Thursday, June 7, 2007

Thoughts on Cage Matched Meaning(s),
(the) Aestheticization(s) of Relations(hips)

[[[[[Shultz v. Fenchel] v. Reitz] v. Relyea] v. Mika] v. Relyea] v.

(1,2) Sassing the Semionaut (see Q.3 of Serious Questions in my interview with Rainbo Video)

Ryan Shultz on Ryan Shultz:
“For my relational aesthetics project I chose to do a Tiravanija style cook-fest.”

Ryan Shultz on Ryan Fenchel:
“Ryan Fenchel’s project seemed to be in a similar vein.”

Seems about right. Importantly though, neither project is accessible to the class or the greater online community. Participation has been had, or so it is said; the Ryans may very well be making this shit up...

Regardless, the Ryans’ presentations of their respective projects roughly read as “We did this, and it was art.” Both projects seem to follow from an understanding of Relational Aesthetics as an exaggeration of sensitivity to signification(s). Ryan S.’s project, “BROWNIES,” derisively engages the exaggeration. Mostly thanks to the violence of his all-caps declarations of “ART BROWNIES”-ing, his inflection (in saying “We did this, and it was art.”) is obvious. Conversely, Ryan F.’s project, “La Pasadita,” embraces the involved aestheticization, at least in form, or so the poetic minimalism of his description of his project suggests. His matter-of-fact writing encouraged me to imagine him speaking very, very quietly, almost inaudibly, of his seven minutes in La Pasadita. But, is this minimalism what follows from a contemplative appreciation of the implied sensitivity to signification(s)? Or, is Ryan II dismissive of such sensitivity? Is his concise description of his project his declaration of embarrassment for “We did this, and it was art”-ers, or is it a thoughtful nod of approval?

Ryan Fenchel on Ryan Fenchel?
Ryan Fenchel on Ryan Shultz (on Ryan Fenchel)?

(1,2,3) Throughout our course, we’ve discussed manipulation, incommensurability, (dis)agreement, unanticipated resonances, gratuitous signification, (un)warranted assertions of efficacy, and the (im)possibility of communication. Over the past week, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about the projects of fellow classmates, diagramming how the projects could be conceived of in relation to each other and in relation to what we have discussed in our class. (For example, juxtapose the Ryans’ respective projects and Cate Smierciak’s ( If all three are understood to engage the exaggeration of sensitivity to signification(s) described above, how is Cate's project different from the Ryans'? Cate Smierciak on Cate Smierciak?)

(1,2,3,4) Eric Mika’s project ( provided a brilliant non-textual (huzzah) site (literally) for the exploration of ((the) aestheticization(s) of) relations(hips). “Stack of Sketches” offers a participatory structure in which, or through which, questions regarding (over)signification, and, furthermore, the practice of, or engagement with/in signification(s), can be developed, or, at least, comprehended. Eric’s introduction to “Stack of Sketches” says it all: “On Interaction, Cooperation, and Subversion.” I wonder, who else set about to blackout (or whiteout) the screen, only to find that you actually very-much-so-and-for-more-than-simply-aesthetic-reasons regretted your desire to not acknowledge others’ offerings in your own?

(1,2,3,4,5) Questions, many questions. On the past week, the projects, the quarter. So why not question the questions? What does my questioning of Shultz v. Fenchel, or Shultz v. Fenchel v. Smierciak, serve as? Or, my questioning of it on my blog? What do our class blogs serve as? What did our class discussions serve as? What did our class serve as?

Which then leads me to ask what appears to be the operative question: if Relyea v. Tiravanija isn't another relationship worthy of questioning?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

experimental filmmaker////&/////dance music producer

Q: Could you describe ((your intentions with regard to)) Rainbo Video?

A: In a most pedestrian fashion, I must confess that my central intention in performing as Rainbo Video is quite simply to express myself through a medium of which I believe (perhaps foolishly) I have a profound understanding. The music that I produce is an attempt to realize my ideas on harmony, melody, and rhythm - or really, I should call them preferences. It'd be silly to claim I have profound theories about dance music. I really just want to make people dance and have fun. The way that I choose to do this, however, is quite particular.

