Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Here we are in a room full of strangers,
Standing in the dark where your eyes couldn’t see me...

One of the greatest vamps of the 1970s. A dim memory of skating with my elementary school class at North Vancouver's now-defunct Stardust Roller Rink, the room's disco ball spinning wild patterns on the worn wooden floor.

[Art criticism in progress, late night, rain down hard outside on the Subaru's roof. And, for the record, the sensibility that generated that last thought also generated the following paragraph:

"Disassembling structures does not necessarily mean relativizing their components. Aslizadeh is not interested 'deconstructing' narrative or point of view per se, however much her subject – the repressed inner lives of the workers and managers at a ficticious American insurance company’s head office – might cry out for such an approach. Office succeeds because Aslizadeh repeatedly shifts the ways in which her narrative is told. She thereby implies compositional parallels between her video’s formal (pictorial and durational) structure and the broken, fractured and necessarily incomplete narratives that her characters tell themselves and each other. In this respect, her shifts of compositional and stylistic tone are not arbitrary, relative, or 'postmodern,' but are deliberately tied to her characters’ psychological states. Aslizadeh’s stylistic shifts are expressive of her protagonists’ conflicted fragmented inner lives, an ostensibly stylistic avant-gardism -- what Aslizadeh calls 'a visual language that owes much to the avant-garde traditions of distancing and radical breaks' – employed in the service of greater psychological realism."

Talking cats, Frankfurt School, the Bros. Gibb, "picture space," X-Men, Clement Greenberg, paperback originals. High or low? Not a meaningful distinction any more. It's all one piece.]

Ansel Adams, Winter Sunrise, Sierra Nevada,from Lone Pine, California, 1944

Lone Pine, California. Freezing cold in the shade. Canadian bookseller in the middle distance, slopping 87 octane on the tarmac and worrying about that burning smell rising from his brake pads.

Photo by Jamie Tolagson. Many others from our trip are now up on his site, including another view of yesterday's Stump, and my personal favorite, also from Lone Pine (section 5, picture 5). Not depicted: the Lone Pine California Highway Patrol's swift and somewhat bemused investigation of art photography.
Monday, January 30, 2006

Though I forgot to mention it here last week, Evan Lee's restrospective has finally opened at North Vancouver's Presentation House Gallery, along with an illustrated catalog featuring texts by Jeff Wall, Peter Culley, William Wood, and me. Any reader in the Pacific Northwest with even a cursory interest in photography or contemporary art should head over to North Van to see this ambitious and well-installed show.

I have been very lucky as a critic; many local artists have been generous to me with their time, conversation, and the example of their work, with Evan first among them.

(Image: Evan Lee, Stain #11, 2003)

Yes, that really is me up there on Worldwide Electronic Garage Sale, ready to drop $$$ on this extremely scarce group catalog (George Eastman House, 1975, edition of 2500 or thereabouts, most of which ended up in art libraries). Pictures by the Bechers, Robert Adams, Frank Gohlke, Lewis Baltz, Stephen Shore & etc. I don't think I would have ever picked up a camera without these artists' fine example. Like Chris Dewdney says, "Certain people seem to stand behind one."

Untitled (Stump), 2006
Sunday, January 29, 2006

Pacific Giant Octopus vs. Remote-Controlled Submersible

Not even remotely a fair contest.

"The giant pacific octopus, octopus dofleini, is the largest species of octopods and although it grows to an average weight of 50 to 90 lbs with a span of 16 ft, a monster 600 lbs one has been recorded. They are intelligent creatures who can negotiate mazes and learn to unscrew jars to remove food. No problem disassembling a [remotely operated vehicle] then."
Thursday, January 26, 2006

Wrecker's Yard at Marysville, WA, 2006
Monday, January 23, 2006

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): a(nother!) cat with a strong personality. An addition to the office gang, an Xmas gift from SGB opened through confusion at New Year's!

