SWM Archive: Technology

Collection by John Powers

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I am an artist, a group that is generally low-tech, and even among artists I am a late-adopter. But I am interested in technology, not just in terms of cutting edge (and therefor buggy) gadgets, but also in the broadest terms; things like abstract art that we don't usually think of as technologies. Additionally I am interested in the cultural aspects of technologies - like why whiteness is the default "look" of high technology.

John Powers
American History X The Pruitt-Igoe Myth I often use the word "apartheid" to describe pre-Civil Rights America. American History X, Apartheid, Couple Weeks, Film Director, Civil Rights, White Walls, The Past, Archive, Felt

White Walls, Apartheid (an aside)

American History X (1998); The Pruitt-Igoe Myth (2011) I often use the word "apartheid" to describe pre-Civil Rights America. I have, in the past, felt a bit uneasy in my appropriation of that word; after all it has a very specific meaning from a country with a very different history from the US. But after attending a screening of The Pruitt-Igoe Myth a couple weeks back, followed by a Q&A with the film's director, Chad Freidrichs, I no longer feel any unease what-so-ever. Apartheid was a…

Fat Bastard : end of fourth day of installation. (Return to Part 5 ) I hate the canard about abstract art acting as a 'visual pause' in the . Modern Art, Abstract Art, Star Wars, Author, Ceiling Lights, Technology, Archive, Artists, Inspiration

Art Then Technology (Part 6): Authority is a Technology

Fat Bastard: end of fourth day of installation. (Return to Part 5) I hate the canard about abstract art acting as a 'visual pause' in the otherwise hectic environment of consumer capitalism, I always have. The part I dislike is the justification of the 'pause', it's such weak tea. I am not a huge fan of either capitalism or consumerism, but I love the spectacle of Times Square and the squirrely density of consumer goods at my corner bodega. I enjoy the density of imagery and noise, and the…

 Paro ( Part 1 ) Imagine you walked into your mother's kitchen and you found her on the p. Marital Status, Aunts, Artificial Intelligence, Family Business, Cousins, Siblings, Abstract Art, Archive, How Are You Feeling

The Future of Art: Your Mom is the Product 2

Artificial Companionship: Kitchen phone; Paro (Part 1) Imagine you walked into your mother's kitchen and you found her on the phone. She was gossiping to a friend about family business. She was telling them about your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, your cousins, you and your siblings - no one was spared, and everything from marital status to financial well-being was on the menu. Most of us would give grandma a pass. She and her friend are keeping each other entertained; working things…

The Future of Art: Non-Optical Media 1 New York Times Arts, Right To Choose, Human Eye, Girls Club, Conceptual Art, Inner Circle, In This Moment, Cure

The Future of Art: Non-Optical Media 1

Engaging Stares: HAL 9000 (1968); Marina Abramovic (2010) A while back the New York Times art critic, Roberta Smith, complained against what she called "the New Modern." The current historical narrative being pushed by the MoMA, Smith feels, is a " giddy, even desperate, embrace of the new and the next, of large-scale installation and video art, as well as performance art, and generally of art as entertainment and spectacle." Smith finds the focus of the Modern's curators "a symptom of…

White Walls, Consumerism (A Conclusion) Economies Of Scale, Postwar, It's Meant To Be, Consumerism, White Walls, Economics, Abundance, Wealth, The Past

White Walls, Consumerism (A Conclusion)

Consumerism's carrot and stick: Jobs vs. no jobs. (Part 10) This summer, as I watched the DSK prosecution stall and collapse, Right-wing ideologs turn the debt ceiling debate into a crisis that cost American tax payers billions, and the riots in England, I found myself experiencing far more than my usual level of disgusted with capitalism - but perversely defensive on the part of consumerism. Capitalism is nothing more than a bundle of mechanisms for distributing wealth: markets, property…

The Pageos Satelloon (ca Piranesi, Carceri (ca The other day I found a copy of Arthur C. Edward Everett Hale, Robert Smithson, Fiction And Nonfiction, Banks, Communication, Brick, Writer, Archive, Darth Vader

Brick Moon

The Pageos Satelloon (ca 1966); Piranesi, Carceri (ca 1750) The other day I found a copy of Arthur C. Clarke's 1968 edition of The Promise of Space one of my neighbors had thoughtfully placed on his stoop along with a collection of equally ancient self help books. In it there is a spectacular image of the "Pageos satellite" and a brief description that I had been planing to email to my satellooon loving friend Greg Allen: For simplicity it would be hard to beat the "balloon" satellites, of…

White Walls, Crime Waves (Part Corporate America, Joy Division, White Walls, Screens, Abundance, Marker, Wwii, Crime, Fonts

White Walls, Crime Waves (Part 7)

Peter Seville, New Order, Substance (1988); Matrix Code (1999) (Part 6) The art blogger, Hrag Vartanian, pointed out at a party recently that there is a disconnect between the whiteness fashioned for the Apollo missions and the whiteness of hi-tech today. For a time the look of the future was black diode screens with carbled green fonts. He is right, whiteness, as a marker of hi-tech cool, seems to have disappeared sometime in the late 70s and only reappeared recently. At the time whiteness…

Fat Bastard : end of sixth day of installation (Return to Part ) In his book, What Technology Wants , Kevin Kelly explains th. Postmodernism, Art Studies, Cold War, Ruin, Studying, Modern Art, Archive, Old Things, Ceiling Lights

Art Then Technology (Part 8): Modernism Is Not Modernity

Fat Bastard: end of sixth day of installation (2010). (Return to Part 7.5) In his book, What Technology Wants, Kevin Kelly explains that a very common error made with almost all new technologies is "to imagine the new thing doing an old job better." The old, premodern, job of art, as an expression of top down authority, was misattributed to modernity by the Modernists. From my perch on the northwest edge of the lower 48 I followed contemporary art of the early 1990s through the pin hole…

