The Rhizome Digest merged into the Rhizome News in November 2008. These pages serve as an archive for 6-years worth of discussions and happenings from when the Digest was simply a plain-text, weekly email.

Subject: RHIZOME DIGEST: 01.06.06
Date: Fri, 6 Jan 2006 11:37:06 -0800

RHIZOME DIGEST: January 06, 2006

++ Always online at ++


1. Francis Hwang: Director of Technology's report, December 2005

2. patrick lichty: Call for experimental video: ADTV
3. Marisa Olson: Submit to ISEA 2006 Symposium
4. Lauren Cornell: Assistant Professor position at the The City College of
New York

5. abe linkoln: UNIVERSAL ACID COUNTDOWN!!!!!!!
6. carlos katastrofsky: [ann] [work] new work: russian roulette

7. Christiane Paul: intelligent agent Vol. 5 No. 2 -- end of year special
issue (and a Happy New Year!)
8. {NetEX}: NetEX: 1 January - a world premiere
9. Christiane Paul: artport gatepage Jan 06: Abe Linkoln & Marisa Olson -
Abe & MO Sing the Blogs
10. Eduardo Navas: FW: Music and the Moving Image Conference--Please
Distribute Widely

11. director AT Pandilovski in conversation with Holubizky

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Rhizome is now offering Organizational Subscriptions, group memberships
that can be purchased at the institutional level. These subscriptions
allow participants at institutions to access Rhizome's services without
having to purchase individual memberships. For a discounted rate, students
or faculty at universities or visitors to art centers can have access to
Rhizome?s archives of art and text as well as guides and educational tools
to make navigation of this content easy. Rhizome is also offering
subsidized Organizational Subscriptions to qualifying institutions in poor
or excluded communities. Please visit for
more information or contact Lauren Cornell at LaurenCornell AT

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From: Francis Hwang <francis AT>
Date: Jan 3, 2006 11:42 AM
Subject: Director of Technology's report, December 2005

Hi all,

Haven't done one of these in a while. The reason now should be, I hope,
fairly obvious: We rolled out our redesign in December, which was most of
what we were working on for the last few months. It's a fairly big
project. By my account, Design & Production intern Jason Huff and I had to
edit more than 150 PHP files by hand to do this.

(On a technical note: ob_start, register_shutdown_function, and "php_value
auto_prepend_file" are three obscure PHP features that helped ease the
pain quite a bit. More notes are available at if you're interested.)

The big rollout is done, and everything major seems to work, but this
should be considered a work in progress. Please feel free to report bugs
to me, or just suggestions.


Francis Hwang
Director of Technology
phone: 212-219-1288x202
AIM: francisrhizome

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From: patrick lichty <voyd AT>
Date: Jan 1, 2006 8:38 PM
Subject: Call for experimental video: ADTV

Post widely:
Call for Experimental Video: ADTV

In the ever-accelerating media culture, how can video art explore the
contemporary cultural milieu? For that matter, how can it interface with
genres like New Media to create novel modes of audience engagement?

ADTV (Attention Deficit TV) is an experimental television program created
in the spirit of Dada, the Situationists, and Fluxus to address the
disjoint nature of contemporary culture in a playful manner. Mixing
elements of the attentive, the inattentive, the frenetic, and the
discontinuous, ADTV seeks to challenge the established protocols of
television, motion graphic design, video art, and New Media.

ADTV will consist of 1-3 30-minute pilot episodes which will be
'broadcast' from an top-secret media laboratory deep beneath the bowels of
a Midwestern US university. Each episode will be of an ad hoc format of
segments rarely longer than 30-90 seconds each, with the exact
configuration depending on the content and daily occurrences surrounding
the show's creative process. Hosted by creators Patrick Lichty and Nathan
Murray (with Gregory Little), ADTV wants to provide a potent palaver for
the undulating underground of the transmodern mediascape.

In the end, our goal is to deliver 20-30 minutes of content akin to the
irresistible media train wreck that changes channels every 30 seconds.
No need to flip the channel - we'll do it for you.

The resulting ADTV episodes will be broadcast on WBGU-TV and distributed
via V-Podcast through

ADTV be a high colonic for what ails you?
ADTV be a palate cleanser or an after-dinner aperitif?
ADTV be a cutting-edge critique of contemporary culture?
ADTV be a mirror of a surface-deep media milieu?
We have no idea. Our goal is the solely the process of ADTV's media
stream-of-consciousness firehose.

ADTV Call for Content!
While the ADTV archives are brimming with viral little bits of moving
media, we want your involvement. What we are looking for are short works
for inclusion in the ADTV media stream. Our only requirements are that
the media can be broadcast under Fair Use guidelines, and that we can
reedit the media to fit our format/purposes (if necessary). All
collaborators will be properly credited, and all media will be distributed
through a Creative Commons Attribution Agreement.

The call begins January 5, and ends April 3. Works received earliest will
receive priority attention. Works should be at least 320x240, 15 FPS, and
in AVI, QuickTime, DV or MPEG format. Works on CD, DVD, or DV are
accepted. While we can accept VHS, specific technical challenges ask that
we discourage submission on this format. NTSC or PAL formats are
accepted, and all languages are welcome to submit.

Please send all media to:
c/o Patrick Lichty
1556 Clough St, #28
Bowling Green. Ohio 43402

Address all inquiries to:
voyd AT

For FTP transfer, please contact by email for FTP instructions.
Thank you for your interest, and we hope you will participate!

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From: Marisa Olson <marisa AT>
Date: Jan 5, 2006 11:36 AM
Subject: Submit to ISEA 2006 Symposium

Dear Rhizomers,

As a member of the planning committee for the 2006 ISEA Symposium, in San
Jose, CA, I would like to encourage you to submit proposals in one of two

The Symposium Call for Participation for Papers and Presentations can be
found here:
The deadline for submission is January 15.

The Call for Participation for Workshops can be found here:
This call is open until January 31st.

As you may know, ISEA is one of the most important symposia and new media
festivals. In particular, symposium chair Joel Slayton has been working to
make the 2006 symposium a new kind of conference that excitingly
transcends the model of traditional academic conferences.

On top of this, the festival itself promises to be a ton of fun (in the
California sun), so you don't want to miss an opportunity to participate.


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From: Lauren Cornell <laurencornell AT>
Date: Jan 5, 2006 10:52 PM
Subject: Assistant Professor position at the The City College of New York

Listing follows.

------ Forwarded Message
From: doreen maloney <dmalone AT>
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 2006 13:47:08 -0500
Subject: job posting

Assistant Professor, New Media.
Department of Art, The City College of New York.
Tenure-track Starting September. 1, 2006, pending budgetary approval.
The Department of Art seeks a New Media artist with strong programming and
broad technical skills, working in 3D modeling/animation, physical
computing, interactive design or other closely related areas of New Media
art/design. Candidate will teach undergraduate courses in digital
art/design from among 3D and 2DImaging, Multimedia Design and Multimedia
Projects, and Critical Issues in Technology. Experience
programming/scripting in languages from among C++, Java and Processing,
Perl, php and Javascript as well as expertise in electronics is desired.
Applicants are expected to have working knowledge of Photoshop,
Illustrator and HTML. Candidate should be conversant with contemporary
practices, criticism, and theory in New Media and have the ability to
articulate these concerns.

MFA or equivalent degree, one or more years of University teaching
experience (full-time preferred), outstanding creative portfolio with
national and international exhibition record and evidence of ongoing
creative research are required. Candidate should demonstrate excellent
administrative and communication skills. Position includes shared
responsibility for program administration as well as department and
university committee work and significant student advisement. Successful
candidate will show evidence of commitment to undergraduate teaching,
personal research and service to department and college.

