Michael Szpakowski
Since the beginning
Works in Harlow United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

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DISCUSSION

Re: further question on the "rublinda" correspondance


Hmmm -I agree it's an altogether slower burning and
more complex piece of work than Josephs' which are
essentially very effective bits of agitprop, and I do
like Ivan's work a lot, but I can't see that the
substance is different - Ivan is using images of
people who have been detained by the US government
without any recourse to any sort of law, subjected to
humiliating and degrading treatment and what one could
call either pressure or torture.
Actually, despite Ivan's protestations, one of the
ways that the piece works for me is that it reminds of
the *fragility* of those human beings, those lives, in
the face of the might if the US state, and therefore
it does read to me to some extent like a "protest
piece" (and I'm glad Ivan has the confidence in his
work not to tell us what we should be thinking in
advance -this seems to me to be an admirable quality.)
I'm not being remotely disingenuous here when I say
I'm genuinely interested in what people think; after
the initial spat I think it's been a valuable
discussion and I entirely endorse Eryk's point that we
should think about and discuss critically the work we
see more.
(I would prefer however that we were as civil as
possible to our fellow artists outside of the polemic
itself.)
best
michael

--- ruth catlow <ruth.catlow@furtherfield.org> wrote:
> Hi Michael,
> I think it is different. Fragile does not use images
> of wounded and maimed civilians as a vehicle for
> sensational effect and ambiguous purpose. The images
> are very abstracted, we cannot see their faces, this
> preserves their anonymity. In the process of
> understanding the work I experience something about
> some slow and complex questions of representation
> rather than the quick effects of sensationalism. The
> pace of the image allows for reflection rather than
> activating a reflex which closes down thought.
> cheers
> ruth
>
> Michael Szpakowski wrote:
>
> > I'm interested to know what people make then, of
> this
> > piece by Ivan Pope.
> > I'll lay my cards on the table -I think it's good,
> but
> > it seems to me a lot of the "linda/flowers"
> discussion
> > applies here. Does it? Is it different? How? What
> do
> > folk think?
> > http://www.ivanpope.com/fragile/index.html
> > best
> > michael
> >
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DISCUSSION

further question on the "rublinda" correspondance


I'm interested to know what people make then, of this
piece by Ivan Pope.
I'll lay my cards on the table -I think it's good, but
it seems to me a lot of the "linda/flowers" discussion
applies here. Does it? Is it different? How? What do
folk think?
http://www.ivanpope.com/fragile/index.html
best
michael

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DISCUSSION

Re: Re: [thingist] Rub Linda the right way and she might show you wonderland


Short post as I'm away...but I still maintain that not
only are Joseph's pieces part of a perfectly
legitimate tradition of extremes in satire but that
they are also anti war and, I think, good pieces of
work.
In some ways as T. Whid points out they reprise old
ground both formally and in terms of content -I don't
find that a problem. Where I do think they score is
the way they implicate the viewer in the action of
"shooting" or of "touching".
When I posted that "it chills the blood" is was to
this I was referring - even for those of us who are
both horrified by and actively organising against the
war sometimes a kind of numbness over the casualties
can set in -it's something difficult to keep in the
front of one's brain.
To the extent that Joseph's pieces hits us with a
renewed sense of shock I think it is a valid and
succesful piece of anti war art.
As for the name calling -I'm not interested in being
involved on any side -I think personal animus should
be kept off the list.
best
michael
--- kernel32 <llacook@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> xposting--again: perhaps it's because of windows xp?
> later, i promise to compost...
> joseph sez:Maybe I am
> exploitive in the sense that Lewis described, where
> the choice of any subject
> exploits it. But it is not for the intended purpose
> of personal fame or
> fortune.
>
> i didn't mean to imply that such exploitation was
> for fame or fortune::i meant for
> affect///communication (which is impossible without
> exploitation)
> all of which is an extreme view, i know: but
> linguistics and semiotics brings it to us...
> Jim sez:There is nothing more sensationlist than
> death. Whether one sees &
> > experiences it in real life (like I have &
> possibly others on this have to)
> > or when one dies one's self. If one of my (dead)
> close friends had been
> > photographed and used as art in such a way - I
> would not feel comfortable
> > with it.
> >
>
> some of my dead close friends would have wanted to
> be used as art that way...
> this whole debate is a testament to the power of
> images of the dead///i WOULD ask why, if there's
> such a consensus on the piece's lack of value, why
> it's generated so much discussion///but such
> questions usually backfire on me;;;;
> i brought out some counterarguments to eryk's words
> that he nor anyone has yet addressed: part of it's
> the "exploitation," part of it's eryk's calling the
> piece "kitschy" and no-one's talked about artaud's
> theatre of cruelty in relation to this work///all of
> which i think are valid ways to see this piece///
> i maintain that it's a good piece////it communicates
> to me///it means///it's a distinctly american piece
> as well: it uses the american ideology and turns it
> back in on itself (there's eroticism masking
> murder)---while everyone's boiling with outrage over
> this, why hasn't anyone asked themselves why? and
> why hasn't anyone noticed that this is actually the
> power of this work?
> who says net art has no content....
>
> bliss
> l
>
>
>
>
>
> http://www.lewislacook.com/
> net art review: http://www.netartreview.net/
> tubulence artist studio:
> http://turbulence.org/studios/lacook/index.html
> furtherfield: http://www.furtherfield.org/home.html
>
>
>
>
> ---------------------------------
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DISCUSSION

