Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Cry For Me Argentina



Bruce Chatwin's In Patagonia (1977) is a book I read once a year, usually in the spring or fall. Like another favourite, Thomas Bernhard's The Voice Imitator (1978/1997), the book is comprised of short prose pieces -- 97 in Chatwin's book, 103 in Bernhard's. For me, nothing (else) in Chatwin's oeuvre comes close, not even his best known book, Songlines (1987).

Here is a line from In Patagonia:

I pictured a low timber house with a shingle roof, caulked against storms, with blazing log fires inside and the walls lined with all the best books, somewhere to live when the rest of the world blew up.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Let the Sun Go Down On Me



I first saw Daphne Odjig's The Lady Teacher (1970) in Herbert T. Schwarz's Tales from the Smokehouse (1974), a curious book that features a number of Woodland creatures, like Earth Mother. Not sure if The Lady Teacher was part of Odjig's 2009 National Gallery of Canada exhibition (if it was, it would have appeared behind the exhibition's privacy wall). Checked the NGC's online collection and saw that it was purchased that same year, though its image is still listed as "not available."

Monday, December 28, 2015

I Want to Live Like a Refugee



The CBC tells a story of woman who is adapting Bratz dolls for Syrian refugee children.

Years ago a friend returned to Vancouver from rural Peru with a woman he was hoping to marry. When their wedding day came, his friends showered them with gifts, a few of which were handmade ceramic bowls made by local potters. The woman was thankful, of course, because she saw in these gifts not the object itself but the thought behind them. However, of all the gifts they opened, the one that brought her to tears was a six-speed mixmaster -- "con la función de pulse!"

Saturday, December 26, 2015

The Spirit of Christmas Past (Mid-Century Film Version)



Dickens's "Spirit of Christmas Past" is a thoroughly Victorian figure whose representations are wide and varied.

It was a strange figure -- like a child: yet not so like a child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded from the view, and being diminished to a child's proportions. Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was white as if with age; and yet the face had not a wrinkle in it, and the tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold were of uncommon strength. Its legs and feet, most delicately formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It wore a tunic of the purest white and round its waist was bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and, in singular contradiction of that wintry emblem, had its dress trimmed with summer flowers. But the strangest thing about it was, that from the crown of its head there sprung a bright clear jet of light, by which all this was visible; and which was doubtless the occasion of its using, in its duller moments, a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under its arm.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Duet




I remember watching this when it first aired as part of Bing Crosby's November 30, 1977 Christmas special. We knew David Bowie was scheduled to appear, but not to sing with Bing, who died six weeks before that.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

from A Christmas Carol (1843)





Yes! and the bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in!

'I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future.’ Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. `The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. Oh Jacob Marley. Heaven, and the Christmas Time be praised for this. I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees.’

He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good intentions, that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the Spirit, and his face was wet with tears.

`They are not torn down.’ cried Scrooge, folding one of his bed-curtains in his arms,’ they are not torn down, rings and all. They are here -- I am here -- the shadows of the things that would have been, may be dispelled. They will be. I know they will.’

His hands were busy with his garments all this time; turning them inside out, putting them on upside down, tearing them, mislaying them, making them parties to every kind of extravagance.

`I don’t know what to do.’ cried Scrooge, laughing and crying in the same breath; and making a perfect Laocoon of himself with his stockings. `I am as light as a feather, I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a schoolboy. I am as giddy as a drunken man. A merry Christmas to everybody. A happy New Year to all the world. Hallo here. Whoop. Hallo.’

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

A Child's Christmas in Wales (1954)



When I was a child, it never snowed for more than four days and four nights in a row. Dylan Thomas, who was born in Swansea, Wales, in 1914, and raised there, is unsure whether it snowed for six days and six nights when he was twelve (1926), or twelve days and twelve nights when he was six (1920).

Looking through Swansea's weather records, I see that neither of the years Thomas mentions in A Child's Christmas in Wales received the snowfalls he is unsure of. The only year that comes close is 1947, when Wales was "buried beneath huge amounts of snow," and Thomas and Caitlin were sponging off the Taylors in Disley.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015


A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

The radio next door is the finger of its operator riding a dying signal: the barking voice of a Welsh poet sharing his childhood.

A car idles on the street below. Inside it, a cassette tape slowed by years of gunk. "Ring out these bells! Ring out, ring solstice bells!" 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Prototype for a Model of a Theory (1999)



Before joining the firm(ament) of Wallace, Wall, Graham and Lum, Roy Arden was attracted to collage and its 3D cousin, assemblage. His 1985 essay on Al Neil, published when he was 28 years old, announces an intellect that continues to both inspire and enrage.

Around fifteen years ago, Arden returned to the mediums that first attracted him to visual art practice. Collage and assemblage, but also painting. (Sorry, here not there.)

Above is a sculpture Arden made in 1999, entitled Prototype for a Model of a Theory. I have seen variants of this work at the CAG and Monte Clark Gallery, but never in this form. Thank you to Christopher Brayshaw for sending it to me.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Beba Coca Cola (1957-1964)



Last Saturday, Robert Kardosh Projects hosted the launch of Letters: Michael Morris and Concrete Poetry.

Published by Black Dog, Letters features essays by myself and Jamie Hilder, David MacWilliam, Scott Watson and William Wood, in addition to reproduced images of works (such as the one above) that appeared in the exhibition of the same name that I curated with Scott at the Morris and Helen Belkin Gallery in 2012.

Below is another "Coke" inspired concrete poem that was, until at least the early-1980s, a staple of Norton's English Literature anthologies.


Friday, December 18, 2015

"That's the song I sing"




The difference between the Coca Cola jingle "Buy the World a Coke" and its spin-off "uncommercial" version "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" is apparent in the first line. Where the "uncommercial" version uses the word "build" (as in "I'd like to build the world a home"), the commercial version uses the word "buy".

I was a child when the first "Hilltop" Coke ad debuted -- nine years old in July 1971. Shortly after that, the New Seekers came out with the "uncommercial" version. I noted the difference.

This is how my nine-year-old mind worked: if one were to "buy the world" something, who would the seller be? Mars? Venus? But if one were to "build the world" something like a home, that would too much for one person, and you would never get it done, like the guy who spent his life building Vancouver's seawall (James Cunningham), and died trying. (The original version of the seawall was completed in September 1971, two months after the Coke ad hit the airwaves. The Stanley Park portion was completed in 1980.)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Talkin' 'bout Our Conversation



I am not on Facebook, but some of my friends are, and they know I like it when they share with me its "pages".

This morning I awoke to an email from Raymond Boisjoly who sent me 25 pages of a conversation that began late-afternoon yesterday and continued into the evening. It is one of the more candid conversations I have read on art, identity, appropriation, intentionality and criticism.


Could this conversation have happened if it was put together for a symposium or conference? I am not sure. Why this conversation succeeded, where so many like it have failed, has everything to do with the triumph of Love over one of its more reified forms -- Respect.


Viva Facebook!

Haw'aa Beaucoup, Ray Ray!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Seasonal Tree



Librarian Cheryl Siegel is no longer at the Vancouvery Art Gallery. But her seasonal tree is!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Clint "Fashion Santa" Burnham



Every phenomenon has its prototype. Before Yorkdale Mall's Fashion Santa, there was Kingsgate Mall's Clint Burnham.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Vexation Island (1997)




Twenty years before Rodney Graham's dealers saturated the market with his photo-based work (to the point where the artist has no choice but to stop making this kind work in order to excite a re-interest in it), he "represented" Canada at the Venice Biennale with a 9 minute looping film called Vexation Island (1997).

Although many point to Vexation Island as Graham's breakthrough (as a market artist), I prefer to see this piece not as the beginning of Graham's commercial success as a maker of short films (in which he stars), but, by virtue of the small abstraction on his forehead, the beginning of his work as a painter.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

La Biennale di Venezia



For those who continue to insist that the Curator has surpassed the Artist for second row (behind the Collector, of course) at that fashion show known as the Art World, well, let's just say that I remember a time when it was the curator who chose the artist (to work with) for the Venice Biennale, not the other way around.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Tuesday



On Tuesday, Holborn Group CEO Joo Kim Tiah (second from right) issued a statement in response to calls that he “un-licence” the Trump name from his Vancouver development, based on the US Republican presidential candidate's recent comments concerning Muslims and the United States:


Holborn is a Vancouver-based private real estate development company that owns Trump Vancouver. When Trump Vancouver opens in 2016, we will create as many as 300 jobs. Holborn, a company that has contributed immensely to the growth of Vancouver, is not in any way involved in US politics. As such, we would not comment further on Mr Trump’s personal or political agenda, nor any political issues, local or foreign. Our efforts remain focused on the construction of what will soon be the finest luxury property in Vancouver and beyond.


Also on Tuesday, the proprietors of Le Marché St. George added a text to their website in response to a conclusion drawn by a City of Vancouver building inspector who responded to a blind neighbour’s complaint that Le Marché was not looking after its sidewalks, and that she needs those sidewalks looked after (unobstructed) in order to “see” where she is going. Here is the first paragraph of that text:

Le Marché St George is a corner store, a café, a meeting place, and a home. It’s a husband, wife, and daughter, a sister, a best friend, an aunt, 3 chickens, 2 cats, a fish and 2 bee hives who all reside here. It's a place where everyone is welcome. It’s seeing the neighbourhood kids growing up together. It's love stories that have lead to happily-ever-afters. It’s where the mothers and fathers come to relax with their kids. It’s first dates and first babies. It's running groups and knitting groups, community vineyards, and mariachi bands. It's keeping spare keys to the neighbours houses, It’s honest people who work long hours. It’s a funky, handsome, all-crooked, old building where all of this is happening... and we want to keep it that way!

Finally on Tuesday, the Turner Prize announced the winner of its 2015 award. Here is what Guardian art critic Adrian Searle had to say about the winning artist(s), Assemble:
Assemble’s win signifies a larger move away from the gallery into public space that is becoming ever more privatised. It shows a revulsion for the excesses of the art market, and a turn away from the creation of objects for that market. Their structure that was on show at this year’s Turner exhibition must be seen not as a work, but as a model of work that takes place elsewhere; not in the art world, but the world itself.
For the exhibition, Assemble recreated a full-size, wooden mockup of one of the houses in Granby in south Liverpool they have been refurbishing with locals. They filled it with the ceramics, fireplace surrounds, stools, doorhandles and furnishings they and the residents have been making both to use in the houses and to sell in order to generate income. The overall aesthetic was stripped-down and clean, without being conspicuously forced or arty.
When this year’s shortlist was announced, I wrote that Assemble raised questions about whether their work is in fact art, or instead a kind of socially-engaged design practice. In some ways, their activities mirror Theaster Gates’s efforts to regenerate a corner of South Chicago, just as his recent project in Bristol was a joyous social intervention. Unlike Gates, Assemble do not make artworks to supplement their larger projects – though the fireplaces, benches and ceramics do make some money for Granby. Assemble are also indebted to the utopian 19th-century projects of William Morris; they extend their artfulness into everyday life.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Room of One's Own (1929)



"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction," writes Virginia Woolf.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

"In My Room" (1963)



It took four people to write this simple, yet affecting, Beach Boys song.

Monday, December 7, 2015

"Wayward, natural and unnatural silences"



 A fragment of Phyllis Webb's "Foreword" to Wilson's Bowl (1980):

My poems are born out of great struggles of silence. This book has been long in coming. Wayward, natural and unnatural silences, my desire for privacy, my critical hesitations, my critical wounds, my dissatisfaction with myself and the work have all contributed to a strange gestation. 
         

Sunday, December 6, 2015

On Silence




"… and the silence, almost everywhere in the world now, is traffic."

"If you listen to Beethoven or to Mozart, you'll see that they are always the same, but if you listen to traffic, you see it's always different."

Saturday, December 5, 2015


A small room inside a bay window. A single bed, a table and chair, and a sink. I could manage something larger, with more conveniences, but I could never match the view.

Sitting at my table, staring at this framed plastic light, I think of the rains, their music. Not just the notes that dot my asphalt roof, but the sharp splashes that begin with leaf-clogged eaves, and the longer, higher frequency swish from the tires of a passing car.

