I've spent the last few days at the Conflux festival in Brooklyn, and I'm the proud owner of some snazzy looking stickers, several East River mosquito bites, and an absolute shit-ton of images, ideas, and inspirations. I was pleasantly suprised to find the artists I talked to open and engaging.
The first artist Jenny and I talked to was Kimberly Simpson, who led participants on a bike tour of toxic "hot spots" around Brooklyn, where St. Agnieska, patron saint of the waterfront, had been making appearances. We weren't on bikes, I actually haven't been on one for eight years or so, so we treked all the way across Williamsburg to see the altars she had put up.
Apparently, two kids came up to the group on the first stop of their tour, saw them all gathered around these altars and asked her what happened there. By choosing such a powerful cultural symbol, she was able to reach a much wider audience. Each of the altars had a card attached with information about the site and its significance to the neighborhood's environment. It was powerful. By the way, the woman with the video camera in the picture above is just as awesome as her hair. We got into a really interesting conversation about new media art. She had just been to see the Dada exhibit at the MOMA and came out totally inspired, and rather critical of new media. A lot of the work she had seen or heard about seemed more like a "pastiche of older, pioneering works" rather than innovation in its own right. "Even looking at innovative works from the fifties, they still look new," she said, "because no one has done something more exciting since." I've been feeling a little frustrated with the post-modern aestethic of meaningful meaninglessness, and it was very validating to have someone criticize it intelligently, rather than blindly accept that everything sort of novel technologically as fascinating and innovative.
Call me bitter, but I sometimes wonder if there's a finite amount of original ideas. And maybe we've run out. Maybe the reason that the new digitized art world is obsessed with remixing and reimagining the work is partially because we're still dealing with new technology, but maybe because there aren't any new stories to tell or places to go. We live in such a self-reflexive culture, where everything is networked, referenced, and nuanced with cultural baggage. As a pop-culture fiend, I find myself completely overwhelmed by references in New York City. It seems like every street I walk down, every building or corner is already so chock full of characters or songs or stories that I find myself almost trapped by them. At times it's fun, like wanting to sing "Feelin' Groovy" while dancing down the 59th Street Bridge, but at the same time I'm trying to create my own stories, my own art, and its richness is stifling.
So far, the most original piece I've conceived is a slideshow of the massive spiderbite I got on the back of my hand a few days ago. Here's probably the ickiest and most impressive one. (slideshow to follow eventually! If you have background music suggestions, let me know)
Hope ya'll like the new blog title. I said two pretty spectacular things yesterday - "Drinking Mochas Makes My Kidneys Feel Better" - which made sense in context, at least to me; and the new title, for which I need to partially credit late night subway riding. I could pretend it's a comment on cultural density and remixing of old ideas to call them new, but really I was just talking without thinking. Again.