Salary range: $35,031- $65,308 commensurate with qualifications and

Submit a letter of application, resume, artists' statement and a statement
of teaching philosophy, (samples of other expository writing encouraged),
extensive visual documentation of own work and up to twenty samples of
student work on DVD/CD or online; self-addressed stamped envelope; names,
addresses, titles and phone numbers of three references to:

Professor Colin Chase, Art Department
The City College, CUNY
l38th Street & Convent Avenue
New York, NY 1001
(212) 650-7420
fax (212) 650-7438

Applications will be reviewed beginning February 15, 2006 and the search
will continue until the position is filled.

Additional information available at
CUNY Personnel Vacancy Notice No.: 11428.
doreen lamantia maloney
Associate Professor of New Media
President, New Media Caucus
College of Fine Arts
University of Kentucky

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Rhizome ArtBase Exhibitions

Visit "Net Art's Cyborg[feminist]s, Punks, and Manifestos", an exhibition
on the politics of internet appearances, guest-curated by Marina Grzinic
from the Rhizome ArtBase.

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From: abe linkoln <abe AT>
Date: Dec 31, 2005 1:27 PM


Marisa Olson and I are doing an online performance today

6 video performances, and 6 remixes in 12 hours!

First couple of vids are already online, check in all day till midnight
west coast time!


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The Rhizome Commissioning Program makes financial support available to
artists for the creation of innovative new media art work via
panel-awarded commissions.

For the 2005-2006 Rhizome Commissions, eleven artists/groups were selected
to create original works of net art.

The Rhizome Commissions Program is made possible by support from the
Jerome Foundation in celebration of the Jerome Hill Centennial, the
Greenwall Foundation, the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, and
the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Additional support has
been provided by members of the Rhizome community.

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From: carlos katastrofsky <carlos.katastrofsky AT>
Date: Jan 4, 2006 2:16 PM
Subject: [ann] [work] new work: russian roulette

new work: russian roulette

play the sometimes lethal game with your computer's life:

c a r l o s k a t a s t r o f s k y

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From: Christiane_Paul AT <Christiane_Paul AT>
Date: Dec 31, 2005 10:52 AM
Subject: intelligent agent Vol. 5 No. 2 -- end of year special issue (and
a Happy New Year!)

intelligent agent Vol. 5 No. 2
Articles now available at

+ Special Issue Vol. 5 No. 2:
// new media / photoblogging / interviews with Brian Massumi and Marcos
Novak //

+reviews of games, books

All content is available in html and as pdf files.

//new media / photoblogging//
+ Susan Elizabeth Ryan, What's So New About New Media Art?
Susan Ryan traces the art-historical lineage of the slippery term "new
media" -- from various forms of non-traditional, "oppositional media" to
video. Materialism vs. dematerialization, art vs. commerce, and hybrid
practices emerge as issues that have characterized "new media" throughout
the decades.

+ Curt Cloninger, Geeks Inadvertently Making Net Art: SXSW 2005
Cloninger reports on his attendance of the South by Southwest (SXSW)
Interactive conference where the participants were active
users: "What resulted was a form of online, indexed photoblogging of a
common event that comes closer to achieving the holy grail of compelling
non-linear narrative than anything I've come across in a long time."


+ Thomas Markussen & Thomas Birch, Transforming Digital Architecture from
Virtual to Neuro -- An Interview with Brian Massumi
At the Neuroaesthetics conference in London, Markussen & Birch talked to
Brian Massumi about the increasing impact of neuroscience on contemporary
architectural theory, which marks a clear change of interests, if not a
paradigm shift. Is "virtual" becoming "neuro"?

+ Thomas Markussen & Thomas Birch, Minding Houses -- A Conversation with
Marcos Novak
Markussen & Birch talk to architect Marcos Novak, who utilizes
nanotechnology in constructing houses of the future out of neurons and
atomic particles. Beetle-like buildings with built-in central nervous
systems and the ability to think independently are gradually coming to

//free radical//
+ Shawn Rider, Redefine the Grind: "Sociolotron" and the Atypical Gamer
Shawn Rider explores social dynamics, sexuality, and violence in
Sociolotron, an online game that distinguishes itself from all of the
better-known massively-multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs)
through the dogged pursuit of *removing* any obstacle to character
actions. Actions like rape, theft, and general assault or mayhem are
possible, and character?s ?social? interactions range from basic sit /
stand positions to sexual activities.

+ Patrick Lichty, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
Patrick Lichty reviews the "Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex" video
game based on the Masamune Shirow cyberepic that has become a staple of
anime culture.

+ Alan Sondheim, Book Encapsulations
Alan Sondheim reviews a selection of books, including "PDF Hacks, 100
Industrial-Strength Tips & Tools," "Game Console Hacking," and "Smart Home

intelligent agent
Editor-in-Chief: Patrick Lichty
Director: Christiane Paul
intelligent agent is a service organization and information
provider dedicated to interpreting and promoting art that
uses digital technologies for production and presentation.

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From: {NetEX} <virtu AT>
Date: Jan 4, 2006 12:28 AM
Subject: NetEX: 1 January - a world premiere

a Peaceful and Happy New Year 2006
from Cologne/Germany !!
---> wish
Agricola de Cologne &
his [NewMediaArtProjectNetwork]:||cologne

Here are the latest news:
1 January 2006
the global networking project
RRF [Remembering-Repressing-Forgetting]
starts its third year under a new name and new URL

1 January 2006
Hardly arrived in the new year,
the Art Gallery of Knoxville/USA
is presenting [R][R][F]2006--->XP
respectively the complete VideoChannel collection in 10 DVD volumes

as a world premiere in the framework of the exhibition
"Global Groove" (Nation Building as Art)
01 -25 January 2006

27-29 January 2006
CeC & CaC
The Carnival of e-Creativity & Change-agents Conclave
organized by The Academy of Electronic Art New Dehli/India
India International Center New Dehli/India
on 27-28-29 January 2006

will be presenting of VideoChannel - Selection'03
curated by Agricola de Cologne

21-27 January 2006
MAGMART - the new videoart festival in Naples/Italy will present five
digital videos by Agricola de Cologne
21-27 January 2006 -

NetEX - networked experience
is a free information service from

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From: Christiane Paul <Christiane_Paul AT>
Date: Jan 5, 2006 11:42 AM
Subject: artport gatepage Jan 06: Abe Linkoln & Marisa Olson - Abe & MO
Sing the Blogs

January 06 gatepage
for artport, the Whitney Museum's portal to Internet art:
Abe & MO Sing the Blogs
by Abe Linkoln & Marisa Olson

Blogs, like the Blues, have been credited with channeling "the voice of
the people," but do blogs adhere to any one set of characteristics that
defines them as a genre? And how might blogs be understood as public
spaces, in light of the time-based performances that take place there?

Selecting the postings that comprise the greatest "hits" of some of their
favorite blogs, Abe Linkoln & Marisa Olson "sing the blogs" in order to
address these questions. While Linkoln's posts speak to musical genres at
large, Olson's posts seek to find harmony with specific models. Both
question the status of the author's voice...

The whole "album" is presented as a form of reblog, in an effort to
self-reflexively dive into the meme culture that is its subject. The
artists' blog gets situated as the site of a happening, and their
intention is to come back and continue depositing performative ephemera.

Linkoln & Olson frequently work in the blog format. Previous examples of
their collaborative work include Universal Acid and Blog Art, and separate
projects My Boyfriend Came Back from the War (Abe Linkoln's 2004 Blog
Mix), (Linkoln & Jimpunk), and Marisa's American Idol
Audition Training Blog.

