Friday, December 18, 2009

May Peace and Love Rule Over Christmas and the New Year




I will be away from my computer from this day until the twenty-ninth of December. I hope the people of the world are blessed with the grace of the loving Holy Family of Christendom. My wish for the New Year is that Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, all, including religious skeptics, as well as  the Muslim jihadist, and the most hateful minded of Christians - all of us - everyone might be granted God's love.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Juno Beach is Shrinking: Continued

Yesterday, a neighbor told me that our beach is to be replenished soon, that all the equipment is on its way from Miami.



I took this photograph two weeks ago. I was standing behind the Seminole Golf Club where the ancient reef is exposed at about 3:00 in the afternoon. The derelict tank wasn’t there last year, and the receding beach sand must have exposed it. This is approximately the same spot as in “Contemplation” a pastel drawing completed this past April. However, in that drawing I was looking north, and I shot this photograph looking south. I especially like the light this time of year because the sun is so low it makes for super colors, detail and great shadows. I plan on going back to this spot and shooting on a regular basis so I can make comparisons of beach erosion and replenishment over time.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Juno Beach is Shrinking


I took this photo when we got home last month. I like the pelicans flying over-head, and I like the spectacular sky. Unfortunately our beach has been shrinking by half every year for the past 5 years. I worry that global warming will take it away completely, or move it quite a bit inland. Our neighbors, unconvinced of global warming predict the beach will come back one of these years. I remain skeptical of that ever happening without something being done to stop CO2 emissions - perhaps a massive volcanic eruption would do the trick.

I have to learn to take two photos in a row. One focused on the horizon, and one focused on the foreground - then I could put the two together.  I've tried to achieve focus through the entire depth of field by using f22 and focusing at several points below the horizon, but it hasn't worked to my satisfaction.  Fortunately I work with pastels, graphite, and photo montage instead of being strictly a photographer.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The New Necklace: Alix Smith's Portrait Photographs, Part III

(1) As preamble it is necessary to reference two previous entries in this journal, “Reception Theory: The Three Positions for Interaction with Artwork," and “Reception Theory: The Three Positions for Interaction with Artwork Continued." The entries discuss Postmodern Reception Theory, and my own notion that the actual artwork is the toggle switch through which all three currents of reception; artist's intent, viewer and cultural understanding flow. Thus, the artwork itself is more important than the artist, culture, or viewer though it's existence depends on the presence of all three.

(2) Take note of the fact that the title above is linked to Paxton's original image at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and I have placed the image below as well. *1


Constructions

As a Postmodern person, Alix Smith has concerns about the cultural construction of the self, and her photographic tableau demonstrate her disdain for the stereotypical cultural construction of gay, and lesbian people. For instance, the image we see of ourselves on the news media most often is the young muscle-dude, or voluptuous-lipstick-20-something-lesbian almost nude and dancing on a truck in Gay Pride Parades. The obvious thought such an image should trigger is that there are at least 20 million gay and lesbian people not on that truck. What instead is that multitude of lesbian women and gay men doing? Alix Smith provides an answer with images of gay and lesbian families at home, and those images provoke more questions.



The States of Union series with which I am most concerned shows gay and lesbian couples in their home environments. The images are formally posed, and as Alix Smith herself states, they are based on classical portraiture. Specifically, in the case of The New Necklace, we have as antecedent, the portrait of the same name by William McGregor Paxton of the Boston School (1869-1941). In that painting a necklace is being passed from one young woman to another. Typically a narrative involving the discarded letter and the necklace in the Paxton painting is constructed around a missing male suitor. Instead, Smith provides us with a Lesbian couple in which the obvious narrative involves the gift of the necklace from one to the other of the two women. * 2 So, I took another look at the Paxton painting, and asked myself, "why can't I change the narrative in that painting as well?" Perhaps the two ladies in question were involved in a “Boston marriage," and the necklace is once again, a gift from one to the
other. * 3 I further read the discarded letter as an apology about some silly transgression. Thus, the art object, “The New Necklace," the photograph is the toggle switch through which all these currents flow - Paxton and Smith, the artists, the culture's heterosexist understanding of the painting and my (viewer's) gay interpretation - both in its original incarnation and in Ms. Smith’s updated version. These currents based on deconstructed and reconstructed narratives connect both artists and the viewer. However, I always keep in mind that it is the artworks themselves that function as a switch through which the currents flow, and Smith has given us a new toggle switch.




I also wanted to take a look at another of Ms. Smiths photographs from the States of Union series, this one #13, of two gay men posed on their antique couch in a setting of antiques and a colonial oil portrait painting. The room is quite elegant in a subdued fashion, though the young man sitting on the couch is in genes and is bare foot, in contradiction to his surroundings. In fact, both men are dressed casually in a formal setting, though by moving the couch away from the wall the photographer allows the viewer to see into an ancillary space filled once again with antiques and another colonial oil portrait. Thus, the setting has been altered - to what effect? The contradiction is perhaps designed to prod the viewer into asking questions, give us a bit of a kick as it were. The narrative I constructed is that these are two young men of good background. Perhaps they collect colonial and eighteenth century art; they inherited it, or both. They, however, are not stiff, and crusty, but a relaxed gay male couple who are at home, happy in the space they have created together.

A thought just occurred to me that this photograph, #13 is opposed to images of gay male couples I have seen in the past. I am picturing a painting, "Bath," by Paul Cadmus and a photograph, "Bath II," by Bill Costa. I include the images here because they demonstrate how LGBT concerns have changed and focused over time. When Cadmus painted “Bath” in 1950 it was a novel idea to consider the possibility of two gay men coupling permanently, in fact we were told by our heterosexist culture that we were incapable of such an arrangement. Cadmus went out on a limb claiming that two ordinary gay men could and should do so. Costa’s, "Bath II," a photographic homage to the earlier painting by Cadmus also shows a young male couple, nude, in a domestic bathroom scene. In both images the tub is of the old fashioned Federal ball and claw footed variety, and the room itself is rather pedestrian with socks hung out to dry and in the Costa photograph the iconic can of Barbosol on a shelf. I include a censored version of both here, to contrast the images with Alix Smith’s more formal and elegant tableau of properly clothed lesbian and gay families.



Conclusion

Cadmus, Costa, and Smith’s images are all confrontational, though Smith’s seem so terribly conventional upon first glance. Never the less, Smith’s may be the more controversial images because they make the claim that well adjusted lesbian and gay couples and families exist throughout our culture, whether or not heterosexists are able to recognize them by granting the right to marriage. At the same time, the images parody the iconic imagery of power, wealth, and position in classic portraiture. This is not to say they make fun of those images so much as to say that we, lesbian and gay couples and families are no different than our straight counterparts, capable of the same self-deceptions, cultural and social constructions, as are our heterosexual brothers and sisters. If I were a heterosexist, would these images change my mind? I'm not sure. However, they do provide solid imagery of states of gay and lesbian union that are undeniable.

Thank you, Alix.


Notes


* 1 I believe this image to be in the public domain. If not, one time use is acceptable as part of an informative article about the image. The location of the image at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts is established by the title's link above.

* 2 See the previous two entries on this journal for the image of Alix Smith's photograph, "The New Necklace."

• 3 "Boston Marriage" – denotes a 19th to 20th century household in which two women lived in an arrangement similar to marriage. Whether or not the relationship was sexual is debated. More than likely some Boston marriages were sexual and some were not.