There are musicians who have left their designation and the instruments that carried them into music school for the larger palette that is Sound. Nothing new here, just another way to play it.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Pulp Fiction Books



John Denniston describes himself as "a retired newspaper photographer who still has a compelling desire to take interesting photographs." The picture above was taken May 17, 2013.

Tonight, between the hours of 7-9pm, Pulp Fiction Books is hosting the re-launch of Kingsway. It will be wet and windy, but come in anyway.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

A Day of Not Writing


On Monday I finished a 2,000 word feature for Canadian Art. It was a hard piece to write, for different reasons.

Tired of sitting, I decide to go downtown and see what's new in art and architecture. I walk past an entrance beside the Broadway and Commerical Drive Skytrain Station.


From the Stadium Station I walk to the Or Gallery to see Myfanwy MacLeod's exhibition, The Private Life of the Rabbit. The Or Gallery is an artist-run centre and its Director/Curator is at the New Art Dealers Alliance trade show in Miami trying to sell art objects to pay for his trip. But Jonah and Kate are there.

Myfanwy's father built a rabbit hutch once, so that gives her the right.


I am more comfortable at the back end of Myfanwy's show.


From the Or I walk to Richards Street, en route to Republic for Holly Ward's awkwardly-titled show. Holly is part of my Canadian Art feature, and if I didn't have to write about her, I would have attended her opening last Thursday.

Most of the work in Holly's The House of Light and Entropy was made at Heffley Creek, just north of Kamloops, where she and Kevin Schmidt are building a home/studio based on the geodesic dome she built for her 2011 Langara College residency.


I have yet to visit the VAG's Second Floor shows, so that's where I head next.

Curious to see the new Nordstrom's, I stop in and walk its floors. Like Berlin's KaDeWe, it serves alcohol.

Here is a bar I will never have a drink at.


The VAG has two shows on its Second Floor. To the right as you come up the stairs is a collection show entitled Between Object and Action: Transforming Media and the 1960s and 70s. Featured in this show are Kate Craig, Gathie Falk, Carole Itter, Gary Lee-Nova, Eric Metcalfe and Evelyn Roth.

Pictured below is the world's largest divorce suite.


Here I am at the Lee Bul show at the other end of the VAG's Second Floor.


Once outside I see that Heather Reisman has finally closed the book on Indigo/Chapter's Robson Street location. Back to the dollar stores for candles and picture-frames.


Walking home through Chinatown I stop outside the site of my previous Canadian Art feature, what was once the Apartment Gallery.


(Among 2015's most significant discoveries: incontrovertible evidence that art was invented by the rich to convince the poor that the former and the latter have something in common, and that the rich are interested.)

Another shop on its way out of business is the Multi Store at 1009 Kingsway, just a couple of blocks from my home. Everything -- including "smokeless camphor" -- is 30% off.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

20th Anniversary Edition of Kingsway



This Thursday December 3 between 7-9pm Pulp Fiction Books at 2422 Main Street will host the launch of a "20th anniversary edition" of a book of poems I wrote called Kingsway. The book includes a new cover, new photos (the old ones were lost to shifting technologies and poor archiving), and an afterword that speaks of how I came to write the book and what has changed since it was first published.

There will be a short reading, followed by a conversation. Bookstore proprietor Christopher Brayshaw said he will participate in this conversation, and this pleases me because his review of Kingsway for the now-defunct Vancouver Review is one of the finer pieces written on what I thought I was writing.

All are welcome. Books will be available for sale, and for signing.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Roy Kiyooka



I am not sure if Michael Audain has any work by Roy Kiyooka in his collection, but I would hope so if he wants to tell the story (stories?) of art in this province.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Historical Narrative



The Audain Art Museum ("the only museum in Canada dedicated to the work of a single province") might look and feel like an ark, but once through its turnstiles the layout brings to mind the corridor of Berlin's Hamburger Bahnhof, with its galleries to the left (upon entering through the lobby), and then four huge ones at the end.

