Notes – 19 SIXTY

As I’ve been doing my research for the 19 SIXTY series I’ve been comparing a lot of pop culture to POP art and finding some really fun connections. That period in the mid to late fifties when Johns and Rauschenberg were working out their ideas is still a fertile place to begin. Especially with Jasper. But to backtrack a bit further, I’ve had many thoughts about the idea that in the 20th century paintings moved away from being pictures to being things – and as they became more thing-like the images became more about games, and by games I mean games of optics and games of language. This is Duchampian in nature and begins with Nude Descending a Staircase. Duchamp was depicting an action rather than a nude and with the depiction of the action he was really describing the way he depicted that action. It was a double bluff – as are most of Duchamp’s works. We weren’t meant to look at the nude, nor the action of the nude but the sequence of painting from top left to bottom right. The descent or “dissent” was actually the painter refusing to depict, to create a picture. He was painting time – a “history painting” if you will. Oh well – make your own punning references, I get a bit tired whilst punning.

Anyway, I was on youtube looking through a lot of euro-popular videos – because Postmodernism in Europe is a bit different than it is here in the US. I think this has something to do with the visual and theoretical history of Western thought. OK as an example – Cities feel thicker somehow – and I know that seems like a cop out when trying to explain something. But I guess it boils down to this – you’re walking through the streets of Rome. Down every little street there are centuries old buildings that have been renovated to suit modern tastes while somehow managing to retain the look of the past – open floor plans, flat screens, cutting edge technologies crammed into a 17th century semi-detached. The juxtaposition of ancient and contemporary exist at once. Thick. We don’t experience this sort of relationship with the past in the US. So our Postmodernism is different.

0thru9Yesterday I was thinking about Jasper’s 0-9 painting. It’s one of my POMO favorites because of the nature of the gaming going on in the work. There are the optical games – the colors, the brush strokes, the overlaying of numbers, the collapsing of space. There are the language games, the counting, the fact that we start with zero and work our way to nine, and then the cyclical nature of the numbers themselves – that as we count as far as we can we then find ourselves back at zero – once we’re at our peak we find ourselves emptied again. We move in circles, always renewed by being emptied. Then I remembered seeing this video while I was staying in Venezia. I had returned from a long and happy day of walking the churches. I had eaten a huge meal and finished a bottle of fantastic wine. Needless to say – I was happily soused, and when I’m happy things tend to stick with me.

So as I was thinking about Johns’ 0-9 this video came to mind. The clever thing in this video is the counting, the layering as we count, and all of it done to a catchy beat! Like Johns’ work in this video you build the optical, the space collapses, the subjects emerge one from the other to the surface and fall away. And as the song ends your game is packed with Kylies. You empty it out by hitting the replay button. The one thing that is missing in the video and Jasper’s painting is the beginning – for Kylie it’s the first missing package and for Jasper it’s the first missing brush stroke in the upper right corner. It allows us into the sequence. Both the painting and the video are perfect POMO machines.

5 thoughts on “Notes – 19 SIXTY

  1. To be honest, I find Kylie’s idea (if it was her’s) not very interesting, especially, as the world she is inviting us to, is hardly a world I would like to be dragged in.

    But your take an imagery is great, to find parallels and influences and coincidences, and looking on forms how they develop into new matrixes.

    I like a lot the films by Michael Mann, with all the abstraction in it, like Last of The Mohicans and HEAT.

    In how image manipulation could influence us, there is a new movie
    “This is but another theory: that the entire plane crashes only Edit Video Voodoo were in truth no planes flew into the towers are. That’s bizarre enough now, but that the one or the other wants to watch, if only from entertainment purposes: “September Clues”

    I just saw it, one does not need to believe every hypthesis but rather I was fascinated of the possible power of manipulation and the method.

    It’s still POMO or already Post Human ? 😉 Best, H

  2. Hello Mark,

    As Postmodernism is a bit outdated

    the good old POMO, ;-8, bye, it was a great time with you

    more on Postmodernism here:

    I suppose we need a new term to deal with, where we are in now. Any Ideas ?

    I say we should call it MODERN INFORMATION, so we renew the term modern in the best sense it was meant and widen the field of art to the intentionally artificial and systematic composition of any information, be it color, be it dots, bits, letters, notes, sounds, ideas ++++

    The age could start with the founding of Google at 7th September 1998.

    Any better thoughts/ideas ?

    Best regards, Hans

  3. Hey Hans,
    Apologies for my late reply – unfortunately way too busy these days.
    You are absolutely right we do need something new and something that is not POMO. However, the problem remains – we are still living with POMO’s consequences. Even though we’ve had marketed “new” art come our way it has been based on the same theoretical ground. We need a shift in the structures of our understanding. Google is an interesting idea, but my thoughts reside more in the physical rather than the digital. The questions that keep coming up are connected to our reactions to our fleshy existence once we’ve emerge from the online world. For instance, the abstract constructs that allowed for the expansion of huge sums of wealth imploded over the last year. In this country we are experiencing millions of people losing their jobs, retirement benefits and savings. Most of these jobs were mainly in the service and sales industries. These industries are self fulfilling, one works at a consumer job in order to consume (which comes from Henry Ford’s idea that the worker that puts together the automobile should be able to purchase that auto – a nice tautological economic principle.) As the economy has collapsed these millions have no where to turn for employment, there are no alternatives to what they were doing. The government is currently expanding the notion of a welfare state, moving from corporate welfare to individual welfare, in order to waylay the effects of millions of people who can not participate in the larger culture. We move from the abstract to the figurative in a microsecond and the consequences are enormous. This financial crisis began with the endless spinning of debt, the endless permutations of context. In the financial communities the need to shift contextual grounds provided bankers the means to manipulate the value of debt securities increasing their market values to 30 times or more what they are worth. These same theoretical principles continue to structure the work we see in the galleries and art institutions here in the US. We have no new ideas, but we continually recombine the old ones hoping that will look or feel new once we provide contexts for them. This process is similar to computer programs which keep upgrading or athletes on steroids – the same thing only bigger, better, or stronger. Our society here in the States continues to employ these outdated ideas because they work for a while.
    Oops, I’ve gone off once again. The point is that we are not done with it yet, POMO, I mean. We are finding that the flesh and blood world, when we unplug from our TVs, Blackberrys or computers, does not behave in any way, shape, or form in the same manner. The systems do not conform to reality. Postmodernism had started as a way to critique systems, but it became the system. And because of its parasitical nature it now feeds on itself. The 19 Sixty series is an attempt to really lay out the principles that got us here. It is also a way to find a path forward. I’m not speaking for anyone but myself in this regard. I do not want to interpret the shadows in Plato’s cave, nor do I want the Platonic perfection of ideas. I need something more substantial for my painting, and I realized long ago that it would have to be built on the shifting grounds of the POMO Empire. We can not go back, we must look to ourselves.

    Keep up the good work Hans!


  4. ;-)) We have just POMO- Fun here, but in fact I think, that is the actual thing you are doing here is already beyond Pomo, it’s already “MODERN INFORMATION” ! Why to stick with Pomo for 50 years now ? Lets invent smth new ! Pomo was at times great, but in fact I think its a big label that misunderstands everything. Pomo is a way of thinking. I have a good Red-Wine-Pomo right now, I wish you a great weekend ! Best regards, Hans

  5. Well I’m very happy that you’re having some POMO fun but in honor of your new ModInfo or MOFO I will direct you to this youtube video where you can learn to indulge in our Post-POMO drink of choice all the way from Brazil – the Caipirinha! That will knock the POMO right out of you I promise! Cheers Mate!

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