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From: Eduardo Navas <eduardo AT>
Date: Jan 5, 2006 6:50 PM
Subject: FW: Music and the Moving Image Conference--Please Distribute Widely

> The UC Santa Barbara Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Music
(CISM) is
> sponsoring an interdisciplinary graduate conference entitled Music and the
> Moving Image . This conference seeks to explore the interaction between the
> moving image (film, television, digital media, etc.) and music, sound, and
> even "silence" through a wide variety of interdisciplinary approaches. The
> conference is organized by graduate students, for graduate students, and
> be held in the UCSB Music Building on January 14th and 15th, 2006. With
> exception of the film screening on Saturday night, the conference is
free and
> open to the public. Admission to the film screening of The Call of
Cthulhu is
> $3 for the public and free for conference participants.
> Please see the conference schedule below. Additional information can be
> at the conference website:
> Saturday January 14, 2006
> 9:00-10:00 Registration and Breakfast for Conference Participants (Music
> Building)
> *Saturday Morning Sessions
> 10:00-12:00
> Space, Location, and the Mise-en-Scène (Music 1145)
> * Nathan Platte (University of Michigan), "The Hungarian, theHappy
Farmer, and
> 'Home, Sweet Home': Elevating Musical Quotation inHerbert Stothart's
Score for
> The Wizard of Oz"
> * Michael Hetra (San Francisco State University), "The Music ofGodard's Le
> Mépris and Week End"
> * Patrick Morganelli (University of Southern California), "The Useof Solo
> Piano in Film Scoring"
> * Jonas Westover (City University of New York), "Frame by Frame:An
Homage to
> West Side Story in Demy's Les Demoiselles deRochefort"
> Sound and the Real (Geiringer Hall)
> * Lucia Ricciardelli (University of California, Santa Barbara),"American
> Documentary Practice and the Crisis of WesternHistoricism:
Deconstructing the
> 'Truth' of Omniscient Narration"
> * Anita Ip (University of California, Santa Barbara), "A Boatrideon the
> Wonkatania: Madness in Film and Opera "
> * "Sound Putty" and "Bit Signal Fabric": A PanelDiscussion of Two New
> Installations
> *Lunch Break
> 12:00-1:30
> Lunch for Conference Participants (Courtyard or MCC)
> Installation: "Sound Putty"
> Installation: "Bit Signal Fabric"
> Display: "The Music of Bernard Herrmann: An Archival Exhibition" (LLCH)
> Sponsored by UCSB Libraries Department of Special Collections
> *Saturday Afternoon Sessions
> 1:30-3:00
> Myth, Sound Editing, and the Music Video (Music 1145)
> * Amy Parker (University of Glasgow), "The Pop Video andRoland Barthes'
> Mythologies"
> * Peter Kaye (Kingston University), "The Anatomy of a ModernAction Cue"
> * Tim Rush, Sound Editing Demonstration
> The Horror, the Horror!: Sounding the Visceral (Geiringer Hall)
> * Russell Knight (University of California, Santa Barbara), "TheVoice of
> Wound: Lavinia's Double Death in Julie Taymor'sTitus"
> * Daniel Steinhart (University of California, Los Angeles),"Monster Music:
> Sound and Music in the First ThreeFrankenstein Films"
> * Kelly Kirshtner (University of California, Irvine), "A CinemaWithout
> Musical Values and Fields of Vibration in HorrorFilm"
> 3:15-4:45
> The Sights and Sounds of Experimentation: 1965-1975 (Music 1145)
> * Jessica Payette (Stanford University), "Musical CounterpointTranslated
> Film: Alfred Leslie's Birth of a Nation"
> * Utako Kurihara (Kyusyu University), "The InterrelatedDevelopment of
> Color Selection, and Composition of the ScreenPicture in Norman McLaren's
> Synchromy"
> * Joshua Neves (University of California, Santa Barbara), "Two-Lane
> Film Sound and Spectatorship"
> New Directions: Temporality, Spatiality, and Contemporary European Film
> (Geiringer Hall)
> * Travis Allen (University of California, Santa Barbara), "Musicand
Society in
> Run Lola Run"
> * Senta Siewert (University of Amsterdam), "'Rhythm ofYouth. Contemporary
> German Films: New Anti-heroes, Pop Music andCinematic Experience"
> * Shauna Laurel Jones (University of California, Santa Barbara),"Distance
> Makes the Mountains Blue: Music and Icelandic Landscape inNói Albinói"
> *Saturday Evening
> 5:00-6:15
> Keynote Address : "Film Themes: Roxy, Adorno, and the Problem of Cultural
> Capital" (LLCH)
> Prof. Rick Altman (University of Iowa)
> 8:00-10:00
> Film Screening: The Call of Cthulhu
> <> followed by talk-back
> screen writer Sean Branney (LLCH)
> Admission $3. Free for conference participants.
> Sunday January 15, 2006
> 9:00-10:00 Breakfast for Conference Participants (Music Building)
> *Sunday Morning Sessions
> 10:00-12:00
> Music Across Media in the Early 20th Century (Music 1145)
> * Ciarán Crilly (University College Dublin), "Sounding the Image:Musical
> Cinematic Composition in Satie's Entr'acte"
> * Bartholomew Brinkman (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign),"Movies,
> Modernity and all that Jazz: Langston Hughes' Montage of aDream Deferred"
> * Edmond Johnson (University of California, Santa Barbara),"Figaro! Figaro!
> Figaro?: The Intersection of Animation andOpera in Looney Tunes and Merrie
> Melodies"
> * Matt Mooney (University of California, Irvine), "Between theReels: Live
> Performance in the Motion Picture Theatre, 1905-1915"
> Visualizing Rock & Roll (Geiringer Hall)
> * Suzanne Scott (University of Southern California),"'Shitty Pictures,
> Every Single One.': Negotiating Mythin the Elvis Films of the 1960s"
> * Carlos Kase (University of Southern California),
"Avant-GardeFilmmaking and
> Pop Culture Deviance: The Adaptation of Rock & RollMusic and Mythos in the
> films of Kenneth Anger"
> * Paul N. Reinsch (University of Southern California), "The Beatsand the
> Brats: 50s Lipstick Traces in the Song and Film BlankGeneration"
> * Annabelle Honess Roe (University of Southern California),"Manchester,
> and Myth in 24 Hour Party People"
> *Lunch Break
> 12:00-1:00
> Lunch for Conference Participants (Courtyard or MCC)
> Installation: "Sound Putty"
> Installation: "Bit Signal Fabric"
> *Sunday Afternoon
> 12:00-1:00
> Performance: "Entr'acte" (LLCH)
> 2:00-3:00
> End of Conference Reception (Location TBA)
> --
> Music and the Moving Image: An Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference
> January 14-15, 2006 at the University of California, Santa Barbara

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From: director AT <director AT>
Date: Jan 3, 2006 5:59 AM
Subject: Pandilovski in conversation with Holubizky


MP: For the past twenty-five years, you've assumed the roles of an art
critic, curator, gallery director [for the private and public art
sectors], performance artist, musician etc. You started out in history and
political science, but have specialised in art and technology. It reminds
me a bit of the situation in Australia, where people frequently wear
numerous hats. In your case, was this because of survival or the absolute
inner need to express yourself in different roles?

IH: The many-hat scenario was of the times, a personal, formative period,
as everyone has a coming-of-age or consciousness. For the art and cultural
scene in Toronto [Canada for that matter], the 1960s was a 'heady' time
[the centenary of nationhood was in 1967] and had resonance into the
1970s. I was still in high school in the 1960s. [You make choices, learn
to live with them, make something of them, otherwise you live in denial.]
I studied political science and history at university, with an emphasis on
non-Western histories and the development of the Labor Union
movement-because of 'the times'. If you didn't chose a career path, or
were not an outright slacker, you lined up on the side of social change,
believing that change was necessary and that things could change. The
Vietnam War had a lot to do with the radicalisation of that time, as did
the Civil Rights Movement in the USA. These were not just 'American
Problems'. Opinion was galvanised-you took a position everywhere in the
world. The [Vietnam] War had a particular resonance in Canada as a de
facto border nation with the United States. Large numbers of American
draft dodgers and war resisters [that is, not exclusive to men avoiding
military service], found asylum in Canada and naturally, artists. The
latter has a history that has not been written. There was a cultural
impact, feeding upon what was already in the air, such as Marshall
McLuhan's presence. Here was a Canadian who was recognised internationally
as an important cultural thinker. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau also had
an impact upon the Canadian consciousness in the late 1960s. More than a
politician, he was an intellectual; erudite and witty-he touched a social
nerve, he had style, he was an adventurer. He was NOT Richard Nixon. Many
hats were and could be worn, the rule rather than the exception [and
perhaps the same for Australia at the time]. I was disillusioned with the
empirical side of political science. It's why I leapt into art and
technology-it had all the hallmarks of an adventure, which happened to
attract minds from many disciplines. There was optimism [it was the
pre-Bill Gates world].

