From: Judy Seigel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Date: 04/13/02-02:04:10 AM Z
Hi again Shannon -- I agree with so much of what you say i wonder how such
a sensible person can bear that obnoxious Jed Perl... however,
> ... I am just tired of the insistence that [media] is the only
> topic worth exploring these days,
That isn't really the case in the wider world, tho maybe your professors
are overly taken with it. (Let's blame it on them.) Or rather their needle
is stuck on it, maybe because that was the dernier cri when they were in
school, the moment of, say, Richard Prince.
> ... and Jed Perl seems worried that
> it's the only kind of art that gets the imprimatur of the tastemakers
> and art establishment.
I think his clock may be stopped, too... "Tastemakers" are as far as I
can tell all over the map...no better than they should be, of course, but
if you look at for instance the BIENNIAL makers (are they taste makers?)
they're utterly obsessed with video and its effects -- NOT about the
media, but like artsy fartsy MTV -- so where is Jed Perl when we need him?
Barking up the wrong tree !!
> ...My philosophy is, Let a Hundred Flowers
Sure, but the flowers won't bloom very well without some "gardening". They
need light, & fertilizer, also weeding. The comments Bill Marsh and
Christine made about teacher pressure show the range... On the one hand I
felt for my students being pushed to make a "coherent body of work," ie, a
*statement* of some sort, by their professors before they felt ready --
not all, but more than a few wanted to explore and experiment and try on
different ideas... I sided with them, thinking the pressure was basically
a push to conformity, hot-house growth, as well as careerism from the
teacher, who wants to turn out little replicas of some present cool mode
-- for his or her own glory/ gratification.
On the other hand (as Bill Marsh explained exactly) there were students
whose work was naive -- bad naive, not "outsider art" naive. If you didn't
do something you were cheating them of their tuition. Most egregious of
these was the guy photographing his naked girl friend. That may be passe
by now too, but then it was essential to let him know this was
conceptually, politically, and even esthetically old hat. (Mercifully now
the girls are photographing their naked boy friends, but we may be at
saturation point with that too.)
In a good school however, I mean where there's a lot of student exchange
and ferment, odds are this will come from fellow students. I think the
teacher inspires, sets the tone, brings in a range of stimulating
educative images and ideas -- but much of the actual learning is from
fellow students, seeing what they do -- what works and what doesn't work
when it's pinned to the wall. And their UNSPOKEN opinion of their
classmates' work is usually pretty plain.
This is of course the esthetic, not the technical part. The teacher has
got to give the technical, and alas in "alt," many of them don't know it.
> ... Like Judy, I also photograph "ugly" things almost
> daily here in Houston; as well as photographing the magnificent live
> oaks and huge pines in our neighborhood, I put garbage bags, trash,
> rusting machinery and old warehouses in my digital collages. I have
> come to love looking at these things. (Houston is a very ugly city.
> If you like ugly, you would love Houston.) These collages have the
> beautiful trees in the background and the foreground is filled with
> weird junk from people's yards and from the streets. Also there are
> lots of freeway ramps, cars and downtwon buildings. I am making a
> website now where these collages will soon be available for your
With all due respect to Houston, which must have some redeeming features
and some fine sections, I spent a week there in 1978 -- for the "Women's
Meeting," we were "arts delegates," and Bella Abzug was the wicked witch
of the east. I never imagined a city could be so oppressive -- everything
was in highrises -- no street life, no street food, no pedestrians, no
sidewalks, and if you did walk, nothing to see at street level because
everything was 15 stories up in a tall building. Actually, the sight of
some trash would have been a relief... all we could see was "moderne"
architecture -- metal and marble.
> .... But I don't constantly and daily monitor tv and radio news
> because it's easy to get so overwhelmed by all the sorrows of the
> world that you become inured to it and don't really hear it any more,
> or else you become so preoccupied with suffering on the other side of
> the world that it's difficult to hear the needs of people right close
> to you. It's important to think globally and act locally, and part
> of acting locally is to keep the big global picture in mind, but
> really listen and attend to the local problems at hand. Yesterday
> there was a lot of emotional turmoil at my school because an Asian
> girl is being tormented by her classmates, and I had to listen to
> her, advise her, and placate the other side too. It was hard work and
> if I had been preoccupied by the middle east, I doubt I could have
Shannon, I'm sure you can think many thoughts at the same time. The
trouble with putting this stuff out of mind is that then one day bam it's
in our face -- or was in our face here in NYC. We'd known most of it &
ignored it ... but of course if we discussed this any more someone would
be bound to whine "OFFTOPIC," so I refrain...
> pulled it off. (As the oldest person in our class, I have this sort
> of Mom role, a conflict resolution role that I learned as the mother
> of teenagers.)
> I used to go to sunday school when I was a child and I remember a
> saying from the Bible, Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. I
> think it's also true that Sufficient Unto the Place is the Evil
The nice thing about the bible is there's always a saying to say the
opposite. How about "the sins of the fathers..." or..."I am my brother's
keeper" or the one about what happens to the least happens to me... there
must be hundreds more, but bible isn't my strong suit.
> ...That is, I can deal with the problems in my own household,
> neighborhood and school, but I can't deal with every bad thing that
> happened that day in every neighborhood in the whole world. And as
No one can, but we might try harder... We had the holocaust, and the
Taliban, hell in Central and South America, serial slaughters & genocides
for the last 100 years because we shrugged off what we might have
affected. Not so much you personally as your legally elected government.
> one of my friends pointed out, a lot of good things happened in those
> neighborhoods too, but we don't hear about that on NPR very often, so
> we get the impression that humans are violent, horrible creatures.
The rule in lowbrow journalism is "if it bleeds, it leads." But my hunch
is that the bad things in our neighborhood and school are in the long run
less threatening (given some safeguards in this culture) than the bad
things looming now in the world...
> Maybe this is why art has taken such a negative turn in the last
> twenty years? Media saturation may lead to cynicism and fear and
> hopelessness. In fact I think I read somewhere that older people who
> read a lot of newspapers and watch tv news regularly are more afraid
> of crime than those who don't. And that while crime has actually
> decreased over the last few years, the perception is that there is
> more crime than there used to be.
Have you ever been subjected to a poll by telephone? I've had many, & not
a one seemed able or even willing to register my actual thoughts. They had
a set of set questions you could only answer in their predetermined way,
which was, most often, irrelevant. If you wanted to qualify a statement
they couldn't, wouldn't deal with it. I have hung up in disgust on several
pollsters after it became clear the poll had been devised by a committee
of low grade cretins who'd had a course in Polling Lingo 101. Which is to
say, polls are even less accurate than Jed Perl.
One could just as easily frame a poll that showed people feel there is
less crime than there used to be -- certainly the case in this city & my
neighborhood -- that is, there is less crime & people of all ages think
there is less crime.
> ... the daily random
> acts of violence--wrecks, murders, fires, child abuse, etc--mostly
> gets edited out of these journals, leaving only genocides, wars, and
> economic collapses for us to mull over. And I devour "cultural" news
> like book reviews and art criticism, as well as regular books
> (remember them?). To me, though, that doesn't count really count as
> mass media. When I think of mass media, I think of daily newspapers,
> tv, and radio. These things just seem to clutter up my mind and
> distract me, rather than really help me think and work.
The NY Times seems to me (despite its lack of perfection, ie., its need
for more critics who agree with me & proper coverage of my neighborhood)
to find a decent balance between "cultural", "scientific" and "human
interest" and world events, without the sensationalizing and with only
some of the "herd journalism" that permeates the culture. There are many
sections, changing topics each day, & enough so lots can be skipped.
I think this got too long. Sorry.
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