Monday, October 31, 2011

I'm No Stradamus

The New Authenticity
Now that POMO is dead, I’ve been thinking about it a lot. During the 80’s, 90’s and Aughts I pretty much drove myself to distraction with loathing for POMO (without really knowing what it was, mind you!) but now that its gone, I’m the one throwing histrionic tizzies at the funeral. Damn, I’d throw myself on its coffin if I could....”Noooooo, my darling, bury me with youoooooooo!!!”
Oh well, TOO LATE! And welcome peeps, to The New Authenticity. Now, I am no Stradamus, but I am predicting this (and gawd knows, if it comes to pass, I sure as heck want to be able to point to this essay and scream “told ya so!”)—sort of based on this article....although, recently I saw this and I dunno if it proves or disproves my point!
"The New Authenticity" is wonderfully welcome for one reason alone and that is I think we will see a return to craftsmanship—HOORAY! WOOT WOOT, let’s hear it for the home team!!!! But, ultimately, it will be expounded in utterly ghastly directions. I think, at its worst, it will get construed that imagination, abstraction, metaphor, symbols and myths are suspicious and should be eliminated. Terminator style, preferably. In this way we imagine (how ironic!) that we can triumph over terrorism and other inauthentic enemies that are dogging us. But tilting at windmills won’t authentically address what's ailing us as a culture! So the New Authenticity promises to be very inauthentic.

What killed POMO and paved the way for The New Authenticity? The market crash, 9-11, No Child Left Behind and the inevitable swinging of the pendulum from favoring one type of fashion to its opposite.

Click to show the rest of article

The Market Crash
A sudden craving for authenticity is, in part, a response to the poor economy. We want our durable goods to be effing durable, dammitol! In the most literal way possible. People are getting sick of outsourcing now that our economy’s tanking. If real estate isn’t the real deal, then please, for goodness sakes, don’t lets also buy a crappy imported car.
POMO, because it refused to make hierarchies, defaulted to letting The Market decide everything. So it got very commercial. This explains why hippies disappeared (until they were revived as a fashion style) but punk never did. Punk just got mutated into fashion the day after is gasped its dying breath in 1977. But at least back then, there was a presumption of a literate consumer at least kinda-sorta. As good post-millennial, post-POMO consumers, and goodness knows we want to be good consumers, we (mostly) know enough to understand that our voracious desires are being manipulated. In short, we know we’re impulsive suckers and we’re a little weary of our corporate overlords cuckolding us while they rake in their obnoxiously overblown salaries. Not weary enough or powerful enough to overthrow them, mind you, just enough to demand “real” stuff. Why real? Because we’ve obliterated nature and reality. Absence makes the heart grow fonder! Having, for the most part, achieved virtual reality and genetically engineered food, we recollect real reality with warm affection!
I have already heard that porn sites featuring “real women” (i.e. people you might actually see on the street should you look up from your smart phone) are gaining popularity. Given the chance to f/make it with a celebrity or a porn star? No one wants the (pseudo) pressure!!! They want lumps, bumps, bruises, scars, pimples and wrinkles and all the signs of non-virtual reality. I like this. This seems truly like a refreshing and positive shift! Of course, this is porn and porn isn’t real even when it is. But whatever. Anything that makes a guy like a pimply, wrinkly girl can’t be all bad.

And there’s more good news! What’s The New Authenticity gonna be like for art? Can I hear a big round of applause for the welcome return of craft and skill?! There’s already a trend afoot to demand the artist be the creator of the work (as though that were a guarantee of “authentic”--which it resoundingly is not, but artist/fabricators are not the same as and do not make the same type of work as artist/designers. Allowing them into the dialog is a positive change. There should be room for both.)
Hooray: (Or maybe that’s “Boo hoo hoo”) just in time for a trend towards integration of curriculum in art schools, the Master and, apprentice system is gonna come into demand! Or perhaps the atelier school model, if we are lucky.

As for skill? That will come back as well. For at least five minutes. That’s how long I predict it will take before skilled craftsmanship is seen as inauthentic, too mechanistic and slick, to unattainable by “real folks”. Skill is still for show offs who flaunt their superiority in yer face. The new crafetishism will be for poor craftsmanship.

Plan on hearing the words “authenticity” and “authorship” used to death. All this access to everything, leveling of playing fields and the breakdown into indistinguishiblilty that POMO was will convert into some sort of sickening false nostalgia for the good old days when things were a little more definite and less relativistic. The relativism of POMO entailed, in part, an acknowledgment of “the other” and by extension, the awareness that our established hierarchies are worth examining (if not demolishing). It was so much simpler when we could equate “The Other” with “The Bad Guys”! I know, let’s do that again! Beware of “authenticity” becoming a so-called agent for the good guys. Can you say “authoritarian”? “Authenticity” can’t be measured. It’s neither a set quality nor a quantity and much depends on context. One person’s “authentic” is another’s steaming pile of bullsh*t. It just depends where it’s coming from; after all, it couldn’t be more authentic than it is coming fresh from the bull’s behind.
Truth is as much in the eye of the beholder as beauty...but try telling that to Homeland Security.

