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Erasing Memory – Part 3

This is another “lost and found” post from our recent database crash. I have slightly edited it so that it reads a bit easier.I believe I can see the future
Cause I repeat the same routine
I think I used to have a purpose
But then again
That might have been a dream
I think I used to have a voice
Now I never make a sound
I just do what I’ve been told
I really don’t want them to come around

Nine Inch Nails

Trance is a repetition or looping of consciousness. When the content of the trance has achieved a resonance, special types of psychic forces are generated. The effects of these special psychic forces are often identified with the behavior which produced them. Trance — for a yogi — is merely a tool consciously chosen to produce a specific result. Trance for most other people is an unconscious choice made to relieve pain or to avoid uncomfortable feelings or situations.” Repetition provides comfort. Tapping, chanting, twirling, the steady beat of rock & roll, the formatted news show, etc etc. We see it in the endless proliferation of similar TV series, movies and music. it cuts across all aspects of our culture. The trick for the industry is to find newness in the repetition. And the new is always seen as virginal. In American culture this is cultivated by the culture of rebirth, and it is generated through quasi-religious spectacle. The tabula rasa that being “born again” implies allows for the culture of repetition. The constant clearing out of history is what we aim to achieve. We are always new without history dragging at our heals. We do not develop ourselves or our thoughts trying to discover the new, we simply erase the old. We do not find the new – we discard history, the memory of the past. It makes us comfortable.

It is memory that needs to be recontextualized in order to obtain the right state of mind. Postmodernism is a great tool for this sort of empty slate epistemology. POMO theoretics places emphasis on the idea that knowing is knowing the answer rather than knowing how the answer is obtained. This is obvious as artists continue to use historical style without impunity. There is a severe lack of purpose behind the understanding of the making of art. Two questions that leave most artists stumped are How? and Why? Those are the questions that imply a base of history and memory. But mostly they are questions of responsibility regarding what one is doing. At one time it was not enough to create work, one had to wrestle with the history of the work that came before and question what that history meant. Memory is how we come to understand the distant past, the grand past and our own past. This is how depth is created. As we strip it, as we bulldoze history we create nothing but surface, and that is where art has remained since Warhol. We have a culture of the “new New” where there is only the slippery surface and the rebirth of the past in virgin vessels. Context.Appropriation is part of this process. The idea that all creation is to be used, that manifest destiny is a right are the basic tenets used for claiming property – or as Eddie Izzard described it – the “cunning use of flags.” The past is mined and drilled like a natural resource for the endlessly new, the right to claim property and the right of ownership. In a culture based on selling, ownership is the grand trumping card. Ownership by appropriation is the final objective of POMO practice. It is this contextual relationship that fills our virgin selling vessels. Once that’s been accomplished any idea can be branded, advertised and marketed sold to us as the “New New”.

When dealing with a rough trade like painting, it is history that must be applied. The questions of how and why inform and guide the practice. We seek the deeper theoretical connections, the depth of visual history, and with that, the joys and regrets of the past, of memory. We don’t want to be cleansed or manufactured for sale – we are not interested in becoming a product or brand. We want the freedom to find an expression of our lives in this time – not a mediated or programmed experience. By building on historic ideas, rather than exploiting them, we can find the truly new. It is not the tabula rasa that creates new thought or new vision, but the steady critical building of ideas, forms and images from the history of art. In order to have a visual future, one must have a visual past. Matisse and Picasso understood that and so do we.

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