The narrative of those first galleries, as far as I understand them, break down into seven parts:

1) "Traditional" Northwest Coast First Nations art and artifact

2) Emily Carr

3) E.J. Hughes

4) "Pre- and Post-war" (Jack Shadbolt, Gordon Smith, Toni Onley, Takao Tanabe…)

5) "Photo-conceptualism" (Ian Wallace, Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Ken Lum, Stan Douglas)

6) "Contemporary First Nations" (Sonny Assu, Dana Claxton, Jim Hart, Brian Jungen, Marianne Nicolson…)

7) "Contemporary" (Tim Lee, Steven Shearer…)

Friday, November 27, 2015

Audain Art Museum



When I was younger, the highway to Whistler was scary. People drove it accordingly, which is to say carefully. Now, after years of improvements, it is no longer the road that is scary -- it is the drivers.

Yesterday we drove to Whistler's Rainbow Theatre to hear Michael Audain speak to local residents "about art." Which he did. Eccentrically. I am not sure how many times he mentioned how important it is for his and Yoshi Karasawa's art collection to have its own building ("A home for our artworks"), but each time he did he would remind us that the location is irrelevant ("It's not because we wanted a home in the mountains").


Not that this was found on the residents I was sitting with, most of whom beamed back their blithe Alberta oil smiles as Audain went on to describe the display logic of the collection once it is moved inside the Patkau's ark-like building. (Ark-like because it looks like an ark -- albeit a bent one, as if it just bumped into an iceberg -- but also because, as Audain kept reminding us, it sits on a flood plain).


A few posts ago, in a fit a pique, I described Michael Audain as our Noah Cross. Allow me to shorten that to Noah.


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

"Search and Destroy" (1973)




The forgotten sub-genre that is protestsploitation.

I'm a street walking cheetah
With a heart full of napalm
I'm a runaway son of the nuclear A-bomb
I am a world's forgotten boy
The one who searches and destroys
Honey gotta help me please
Somebody gotta save my soul
Baby detonates for me
Look out honey, 'cause I'm using technology !
Ain't got time to make no apology
Soul radiation in the dead of night
Love in the middle of a fire fight
Honey gotta strike me blind
Somebody gotta save my soul
Baby penetrates my mind
And I'm the world's forgotten boy
The one who's searchin', searchin' to destroy
And honey I'm the world's forgotten boy
The one who's searchin', searchin' to destroy
Forgotten boy, forgotten boy
Forgotten boy said
Hey forgotten boy

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Searchers (1956)



When a "full-screen" film ends on television, everyone grows taller, skinnier, rolled over by those involved with the film's production. In John Ford's The Searchers, it is not the reformatting of the film (to accommodate its credits) that changes the shape of its racist hero, but the sliding door of its post-production frame.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Searching




Searching is a growth industry.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Tropismes (1957)




Two weeks ago New Directions Press republished an English edition of Nathalie Sarraute's Tropismes (1957), as translated by Maria Jolas. The edition appears as part of NDP's Pearls series, whose covers favour geometric (abstract) forms; but with the Sarraute edition, these covers have taken a figurative, childlike turn. 

Friday, November 20, 2015

"As Verlaine said and the wind is blowing…"




Serge Gainsbourg's mention of Verlaine -- could it be in reference to the latter's "What Sayest Thou, Traveller"? The sixth stanza in particular?

Has that dull innocence been punished as it should?
What sayest though? Man is hard -- but woman? And thy tears,
Who has been drinking? And into what ear so good
Dost pour thy woes for it to pour into other ears?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

French Foreign Nuclear Policy



For years the joke was that a man facing ruin would abandon life as he knew it and join the French Foreign Legion.

What has changed between then and now is that it is no longer just men who consider life in a foreign army, but women too. And the army is no longer the French Foreign Legion – it is ISIS.

Not sure what the French Foreign Legion are up to these days.

Back in 1972 a schoolmate’s father was beaten by French soldiers for protesting French nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific.

His name was David McTaggart, and he was a member of Greenpeace.

The French denied McTaggart’s accusations, said he fell. Then pictures showed up to prove otherwise.


In 1985 two French soldiers were arrested in New Zealand. They admitted to blowing up a Greenpeace ship called Rainbow Warrior, killing a photographer on board.