Sources:

Costa, Bill, “Bath II,” HX Magazine (Cover), February 23, 1996.

Greenfield, Beth, “Straight Shots,” Time Out: New York, September 10-16, 2009, p.109.

Holly, Michael Ann, Past Looking: Historical Imagination and the Rhetoric of the Image. Ithaca, Cornell Un iversity Press,1996.

Kirstein, Lincoln. Paul Cadmus. New York: Rizzoli, 1984.

Kleiner, Fred S. and Mamiya, Christin J., Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, 12th Ed., Florence, Wadsworth 2005.

Scallywag, “Alix Smith: ‘The Dislocation of Self.’” Scallywag and Vagabond, http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2009;05;alixsmith-the-dislocation-of-self/. May 25, 2009. Viewed 9:30 AM, EDT, s=Saturday, November 21 2009.

Smith, Alix, Webisite, Alix Smith, © 1997-2008 Alix Smith. Viewed 9:00 AM, EDT, Saturday, November 21, 2009.

Wheelock Jr., Arthur K., “Johannes Vermeer, The Art of Painting” Brochure, Exhibitions: National Gallery of Art, Website, http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/. Viewed 10:30 AM EDT, Wednesday, November 24, 2009.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The New Necklace: Alix Smith's Portrait Photographs, Part II

(1) As preamble it is necessary to reference two previous entries on this journal; "Reception Theory," and Reception Theory Continued. The entries discuss Postmodern Reception Theory, and my own notion that the actual artwork is the toggle switch through which all three currents of reception; artist’s intent, viewer and cultural understanding flow.   Thus, the artwork itself is more important than the artist, culture, or viewer though its existence depends on the presence of all three.*
(2) Take note of the fact that the title above is linked to Paxton's original image at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.


*


Alix Smith especially likes the quality of light in Johannes Vermeer’s Baroque Dutch paintings, and Vermeer happens to be one of my all time favorites because of his Dutch nationality, passion for light and bright color. He was only moderately successful in his day, and forgotten for nearly two centuries after his death, though today he is considered one of the greatest Dutch painters. He painted many layered (literally and figuratively) formal portraits of middle class Dutch life. His probable use of the camera obscura (a camera box / projector) as an aid to composition provides an extra connection for Alix, I’m sure. A look at Vermeer’s “The Art of Painting” will provide additional evidence of the connection to Ms. Smith’s work.

The Netherlands map on the back wall of “The Art of Painting” has illustrations of the seats of power. Vermeer refers to the fact that the Dutch were the first wealthy middle class society and during the seventeenth century had achieved a maritime colonial power commensurate with Britain, Spain, and France. The map is, however, torn, symbolizing the separation between the Republic in the north, and Hapsburg controlled Flemish provinces to the south. Light flows through the studio from left to right picking out the figure of the girl, Clio muse of history, the artist and other objects.  The girl wears a laurel wreath, symbol of Clio, and carries a trumpet signifying fame.  I often wonder if Vermeer was looking at that brilliantly lit figure of Clio not only because of Dutch pride in accomplishment, but as a reminder to himself of the illusive quality of fame.   He had to know that he was an extremely talented, but under appreciated provincial artist.  The chandelier and marble tiled floor were things that Vermeer would not have been able to afford and would have been found only in the homes of the rich.  Thus they refer to the nation’s wealth and the wealth of the society in which he lived.  Vermeer’s signification continues, but I have demonstrated the connections to signification in Alix Smith’s portrait photography because it symbolizes a contemporary population in which wealth measures success and position in ways similar to the Dutch Republican colonial empire.

To be continued…

Sources

Kleiner, Fred S. and Mamiya, Christin J., Gardner’s Art Through the Ages, 12th Ed., Florence:  Wadsworth (2005).

Wheelock Jr., Arthur K., “Johannes Vermeer, The Art of Painting” (Brochure), Exhibitions:  National Gallery of Art, Website, http://www.nga.gov/exhibitions/.  Viewed 10:30 AM EDT, Wednesday, November 24, 2009.

Notes
* See Holly, Michael Ann, Past Looking: Historical Imagination and the Rhetoric of the Image. Cornell University Press, Ithaca (1996).

*   This image is in the public domain.  The painting is located in the Kunsthistorisches Museum.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The New Necklace: Alix Smith's Portrait Photographs, Part I

(1) As preamble it is necessary to reference two previous entries on this journal; "Reception Theory," and Reception Theory Continued. The entries discuss Postmodern Reception Theory, and my own notion that the actual artwork is the toggle switch through which all three currents of reception; artist’s intent, viewer and cultural understanding flow.   Thus, the artwork itself is more important than the artist, culture, or viewer though its existence depends on the presence of all three.*
(2) Take note of the fact that the title above is linked to Paxton's original image at The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

 


Alix Smith’s Photographs of lesbian and gay families, are beautifully accomplished portraits in which each family and the photographer create an extremely formal tableau reminiscent of classical, neo-classical and most specifically in this article, the portraiture of Boston School artist William McGregor Paxton.  Her current project, “States of the Union,” was introduced in New York City with an exhibition at the Morgan-Lehman Gallery in September of this year.  However, that exhibit represents only the beginning of an ambitious project.  Alix Smith described the full extent of that project as follows.  “I hope to get 300-400 couples and families from across the United States to sit for the project. The finished project will be comprised of four different exhibitions touring simultaneously around the United States, a published book and a speaking tour to help educate the public on the issues addressed by the project.” *

I also found that each tableau is a parody of and comments on cultural stereotypes about lesbian and gay families.  Additionally, the photographs present a narrative to the viewer.  These narratives definitely indicate the artist’s intent through Alix’s reference to historical art works, as well as presenting a creative story-making opportunity to the viewer.

To be continued…


Notes:

Holly, Michael Ann, Past Looking:  Historical Imagination and the Rhetoric of the Image. Cornell University Press (1996)

Smith Alix, "Dear Dr. Bittinger Klomp," E-mail dated and received November 9, 2009.


Other Sources:

Greenfield, Beth, "Straight Shots," Time Out:  New York, September 10-16, 2009, p. 109.

Scallywag, "Alix Smith: 'The Dislocation of Self.'" Scallywag and Vagabond, http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2009/05/alix-smith-the-dislocation-of-self/.  May 25, 2009.  Viewed 9:30 AM, EDT, Saturday, November 21, 2009.


Smith, Alix, Website titled Alix Smith © 1997-2008 Alix Smith.  Viewed 9:00 AM, EDT, Saturday, November 21, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Classy Kitty Photo




We named our perfectly white cat, Princess Anna, and this photograph of her proves she’s a royal kitty-cat. Secretly, she believes we kidnapped her, and that, even though she loves us, she’s slightly disdainful of our commoner household. I know that she’s plain old “Americanus Domesticanus,” but I also know that a pure white cat is not supposed to exist, unless, of course, as the myth goes, the white cat is deaf.

Well, she’s not!  Deafness is not a characteristic of yellow-eyed white cats.

Anna jumps and twitches at the slightest sound just like all cats do. She answers to her name, and she knows many words, like din-din, out and in. She is a total love, and wants to be handled all the time, and she would much rather chase the yarn ball I made for her than her electronic mouse because she doesn’t like the squeak it makes.