Iain Baxter was one of the Canadian artists of the time, daring and
radical, a key figure in the conceptual practice. He too had a mixed and
many-hatted background-born in England, educated in the USA [degrees in
Zoology, Education and Fine Art] and studied in Japan. Baxter formed a
collective-corporate approach in the mid-1960s with his N.E. Thing Co [the
'anything company'] and later incorporated it, emulating corporate
language with a difference. The charter stated the following: i. to
produce sensitivity-information ii. to provide a consultation and
evaluation service with respect to things iii. to produce, manufacture,
import, export, sell and otherwise deal in things of all kinds.

There wa no use of the word 'art'-no strategic end or endgame. It was
open-ended, anything and everything-so too for other artists in Toronto
[Baxter was based in Vancouver at the time]. Michael Snow had a huge
presence in the Toronto art scene, beginning in the mid 1950s-a musician,
filmmaker, painter and sculptor-still mixing it up. Don Jean-Louis mounted
one of the first interactive television-video installations in a private
Toronto gallery under a 'corporate' aegis. The 'statement' for his 1969
The Nature of the Media is to Expose was concerned with the identity,
nature and function of any given number of people, products, things,
colours and sounds at any rate of speed and their interrelationship under
given conditions-scale considered. In the 1970s Jean-Louis worked
collaboratively with people in the film and music industry. They made a
short sci-fi feature [receiving awards] and managed the seminal Toronto
punk band The Viletones. He also worked in the television graphics
department at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, as did other artists.
They learned about television and applied it to 'non-television

Intersystems was a mid-1960s Toronto collaboration with electronic
composer-musician John Mills-Cockell [he went on to form the synthesizer
band Syrinx and then to compose music for theatre], artist Michael Hayden
[who now lives in California] and poet Blake Parker. They released an
album, staged 'electro-happenings' and built audio-kinetic sculptures.
Norman White, an American expatriate who had studied biology, arrived in
the late 1960s. He was making electronic/artificial intelligence
sculptures and installations and then taught at the Ontario College of Art
in the new Photo-Electric Department, which became the New Media
Department, when I arrived as a sessional instructor in the mid-1980s.
General Idea was the stepchild of these early artist collaborations and
actions-they added sexual politics to the mix, engaging and collaborating
with other artists, designers, performers and musicians in their 1970s
events, publishing FILE magazine and starting Art Metropole [publication
and distribution of artist books, editions and videos], which continues

I spoke to Baxter in early 2005. We discussed that formative 1960s period.
He admitted-not that he ever denied it-that he was following his
intuition, being in and of the times, working in every corner. I'm not
sure if the issue of survival was that much of a factor. As I noted, this
was a sense of optimism, which could and did have a critical side to it,
an engagement with society and culture on many levels and much more than
making things to charm the collectors, critics and curators.

My over-narration of the Toronto scene is not to promote it above others,
but to illustrate that there are galvanising moments-everywhere-and at
different times. When they happen doesn't matter, but historians, even
theorists, are hung up on who and what came first. Art and culture is not
a horse race, yet there ARE a lot of jockeys with whips.

For myself, playing music was a way of knowing something else-learning and
participating. It seemed more real than sitting through unreal university
classes. When I began working in the gallery world, I had to broaden my
skills again-they had to be real and applicable. That's still the case for
small staff organisations, but not so for large public galleries. I've
worked at both ends of the gallery spectrum. Over the past twenty-five
years I have witnessed the rise of a professional class. They're not
necessarily specialised, but departmentalised. I joked with a colleague
that a skills test for curators should be assembling an IKEA bunk bed
against the clock, then disassembling it, and reassembling it. You can
muddle and mutter your way through the assembly, but in order to
reassemble you have to be paying attention-'be in touch' with the
materials and the function-be able to visualise the outcome. MP: You are
currently preparing your PhD, whose working title is 'Radical Regionalism,
Art and the Modern Age'. Your interest in the directions which modern art
takes outside the Eurocentric model has led you to research particular
issues of nationhood in Latin America, Russia/Ukraine, the United Kingdom
and Australia. You have taken as case studies Juan Manuel Blanes, David
Burliuk, Tarsila do Amaral and Ian Fairweather. How many of these specific
developments of modern art outside the centre are researched within the
canon of modern arts? What is the importance that is given to them?

My approach to art history follows the IKEA analogy, except the bunk bed
is already made. It looks a bit creaky and doesn't seem to fit well in the
room. In taking it apart and reassembling, it may look the same but it has
to be usable and in the process I will know more about it. However, as
anyone who has IKEA furniture knows, it requires maintenance. You may have
to replace or substitute parts, keeping in mind that it was never meant to
last. Ongoing repair and reconstruction turns the cheap-and-cheerful
modern into a Frankenstein. At that point you have to decide on its future
and you still need to replace the bed. What to do-buy another IKEA bed?
There are other solutions to the need for sleeping, but raised-platform
beds are the Western convention. Then it's a matter of taste and style
preference-and budget.

To return to the question. Marginalised artists can be canonised. Frida
Kahlo is an apt [and extreme] example, but it wasn't that long ago when
the mention of her name would have furrowed the brow. Who the hell is
Frida Kahlo and why should I care? In some respects she has been cut out
of Mexican art history in order to fit a 'liberalised' canonical history.
The cult of Frida Kahlo doesn't help the legion of under-recognised
Mexican artists. To be pragmatic, it's better than nothing.

I did not select the four artists [Blanes, Burliuk, Amaral and
Fairweather] as case studies to privilege them, but to acknowledge them,
to cut away the deadwood of art history. There could be forty others, four
hundred, four thousand! Burliuk was in 'the game' with Kandinsky, Blaue
Reiter and the Moscow avant-garde prior to 1920-the year he left for Japan
and then the USA in 1922. There is rehabilitation afoot to claim him as
the 'father of Russian futurism,' because it is acceptable for the
post-Soviet Russians to celebrate their early avant-garde. At the same
time, Ukrainian revisionists are claiming him as part of the formative
Ukraine avant-garde, even to claim that Burliuk's avant-garde-ness in the
Ukraine precedes that of his Moscow endeavours. The Americans, on the
other hand, don't care about Burliuk-he doesn't fit any of the national
canonical agendas. He's not 'Ashcan', 'Social Surrealist', 'American
Scene,' nor strictly speaking an American regionalist. Tarsila do Amaral
popped up in the Body Nostalgia exhibition at the National Museum, Tokyo,
in 2004, a Brazilian-subject exhibition. She served as a starting point,
with Lygia Clark as the 'halfway point' to the real focus, contemporary
artists, so no need to deal with her in a broader canonical context. I'd
love to see someone do so, but like Burliuk in America, it wouldn't
further existing agendas. Fairweather interested me, because his story as
encoded in Australian art history, has too many gaps and too many
assumptions-the aspirations of Australian art projected onto someone who
was, in my view, not that interested in Australia. An artist then in his
sixties was an odd choice to be made into a modernist hero. Blanes is too
historically remote for anyone outside of South America to care. He died
in 1901. There is a story yet to be told about early regional modernists
and the rise of modern nationhood-literally postcolonial-independence was
declared in 1828. Blanes wanted to paint the national psyche, but also for
the Americas. How do you do that? You have to 'generate' the signs. These
signs feed mythologies. But the national mythology is part and parcel of
the work. Once you remove the object-the painting-from place and context,
it's an exotic and puzzling footnote at best-IF we adhere to the
generalist-generalising canon.

