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I just wanted to let my people out there know that I just saw Jesus come outta my speakers and I am sincerly surprised that he is not the sexy, strong black man whom I spent hours praying too.
Sexy_jesus_black
The portrait that hung above my mom’s vanity set, I guess she was always trying to look good for (sexy) Black Jesus.

Instead he is a man who likes to spend hours playing with his knob(s). I’m talking about modulator master Nosaj Thing, who moves the nodules as if he’s etch-a-sketching the sistine chapel.

He recently added a fully integrated visualizer to his live show. While galactic images fill the landscape of the stage, Nosaj Thing’s movements become syncopated with the images being projects onto him. It’s like being catapulted into an 21st century space mountain and immediately taking 2 hits of DMT, it’s that kind of insane.

Scroll down to check it out

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Even coke can’t ignore the force that is relational aesthetics, the art that gets inserts itself in the everyday by using the world as its canvas. Collectives such as Improv everywhere, who are famous for their “no pants” subway ride have given rise to advertisement firms cashing in on the buzz.

Plus part of the campaign is to give away free stuff…always a winning move!

Warhol Advice

Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.” –Andy Warhol

Warhol

So, I’m just going to say it….I am not conventionally physically attractive.

But interestingly enough, it wasn’t always like this. Six months ago I looked like this.

I know, it’s a drastically smaller picture, but I think you get the point. The pictures are the same angle, nearly identical pose, yet somehow my image has changed. The drastic change in my physical appearance is not due to dieting, or some new skin care regime, it is a simple as being in two different mind states for prolonged periods. In the first picture, I was fucking stressed, depressed and had been for a while (last semester of college does it). The second, I was creatively flourishing and totally living in the moment. The images of me act as physical representations of my spiritual states, just as the ‘photos steal your souls’ myth expresses.  Experiencing the drastic and rapid changes in my image has allowed me to find a lifetime of loopholes to dip underneath the surface of reality. In case you were dreading a discussion on what is the nature of reality, your in luck, cause I don’t give a fuck about that question. What I want to talk about is the Image (yeah, I capped it…and what?). Not only about the image that belongs to you, but the one that has existed since plato’s caves; the ones that we create.

Post-moderns like Marshall McLuhan called it information.

And I don’t want to use Baudrillard’s Simulacra (it sounds too slippery) to write to other academics. I want to speak in the language of the world that we created: the internet.

Yeah, That.

Smartphones are our own little two dimensional spheres that we keep in our pockets or purses, that we text and twitter on, and escape down into whenever own three dimensional reality fails to live up to our expectations.

They  have allowed our culture to literally shift into a new space/era (or what Einstein would have called spacetime) in which we have become the image-makers compressing our three dimensional space into the travel-friendly 2D of the internet.

(To be quite honest, If i really wanted to communicate in the language of today, I would update my twitter with pithy comments regarding reality. But I like words too much to give up all the space of a blog.)

Oprah, the queen of image-making

Ned Hepburn, the king of tumblr image-making

In other words we have become our own gods, essentially, and have re-created ourselves in our own image(s). And that is how I want to use the word image.

The first time we collectively experienced the image of the earth was through a flattened screen. In 1969,  when the astronauts from Apollo 11 grabbed their cameras and verified the earth was round by flattening it into the frame of a camera lens for all to verify. This was the moment that the earth was born into the dimension of the digital.  By recreating the image of the earth, we turned it into pure information. The blue base peaking out from the atmospheric swirls no longer spoke to the individual waves of the ocean, but to an undeniably connected and global world.

The information age has brought forth a parallel reality, albiet an entirely flattened and two dimensional reality, which exists only as an image.

Welcome to Flatland

Flatland is the Victorian novella which weaves a fantastical tale of a world that is entirely 2 dimensional. The  square, octagon and hexagon inhabitants act out day-to-day life as flattened beings for the 3 dimensional reader. The crux of the tale comes when the main character tells of the time he entered “Lineland”, a world entirely made of 1 dimension. As he fails in words to translate the extra dimension of Flatland to the King of Lineland, he then tells of a time when they were visited by someone from Spaceland, a dimension of three proportions. Because of the limitations of his 2 dimensional perspective, he can only understand this unknown land through physical transcendence to a complex world of greater dimensions.

The idea of the sublime transcendence in the age of Enlightenment came to America through the Luminous painters of the eighteenth century, specially Frederic Edwin Church (1826 – 1900).

Twilight in the Wilderness

The landscape painters  aimed to transform the flat surface of the picture plane into an tangible and knowable experience. It is a little like a Flatland inhabitant trying to portray their experience in a Spaceland (or a higher dimension) within the even more restricted space of the Lineland.  To Church, the 2 dimensional picture plan acted as a window into the higher realms of consciousness.

