Monday, September 27, 2010

Week 3

Monday, September 27
Discuss the Silliman Ersasure exercise
In Class Writing: Write the history of the world as you know it, using a vowel/consonant restraint. 
Discuss: Ubu Anthology, Jen Bervin Nets, Emma Kay, Worldview
Follow up assignment: Write a story using a list. Here's one possibility from Jared Hayes. 

Event of the Week: 
Kenneth Goldsmith will be here in Montreal on October 2, lets meet at the venue.
Saturday, October 2, 2010 - 12:30
Presented by Matrix Magazine:

Shedding Light on the Obscure. A conversation with a charismatic visionary, looking at archiving the known and unknown arts, and the role that avant-garde culture plays in popular cultural creation.

Venue: Agora Hydro-Québec du coeur des sciences de l'UQÀM

Emma Kay

from Kenneth Goldsmith's "Gallery of Conceptual Writing" on Poetry Foundation

Emma Kay
Worldview (Book Works, 1999)

Emma Kay is a British conceptual artist whose process requires that monumental works of art, geography and histories be reconstructed from unaided memory. Her books include The Bible from Memory (1997), Shakespeare from Memory (1998), andWorldview (1999).
“Without any recourse to reference material, relying solely on memory, Worldviewdraws on a variety of sources—newspapers, books, films, television, computer games, memories of school lessons, music, advertising and travels.
The neutral and authoritative style of Worldview admits no doubts, yet is fallible; the gaps, inaccuracies and the missing parts of history are as important to the work as the recollections themselves. It challenges you not just to correct and question, but to doubt your own account of history. How would you balance pre-history against the Black Death, the Bayeux Taperstry or Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative?” (Book Works)
From page 12:
After all the Ice Ages, and as the Sun continued to get hotter, the Earth became a nicer place to live again. Some of the mammals had begun to try to walk on two of their legs, to reach food that was growing on trees. They were the apes. Dinosaurs gathered food this way too, but their upper limbs were quite weak in comparison to the lower ones. Apes’ upper limbs were long and strong, and were known as arms. Their brains were much larger in relation to their upper body weight than the dinosaurs’ brains. About a million years ago apes were multiplying rapidly, they appeared all over the Earth in pockets. They lived in social groups, which were hierarchical. They were herbivores. Most lived in trees but some had begun to live on the ground. The apes had the biggest brain in relation to their body of all the creatures so far. Their brain continually evolved, and their social interaction grew more complex. They made very rudimentary tools to assist with food-gathering. They protected each other, not just their offspring. They spent a proportion of their time in play, since they were so good at gathering food that they did not need to do it all the time. Their predators were larger mammals such as lions and tigers, wolves and bears. As they became more intelligent, they learned how to avoid being eaten. They were a very successful species, and this fact enabled them to multiply and evolve at a quick rate.
From page 53:
China was a vast empire and people often lived in extreme and remote places. The majority were peasants. The climate was very severe in places. Unwanted babies were exposed and left to die and women were sometimes sold into slavery as concubines for the warlords. The concubines and wealthier women would have their feet bound as this was deemed sexually attractive. This practice made them into cripples as it broke all the bones in their feet, although it was very desirable to have the smallest feet possible in order to achieve the best marriage. The main garment was the kimono, a long-sleeved coat tied with a very wide sash worn by men and women. Wooden clogs were worn to elevate the person above the often muddy ground. The Chinese had a great knowledge of the medical properties of herbs and were extremely advanced in their treatment of the sick. They believed that the human body contained meridians and pressure points which corresponded to internal organs and moods. If pressure or needles were applied to these then a cure could be effected. This was called acupuncture. Chi, the life force, flowed around the body along the meridians and if it were disrupted then the person would feel unwell. Qi gong and Tai Chi were meditative exercises that were an aid to healing and wellbeing.
The second to last entry in the book, p. 211:
Many people planned their New Year’s Eve celebrations years in advance and booked up hotel and function rooms all over the world. Some opted for the point on the dateline, in the Far East, where the Sun would rise for the first time in the 21st century. But the vast majority did not and were content to stay at home and plan street parties. Fireworks factories increased their production. Governments laid plans for controlling law and order in the event of mayhem caused by computer system failure. Many bars had to offer to pay their staff four or five times the usual wages to get them to work on New Year’s Eve. But for a large part of the world’s population the millennium had no relevance, although it was difficult to ignore. Many religions followed a different calendar. The year 2000 AD simply marked 2000 years after the birth of Christ, which made it a Christian celebration.
See a description of Emma Kay's show at The Hammer, 2001
On Kay's Worldview in Cabinet

Monday, September 20, 2010

Week 2

Art: Ellen Gallery (Library Building) see: NELSON HENRICKS. TIME WILL HAVE PASSED. LE TEMPS AURA PASSÉ @ (meet Wednesday, September 21st at 4pm)
Art: Marcel Duchamp, Sol Lewitt also see Sol LeWitt's Autobiography, 1980
Inclass Writing: 
1. Describe/list the contents of a room
2. Ekphrasis and Conceptual Art
Discuss: Ubu Anthology Intro & 1-12, Jen Bervin, Nets (not in stock yet...)
Discuss: Retyping pieces
Start Reading Dies (to be discussed November 1st)
ASSIGNMENT #2 Erasure (to be discussed next week)

P.S. Why not contribute your own text to Concordia's Holzer inspired art project?