I'm still pondering all this and the 'adherence'. An example: Mary Anne
Staniszewski's Believing is Seeing, Creating the Culture of Art [New York:
Penguin Books, 1995], has a radical revisionist tone and chastises the
American cultural scene for lacking in its resolve to integrate cultures.
Yet she writes in her introduction: "[The book] is meant to be a
supplement to the canonical texts that shape art and humanities course
curriculum. I am not, however, suggesting getting rid of our culture's
collective aesthetic memory. In fact, I have gone to great lengths to use
the most powerful and famous images of what has been called our 'museum
without walls'."

Is this a strategic fight-fire-with-fire? Another canonical questioning is
that of Matthew Baigell and his postscript to the Artist and Identity in
Twentieth-Century America [Cambridge University Press, 2001]: "Someone
could write a first rate history of American art as one long essay about
identity politics'. Further on he discusses how European Americans had to
'invent' native Americans and African Americans in order to distinguish
themselves from the Others; how these Others has to 'reinvent' themselves
in order to find out who they were on their own terms. Otherness is a
two-way street. Does this sound familiar-the 'inventing Asia' discourse,
that Asia is an invention of Europeans or of the Antipodes? So who
invented Europe? There are many other such questions within regional and
national histories. Perhaps it is too complex, too demanding a task.

However, I'm not trying to interject yet another category. Radical
regionalism is not a movement, it is a way of modelling, a way of getting
past less-useful, but oft-repeated truisms that impress the diminutive on
art histories and artists. The categorisation of Tony Tuckson is an
oft-repeated example, "Tony Tuckson... later recognised as one of
Australia's finest abstract expressionist artists". [Museum of
Contemporary Art, Sydney, Vision & Context, 1993]. One could have a
field-day 'deconstructing' this interjection because the prime topic is
not Tuckson as an artist, but Tuckson as a curator and in the MCA
publication context, within a section titled "Australian Aboriginal Art".
That is, his role as a curator, yet the sentence ends, "openly indebted
for inspiration to the abstract languages of Aboriginal and New Guinean
art". It doesn't take a screaming revisionist to figure out what's wrong
with this sentence, but at the same time, I'm not taking the writer to
task. It is the Australian-canonical summation.

Look at Robert Hughes' take on Ian Fairweather in The Art of Australia
[1966 and 1970], when Fairweather was still alive: "What does the word
'great' mean in the context of Australian art... but I think it is at
least arguable that [he] is the most gifted painter who has so far
appeared in Australia; though even this kind of statement involves one in
a distasteful role of tipster". Is 'gifted' the anointment, or does the
artist provide 'the gift'? When I listen to Rahsaan Roland Kirk's album
Volunteered Slavery, I am always struck by his comment [recorded live at
the Monterey Jazz Festival] in tribute to John Coltrane: "Here are three
songs [he] left for us to learn." It's all well and good to pay tribute to
visual artists, even to canonise them, but do we learn anything from this?
It's all-too-easy to shuffle past in mute admiration and accepting
'greatness'. I confess that I've never been a great fan of Jackson
Pollock's canonisation because it is difficult to filter out from the work
itself. In watching the Ed Harris director-commentary for his 2000 film
Pollock, I took note of his 'methodology' [it is a 'methodology']. To get
'into' the character, he had to learn how to paint, not simply imitate or
mimic the action. That's a difficult lesson, but necessary for what he
described as "an emotional journey", not an art history film. But there
were many other characterisations in the film that were equally important
and equally problematic-they were not on screen as much and not so known.
Film is a language, so if we take on Roland Barthes' assertion, it is a
language of myth. But this analogy has its limits, because only a few art
emotional journeys will be made into a film-myth-Van Gogh, Frida Kahlo,
Basquiat. Not Ian Fairweather. The reasons are self-evident-the cost is
high and the market is small. [Pollock cost approx $6 million to make, but
only made $10 million at the box office.]

MP: In a context that is not too distant from your research, the
Slovenian art collective IRWIN has positioned through their project EAST
ART MAP the notion that East European Art practices have not been
validated appropriately in the context of the Western Art canon. How do
you feel about this notion?

Following on my comments above, I know enough about some national-regional
histories to know that they have not been validated. I have hope. Hans
Belting does acknowledge the art of 'Eastern Europe' in his 2003 book Art
History after Modernism [AHM]. He would not have done that twenty years
ago. I think we're at the starting blocks sorting out histories, but
applying yet another hierarchical sorting would be counterproductive. I am
reading the Belting book at the moment and struck by his [new-found?]
candidness and doubts, hence other quotes to follow.

MP: Do you see the experiment within arts as alive, and is it today only
technological by nature?

I think that all compelling art has an experimental aspect. It doesn't
need to have a technological component. McLuhan commented on the
relationship of artists and technology in his 1969 film Picnic in
Space-their role as social navigators, opening up visual worlds and
raising ethical questions that never really go away. I knew that it wasn't
all social navigation when running a private gallery that specialised in
art and technology. Some of it was technological effect, another way to
produce a pretty and pleasing thing. Nothing wrong with that, but that's
all it was. One artist I worked with in the mid-1970s was American Lew
Alquist. He had a sly subversive streak in him, which is what I expect
[but not 'demand')] from 'social navigators'. He was demystifying and then
generating new mysteries for us to ponder and often said, because the
question of is-this-art was often raised, "Not everything is art, but
everything is art supplies'. Knowing the difference is crucial. Artists
will always push the limits of technology-create languages-and sometimes
will succumb to old language with new means. It is the language that
matters, not the technology, unless [a BIG unless] it IS a language
[by-product] of technology. That's another topic for another time.

MP: You have been dealing extensively with new technologies. How much do
you see reflections of Lucio Fontana's 'Manifesto Blanco' in what is
happening today with electronic arts?

I haven't read it. I should. In lieu of my ignorance, allow me to quote
artist Robert Adrian X [Canadian born but has lived in Vienna for the past
thirty years], from an email exchange last year about electronic arts: I'm
inclined to think that we need new models. After doing a few
telecommunication projects [early '80s] and trying to cope with the
[apparent?] incommensurability between traditional [industrial] art
practice and the fugitive practice of working with electricity, code and
telephones, I began to wonder if 'art' was the right word to describe the
stuff we were doing with telecommunications. There was no discernible
product or material substance-nothing collectable-nothing for the critic
to get his/her teeth into, no clear tradition or history: just a few
polaroid snaps and fading faxes, low-res video, scraps of computer
chit-chat printout. Machines are on: its here-machines are off. It's gone!
MP: Is there a notion of the avant-garde which is still meaningful

I don't think one can aspire to the avant-garde in the same way as the
historical avant-garde was able to act. Renato Poggioli's Theory of the
Avant-garde [1962] examined the avant-garde not in terms of "its species
as art, but through what it reveals, inside and outside of art itself...
an argument of self-assertion [with] a social or antisocial character of
the cultural and artists manifestations that it sustains and expresses".
Poggioli also noted that "even the avant-garde has to live and work in the
present, accept compromises and adjustments, reconcile itself with the
official culture of the times, and collaborate with at least some part of
the public". In his chapter 'Technology and the Avant-garde', Poggioli
proposed that "the avant-garde's experimental nature is not essentially or
exclusively a matter of art [but] to experiment with factors extraneous to
art itself".

