Sorry for the delay in this post. I have been in Chicago tied up with CAA, so much so, that the lovely Hallmark holiday of love, almost slipped through my fingers. But have no fear, I am back with full force, presenting my now frequent colllaborator Rio Yañez’s pop culture, commodified, chicano, arty valentines amazingness.
From his El Rio flickr page:
What’s up to all my friends, lovers, and drunken makeout partners! El Rio’s Valentine’s Day Cards are back in the ring to take another swing for 2010! This is the 4th year of my cards and it’s turned into my longest running project. Enjoy!
As always, please post these cards on the pages of your friends, enemies, sexting partners, craigslist hookups, and friends with benefits.
Supa Freaks, 2008
El Rio’s Valentine’s Day Cards # 2, 2007
Moz Lov, 2009
a guest post by seeNoga.
As you doggedly pursue, chase, and snap at the heels of your Self, you do so knowing there is no chance you will ever catch up. For each of us, throughout our individual lives, we will be ever distant from knowing our own selves. When a person pursues his or her Self in an aggressive, determined way, the resulting hyperactive sensibility allows for a greater adaptability and sensitivity. This flexibility can be useful in contemporary human life, but only to a certain extent. It is also due to the fast-paced nature of today’s engineered environments, that there is a strong tendency (especially among young people) to go to extreme lengths in order to sustain within their own lives the hyperactivity and intensity they witness in popular culture and media. Consider the called-for constant reachability via cell-phones and laptops, as well as many other forms of expedition in our ‘lived-in’ world. These accommodations range from aerodynamics to ATMs. As many workers in today’s professional world simultaneously lament and extol their parasitic relationships with a Blackberry or other such Pocket God, I, too, have at many times felt chained to my laptop (i.e. the Internet), fearing I would miss something absolutely critical. Unfortunately, the fact that missing anything important has not happened for the most part, hardly affects the worry and anxiety that it might happen.
Yet still, it seems, this once motivating anxiety is becoming a repressed urge, one which is less and less a bother, the more my environment becomes one seamless, semi-omniscient “news” feed. On the evening of President Barack Obama’s Address to the Nation, Maya Escobar recorded “Obama Tweet: How a New Generation Gets Their Information.” In this video Escobar documented a particular event, an important cultural event, one which incidentally brought the use of Twitter to the fore in popular culture.
Obama Tweet: How a New Generation Gets Their Information, 2008
I was with Escobar on this evening and was struck by the depth of her interaction with the digital realm. She was sitting in front of a T.V. broadcast of the speech, while she was also further mediating that media via her computer, on which she was following Twitter and CNN.com’s coverage of the event. Beyond all that, Escobar was creating her own real-time, indexical document of the event on television along with CNN and Twitter as instantaneous forms of annotations to the President’s speech. Escobar was watching, sitting one more stage removed, behind the lens of a video camera. Because of the way in which she layered the television screen the computer screen and then the interface of any viewer’s monitor, Escobar has effortlessly choreographed a multi-layered, engagement with the very most current of events. However, though I may have somewhat qualified and rationalized instant-communication tools, I still believe there must be a deliberate effort to complement those socially-prescribed media with other, independent forms of digital exchanges. While I do believe in the great social potential of our rapidly advancing communications media, my work seeks to push and pull on parts of these evolving global ‘informachines,’ in an effort to challenge the omnipresence of commercial media.
