Yearly Archives: 2009

APInews: iLAND Announces 2009 iLAB Residencies

iLAND Announces 2009 iLAB Residencies

BIG CAAKe and the League of Imaginary Scientists + E.K.K.O have been awarded the 2009 iLAB residencies by iLAND, the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature and Dance. BIG CAAKe, a collaborative team including an artist/engineer/educator, a choreographer/cook, an artist/designer, an architect and a mycologist, will conduct “StrataSpore,” a project using mushrooms to develop dialogue about local New York City ecosystems and urban sustainability. The League of Imaginary Scientists and E.K.K.O., a collaborative team including an artist, a composer, an architect, an environmental researcher and a choreography collective, will develop “Waterways: fluid movements in a liquid city,” a project that examines water through environmental and sociological study and “transforms that information into choreographic actions that engage New Yorkers.” Get connected through the ongoing discussion on the iLAND Symposium blog.

via APInews: iLAND Announces 2009 iLAB Residencies .

Art Steroids = Money

{Free Manny sign by GhoDilated}

What else can art steroids be, but money?

I began mulling this over on Sunday as I watched the Dodgers lose by two in 13 innings. With Manny Ramirez out for 50 games because of steroid use, the Dodgers are a different team. I like Juan Pierre, but he doesn’t quite have the swagger, showmanship and home runs that the ManRam brings to the game, and I’m going to guess, the power-enhancing steroid use either.

We know what steroids do for sports, but is there some equivalent for art? I don’t think it can be literal steroid use (like this example), nor can it be drugs, alcohol, sleep deprivation, cigarettes, or any of the tried and true tricks used by artists (or more likely, artistes.)

But there is one thing that changes the game and that is money. Not that this is an original observation, but here’s the thing: having money means you win the game or are at least assured a piece of the action.

Infusions of cash into a mediocre artist’s career means we will still be talking about them decades later. A few examples here might be Michael Heizer or Dennis Oppenheim, who either through family money or interest of a collector, parlayed early promise into decades of boringness.

{Reading Positions for Second Degree Burn, 1970, by Dennis Oppenheim. I actually really love this piece, despite my earlier comment.}

Although baseball is a game with rules and a supposed level playing field that can be manipulated by steroids (i.e., more strength and power) art is a “game” where people say anything goes, where there are no rules. That may be true, but money still matters. A whole lot.

The following list can can go on and on, but I’m specifically thinking about Duchamp’s parental support, Warhol’s earnings from his career as a graphic designer, and Koon’s work as a commodities trader and later risky bets on sculpture fabrication by gallerists. Money made the difference in turning them from players into superstars, and since I generally like the work by these artists, I’m glad it did. But what about Damien Hirst or any of the other forgettable mediocrities out there? We have to talk about them because people with money decided that they were worth talking about, even though they aren’t.

Just like in baseball, “art steroids” i.e. cash money has the effect of improving your chances at a successful career. But here’s the crazy thing: people love it, encourage it, gossip about it, complain about it but take it anyway, flaunt it by keeping it on the DL; but it is generally just this acceptable thing which we all know is there. In a way, it’s like the only rule in the game of art. If you have money, your chances are a lot better.

Now, if anyone would like to provide “the drugs,” I’ll be the first to step up for an injection.


Am I wrong here? Let me know what you think constitutes art steroids.

Go to Eco Art Blog

Strange beasts in Shrewsbury

Theo Jansen is unveiling one of  his new wind-driven creatures at Shrewsbury’s Shift-Time: A Festival of Ideas this July. This gives us an excuse to show this piece of much-loved video of his “strandbeests”:


STRANDBEESTEN_TRAILER from Alexander Schlichter on Vimeo.

Shift-time is taking its inspiration from the Darwin celebrations this year. It also features a new sound/video work Follow The Voice by the great Marcus Coates:

In a playful echo of Darwin’s The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, Marcus Coates’ new film work, Follow the Voice establishes striking parallels between a range of familiar man-made sounds and an equally evocative chorus of animal cries and calls. Chasing pockets of sound around the urban landscape of Shrewsbury, (the ‘beep’ of the supermarket checkout; the siren of a reversing delivery lorry) and by slowing down or speeding up his recordings, Coates reveals an extraordinary likenesses with the natural calls of animal species. Follow the Voice captures the heightened feeling of interconnectedness at the heart of Darwin’s view of the world, and reminds us of the spirit of curiosity and discovery that infuses his ideas.