Re: Re: [thingist] Rub Linda the right way and she might show you wonderland


Eryk
I must admit I'm slightly mystified by your virulent
reaction to Joseph's two recent pieces ( and you know
that I'm not of the 'if it says it's art its
brave/new/ and above criticism' brigade - I share for
example some of your eloquently expressed concerns
about the Mouchette pieces discussed on Rhizome last
week ).
Possibly we could argue about the execution of
Joseph's pieces but I think their intent is in a
pretty honourable line of Hogarth, Swift and more
recently Grosz and John Heartfield.
Do you think we should reject for example a "A Modest
Proposal" (Swift's satirical essay in which he
proposed that the starving Irish should eat their
children) on grounds of taste? Or on the grounds that
the Irish peasants would not understand/ be offended
by the piece?
Now maybe you know something about Joseph that I don't
- I would certainly have some philosophical diferences
with him, especially about the merits of a business
oriented approach to things - but in my few dealings
with him I've found him courteous, helpful and
straightforward.
So personally until something comes along to change
my mind I'll accept the pieces on face value as
shocking (yes) but nevertheless perfectly legitimate
pieces of anti war art in a long satirical tradition.
best
michael
--- Eryk Salvaggio <eryk@maine.rr.com> wrote:
>
> From Freud, "Civilization and its Discontents:"
>
> "He must be very strongly impressed by the fact that
> some sources of
> excitation, which he will later recognize as his own
> bodily organs, can
> provide him with sensation at any moment, whereas
> other sources evade him
> from time to time- among them what he desires most
> of all, his mothers
> breast- and only reappears as a result of his
> screaming for help."
>
> Or as Joseph spake: "Yes, I was getting immune to
> photos, so I created a
> setting to make them shock me."
>
> Trivialization of mass murder and human suffering so
> that Joseph McElroy can
> have the experience of being "shocked" out of his
> own apathy at the expense
> of others- much in line with his "flower" piece, but
> now he's added a
> caricature of sexuality into the mix- but no,
> really, it's all about making
> "art" with a "message."
>
> I wonder if you would like to show this piece to
> some
> Iraqi/Afghan/Palestinians who are feeling personally
> affected by thier own
> lives, and you can explain to them how no, really,
> you're not just trying to
> get a higher jolt of electricity off of the
> "entertaining" "shock value" of
> thier dead bodies, no really, it's art, guys, it's
> cool, it's cool, it's
> art. Why aren't you getting a jolt of electricity
> out of your own death? Why
> do you have to get it from pissing on a pile of dead
> bodies thousands of
> miles away? But I have to say I really don't care to
> hear an answer,
> unfortunately I am not really willing to "go there"
> with you.
>
> I'll admit, I have realized that a lot of my problem
> with you is actually a
> problem with me- that I don't trust other peoples
> capacities, and I worry
> that someone might mistake the spewings of your
> nature for insight, and you
> might send people "astray." But this is not really
> my responsibility, and I
> don't know why I mistook it for one. I don't know
> why I listen to the hard
> christian radio stations talk about the war in Iraq
> when I know it will
> infuriate me and distract me from driving. I don't
> know why I give up on my
> resolve and go on looking at your art. Its all like
> insisting on burning my
> hands to see if the stove is hot when its obviously
> burning bright red. It's
> not really anything philosophically gratifying, its
> seriously just sadism,
> and my misguided desire to "save people from
> themselves."
>
> Emails like this are one more bullshit delivery
> device for my I attempts to
> "save the world"- the same impulse that makes me
> leap to stop a rape in
> progress is what makes me write an email to "warn
> people" about your "art".
> I am not going to do that anymore- the emails-
> because after these pieces I
> think it stands pretty blatantly clear, and nothing
> I could say would prove
> your retardation more than these pieces have
> already. It's not my job to
> protect people from you- it's yours.
>
> Works like this make me wonder why it is that I ever
> worried people would
> mistake you for having understanding or insight,
> when in fact you prey on
> the weak and the dead in order to get your own
> kicks. I totally realize what
> K meant when he called you a brute murderous ape-
> maybe these pieces of
> yours are you realizing that and surrendering to it,
> I don't know. I don't
> know what you have to do to get out of your zombie
> trance of power and
> aggression, but I feel like I should say that
> "shocking yourself" out of
> "apathy" isn't going to do it. Maybe it will, I
> guess you would know better
> than me, but its none of my buisiness.
>
> -e.
>
>
>
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "joseph (yes=no & yes<>no) "
> <joseph@electrichands.com>
> To: <list@rhizome.org>
> Cc: <FLUXLIST@scribble.com>;
> <thingist@bbs.thing.net>;
> <integer@www.god-emil.dk>
> Sent: Saturday, April 05, 2003 12:56 AM
> Subject: [thingist] Rub Linda the right way and she
> might show you
> wonderland
>
>
> >
> > Rub Linda the right way and she might show you
> wonderland
> >
> > http://www.electrichands.com/flowers/linda
> >
> > only for high bandwidth ...
> >
> > joseph & donna
> > www.electrichands.com
> > joseph franklyn mcelroy
> > corporate performance artist www.corporatepa.com
> >
> > SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER CUPCAKEKALEIDOSCOPE -
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>
--------------------------------------------------------------------
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> > message by "joseph (yes=no & yes<>no) "
> <joseph@electrichands.com>
> > archive at http://bbs.thing.net
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> > and write "info thingist" in the message body
> >
>
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> >
>
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DISCUSSION