The Plagiarists' Code

Steal Ethically.

Sol Lewitt sung by John Baldessari

Sentences on Conceptual Art 

  1. Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.
  2. Rational judgements repeat rational judgements.
  3. Irrational judgements lead to new experience.
  4. Formal art is essentially rational.
  5. Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically.
  6. If the artist changes his mind midway through the execution of the piece he compromises the result and repeats past results.
  7. The artist's will is secondary to the process he initiates from idea to completion. His wilfulness may only be ego.
  8. When words such as painting and sculpture are used, they connote a whole tradition and imply a consequent acceptance of this tradition, thus placing limitations on the artist who would be reluctant to make art that goes beyond the limitations.
  9. The concept and idea are different. The former implies a general direction while the latter is the component. Ideas implement the concept.
  10. Ideas can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form. All ideas need not be made physical.
  11. Ideas do not necessarily proceed in logical order. They may set one off in unexpected directions, but an idea must necessarily be completed in the mind before the next one is formed.
  12. For each work of art that becomes physical there are many variations that do not.
  13. A work of art may be understood as a conductor from the artist's mind to the viewer's. But it may never reach the viewer, or it may never leave the artist's mind.
  14. The words of one artist to another may induce an idea chain, if they share the same concept.
  15. Since no form is intrinsically superior to another, the artist may use any form, from an expression of words (written or spoken) to physical reality, equally.
  16. If words are used, and they proceed from ideas about art, then they are art and not literature; numbers are not mathematics.
  17. All ideas are art if they are concerned with art and fall within the conventions of art.
  18. One usually understands the art of the past by applying the convention of the present, thus misunderstanding the art of the past.
  19. The conventions of art are altered by works of art.
  20. Successful art changes our understanding of the conventions by altering our perceptions.
  21. Perception of ideas leads to new ideas.
  22. The artist cannot imagine his art, and cannot perceive it until it is complete.
  23. The artist may misperceive (understand it differently from the artist) a work of art but still be set off in his own chain of thought by that misconstrual.
  24. Perception is subjective.
  25. The artist may not necessarily understand his own art. His perception is neither better nor worse than that of others.
  26. An artist may perceive the art of others better than his own.
  27. The concept of a work of art may involve the matter of the piece or the process in which it is made.
  28. Once the idea of the piece is established in the artist's mind and the final form is decided, the process is carried out blindly. There are many side effects that the artist cannot imagine. These may be used as ideas for new works.
  29. The process is mechanical and should not be tampered with. It should run its course.
  30. There are many elements involved in a work of art. The most important are the most obvious.
  31. If an artist uses the same form in a group of works, and changes the material, one would assume the artist's concept involved the material.
  32. Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution.
  33. It is difficult to bungle a good idea.
  34. When an artist learns his craft too well he makes slick art.
  35. These sentences comment on art, but are not art.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer is at DHC in Montreal. Know what text is? What it can do? Watch Holzer, in typical Holzer fashion, ignite, bend, tease out the layers embedded in bodies of text. Holzer's show responds directly to war, mostly to the Iraq war, but also to earlier conflicts in the Balkans. The text in Thorax and Ribs is taken from US Government Documents that have been made public. There is the usual LED scrolling texts, but there are also canvases that feature maps and texts that have been blacked out.

At about 2:30 you'll see the reverse word fountain.
Another video, more fun than informative. Must See. MUST SEE.

You can follow Jenny Holzer on Twitter.


 @VanessaPlace@sheilaheti@joshcorey, and 10+ others







    Plus: Check out this site featuring a webcam where you can watch Holzer's Projections at her show at Mass MoCa. These projections use the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska.

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Week 1

    Art: DHC see: Jenny Holzer (check back for out appointment: tentatively Friday 17th
    Discuss: Kenneth Goldsmith on Conceptual Writing, Uncreative Writing, Boredom, and Day. See two excerpts from Day on Poetry Foundation.
    Read for next week: Craig Dworkin’s Introduction to the Ubu Anthology of Conceptual Writing & begin reading first ten entries. Choose 2 to present on in the next few classes. Be prepared to discuss.
    ASSIGNMENT #1 Retyping

    Update: Meet up at DHC Gallery just before 2 this Friday, September 17th

    Introduction to Conceptual Writing

    What is conceptual writing and who is doing it?

    A group of practitioners can be loosely drawn as they are on the side bar of this blog. The list will be added to over the coming months as we move through the readings. Some of those added will aguably be described as conceptual writers, others we'll have to make a case for. To figure out what is and isn't we'll have to come up with some definition of Conceptual Writing, which, if you look at the writing about Conceptual Writing, isn't necessarily so easy to do.