The photographer's name was Fernando Pereira.

I will never learn to stop worrying, no matter how big your bomb.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sartre's Genet As Paris



"Even at the present time, now that he is a triumphant hero and is made much of by middle-class society, he hastens to please in order to disarm, and if he suspects that his charm has not worked, if he senses that there is a spot of freedom in the other person's eyes, he gets worried and irritated. He dislikes anyone's criticizing his works, not so much out of pride as out of confusion in the presence of an intelligence which he thought submissive and which suddenly reveals its independence. Whatever mistakes I may make about him, I am sure that I know him better than he knows me, because I have a passion for understanding men and he a passion for not knowing them. Ever since our first meeting, I have no recollection of our having spoken of anything other than him." -- Jean-Paul Sartre, "The Eternal Couple of the Criminal and the Saint…", from Saint Genet: Actor and Martyr. Translated by Bernard Frechtman. New York: Mentor, 1963, P. 214

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

"Vive le Québec libre!" (1967)




A seditious visit to Canada by the political successor to Napoléon Bonaparte -- the Caliph of the Fifth Republic of France, Charles de Gaulle.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Pictures at an Explos(it)ion



Godard did not show this picture at his Sarajevo Writers Festival appearance in Notre Musique (2004). But if he did, would audience members mistake it for something else ("Stalingrad?" "Hiroshima?" Sarajevo?"), like they did when he showed them Matthew Brady's picture (below) of a bombed out Richmond, Virginia taken in the last year of the American Civl War (1860-1865)?


Since its introduction as a news item, I have been reluctant to take seriously the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), thinking it more a construct of those who stand to gain by it as an agent of fear than a group of mercenaries (ex- and otherwise) fighting for a self-determined political structure designed to oversee the production of oil.

Which returns me to the first picture: Jerusalem's King David Hotel after the Irgun blew up its southern wing in 1946. This act (of terrorism?) is generally seen as the last straw in Britain's attempt to manage Palestine and is counted as one of a number of events that allowed for the modern state of Israel.

So what's the difference between what the founders of the modern state of Israel did and what ISIS is doing? Why was the former group rewarded with state recognition and the latter group vilified?

Perhaps an answer begins with an understanding of this rather damning "agreement"-- a WikiLeak before there ever was such a thing. (It should be noted that what happened in Paris on Friday comes exactly 100 years to the day the French and British governments sat down to discuss what became known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement.)

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Say Cheese!



Last week marked the public opening of The Broad. Billed by Forbes as "Edythe and Eli Broad's new museum," my first thought was, What happened to the old one? Did it wear out?

Most remarkable about The Broad is its admission, which is free (you must reserve in advance). But as it is with most DTLA destinations, the parking is not.

It costs $12 (with museum validation) to park on one of the museum's three underground floors. On weekdays before 5 p.m. additional charges are applied after three hours.

Los Angeles is an easy, if parenthetic, city (if you read the fine print).

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Philanthropy of Allen




Sky Goodden's Momus continues its online presence as if it has no other, poking portals into a webness that leads to better-funded news agencies, or, like Seattle and Interstate 5, allowing articles to run through it, as it does with Ben Davis's monthly almanac of "10 Must-Read Art Essays", which this month carries a feature on the venture philanthropy of Paul Allen by The Stranger's Jen Graves, a feature that brought to mind our own venture philanthropist Michael Audain who, now that he has what he wants, has left it to his foundation to distribute his crumbs.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

What Counts in a Numbers Game?



What does it mean when a government subsidized magazine declares itself to be "in the numbers game"? What does it mean when its editor starts taking search engine robots at their word?

"The aftermath of this in art criticism is plain"?

Benjamin Disraeli said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics?" Jaron Lanier and his kind would have us believe there is a fourth -- the internet -- and that we are in trouble if we start to believe its "analytics," its robots' "unsettling precision."

All this, and more, because an editor is trying to justify a call for (capital?) "investment" to protect the interests ("entitlement") of the few who write and read art reviews? Not since the days of Brian Mulroney have I heard such a sad case of reasoning.

That's the signpost up ahead. Your next stop: the slippery slope.