A couple of photos taken from up a tree
Selected excerpts from an essay I wrote in 2004 on American artist Richard Prince.
Throughout the course of this essay we shall explore and critically consider the way in which the work of the artist Richard Prince has deals with issues of authenticity. In order to do so we need to embark upon a journey through suburbia into the dystopian world of the working class, slip through the schism separating high and low culture, into a land of intellectual snobbery. For it is not from the working class that Prince derives his source material but what was aimed at the working class or more specifically what is know as middle America/Australia.
A land whose constituents are the consuming, material lusting whores of the misanthropic modern world that provide the biomass that this late capitalist period requires. We shall call them as krill. Prince sources his material from among the tirade of media that is being delivered to this group with all the subtly of a Gattlan gun. He hijacks this material and uses it to critique its maker and makes us take a look at our selves as well. This introspection is assured because if you get what Prince is doing then you know you are not krill and you know this because you’ve “educated” yourself and because your educated krill think you’re a snobby ‘intellectual’ tosser and you know this and so you constantly re-assess yourself to ensure you do not become the snobby tosser but you are and yes it does take one to know one. But anyhow I digress. Prince makes his art out of food for krill so snobby ‘intellectual’ tossers can pontificate about it.”
When I first started this blog I had no ambitions for it other than trying to sort through a stack of old notes collected from several dusty corners and crumpled under the seat in my car. That I was using a public platform on which others i.e the public, who could read whatever I wrote was something I was not fully aware of. (Yes I do seem to have my head stuck up my arse at times) I was even less aware that it would dictate what I wrote about, as this was “my” blog, written for shits and giggles. Or was it?
In the space of a few weeks I have gone from punching out posts on whatever came to hand or mind to spending a lot of time thinking of what people may like to read about, is it topical and does any of make sense to anybody else save me? Anyone who visits this blog will know by the volumes of replies, followers and likes that it is widely read. Well perhaps not but that is entirely beside the point. The point is to provide something worthwhile to you my esteemed reader.
So I started to think I should write about topics with universal appeal. But didn’t someone say once that you can’t please all the people all the time and by using such a broad brush I’d by liable to get paint everywhere and end up with nothing but mess. Oh yeah I should find my niche, that’s what the how to guides say. Find your niche. Find your Niche FiND YouR NICHE FIND YOUR NICHE. Aren’t niches supposed to be carved as opposed to being found? For if you find a niche that is already carved out you have to retrofit your ideas to make them fit neatly whereas by carving you have a chance to customise during construction.
So what’s my niche? No idea. Hence the category of “Assorted Ramblings”. Anyway to sum up. I’ll just keep on digging (some posts will be good others like this one not so, but it’s got a picture of a puppy) and if you would like me to expand on something I’ve written about just let me know.
Your humble and obedient servant,
Picture this you are a caveman or women. A hunter gatherer living in the wilds type, animal skin wearing and club wielding. At night you lounge around the fire with your family group close by. Everyone else is asleep. You are being lulled by the flicker and warmth of the fire and yet you remain awake. You sense a subtle change in the wind direction that usually foretells bad weather approaching, this time it brings with it a scent. First your nose hairs stand then the hairs covering your body all join in. There is something afoot. Somethings out there. Perhaps a saber-toothed tiger (insert any scary type animal) is silently stalking your group, hanging back beyond the glow of the fire waiting for an opening to launch and drag their prey away. Your fingers wrap around the shaft of your spear and you slowly raise yourself to your feet, ready. But it is over before it begins, the threat senses your awareness and moves along in search of easier prey. You have survived another night. You don’t get much sleep but your genes are that much closer to making it to the next generation.
This proves that being aware of your surroundings is a good thing, right?
In situations like the one described above it was those who were switched on and tuned in who stood a better chance of staying alive than the hapless sod who drifted off into a cosy sleep. How many such situations exist today? Not many, if any for those of us who dwell in modern towns and cities. So what does this evolutionary trait do for us today? The short answer is that it keeps us alive, just like it has always done. The long answer is, well, long.
Switching on, switching off.
We have spoken of being switched on and tuned in, being thus has kept us alive. But what if we are to flip the coin and look at switching off and tuning out, where does this lead us and is it equally important to our survival? We all enjoy coming home after and long day and just vegging out and switching off. There is so much stuff going on in our lives and in the world around us, that anyone who can navigate through it without having to veg out fairly regularly is super human in my book. What is it that we generally do during this down time? Watch TV or check Facebook etc etc. (CUE SPOOKY VOICE OVER AND BACKGROUND MUSIC) We enter into a relaxed and highly suggestive state and then soak up what the media spews at us. A trip to the supermarket revels much about our level of involvement and engagement with media, take for example the 2-Minute noodle section. Traditionally a open, pour, wait, scoff, type of affair.
I noticed recently that some are now are offering an experience. Carefully, as instructed, open and add the not quite boiling(Sometimes when I am proof reading I stop and think, what is this shit all about? Who is writing this? But it passes)water for 2 minutes then add the first flavour sachet and then the second which contains seasonal vegetables. Bon Appetit. These few more steps don’t take much effort but they bring with it the feeling of having contributed to the project, makes us believe we are cooking, just like on Masterchef. Well, maybe a little. This is how our daily dose of media coverage feels at times, a blend of tradition and new media carefully scripted, edited and sculpted to ensure we get all the facts accurately all within a 15 second sight and sound bite. A 15 second grab, hundreds of times.