The meta-awareness of text, context, meta text and all that POMO was can destroy the suspension of disbelief at the expense of a sense of magic. This was POMO at its worst. But it allowed for the possibilities gained by admitting we might not be superior, good and right all the time. That maybe we weren’t always the nice guys or the right guys. Maybe we weren’t all guys; maybe some guys aren’t even all guy, for that matter! Ohmigosh, blow my mind!
But that’s all gone now! Wiped clean by 9-11. No more ambiguities. You’re either with us, or the terrorists. Those words killed POMO like a can of RAID sprayed down an anthill.

The fear of terrorism, it has been pointed out over and over again, is not based on a real enemy but a boogeyman abstraction*. One that cannot actually be vanquished. In fact, abstractions and metaphors, by their very nature, are inauthentic, imaginary, immaterial things. Not being capable of much nuance, we will now attempt to kill all abstractions and anything that could harbor a terrorist. We are desperate for something genuinely killable to remedy this and make us feel brave and strong again. Ha!
(*Obama was right. The only thing that can kill terror is hope.)

Irony and paradox died with 9/11 and at first it was refreshing...bye bye to the sarcasm and snark of POMO. No more winky winky nudgy nudgy of self-referential in-joking.
But where does this lead but inevitably to no more sense of humor at all? The attempts at fairness and political correctness POMO foisted about will be further codified into fear that you could be laughing at some marginalized group. Today’s nerds are tomorrow’s terrorists. That’s what Columbine taught us. Terrorism is serious business, no laughing allowed. No more Oscar Wildean artifice and sham that reveals a higher truth. No more playing fast and loose with identity. Mutable identity is a real problem for Homeland Security as well.

Authenticity is very serious stuff. Because it’s The Truth. Or so we imagine. But wait...imagination isn't real is it? Oh my, The New Authenticity is going to be very, very problematic! And what is the solution to problems like that? Illiteracy, natch!

No Child Left Behind
The New Authenticity will be predicated on the New Illiteracy. Its gonna really, really suck! By illiteracy, I don't mean not being able to read. I mean the destruction of the idea of "critical distance". Critical distance in art was ANNOYING, true! It led to mountains of self-referential crapola that was more about its own theory than it was about having a passionate or moving experience with deeply held collective subconscious myth etc. No more critical distance------YAY!!!!! Except for this: we will be complete, unabashed idiots.

The craving for "authenticity" will take advantage of the trend typified by "No Child Left Behind" towards eschewing interpretative and creative thinking in favor of “right answers" and fundamentalism. Right answers, after all are true and "authentic", no? Without being able to think analytically, we are as illiterate as one who cannot read letters and words. Without critical thinking, “reading” is a form of consumption. Gobble, gobble, gobble! Have fun with that. We’ll all be too busy texting to worry about text or meta-text! Because we are losing the ability to read critically and think analytically, its pretty much guaranteed we will remain consumers of superficial fashion and obedient to our corporate overlords. The status quo is preserved! The market will be saved!!!! Long live the USA! Three cheers for the New Illiteracy.
With illiteracy comes the ultimate powerlessness that people seem to be leaning towards since they decided to stop weaning their children. Responsibility? Oh man, whatta drag! Real learning? TOO MUCH WORK. Facing adversity? Too much risk. And when the new boss comes goose-stepping in, its “oh pleeeeeease don’t hurrrrt me!” So says a population that has abandoned responsibility of feeling, deciding, and acting for themselves. All that’s left is HOPE. As in I HOPE the new boss isn’t the same as the old boss.

The Inevitable Swinging of the Pendulum
POMO, as a late 20th c. intellectual phenomenon, was, in many ways, dreadful emotionally. It should have been a big costume party, but instead it was a dreary academic conference. Yeah, thanks, a lot for nuthin’ POMO!
We rightfully miss sentiment but whaddo we do about it? We have a nauseating tendency to substitute sentimentality in its place—the difference being sentimentality is a superficial, cheesy, cheap feeling without the messy clean up or heavy investment. You think we love kitsch too much now? The New Authenticity promises to leave one vulnerable to kitsch like you wouldn’t believe, because without critical distance you are a slavering Pavlov’s dog lapping up images and narratives that promise instant gratification at the expense of meaning; full flavored pleasure without the challenge or sacrifice. All the yummy nom noms and no uncomfortable questions or burning, itchy rashes.

