OpinionWeekend

Required Reading

LA Times writer Carolina Miranda was trying to make sense of the new Peterson Automotive Museum in Los Angeles and asked people who knew what they thought on it. One person said: "" (via LA Times)
LA Times writer Carolina Miranda was trying to make sense of Los Angeles’s new Petersen Automotive Museum, designed by New York–based firm Kohn Pederson Fox (KPF), so she asked people to describe it. One person offered: “It’s like the old museum crushed down a Redbull and vodka and put on some cool club clothes.” Sounds pretty accurate. (via LA Times)

This week, LA’s new Edsel of architecture, a doghouse architect, time-slice photography, photoshopping the Broad, the connection between video games and literature, and more.

 Some important and informative thoughts on the nature of transformative use and what it means, by Nate Harrison:

There is nothing inherently wrong with artists thinking through their ideas during the act of making. Many artists (and great artists at that) will tell you that often, a work of art does not become entirely legible until after it has been produced and can be grasped in its totality. Yet art is not, and should not be, wholly coterminous with its after-the-fact explanation in the press release, the wall blurb, or, in the legal context, the defense brief. To think otherwise reduces art to a pretext, a means-ends language game devoid of staying power. Thought at the same time, art is incapable of evading language. Duchamp taught us many things, one of which is that an artist enters into a relationship with language as soon as he or she nominates an art work as such. This is especially the case with contemporary appropriation-based practices, in which the act of repurposing materials presupposes a discursive engagement with them. The ontological status of an appropriated object, image or text, now operating as “Art,” is already given over to the discursive. The relationships between authorship and ownership, craft labor and intellectual labor, artistic autonomy and social agency — these are just some of the threads that are bound up with every appropriating magazine cutout, flatbed scan, or screen capture. Thus, intent-based, transformative fair use merely requests that artists intelligently engage in a set of conversations about the production of art in which they have always already been participants.

 In EU countries, people have the right to see footage of themselves recorded on CCTV cameras, but someone discovered that it isn’t as easy as it sounds:

Following the protocol laid out in the Data Protection Act, Spiller made formal written requests to the operators of each of the 17 CCTV cameras that recorded him, using a template letter from the UK Information Commissioners’ Office. According to the ICO, 94,358 organisations across the UK have registered as users of CCTV. Operators are compelled to provide requested data within 40 days, and are allowed to ask a £10 fee from the requester. In some cases, Spiller received quick mailed responses seeking the £10 fee – and one requesting a £20 fee, plus VAT. In others, his requests went unanswered.

He then made follow-up calls, some of which went unreturned while others revealed that his original letters were either lost or never received. In one back-and-forth with the operator of a shopping mall’s CCTV system, the correspondence lasted so long that by the time the operator figured out how to get Spiller what he requested, the system’s 30-day automatic data overwrite had already deleted his footage.

 Wait, who painted the Mona Lisa again?

 The life of a doghouse architect:

When I asked Aldrich about the intensity of this approach, about the hours upon hours he spends with each dog before even beginning preliminary sketches, he said it was simply the only course he knew. “There was a point in my career when I stumbled,” he told me. “I was thinking about doghouse design in conceptual terms, rather than in terms of the dogs themselves, and it was a mistake because a doghouse architect who spends more time inventing theories than he spends with the clients, watching them sleep, listening to them bark, is simply misguided, and it will show in the work. The only way I know to design a worthy doghouse is by connecting deeply with the dog who will eventually inhabit it.”

 Mesmerizing time-slice photography by Los Angeles–based photographer Dan Marker-Moore (via Booooooom):

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 As video games “adopt the language and pacing of literature,” what influence are they having — if any — on literature itself? Tobias Carroll writes:

While rarely at the center of the action, games have become increasingly common as background elements in fiction. One of the threads that ran throughout Jonathan Lethem’s novel Chronic City was an online role-playing game on which several of the book’s characters became fixated. (More specifically, an MMORPG: a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.) Throughout the novel, the sense of virtual worlds and virtual objects becomes itself omnipresent. There are some hints that the novel’s universe is itself a kind of simulation; that it’s set in a stylized, surreal version of Manhattan only accentuates that sense of disorientation.

… The new anthology Press Start to Play, edited by Daniel H. Wilson and John Joseph Adams, examines some of the overlap between these sorts of stories. “Exploring video games,” Adams posits in his introduction, “has become one of the primary ways we create and experience narratives.” He also points out that a number of writers (including several contributors to the anthology) work in the video game industry as well, further evidence of the blurring of the lines between the two disciplines.

 The dark origins of conjugal visits:

The origin story of conjugal visits in America, however, is a chapter of American racism. In 1904, Parchman Penitentiary was a 19th century plantation recreated, with its black, convict labor force working in the prison’s cotton fields like slaves. Conjugal visits were a paternalistic, ad-hoc reward system. If black convicts worked hard, they got to have sex on Sunday.

Conjugal visits are a good policy, and they got their start in America for the worst possible reasons.

… This is the first documented case of conjugal visits in America, which the guards organized to increase productivity and exercise control over Parchman’s black, convict workforce. “You gotta understand that back in them days [n-words] were pretty simple creatures,” a prison sergeant told academic Columbus Hopper in the 1960s. “Give ‘em pork, some greens, some cornbread, and some poontang every now and then and they would work for you.”

It’s hard to imagine guards driving prostitutes into a prison for decades, but it occurred at Parchman because the penitentiary operated like a slavery-era plantation.

 “Descriptions of Art at the Met That Could Double as My Tinder Bio” by Blythe Roberson:

  • “Savage beauty”
  • “Intending a contrary effect”
  • “Too raw”
  • “As much like a flower as anything you like”
  • “Described as white”
  • “Intended for private devotion”

 Gizmodo invited readers to photoshop the new DSR-designed Broad Museum in LA, and some of the submissions are hilarious:

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 An INCREDIBLY lucky man avoided death by falling glass pane in Saudi Arabia (perhaps the only type of execution the government itself doesn’t sanction), by only a fraction of an inch. The whole scene is almost unbelievable:

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning ET, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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