Alt Wire is a morning digest of links and information collected and explained by a different guest blogger every weekday. Today's guest is Roger White, co-editor of the contemporary art journal Paper Monument. We asked him for five links and here's what he came up with:
Mystical, Creative Acts: Collaborative poetry duo Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch recently guest-edited an issue of the online poetics journal Interval(le)s, centered on the idea of transcription. It’s a wonderful, formidable document—and only possible on the internet. The mammoth project contains thousands of PDF-ed pages of transcription-based prose and poetry (and a little bit of art), and none of it—from Kenneth Goldsmith’s Celexa® (citalopram hydrobromide) Tablets/Oral Solution (20 pages of drug warnings and pharmaceutical legalese) to Eileen Myles’s Myles/Driving (a notation of words and phrases uttered by the author while driving alone in Los Angeles)—is going to make Oprah’s Book Club any time soon. But the reward for investing your time with these often-demanding texts is this: paying attention to people who pay attention to speaking and writing makes you pay more attention to speaking and writing yourself. After perusing Cotner and Fitch’s journal, everything from sending a text message to ordering a sandwich will seem like a mystical, creative act.
The Myth of Artist Privilege: Working Artists and the Greater Economy (W.A.G.E.) is a recently-formed arts activist organization created to bring attention to—and transform—some lousy economic practices on the part of contemporary art institutions in particular, and the situation of art workers in general: people on whom a multimillion dollar industry is based, and who often never see any actual financial returns from it. You may ask: do artists have it so rough? Well, no more or less rough than other labor forces in the United States without job security, health care, a union, or political visibility. W.A.G.E. is interesting both in its campaign to dismantle the myth of the artist as a privileged fauxhemian, and in the fact that its constituency is looking less like an exotic subculture and more like a possibly very accurate representation of tomorrow’s American workforce.
Volunteer Critical Sleuthing: There are always more good paintings being made than there are places to see them. As the contemporary art market contracts and galleries go out of business, art blogs are going to become even more important simply as exhibition venues. And while looking at a painting as a JPEG is even worse than listening to a record as an MP3, these are desperate times and I’ll take what I can get. Two New York painting-centric blogs, Anaba and The Old Gold, are consistently surprising and accessible documents of the medium and its practitioners. Both are highly idiosyncratic, interspersing things you’ll probably see in commercial galleries with things you’ll probably never see anywhere else. Martin Bromirski and Jon Lutz, respectively, do a tremendous amount of volunteer critical sleuthing, sometimes tracking under-known artists for years in a valiant attempt to patch the gaps in the ongoing history of painting.
Unusual Phobias: Trying to find a word for “the fear of everything,” I came across Unusual Phobias, a decidedly non-professional but meticulous survey of the world of irrational dreads. Based on user-submitted accounts of personal, “not-psychologically recognized” phobias, the site indexes a host of bogies ranging from banal objects—crickets, rice puddings, and necklace jewelry clasps—to improbable situations—gravity reversing itself, waking up during surgery, or becoming a ghost. While there’s a certain amount of one-upsmanship in the confessional accounts posted, and some of them are blatant piss-takes (fear of Thousand Island dressing?), the site does confirm an unnerving truth: no matter what it is, someone, somewhere, is afraid of it.
The Indexer: The good thing about the internet is all the information. That’s also the bad thing, as it turns out, and historians of the future will look back on our era and shudder at the crimes against information science perpetuated every day on the web. Luckily, the Society of Indexers has been working since 1953 to promote clarity and rigor in this field, and they’re not stopping, not even when print is completely dead. The Indexer, their semi-annual journal, is online and picking up the gauntlet thrown down to informatics by the eventual digitization of all printed matter. The Indexer couldn’t be more out of step with the laissez-faire spirit of digital information economies, and that’s a good thing: somebody needs to regulate all this data. Articles on the indexing of Chinese personal names, creating searchable databases for digitized films, and the perennial problem of the word The in indexing the titles of works of art, all speak to a drive for order which will keep pace with the challenges of the future.
Previous Alt Wire Guests: Dan Sinker, Phil Yu, Matt Novak, Jason Marsh, David LaBounty, Jen Angel, Will Braun, Regan Hofmann, Josh Breitbart, Andrew Lam, Jessica Valenti, Jessica Hoffmann, Noah Scalin, Rinku Sen, Paddy Johnson, Melissa Mcewan, Fatemeh Fakhraie , Joe Biel, Anne Elizabeth Moore