We hate fingers, tools inside our heads - they're the locus of our private selves. A quietly nervous waiting room, as if a crime had been tacitly hushed. The dentist's reassuring patter. His optics glued to glasses lenses. Yellow safety glasses. Maps stapled to the ceiling to distract the patient. Teeth everywhere on the map - buildings, gardens, dental rectangles. The piers looking like decayed roots in the sea. Injections felt deep in the jaw, a tingling on the lip. Half the tongue numbed. Even so, the tongue going where it wants, involuntarily. The high-speed multi-fluted drill. A mist of air, water and matter. Tungsten-carbide dental bur. Grinding out decayed material. A foul taste at the back of the mouth. Gutta percha rubber obturating the root canals. Glue laid down onto the excavated tooth, a sudden smell of stag beetles. Resin and silica composite. Repeat in layers. A phenylpropanedion initiator and blue beeping light polymerise the resin, curing it to concrete. Tzank cheque.
[Émail aimé, laser-print on A3, edition of 10, 1996 (nonsense-French which means something like "loved enamel").]
Marcel Duchamp is the king of art's last hundred years, its trickster-saboteur. In 1993 Jennifer Gough-Cooper and Jacques Caumont's 'Ephemerides on and about Marcel Duchamp and Rrose Sélavy 1887-1968' appeared in a Thames and Hudson monograph that's unfortunately quite hard to find now. The Ephemerides is a brilliant work of inframincean research: choice cuts of biography ordered by day, in which a note about chess from 12 July 1924 might sit next to a quote about the Large Glass from 12 July 1936. Reading it, you follow several stories in parallel.
Selections of those morceaux choisis - mostly quotes - are now going out on twitter at twitter.com/marcelduchamp.
Dada has also come back. Double-barrelled, second shot. It's a phenomenon peculiar to this century [interviewed by Hahn, 1.7.1966]And those, with links added, are a small selection from that selected edit of the Ephemerides on Twitter. You might like it. Yesterday was Duchamp's birthday.
If I am to tell what my own point of departure has been, I should say it was the art of Odilon Redon [to Torrey, 2.7.1913]
Bravo! [watching the speedy progress of the masons on the fireplace in Cadaqués, 2.7.1962]
I admit that it's a new and immense pleasure to piss like everyone else, a pleasure that I have not known for 25 years [to Roché, 5.7.1954]
I who am doing nothing, I want you to work - Dada logic [to Gleizes, 6.7.1921]
For the glass, in principle I have no objection... the pieces are only held together by the lead wires and the colour! [to Roché 8.7.1951]
if she wants to discuss the price in order to please Arne, me and herself at the same time, my suggestion would be a price around $500 [of Belle Haleine to Hamilton, 12.7.1964]
Intimate relations with no one. That's one of the advantages of my situation [15.7.1920]
An exceptional rendezvous [15.7.1959]
we have very little contact with the Germans. They are chiefly occupied in finding and taking petrol for their cars [to Wood, 17.7.1940]
The main thing is to die without knowing it, which incidentally always happens that way; but to avoid the fears and physical suffering [to Roché, 17.7.1950]
Perhaps you know already that I have been here, for two months already, I am repairing my broken glass and the repairs are coming to an end [to Roullier, 21.7.1936]
The readymade is a consequence of the refusal which made me say: There are so many people who make pictures with their hands, that one should end up not using the hand [to Hahn, 23.7.1964]
Même does not refer to anything [...] neither denigration nor a joke, but a humour which amplifies. Somewhat the 'Ha ha' of Jarry. [to Hahn, 23.7.1964]
I am against the attitude which consists of reducing painting to a retinal emotion. Since Courbet, it is believed that painting is addressed to the retina: the retinal titillation. [to Hahn, 23.7.1964]
Introduce the martyr idea; suffering from not acquiring the needed, the desired. How much the martyr is unbearable [to Dreier, 27.7.1938]
I tend to read too much online, surfing idly, reading industry publications, spawning legions of browser tabs, skimming things, saving things for later and never coming back to them. My ability to read long pieces gradually atrophies, and time that could have otherwise been used for creation is, well, consumed by consumption. In an effort to bring my habit to the surface and get on top of it, I decided to tally by hand every browser tab I closed until I had a page's worth.
