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Autonomy of Consciousness

There is a concept about body autonomy: No one can take our organs – we choose what to do with our remains. But do we have autonomy of the self or consciousness?

Ray Kurzweil famously wants to resurrect his father in some future digital consciousness. Kurzweil has gathered everything he can in hopes that future technology will allow some kind of recreation – some kind of electronic consciousness based on saved data. Kurzweil is using his father’s writings and whatever he has in order to hopefully recreate his father. Kurzweil’s father died before social media. Social media, might contain much more information about a person.

Social media has become a juggernaut of information. Amazon and Facebook are trying to track habits and develop metrics to understand each individual consumer. It isn’t too far fetched to conceive that some kind of personality profiling is occurring. It isn’t too far fetched to conceive that some kind of consciousness might be constructed from these social media profiles.

Social media might change or cease to exist as we currently understand it. The model of social media changed from web 1.0 and from myspace to Facebook. The model now seems to be purely about collecting data that can be sold.

It might be pure science fiction speculation, but imagine a future where consciousnesses could be uploaded into computers. These consciousnesses might essentially create immortal human beings.

Now imagine that this technology is created a century from now. 21st century social media created many profiles of its users but in the 22nd century, those people have passed. Early 21st century social media users are dead but what if their profiles were used to create consciousnesses in this hypothetical 22nd century. These old social media profiles would be less sophisticated because they would be incomplete with 22nd century technology.

So the question would be, how much autonomy would these one-hundred year old consciousness have? They might be flawed and not fully functional. So they might be considered less human or less deserving of rights. They might not be treated like the physical bodies of corpses, as in they would not have the choice to be “organ donors.” They might be considered “meat,” consciousness meat. Terabytes of conscious ghostly meat.

These old consciousness might be used in ways that, when alive, they would not appreciate.

Imagine a celebrity on Facebook in 2017. Now imagine what someone might do with that celebrity’s consciousness in 2117.

This question of autonomy of self is also present in current film making. The recent movie, Rogue One, had several deceased actors reprising their roles. It is not too far fetched to assume that this technology could be used in ways that the deceased would not affirm. As digital rendering improves, an eighteen year old Carrie Fisher could sell candy bars from the grave. Soon anyone from history could have words put in their mouth. Anyone and everyone’s knowledge of self and self awareness could be challenged, changed, and manipulated.

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Computer generated Carrie Fisher

Obviously there are political implications to this as well. Stalin famously erased people from photos. Future autocrats would be able to make those erased people speak for them instead. People mostly see politicians online or on TV. Future regimes could kill political opponents then use their image to endorse their agendas.

This question is sliding around the idea of autonomy of self and authority of consciousness but these have been questioned. Richard Prince takes an artists’ work and makes it his own via the concept of appropriation. What does that say about autonomy of self, autonomy of intellect, and autonomy of one’s labors? The post post post modern (or whatever we are calling this (maybe Post Truth era due to Trump)) might be a sort of buffet table wherein anyone has access to anything and nothing is sacred nor should it be. However, it seems reasonable in theory but then it stands to reason that people should be compensated for their labor. If Prince sells an instagram image of another artist, then that artist should be compensated or Prince should be sued.

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Whether or not we have any autonomy of consciousness is seen on the internet as well. Pirating is a world view. Everything belongs to everyone. If you can torrent it, you can own it. Music, literature, movies, pictures, everything is for the taking. The internet is a contemporary Library of Alexandria but with doors wide open.

Autonomy is also lacking with surveillance. There is no privacy in the UK. CCTV is everywhere. So a person is never alone. Our laptop cameras might be turned on right now.

This is really all a question of what is a self and what rights does it have. If we conceive that bodies have rights, then consciousness should likewise have rights.

The wrench in the works might appear after reading Thomas McEvilley’s essay, “I Am,” is a Vain Thought. McEvilley suggests that the conception of a self stems from a western idea of the soul. The soul being eternal and divinely gifted suggests that consciousness is unique or special. Conversely, McEvilley discussed the Japanese concept of “not-self or soullessness.”