Look Out, 2008
That sort of layering of non-dimensional spaces is unique to the contemporary world, with the inception of digital technologies, and this collage-like aesthetic is of great interest to the work of Maya Escobar, as much as it is to my own. Although, unlike the deceptively referential works of my counter-part, in many of my works, I use and refer to popular media sources and specific Internet sites indirectly and rarely with any superficial visibility. It is with great deliberation and much hypothesizing that I curate my works in the manner in which I do. I intend my works to avoid specificity and leave wide-open their readings to a much more self-guided analysis by viewers. In the piece “Look Out,” the projected video came directly from YouTube. I simply cut off the last second of the original video, thus shortening it to 17 seconds. I then prepared it as a video-loop for its installation underneath a staircase at the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum. Because of its placement, where it fills a theretofore, unaddressed space, it is as though the rolling image is part of the museum structure itself. The particular clip, which I chose after viewing dozens of similarly tagged videos (‘storm,’ ‘tree,’ ‘willow,’ and ‘weeping’), was selected for very specific compositional reasons; reasons which are the very same principles of design taught to anyone working in commercial design or the visual arts: complimentary colors, rule of thirds, dynamic composition and varied textures, to name a few. Because of my focused selection process, this video, although created for very different (and unknown) reasons, still fits very well into the installation space as a deliberately designed, and potentially permanent use of what is otherwise a neglected space. The video became part of the stairwell. By existing within a predetermined, architectural frame, it became part of the space, as opposed to sitting on the surface as a painting does. This projection did not exist in the way that many (most) installations do: as obvious alterations or obtrusive interjections into a space. This work asserts itself as a physical part of the space, as the projector beams through from behind the scrim in the stairwell. It also assumes a living presence, as it reiterates itself, by many reflections and refractions, split and scattered, bouncing around the main hall of the museum. The video functioned as a decorative element but also an illusory window to an outside world, whereas, the space without that piece is simply a pane of glass that looks into the shadowy crotch of a stairwell. I do not mean every square inch should be taken up for some sort of visual activity or illusionary window. Simply, this work proposes how our constructed spaces, in this case a venue for art viewing, might be reinterpreted. Insofar as, a corner can conceivably become a window, as illusory and impermanent as my particular interpretation may be.
Part 1 of an article I wrote for jewishinstlouis.org
Every art student learns about the fair use principle, granting us permission to use any image in our artwork as long as we transform it so that it conveys new meaning. But beyond that all-encompassing definition, we don’t know what transgressions, if any, we are actually committing.
Recently in the news is the preemptive lawsuit artist Shepard Fairey filed against the Associated Press. According to Fairey the AP threatened to sue him unless he pays royalties for the image that he used as source material for his now famous campaign poster of Barack Obama. Fairey argues that he is protected by the fair use principle. He claims that his intention was not to reproduce any particular image, but instead was to capture a specific gaze representative of the ideas of hope and change.
In an interview on NPR, Fairey declared he was going forward with this suit on behalf of all artists, the thousands of artists that created their own campaign images in the same grassroots manner, pulling images from the web in support of the message of hope, change and a new administration in Washington.
screen shot of: first page of google image search results for “Barack Obama”
I am fascinated by Fairey’s implication that the process of appropriating and re-contextualizing Google image search results might be considered a grassroots action. As an artist, I frequently use images that that I find on Google. Like Fairey suggested, my motivation for using these images is to highlight the search itself, not the derivative image.
Perhaps then, these cyber Robin Hoodian actions—using and transforming Google image search results—are capable of changing the structures that control the dissemination of information. After all, the order that information appears in Google searches is determined by the amount of people searching any given topic. And as a result of the Fairey’s appropriation, his campaign poster may be forever linked to Obama’s presidency.
email from President Obama
Obama’s popularity can be credited to his skillfully constructed presidential campaign that effortlessly linked his name to hope. I was quick to jump onto Obama’s online campaign message of hope. Like many others, I subscribed to his twitter, facebook, and YouTube pages. I now get weekly emails from him and I even have a blog on his site…
This is the Jack McBrayer Response
To the Internet Response
To the Republican Response
To the President’s Address to Congress
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Time to Choose Peace
A Rabbinic Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama
Rabbis, Cantors, and Jewish clerical students:
Join your colleagues in urging President-elect Obama to make resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a top priority of the incoming administration by signing on to the statement below.
Text of the Letter
We the undersigned, call on you, President-elect Obama, to pledge to make resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a top priority of your Administration.
While you come into office with a long list of problems before you, the long-simmering conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is among the most urgent. After eight years of half-hearted diplomacy, there is no time left to walk softly and hope for the best.
The consequences of failing to establish a durable peace are grim. The influence of Iran and Hezbollah would grow among an increasingly bitter Palestinian population, and extremists would have further excuse to do vicious battle with the West. It is difficult to calculate the damage that a downward spiral into fresh waves of violence could hold.
American Presidents traditionally look to the Jewish community for insight on Israel-related policy. As Jewish clergy, we pledge to mobilize our people behind your leadership for a mutually-acceptable, two-state solution. We pledge to support you through difficult, trying times, and to celebrate with you when the job is done. We pledge to let the American public know: An American President who dedicates himself to the establishment of a durable Israeli-Palestinian peace acts in the best interests of Israel and the United States.
* We call on you to dedicate yourself to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state living in peace alongside Israel early in your first term.
* We call on you to appoint, within your first 100 days in office, a high-level, highly-regarded envoy to the region, an individual who has the ear of both Israelis and Palestinians, the respect of the American people, and ready access to your Oval Office.
* We call on you to establish mechanisms of enforcement and follow-through, so that decisions made and agreements signed will be respected and brought to fruition.
The man who had just won the globe’s most visible job dominated America’s attention. President-elect Barack Obama: intelligent, witty, knowledgeable, eloquent, telegenic, photogenic, aurally pleasing. Gone, the faulty neologisms of the past eight years. Gone, the irrationality of God-directed foreign policy. Gone, the ramblings and the wacky syntax.
Obama’s timely intervention into the abyss began on November 15, just eleven days after the election, when he streamed on YouTube from his website. The video opened on a modified version of the presidential seal, zooming out to reveal the words CHANGE.GOV (his website’s handle), and underneath, THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT-ELECT. Then it scrolled down to the approximated presidential seal again, with these words beneath: YOUR WEEKLY ADDRESS FROM THE PRESIDENT-ELECT. NOVEMBER 15TH, 2008.
This “weekly” address was in fact Obama’s very first, but enjoining “weekly” creates a faux continuity: Past activities fuse with future ones. And by issuing the podcast as the president-elect, Obama created a new, unprecedented, even extraconstitutional, national office. Still, his screen presence felt familiar, comforting. He played a role that corresponds to ones Americans have long watched on TV—from Robert Young in Father Knows Best to Sam Waterston in Law & Order (or, even more apt, Waterston in his TV ads for TD Ameritrade). The role requires unflappability, which Obama exudes like Verbena cologne, and it is his aim, in this video, to quiet America’s erratic pulse, its arrhythmic financial markets, its frightened workers, its bankrupt home owners.
The president-elect is seated behind a desk on a black leather chair, his head cushioned against its back. He’s in medium shot and part of a cozy composition; nothing seems out of place. He almost appears tucked into the image, which divides into discrete elements. On the left, an American flag hangs the length of the frame, the one and only element taller than he. The background is a medium-brown wood-paneled wall. To the left of Obama, shoulder-high, three dark-blue volumes: Public Papers of the Presidents: John F. Kennedy (1961–1963). The tomes lend a somberness to the image, representing the popular, fallen president, while associating JFK’s New Frontier with Obama’s upcoming variation on the New Deal. On the far right, also shoulder height, another volume, its title blurred, and a basketball, like a Pop art sculpture, signed by Lenny Wilkens of the US Olympic basketball team. A plant’s green leaves drape over the ball.
Though it’s video, it’s basically a still image. Obama wears a dark red tie and a flag pin on his gray lapel. His head moves up and down gently, for emphasis, and occasionally it subtly shifts from side to side. His expression is serious, sober, nearly unchanging, and the new gray at his temples does no harm. The sonorous Obama voice stays steady, on course, with none of the rise and fall heard in his campaign speeches, but he doesn’t shy away from unsettling language, like “the greatest economic challenge of our times.” Still, he’s not running anymore, so he’s transmuted his stump speech into a Fireside Chat, in which the screen is the hearth and his voice the melody in the air. “I know that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. . . . I am more hopeful than ever that America will rise once again.” He has checked his radiant smile, since these are not happy times, but he reassures the American public that happy days are here to come.
From this initial video message to his preinauguration press conferences to more recent YouTube clips and weekly talks, Obama has transformed the function of the president-elect, just as he transfigured the presidential campaign into an Internet phenomenon. Streaming from the Office of the President-Elect, a nonplace or anyplace, Obama proclaims his virtual presidency. The easy acceptance by the public and the media of this novel authority—after some initial “Where’s the president?” “Nowhere”—attests to the way people live today, in online encounters and communities. They connect as if they were face-to-face.
Barack Obama keeps making history. He has now also affected the English language, specifically the word virtual. Through his prestidigitations, he has helped along a linguistic shift: Virtual is the new actual. And, in that sense, Obama is president, news maker, and commentator. He can explain himself, by himself. Since he knows what he’s thinking—and why—before the mediacs do, he scoops them effortlessly. In comparison with his skills, their responses seem increasingly thin, redundant, more obviously ill-informed, and excruciatingly superficial. Obama’s capacity to think and answer might force the “cult of personality” pundits to stop shouting and start reading. Actually, virtually.
Lynne Tillman is a novelist.