    Here's something to think about:
    constraint isn’t enough, not by a long shot. Aren’t we talking about disruption as a way of ordering disruption? Procedure as a mock-up of process? I guess I’m interested in what happens when avant garde practices are applied to more conventional strands of storytelling…Unreadablity as a feature of reading in extremis? I’m not sure what I’m looking for exists quite yet but I am sensing a kind of formally innovative, intelligent and emotive kind of fiction that is under some pressures, that uses found and sculpted language, that transforms in some new way, how we might look at our (excess) world…that helps us in fact, imagine it.
    From the Introduction to Conceptual Fiction folio on Drunken Boat curated by Sina Queyras & Vanessa Place.

    Here's something else:
    It's clear that long-cherished notions of creativity are under attack, eroded by file-sharing, media culture, widespread sampling, and digital replication. How does writing respond to this new environment? This workshop will rise to that challenge by employing strategies of appropriation, replication, plagiarism, piracy, sampling, plundering, as compositional methods. Along the way, we'll trace the rich history of forgery, frauds, hoaxes, avatars, and impersonations spanning the arts, with a particular emphasis on how they employ language. We'll see how the modernist notions of chance, procedure, repetition, and the aesthetics of boredom dovetail with popular culture to usurp conventional notions of time, place, and identity, all as expressed linguistically.
    --Kenneth Goldsmith
    Riffing on Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing workshop we will, over the course of the semester, immerse ourselves in conceptual writing practices. We will explore the relationship between art and language on the page, on walls, inside and outside spaces. We will attend galleries and engage in projects of description, transcription and détournement. We will take our practice to the street and to the archive. We will access the Internet but we will also access the surfaces of the city. We will read conceptual writing, and writing about writing, and we will ourselves, engage in short and long term writing projects that are responding to the readings, as well as proposing our own projects. Weekly art outings are not mandatory, but will enhance the discussion of conceptual work over the course of the semester.

    Primary Texts
    The Inkblot Record, Dan Farrell, Coach House
    Notes on Conceptualisms, Fitterman & Place
    Nets, Ugly Duckling Presse, Jen Bervin
    Rob The Plagairist, Robert Fitterman
    Dies: A Sentence, Vanessa Place, Les Figues
    Revolution, Kim Rosenfeld, Les Figues

    All additional readings not handed out in class will be available or linked to on this blog: the syllabus will certainly shift. 

    Grading & Assignments
    Participation & Discussion 40%
    Must attend. These discussions cannot be replicated and we will likely do in-class writing as well. You will lose 5% for each undocumented absence. Please keep a writing journal and respond to each reading in detail. This will ensure you  have something to contribute each class. All students are expected to contribute to discussions. It would be good to come with a written reading response. Students are also asked to keep a writing/reading journal in which they respond in an ongoing way to the readings we are engaging with, as well as track their own writing projects. This will help develop  your final statement. 

    Assignments 40%
    You will have 5 writing assignments over the course of the semester as well as 3 opportunities to lead a discussion. You will hand these in and workshop. Each of these is worth 5%.

    Final Portfolio & Statement 20%
    You final portfolio will consist of your writing assignments, plus a short written statement outlining your engagement with conceptual writing. 

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Derek Beaulieu

    Video via Helen. See her reading report on derek's Montreal reading.
    Check out derek beaulieu's blog.
    Read Greg Betts on Flatland.
    Find out more about flatland, Information as Material, UK
    Read excerpts here:
    PDF of the whole book here:

    Lemon Hound in Conversation with beaulieu
    Lemon Hound On Reading the Newspaper
    Lemon Hound on Flatland, Chains and How to Edit
    Interview re: How To Write with derek and Helen Hajnoczky on Lemon Hound
    Derek's artist statement & from Drunken Boat:
    Artist’s Statement
    And Then There Were None
    Nothing Odd Can Last

    derek beaulieu ’s five books of poetry all engage with textual production and the way that composition informs comprehension. His first book, with wax, was published by Coach House Books in 2003, and was followed-up by frogments from the frag pool: haiku after basho (Mercury Press, 2005) co-written with Gary Barwin and fractal economies (talonbooks, 2006). His most recent book is Silence(red fox press, 2009) a suite of non-semantic concrete poems.

    beaulieu is also the author of three books of conceptual fiction; flatland (information as material, 2007 online here) and Local Colour (ntamo, 2008, online here). His collection of conceptual short fiction, How to Write, was published by talonbooks in 2010.

    beaulieu is co-editor of the best-selling anthology Shift & Switch: new Canadian poetry. He has been editor of filling Station (1998-2001, 2004-2007), dANDelion (2001-2004) and endNote (2000-2002) magazines. His small press housepress (1997-2004) published over 250 publications and is now archived, in its entirely, at Simon Fraser University. He has lectured about small press, community and poetics in Canada, Scandinavia, the US and the UK. His artwork–which engages with text and readability–has been shown in group and solo exhibits internationally.

    how to write:
    excerpts here:

    local colour:
    excerpts here:

    and there's more links and such up here: