drawn recently that weren’t used, hadn’t been used yet or were used previously in some very limited capacity. This is what I submitted:

sticker sheet

Ultimately, one design was selected and paired with designs from the likes of Savage Pencil, Dennis Tyfus, Cameron Jamie, Matthew Ritchie and Kim Gordon. (seen here along with a zine that SY and their road crew pulled together)

Anyway, the reheating process got me to thinking about intellectual waste. I decided to dig up 12 sketch scraps I had laying around the studio, write a story tying them together and then design the collected elements into a conceptual book all inside of a 3-hour window. I did it. A month later, I finally figured out how to present and execute the edition. Look for more info on WASTE here soon.