Follow The Voice premieres on July 11 and is installed in the Unitarian Church where Darwin worshipped as a child.

More on Shift-Time here.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Interview with activist/video maker Leo Murray

I’ve just posted an interview that Caleb Klaces did with Leo Murray for on the main RSA Arts & Ecology website. Murray did the clever little viral video Wake Up Freak Out – Then Get a Grip which has been doing the rounds on the net.

Art has the ability to move people in a way that nothing else does. In the world we live in today, screen media is the most prominent cultural feature. People spend the majority of their waking hours staring at screens (computers and TVs), which gives you a clue if you’re trying to propagate social change. If you don’t try and come at people through their screens you’re just standing behind them tapping them on the shoulder saying “Hey, over here…”. It’s really clear that there’s no way to bring about the social change that we need to deal with climate change without the use of screen media. Aside from mass media, I’m pretty certain that The Age of Stupid [which Murray animated the first three minutes of] is the most powerful tool to motivate people around climate change that exists now. It does the opposite of what I do in my film, it barely addresses the science at all. It’s set in the future and uses narrative to suck you in. Taking a historical view seems a very productive perspective…

Read the whole interview.

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

Natural Balance

Harmen de Hoop image

For the past few months I’ve been working with our friends Lluis and Yolanda from Hibrids, on an exhibition called Natural Balance : Art & Ecology (TEMPORARY OUTDOOR SITE-SPECIFIC INSTALLATIONS IN GIRONA, BARCELONA, SPAIN. May 9-17, 2009). It’s part of a big flower festival and includes soem great work by Harmen de Hoop (Holland), Samantha Clark (United Kingdom), Lucrecia Troncoso & Karrie Hovey (Argentina and United States), Terry Berlier (United States), Jeanette Ramírez (Venezuela) and Isidro López Aparicio (Spain). Yeah, this is a plug for the event (which I unfortunately can’t be there for) and I really hope people can get to see it while it’s up! The big challenge for these international ephemeral art events is how to reshape them so they have a powerful positive impact and not just consume resources and jet fuel. (Check out Samantha Clark’s great project as a fun solution to this.) I’d love to see more innovative re-purposing of these traditional art events. How can we better use this infrastructure to make something really different and useful happen? More of a Natural Cultural (Re)Balance…

Go to the Green Museum

End of the world party

The artist Bob and Roberta Smith (aka Patrick Brill) will be performing “apathetic music” at the End of the world party at Spring House, Camden, London on May 14, alongside performances from Leigh Clarke, Victor Mount and others. Limited places. Email

Go to RSA Arts & Ecology

More Used Art Books for Under $10

I received some positive feedback on a February post listing used art books for under $10. With the economy still on shaky ground (and most artists just as poor as ever…) here’s more books for recession 2009. These are listed from cheapest to most expensive at current Amazon used prices.

Thomas Kinkade: Heaven on Earth
A steal at 81 cents! This catalog is from Jeffrey Vallance’s 2004 survey of Kinkade. Good essays and examination of Kinkade’s work in the context of contemporary art.

Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder
Can’t go wrong with this one. A great read about LA’s Museum of Jurassic Technology.

Worldchanging: A User’s Guide for the 21st Century
Not the greatest book—more encyclopedic than anything else—but it’s worth a couple bucks.

Between Artists
Haven’t read this one personally, but it looks good. Artist’s conversations from the mid-90s.

Camera Lucida and A Lover’s Discourse by Roland Barthes
These should be in your library. Classics! and good reads too.

Robert Smithson
This expanded version of Smithson’s writings is a pretty good deal. Why not put it on your school book shelf so you can look like every other student?

Spiral Jetta: A Road Trip through the Land Art of the American West
At $9, this is approaching the almost-not-a-good-deal category. I’m curious to check this one out though—I’ve heard mixed reviews.

The Future of the Image by Jacques Ranciere
Only a few bucks cheaper than the new version, but this recent philosophic tract is a good deal either way. Plus it’s a looker!

Go to Eco Art Blog