Rainbo Video used to be "breakcore" music (not a label I aimed for, but something that made explaining what I did easier). Breakcore is equal parts jungle (fast breakbeat music for the dancefloor, upwards of 180 beats per minute) and modern classical/noise music (intricately edited, complexly structured, aggressive, and noisy). Sampling is not an essential part of breakcore, but certainly an extremely prevalent feature of the genre (especially: mainstream pop or rap songs; classic jungle, gabber, and happy hardcore songs; humorous or aggressive dialogue from movies, tv shows, etc.). Whatever is sampled in a given breakcore song is typically chopped and mauled into oblivion, thereby creating an aggressively subversive, extremely rhythmic and fragmented take on the original. Breakcore, generally, can be characterized as complex, hardcore dance music with a sense of humor. It appealed to me because it is was fast, fun, and had no ulterior motives on the dancefloor (it's dance music for each and every person to spazzdance their heart out to, not for grinding and juking with someone in the hopes of hooking up).

After about a year, I tired of the formal techniques I was employing - heavy distortion, extremely fast edits, very little repetition. All my emphasis on uncompromising sonic experimentation and ADD-friendly fragmentation had ironically become quite boring. I had also become quite annoyed with the posturing inherent in the breakcore scene. Every producer I encountered was trying to prove themselves more hardcore and clever than the next. Funnier, more obscure samples; more extreme distortion; faster, more complex beats. It was a pissing contest for music nerds. LAME.

I'm much happier with the new Rainbo Video material I'm working on, as the focus has moved back to formal elements I find perpetually enjoyable: good beats, pleasing melodies/harmonies, and any other sonic gestures that conveys a sense of pure unadulterated fun. The humor and sampling are still there, but the humor is subtler and the sampling is less about the novelty of/subversive implications of appropriation and more about musical integration.

I've also started making videos and films under the name Rainbo Video. This is because the RV music has an aesthetic based on humor, irreverence, and accessibility that I want people to consider when approaching the movies. That's not to say that one has to be familiar with my music before one can appreciate my movies, but I think my music has strongly influenced my films, and is worth taking into account. Put bluntly, my films are stranger than my music, because conceptually, they are aligned with American experimental films. The intent in my films is not to relate a narrative or evoke certain emotions, but to excite the senses and to challenge the mind. I think of my films as perceptual and cognitive puzzles for the viewer (not suprising, given that there are often literal puzzles within the film for the viewer to solve).

Rainbo Video is also an onscreen persona/alter ego I occasionally assume. I wear a hood and use a text-to-speech generator to communicate when I do so.


Q: I know that Rupert Murdoch has graciously allowed access to a compendium of RV pursuits: songs, videos, upcoming shows, blogs, attractive friends and ladyfriends ( But, he’s only one of your many hostesses (YouTube, blogspot(!), so on). How have you approached your, or RV’s, that is, participation in online networks and communities?

A: I see my involvement in the various online networks/communities as a simple way of giving exposure to my music, videos, writings, and art. The networks themselves are not inherently a part of my work, which is to say that I am not making videos, music, etc. with the sole intent of seeing how online communities react to/interact with them.
Rather, the networks serve as a simple, instantaneous way of showcasing my work to potentially millions of people. They are, for me, marketing tools, and they're currently the best tools available to me. Given that I am not signed to a label and do not have the means to print and hand out thousands of flyers or buy tv or radio commercial time, billboard space, or exhibit my work in any kind of well-known public gallery space for any extended period of time (the best I can do is hour-long music performances at bars and music venues), online marketing is the best way for me to give widespread exposure to my work. What I'm doing would be impossible were it not for the Internet.