Sometimes I get lucky with the camera and take a magnificent photograph without trying.  It is my practice to plan photographic composition, light source, shutter speed, all the variables.  However, sometimes all the planning in the world does not a perfect photograph make (to use my Pennsylvania Dutch).  That is why I carry the camera with me everywhere, and shoot photographs constantly.  I know  that one in several hundred will be better than perfect by accident. This photograph of Princess Anna proves the point.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Forever Nor’easter and Memories of a Warmer Sunnier Time



Nasty! Rain, chilly rain – wind – more rain – more wind = more wind and chilly rain! For three days, and that’s on top of the wettest summer and fall I can remember. We will have over 8 inches additional rainfall when it is all over. I’m hoping we don’t lose power. I was going to post a photograph from one of our past nor’easters, but I decided instead that I wanted to be reminded of warmer and more pleasant weather. So, I went back to a folder of photos I took last spring at Grassy Waters Preserve in Palm Beach County. Grassy Waters is actually where the city of West Palm Beach gets its city water supply, and it’s at the edge of the Florida Everglades.

It was late March, about 82 degrees with crystalline sunshine the day I took this photograph. Most of the camera enthusiasts at the preserve had monster telephoto lenses, some with little tripods to support the camera and lens. I, on the other hand, had only my trusty Sony Cyber-shot camera, and I took my usual several hundred photographs for morgue* and possible future use in drawing and other art works.

I’m not a waterfowl expert, but I believe this is a Wood Stork. I like the way his leg is motion-blurred slightly, and that stream of water trails behind his foot through the air. I feel warm and dry just looking at this sun warmed waterfowl because I remember the way I felt as I shot about 20 photographs of him/her walking through lily pads at water’s edge.

* morgue - a picture file an artist uses an aid to drawing and painting.  In my case, I take all my own pictures rather than using magazine clippings as many illustration artists do.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Gay Marriage Outlawed in Maine: Heterosexist Hate is Alive and Extremely Well in America



"God has given us this victory,” Emrich continued, “and it is very important for us to recognize that he is the one who put the energy into this campaign. So let’s not be so arrogant to forget this. It’s very appropriate to pause for a moment of prayer.” * *2

Okay, now I’m angry! First, God has nothing to do with heterosexist hatred! Second, Not only am I disappointed in my fellow Americans (once again), but also, I’m furious! Thirty-one times in Thirty-one states the citizens of this country have seen fit to vote their own brothers, sisters, sons and daughter into second-class citizenship.

How is it possible for so many to consider their progeny and family to be unworthy!

Not only did these voters VOTE NO on same sex marriage, but also, by doing so they voted against all of our lesbian and gay families.  Thus, there are a host of problems that will continue to exist for lesbian and gay families that their heterosexual counterparts do not bear. For instance, in every lesbian and gay partnership, be there children or not, the death of one partner will lead directly to the other being taxed on 50% of his/her holdings. The huge tax bill is based on the assumption that since LGBT people cannot be married, 50% of all assets, property and accounts belonged to the deceased. Thus, In my own case, should I be the survivor in a 42 year – and hopefully much longer – relationship, I will  not be allowed to inherit my own property, assets, and accounts tax free.  However, at least one third of my partner's and my joint assets are based in my family’s financial history, and another half of our joint wealth is based on my earnings as an adult. That single consequence of not being married alone has generated horrible consequences for two of our close friends as our generation ages. In both cases, the death of one partner caused the surviving partner the necessity of selling the home the couple had lived in because of the tax bill. There are worse consequences for second-class lesbian and gay families. The worst being the denial of some to sit at their partner’s side as he/she dies in a hospital bed. And, second, a father or mother may not adopt his or her own children. Thus, the parent’s accumulated assets may not be passed on to the children as in a heterosexual marriage. The list of rights heterosexual couples take for granted that are not allowed to lesbian and gay families is extremely lengthy, and I will not continue with the details here.

However, it follows that the consequence of legalized heterosexist voting in this (democratic and free?) nation is the purposeful destruction of American LGBT families! I stop just short of describing it as genocide.

I have listened to conservative and evangelical Republicans tout their family values these many years, and now I respond, WHAT VALUES? You espouse the destruction of my people’s families because of your legalized heterosexism. Religious values, you say, and I respond, WHAT VALUES? In the New Testament Jesus Christ preached tolerance and love for all. In the Old Testament Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt for less than this!

So, in my anger and frustration, I thought, what can I do to try to change the heterosexist voter’s mind? I know that there are those 10 to 15 percent that are so anchored in their fear and hate that nothing short of death will move them. I put those bigots out of mind and heart because there is nothing to be done about them.  As to the rest, I assume that meeting and knowing lesbian and gay persons will help make a difference – there are probably one or two of us somewhere in each of their families.  However, I do not see - coming out to ones family - as the panacea that the LGBT movement has thought it to be these last forty years. The idea has been that making our heterosexual families aware of our homosexuality will automatically change their minds about LGBT people. And that, as it turns out, has its limits. In fact, we still have families disown their gay and lesbian progeny, consigning them to the street. We still have heterosexual parents who punish themselves because they believe it is their fault a son or daughter is gay, though the son or daughter doesn't blame Mom or Dad for his or her God given sexuality. We still have Christians who target gay men’s funerals with demonstrations of hate. We still have hate crimes and worse, murder of lesbian and gay people as a part of our American way of life. So, what can I do to try to change some of this fear, anger, and hate into if not love, at least tolerance and understanding?

I’d like to set up an on line journal where LGBT people tell their stories. I want to see published a lexicon of loss and degradation caused by this purposeful and hateful second-class citizenship imposed on part of the population because many Americans are unable and unwilling to share their constitutionally guaranteed rights with their own sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. And yes, that will portray us as victims because WE ARE VICTIMS! And, as victims we should be collectively ANGRY AT OUR FAMILIES for victimizing us! Oh, and if your own heterosexual family members disclaim any responsibility in this national disaster for lesbian and gay people, saying things like – “I didn’t vote NO against lesbian and gay marriage” or “you should have equal rights, but not marriage” – they need to understand the simple truth that “separate but equal” didn’t work for black people here in the United States, nor in South Africa! It never has worked and it doesn’t work today. They need to understand that a vote “NO ON MARRIAGE” for lesbian and gay people is a heterosexist hate vote against their own sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.

I wish I could keep some of my normal relaxed and occasionally humorous approach to life for this entry about Heterosexist hate in America. I wish that were possible.

It isn’t!

Enough said, for now.


* Miller, Kevin, and Harrison, Judy. "Gay Marriage Repealed in Maine,"Bangor Daily News. November 4, 2009. http://www.bangordailynews.com/detail/128048.html. Last update, 9:29 AM EST, Saturday November 7, 2009. Viewed 9:42 AM EST. The hate statement disguised as Christian zeal was made by the Reverend Bob Emrich of Palmyra, Maine about the "No on 1" victory.

*2 The following is Jesus Christ's comment about forgiveness of those who victimized him as he hung on the cross. “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). I wish I were able to be as forgiving. Unfortunately this entry shows that I'm not as close to Jesus Christ as I would like to be.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Sun, Sand & Water



 
I still marvel at having digital technology at my fingertips!  I shoot photos constantly; thousands instead of a few hundred a year.  I lug the camera with me everywhere because I need photos for my morgue (picture file for drawing and other art uses), and because I never know when a magnificent image (lighting, composition, subject) will conspire to present itself.  However, there are so many pictures that they end up accumulating in files unseen and unloved for months at a time.  Several times I have discovered special images a year or two after they were taken. 

