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.
Yesterday 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.