Sunday, January 30, 2011
Long Beach, Aquarium of the Pacific: Rose T. Cat and Scat meet the Manta Ray touch pool with predictable results.

South Coast Botanical Garden.

Vertical Wine Bar, Pasadena, home of a less widely advertised Laurent Quenioux menu.  Tonight's special: cassoulet!
It's raining in Los Angeles, grey overcast, light drizzle, that wet coppery smell blowing in through the open Travelodge lobby door.

Best thing eaten in LA so far: Jitlada's pumpkin-and-lamb curry.  Best thing seen: cactus and eucalyptus together in one absurdly jammed frame.  Also magnolias, which are currently in season.
Monday, January 24, 2011

JT gets it, exactly:

"Your use of the word 'perform' goes a long way towards getting me onboard with what you are doing. I wonder if some of the confusion for people is caused by the fact that, unlike Sturtevant, some of your works are clearly 'performative,' while others are (for lack of a better word) 'autonomous.' Maybe it makes people uncomfortable that the works that are clearly mimetic (performed McFarlands) are nestled in with other pictures that are simply 'Brayshaws.' I could imagine a more sympathetic response to the work on the part of the arts community if a line was more clearly drawn between the two types of pictures, or if you were to abandon the autonomous pictures and proclaim that your entire practice was based around the performative mode. Both these options seem particularly un-Brayshaw to me though, and I can't imagine you enacting them.

The way you've described the Metropolitans (the ability to tease apart and examine the artist's decisions, to view the raw elements from which the picture was selected/composed) seems really, really important in terms of getting people to understand what's happening in the rest of your photographs. I think an excellent show could be made of teaming up the 'performed' works with a selection of the Metropolitans (which is maybe exactly what you are already working on.)

It's interesting how your conception of the Metropolitans harkens back to Steven Shore's statements about pictorial space (moving the camera an inch this way or that, composing with the edges, etc.) It's something I was trying to allude to in Stereoscope (2009) as well, the vertiginous chasm of possibilities that opens up the second you lift a camera to your eye, and the way the photographer's smallest decisions (moving forward or backward, panning a fraction of an inch to the left, waiting a second longer, etc) can change everything. A conscious rejection of the idea of photographs as unthinking windows onto the world, their meaning dictated solely by the names of the objects in their frame ('Garbage is garbage.')"

The City Proper, curated by James Welling at Margo Leavin, including Anthony Hernandez, Brandon Lattu, Mark Wyse, Catherine Opie & etc.  First stop after collecting the rental car!
Sunday, January 23, 2011

Recent reading:

Richard Evans, The Third Reich at War

John D. Fitzgerald, The Return of the Great Brain

Natalie Babbitt, Tuck Everlasting

Rick Atkinson, An Army at Dawn: The War in Africa, 1942-1943

Peter L. Bergen, The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda

Off soon to California and points southeast (some very remote) to make photographs in preparation for an exhibition in November 2011.

Emulation (as opposed to simulation).   The representation of space through the depiction of real things. 
Thursday, January 20, 2011

15 pound Maine Coon vs. hall table.  No contest!

(Courtesy Helpsy)
Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Metropolitan (23), 2011
"Anxiety was forced upon art as the experience that accompanies the rejection of shallow or fraudulent solutions." (Harold Rosenberg)
Sunday, January 16, 2011

Darkness on the Edge of the Universe

"A hundred billion years from now, any galaxy that’s not resident in our neighborhood will have been swept away by swelling space for so long that it will be racing from us at faster than the speed of light. (Although nothing can move through space faster than the speed of light, there’s no limit on how fast space itself can expand.)

Light emitted by such galaxies will therefore fight a losing battle to traverse the rapidly widening gulf that separates us. The light will never reach Earth and so the galaxies will slip permanently beyond our capacity to see, regardless of how powerful our telescopes may become.

Because of this, when future astronomers look to the sky, they will no longer witness the past. The past will have drifted beyond the cliffs of space. Observations will reveal nothing but an endless stretch of inky black stillness.

If astronomers in the far future have records handed down from our era, attesting to an expanding cosmos filled with galaxies, they will face a peculiar choice: Should they believe 'primitive' knowledge that speaks of a cosmos very much at odds with what anyone has seen for billions and billions of years? Or should they focus on their own observations and valiantly seek explanations for an island universe containing a small cluster of galaxies floating within an unchanging sea of darkness — a conception of the cosmos that we know definitively to be wrong.

And what if future astronomers have no such records, perhaps because on their planet scientific acumen developed long after the deep night sky faded to black? For them, the notion of an expanding universe teeming with galaxies would be a wholly theoretical construct, bereft of empirical evidence."

We’ve grown accustomed to the idea that with sufficient hard work and dedication, there’s no barrier to how fully we can both grasp reality and confirm our understanding. But by gazing far into space we’ve captured a handful of starkly informative photons, a cosmic telegram billions of years in transit. And the message, echoing across the ages, is clear. Sometimes nature guards her secrets with the unbreakable grip of physical law. Sometimes the true nature of reality beckons from just beyond the horizon."
Friday, January 14, 2011

Frederick Sommer, Constellation, Arizona, 1943

Frederick Sommer, Arizona Landscape, 1945

Two alternative solutions to the problem of representing a big space photographically.  Hockney's solution (Pearblossom Highway, below) comes from Picasso and Braque; he fractures the image plane into multiple, discontinuous planes that alternately expand and contract the space that is the real subject of his picture (as opposed to the signposts; the Joshua trees; the Castrol bottle; the box of beer cans and assorted roadside detritus).  Sommer's pictures nod at Cezanne; their irregular bubbles and pockets of space warp, but don't totally deform, the picture plane.  