Sun shimmering off water gives me a special sparkle, and there are hundreds of these kind of photos in my file folders.  In this particular photograph I was looking north into the Delaware Bay from the inside of Cape Henlopen.  I shot it on September nineteenth of this year, a chilly premature fall day.  The water temperature was still in the upper 70’s, and a few folks were out in the crystalline sun; shelling, fishing, crabbing, just walking.  There were no clouds in an intense almost indigo sky, the kind of conditions that crystallize everything into a moment of rare purity. 

I hope I did the light and subject proud.  Sometimes it is difficult to know these things, because my own delight in the moment clouds reason.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What exactly constitutes a hate crime?




By the time I put this entry on line the expanded Hate Crimes Bill should have been signed into law by President Obama. The necessity of that legislation is demonstrated even as the Attorney General promises conservative religious groups that he won’t prosecute them for hate speech. How is that for absurd? You can’t kill a lesbian, but you can still call her a “dyke bitch.” You can’t assault a gay man, but you can still carry a poster claiming that he deserves to die if you’re part of the Reverend Phelps absurd group of rabid Christians.

I’m a gay Christian artist, and I know God loves me, and the Reverend Phelps too! I would never think of carrying a poster at his future funeral saying he deserved to die because of the evil he has perpetuated. I am angry about his actions, and I do ask God to help me not hate the man.

At the same time, I don’t ask God for much because I know deep inside that I am blessed with so much. As a dear friend often says of such evil, “this too shall pass.”

Thursday, October 22, 2009

AP Raises Hell About Shepard Fairey and Obama HOPE Poster

*2
‘Shepard continues to stand by his statement from last Friday," said Fairey's spokesman, Jay Strell. "He has apologized and taken responsibility for his actions. The more important question is why the AP continues to spend enormous financial resources attacking Shepard and diverting the debate from the central question in this case, which is whether he transformed the ... image into a work of art, which he has.” ’ *

The AP’s argument is specious! Fairey’s poster alters the original photograph significantly no matter which photograph he used. I’m using the poster image as part of this journal entry as a one-time use for intellectual and literary purposes. If the AP has its way, nobody - be they artist, photographer, writer, musician, any person, anywhere - will be able to use a borrowed, not for profit image to illustrate a written argument ever again. As an artist writing an on line journal, I’m horrified, because should the AP win with this diversionary argument, I would find it extremely difficult to use a borrowed image to illustrate any article written about another artist, historical or contemporary. It is absolutely necessary that artists be able to use images by others as aids to their own work – as long as such images are greatly altered by individual creativity - in order to produce the artwork! Should we not be allowed to do so, we will all lose the most vital argumentative reporting resource, and recording devise our culture has to offer.

* Italie, Hillel, “AP Says Artist Made up Story About Poster.” Comast.net, http://www.comcast.net/articles/news-entertainment/20091020/US.AP.Poster.Artist/, from the Associated Press. Viewed Wednesday, October 21, 2009 at 9:51 EDT.

*2 This work is copyrighted and unlicensed. It does not fall into one of the blanket acceptable non-free content categories listed at Wikipedia:Non-free content#Images or Wikipedia:Non-free content#Audio clips. However, it is believed that the use of this work in the articles "Shepard Fairey" and "Barack Obama "HOPE" poster":
To illustrate the subject in question
Where no free equivalent is available or could be created that would adequately give the same information
On the English-language Wikipedia, hosted on servers in the United States by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation ([1]),

Fairey, Shepard, Obama “Hope” poster, Wikimedia Foundation, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shepard_Fairey. Viewed Wednesday, October 21, 2009, 9:39 EDT at
Original Source: (Barack Obama "Hope" poster originally by Shepard Fairey. == Licensing == {{Non-free use rationale | Description = Obama "Hope" poster. | Source = Campaign. | Article = Barack Obama "HOPE" poster

This is a not for profit article arguing against the AP’s attack of Shepard Fairey for his not for profit use of an AP photographic image that was significantly altered in order to produce the HOPE poster.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Cape May Diamonds



My partner and I often traveled to Cape May, New Jersey from Lancaster, Pennsylvania before we found Rehoboth Beach, Delaware was closer.  We still occasionally take the Cape May, Lewes Ferry across Delaware Bay to visit Cape May.  Among the many attractions there - wonderful old Victorian beach architecture, the beaches, restaurants, and the tip of the cape itself - are these Cape May Diamonds.  They are smooth, round quartz stones of many hues that have washed down the Delaware River from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania mountains finally to be deposited on Cape May beaches.  We have collected boxes of these over the years, and I have soap dishes filled with them in our bathrooms.  Last week I had a long distance conversation with a Facebook friend, that involved the stones, and I promised to put this 1990’s pastel drawing of the stones on Facebook.  And, lazy me, I  thought, why shouldn't it be here as well.  The pastel drawing is 24” by 32” though the stones are really quite small.  They are perfect set in jewelry, and many local craft persons create jewelry using them.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Art Practice as a Form of Meditation


Japanese calligraphers and artists see their work as part of a life unifying force that includes their art practice, and meditation.

I know that I have a special God given talent, though I’m not a Picasso.  However, I have no talent for placing the product of that talent in the public eye.  I’m not good at being in the right place at the right time, and I don’t always play well with others.  I’m not good at strategy, though I find life to be a bit like a chess game.  I don’t mean to be difficult, but I am sometimes.  I’m not mysterious, and I don’t have a gimmick.  My personality isn’t scintillating, though I’ve been accused of approaching gallery owners with too much of it. Thus, I have found operating in the Art World to be difficult.  Though I almost had my 15 minutes of fame, I never have been quite able to pull the entire package together.  Sometimes I allow myself to dwell on that lack of charismatic magnetism and importance to my contemporaries in the art world, and then I become congested, depressed and blocked.  It has been frustrating to say the least, and I must be vigilant in order to prevent playing the part of the victim.

Never the less, on a good day - when the color flows smoothly, I solve drawing problems efficiently, and the connections between brain, arm fingers and the various tools are strong and sound – the Art World, indeed the entire world goes away, and I am suspended in time and space.  In short, working becomes like praying.  I believe my best pastels though thoroughly couched in realism convey that sense of peace and almost other-worldliness.  The montages on the other hand are so tied up in the issues of this life and world that they do not speak of any prayer.  Never the less, I do meditate while creating them, whether I want to or not, and hours can be lost in peaceful manipulation of color shape and form in that other space that my computer provides.  So, my work in the studio is special.  It provides the locus for simultaneously shedding the concerns of this world and for rebirth.  No, not only special, but hallowed because it is a gift from God.

Watch out for future entries on the topic “The Spiritual in Art Practice.”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Simultaneity


Opposition possesses us because of our cultural history. We use opposition as insubstantial proof in argument. We use it to obfuscate and befuddle vision. Of course, we know that black and white paint mixed together make gray. Instead, we choose to ignore that sure knowledge. We understand that man and woman are the two physical varieties of sexual humankind and therefore cannot possibly be opposites. Still, we insist that is the case. In the political arena we maintain that a Republican must be the opposite of a Democratic Party member. In religion, we insist that my particular brand is correct, and is in direct opposition to all other religious belief systems and / or orders. We actually know that all things are different from all other things in innumerable ways. However, we classify as many things as possible by opposition; tall versus short, gay versus straight, right versus left, top versus bottom, up versus down, in versus out, light versus dark, west versus east and so on.