Granted, the latter is contestable, but the avant-garde is not something
that you can learn in art school. We may not even be able to discern
between avant-garde and what is 'cutting edge', which may in turn be what
is 'technologically fashionable'. There is an avant-garde today, but I
would be hard-pressed to give you an example operating within the art
world, or, we may not recognize it as such. Poggioli wrote in his
conclusion: "The avant-garde is one of those tendencies destined to become
art in spite of itself, even in the out-and-out denial of itself". Add
Alquist's statement, mix in McLuhan and there's a topic for a bright young
curator to take on, don't you think?

If I was going to start with a post-1960 view of avant-garde-ness, it
would be with the small oeuvre of filmmaker Arthur Lipsett-between 1963
and 1970 [his last completed film-he committed suicide in 1986]. They were
done under the umbrella of the National Film Board of Canada. I don't
think they really knew what he was up to, but no one could think of a
reason to stop him. He slipped in under the radar signal.

MP: You curated an exhibition of the painter Tony Scherman within the
gallery program of the Art Gallery of Hamilton in 1994. Even though you
are aware of its constraints, you still see it as your most important and
most radical exhibition, Can you elaborate as to why you think this is the

The exhibition was an example of slipping under the institutional radar
signal. It was a collection show. I wasn't spending big bucks and it
occupied a lot of gallery space-a win for the ever-beleaguered budget. The
premise was simple enough as not to set off any warnings bells-a painting
show. Rather than pull out a shop-worn theme-the face, the land, still
life, the this, the that [how many times have we seen these, all watered
dow, so that they neither offend nor inspire]-it was a predicated on a
discussion, an artist and a curator talking about painting. That's what we
did for the first year. THEN we went into the vaults-not to select, but to
keep talking. Not what we thought was good, but what kept generating
discussion. Clearly, it would not be anything we were indifferent towards.
Our final selection spanned two hundred years, beginning with a c.1800
Henry Raeburn portrait-that's where it started, not chose to start. The
installation, however, was not hung in chronological sequence or by style,
but as if our conversation-or passages of conversation-was on the wall.
Except, there were no didactic labels. People would have to enter into the
conversation-maybe it would be in mid-conversation, or as if eavesdropping
on the street. The 'seeing' could start anywhere. I scattered 'church
hall' wooden folding chairs around. I encouraged them to be used and moved
around the gallery-a place to sit and talk. I checked the location of the
chairs on a regular basis-they did shift around, like small herds of
caribou, an indication that it was working. I could even imagine where a
conversation had ended, in front of one group of paintings or another.

I also asked Tony to include his own work. He resisted at first, but I
insisted. He didn't have to deny being a painter simply because he was
wearing a curatorial hat. I did the selection and decided where they
should be installed. We did talk about it, but I don't recall him making
any changes.

The title we decided on was Prosperity Returns, the oral tradition in
painting, which came from a 'chance encounter' with a headline in the
financial section of the newspaper. In bad times, everyone wants
prosperity to return and no one would care about 'the return of painting'.
Did it ever go away? The title expressed optimism.

There was no catalogue, although I had started a text. I realised that it
would be counterproductive, even redundant. After all, it was the ORAL
tradition, not writing about art. [This may have put us at odds with John
Berger-but seeing is a step to knowing.] That exhibition has kept me
goin-it provided a model that could be re-examined, shifted here and
there-made me wary of manufacturing words. Challenging my assumptions,
biases and taste.

MP: Art has passed through a number of phases in the past twenty-five
years. Do you think that there has been a decisive critical shift from
postmodernism, or are we still in this historic stage?

It certainly seems that way when reading persuasive writers and theorists:
their insistence that we are in an age of 'massive change' [to borrow
designer Bruce Mau's 'project'], or the silver-tongued paradoxes as in
Belting's AHM, an age 'where nothing new is discovered and the old is no
longer familiar'. I would interpret the later as myopia-the glut of art
production over the past forty years makes it near-to impossible for any
one historian, critic, curator or pundit to have the inside track on what
it all means. I agree with Belting and have thought that The [notion of]
Shock of the New [Ian Dunlop's book, the title then borrowed by Robert
Hughes] is a now-historic period. Can anything in art be shocking anymore?
Yet, I see 'The New' that reminds me of what I have seen before. Some is
work by artists who are forgotten or never known. The more doors you open,
the more questions that appear.

If we are in an age, it is of the museum and the art spectacle, the
proliferation of recurring temporary exhibitions and art fairs, like the
era of the mega rock concert in the wake of Woodstock. Some are remembered
for things other than the music-such as Altamont-or for their branding
[Lollapalooza as a recent example]. Music is not made in these festivals.
Music comes from the thoughts of musicians in private before it becomes
public. Likewise, for art. More often than not, art is 'merely'
consecrated in the new public event. The late art historian Francis
Haskell explored the history of art-as-spectacle in The Ephemeral Museum
[Yale University Press, 2000], which began in the early nineteenth-century
with the 'invention' of the Old Masters loan exhibition and continues.
Such exhibitions, he noted, on the anniversary of an artist's birth or
death, have become a social obligation at the expense of scholarship. So
too, I believe, for twentieth-century modern masters. Enough with the
Picasso and Warhol shows.

What has changed in the past twenty-five years? What have we added? Rap
music and the internet? DEVO recorded Post-post modern man in 1990. As
good as any date for the end or demise of Po-Mo. [One of the DEVO 'boys'
was a student of Lew Alquist. I note this not for the sake of cultural
trivia but to reopen the question, where do ideas begin; as Ralph Waldo
Emerson posed in 1841, where does nature-our idea of nature-begin?]

MP: Is art in a general state of crisis today? Or is crisis a natural
state for the arts in all times?

Crisis is just another word for, what ? Nothing left to say [with
apologies to Kris Kristofferson]! In 1992, the National Gallery of Canada
organised the first national overview of Canadian abstraction of the
1950s, titled The Crisis of Abstraction. Was it really a crisis? I don't
think so, not for the artists nor for society then. I've seen a Crisis of
Impressionism titled show, so why not a crisis of everything show? The
Cuban missile crisis was a crisis, but now anything can be a crisis, as
over-amplified by 24/7 news channels. In the wake of the predicted
disaster of Hurricane Rita [a crisis of global, massive weather change?],
there was a Fox News live feed from downtown Beaumont Texas. The on-camera
reporter walked to the drive-through bank and pointed at the ATM machine
and informed 'the world' that it was out of order and to underscore the
importance of this piece of trivia blurted out that there was no
indication when it would be operating again!

I keep a copy of the 1972 anthology Museums in Crisis close at hand.
Valuable insights and nothing much has changed: directors are still
beleaguered, curators have dilemmas, trustees have power, museums huddle
under corporate wings and the democratic fallacy is perpetuated.

MP: In a situation of rampant globalisation and sweeping liberalism, what
is the role of art?

Maybe that's the crisis, what is the role of art? Perhaps it has been
over-named, oversold, and overwritten. There's more to McLuhan than the
catch phrase 'global village', which has been overused and vulgarised. SBS
broadcasts a program called Global Village. How is it different from
National Geographic magazine? It is made for Western audiences, to make
them feel comfortable with the notion of a multi-centered world. Is it the
same for global-sample exhibitions and biennials-a comfort zone with a
tidy tour package of the world of art?

MP: What is the role of the independent curator today and are independent
curators still necessary? How is curating today different to the era when
there weren't as many art institutions globally?

Independent curators are highly dependant on the gallery system. Very few
can assert true independance as they must toe the line of institutional
agendas. By the same token, the 'democracy' of the curatorial team weakens
a strong individual voice. The results are exhibitions by committee, which
is NOT to say that teamwork is not important in an institution, but it has
to embrace all the staff, not just the glamour positions. For more on this
topic, see my responses to question 17.

If, as many claim, exhibitions are a type of cultural laboratory,
shouldn't there be a post-experiment analysis? That doesn't happen. Hefty
catalogues are produced in advance of the experiment. At best these are
sketches for what has yet to happen, or be determined. For more on this
topic, see my response to question 15.