What's especially great is that a central purpose of online communities is not simply to meet people, but to meet people who have interests similar to yours. This is especially useful for musicians, filmmakers, and artists of all kinds because it allows for creating instant, personalized networks for niche art genres. Networks of like-minded artists grow because the artists express interest in one another's work, thereby establishing professional, artistic, and personal relationships with people whose aesthetic output is similar. This is useful for planning and executing collaborations, performances, and exhibitions

Equally important is the fact that each of these artists has, to however small an extent, a group of people/fans/admirers/critics who follow their progress. These fans (when there is an established network of like-minded artists available to them) are then introduced to other artists that they are highly likely to appreciate, given their preference for one of the similar artists with which they are already familiar. Thus, networking helps increase your exposure not just to anyone, but to people who are more likely than not to appreciate your work. Because I correspond and network via MySpace with other dance music producers whose output is also aligned with the baltimore club, breakstep, ghettotech, mashup, house, electro, and synth pop genres, fans of those producers have actually requested my online friendship because they found me through this network and appreciate the kind of music I'm producing. Being a part of a style/genre network is important for attracting a strong base of people who will more than likely than not become fans of yours, and sites like MurdochSpace make that possible.

Side note. A problem I have encountered in the music scene in general, but particularly in the dance music scene, is a palpable move away from textual analysis. Music may be sound, but producing text-based analytical essays about it and one's ideas about it is not inherently boring or "academic." I think a general perception of art, music, and film theory is that it is stuffy and pretentious. While a great deal of it is, the best of it isn't, and it engages the given art form in a way that is highly relevant to all the artists producing work in that medium. Sure, dance music is about having fun. I don't expect club producers to start writing manifestos and tracts citing Deleuze or Baudrillard. However, the reason I have started both a blog and vlog is because I want to contribute, in some way, to an analytical discussion regarding music, video, art, the Internet, and media in general. Most of my posts or videos will not likely be straightforward analytical essays about a given topic, but instead some sort of creative, playful exploration of it.

In sharp contrast to music producers, most experimental filmmakers have no aversion whatsoever to writing analytical essays of their own and other artists' works. Of course, most of these filmmakers are also utterly humorless and manage to suck the fun out of any discussion. I guess I'm trying to find the middle ground between the non-intellectual pleasure of the dancefloor and the thoughtful evaluation of film theory.

Q: What online community best suits your project(s)? Which is least conducive? I guess I’m mostly thinking of your RV vlogs and what sort of responses you have received and what sort of responses you would like to receive? Is participation more important or is accessibility? What would be the main features of the ideal online network or community?

A: First, I'd have to say that I think MySpace has the highest degree/best form of interactivity for me. (Actually, Facebook is perhaps best of all the communities, but I only use that for personal networking, not networking related to my Rainbo Video output, so it's not really relevant). The fact that each person's MySpace profile page is headquarters for everything - posting original music, posting comments, sending messages, listing favorites, hobbies, etc. - means that the interaction is highly centralized. When you want to send a message to someone, you go to his profile page. When you want to listen to an artist's music and post a comment about it, you go to their profile page. Everything happens on this one page.

On YouTube, the structure is very different. While there are Channel pages - where each user can post their personal information, the other channels they subscribe to, and where thumbnails of the videos they upload are visible - the videos themselves are viewed on a separate page (a page dedicated to each video). This divorces the content page from the creator page, and means comments about a video are associated directly with that video (which is good), but disconnects those comments from the direct feedback to/discussion regarding the artist (which is bad).

With MySpace, I'm a little more interested in the way people are reacting to what I put out there, simply because it's important that people actually want to dance to the music that I produce, and also want to come out to my concerts, which are interactive events. With the films I put on YouTube, there's less of a necessity for feedback, simply because there's not the same level of interaction with them. They're films conceptually based on the activity of the mind and the senses, and while they certainly require a level of intellectual interaction, it's not the same kind of outward reaction that I think is more typical of listening to dance music at a party, say, or at one of my shows. So, with the Rainbo Video vlog, as you mention, I'm less interested in how people interact with it, and more interested, simply, in them experiencing it.