By the late 19th century, the luminous landscapes began to be one liners. The luminous landscapes that once captured the sublime for a mid-century victorian truth began to dwindle from the picture plane. The one point perspective landscapes no longer ushered in a transcendence experience of time and space, but sat as stagnate bricked window.

Kandinsky, 21

Modernist such as Kandinsky began to use the flat space of the canvas to pronounce the lack of perspective that exemplified his style. The flatness of the shapes  to the viewer. By exemplifying the lack of compositional perspective and denying the viewer any allegorical signs, modernist released the canvas from the frames that surrounded them. Taimed to bypass the cultural differences and give everyone an equal opportunity to experience the sublime. Paintings were no longer defined by the frames that surrounded the canvas, but were released to define their own space.

But what happened when we transferred the power of the singular image into endless reproductions broadcast through the medium of Television. The grand ideas of transcendence became, like Church’s paintings, American escapism. Images of the sublime were downsized to become images of desire.

The global groove was one of Nam June Paik’s staple video which he would, like most of his other videos, re-edit, reuse and remix to create new expanded experiences of light and motion. But I think I may be getting ahead of myself.

As part of the television side of the aforementioned show Exposition of Music- Electronic Television, Paik  arranged twelve black and white manipulated television sets almost haphazardly in an isolated room in which they all silently blinked to the same on-air program, all except one.

Zen For TV

During transport to the exhibition, one of the televisions feel and broke and all that was left was one horizontal line, which he turned vertical. Watch Paik coyly describe the event below:

This accident marked a breakthrough for Paik, up until then he had been using televisions which would broadcast live television programming which he would then manipulate with magnets.

But, Zen for TV was a television that could be seen at its most fundamental level, one single line that connects the image to the hardware of the tube. In one accidental bump, Paik found a way to deny the flat screen (or concave depending on the era) its window-like escapist route into another reality and firmly planted them in the present.

The television became one united structure, with its physical materiality (the hardware) and the flat surface of the screen seamlessly bound together onto one continuous surface.

The information era was now confined to the surface, and Paik utilized this new surface of information to realize Marshall Mcluhan‘s most famous theory:

“For it is the ground of any technology that is the medium that changes everybody, and the Medium that is the Message.” (McLuhan “Take Today; The Executive dropout, 1972)

TV Buddha, 1974

Nam June Paik, TV Buddha, 1974

TV Buddha is one of Paik’s most well known pieces, perhaps due to the fact that the Buddha Statue can iconographically be easily identified and objected.  Yet, Paik does something that defies the East v. West symbolism and moves towards the surface.

The Buddha statue is presented in a quiet meditation mudra, however the video camera is simultaneously recording the statue and displaying the image on the television screen .  In this closed circuit loop, the buddha is sitting opposite his own projected image, disallowing his transcendence from his own physicality. Instead he is caught in his own reflection, doomed to stay on the surface of reality.

Media Theorist Marshall McLuhan, stated in his seminal 1964 book,  Extensions of Man.

“It is the continuous embrace of our own technology in daily use that puts us in the Narcissus role of Subliminal awareness and numbness in relation to these images of ourselves.”

Like Zen for TV, the TV Buddha denied the image the act of transcendence, instead it captured it in an entropic stasis.

Real Fish, Live Fish, 1982

Try to guess which screen is the Real Fish, and which one is the Live Fish? Let me describe them briefly before you guess. One of the televisions  tubes was replaced withan aquarium while the other television displays the recorded images of the fish in the tank. I had to re-read the description for the piece several times (in different books) to finally grasp the corresponding titles. The television on the left is the “Live fish”, while the television on the right is titled “real fish”.

In this work, Paik plays with the notion of the word “Live” in relation to the medias common usage. Without even thinking, most people would automatically refer to someone who is broadcast in real time as being “LIVE”, whereas in this piece. The in this piece, the world live operates in opposition of death, rather then time.

Paik was playing with, what Baudrillard would later coin the simulacrum- or a replication where the difference between the original and the copy becomes almost impossible to identify. However, because of the technology, there is a noticeable timelapse between the movements between the “live” fish and their images of the screen.  This discrepancy in time creates a slippage between the meaning of the word “real.” If the images of the live fish are named “real”, but their movements are followed by those of the “live” fish, then what exactly is Real (with a capital R)?

Clip from Video Fish, 1975, Color Televisions with Aquariums. First shown at the famous Martha Jackson Gallery in New York.

Are the experiences that involve all of our senses more real then those which only engage one? As seen in “Real Fish/ Live Fish“, both the live and the real fish can only be experienced visually, since the aquarium and its water act as a buffer from sensorial information. Neither the real, nor the live fish can be engaged further then their visual information.  Thus these two televisions no longer exist in a hierarchy of original and copy, but as parallel realities.