I could proceed to a lengthy discussion of the origin of binary opposition in Western culture. However, that has already been done by any number of others, often with the insistence that each description is the only correct understanding, and is in opposition to all other theories of origination. Instead, I wish to offer the idea that synthesis of antipodes is possible because opposition is most often of our own faulty invention.

“Say that again, John!”

Synthesis of antipodes is possible because opposition is most often of our own faulty invention.

So, what does that mean to the way we deal with the world around us?

In religion, it means that a Christian does not have to see Jesus Christ in opposition to Mohammed. It is possible that God sent both of his sons to two different cultures. It means that straight is not the opposite of gay, that there are as many different variations of sexuality as there are people. In the political realm, it means that there should be so much more to Republican versus Democrat than the current “NO” to the democratic “Public Option in health care. Most importantly, it means that as a nation and people we have to start thinking more clearly and thoroughly. There are always so many more options available in problem solving than the obvious dichotomies we are so good at constructing.

Let’s take off the either/or blindfold and look at the connections between all things. Let’s ask more questions. Questions like; 1) How does global warming connect to energy, 2) how can we use mass transit to help solve our dependence on foreign oil, 3) What alternatives to the standard capitalist and governmental (public) systems for financing large projects like mass transit are there? 4) how can we reduce the cost of healthcare while extending healthcare to more and more of our citizens? 5) How do we create a country in which responsibility to all people and to the individual SIMULTANEOUSLY is seen as the most important guidepost?

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Thank you Rep. Alan Grayson!


Hallelujah!
Hallelujah!
Bout time a Democrat
Got Down and dirty,

APOLOGIZE?!?
What are you nuts?
Maybe apologize to your
Republican butts.



One Democrat
Got the knack
And it's time you all
Got some of your
Butt talk back!


That's my angry progressive Democratic response to all the crazy Republican shenanigans about healthcare.  I'll try to be more controlled and logical again tomorrow.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Dear President Obama,



I would like to make several points about passing a healthcare reform bill in this letter.  Most importantly, early polls showed that 65% of Americans want healthcare reform.  However, recent polling shows support to be failing.  The drop in support is due to the wild accusations concerning death panels that would discriminate against any or all of the following; the elderly, Republicans, Democrats, children, the disabled, pregnant mothers.  You name it, the wingnuts will stop at nothing.  The startling thing is that so many of us are listening to them. Additionally, I would like to make the following observations.

1. Republicans don’t want you to be successful doing anything, and they are willing to go to any length to prevent any success whatsoever.  In fact some have made it clear they would rather see you dead!
2. Healthcare compromise is impossible under such conditions.
3. Do not seek more compromise with Republicans – Instead concentrate within the Democratic Party on those darn Blue Dogs.
4. The Public Option is essential to Public Healthcare Reform!
5. Senator Snowe’s proposal to remove the Public Option, put it on hold (so to speak) to be used only if private companies don’t provide meaningful reform just makes the entire situation so much more complex.
6. No other Republicans will accept Senator Snow’s proposal because they do not want you to succeed.
7. The Baucus Bill represents a gift to the drug and insurance companies, not the American people.


I personally am fed up with the healthcare impasse.  I am angry, and granted my anger is preventing a logical approach to the situation.  However, I firmly believe that at this point you must put every effort forth with fellow Democrats to get everyone on board, including the Blue Dogs, and forget Republicans.  I will gladly scream at public meetings when I can be present in Florida to do so, and I will be after November 19th.  I have jury duty.  However, the chances are I’ll be in for one day and out.  Then I’m free to raise (BLEEP)!

Yes, continue to seek compromise, but behind the headlines (If you haven’t already), please start applying the Monroe via Roosevelt BIG STICK to domestic issues and to our own politicians.

Sincerely,



Dr. John Bittinger Klomp

Monday, September 21, 2009

Reception Theory: The Three Positions for Interacting with Art Work Continued

*1

“Multiple Toggle Switch Panel”


*2 The Betrayal of Images, Rene Magritte (1928-9)

Five days ago I discussed the three positions; artist, viewer, culture
, in relation to Michael Anne Holly’s book  Past Looking:  Historical Imagination and the Rhetoric of the Image (1997).  Holly is a proponent of  reception theory and she compares and contrasts the various forms of reception theory in her book.   Today I continue with the comparison of these theories.

First, Jauss’ reception history, in which an “explicit reader”  reads the historic text through the author’s use of jargon, conditions, and concepts from within his/her culture as signifiers to cue the reader’s perceptions of the art object/literature.   Is it a purposeful technique used by the author?  Holly carefully avoided such an implication.  Secondly, she described Iser’s “implicit reader”, a “fabrication of the text” itself (Holly 201).  The implicit reader allows the recipient of the text, “me”,  the first person singular, to give up my anchor to my present cultural conditioning, a possibility that many a cultural theoretician would claim is difficult if not impossible.  Holly stated that the expurgation of the reader’s current cultural anchor can be accomplished because of, “The looming presence of the work of art, with its own controlling expectations of its implicit reader’s role, cast[ing] a long shadow across the receiver’s horizon of expectations” (Holly 200).  She had previously defined “horizon of expectations” as “a stage set” constructed by each reader that transmogrifies as it migrates through time.  She enlarged upon the visual properties of the horizon of expectations by emphasizing Iser’s philosophical antecedents in phenomenology, specifically, Husserl and Gadamer, and opposed it to the more thoroughly developed notion of mis en abyme  of Foucault.  Thus, this mechanism of intercepting entities, explicit or implicit, whether constructed by the reader, the art object, or the time and place in which the “looming presence” of the art object was located  provided for the restoration of the creative act to fundamental importance. 

Because Holly chose the word “looming”  she implied a predetermining presence of the art work.  Among the possible synonyms for looming are the words; impending, approach, and make up.  “Impending,”  from the Latin pendere means to hang, weigh, or pay.  According to such a definition, a strange reversal of the idea of consumption, the viewer receives payment, cash, from the object produced rather than paying for it. The noun “pendant,” also derived from the Latin pendere implies an image of the artist’s intent dangling from a chain that hangs about the viewer’s neck.  The pendant conjures still another image in which the viewer is forced to look at himself / herself in a mirror wearing the art object in order to see the art object.  In this image, the art object becomes the vehicle through which the viewer is able to gain some understanding of himself / herslef.  “Approach,” also by way of Latin, through French, and middle English means to draw near, or, almost the same as. 
Any and/or all of these meanings and images are possibilities, though they all point toward the importance of the act of origination.  Holly herself  unwittingly points toward the originator of the art object as the creative force behind it, and therefor, the most important of the trio of determining positions; artist, viewer/reader, and culture. 

However, I would also posit that all of these meanings and images demonstrate the importance of the art object itself.  It is the switch through which the artist’s intent is conveyed to the viewer who interprets that intent based on his/her position in time and place (culture).  Thus, the artwork is the toggle through which all three currents must flow.

*1 The multiple toggle switch is an image found at the Mosler Auto Website, http://www.moslerauto.com/. The use in “The Art of John Bittinger Klomp illustrates an educational article about art criticism, and it is not replaceable with an uncopyrighted or freely copyrighted image of comparable educational value. (09/21/09 9:57 A.M EDT.)

