Tag Archives: philosophy

Nowhere Manifesto Revisited

Linda_and_Lexie_Loungin'Our latest earcatcher video made us think about the earcatcher philosophy.  Midwesterners are always worried about how the rest of the country views us. We tell them, “Look at all the cool shit happening here!” Yes indeed there is a plethora of great underground projects going on. But we also think that a lack of identity is freeing. Time to revisit my Nowhere Manifesto which ties into what we do. It’s also a friendly nod to other artists who live in off-the-radar cities. You can download poster sizes here.

NOWHERE MANIFESTO

Making art is a comment on time and place, even if it is an unconscious one.
We (Humans of Earth) are shaped by our environments and experiences.

Then what about the artist who lives in the bland pancake of the American Midwest?

Columbus is a city known to be a cross section of the United States if it is known at all.
Every type of person is represented here.
Test Market USA.

We are a marketer’s wet dream.
We live together in relative harmony.
We have no body of water and the tallest point in the county is a landfill.
Not even a lake on which to be a mistake.
Endless flatness in four directions,
all corn and soybeans.

We cancel each other out!
When you mix all the colors of paint together you get mud.
We are in touch with the void.

Shitty is pretty.
Lint & dust in the corners of a sprawling campus dump hole:
more interesting than the top of the empire state building.

What we do here will never be co-opted by the mainstream art world.
The lack of pressure to succeed is freeing.

An incubator for weirdness.
Embrace the nowhere-ness!


dedicated to d.a. levy (RIP)

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Why this shape?

why_this_shape?As part of a brief critique of The Magic Mountain proposal, someone asked where the shape of the towers came from (see previous entry for sketch). I am making a small field of these welded steel towers. In the moment I stumbled over my words, trying to connect disparate thoughts. But these are all possible answers to the question “Why this shape?”:

1) I drew it in a previous sketch (…but where did that come from?) To be more clear, I changed the design a bit. The original had a square-shaped top but I found that the triangle was easier to balance, being on a 3-rod structure vs. 4. This is the pragmatic answer.

2) It’s connected to childhood memories of staring out the window in car-rides at dusk through Stark County. The Ohio terrain is long and flat except for the tall transmission towers…This is the psychoanalytic answer.

3) Mountainous Banff, Alberta, Canada. This is a place I lived and a place I don’t go a day without thinking about. Despite personal hell I still remember it as ideal. The Banff Centre=fundamentally transformative. This is the nostalgic answer.

4)  It reminds me of The Magic Mountain by Thomas Mann.  Modern in feel, a retreat in the mountains, time stretched out. All things that converge in my piece. This is the literary answer.

5)  And the blue glow that these towers will emit? That comes from the enjoyment I get out of seeing a glowing tv screen through a living room window. This is the voyeuristic answer.

blue glowing tv

How far back do you go looking for an explanation (“why this shape”)? If you don’t believe in free will (which I don’t) you hit a wall. I did not will myself to like radio towers, mountains, and glowing tv’s. These things just happen to intersect in my brain. I cannot take credit for my success or failure with this project; it’s really luck in the end if this thing does work out.

If this sounds like a depressing, hopeless way of looking at things, it is. In his book Free Will, Sam Harris makes a strong case that free will is merely an illusion. This book has stuck in my craw (in a good way?) since August 2012. Unfortunately I don’t think the consolatory section at the end ameliorates the angst bound to emerge while reading it. Thank god for art!

AN AMENDMENT:
I see a tiny sliver of positivity in our lack of free will on my teaching blog.