The Junk Ships on Alibaba

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Around the corner from stacks of baby shoes, counterfeit Gucci wallets, and spangled iPhone cases, I got burned copies of Jean Cocteau's Orpheus trilogy at an outdoor market in Mexico City.

A Sunday afternoon in Roma Norte, I was drinking coffee with new friends. The city was new to me and I had only arrived late the night before. We jumped in a cab and directed the driver to a market a little way outside the center of town.

Miguel said he was going to pick up a copy of Pigsty there. I was confused at first, assuming it had to be something other than the 1969 Italian film, but indeed that was the one he meant. Seemed an implausible feat to find a physical copy of any Passolini movie, let alone a more obscure selection, anywhere without paying for shipping and waiting at least a week. But I didn't say anything then.

"He's not going to find the Passolini film here," Manuel said, as we were wandering through Tepito's labyrinth of tents. It was mostly pirated goods: branded tennis shoes, video games, and handbags; but with some intention to the ordering of the inventory. Suppliers tended to specialize in certain items, one might carry only knock-offs of a single particular designer label, another sold only anime DVDs. Tepito sometimes functions as a wholesaler for vendors who operate smaller streetside sales. We walked through the section that was largely physical media for sale— Blue-ray, DVD, and CDs with covers varying from identical to the original to very handmade-looking inkjet prints. I was told that sometimes you could see vendors burning these disks in the back of the tents.

One of the tents had a sign out front, "Cine de Arte." Inside a dozen densely packed shelves included classic art house fare like 400 Blows, Breathless, Paris Texas, and L'eclisse. Each with a cover made of ordinary printer paper inside a flimsy plastic sleeve...

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Love Letters

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The following essay first appeared on the website for The Eternal Internet Brotherhood, a gathering of artists, writers, curators and others interested in internet culture on the greek island of Anafi from August 9th until the 23rd. It was written by Burke while attending the event. 

love letter

I’ve decided to write love letters because that’s what you do when you’re in love. I saw that great document today - all text and in a block, from Slovenia, I think. It was from the 90s. So basically, people got together, and they found an old or cheap building, and they inserted a sound system or bands or DJs, and for 36hrs or more they would dance, presumably, make out, get together, find myriad tangents through the throbbing artery of night. And by morning they couldn’t even see each other, just feel under their shoes the concrete, every little pore of it. They’d sleep in the cracks for half an hour, and get up and go again, right back where they started, that firstness again. And that amazing 90s hair, just enough gel still in for that cow’s lip, or curtains, throbbing, clothes that were all sportswear and primary colours. Showing the bottom part of your fist to each other, and pumping it. Chewing your own lips. Smiles that contorted and scarred our faces. Imagine finding someone in that moment, every freeze frame of the artificial lighting their body getting closer, each a different angle, a different record sleeve. And they don’t even look up, you just know as the record needle moves inwards that there’s an ultimate trajectory to all of this, you call it in your molten state a teleology, and in the repetitive stuttering beat on which all life is you ...

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My Broken iPhone

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Doug Aitken (Victoria Miro) at Art Basel Miami (via)

The day I moved to Brooklyn was the day my iPhone screen first shattered. I struggled to get my keys out of my purse while a group of students were waiting at the door for a friend to buzz them in. Unlocking the door in a confused jetlagged state, I held it open for each of them while juggling several bags with the other hand. After the last student entered the building, I stopped the door with my foot while attempting to redistribute the weight of my belongings. My iPhone slid out of my back pocket and on to the concrete. 

The resulting spiderweb of a crack had no impact on the iPhone's haptic sensitivity. It looked ruined but worked just as well. Eventually, I got used to reading without much eye strain. There were even some benefits. Everyone knew which phone was mine at dinner parties with iPhones strewn on various counters and end tables. I never worried about dropping it again as the screen wasn’t going to get any worse. And I didn’t worry much about it getting stolen, either.

My broken iPhone also resulted in random conversations with strangers. In queues for restaurant bathrooms, on public transportation and park benches, I was asked again and again what happened, and why didn’t I just take care of it? ...

 

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The Never Forgotten House

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This essay will also appear in the next issue of Pool. 

Image of Williamsburg Waterfront by C-Monster, April 30, 2006.

Several weeks ago, I was leaving a party in Park Slope. As I waited to cross the street, I recognized two places across the way and realized I had eaten meals at both. I had brunch with a friend in the cafe at the corner last year. I met another friend for dinner two years earlier at the Thai restaurant at the address next. I remembered two separate phone calls with each friend explaining how to get there from the 7th Ave station. The second call, and the second walk from the stop didn't remind me of the first. It took a third visit to that intersection, and from that vantage point —across the street —to discover the venues were neighbors. Two pleasant but very different conversations came back to me at once.

I had a decade’s worth of weekends in New York City before I finally made the move last year. Chinatown buses from Washington, DC and Boston; cheap flights out of Chicago Midway that left Friday evening and arrived before work on Monday. Sometimes I visited as often as twice a month, for special events or a guy or no reason. With the insouciance of an out-of-towner, I never bothered to follow how a taxi gets from one point to another or which direction the subway train was headed when we got to the stop. Now that the city is my home, I'm constantly uncovering another fragmentary long forgotten memory.

I will never know if some of the places I remember from these early New York trips have been torn down or exist on streets I haven't walked by again yet. I refuse to ...

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Glitch Studies Manifesto by Rosa Menkman

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Rosa Menkman meditates on the occurrence and aesthetics of the glitch amidst software and hardware obseletion in her essay Glitch Studies Manifesto. This essay was part of the Institute of Network Culture's second collection of texts titled Video Vortex Reader II that critically explores the shifting dynamics and expanding field of online video. See below for an excerpt, full essay here.

Technological Progress is an Ill-Fated Dogma

In the beginning it was calm... Then humans built technologies and the first forms of mechanical noise were born. Since that time, artists migrated from the grain, the scratching and burning of celluloid (A Colour Box by Len Lye, 1937) to the magnetic distortion and scanning lines of the cathode ray tube (as explored by Nam June Paik in MagnetTV in 1965). Subsequently digital noise materialized and artists wandered the planes of phosphor burnin, as Cory Arcangel did so wittily in Panasonic TH-42PWD8UK Plasma Screen Burn, in 2007. With the arrival of LCD (liquid crystal display) technologies, dead pixels were rubbed, bugs were trapped between liquid crystals or plastic displays and violent screen crack LCDperformances took place (of which my favorite is %SCR2, by Jodi / webcrash2800 in 2009). Today artists even surf eBay to buy readymade LCDs with T-con board failure or photo cameras with loose CCD (charged coupled device) chips (the latter I too exploited in The Collapse of PAL, 2010).

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