McEvilley goes on further to discuss how science might discuss the idea of self:

Modern biology also shifts the concept of selfhood from the category of substance to that of process. If a neuron alters in the brain every time we experience anything, then the self is a constantly changing thing like John Locke’s sock (which acquired one patch after another till no fiber of it was the same; Did it become another sock? When?).

If there is a self then should it have some autonomy? Or is the concept of self leftover theism and we should embrace our future ghostly avatars’ tomorrows? It just be the post human future we cannot avoid.

 

 

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How Long Can You Beat a Dead Horse?

The Joke Workshop was interesting. Participants were two comedians, Christine Ferrera and Ben O’Brien.

I think I gained a leg up on my understanding of theory versus practice. I have been trying to write my way through the topic. I wanted to see if there were parallels between designing jokes and designing art. I wanted to see if these things could enter the classroom and help me affect the situation of co-learning in a more meaningful way.

In essence, I want to be a better teacher. I have observed that students know more than they have been led to believe and they know more than they are willing to believe. There are many issues that create this situation but I think it is due to how they have learned their entire lives and due to the unfortunate result of modernist activities driving people away from art.

I think it would be helpful to foreground this situation to them earlier rather than later. I think many students could gain quite a lot from taking agency with their own education. I think that elucidating that they know more than they thought would be helpful. With all that in mind, I embarked upon this experiment between art and comedy.

During the workshop we discussed Chris’ jokes. Chris and Ben jumped in with their practiced knowledge whereas I felt a bit bewildered. I didn’t really have too much access because they were digging into subtleties and I am not a stage performer nor a comedian.

We then looked at images from the New Yorker’s Caption Contest. We bounced around some ideas but landed on a topic Chris previously discussed with me: writing versus performing. They are different animals. Perhaps similar to how many visual artists find difficulty in writing about their work. There is a linguistic issue here. During this portion, Chris suggested that dealing with the caption contest might require a certain kind of skill set, and she suggested having improv actors to assist. So I might create a workshop were I interact with improv folks.

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a recent caption contest image from the New Yorker. The winning caption was, “Long time no sea.”

We finished with looking at some art historical paintings as well as art history memes. We bounced around some ideas but the same kind of issues with the New Yorker caption contest arose with the art historical images.

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a detail from a painting by Hieronymus Bosch. A possible caption: MFW a Trump voter says, “we don’t need no Obama health and dental care!”

I think there might be some future activities that could bounce off the workshop, like some kind of tweet writing workshop. Maybe it would be a podcast or a video. I think the purpose would be an intersection between comedy and pedagogy.

One of the collaborators, Ben O’Brien, discussed networking jokes through fiverr. I often overwork paintings to the point where I call them kitchen sink paintings – they include all my painting ideas and the kitchen sink. I overwork them because I don’t know when to stop. I overpaint because I doubt my own knowledge. My doubt takes the form of erasing the previous painting over and over. Networking the joke over and over might function in the same way. Maybe overworking the joke would cause it to fall apart. How long can you beat a dead horse?

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Asking the question, “How long can you beat a dead horse?” Apparently the answer is, indefinitely. 

Another thought I had is perhaps there is a major difference between comedy and art: efficiency or function. Essentially, the joke needs to be funny or its purpose is thwarted. However, the art gesture/object need not have any purpose other than its making. There might not even need to be an object. There is “process art” but is there “process comedy?” Is there a point where comedy is the thing itself? I need to research theatre and comedy.

Continuing this thought, I was once offered a skateboard to use as a painting surface but there was the stipulation that it still be ridable. The efficiency of form influenced the content. I never did make that painting because it felt like some kind of external demand that had nothing to do with painting. If I made that skateboard painting I would have just been designing. However, in retrospect I was completely misguided because I have been designing around the “edge” of the painting for years.

