Forecast for the Future

"Every individual without exception bears a potential writer within himself. The reason is that everyone has trouble accepting the fact that he will disappear unheard of and unnoticed in an indifferent universe, and everyone wants to make himself into a universe of words before it's too late. 

Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not that far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding."

- Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Week 1, Day 5/6: "The Internet is broke."

Ok, so I have a lot to catch you up with.

Day 5 was pretty weak. I talked to a stranger briefly but not at liberty to say yet who it was. I will share in the eventual BOOK THAT I PUBLISH THROUGH RANDOM HOUSE IN JUNE 2009 (THEY HAVE ALREADY GIVEN ME A $754,000 ADVANCE).

So moving on.

Day 6 - The New Museum of Paper Radical

Friday was a pretty overall awesome day for me. Nearly one million excellent things happened to me, and, as Trey said at Clifford Ball on August 16, 1996, "They're not all happening on one stage!" Some of the details I will again share at a later time, but they involve me talking to strangers who seem to actively want to help me improve me life.

The stranger I can talk about though is a raderiffic woman named Marisa Olson. But first I will explain how we met.

After work, I went to meet my maximum bro Hot Doorknobs at the new New Museum on the Bowery for a special bi-monthly event put on by their subgroup Rhizome. The New Museum is all about contemporary art, but Rhizome focuses specifically on new media art.

Last night's showing was the debut of some new films by the Providence/Pittsburgh art collective known as Paper Rad. Paper Rad are some crazy awesome dudes who celebrate the joyousness of growing up in America between 1984 and 1996: Lisa Frank, Trolls, Garfield and bad cartoons are all staples of their work, with midis and crunchy southern booty bass as the backdrop.

I first heard about Paper Rad a few weeks ago when Doorknobs bought their most recent DVD, Trash Talking, and I was pretty much consumed by the rad action. Here are some excerpts:

DVD "trailer"

"The Internet is broke"

The exhibition was the debut of a few new Paper Rad films and a film by related-artist Ben Coonley, followed by a performance by the duo Wizzards (featuring mental keyboards and Lightning Bolt bass player Brian Gibson on drums).

Problem Solvers and Wizzards:

The show was packed and the whole thing lasted about two hours. After the show I met Rhizome curator Lauren Cornell and introduced myself and explained what I am doing and that I was looking for an interesting stranger to talk to. She offered to introduce me to the Paper Radders but warned me that they were exhausted and stressed and might not be all that fun. "But I have just the person for you" she said, and asked me to wait there before she returned with my stranger.

A minute later she returned with the woman above, the blond haired and blue-eyed German-born artist, thinker and co-Rhizome curator Marisa Olson, a woman whom the New York Times has called "anything but stupid" (umm...). Olson, like the members of Paper Rad, is a proponent of explorations what she calls "the crappiness of culture," though unlike Paper Rad's joyous celebrations of junk, Olson prefers to cast a more critical lens on crap and what it signifies.

Excerpts from the Marisa Olson exhibition "Break Up Album (Demo)"

After being introduced, Marisa and I spoke at length about her work and her thoughts on junkiness, Paper Rad, American Idol, and America's binary reductionism of success and failure.

"A key point of my work," she said, "Is something I call 'the aesthetics of failure.'" Through this point Marisa introduced her idea about bringing out the junkiness or crappiness of culture in her work, and also the point that failure is a learning exercise that in our culture today can provide more knowledge and wisdom than success. I didn't realize it at the time, but her ideas are also directly correlated to those posited by Kim Cascone, as featured in his article "The Aesthetics of Failure:'Post-Digital' Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music"... which oddly enough was just emailed to me last week by a friend in Chicago who I haven't seen in over 3 years. This quote offered by Cascone best highlights the underlying concept:

"It is failure that guides evolution; perfection offers no incentive for improvement."
-- Colson Whitehead (1999)

Marisa and I talked about how we have reached a point in America where, despite all of the ways in which our world begs for nuance and ambiguity, we now search more than ever for black and white epistemologies--namely of success and failure. She mentioned that the phrase 'Mission Accomplished' has particular currency now, particularly in these 2k days of the oddest and most ambiguous (though least publicly acknowledged) war since Vietnam. And really, using a term like "failure" is almost a cute joke, because those like Marisa are trying to get away from the "0" as much as they are from the "1"; however, using it serves the point of shaking up expectations and hopefully opening up the mind to enough possibility of reconsideration (and therefore, polytruths) that it works.

Overall, it was a pretty great night and a nice notch to add to the stranger belt. Onward march.

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