The Reverend Al Green, his Look What You Done to Me gently pulsing through my office speakers, the loveliest love song I know:

Look What You Done To Me
Words and music by Al Green

Now that you're here with me
I want to keep you free
To do the things that you wanna do
The joy now is loving you
But now the day has come
To let you know where I am coming from
The best of my years to go to you
Is the only thing that I can do
But these things don't come over night
Loving you baby and I think I'm right
Let me say before I forget
That loving you baby is where it's at

Oh baby look what you done for me
Oh baby you set my heart free
Sometimes I wanna leave and then I'll say
It wouldn't make sense now anyway
But forgive me baby if I do wrong
I haven't been a true man for so long
Let me say before
I forget loving you baby is where it's at
Oh baby look what you done for me
Oh baby you set my heart free

[Loveliest? Really? Count with me:

1. The tapped cymbals that start things off.

2. "But now the day has come..."

3. Those horn choruses!

4. That organ!

5. "Let me say before I forget..."

5a. "Sometimes I wanna leave..."

6. 2.42's urgent guitar]
Sunday, January 22, 2006

Where the heck are you these days, anyway?

Learning Texas Hold'em from the ground up, with the help of ace poker writers Gary Carson, David Sklansky and Mason Malmuth, and a high-end computer simulator called Poker Academy Pro.

Poker literature is almost as content-deep as high end art criticism, and, unlike art criticism, is at least potentially profitable.

Plus, every now and then there's a little stylistic gem like the following advice on table image, drawn from Miller, Sklansky & Malmuth's Small Stakes Hold'em:

"Do not wear wrap-around sunglasses, hooded sweatshirts, or other clothing intended to obscure your face. You are playing small stakes hold'em, not training for covert operations. You do not need full camouflage gear to beat the array of tourists, recreational gamblers, and retirees at your table. They are not sweating your every facial tick to 'see into your soul.' These items only hide things that your opponents are not looking for. They do, however, make you look intimidating and overly intense."
Friday, January 20, 2006

Great news via Mosses From An Old Manse: Montreal's Drawn & Quarterly will issue Tove Jansson's never-previously-translated-into-English Moomin newspaper comic strips as a 5 volume series, beginning this September.
Thursday, January 19, 2006

Untitled (Garage), 2006
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Casino Carpets of Nevada -- pictures I meant to take and didn't.

The Vista IV lay it down. "First Thursday," about halfway between South Main and the Strip. Tolagson and I stood in the cold for over two hours in order to catch both sets of tasty surf covers, modern pop tunes chopped and retooled as postmodern 60s spy show themes ("Billie Jean" & etc.) and punchy, stop-and-go originals. Think of Jack Womack or Mark Mothersbaugh fronting the Rodney Graham Band and you won't be far off. Near the end of the proceedings we both spotted Michelina -- our Michelina! -- playing energetic air bass, while her long-suffering parents lounged nearby, cradling a shivering Jack Russell terrier between them. A very strange conclusion to an evening of culture far from home.

Untitled (Blowout), 2006. From the portfolio SW.
Saturday, January 14, 2006

Roseburg, Oregon, 2006
Friday, January 13, 2006

I-15 and North Star, Primm, Nevada, 2006. Jamie Tolagson's tripod and the Subaru's roof are this picture's special friends. Without whom, & etc. The North Star is more or less invisible in the thumbnail version above, but click once and it should pop nicely into visibility. Not depicted: moonlight; cold desert (the California/Nevada stateline out there somewhere in the darkness, running approximately lower right to mid/upper- left); startled jackrabbits; the sound of Vegas-bound trucks groaning down the low grade; the heavily armed guys from Secret Evil Compound five miles back on the unmapped, scarcely trafficked dirt road; Tolagson hollering up from below!

Dike & Barrier, Bristol Dry Lake, Mojave National Preserve, California, 2006. From the portfolio SW.

Untitled (Ocean Mist), 2006. From the portfolio SW.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Manager Chris Clarke volunteers: "I've got one for your blog!"


ART ENTHUSIAST: Do you have that Carmanah book? (Collection of environmental-themed images produced by the Western Canada Wilderness Committee in the early 1990s)

CC: Sure, right over here.

AE: How much is it?

CC: $8.95; we'd normally charge a bit more, but this one's missing its dust jacket.

AE: Thanks! Let me browse around.

CC: Sure!

(Tempus fugit)

AE (Holding mint, out-of-print Toni Onley catalog): How much is this one?

CC (checking price): $34.95.

AE: Would it be all right if I left the dust jacket behind and you just charged me $8.95?
Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Untitled (Lock), 2006

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