*2 The Betrayal of Images by René Magritte, 1928-9.
This image was restored and enhanced by Shimon D. Yanowitz, 2009 for Wikipedia..  The use in “The Art of John Bittinger Klomp illustrates an educational article about art criticism, and it is not replaceable with an uncopyrighted or freely copyrighted image of comparable educational value. (09/21/09 9:51 A.M EDT.)

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Three Positions of Interaction with an Artwork



the artist
the viewer
the culture




 

I first wrote about Michael Anne Holly’s book, Past Looking:  Historical Imagination and the Rhetoric of the Image (1997) in Isaac Stolzfuts Journal in 2004.


Rene Magritte’s painting, “The Human Condition” has a particular relevance to this discussion because it demonstrates Magritte’s understanding of the fluidity of images.

I will be looking at this topic for the next two entries at least.  It is important to understand how the three positions work because Postmodern Reception Theory has granted agency to the viewer/reader of the artwork.  However, as an artist, I am the one who manipulates matter and energy to create the art object.  My position is that the act of creation constructs meaning based on my ideas and intentions, and that a thorough reader is able to partially reconstruct my intent along with his/her own interpretation of the artwork.

Michael Anne Holly is a proponent of  one type of Postmodern Reception Theory and she compares and contrasts the various forms of reception theory in her book  Past Looking:  Historical Imagination and the Rhetoric of the Image (1997).  Interestingly, I found the final chapter of her book, to be an abstruse and subliminal attempt to restore both the historical art object and the act of creation to primacy, whether or not Holly recognized that fact.  This attempt was hidden within a complicated explication of the related work of Hans Robert Jauss, and Wolfgang Iser in which Holly’s stated objective (the opposite of the hidden agenda) was to describe the importance of the “reception” of the art object in the present.  The hidden metatheoretical game attempted to circumvent the postmodern reliance upon the reader of the text, though Holly appeared to be perfectly comfortable with that reliance.  Holly had also described the act of signing the artwork as the act of giving up all privilege and ownership to the receiver of that object.   But, ironically, she provided a comparative analysis of reception aesthetics that returned the power of the work to its production in history through its interception by a fictitious reader, that is anchored in the art object’s historical inception.

To Be Continued


*1  The image, “toggle”, is located at MSC Industrial Supply Company Website, “http://www1.mscdirect.com/CGI/NNSRIT?PMPXNO=1944785&PMT4NO=0,”  (9/15/09: 11:45 P.M., EDT.) or *1 The image above was found at www.moslerauto.com/mt900web/images/, (01/14/04:6:42 A.M EST.)

*2  The Human Condition by RenĂ© Magritte, 1935.
The University of Hong Kong, represents the complete work, and is a low  resolution image.  The use in “The Art of John Bittinger Klomp illustrates an educational article about art criticism, and it is not replaceable with an uncopyrighted or freely copyrighted image of comparable educational value. (09/15/09 9:50A.M EDT.)

Friday, September 11, 2009

September Eleventh – My Birthday



I believe that we must protect ourselves from terrorism. However, our definition of terrorism is too narrow. Terrorism does not reside in a single country. It is not just al Qaeda, though that is the most recent brand of terrorism that we in America focus on for justifiable reason. Terrorism resides within, and terrorism resides without. As Jesus said, and I'm paraphrasing, because his exact words are two thousand years old, and several languages removed, "cast out the plank in your own eye before you attempt to remove the splinter from your brother’s."*
Okay, the preamble is over, and I move on to my (sort of okay) attempt at poetry.

Nine Eleven Again - My Birthday

2009 - stormy morning and
Double capitalist phallus
No more.

2001 – brilliant azure and
Mighty towers stand and
The hell pirates create angels and
declare war in the name of God!

Almost three-thousand dead;
Americans and
Don't forget
All those other
Citizens of this Earth -
No more.


Now 65 year-old Medicare man -
Just like Isaac saw it,
I saw it,
Religious jihad -
Again, I listen and watch the nightmare unfold!

Not like Isaac!
No grandchildren at my feet
No son and daughter in the next room
My America forbade marriage and children.
She still fights to save herself from my people.

My heart,
Full bloom American Beauty
Petals and drop of blood,
Sun-glisten,
Crystalline light – flash!
Preamble to black clouds and soot.

Just as those who were lost are hers –
So are we…
Hers.
Sons and daughters,
Brothers and sisters,
Husbands and wives as well,
Unable to be!

Eight years later –
America sends sons and daughters
To their deaths!
Don’t ask, don’t tell!

We are all God’s children!
The Muslim jihadist, the Christian crusader
Gay, straight
Democrat, Republican
Capitalist, Communist
Woman, man
Black, white
Home, other
East, West
Worldwide centrist and opposition mythology!

Fear, nothing but fear
Where love should be!
Three thousand dead -
No. Not three thousand, but
Three thousand and Thirteen hundred thousand Iraqis dead!
How many thousands more in Afghanistan?
And, Over five-thousand more of our own sons and daughters
Dead!

No more!


Though towers no longer stand!
al Qaeda still stands!
All of you,
Everyone,
We are all to blame!

Shame!



*Yes, I reversed the order of splinter and plank.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Illegal President Obama’s Speech to our nation’s school children will turn our children into socialists or worse, COMMUNISTS!

Chapter 2 of Gullible’s Travels: Conspiracy



I’ve just tuned in to Hlushbrimgual 3-2 of Digitanus (Universe V3.5) who is speaking in the bigit's most august political chamber (known as the Pot). Thus, Hlushbrimgual is known as a bigit Pottor. Unfortunately, when I tune in to Digitanus, I actually perform the evil Pottor, Hlushbrimgual, and currently, he is railing against the king of Digitanus who he claims is an imposter from another universe (V 3.6).

And, next week, after our worker’s holiday, when your bigit children return to their lessons, they will be brainwashed by your king as he speaks directly to all the children of Digitanus through the instruction computer system. In fact, he has designed software that will allow his speech to turn your bigit children into those lowly tripatiums, or even worse, quadigits. As to tripatium and quadigit children - well, their fate will be even worse. They will be reprogrammed as the idiot human beings from the United States of planet Earth (Universe V0.1). I do not hesitate to tell you that you should destroy your children’s instruction computers immediately, and do not, I repeat, do not allow your children near any household computer after the worker’s holiday.


Darn, that’s upsetting! The bigits of Digitanus think Americans in our Universe are lower than the lowest of their own kind. In short, we are lower than pond scum!

Friday, September 4, 2009

CNN Poll Results


A new CNN poll shows that the Republican Party strategy of NEVER COMPROMISE ON ANYTHING with Democrats, and malign President Obama with “birther” and “Death Squad” rumors, and complaints about almost everything he does including conspiracy theory about speeches not yet given is working. While the President and Democratic Party in general are still the more popular, they have lost significant points since May; the president 13, the Democrats 5. The specific question (and I’m paraphrasing) asked whether the country is being moved in the correct direction by ___________________. Fill in the blank with any of the following; President Obama, the Democratic Party, the Republican Party.

Thus, the policy of don't compromise or agree on anything, rumor mongering and outright LIES works as a practice to convince the brilliant middle class (and I am middle class) and working class citizens of our country to return to the rich corporate Republican and totally right wing nut dominated fold.

