in LA

Met with Sam yesterday. Lots of good talk about future possibilities and conceptual development. Two interesting questions in particular. How does portraying this as art advance my argument? What am I trying to get the viewer to do/see? How is it different from Olafur Eliasson’s installations of to facilitate the viewer seeing themselves seeing or Adrian Pipers Cornered? Am I trying to effect social change? Why not just say that then?

Looking at the work of the artists above there are two strategies for dealing with these questions. One, create an experience for the viewer without judgement or opinion. Two, if an opinion is expressed, let that opinion be transparent, or as the artist be implicated in its expression as part of the problem being critiqued. In my own work are these strategies expressed? Good question.

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It has been an uphill battle writing the thesis. I am finding particularly difficult to summarize ideas that while important to the conceptual development of my current work are otherwise exploratory. Even with the work that is the focus I am having difficulty organizing my thoughts along a single axis of discussion. There are so many different competing ideas that form the basis for the investigation of the work that I am doing I cannot combine them into a single thread. They all have affected my progression in some way . I am having difficulty even writing this blog entry.

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In the course of investigating my practice it has occurred to me that there are a few issues that are pending investigation. First, thinking about how meaning is established, is it me? Does it come from some larger entity? Well, of course my language other cultural symbols initially are beyond my control, but where is the line where one affects the other? Can I influence larger cultural meaning as an individual? Perhaps if I was Lady Gaga. Within the course of my own life how does my experience determine my perception as opposed to larger cultural influence? Relatedly, how can I know what words I speak are mine and wha are parroted from culture? While I am the actor of speaking and the creator of their organization, is it just that I use established meaning or can I really make new meaning? Is it all just on some level re-hashed? I guess the quest is to find where the edges are? Where are the exchanges of meaning between the individual and culture.

As my next project I am making a manifesto of meaning translated into mathematical symbols. I am not sure what I think of it yet.

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What is so inte…

What is so interesting to me is the way language constructs imagery, and how some words that are put together seem poetic, even if they are not really in the same logical group, and how others illicit a religious or political association even if the words themselves are benign.  This is the sort of idea that I have been working on with my latest video project. 

There are two words that are chosen from culturally divisive issues and then placed together around an operator of some kind, =+?! and so on.  The words and operator are put into a program that arbitrarily changes the words and operator every few seconds.  In the mean time the viewer can since the way the change in words and operators changes feelings, opinions and imagery.  The following is a list of words that could clearly be contextualize as about race, but what happens if I assume a denotative interpretation?  Can a cultural bias be ignored?  Do you feel attached to some and reject others?  Where do these feelings come from?  Did you decide them all on your own?  If not what other ideas attached to these did you learn?  Why do some make more sense that others?

Wittgenstien says that linguistic meaning is defined in its use and that we learn language in the same way we learn a game.  It is not enough to know what things are, but we must know what the rules are.  If asked what I want for dinner, can I say purple or Davey Crocket?  These do not exist within the realm of the rules.

What does it mean for money to be less than black?  Is it a social statement about human value or a commentary on Capitalism?  Money is green, is green less than black?  There are no answers, only observe yourself.

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linguistic arithmatic

What is interesting about language is its ability to facilitate images in the mind of the thinker.  How “tree” causes an image of a tree, of some general kind to “appear” in my mind.  Of course, objects are obvious, but what about concepts?  What comes to mind for the word “gay” or “Republican”, or “gay Republican”?  The latter as a phrase seems more loaded with meaning than the prior two, which is not a shock really, but it is interesting in so far as the image that does come to mind, whatever it might be, can vary in a much greater degree depending on sexual, political or religious persuasion.  I would venture to guess that the array of images is far greater than that for “tree”.  On the other hand, what if the words were “grey republican” or “gay pelican”, the meaning of these is less clear.  Wittgenstein suggests that language has a grammar, a set of rules that govern its usage.  Grammar here is not the technical grammar that we learn in school but  grammar that dictates the how words are understood and used.  For example, if I go to a Wendy’s drive through and the guy asks me what I want, the realm of expected answers does not include mathematics or dominos, these are outside the grammar.  Similarly, if I use the phrase universal healthcare, depending on who you are talking to the meaning understood could contain understandings of progressive politics or a rejection of Socialism.  In either case the meaning is, as Wittgenstein would say, is in the use.

Below are a couple of new proofs that deal with two phrases that have struck me as odd, and interesting.  Both are controversial in their own way, or even absurd, but considering the discussion above they allude to a breakdown in the understanding of the logic of language.  The first is “It’s hard to be White”.  I have not gotten to what interests me in this statement, nor have I exposed the false logic of language as well as I hoped.  I do not intend to white bash or disregard the historical, and still present, characteristics of racism, but instead wonder why do people feel that some of the below statements are true?  What influence does language and culture have in maintaining the prohibition of the concepts described?  If language is use, and language is a structure of power as Foucault states, how can language be used to rest ownership from the pejorative




The next statement is “Freedom is not free”.  Depending on your belief in Sartre or America military might, the meaning of the statement means something different.  Again, for me the dichotomy of these two possibilities makes for an interesting analysis.



Finally, someone asked me what other artists I identified with, or not, in my work from the following list; Joseph Kosuth, Lawrence Weiner, Jenny Holzer and Mark Lombardi.  First, I do not identify with the denotative meaning that Weiner and Kosuth espouse.  Even in Weiner’s case where the viewer has a much greater influence over the meaning.  It is this search for the connotative that inclines me to identify with the work of Holzer and Lombardi.  Holzer in particular.  While I do not prefer the use of irony that she can use in her work, I do see the value in its parody of advertising and the glib oversimplified selling statement that so many people take as truth.  Her reliance on cultural discourse is a significant influence.


More on this in a later post.

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As a result of the “proofs” I have been doing it was recommended that I read some Wittgenstien. A proto-positivist, he believed in speaking only to what could be verified and as such did not have high regard for Metaphysical thinking. He also thought of structure of language as a set of rules based on use, which is to say that meaning is defined by use. Use, as in how the word is used, is an arbitrary construct and that nonsense is a word that has no rules of use or a word that is not be used in an agreed upon way. Furthermore, some words are used without our really knowing exactly what they mean, their boundary of meaning is funny, and we only realize that we don’t really understand it. Beauty is one such word. Beauty is a relative term. In the following proofs, words are used thinking of them in this “fuzzy” way.

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The last month has been a focus on investigating the possibilities of the proof poems and what they mean.  The poems are grounded in contemporary social-political discourse but are fundamentally an exploration of why particular ideologies are bound together, appropriated or taken as “truth”. It is intended that the poems have familiar or even provocative connotations, but beneath this initial interpretation is an attempt to understand the origin of meaning, the framework of its ongoing existence in dominant culture and the identification of who defines the validity of established meaning.

This analysis has led me to read Foucault, whose statement of the origination and perpetuation f meaning is stated above, to Wittgenstien whose pre-positivist musings establish logic, mathematics and the scientific method as the most viable means to establish what can be known.

At this point I find it interesting to think about the binding of meaning between two ideologies in a Structuralist way where in spite of the political overtones, the point is to uncover, or at least speculate, the underlying nature of cultural influence in terms of collections of power or at the very least to wonder about tenuous factual nature of any discourse.  The following truth poems are attempts to delve deeper into this philosophical quandary while at the same time dealing with contemporary cultural, and when I say cultural I mean American straight white male culture, issues.  The proofs are not intended to be true but are an ironic questioning of how they could be false.


Proof: burn the American flag = Terrorist


Proof: poor = lazy

proof: Terrorist = going to hell

proof: money = power

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