 Johannes Adam Simon Oertel, Pulling Down the Statue of King George III , (Return to Part 7 ) When I introduce myself as . Syllable, King George, The Conjuring, Bearded Men, Beards, Archive, It Cast, Bronze, Messages

Art Then Technology (Part7.5): Medium is not the Message

US Dollar; Johannes Adam Simon Oertel, Pulling Down the Statue of King George III, (1859) (Return to Part 7) When I introduce myself as a sculptor, the most common first question people to ask is what “medium” I work in. I do my best to answer, but I am always a bit at a loss. I understand what people want to hear, but not what it is they want to know. I'm aware that people are usually not just being polite, that they making good spirited attempts to show an interest in an unusual…

Thoughts on Triple Canopy's Open Letter to Kevin Kelly Gravity's Rainbow, Very Bad, Old Quotes, A New Hope, Open Letter, 40 Years Old, Bending, Tack, Canon

Thoughts on Triple Canopy's Open Letter to Kevin Kelly

Episode IV: A New Heap - Robert Smithson, Heap of Language (1966): Star Wars, Opening Crawl (1977) "You remember, right? “Star Wars: A New Heap,” by John Powers, that elaborate Smithson-inspired disquisition on the relationship between Star Wars and Minimalist sculpture. Apparently sci-fi is the internet’s main artery, because we’ve never gotten more unique hits for any article." An Open Letter to Kevin Kelly - Triple Canopy While no one has asked my opinion, but because it opens with a…

Kitchen of the Future: Vermin Kitchen Post, Chimera, Mice, Countertop, Brain, Archive, Technology, Future, Architecture

Kitchen of the Future: Vermin

Mouse Trap vs mind trap For those in the US: Happy Thanksgiving. I just wanted to put up a short Kitchen post today for those sneaking away from the family for a moment of peace and quiet. A few months back Ambling Along The Aquaduct had a great post on constitutional personhood and the future of human rights that included the following passage taken from an article in the Emory Law Journal by Scott Bennett, "Chimera and the Continuum of Humanity: Erasing the Line of Constitutional…

White Walls, The Gold Standard (Part Satellite Photos Of Earth, Earth At Night, William Gibson, White Walls, The Past, Archive, Urban, Bear, Technology

White Walls, The Gold Standard (Part 10)

The Fifth Element (1997); Satellite Photo of Earth at Night (2000) (Part 9) William Gibson has observed that "The future is already here – it's just not evenly distributed." And indeed, high-technology can be mapped out as the very uneven distribution of urban light seen on the earth's night side, as the overlap of high pollution emissions and GDP, or as telecommunication traffic. All are expressions of modern wealth. Those of us who live in the brightly lit, heavily trafficked spots on the…

 Weissenhofsiedlung door bell ( Part 8 ) There is no greater contemporary symbol of modern econo. White Walls, Abundance, Computers, Archive, Smartphone, Objects, Moon, Technology, Times

White Walls, Abundance (Part 9)

Apple's whiteness device guru, Jonathan Ive; Weissenhofsiedlung door bell (Part 8) There is no greater contemporary symbol of modern economies than the smartphone; objects, dollar for dollar, millions of times stronger than the room-filling computers used by those early Cold Warriors to send men to the moon. Vernor Vinge, a reliable and fearless prognosticator, says that no one could have predicted how fast cell phone technology has spread; that already, more that half the population of the…

Whitey on the Moon , Neil Armstrong, looking exhausted; Gil Scott-Heron, mad as hell. (Return to Part 7 ) Had NASA engineers been less enamo. Nasa Engineer, Gil Scott Heron, Astronauts, Humility, Engineers, Apollo, White Walls, Hand Sewn, Layering

White Walls, Soft Wear (Part 8)

Whitey on the Moon, Neil Armstrong, looking exhausted; Gil Scott-Heron, mad as hell. (Return to Part 7) Had NASA engineers been less enamored with AX hard suits, the most glamorous failure of it's military-industrial culture of design/production, and more conscious instead of the success born out of that failure, the soft complex layering of hand-sewn textiles actually worn on the moon by Apollo astronauts, perhaps when it's systems engineers turned to urbanism they may have approached the…

 Telephone Switchboard ( Part 5 ) When Corbusier wrote in 1923 that, "Architecture can be found in the telephone and the Pa. Visual Meaning, Hard Wear, How To Wear, Neoclassical, White Walls, Telephone, Cities, Archive

White Walls, Hard Wear (Part 6)

Parthenon Frieze; Telephone Switchboard (Part 5) When Corbusier wrote in 1923 that, "Architecture can be found in the telephone and the Parthenon," he was not thinking of whiteness as part of an inheritance of immutable visual meaning like Albert Speers and other devils who dreamed of white neoclassical cities, he was thinking of whiteness as a way to express a modern system. In his book, White Walls, Designer Dresses, Mark Wigley observes: The Parthenon has to be thought of as a system of…

White Walls, Foundational Garments (Part Muscle Atrophy, White Linens, Postwar, Abdominal Muscles, Consumerism, Jfk, White Walls, Abundance, Bodies

White Walls, Foundational Garments (Part 5)

The look of control: Alen Shepard suiting up (1959); Offutt ICBM Air Base Control Room (1957) (Return to Part 4) In the postwar year Émigré Modernist architects abandon the exterior whitewash that they had made a requirement on their first collaborative housing estate, because it had aged poorly. In an America, the lines between corporate, government, military, and academic cultures had begun to blur. It was an America that meant business. These were the first Cold Warriors. For security…