The print media plays a slightly different song, Evie parts 1,2,and 3 to LMFAO’s Sexy and I know it. Sitting down in brew sheds all over the country, construction workers have smoko (aussie slang for morning tea or brunch) and read the newspaper. In recent times this has been to read about “our Jill”. I wont go into the particular story (Google it if you need its a sad tale.) We sat and got angry at the injustice that this bright and beautiful young lady could be snatched off the street minutes from home only to be found(seriously Google if you want details). What I am getting at is we were angered, whipped into a frenzy and at the same time cuddled and heartened. We read about it in the paper, heard it on the radio and contributed to the discussion on Facebook and Twitter. We were involved. Sorta. Kinda. Whatever it feelings our involvement brings, it does evoke something that causes a reaction and though that reaction informs our actions. We act and think as a mob, and mob actions rarely rely on anything that could be considered reason.
So to circle back to the main discussion point what role does our awareness play?(Even I wasn’t sure when or how this would happen) Can we be aware of this deception? Or is it so subtle and sophisticated so as to fly under our radar. Indeed fly low sweet chariot bring with you your load of steaming and sweet bull shit . Your humble narrator seems to be aware of these machinations and many of you, my esteemed reader would be too but does that make us any less susceptible? We too are swept along with the waves of social media, although we might fancy that we are on board a surfboard or at very least buoyed by our floaties. Just as it was crucial to the survival of our cavemen cousins to be switched on and hyper aware, has the pendulum swung to the point that a desensitization to the stimuli that constantly surrounds us is equally important to us.
Are we arriving at a point in our evolution where switching off will prove to be the key to propagating our genes?
As we all do, I bitch about my job. It sucks and I would much rather be occupying my time with other pursuits, as you who have viewed a few of my posts will no doubt know. That being said, I have to work, just like we all do. To list a hundred reasons why my job sucks meaty balls would be all too easy. To find ten reasons why it is actually pretty cool is another thing entirely. I say ten, because there are of course many positive aspects of mine and any one else’s job. I wish to speak about just one.
You can’t judge a book by its cover nor, I believe, can you judge a persons character the first moment you meet them. I concede that sometimes we meet people to whom we feel an instant attraction or repulsion. However it has been my experience that this is seldom the end of the story and I love a good story.
For the past six or seven years I have worked in the construction industry as a steelfixer. I place and tie the reinforcing steel that is used in nearly all modern building as most modern buildings are made out of reinforced concrete. I am a steely. Apparently in America (I am Australian) they are called iron-workers, which I think is pretty cool. Perhaps the subject of another post could be an exploration of the cultural differences in job titles and the slang or jargon associated.
Working as I do in construction means that I travel about following the work and while I don’t travel interstate or overseas I do travel widely in the region that I live. (The state of Victoria and region of Gippsland) When I lived in the state capital, Melbourne, I could work on four or five different job site at any given time. Spending a few days here or there. This could span a period of a couple of weeks up to a year or more depending on the length of the project. During this time you meet allot of people, all kinds of folk with all kinds of stories.
I have met teachers who trained for four years at university and who after teaching for a couple of years wanted a job without such a burden of responsibility and ended up tying steel. Monstrous Cook Islanders who, if rumors are to be believed, once killed a man with a single punch. The type of bloke you would not wish to meet in a dark alley. Yet kind and gentle, a gun on the keyboard and drums forming part of the rhythm section in a christian R&B band. Classically trained musicians whose drinking far exceeds any known “safe” levels and yet whose jobs run smooth and true with none of the usual mistakes, hiccups or delays.
Along with the sharing of stories, which is what makes my job interesting, there are the unlikely friendships that are formed. Working together with people who outside of the context of work there would be no conceivable reason for your paths to cross. Thrown together day after day these friendships develop through the stories told.
I must run now and get to work, to hear and write the next chapter.
P.S. Hi Cal!
It has been awhile. A couple of weeks, maybe more. My routine has shifted. Many aborted attempts. Even now the words come staccato. Watching as entire paragraphs get erased before my eyes, just who is pressing the delete key? Me.
So, as the title states this is a summary. A catch up of sorts.
1. My nephews school concert.
Sat rapt. Left with sore cheeks. Smiled with gusto the entire show. Watched not the concert as a whole but a hundred solo performances. Some of the kids up there, in there loving each and every moment. Others awkward, unsure, and yet they pushed on and made it to the part of the show in which they all starred. The final applause. We clapped and they bowed and we all smiled.
2. I shot my dog.
Came home from work to be told that my Macy had killed one of my neighbors calves. Blood everywhere. A savage attack. Lost for words I knew what needed to be done. We went for a walk. As always she keeping one eye on me seeking permission to run free. Not yet girl. We found the herd and I gave her a nod. Off she went, straight for them. Bark, snap, cow bucks, dog runs. Try this one, same result, maybe this one? I knew what had to be done. Home we walked, she right by my side. Found the calf. She sniffed and so did I. One final walk, one last pat. Good girl, sit. Good girl.
3. New Work.
Ever in self promotion mode and carrying photos of my work, I met a lady who passed on my details to a friend of hers who runs a sculpture exhibition in he winery. I am producing 2 and have reservations for a third work for the show. I had forgotten how much I like to craft every aspect of the work. Dramatic promotional shots (see above), long winded titles for my work (never, ever, ever – untitled) and third person blurbs about the artist that are slightly unhinged and almost nonsensical.