I Love it!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Placebo Effect and the Healthcare Debate

An Artist’s Gut Reaction

I was trudging away on the elliptical machine at the gym as I watched the huge flat screen TVs suspended above and in front of the rows of machines. As usual, the screen in front of my machine was tuned to CNBC, the investment news channel, and the text for the mouth flapping talking heads scrolled across the screen. It was all about the drug companies panic over the placebo effect. The pundits said that many of the drug trials during the past ten years showed the placebo to often be as effective as the actual medication being tested. Why?

The talking head explanation was that the doctor/patient relationship isn’t thorough enough.

WHAT?

Non sequitur!


My initial reaction – "that’s ridiculous" – was also totally inadequate. So, what is the actual explanation for the placebo effect, and why were the talking heads so far off base with their stupid elucidation - Oh, yes, or the lack thereof? My supposition is that these investment gurus are Republicans, and Republican Power wishes to blame everything and anything for the placebo effect. Everything except BIG MONEY, INSURANCE COMPANIES, PHARMACEUTICAL COMPANIES and their RICH money giving JOHNS” (Yes, I am indicating that the rich and powerful in the Republican Party, are like prostitutes.)
I think a doctoral dissertation might begin to deal with why the flapping mouthed pundits had it so wrong. However, I will attempt an extremely brief explanation from my artist’s emotional perception of such things.


There you have it. My artist’s emotional reaction and answer, and I know I’m correct. I understand the basics behind such an inadequate explanation on the part of the know-it-all investment pundits on CNBC.


Those mouth flapping talking heads just can't admit the real problem here. That is that the drug companies covered up the placibo effect for over 10 years because they want to make money, and they are paying our Republican Senators and Congressmen to block the healthcare legislation to protect themselves.

They don't ever want to find out how to make the placebo effect work for the patient!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Gullible’s Travels: Universe V3.5


Last night I returned to the planet Digitanus, and I was a bigit with the implausible name Hlushbrimgual3-2. Upon searching my memory as I performed this alien individual, I found that my name was based on my sexuality. Since Digitanusites are actually a blend of animal and plant, their reproduction is based in part on a budding process that produces offspring, but requires three individuals to participate in a complex mating ritual that requires separate sexual acts over a period of time equivalent to 3 of our Earth years. I will not go into a precise description of those sexual behaviors, as that would amount to Digitanusian pornography and is therefore inappropriate to this journal. However, I bring up the mating process because my Digitanus name, Hlushbrimgual3-2, is based on it. I am the result of the mating of 3 plants and 2 animals. The plants were of the Hlush variety, and the two animals were respectively of the brim and gual species.

In the dream, I was a member of the Hlush Field, a political party of extremely maniacal bigits. The Hlush Field is a semi-secret religious organization of bigits of the Hlush/brim/gual variety that believes its members are above the usual moral and legal standards of Digitanus. Most of its members are in government, and all subscribe to a religious dogmatism that places them at the center of the universe, and free of any restrictions their religion would place on mere tripatium or quadigit, or even on other bigits. Hlushbrimgual3-2 was actually the bigit who proposed the Hlush Field leak a statement through an untraceable intermediary that claimed their King was an interloper from another universe (V3.6).

In my dream I (Hlushbrimgual3-2) was engaged in an illegal sex act with a plant of the vergitatum variety. While thus engaged, I / he / it was also thinking about how I was going to get more digim (money) from the Procreation Care Insurance Companies so I could buy a new mud swamp castle in the luxury resort of Hrulprathul, a lush tropical paradise in the southern hemisphere of Digitanus. I can’t begin to describe what the sexual act was like, as the sights, sounds, smells and sensations were totally alien to me. However, I (John of Earth) - while intrigued though quite put off by who I was and what I was doing on Digitanus - woke up in a sweat, shaking, and with a queasy stomach.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Ramblings About Slava Mogutin, Brian Kenny, and Superm: Part II

I'm back to art, specifically gay male art, and this is the second entry about my two favorite gay bad boi artists.

As I look at Slava Mogutin’s and Brian Kenny’s works individually and as Superm, I am aware of a move to define what it is to be anti establishment, intellectual, anti-intellectual establishment, young, gay, and male, and to react to the commodified image of the modern gay male.*1 Do they wish to change that image? I know they’re angry- though I’m not sure that the anger is directed against this commodified gay male image. Instead, they seem to glory in their anger. Other times, they hate it, and obsess about it. I wonder if the idea is to be themselves, when possible apart from such a cultural entity or at least to stand beside it and watch it, to trash it and themselves, to bash it with sex, drugs, pain, pleasure, and ideas. In photographs of the two they appear to be mocking their own anger – their punk image.

*2
----------------------

Brian Kenny draws the male physique. So is he about the male physique?
*3

----------------------
Sometimes these guy’s artwork, their blogs, journals, writing seems to glory in the male physique, pornographic and otherwise.

----------------------

Additionally Mogutin’s, Kenny’s and Superm artworks are not about the gay male body versus something else. The artwork is not an opposition to gay male art about the male physique. Instead the artwork is about the gay male artist’s interactions with the world around them including the political, social and the gay male obsession with the male physique. In fact, they may be reacting to a cultural perception of such. So, their work is not a Western binary thing. At times, I see a wish to separate themselves from any a priori assumption about what it is to be gay and male.

*4

-------------------------

Love. What is that? Is it a cultural myth, a commodified, mangled and destroyed, impossible thing? Philosophically speaking, these guys think so, and to an extent they may be correct. Certainly I see a Hollywood version of the small town love connection, on the Hallmark Channel, and most of my gay male friends, if not coupled, busily look for their knight in shinning armor to ride in on that figurative white horse. However, photos of Slava and Brian together clearly demonstrate that they are a couple, and that they are happy together.
*5
Superm Collages reminiscent of David Wajnarwicz – look like Brian Kenny’s work.
*6
I’m blithering. Yes. Perhaps it is because this entire notion of a “gay male body” is such a complicated thing in the first place. Also, the idea that “Gay Male Art,” must be about the male physique is an absurd cultural notion based on the admitted gay male obsession with the male physique. So what! Is such an obsession any different from the heterosexual male obsession with and objectification of the female form? I think not.

So, after the above ramble, I’ve come to the most basic of conclusions that I like the artwork of Mogutin, Kenny, and Superm, and that it has a tangential relationship to my dithering. Also, the ramble has as much or more to do with my own quest concerning gay male art, physique, and body as it has to do with this fascinating, hot (and they know it) artist couple and their offspring, Superm.


Sources include:

1. Michele Foucault, Discipline and Punish. Paris, Gallimard, 1977
2. Beauvoir, Simone de. The Second Sex. Translated and edited by H. M. Parshley. New York: Knopf, 1953.
3. Irigaray, Luce. Speculum of the Other Woman. Translated by Gillian C. Gill. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985.
4. “Superm,” Widipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SUPERM. Viewed Thursday, viewed August 13, 2009 at 9:43 AM EDT. last modified June 23, 2009 at 3:15 GT.
5. Slava Mogutin’s Blog, https://www.blogger.com/blogin.g?blogspotURL=http%3A%2F%2Fslavamogutin.blogspot.com%2F, Viewed Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 8:35 A.M. EDT.
6. Travel Pick: Art and Archaeology in United States: The Male Gaze, at Culture Kiosk, TRAVEL CALENDAR, http://www.culturekiosque.com/travel/item11088.html, Viewed Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 9:45 A.M. EDT
7. Brian Kenny’s Blog, http://briankenny.blogspot.com/. Viewed Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 10:00 A.M. EDT.
8. *1 - Google Search Webpage - "commodified image of the modern gay male" Viewed 10:04 A.M., EDT, Sunday, August 23, 2009. I've included this page because there are several interesting locations including the following. First, My own Blog entry about the "Commodified Blog. Second, The pdf file "...defining the Metrosexual as a high-end consumer derived from..." includes the words "commodifying Queer." Third, "Pressing the Flesh: Sex, Body Image and the Gay Male, a doctoral dissertation project by Dr. Marcus Bunyan.


