November 8, 2019

Review Panel

Review Panel convened this week to consider Kehinde Wiley, Kameelah Janan Rasheed and the newly renovated MoMA. Editor and creator of the online magazine artcritical David Cohen moderated a panel including Seph Rodney, Sharmistha Ray and Raphael Rubinstein.

Kehinde Wiley's Rumors Of War

An Opening: Kameelah Janan Rasheed

The New MoMA

The fruit of the evening was a comment by Sharmistha Ray, an artist and Critical Studies professor at Parsons NYC:

I grew up in the arts in the early 2000's. Identity Politics was mired in anger. [It appears that] the Millennial position about Identity Politics is [about the] reparative.

Beautiful. I hope she's right about that.

I took notes...





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November 7, 2019

Modernity: Acceleration, Velocity and Control


Like a little butterfly, a thought fluttered to me this morning. On my ride to the studio as I was listening to Dan Carlin's Hardcore History, "Supernova in the East" podcast #62 (Carlin's description: "The Asia-Pacific War of 1937-1945 has deep roots. It also involves a Japanese society that's been called one of the most distinctive on Earth. If there was a Japanese version of Captain America, this would be his origin story.") Carlin was describing the speed of modernization after Commodore Perry's Black Ships dropped anchor at the Ryukyu Islands in 1853.

While stopped at a red light at an intersection, listening, I admired an old Victorian building, noticing the date of its construction carved onto its' pediment, 1892, clocking over a hundred years ago. Still listening, my mind wandered in subroutine, recalling the children's song about Columbus, making the easy calculation of 400 years between this building's moment of construction, 500 years to the year after I graduated from Grad school, 39 years after Japan's leap into modernity. It was simultaneously a blink of an eye and a long time ago.

I thought about 500 years into the future and of all the technological innovation that will challenge us. What will happen when CRSPR gene editing goes from important humanitarian applications (Cancer cure? End of heart disease?...) to compelling-yet-trivial desires (Ending baldness, lengthening femurs, ending aging...) to utter ridiculousness (let your mind fly...). Before I recount the next level in the subroutine, here's some background into my ideas about Modernity at its inception and now.

The emergence of Modernity was at first gradual at the beginning of the European Enlightenment and then violent with its complete an undeniable dominance at the end of the 19th century. To allegorize Newtonian mechanics, the presentation of railway to airplane to steam/oil combustion personal and oceanic transportation, of innovations in medicine (germ theory, blood transfusion, etc...), of revolutions in communication, of weapons of war, of these and a multitude of others with the subsequent concatenations and knock on effects... Modernity erupted onto the world stage with a violent acceleration of cultural change. People had to factor in new realities that to say they were astounding is to merely tip toe around its true impact.

Shock of the New, indeed.

But today, culture is moving faster than ever before. If you consider how we adopted the personal computer in the mid-90's and evolved to the brink of bitcoin and self driving cars today, a relatively short span of 25 years, it could be argued that the modernist reformatting of society is more rapid and sweeping than ever before. But we seem not to be impressed. Why is this the case?

In the dawn of Modernity, we experienced a wallop of acceleration. In this latter stage, the sensation of acceleration is mild in comparison but we are surging at an ever greater velocity than ever before. In physics, velocity is the rate of change in position with regard to a frame of reference and acceleration is the rate of change of velocity. Both are functions in time. If the frame of reference is human history and position is some harmonic combination of human flourishing and the capacity of material manipulation, then acceleration is felt impact of how society is reordered by the change induced in modernity.

If we today were to feel the same magnitude of astonishment that our great grandparents felt, say, at the first time they witnessed powered flight or heard voices over wire or out of thin air... we would have to be shaking hands with extraterrestrial aliens, or less extravagantly (but perhaps with much more impact), we could marshal the use of Cold Fusion energy production and end the limits that burning fossil fuels have thus far restrained the ambition of humanity. Until these or other examples of societal surge manifest themselves, we won't feel acceleration in the same degree as in the dawn of the 20th century... even though we are today traveling at a much higher degree of cultural velocity. To bring this home, if you think a little more deeply about the impact of the smartphone in the past twenty five years, just this data point alone, you might begin to acknowledge just how much that handful of tech has radically rearranged our lives. But we don't feel it. We have to focus and dwell on the topic to gauge its impact.

In a previous blogpost, I had anticipated that while the 20th century could be about either/or, the 21st century could be about both/and. Looking at the building's inception date mounted proudly on its pediment, I started to think that the 20th century might be about gaining the ability to control emergent technology. It's imperative that we become a little... a little more cautious and circumspect about what we will do when we can grow custom designed human beings outside of the womb, when we push the power button on real Artificial Intelligence. It's time that we matriculate from the Sorcerer's Apprentice to the status of journeyman.

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November 1, 2019



Continue reading "Ahora"
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Art World & Art Industry

Diego Rivera's Detroit Industry murals

Where is the love?

Continue reading "Art World & Art Industry"
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A program for the arts from the contemporary to antiquity.
A site that is more than half archeological and a renovated historic building center stage.
The ejaculatory first pass.

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