I have been making paintings that are aware of the end of the painting in order to foreground that inconsistent modernist convention of the painting as a window. Form and content do not exist solely within the painting. The painting is not a universe. The painting hangs on a wall that exists in some kind of institution. That institution has its own values and thusly those values influence the painting and the viewing of that painting. There is no such thing as four neutral walls. The point is, I think there is no distance between form and content. I think this is a central tenant in my world view.

A good example of this pressing against the edge can be seen at Trestle Gallery in Brooklyn right now. The show, Introductions 2017 was curated by Julie Torres and is up through February 19.

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from Katerina Lanfranco’s instagram: A Many One Layer Lie, second from the left, at Trestle Gallery.

But my world view might be completely bat shit crazy. Further research into comedy might help me ride the horse off into the sunset rather than into a lake.

See more of Christine and Ben at their websites

http://www.christineferrera.net

http://benobrien.net

And check out Trestle Gallery at

http://www.trestlegallery.org

Metal Jesus

Is there an intersection between art and comedy?

Metal Jesus is pretty funny.

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A forgetful hoplite is funny.

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What the hell is going on with humor and art? Come by the Torpedo Factory tonight and help me figure that out.

The Joke Workshop is a free event taking place at 5-7 in Studio 12.

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/post-graduate-studio-jay-hendrick-joke-workshop-tickets-31768059120

 

 

On Knowing and Apocalyptic Stupidity

I realized that the topic I am currently most interested in is very topical. It is a question about hands on knowing versus book learned knowing. Many of Trump’s cabinet picks lack specific knowing of their upcoming job. For instance, Betsy DeVos has no classroom training. She has no specific degree involving education, she has a bachelor’s in business admin and political science. The difference with her might be that she is an administrator yet lacking classroom experience would suggest a lack of specific, and necessary knowledge her upcoming position. She has no experience with knowledge associated with the job. 
 
This lack of knowing appears to be the conceptual premise behind Trump’s choices. Trump’s choices are unskilled knowers. For Trump, the concept must be that their business background provides all they need to know. Or perhaps Trump’s confidence lies in his choices’ lack of cultivated knowing which would grant them some kind of child-like or neutral, outsider perspective.
 
This is a subject that interests me because I am curious about whether or not an artist truly needs training. Should artists read and research? Or should artists just approach the subject with a lack of knowing in order to bring their “maverick,” or outsider perspective? If I want to make an truly interesting painting, should I make but one? Should I just approach the painting with blunt ignorance trusting in the power of chance and luck?
Regarding education, it seems doubtful that a lack of hands on training would be a boon. I know that from experience while trying to teach linear perspective. When I taught my first drawing class I was at a loss of how best to elucidate linear perspective in the form of language. I could show how to do it by drawing on their drawing or by doing a demonstration, but the complexities of transferring an inborn knowing via language was beyond my understanding. I have the capability to just see and then draw, so I don’t really use linear perspective except to just check things after the fact.
Now I have more experience and I know how better to discuss linear perspective. It is still difficult to teach but my experience has led to more successful methods in teaching. For instance I show them videos, discuss specific experiential knowledge, and I give them demonstrations.
So on one hand this is a post about the fitness of Trump’s pics but on the other hand it is also a question about the crux of how we can know and what might be the most beneficial methods to know. It follows that knowing by doing and researching other peoples’ attempts at knowing would produce a more complete knowledge of a subject. The presence of Trump’s Gaggle of Ignorants suggests a potential zeitgeist of some kind of confidence in a lack of knowledge. Or perhaps it is a fear of knowledge. Or perhaps a fear of what knowledge does.
This is a topic I will continue exploring in the classroom, at the easel, and in upcoming workshops. The next workshop is a Joke Workshop wherein I will observe the logistics of designing comedy.

Diamonds in the Rough and Their Discontents

“Overall it is bad, but each painting is good.”

I just muttered that to myself. This painting will likely not be too great. It is patchwork, differing in approach in singular spaces. It has differing tones, differing values, differing form overall. In essence it will likely fail the unity component of design. It will contain variety, but too much. That lack of balance might make it stumble. Though it is being made by one person, and that person is using their general approach to painting, that does not seem to push the thing towards an overall balance between unity and variety.

