Saturday, September 27, 2008

Utopia & Eutopia

The word "utopia" translates to "no place". (Thank you Thomas More)

There is a flaw built in to our collective imagining of the future if nonexistence is built into the most commonly used word for a positive and idealistic projections. 

The word "eutopia", on the other hand, translates to "good place". Not an illusion, not impossible. Just good.

I am interested in the way that different people relate to these ideas. I am interested in hearing personal visions of eutopia/utopia. I want to know what fits in to these ideal environments. And I want to know what obstructions there are to contemplating optimistic possibilities. Does it feel silly? Does it feel unrealistic or irresponsible? Why? 

To Anyone,
If you are reading this blog, post your thoughts! What does your eutopia look like? What does it feel like to imagine it? When does it happen? 100 years? 1000 years? Next week? Who/What is out there leading us toward that vision? Who/What is standing in the way or pulling us in the opposite direction?


The future. What does it hold? Is it possible that our society can evolve and learn to solve the problems we are now facing? Can we all learn to get along? What would we do if our lives were not spent in solving conflicts? Would we spend our time avoiding conflicts? Would we create and experience new wonders? Sustainable wonders?

Will the entire world run out of water, oil, food? Or can we do something now to prevent that from happening? Isn't "pre-emptive action" the specialty of the times? 

The future is now. Who said that? At least 126,000 people. It's not a secret. 

The future. If the future is now, then we have the power to change the future. By the decisions that we make in our individual lives, and the decisions we make collectively. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Tonight I'll be summarizing theory: Maurice Merleau-Ponty. - "The Intertwining -- The Chiasm" from The Visible and the Invisible.

This work is incredibly dense. We are reading it in our Contemporary Art History class, and it has inspired rage in several people. "Intellectual masturbation," it has been called by some, "bullshit," by others. I, personally, didn't mind it that much. As an exercise, a jaunt into the bog of abstract ideas and exploratory thinking, I found it relatively entertaining. It did take a frickin' long time to read (Truth: I didn't actually read the whole thing, but I've been assured that nothing startling happens in the second half). So, yes, it is very abstract. It has to do with perception and the relationship of the subject and object. 

Okay, here we go:

"The Intertwining -- The Chiasm," by Merleau-Ponty is an exploration, in thought, of our subjective experience; our relationship with our senses, and our relationship, through our senses, to objects and beings outside of ourselves. Through an analysis of visibility and the visual experience, touch, speech, thought, and language, Merleau-Ponty attempts to show that there is no real separation between the observer, and that which is being observed; that perception is limited by the body (the means of perception), and that there is a true essence/substance of all things, ourselves included, the understanding of which, is not attainable. 

According to his view, the individual is connected to all other individuals, and to objects, through his/her similarity in tissue; in actual physical matter. However, the individual is also forever separated by his/her lack of ability to see/sense beyond the skin of appearances.

Through a rigorous mental investigation, Merleau-Ponty examines age-old questions of, "How do we understand our world?", and "How do we understand ourselves?". His answer to these questions is that we are fated, by our material selves. to accept only a nominal grasp of the substance of our existence. He seems to suggest, through his analytical approach, that the best we can do is to understand the complexities and contradictions of our perception, and to remember that everything is us, and also, not as it seems.

Friday, September 5, 2008


I met Brian Conley tonight. 

I actually went to high-school with someone named Brian Connely (spelled differently, pronounced the same). The one I went to high-school with was an all-around great guy. He was nice, smart, funny, athletic. He was an achiever and he was modest. I think he ended up marrying a girl that we went to high-school with, Liz Strauss. Anyway, he's not the one I met tonight. 

The one I met tonight is the former chair of the Fine Art Program at CCA. He was nice, interesting, I enjoyed talking with him. He's an artist that used to live in NYC. The story is that he came out here 3 years ago to do an artist talk and CCA ended up offering him the job as chair of the MFA program. He's not the chair anymore, he's teaching two classes. He's happy to have more time to be making artwork. We talked about the importance of understanding contemporary theory, and how we both enjoy allowing our concepts to decide our materials rather than the other way around. He currently has work,  Miniature Iraq War in Las Vegas, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Monday, September 1, 2008

First Days of School

I moved into our shared studio today. It feels so good to have a home for my art materials. Now the work can begin. The space is relatively small, to share between 13 people at least, but it will have to do. The official first day of classes is tomorrow but I don't have my first class until Wednesday.  "Strategies in Public Art" will be my first breath of grad-school air. My impression of the instructor, John LeaƱos, is that he is not one to adhere to prescribed academic structures, but we'll see. I guess one (namely, "me") would hope that all art school educators, especially ones at the higher level, would think outside the box, but, damn, there are so many boxes!

So my first class is not until Wednesday but I think I'll go into the studio tomorrow anyway. I want to set up a little bit. I have some reading to do also: Walter Benjamin, Greenberg, an article about the Avant-Garde, + some others. Yes!!! Let it begin! I've already read the Benjamin and I remember it to be baffling-ly dense. I look forward to giving it a second go. 

I'm also going into the studio because I need to give the curators of PlaySpace (our student run gallery) some labels to go along with my penny collection. They are including part of my penny collection in their upcoming show about collections/collecting (I'm actually not quite sure what it is about, but, hey, it's good to participate, and my pennies are cool!). I gave them 4 small jars of pennies. There are "Found Pennies", "Canadian Pennies", "Wheat-backed Pennies", and "Smashed Pennies". I'm curious to see the exhibition all together, the opening is next week sometime.

Openings, Articles, and Artwork... Let The Games Begin!