MP: How did you come to write art criticism?

I thought that writing art criticism was a necessary rite of passage, so I
did. In truth, I have only written two or three pieces of outright
criticism over twenty years. I regret the first because I criticised the
artists. I apologised to them and am still friends with one of the two. My
last art criticism in 1999 was, I believe, justified: I criticised the
curators. Perhaps this too was unfair because artists are inevitably
caught in collateral damage. I see myself as an historian [because my
formative period is now history], and an essayist. If I can't add anything
to a topic, why write?

MP: Tell me something about the role of the art critic today and about how
you define the delicate relationship between critics and artists?

The long history of critics' hostility towards artists is hardly delicate.
Critics DO manufacture words and see confrontation as their right. One
example, from Henry Geldzahler's essay in New York Painting and Sculpture:
1940-1970: "There were critics [in the 1950s] crying for a return to the
figure, for a 'new humanism." [With the appearance of Pop Art] these
critics cried 'foul', and they cried it hard and long'. Yet doubts and
questions can be raised by critics. An example is in Ira Gitler's liner
notes to Bill Evans Trio, Sunday at the Village Vanguard [1961]: "Just
because I am a writer-critic in the jazz field doesn't mean that I can't
enjoy an album like any layman. It is true that when one is forced to
listen to 'x' amount of LPs every week, there are times when the spirit
can become hostile toward the very thought of records." Hostility is what
I object to-is art a battleground fought over biases and preferences? It's
different for the movie industry. Generally speaking, the public decides
what it wants to see and why, even if the reviews are universally
critical. In one conversation with the [then] art critic for the Globe and
Mail, Canada's national newspaper-safe and off-the-cuff because I had just
left my gallery position. I was 'independent'-we spoke of one artist who
had been highly promoted a few years before and had fallen off the map.
The critic said the problem was that the artist believed his own press.
Well, who wrote the press? A critic cannot walk away from what they
write-their responsibility-and yet they do so, over and over again. Donald
Judd wrote in the early 1960s, wearing his art critic hat at the time,
"Criticism is pretty much after the fact". [Roger Fry made a similar
comment on reviewing his own criticism in 1920.] I can imagine how
newspaper critics are chosen: "Let's see, you have no experience and
you're an opinionated little fart. Oh, you can be the art critic." Which
is also to say, that the automotive critic-writer had better know what
they are talking about: more people drive cars than look at art.

MP: What do you think of the affirmative writing, which is so often
present in the critical writing about the arts?

If you mean affirmative writing as in making unsubstantiated claims that
bask in its own glow, that's part and parcel of the game. One artist is
championed at the expense of many others, one perspective given primacy
over others. Multi-perspective publications can often cancel each other
out. From Robert Scholes' book on science fiction writing, Structural
Fabulation [University of Notre Dame Press, 1975], "Knowing one thing is a
way of not knowing something else". I come across a lot of one thing not
knowing something else.

W. McAllister Johnson on catalogue writing in Art History, Its Uses and
Abuses [University of Toronto Press, 1988] says, "a curious contradiction:
a catalogue is issued for an exhibition even as it is supposed to record
its 'results'! It therefore anticipates the fact... Whatever the time and
energy expended in their creation, catalogue production remains a 'cottage
industry', whose artisans have very different ideas of their craft.
Otherwise put, they may not know it well, if at all."

There is another form of affirmative writing and as I have already quoted
artist Don Jean-Louis' 1969 affirmative assertion at the outset, here is
the last line from curator Germano Celant's 'Stating That', his 1969 Arte
Povera catalogue [an affirmative introduction, with doubts expressed].
"This book is a precarious and contingent document and lives hazardously
in an uncertain artistic-social situation." They are expressing not
dissimilar ideas, at the same time and unaware of each other. If I have to
chose, I'll choose the artist over the curator in this instance. The
artist is closer to 'prime production', whereas the curator is 'exhibiting
doubts'. And yet, they are both 'doing their job'.

MP: Can you compare the art criticism in North America to the criticism
here in Australia?

There are good writers in North America and Australia, everywhere for that
matter and in unlikely places such as Richard Huntington who writes for
the Buffalo News. But no one outside of Buffalo is going to read him. Does
that matter? Good art writing should address what is happening in the
community-to track it. Keep it clean, keep it honest. The only advice I
can give to artists; be mindful of what is written, but to go about your
work as if nothing had happened. MP: In your text 'The Man Who Thought His
Myopia Was A Vision: Heliocentric Worlds, with apologies to Herman
Blount', you give us a very important parallel between the worlds of
visual arts and music. You depict the impact that San Ra and his Solar
Myth Arkestra had on your formative years, as well as the curatorial
experiences acquired at cultural institutions such as the Art Gallery of
Hamilton and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney. One word that seems
to me to be very important is 'independent'. Could you define what
'independent' means for you today?

I returned to listening to jazz after years of inattention [in my most
lucid moments, I could only play fake jazz]. For me, jazz embodies
whatever notion of independence [freedom of expression] we can muster. The
last two CDs I purchased were the aforementioned Bill Evans and Archie
Shepp's Fire Music [1965]. I don't see a contradiction in appreciating the
two, as different as they are-Evans and Shepp are independent voices,
adding something to the language of culture. I am exercising my
independence in buying both of them. The term independent has more
relevance in music than it does in the gallery world. The rise of
independent music labels-they come and go-is an alternative and a
necessity. Musicians need not wait for major labels to discover them. Not
all of it is good, but there is a lot of good music that would not be
available if left to the devices of the industry. Ironically, major labels
will pluck off what they think may generate business for them thereby
adding industry currency and credibility. I feel the same way about the
well-heeled gallery and museum system. Independent curators are a pool of
inexpensive intellectual talent that museums are unwilling to invest in,
within 'their own culture'. The temporary-contemporary centres have
changed dramatically over the past thirty-five years [less independent as
accountability to funding bodies increases], but this is where the action
is-the laboratory. Not all experiments will succeed, but the measure of
success is not the manufacturing of likely-to-succeed events. Big
galleries will trawl these centres for 'artist talent'. One reason for the
marginalisation of vanguard jazz in the 1950s and 1960s was the reluctance
of a white-dominated music industry to promote afro-American musicians who
aligned themselves with radicalised politics. In other words, if you want
to be independent, prepare to be poor.

I don't wish to criticise the Museum of Contemporary Art. I believe that
it has an important role to play, but I didn't feel much like a curator
there, more like a 'content provider'. At the Art Gallery of Hamilton
there were similar pressures to deliver content that would click the
turnstiles as a performance indicator, but there was time for research,
even if it was on my own time. Granted, the Art Gallery of Hamilton
performance stakes were lower than that of the MCA, so I could/would make
time for things that mattered, and in that way, asserting independent
thought and still contributing to the organisation. Then again perhaps it
was just me and every other MCA curator has been 'happy as a clam'. I
confess that I can't listen to Sun Ra everyday. Too intense.

MP: What do you think of the situation today for young and emerging
artists? It's obvious that they have more chances than fifteen or twenty
years ago, simply because of what seems to be a favourable grants policy
for emerging artists across the globe. What is the impact [if any] of this
policy, in regard to upper-echelon art and the art market?

First, I don't have much faith in grants or policies. No matter how
committed arts councils are, at regional to national level, they are
accountable further up the bureaucratic food chain. Arts funding is an
easy cut when 'belts are tightened'. Who receives grants has no bearing on
the art market, nor are individual grants any indication of critical mass
or commodity market success-to-come. The art market is a wholly different
beast from the agendas of arts councils and public-funded galleries.
Discourse means nothing in the primary market, and definitely not in the
secondary market, where the real profit lies, for the auction houses
themselves. The majority of art dealers struggle year-to-year and I know
only a handful of artists personally, who can support themselves through
the sale of their work. That's not going to change. Moreover, in real
economic terms, the art market is not so vast, but it is unregulated.