Re: Re: Mesopotamia. Babylon. The Tigris and Euphrates


Hi Eryk
I hesitated before sending this because I have a high
regard for many of your views but I think here
<I have a problem with the idea that talk
and protests end wars.>
you are just plain wrong.
The Vietnam War was ended by three things:
the dogged resistance of a rag tag peasant army, in
theory massively outgunned by US imperialism; a revolt
in the US army itself typified by "fragging" - first
warning to unpopular officers ( ie those who played
fast and loose with the lives of those they commanded)
a grenade with the pin in , no second warning - a
species of protest that might make us feel very
uncomfortable but a species nonetheless, and thirdly
the mounting protests at home, protests which in the
context of the revolts in the inner cities, the
growing Black Power movement and the mounting worker
militancy of the period the US government feared might
result in a generalised challenge to the system.
The first world war was ended by protests which grew
into the Russian (1917) and German (1919-23)
revolutions.
The British Army speeded up the demobilsation of
troops at the end of the second world war because of
mutinies in the ranks in North Africa.
Finally look at the example of Turkey today. Why are
US troops not stationed on Turkish soil, despite
massive bribery and blackmail? Because of massive
popular protest , which threated to unseat the
government there.
This in turn undoubtedly slowed down the US's
offensive in the area - ie. street protest had a
direct and practical effect.

Finally, a point on street demonstrations themselves:
it is simply not true that the population is divided
neatly into those who are either clearly for or
clearly against the war - many ordinary people swing
from one position to another - not least because of
the intimidating effect of the media, which largely
carries the government position, or folk hate what is
going on but keep quiet about it out of fear or from
feelings of isolation.
In these circumstances a confident, large, articulate
demonstration can give many waverers the confidence to
come out fully against the current butchery, with
perhaps or perhaps not ( we don't know because we
don't have a crystal ball) the kind of knock on effect
that we saw in Turkey which can shorten, or in not
unimaginable circumstances actually end the war.
I understand that it's harder to be actively against
the war in the States than it is in Britain but it's
possible and levels of protest are, as I think Chris
pointed out, actually higher now than at any point in
the Vietnam war.
Look at history - protest can and does make a
difference.
best
michael

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