29 May 2012

The Pastrami Drawer

Talked with C.H., a roofer who had worked at Sellafield, had been fired (for taking materials, possibly, and worked in various places including Saudi Arabia 3 yrs ago (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology), mostly in aluminum, and re-hired at Sellafield as subcontractor. Because of security and rules, he said it is impossible to take anything out of the fence surrounding Sellafield. But on the other hand he said today nothing is impossible. How?
  1. Money
  2. Violence
  3. Sex
He mentioned someone who had used company materials (from Sellafield?) to build two houses and was now a millionaire by selling them. He would say no more on the issue. When first asked about homers (conversationally, maybe circuitously) he said, "Everyone does it." But maybe he had not completely understood what was being asked. He gave the example of a large wooden spool that would be used for holding cable, especially heavy gauge, and how that would quite easily be used for making a table. Whether or not the material is rough, it can be planed, or covered. In this case C.H. was talking about making things that could be produced with recycled materials. Had he ever made anything with the materials he works with (for home), namely aluminum sheeting, for example a barbecue—well, he has designed a barbecue with some friends, one that could serve 40 people, but that was never built.
Several methodological problems present themselves here: being itinerant; not being professionally related to the man; the question being asked is sensitive; the man is not sure how we are using the "research." (although later he appreciated—in rather drunk state—the "program" as contributing to learning, citing his daughter's new Ipad in terms of the building of knowledge and education, and gave us his name and phone numbers, saying he would do anything to help us.) Plus the fact of our being in a pub and some of us (including the researchers) being a bit drunk—is this part of the research process? Is the problem of obtaining information, and what can be considered information? (must it be corroborated by the subject?)

—Knowles Eddy Knowles sociological research notes after an evening spent in the Kings Arms Pub in Egremont, UK, January 28th, 2012

23 May 2012

I'll be watching you

"The story of computer networks, BBSs and various other experiments in electro-democracy has so far been one of hobbyism for the most part. Many anarchists and libertarians have deep faith in the PC as a weapon of liberation and self-liberation--but no real gains to show, no palpable liberty.
I have little interest in some hypothetical emergent entrepreneurial class of self-employed data/word processors who will soon be able to carry on a vast cottage industry or piecemeal shitwork for various corporations and bureaucracies. Moreover it takes no ESP to foresee that this "class" will develop its underclass--a sort of lumpen yuppetariat: housewives, for example, who will provide their families with "second incomes" by turning their own homes into electro-sweatshops, little Work-tyrannies where the "boss" is a computer network.
Also I am not impressed by the sort of information and services proffered by contemporary "radical" networks. Somewhere--one is told--there exists an "information economy." Maybe so; but the info being traded over the "alternative" BBSs seems to consist entirely of chitchat and techie-talk. Is this an economy? or merely a pastime for enthusiasts? OK, PCs have created yet another "print revolution"--OK, marginal webworks are evolving--OK, I can now carry on six phone conversations at once. But what difference has this made in my ordinary life?"
—Hakim Bey Temporary Autonomous Zone

12 May 2012


Gandhi chair at Occupy Central in Hong Kong, April 28, 2012.

Proposal for an exhibition “CARE”

The Death Instinct and the Life Instinct:
The Death Instinct: separation; individuality; Avant-Garde par excellence; to follow one’s own path to death—do your own thing; dynamic change.
The Life Instinct: unification; the eternal return; the perpetuation and MAINTENANCE of the species; survival systems and operations; equilibrium.

Two basic systems: Development and Maintenance. The sourball of every revolution: after the revolution, who’s going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning?
Development: pure individual creation; the new; change; progress; advance; excitement; flight or fleeing.
Maintenance: keep the dust off the pure individual creation; preserve the new; sustain the change;
protect progress; defend and prolong the advance; renew the excitement; repeat the flight;
show your work—show it again keep the contemporaryartmuseum groovy
keep the home fires burning
Development systems are partial feedback systems with major room for change.
Maintenance systems are direct feedback systems with little room for alteration.

Maintenance is a drag; it takes all the fucking time (lit.)
The mind boggles and chafes at the boredom. The culture confers lousy status on maintenance jobs = minimum wages, housewives = no pay. clean your desk, wash the dishes, clean the floor, wash your clothes, wash your toes, change the baby’s diaper, finish the report, correct the typos, mend the fence, keep the customer happy, throw out the stinking garbage, watch out don’t put things in your nose, what shall I wear, I have no sox, pay your bills, don’t litter, save string, wash your hair, change the sheets, go to the store, I’m out of perfume, say it again—he doesn’t understand, seal it again—it leaks, go to work, this art is dusty, clear the table, call him again, flush the toilet, stay young.

Everything I say is Art is Art. Everything I do is Art is Art. “We have no Art, we try to do everything
well.” (Balinese saying).
Avant-garde art, which claims utter development, is infected by strains of maintenance ideas, maintenance activities, and maintenance materials. Conceptual & Process art, especially, claim pure development and change, yet employ almost purely maintenance processes.

The exhibition of Maintenance Art, “CARE,” would zero in on pure maintenance, exhibit it as contemporary art, and yield, by utter opposition, clarity of issues.

Three parts: Personal, General, and Earth Maintenance.

Part One: Personal
I am an artist. I am a woman. I am a wife.
I am a mother. (Random order).
I do a hell of a lot of washing, cleaning, cooking, renewing, supporting, preserving, etc. Also, up to now separately I “do” Art.
Now, I will simply do these maintenance everyday things, and flush them up to consciousness, exhibit them, as Art. I will live in the museum and I customarily do at home with my husband and my baby, for the duration of the exhibition. (Right? or if you don’t want me around at night I would come in every day) and do all these things as public Art activities: I will sweep and wax the floors, dust everything, wash the walls (i.e. “floor paintings, dust works, soap-sculpture, wall-paintings”) cook, invite people to eat, make agglomerations and dispositions of all functional refuse.
The exhibition area might look “empty” of art, but it will be maintained in full public view.

Part Two: General
Everyone does a hell of a lot of noodling maintenance work. The general part of the exhibition would consist of interviews of two kinds.

Previous individual interviews, typed and exhibited.
Interviewees come from, say, 50 different classes and kinds of occupations that run a gamut from maintenance “man,” maid, sanitation “man,” mail “man,” union “man,” construction worker, librarian, grocerystore “man,” nurse, doctor, teacher, museum director, baseball player, sales”man,” child, criminal, bank president, mayor, moviestar, artist, etc., about:”
-what you think maintenance is;
-how you feel about spending whatever parts of your life you spend on maintenance activities;
-what is the relationship between maintenance and freedom;
-what is the relationship between maintenance and life’s dreams.

Interview Room—for spectators at the Exhibition:
A room of desks and chairs where professional (?) interviewers will interview the spectators at the exhibition along same questions as typed interviews. The responses should be personal.
These interviews are taped and replayed throughout the exhibition area.

Part Three: Earth Maintenance
Everyday, containers of the following kinds of refuse will be delivered to the Museum:
-the contents of one sanitation truck;
-a container of polluted air;
-a container of polluted Hudson River;
-a container of ravaged land.
Once at the exhibition, each container will be serviced: purified, de-polluted, rehabilitated, recycled, and conserved by various technical (and / or pseudo-technical) procedures either by myself or scientists. These servicing procedures are repeated throughout the duration of the exhibition.