Well, I read a fair few web pages between 12th February and 19th March, but as it turned out, half of those were spent in work's ticket-tracking website. But still, 1,700+ of them.
Did the manual tallying work? Initially, yes. But then I began to sense that I risked adding a new habit that would amplify the original one: it was starting to become a game of feed the tally-list, a delicious chore-ladder. It's like that thing of putting items on your todo list that you've already done, so you can have a tiny and immediate quantum of un-deferred GTD-pleasure of ticking them off. (I do that too sometimes.)
So I've stopped doing the tallying now, and am reading a bit less. And I have started writing a little bit more.
One technique for managing paperwork that's fairly common in productivity circles is the Noguchi filing system, in which files are always re-filed on the left of a shelf. This results in a gradient of freshness, with old or stale files naturally sorting themselves to the right, whence they can be discarded or permanently archived.
It's a nice system, but the archiving/discarding triage takes such effort doesn't it? Once those files have made their way to the back or the bottom of the filing cabinet, wouldn't it be nice if your filing system automatically and judiciously took care of that for you.
Tate Britain's Altermodern is a mixed bag. Some of it is great. Darren Almond's full-moon long-exposures in China are beautiful (he's always good), and Tacita Dean's photogravures of shipwrecks and war landscapes reportage are lovely novelistic storyboards.
Mike Nelson's The Projection Room (Triple Bluff Canyon) (2004) installation slowly draws you in by presenting an obsessive's study, every detail placed precisely. Gustav Metzger's Liquid Crystal Environment is a remake of a 1965 piece that uses liquid crystals and rotating polarising filters to create a mesmeric/brain-washing kaleidoscope. For a moment it looked like we'd lost Antimega to a chroma-coma.
The find of the show is an excellent draughtsman, Charles Avery - his drawings have the confident graphic line of comics, and his island world is an interesting story machine. He's like a cross between Paul Noble and Barry McGee. One to watch much more closely.
Some of it is very poor: Franz Ackermann, Spartacus Chetwynd, Marcus Coates, Rachel Harrison... tiresome. And some of it is in between: Simon Starling's second- to fourth-generation copies of a desk Francis Bacon made - ok, but as with antiques you get only so far with repro furniture. Nathaniel Mellors's excremental installation raises a chuckle. Subodh Gupta has a striking borderland mushroom cloud of stainless steel domestic implements.
The theoretical underpinning is confusing though. Here are three of Bourriaud's descriptions of "altermodern". On the show's website, behind a friendly EXPLAIN button, is a manifesto:
Second, altermodern as translation and trajectory:
Thirdly, as post-historicist era:
(Oh and there are some more here, critiqued.) So Bourriaud proclaims that the post-modern era has ended, and been replaced by a post- (or is it hyper-?)globalisation, anti-commercial, post-geographic, post-historic ("heterochronic"), rootless, nomadic altermodernism. And this is the bit that confuses me: if the theoretical positioning is an attempt to confidently stake out a new territory and era, wouldn't that gesture immediately undermine the claim that the altermodern sweeps aside specificities of space and history? But perhaps I don't understand it - my art-theory synapses are atrophied. Maybe I should read Bourriaud's Relational Aesthetics or his new book Radicant (whose organising metaphor is surely a rhizomous echo of D&G?).
Most of the show doesn't look like a new new thing, which is the other thing complicating the claim to a different trajectory.
An October 2008 revision to the tube map adds a few distance markers to the map. It's 250m between White City on the Central line and Wood lane on the Hammersmith & City. And to the right, 100m between Shepherd's Bush Central line and overland. There's a similar thing at Canary Wharf Jubilee line: it's 200m from Canary Wharf DLR and 150m from Heron Quays DLR. I particularly like the angle they're drawn at - like an elegant version of the walklines I was trying out a long time ago.
But this isn't quite so successful: there's 100m between West Hampstead overland and West Hampstead Jubilee line, and the latter also has a comment that West Hampstead Thameslink is 200m away from the tube. The tube map used to simply show the tube and overland stations as a single node on the map, which I think was better.
Previously: Tube Map with walklines showing when it's quicker to walk. See also Walk the Tube to get healthy, Walkers Tube Map and Adjacent stations.
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