Google Street View's imperfect synthesis of many simultaneous points of view is intrinsically "collagist" and "cubist."
Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rhetorical Maneuvers in Contemporary Art, Part 1, by Chris Gehman

"After minimalism, conceptual and performance art, the idea of the artist as someone in a skilled and thinking occupation, engaged with a particular set of materials and visual ideas, has been thoroughly suppressed in favour of the idea of art as mainly an intellectual activity. The artist as thinker, manager, intellectual rather than maker, worker, craftsperson. In other words, the artist as bourgeois – but apparently a radical, critical bourgeois. At the same time, there are other contradictory trends that move partly in a different direction, but are partly complementary in a way seldom acknowledged. For example, young artists are also aware of a legacy of political art, art emerging from 'identity politics,' from feminism, queer liberation and the utopian aspirations of postwar avant-garde movements like Fluxus and the Situationists. What the post-conceptual, post-minimalist high art strain and the politically engaged strain share is an emphasis on context, concepts and language. Minimalism and conceptualism established their importance by invoking ideas and philosophical questions in a condensed visual form, leaving art writers with plenty to say. The artist was allowed to provide less and less, while the significance of the gesture appeared to grow and grow under the lens of critical discourse. Politically engaged art, on the other hand, emphasized its connections to power struggles taking place in the larger social context, and intended to support progressive social change. But this kind of art tends to date quickly — it loses its currency as society changes, even when those changes are exactly the ones sought by the political artist. What is left of this today is an art that is seldom politically engaged, but carries a residue of expectation: the expectation that the artist is motivated by a critical politics, however removed artist and work may be from concrete political struggles."
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Snow, now, orange in the lamplight and white on the sidewalks and cars.


Metropolitan (22), 2011

David Hockney on Pearblossom Highway, 11-18th April 1986 (Second Version)

"Pearblossom Highway shows a crossroads in a very wide open space, which you only get a sense of in the western United States.  Obviously a large, wide open space is more difficult to photograph, and get a feeling of, than a small space.  Slowly I realized what I was doing.  Although the picture first seems to have ordinary perspective (in the sense that the space the picture describes seems totally believable), it becomes a little strange only when you start thinking about it and really looking at the image.  Here is a picture of a wide open space that you can really experience, but at the same time you also feel close to everything, don't you?  Close to the signs, close to the road, close to the shrubbery, close to everything -- you can see the textures of things.  You actually move to look at things.  So the picture is dealing with memory in a different way from the previous pictures."
"I'm serious in that I have stopped and thought and felt those things, and not serious in that I do what I do without thinking about it too much." (D. Bejar)
Waste My Time, Please

YOUNG GUY WITH MIRRORED WRAPAROUND SHADES:  Do you have a copy of the Anarchist's Cookbook?  I'm stuck here in town and I really need one before I get on my flight!

Metropolitan (21), 2011
Monday, January 10, 2011

"Mr. Loughner said he asked the lawmaker, 'How do you know words mean anything?' recalled Mr. Montanaro. He said Mr. Loughner was 'aggravated' when Ms. Giffords, after pausing for a couple of... seconds, 'responded to him in Spanish and moved on with the meeting.'"

(via Tom Spurgeon, w/ thanks)


My friend Jamie Tolagson's new artist site.  Above, his Intersection, 2009

Bill Viola; Christine D'Onofrio; Kamarkiriad's Tomorrow's Girls; Nevermind; T.J. Bass

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

"Charlie Brown: ultimate icon of realism. Ever notice how realists are more honestly compassionate than the shiny happy 'beautiful people' (or 'cute and fuzzy bunnies' in John Cusack terms). Case in point: Charlie with his snaggle tree. He sympathizes with the lost and the discarded while others are deluded by the haze of culturally indoctrinated false altruism."
"[U]nder conditions of terror most people will comply but some people will not, just as the lesson of the countries to which the Final Solution was proposed is that 'it could happen' in most places but it did not happen everywhere. Humanly speaking, no more is required, and no more can reasonably be asked, for this planet to remain a place fit for human habitation."  (Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem)
Validating Thrust Network Analysis Using 3D-Printed, Structural Models

"That the behaviour of masonry structures is only a matter of geometry, and not of stresses, makes their behaviour independent of scale. This powerful notion made it possible for [...] master builders to push the limits of imagination over centuries of evolution of form. They could use geometric rules, which allowed them to copy the geometry of successful precedents and to scale them up; and scale models, which allowed them to check the stability of vaulted creations and to carefully balance them where necessary by adding blocks on the extrados."

ACT (Aesthetically Claimed Thing): Awesome promotional poster from The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles
Sunday, January 02, 2011

Metropolitan (19), 2011

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