“In No Medium Craig Dworkin looks at works that are blank, erased, clear, or silent … point[ing] to a new understanding of media.” So goes the back cover copy of the author’s new book, which was released in March by MIT Press. This paratextual statement, while certainly catchy, is a bit misleading regarding Dworkin’s argument as well as the actual nature of his objects of study (some of the treated works, such as John Cage’s 4 ’33” and Robert Rauschenberg’s White Paintings, are well known while many others are not); and it risks obscuring, to some extent, the host of wonderful subtleties, the wily interpretive moves and maneuvers that can be found within the book itself.
The technique of etching has given many a brooding artist a shadowy medium for their art, and while the time-consuming mode of creation has fallen out of mainstream popularity, Moroccan artist Érik Desmazières continues to use etching almost exquisitely in his work.
Scorn for redneck culture — often dressed up as ironic appreciation — has long been a standby of American humor, a mechanism by which socioeconomic tension is reduced to a soothing cascade of condescension. It’s a classic indulgence of middle class banality, kind of like a mall fountain, but more cruel.
Sometimes, it is hard to remember that Social Media came along years after the rise of the personal computer and the Internet, which Al Gore called the “Information Superhighway.” But like the highway in Jean-Luc Godard’s apocalyptic comedy, Weekend (1967), the Internet is littered with refuse and ugliness of all kinds: overturned vehicles and violence.
The phrase “barrel of monkeys” generally means a bit of crazy fun. In some cases, though, people may use it as an example of something that’s less fun, i.e. “this party is way more entertaining than a barrel of monkeys.” This contradictory dual meaning makes Barrel of Monkeys a great title for a graphic novel by French cartoonists Florent Ruppert and Jérôme Mulot — in my eyes, at least, because I still haven’t decided whether the book was a really awesome barrel of monkeys or the lesser variety.
Beneath our sheath of skin is an internal world both vast and complex. While most of us rarely get to see it, these workings of our systems and organs are the daily viewing of pathologists, particularly when it comes to disease. A new book of photography takes us into our own interiors, and shows that even with their horrid ravaging of our bodies, there is some beauty in these afflictions.
Before we settle into our plush, faux-velvet seats, share bags of popcorn and watch the latest film about zombies who managed to escape from Pittsburgh and its parking lots, does anyone out there dream of making a movie about Jeffrey Dahmer starring Brad Pitt or James Franco?
“Multiple paper sizes and stocks bound together with a spiral wire and wrapped between thick chipboard covers.” So reads the highly utilitarian description of Ben Jones’ new book in its accompanying press release, but it’s also as good a definition of the different incarnations of “manliness”—the purported subject of the volume—as anything to be found on its carnation pink and lime green pages.
Graffiti and tattoos seem like total opposities. One is ephemeral, lasting only until it’s painted over by the city or other writers, the other is forever, or at least unless you decide to rip the ink back out of your skin. Yet there’s been abundant crossover in the aesthetic style, but what’s more interesting is graffiti writers who have moved to tattooing as their main focus.
Originally designed as a separata to be included in a larger publication, The Light Pavilion captures the seven years that lead up the only built work of visionary architect Lebbeus Woods (1940–2012).
The diversity of sex and gender in the animal kingdom is totally overlooked when people use the argument “it’s not natural” to say that someone’s lifestyle goes against their personal moral constructs. What’s “natural” is actually incredibly complex, considering we have hermaphrodite leopard slugs, female Western Gulls that pair up for the long term, and asexual reproduction in Komodo dragons.
It’s hard to tell how many young Americans know the name John Dewey today. Those who attended New York City’s New School might know of him as a co-founder and one of the minds behind the progressive agenda that formed the intellectual and social foundation of the school’s early years. Others might recognize the name because of his most well-known work, as an early theorist and proponent of progressive education for students of all ages. And some might be aware of him as a thinker who, in some ways, was discussing post-modern ideas about a hundred years before post-modernism. For those to whom his name is very familiar, he is said to be one of the most, if not the most, influential American philosophers. But here I want to talk about one of his lesser-known works, Art as Experience, which brings together some of his larger political and philosophic ideas in a discussion of aesthetics and culture, and their role in a robust society.