Of course, it would be silly to claim that video blogs on YouTube are not interactive. They are - comments and video responses actualize this. I'm just less interested in this aspect. However, the vlog is certainly meant, in some way, to trouble and blur the distinction between experimental film - which has in the past been characterized as a passive experience and one that is distinct from common, everyday activity, given that you have to go to a screening of it at an underground art theater - and web video blogs, which are not only much more interactive, but also ubiquitous, given the new omnipresence of the Internet in global culture. Surfing the Internet has become as mundane as turning on a light switch, and certainly no more difficult. This is in sharp contrast to going to a see a movie, which is a scheduled diversion that takes time, money, and energy. I make these films in the hopes of rendering strange and fun film experiences more prevalent in everyday life. I'd be quite pleased if one of my films managed to receive the kind of exposure that American Idol has received.

Q: We were asked to identify “an artist, art or design group and/or cultural entrepreneur who works on relational projects that have creativity, lifestyle, community, and/or daily life as their theme.” You, my friend, I crown, as per Bourriaud, “Semionaut,” extraordinaire. I don’t say this just because of your DJing. I say this more in reference to what Bourriaud describes as the semionaut’s assiduous navigation and, more importantly, selective activation and thereby organization/disorganization/reorganization of the “established.”

You unquestionably play with accessibility, functionality, integration, participation, signification, and, in particular, relational signification. Yet, the reverent irreverence, or irreverent reverence, of your efforts is violently juxtaposed with assertions of relative or ephemeral power or control in the creation or production of meaning, of value, especially in your wry manipulation, exploitation (?), of “establisheds.” And, in your efforts’ openness to further manipulation, exploitation.

I struggle with not dubbing the 10 yearold I babysit a semionaut. After all, who doesn’t “produce original pathways through signs”? What isn’t performative? But, I also can’t commit to universalizing (and thereby seemingly effacing the supposed agency of) the semionaut... It must be that there are semionauts and then there are Semionauts.

But then who are the uppercased?

Has your participation in online networks or communities encouraged you to reassess your understanding of a Semionaut/semionaut (or the semionaut/non-semionaut) divide? Or to disengage Bourriaud, have your online endeavors encouraged you to rethink your relationship to those who view or listen to your works? To what extent is (are) your project(s) informed by, (re)defined by, fellow or potential YouTubers and the like?

A: My work is less invested in a relational aesthetics than in one more classically modernist. Certainly, I display my work on the Internet, which is a medium inherently based on interactivity. However, it is more important for me to use the Internet as space to present the original, defined, static works than it is to create some sort of variable, interactive experience that only materializes and gains meaning when a person interacts with it. While all art needs to be heard or experienced until it can have any impact on anyone other than the artist, the films and music I make are essentially texts whose fundamental meaning exists regardless of whether someone is experiencing it or not. The work is there to be seen/heard, and does not require any further action from me or from the viewer/listener for it to transform into some more fully realized form. For instance, the films I make, while drastically different in content and structure, have essentially the same aesthetic presentation as Hollywood blockbusters. The work is produced, distributed, and made available to viewers, who approach it as a closed, personal experience. Imagine the viewer watching a matinee film screening in an empty theater. This is seen by many filmmakers as an ideal way for someone to experience their films. I feel the same way. For me, however, an equally legitimate way to experience my films are by opening up an Internet browser, navigating to my You Tube channel, and clicking on one of my videos. The screen - and likely, the size of the screening room - has shrunk, but the method for experiencing it is the same: the subjective, personal experience of a preexisting text.

Contrast this, for instance, with a masochistic performance piece that gains meaning only when the people watching become increasingly anxious as the artist continues to hurt himself. The choice of the bystanders to intervene or not intervene would become a fundamental part of the performance, perhaps even THE central purpose for it. Perhaps the artist is interested to see precisely to what extent he needs to hurt himself before someone makes the judgment that he has gone too far and is in danger of seriously injuring - or possibly killing - himself. This would be a piece that gains meaning through
the interaction of the artist and the viewers, whereby all involved parties add in some way to its meaning. My films and music do not operate in this way. (However, I certainly appreciate the participation of people who come to my concerts and dance, as that personal, subjective desire to react physically to my music by dancing provides instantaneous feedback, adding not necessarily to the meaning of the performance, but to the fun of it.)