It's tough for young and emerging artists-so many graduates pouring out of
art schools into a system than cannot absorb them. What's the outcome?
More art teachers? It can't go on forever-the art school system will
collapse under its own weight and backlog. That may have a positive
result, we can start it all over again.

MP: You are also a musician and you have dealt with music almost as much
as the visual arts. You have said that as a musician, you "have learned
to let things go and that there was never going to be a perfect
performance or recording." Do you feel the same about visual art?

Yes, except playing music was more satisfying 'incompleteness'. You learn
from your mistakes, and no one was hurt or humiliated [sure, there's
bitterness, but you get over it]. Wish I could say the same for the art

MP: There is big hype today about Asian contemporary art. We have been
aware of a huge number of artists coming from Japan, China etc. The
number of Biennials and other grand manifestations in Asia has
exponentially grown, which is to say that we are bidding farewell to the
Eurocentric art world. Yet, the domain of art theory, criticism and
aesthetics still remains ruled by the 'old world'. How do you account for

Too much has been invested and absorbed, to ever have a blank slate. Then
again, art history as we know it is only a hundred or so years old. Yet
the hegemony issue is being acknowledged. Belting-AHM [quoting him because
he is a 'Euro'] says the pressures on the canon "[do] not mean that the
traditional discussion of art history is on the verge of collapse, but it
invites us to reopen that discussion to communicate with others from
non-Western traditions."

That's great-now let's see it in action. Perhaps in a hundred years this
may shift. However, let's not conflate the dramatic shifts in world
economies with art and culture, nor conflate say, Japan with
China-different cultural and social states of mind. China is not going to
reinvent capitalism, but it will very soon be the major economic power in
the world. Not in old money terms, but in dominating the world of
commodity production. Vast and cheap labour is one of the reasons. That's
still old capitalism in operation. Lower the cost of production: exploit
the workers. In this case, exploiting your own nation's workers in order
to drive a wedge into old capitalism. But who is buying the new Asian art?
It's the established Western art market that needs fresh goods in order to
keep expanding its markets, as the West profited from the Japanese
economic boom in selling ITS art to Japan, as the Europeans sold THEIR art
to the American nouveau riche a hundred years ago.

MP: What do you think of Canadian art today?

I probably know more about Australian art today. My continuing interest in
Canada is to the artists, whom I have followed for some time-it's my
commitment to them-and unfinished business in Canadian art history. The
latter, however, has informed my approach to Australian research and work
as a useful comparative study. Anyone committed to the research and study
of Canadian art had to know American art history too, not because of
influence or 'derivation', but the cultural traffic that was generated by
artists themselves. Ideas don't stop at political borders. [This is where
my history training comes back into play.]

MP: Most of the international art market has Aboriginal art as a focus
for Australia. How do you interpret this?

Any market action, critical or commodity, outside of the national scene
must have benefits. On the other hand, the breadth of Australian culture
is distorted. Maybe this isn't such a bad thing-a payback time, assuming
that indigenous artists DO benefit directly. I read with interest Bruce
Ferguson's candid comment on Gerald McMaster's appointment as Curator of
Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario [Bruce has just been appointed
AGO's director of exhibitions and both had worked in the USA for several
years]: "I just love the idea of an Indian getting to decide about white
man's art... This has never happened before. It's beautiful." Indeed. Now
let's see this happen in Australia. I won't go further. Suffice to say,
there still much more 'work' to be done in Australia, and then let's see
how this is received internationally, in the critical and commodity

MP: You have lived in Australia for the past seven years and have followed
closely the work of Australian artists. How do you see the place of
Australian art within the context of the contemporary art project?

Like my continuing interest in Canadian artists, there are emerging to
mid-career artists in Australia who are thought-provoking and engaging. I
will not name them. That would be unfair and send out an incorrect signal.
Equally, I feel that there are Australian artists with a mature practice
and senior status who should be better known in the world, but there is no
model nor context in which to send their work out. Art as diplomatic
mission serves political agendas, not the artist's needs. A recent news
channel 'filler' program interviewed celebrity chefs, among others, Jamie
Oliver, Gordon Ramsay [both Brits] and an Indian [subcontinent] chef
[can't recall his name]. For argument's sake, let's think of 'celebrity
chefs' as the curators of the contemporary cuisine project. Oliver
pooh-poohed the idea of a Michelin star, but stated that getting one would
be easy enough for him. It was a matter of doing the right things to charm
the critics. He has other agendas, one of which is a form of social action
and responsibility-training the unemployed, improving public school
lunches. Ramsay denied that he was a celebrity chef, but said that there
was nothing wrong in aspiring to a Michelin star and that it was a
legitimate, professional benchmark. Which is to say, he believes in his
profession-his craft-as much as Oliver does, but chooses to stay within
the prescribed arena of that profession. The question posed to the Indian
chef was different. Could Indian cuisine ever gain gourmet status world
wide? His response-one billion people eat Indian food everyday, so why not
the world? The question was loaded, and the response was wry. Which is to
say, the fact that one billion people eat Indian food everyday doesn't
matter to those who control the cuisine canon. The canon may simply
exclude the one billion because of preferences.

There is Australian art that is 'nourished' by the legacies of the
national school, what can properly be called 'Australian art' [which then
raises the question, what is more Australian than Aboriginal art in all of
its forms and manifestations] and art from Australia that speaks to
anyone, anywhere, within the prescribed and 'industry-accepted' area of
contemporary art. [I know what you mean by the contemporary art project,
so I won't unravel the term]. The members of the global cultural politburo
are growing, but there's still a pecking order and mandated ambitions.
Read the mission statement of the Museum of Modern Art, NYC: "Founded...
as an educational institution, [MoMA] is dedicated to being the foremost
museum of modern art in the world." They achieved that position a long
time ago. Is Tate Modern challenging that position? What's art and culture
got to do with it, except where it benefits the museum.

I know that I have dodged answering your question directly, but I return
to my opening comment about my formative period. I still adhere to that
optimism and by the same token, recognise that once a heretic always a
heretic, even in moving towards what may appear to others as conservatism.
A lot of my work now is historical, but all that means is that there's
unfinished business and someone's got to do it. I'm working on two
twentieth-century retrospective exhibitions at the moment. One artist is
dead, the other is a senior practitioner. It's tougher to communicate with
the dead artist, but when I do 'get a message' it's a doozy!

My optimism extends to Australian artists who will think for themselves.
As for 'Australian art', it will manage itself. It has up to now. I can
only hope that it will manage itself with intelligence, passion and
compassion. I have no aspirations for Michelin star cooking, but I do
cook every day and I use local ingredients. If I don't, then I'm in a
culinary-cultural denial. My results will be enjoyable and fulfilling and
to hell with what I'm 'told to do'.

This text was commissioned by the Contemporary Art Centre of South
Australia, Adelaide, for CONTEMPORARY VISUAL ART+CULTURE Broadsheet
magazine, Volume 34 No 4, 2005.

EXPERIMENTAL ART FOUNDATION curates its exhibition program to represent
new work that expands current debates and ideas in contemporary visual
art. The EAF incorporates a gallery space, bookshop and artists studios.

Lion Arts Centre North Terrace at Morphett Street Adelaide * PO Box 8091
Station Arcade South Australia 5000 * Tel: +618 8211 7505 * Fax +618 8211
7323 * eaf AT * Bookshop: eafbooks AT * * Director: Melentie Pandilovski

The Experimental Art Foundation is assisted by the Commonwealth Government
through the Australia Council, it arts funding and advisory body and by
the South Australian Government through Arts SA. The EAF is also supported
through the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the
Australian, State and Territory Governments.

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Rhizome Digest is supported by grants from The Charles Engelhard
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