This issue has occurred with previous paintings. When I have used this stretch/re-stretch method, the paintings have been disjointed or randomly generated.

 

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The overall compositions are generated mechanically, yet jumbled together. I rinse and repeat the square and rectangle stretcher, which maintains a sort of mechanized distance. Akin to Jean Arp’s torn paper and gravity combo generated compositions.

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Untitled (Collage with Squares Arranged according to the Laws of Chance)

By dropping and glueing he could step back from the urge to design. This occurred with Jackson Pollock drawing with drips. Letting physics make the painting.

So this process is akin yet curated. The issue is, is the overall work good? There are great individual paintings within the overall piece, but the greater painting together might be a train wreck. The following are paintings within the overall painting that I think are functional:

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The question is, why are these working and why would I think the overall is not? Because the overall is Jean Arping and the singular paintings are curating. Goodness is also occurring because the individual paintings are being made in ways I would not normally work. I wouldn’t normally make paintings like these. There are definitely recognizable Jay gestures present, but many are occurring purely due to the process.

Something to take from this is an analysis of my own judgements about painting. What is this urge towards design? Why must the painting be designed well? Why be concerned with a finished goodness?

 

Nathan Loda at Adah Rose Gallery

I’m not sure how to write about a friend’s work. I’m not even sure what kind of writing I plan to do for this. Would it be a review? Would it be a, “I was there,” bit of writing. How do I write this?

I wrote several drafts then deleted them. I could revive them, but only in spirit. There were a few nice turns of phrases, little naked dances. And quite a lot of personal relativity. I like Nathan. And that liking is leading my key board tapping. Can I divorce my personal feelings from the analysis? What about artists I don’t like? Won’t that personal feeling influence the reading?

So how can this work. What is the issue here? Is it an issue at all?

I’ll ease into this. Nathan’s underpainting. An umber-sienna drawing then paint up on top. The ending not too smooth, not too painterly. Maybe somewhere in between.  Not just layers. He leaves that earthen underpainting to poke through. Like Jenny Saville with her burning cadmium blaring, yet Nathan’s under painting slow burns, pushes its way to the fore.

You can see it nicely in several cases.

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Look close, boiling beneath that top most layer is that earthen light. That umber underpainting.

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So the painting is done yet some areas are just touched. Manet’s thumbs. He lets the furthest point shine through. And so we get some luminosity.

And the scale is small. Intimate so your body has to relate to the thing, close up. And Adah’s gallery is likewise intimate. So a good pairing here.

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And the subject matter does what Nathan does. Is what Nathan is. That conflicted person, conflicted American. Conflicted history. Skate punk down in the holler. A hunter, killing and planting. He speaks Italian and Spanish and maybe more languages. He has traveled.

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The interpretation can be subjective. Maybe that’s how art is good and less authoritarian. Allowing for more voices. The viewer completing the thing through observation and interpretation. Maybe when the painting presents us with many possible interpretations, then perhaps that ambiguity allows for some potential. So perhaps ambiguity is an inclusive gesture. But do these particular depictions include or exclude?

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There is a thought that toys are safe. For the child they are safe; they are content-less. But one wonders if a toy is neutral.

How can a thing be neutral. It was made for a reason. The toys are myth objects, telling us who we think we are, who we want our children to think they are. Maybe parents give their children toys because they are leading their learning. Leading their world views. Like putting a text (any text) in their hands, like letting them touch the hot stove. So to give a child Cowboys and Indians, what might that parent intend? What might a manufacturer intend? Are those toys neutral? What narratives are implanted?

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Nathan Loda’s Histories, Heroes and Small Moments at Adah Rose Gallery in Kensington, MD up through June 5, 2016.

 

http://nathanloda.com

http://www.adahrosegallery.com

 

 

 

 

Erasing Forwards

This past year has been difficult. Post grad life has been a whole host of uncertainties. Food and shelter aren’t free.