I'd also like to add that the fact that I am exhibiting my films on the a site like YouTube is a drastic break with most of the experimental film community, which largely comprises old filmmakers so out of touch with digital technology and the direction media is heading that they are convinced that experimental films NEED to be seen on 16mm film for it to have any meaning, and that anything shown on video or the Internet has nothing to do with the values and aesthetics established by experimental film as presented on celluloid. Very narrow-minded indeed.

Q: Do you sometimes resent, or do your works sometimes resist, the openness of networks like MySpace or YouTube insofar as this openness seems to frustrate, or even emasculate, expression by their very commitment to communication? Or, do you work to exploit this openness as well? Even encouraging the appropriation or misappropration of what you offer? Simply offering up, offering to, fellow onliners? Always a DJ of sorts?

A: I love the openness that has been made possible by the Internet and digital technology in general. While I do not make a point of telling people that they can, or should, sample/remix my films or songs, I would have very little problem with it if they did, provided they don't claim that they created the source material. There's a difference between blatantly sampling a song by another artist, reworking it, and admitting it's a creative remix, and surreptitiously sampling it and claiming you created the original. I do the former, and support other people who do (Girl Talk, Drop the Lime, and many others come to mind). However, the latter is a kind of stealing that I would argue is completely unacceptable, and one rarely acknowledged (though probably very common). Here's one example:

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Got something dirty to share?
Keep it clean.

So long as it's text, even URLs:
1)  go to
2)  enter text, receive binary code
3)  paste code in Word document
4)  ctrl + f (or equivalent); select "replace"; replace all 0's with 7's; next, replace all 1's with 0's; then, replace all 7's with 1's
5)  submit to

You will then be added as an author.
Post what you will.  Post soon.
Sunday evening the site will be afire.  Sort of.

Count on finding reflections on the project's development sometime in the Monday-Tuesday range.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

A+D Gallery
Pass It On: Connecting Contemporary Do-It-Yourself Culture

He was a cold critic. He was possibly a she-critic. He was possibly a ghost-critic. A disillusioned, fatally aneurysmed I-Banker-turned-anarcho-syndicalist with so much more to say. He was possibly- no, he was probably- a student with too much to say. A student, but of the undead sort. A fellow Lane Relyean, perhaps. He was possibly a supra-student. A Lane Relyea?

Regardless, when Industry of the Ordinary encouraged the he/she/ghost-critic to offer his/her/its thoughts on their
(photo-)documented projects, he/she/said ghost scoffed; the work was “...very played out & boring.”

Ghost, as I read what you had written, I held in my right hand various DIY literature and a seed ball. Did you take a seed ball, you fiend? Or, assuming you are, in fact, from the netherworld and your sinews and such have long since rotted away, did you stare longingly at the earthen pot and curse and moan and spit?

I reread your words. I heard you convince yourself of the necessity of the “very.” Nasally constructed conceit. A couple in their mid-thirties came up on my left. I ridiculed your arrogance. You found the work “…very played out and boring.” OK, tough guy. What about the un-you’s who would view it?

I countered your dismissal of the projects with their potential significance for couple-on-my-left’s hypothetical ten year-old daughter. An appeal to the impressionable. To radical education. To revelation. Somewhat overdone, granted. Any un-you would suffice. But, really. What, exactly, were you criticizing? What did you expect to find in the exhibit? What did you want to find?

We’re not so different, you and I. I’m unforgiving. I may not have vomited in Oh-give-me-DIY-that-affects-the-unaffected! indignation as I stood before the "DIY Monster iPod Protector," but I did take one of its accompanying fliers so that I would remember its disappointing presence in the exhibit.

I see through you, ghost. You lauded Pomegranate Radical Health Collective. You watched Pomegranate’s video interview on the wall of dangling iPods, which at first intimidated you. The earnestness of the interviewee won you over. You looked through the literature on the table behind you. I’m sure you saw the pamphlet on cervical self-exams?

You surveyed the gallery.
1.) A computer mouse equipped with a fan.
2.) A golf club that, well, was more than a golf club.


