Wednesday, September 29, 2004

binge and purge

at some point, after looking at hours upon hours of contemporary art you suddenly lose a sense of perspective. hits you like a refrigerator dropped from the sky. judgement is lost and everything starts to lose relevance - reality falls away in chunks with each piece of artwork you see. that's when you find yourself in the shanghai musem of art staring at paintings related to 9-11, listening to Elton John on a pair of headphones thinking, "well, this guy's not a bad song writer after all." that's when you know it's time to stop. time to get a coffee.

Unfortunately, I didn't get a coffee. I went to 2 more shows in this extreme state of oversaturation because I had to leave shanghai this evening. The result is that could not tell if the work I was looking at was good or not. all I know is that I saw it. tainted by elton john. maybe this was what was wrong with 70s.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

shanghai art fart

we're in shanghai for the biennale, or biennial or whatever it's called these days. saying biennale makes one sound pretentious and wanna be euro, pronouncing it biennial makes it sound like a flower. can't win either way.

As usual with these things, everything is behind schedule, nobody knows what's going on, the names are not on the "right list", etc. etc. chaos ensues. but something will happen (something always does) and some kind of magic will take place and then everyone will go to the parties with the beautiful people and feel like a supah-stah. funny how these things work. the most awkward and shy people get to play glamour for a few days shuttling off to meetings and gatherings while sucking down alcohol to calm their nerves and combat jet lag. do not read this as cynicism, I personally think it's kind of endearing.

haven't had a chance to look at the work, (between begging for passes and trying to figure out exactly what's supposed to be going on) but it does seem better than previous years offerings. I'll actually try to look tomorrow and report more later.

Monday, September 13, 2004

divide and conquer

today I was suddenly called into a meeting that had already been in session for what seemed like hours. Almost every chair in the room was taken up by brillaint engineers and computer programmers. some very bright people in there. They were almost all men and all were quite agitated over something. "Come here, we need your help." It was a little intimidating. I'm sure I couldn't have helped them with anything except maybe a little style counselling. They were trying to get some graphics to appear correctly on the computer screen. lines were everywhere and everything was a mess. "So... do you know how MS Word works?"

Excuse me?

That had to be one of the most surreal moments I've had in a while. I didn't even know how to answer the question.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

geek theory

I'm teaching a class in new media art at the Beijing Broadcast Institute this semester and going over some reading materials. What a great excuse to re-read McLuhan and Benjamin! Had to drag this stuff out from the dusty corners. Still cleaning the soot off of them, but such wisdom coming from the 1970s and 1930s. Amazing. I'm still a little overwhelmed at the prospect of facing a class, and I haven't actually decided on the course of the 14 weeks, but it's very exciting all the same. It will be good to start talking about these things again. The only problem is that all the students are chinese, and english is their second language. Yikes! This should be very interesting - both culturally and intellectually. The medium is the message indeed.

Friday, September 10, 2004


today is an 'I hate China' day: I hate pushy people, I hate watching people spit in the streets, I hate sitting in traffic for 2 hours. I hate passive-agressive behavior, I hate face, I hate chinese men who talk for hours only to repeat themselves and you, ad nauseum. I hate walking up 11 flights of stairs after midnight. I hate the fucking little yappy dogs that shit in the parking lot. I hate my pathetic neighbors. I hate social ineptness. I hate whining about this shit when there's nothing to be done about it. grrrrrrrrrrr.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

real cog, real machine

yes, I started working for the Man. Not just any Man, a huge churning machine of a Man. I won't say who, but in essence, it doesn't matter. The cog in the machine phenomenon is real and - as I found out on my first day on the job - far reaching.

Go here, get this person to sign, then take the form here and have this person sign. turn in the form here. Do that for 3 more forms. Wandering unaccompanied through rows and rows of cubicles that are all complimentary shades of eggplant where a person on one side of the room doesn't know the names of anyone on the other side.

Calling an extension for tech support and having someone in another timezone, nay another COUNTRY answer and completely take over my desktop. It's not that I didn't know this could be done, I'd just never had it done to me. Watching the mouse move on it's own over my desktop, I think I started hyperventilating. I can't otherwise explain why I felt so lightheaded through the whole phone call. I mentioned to the person on the other end of the phone that the experience was a little scary. He ignored the comment completely.

This sounds so cliche, I know. But I think I've just infiltrated a sick and fascinating world. Maybe it's finally time for me to read Microserfs. Undoubtedly there will be more stories...