Images

*2 Slava and Brian - Received in E-mail from Slava Mogutin, dated August 20, 2009.

*3 Brian Kenny, "Close Paint Yourself off a Short Pier," Brian Kenny at Blogspot, http://briankenny.blogspot.com/. Viewed August 17, 2009 at 10:14 A.M. EDT.

*4 "Sputnik 3 Paintings," (with Gio Black Peter)Galleri, s.e.,Bergen, Norway, April 2008, Installation Overview. Viewed 10:51 A.M., EDT, August 23, 2009.

*5 Slava and Brian - From Slava Mogutin's Blog (I think) viewed 10:18 A.M., EDT, August 20, 2009.

*6 "Unruly Pigs" - Superm Collage from Slava Mogutin Website, http://www.slavamogutin.com/. Viewed August 17, 2009 at 9:39 A.M., EDT.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ramblings About Slava Mogutin, Brian Kenny, and Superm

I'm back to art, specifically gay male art, and this entry has expanded exponentially during the past five days. So, it will be made in two installments.

Found Mogutin (1974) through culturekiosque. Mogutin and Kenny are part of a punk-gay-bad-boi’s-underground, except that they and friends do multimedia worldwide. So, it’s an international gay bad boi’s underground that has sponsors including international festivals, museums and other patrons. Mogutin works with German born American Artist (Armed Services Brat) Brian Kenny (1982) in a collaboration they call Superm. They also collaborate more and more with many other artists of the same genre. So this is all about the young gay male body in the first decade of the 21st Century.
-------------------------
Slava Mogutin was kicked out of Russia at age 21 because of his gay / queer writing and activism against the establishment, and according to one source he hates establishment gays in this country (ouch!). Early artwork was photography.


------------------------
First, the notion of the body comes by way of Michel Foucault via the Feminist movement (Simon de Beauvoir , Luce Irigaray and so many others it is impossible to cover them here). Sufice it to say that it involves a conceptualization of the body, which is not owned by the individual. Rather it is an outside creation based in the culture(s) in which individuals find themselves. So, what is the young gay male body? It is not the gay male physique though that is one component. In fact, the gay male body fascism that surrounds us has forced on us all, a concept of gay male physicality that is ubiquitous and out of reach for most of us. The phrase “gay male body” presupposes a cultural formation, an abstract of gay maleness in the world sort of like the modern conceptualization of “mankind,” except that the gay male body has been commodified and, of course “mankind” is so much broader as to almost defy the comparison (h-m-m-m-m-m!). We see evidence of the gay male abstract simulacrum in our diurnal existence. For instance, the idea that the five gay men in Queer Eye have something to teach the heterosexual male about how he should be living in the world is one small piece of it. Queer Eye is also evidence of the assumption that there is such a thing as a gay male aesthetic that includes the male body in general, and that aesthetic is also commodified. It is based in a conjecture that the individual gay male performs his identity through the acquisition and use of mass manufactured things, and it assumes the commodification of the male body itself.
-----------------------------
Slava Mogutin and Brian Kenny glory in a late 1970’s to early 1980’s Raunchy New York City gay male scene, a notion of gay maleness that included Robert Mappplethorpe and is all but dead in the Twenty-first Century. I see no mention of AIDS, only an exaltation of testosterone, chemicals, body fluids, sex and burning the candle at both ends. I confess that I find the installations they create fascinating, if frightening, which would probably please them.
*2

to be continued


Sources include

1. Michele Foucault, Discipline and Punish. Paris, Gallimard, 1977
2. Beauvoir, Simone de. The Second Sex. Translated and edited by H. M. Parshley. New York: Knopf, 1953.
3. Irigaray, Luce. Speculum of the Other Woman. Translated by Gillian C. Gill. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1985.
4. “Superm,” Widipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SUPERM. Viewed Thursday, viewed August 13, 2009 at 9:43 AM EDT. last modified June 23, 2009 at 3:15 GT.
5. Slava Mogutin’s Blog, https://www.blogger.com/blogin.g?blogspotURL=http%3A%2F%2Fslavamogutin.blogspot.com%2F, Viewed Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 8:35 A.M. EDT.
6. Travel Pick: Art and Archaeology in United States: The Male Gaze, at Culture Kiosk, TRAVEL CALENDAR, http://www.culturekiosque.com/travel/item11088.html. Viewed Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 9:45 A.M. EDT.
7. Brian Kenny’s Blog, http://briankenny.blogspot.com/. Viewed Thursday, August 13, 2009 at 10:00 A.M. EDT.

Notes on Images

*1 Black Pipe (Raoul), Hamburg, 2001, Slava Mogutin, http://www.slavamogutin.com/no_love/index.htm. Viewed 8:00 A.M. EDT, Monday, August 17, 2009.

*2 Imperial Powers, Berlin, 2007, Superm, http://www.slavamogutin.com/no_love/index.htm. Viewed 8:10 A.M. EDT, Monday, August 17, 2009.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Middle aged white Republican Pundit, Senators, healthcare insurance company owners / CEO's, and right wing nuts LIE!


In my last journal entry I might have added the 3 words "middle aged white" in front of the word "Republican" in the black, green, and red image. The escalating fear and anger the Insurance Companies' and others' (WHO SHOULD KNOW BETTER) lies generate will lead to folks being hurt, or worse. And beneath it all lies an ugly undercurrent of racism.

We must get the message out to everyone to do a reality check, NOW! The best way to do that is to use the link to the Website in the title to this entry, "healthreform.gov."

I have to believe that most Americans are still rational people!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Health Care Reform and the Right Wing Nuts


After following the news the past two weeks, I’ve decided that the alternate universe of Digitanus is a far better universe than ours. The crazed and prejudiced Republican BIRTHERS and healthcare industry sponsored DEATHERS seem to be winning against both Obama and Healthcare Reform in our universe. Many of the DEATHERS are seniors on Medicare, though they don’t seem to understand they are already participating in one of two government socialist health care programs, Medicare and Veterans Health Administration. It appears that the quadigits, tripatiums, and most of the bigits on Digitanus are able to separate fact from fiction far better than we, the white, black, yellow and brown Earth folk of Universe V1.0.

I had dinner this week with two gay male friends, partners for many years who think Obama is Satan (It takes all kinds), and believe all the rest of the Right-Wing-Nut idiocy. I left that dinner truly horrified by the maniacal outbursts including “Obama and those people are destroying our nation.”

If you’re a Republican Pundit, healthcare insurance company owner/CEO, or right wing nut...
Say something stupid and idiotic; often and loud enough and all the gullible people will believe it! Like, Oh let’s see now.

1. Sotomayor’s a Latina racist.
2. Healthcare reform will kill old people.
3. Obama wants to kill old people.
4. Obama is a Nazi
5. Democratic Congress Persons are Socialists.

The subliminal message –“They're all outsiders who want to hurt us - KILL THEM!

This stuff is truly frightening!

I promise I'll get back to Art and/or LGBT Art related stuff next entry, HONEST!