All the endless waves of trans-this and multi-that exhausted everyone. We never could choose, so we let the market do it and, oopsy daisy, the market crashed. Time for an authority figure...who’s your daddy?
Politicos have been ushering in The New Authenticity since Reagan (or before). All this intellectual bashing! All this folksy, guy-you-wanna-slug-down-brewskies-with populism. ICK PTOOOI!!!!! This will give the ranting crackpots who are suspicious of what they see as a cabal of culturati crime bosses a leg up. Ugh. More people who, in the guise of “The Common Folk” seek to destroy what teensy inroads the brainy are able to make on the decline of civilization. Disdaining pseudo intellectualism has become equated with disdaining intelligence! The Idiocracy is now! Brawndo! Its got what plants crave.

Prepare yourselves! I’d invest in Brawndo stock, now.

side panel done

Here it is, in all its glory. Ahem. As always, click to enlarge images. In the top composite, I have photoshopped in the solder lines so as not to be distracting with a lot of spaces. If you are really obsessional and detail oriented--you may notice I have changed the top panel (quite a lot, actually). Why? I will post on it soon and say why....

Happy halloweenies!!!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I should be finished with this panel in a week or so.

I am loving this pile of bodies--esp the bloated corpse...

I love this head!! its sort of an experiment...and it seems to be working (pairing the iron pink glass (see last post) with a layer of silver stained red on clear).

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Here's the current state of things.....
DEMO-TIME! OK: the bottom left is the head as it appeared the last time I posted. That version shows the glass having been sandblasted and painted with a thin wiping of black paint mixed with red for flesh to make a brown. There's also trace lines. It was fired on and then I proceeded to engrave and file tones into the flash. This color performs absolutely beeeeeeautifully with this technique! UNTIL the second and third firing!!! (See top left pic.) This firing causes the glass to strike--making it much darker, browner and as one can kind of see in the top right pic, in reflected light it seems to have metalized. The glass does poorly after the second firing, but gets even worse after the third! What's up with that??
OK--I already knew this about this glass and one has merely to re-file the surface to get the pink back. In fact--it looks even richer than before as there's a little bit of yellow tone and the darks are much richer. But still--its kind of a pain.

This glass is Verrerie Saint Just STD225 (sexually transmitted disease??) ANYWAY. I believe this violetty pink is made with iron. If any glasspeeps reading this can confirm or deny I would be most appreciative.

On the bottom right is how it came out in the end, after re-filing. One of my favortiest faces I've ever done...and to think...I found it on a doodle I thought more or less worthless. Just shows ta go ya!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How its looking now.

This is done with a french pink on clear flash (painted with a mix of brown and black, then engraved and filed.) This color fires on wonky but files away so gorgeously....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hoo boy, did I ever do a lot of painting in the past 24 hours! Let me say one thing: this is atypical. I almost never work on the whole image at once like this. This is made possible by the amount of decision making that went into the first panel that affects this panel. The bottom dead guy has a leg in the other panel so I know what his pants should look like, for example.
These skeletons are from a particularly schweeeeeet doodle that I made in about one second at a meeting.
Doodling is the single most important aspect of my work (and many other artists as well). Doodling is the (OK "a") secret key to making art. No joke!!!! Without doodling, I would probably keel over and wither and die. I doodle, therefore I am.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Moving on....I have begun work on the lower right hand panel. Why that one? because I have some concerns about the continuity between the two panels w/r/t the big naked psycho clown.The art supply stores sells these great canvas trays (could they possibly have some other use? I'm gonna say no way...)! This is the pile to haul down to the sandblaster for "treatment".
The panel after a day of work.
More clowning around.

How the panels look together.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

OK! Now its "done". !!! By "done" I mean, this section is provisionally finished and barring any dramatic revision while I do the rest of the piece, this is what it will look like. Its not yet assembled--meaning its not soldered together. Clever stained glass artists will note that I have eliminated all light leaks between the pieces in photoshop as they are monumentally distracting and this is pretty much what this monster will actually look like when soldered.
Below, some details! Don't forget you can click to enlarge!
Changes since last post include the main clown's suit has a layer of blue added. This allowed me to make his hat have more blue in it too. I did this to balance out the color, having stained the road with blood....(which is an additional layer of red glass. The decision to do this took a week!)
Invisible to you: I eliminated the layers of glass that were only carmine and silverstain. With the addition of the blue layer, this would have made certain parts of the piece four layers. I didn't want that mainly because they would be thicker there and rise of the surface of the piece by about 5/8th of an inch--which would mess with the bas relief. So I eliminated that layer and painted the carmine on the back of the red and the silverstain on the back of the blue.
Knees, elbows, feets and hands. And intestines. Yes, I know they don't really fit into the torso that way...
Doggie's dinner

Monday, October 3, 2011

I thought I was done.....but! I decided to make the road a bit I am now, officially NOT DONE...stay tuned. Its close!