A History of a Discard Pile and Its Discontents

A History of a Discard Pile and Its Discontents, 2016, archival inkjet print on fine art photo rag paper

I have stayed away from my digital erasures for several reasons. Maybe they ran their course. Maybe they are conceptually problematic. When I first started making them, I wrote the following statement:

I make hundreds of paintings that involve erasure. Erasure and multiple is important to this analog painting process. I then digitally erase those analog paintings. Erasure is a sign for doubt for me. I test the painting process through analog erasure and digital erasure. It functions like layered multiple double negatives. The process is a continuous attempt at testing the value of convictions and ultimately discerning a valid space between judgments about good and bad. Through this process I test the space between matter and the digital.

If a painting is an object that speaks to presence, the artist’s hand, or silence, then what changes about that presence, hand, and silence when the painting’s vocabulary changes to pixels rather than canvas?

But I also always made them to process data. They are digital erasures. They aren’t erasures of the actual analog paintings. There isn’t a real threat. No danger. The analog object isn’t modified. It is the photo of the thing. That’s why the so called, “Erased Paintings,” are problematic. If a painting is an analog object, a tactile, kinesthetic object, then a photo of it is a mere representation. The photo of a painting is a record. Camera and painting are record keepers. The end photo is there to be put online, or emailed, or digitally transmitted. But perhaps it is not the thing itself. Of course, an artist can declare what they think that “thing itself,” is for themselves.

A Many One Pivot Lie

A Many One Pivot Lie, 2016, archival inkjet print on fine art photo rag paper

So, maybe digitally erasing a photo is problematic. But for me, this process helps me go back in time. Dig through the history of these things. Dig through what I was thinking about when I made them. Dig through the good and bad of life at that time. As I digitally erase them, I dig back into their making. I remember each mark. It is like a digital archaeology of an analog thing. Brush marks become signatures. Scrapings become physically remembered. I can hear the canvas being touched. I can hear it through my eyes. It’s all kinesthetic empathy (to borrow from Kenny Jones). A kinesthetic empathy of my memory. I empathize with my hands of that time. The erasure is a time machine. But it isn’t a nostalgic gesture. Nostalgia isn’t something I trust.

A Wild Herd of Indifferents Appears

A Wild Herd of Indifferents Appears, 2016, archival inkjet print on fine art photo rag paper

If At First You Don't Succeed, Kill Yourself

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Kill Yourself, 2016, archival inkjet print on fine art photo rag paper

The Erased Paintings are an attempt at delving into why or what is good about painting. I make the analog paintings to test their veracity. The digital work is a continuation of this process.

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Ripple Ending, 2016, archival inkjet print on fine art photo rag paper

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Trainwreck Wreck 01, 2016, archival inkjet print on fine art photo rag paper

The digital erasure further analyzes the whole idea of the image on a screen. Much of our seeing is mitigated by the screen. We look at them all day. People live their whole lives online. People buy paintings online. People buy paintings by only seeing a jpeg. These are those jpegs.

Trainwreck Wreck 01

Trainwreck Wreck 02, 2016, archival inkjet print on fine art photo rag paper

Tidy ABCD

Tidy ABCD, 2016, archival inkjet print on fine art photo rag paper

But these jpegs return to the analog object. These digital erasures return as prints. Cluttered processed photos of that analog thing. Some kind of shadow of a painting.

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Wet Gesture, 2016, archival inkjet print on fine art photo rag paper

All my work is a continuum. One thing relates to the other. It’s stacked dominoes. They clatter, fall.

The One Pixel series relates to the Erased Painting series. A single pixel of one of my paintings.

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One Pixel of a Jay Hendrick Painting, 2013, archival inkjet print on fine art photo rag paper

The Erased Paintings relate to the microscope slide.

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Average Color of One-Hundred Paintings, 2015, acrylic on microscope slide in wooden box, 8.5x5x1″

The microscope slide relates to the 100 Paintings.

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100 Paintings, 2015, one-hundred acrylic paintings on a 20×16” stretcher on easel, 74x37x37″

The 100 Paintings relate to all the paintings.

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