3.) "Bike Machines- Power to (& from) the People"
4.) "Solar microtransmitter: Modification of design" by Tetsuo Kogawa

Gratuitous. Insultingly impractical, especially a mere five feet from a color-coordinated discussion about cervical health.

Scott Reinhard’s "Book Camera" may have been a rather obvious selection for the exhibit but at least it hinted at dissent. What of extralegal abortions and undiagnosed venereal diseases? What of structural inequities and resistant practices? Why wasn’t more- why wasn’t all- of the exhibit as politically salient as Pomegranate? A chorus pleaded with the works, rebuked them: Say something that needs to be said! Say something that hasn’t been said! Say something that can’t be said! In the name of all that is holy, at least say something new! That’s what angered you about the Industry of the Ordinary pieces. You’d heard it all before.

I too moved through the gallery accompanied by a reproachful chorus. Not your chorus, specifically, but an unrelenting chorus just the same. The altos shrilled as I edged passed the first and then the second guitar-making station and the "Remote Control Sweeper" and and and and. Yet, when I read your abrupt dismissal of Industry of the Ordinary’s efforts, I silenced the chorus. The curtain dropped violently. Your words embarrassed me.

Hauling around a personal wardrobe for a day, now that was a kidney shot at aggressive consumerism that I had yet to see delivered outside of a small group discussion in a high school Religion course, but some of Industry’s other projects? Why, they were just…ordinary.

I had entered A+D gallery fitted with the details of the show’s pretensions. There was the coat rack. There were the poorly crafted innovations. There were thousands of dollars of electronic thingamabobs. There were more poorly crafted innovations for more electronic thingamabobs. The designs looked cheap. The backstories seemed contrived. Yet, I had entered A+D gallery certain that I would disagree with these criticisms, especially because of my resistance to the aesthetic, economic, and even technical arguments propping them up. Maybe I would disagree with A+D’s efforts, but it wouldn’t be because of the uninviting layout of the gallery or the ergonomic clumsiness of its selections.

After all, the show was about empowerment. Possibility. Opposition. Community. Open dialogue. This is what I had convinced myself at least. With Pomegranate’s video interview serving as my introduction to the gallery, I felt affirmed. Suddenly, I was ready to welcome even those juvenile inventions that I had been warned of. Yet, when I found several unambiguously political guides, with titles such as “Your Rights to Demonstrate and Protest” and “Dealing With the Police: General Guidelines for Activists,” littered on the counter that braced the far left wall of the gallery, my confidence in my understanding of the exhibit faltered.

Was A+D offering gallery space so that advocates of agency or awareness (however defined) could present their efforts, or was it opening up gallery space to simply present the efforts of said advocates? That is, was Pass It On: Connecting Contemporary Do-It-Yourself Culture intended to be political? Or, was it intended to capture the political? If even the once-was or the at-least-proposes-to-be political? Was the exhibit only political insofar as it showcased the political?

The cynical responses on Industry of the Ordinary’s message boards suggested that the later was true, and I can’t say that I disagreed. It was unsettling to move through a space so laden with communication. But, what was more unsettling was the tranquility of the space. There was no cacophony, only the hushed voices of the guitar-making instructors. The DIY materials and resources were sacred relics of resistance, not harbingers of revolutions, even if the careful organization of the gallery space sought to facilitate engagement. Because of this disconnect, I had to resist criticizing selections for their righteousness, for their banality, for their form…and not always successfully. I see your game, ghost.

Yes, I took a seed ball. I refused to join your lot on the Industry of the Ordinary message boards, and I took a goddamn seed ball. I hesitated at first, but I took one. Maybe the fliers that I took held only entertainment value, but the seed ball was a piece of practicality, of practice. I fully intended to give it a toss, to “Fling [me] Some Green,” but I, admittedly, have yet to do so. And, yes, when I saw its little brown self this morning hidden amongst receipts, earrings, and eyeliners on the bookcase behind my bedroom door, I had forgotten its promise.

A revolution abandoned. It works well though, sitting on the coils of my red stone necklace.