Thursday, November 1, 2007

Live Recordings

mIn our contemporary art history class tonight there was a really great exchange, not surprisingly the question of “what is art” came up, as it always does. (what other disciplines spend so much time trying to define themselves?) This discourse was largely around the supposed dichotomy between social practice, and studio practice as models. I came home and started thinking about what is common between art forms that are not questioned as art now. And it occurred to me that one element is presentation in one way or another that frames them exclusively, either a white box scenario, or a ticket bought to experience them in a venue specifically dedicated to their “performance”. I am not suggesting that these parameters exhaustively encompass everything "generally accepted to be art", just that work presented in these ways tends to be more easily(or set up to be) engaged with as “art”. What these contexts have in common the more I thought about it, was less about what they include, and more about what they exclude, they exclude distraction.

What if we/I/one were to go to an event, say a protest, festival or some other public event, (or for that matter just a busy place like a shopping mall, or sports event) and offer people either blindfolds or sound blocking headphones to experience the event. by excluding sound, or vision could we intensify the senses left in tact? Would this be a way to replicate the expected context of art, so that a “common” experience could be similar to the experience of art? Could this be a viable strategy to highlight the art in everyday experience?

It seems to me this would be like offering a live sound or visual performance.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Parallel University

This is the Mission Statement for Parallel University. "PU" is a project in and of its self, and also a platform for much of the work I am doing for my MFA. Soon the PU blog will be up and running, when it is I will post a link here.

Parallel University Mission Statement

Established in 2007 Parallel University is dedicated to lending the illusion of imposed structure, and qualitative benchmarks to the self directed learning of its students. Parallel's core belief is that all people at all times create reality and value in our world visa vis their activities, intentions, and choices. Parallel University is a bridge between the received understanding that institutional validation, acquired via adherence to externally designed/imposed structures is required for self worth, and the less frequented perspective that it is the actions and intentions of individuals that create, and grant validation to, the institutions and structures they participate in.

Any credit attributed to Parallel University for knowledge gained or skills attained during the period of enrollment are strictly denied. All benefits, be they growth, knowledge, or skills are wholly and completely the responsibility of the student.
Mascot: Ruby slippers
Motto: You've always had the power

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Notes for meeting with Fritz Haeg

OCT. 29th
Points of departure from lecture:
1 Objects as vessels (personal topic: love of making and doing, how to bridge/mutually express the physical with the experiential, also objects as vessels of memory, and memory as object. place for personal symbology/poetry within a group dynamic and collaborative creation?)

2 Giving something a name (personal topic: sweat shop vs more than free trade, parallel university- working title vs “official naming”at what point does the name define the design)

3 Role of the private home (personal topic: relevance of a physical space)

4 Website as project (personal topic: mixed feelings about technology, resistance to its assumed status, pull of its possibilities, fear of its influence in (driving) the design process)

5 Teaching (personal topic: graceful interface(purposeful, gainful, confusion between) teaching and learning, learning and teaching)

6 Strong grounding in one field to explore away from, I would like to hear more about this.

You had a question at dinner looking for a word to describe what you wanted your work to achieve, you said that “accessible” wasn't the right word..... I wrote on my hand the word “gracious”, and also the word “courtesan.” I think of a courtesan as being a sometimes uncomfortable, but respected exception to the mainstream rules and expectations, a conduit for intelligent and sensual consideration, a person who embodies and grants permission for other ways of being. I think that a courtesan is also welcoming while maintaining all of her/his own strength. A courtesan is the consummate host/hostess to an alternate way of being. They blaze, and balance on, a hair fine line between definitions, just as you described your own intent. Is "courtenesial" a word yet?

OCT 31st:
Today I met with Horia, I talked to him about PU, and told him about Fritz's critique of the mission statement. He pretty much agreed with Fritz. I really feel attached to the official tone of that document, but perhaps what we need is a cover letter, or intro that is more conversational. Horia also asked a lot of good questions, in particular he brought up the topic of ceremony. Ralph and I had talked about this, but kind of left it on the back burner. I realized that thinking about that more now can help give shape to the project.

I met with Fritz this morning and we touched on most of the topics mentioned above. I started the meeting by showing him the "mission statement" for Parallel University before we looked at my talking points. After the reading of the mission statement, he asked me about the wording and intended audience. TONE He found it a little dense (in the not easy to digest sense) and talked about the fact that it might be our introduction, either printed or (especially) as a web presence. He asked me about the project and said that my conversational explanation was very different than what he read. He stressed the importance of tone to the introduction of a work, especially one in which one wants contributions, collaboration with others.

I was thrilled, as he had touched on both the topics of "naming" and "technology". We went then to the topic specifically of "naming". We didn't manage to find an answer, or any particularly new insight, but we did agree that the name, even a working title can shape the design of a project. He did put forth that in his experience the best names were short, maybe two seemingly contradictory words, and that the best thing is to have a name that both describes, and leaves expectation open to interpretation. He elaborated on what he said in his lecture about the name of "edible estates" really fueling that project.

Next was the more complicated topic of how to keep ones poetry alive in a collaborative process (the object element of this question didn't really come into it) This was a really interesting conversation, I don't really know how to write it, except to say that after I was finally able to explain my question, Fritz seemed whole hearted in his validation of the importance of this. To summarize...and this was something that was revisited through out our conversation, he said that the poetry came in the creating of a space for something to happen in, and then also, in another way, from experiencing fresh and new what people create in that space made available. This last part is what I took from the conversation, not what he said, but I think he agreed with me.

I don't want to go on and on in a point by point fashion so I will just finish up by saying what I got from the exchange (after all this is all about me right?)

I felt that Fritz came to our meeting more like a friend (hard to do with a stranger!) and was letting me sort of guide the topics, but was also (like a friend would be) really generous in sharing his own experience, and the conversation wondered where it would, with occasional change of topic by me. In particular the topics of technology (which I probably should or will elaborate on at some point) and "naming" were very distinct, and those of physical space, teaching and personal poetry were so interwoven in my mind that it is hard to parse them here. Ultimately he left me with a few very specific questions to apply to my own projects, and a vague sense of encouragement, or respect for my pursuit of them.

One last thing, the topic of the courtesan, we didn't really get into this the way I'd fantasized it going, (I was thinking of this intentional contemplation of a question he'd brought up as my thank you for his time.) But we did have an interesting few moments trying to figure out how to pronounce "courtenesial". At the end of the day the word and concept is a gift to me, I had perceived Parallel University as granting no degree, instead that the students grant themselves permission. The thinking I did about the role of the courtesan really "fleshed" out the means to that end for me. The University as Courtesan!