My New York Sojourn

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  • Wednesday, November 08, 2006

    Oleg Dou

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    Monday, October 30, 2006

    Charles Ray


    Charles Ray, Male Mannequin, 1990

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    Helen Chadwick

    Tate Britain | Turner Prize History | Artists: Helen Chadwick
    Helen Chadwick
    Shortlisted: 1987

    Chadwick was one of the first women to be shortlisted for the Turner Prize. Her work drew on a variety of areas of knowledge such as anatomy, science and myth. From the 1970s she began to use her own body as a means of investigating the subject of human identity. Her photos, sculptures and installations are remarkable for their imaginative and perturbing use of unusual materials including lambs tongue, fur, flowers, meat, urine, chocolate, household cleaning fluids and hair gel.

    Of Mutability
    Of Mutability
    Of Mutability 1986
    Photocopies and assorted media. Dimensions variable.
    The Board of Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Musuem
    © Courtesy Helen Chadwick Estate/Zelda Cheatle Gallery Photo: ICA, London


    Chadwick was born in Croydon, London in 1953 and died on 5 March 1996. She studied at Brighton Polytechnic until 1976, and graduated from Chelsea School of Art in 1977. Chadwick was shortlisted in 1987 for her impressive use of mixed media demonstrated in her show Of Mutability, held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts.

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    Sunday, August 07, 2005

    Declaration of Revocation
    by John Cleese

    To the citizens of the United States of America, in the light of your failure to elect a competent President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective today.

    Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths and other territories.

    Except Utah, which she does not fancy.

    Your new Prime Minister (The Right Honourable Tony Blair, MP for the 97.85% of you who have until now been unaware that there is a world outside your borders) will appoint a Minister for America without the need for further elections.

    Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

    A questionnaire will be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed. To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

    1. You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary. Then look up "aluminium." Check the pronunciation guide. You will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

    The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour' and 'neighbour'; skipping the letter 'U' is nothing more than laziness on your part. Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters.

    You will end your love affair with the letter 'Z' (pronounced 'zed' not 'zee') and the suffix "ize" will be replaced by the suffix "ise."

    You will learn that the suffix 'burgh' is pronounced 'burra' e.g. Edinburgh. You are welcome to re-spell Pittsburgh as 'Pittsberg' if you can't cope with correct pronunciation.

    Generally, you should raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. Look up “vocabulary." Using the same thirty seven words interspersed with filler noises such as "uhh", "like", and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication.

    Look up "interspersed."

    There will be no more 'bleeps' in the Jerry Springer show. If you're not old

    enough to cope with bad language then you shouldn't have chat shows. When you learn to develop your vocabulary, then you won't have to use bad language as often.

    2. There is no such thing as "US English." We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of "-ize."

    3. You should learn to distinguish the English and Australian accents. It really isn't that hard. English accents are not limited to cockney, upper-class twit or Mancunian (Daphne in Frasier).

    You will also have to learn how to understand regional accents --- Scottish dramas such as "Taggart" will no longer be broadcast with subtitles.

    While we're talking about regions, you must learn that there is no such place as Devonshire in England. The name of the county is "Devon." If you persist in calling it Devonshire, all American States will become "shires" e.g. Texasshire, Floridashire, Louisianashire.

    4. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as the good guys. Hollywood will be required to cast English actors to play English characters.

    British sit-coms such as "Men Behaving Badly" or "Red Dwarf" will not be re-cast and watered down for a wishy-washy American audience who can't cope with the humour of occasional political incorrectness.

    5. You should relearn your original national anthem, "God Save The Queen", but only after fully carrying out task 1. We would not want you to get confused and give up half way through.

    6. You should stop playing American "football." There is only one kind of football. What you refer to as American "football" is not a very good game.

    The 2.15% of you who are aware that there is a world outside your borders may have noticed that no one else plays "American" football. You will no longer be allowed to play it, and should instead play proper football.

    Initially, it would be best if you played with the girls. It is a difficult game. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which is similar to American "football", but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like nancies).

    We are hoping to get together at least a US Rugby sevens side by 2005.

    You should stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the 'World Series' for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.15% of you are aware that there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. Instead of baseball, you will be allowed to play a girls' game called "rounders," which is baseball without fancy team strip, oversized gloves, collector cards or hotdogs.

    7. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry guns. You will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous in public than a vegetable peeler. Because we don't believe you are sensible enough to handle potentially dangerous items, you will require a permit if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

    8. July 4th is no longer a public holiday. November 2nd will be a new national holiday, but only in England. It will be called "Indecisive Day."

    9. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap, and it is for your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what we mean.

    All road intersections will be replaced with roundabouts. You will start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

    10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call 'French fries' are not real chips. Fries aren't even French, they are Belgian though 97.85% of you (including the guy who discovered fries while in Europe) are not aware of a country called Belgium. Those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called "crisps." Real chips are thick cut and fried in animal fat. The traditional accompaniment to chips is beer which should be served warm and flat.

    Waitresses will be trained to be more aggressive with customers.

    11. As a sign of penance 5 grams of sea salt per cup will be added to all tea made within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, this quantity to be doubled for tea made within the city of Boston itself.

    12. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling "beer" is not actually beer at all, it is lager . From November 1st only proper British Bitter will be referred to as "beer," and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as "Lager." The substances formerly known as "American Beer" will henceforth be referred to as "Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine," with the exception of the product of the American Budweiser company whose product will be referred to as "Weak Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine." This will allow true Budweiser (as manufactured for the last 1000 years in the Czech Republic) to be sold without risk of confusion.

    13. From November 10th the UK will harmonise petrol (or "gasoline," as you will be permitted to keep calling it until April 1st 2005) prices with the former USA. The UK will harmonise its prices to those of the former USA and the Former USA will, in return, adopt UK petrol prices (roughly $6/US gallon -- get used to it).

    14. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent. Guns should only be handled by

    adults. If you're not adult enough to sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

    15. Please tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us crazy.

    16. Tax collectors from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all revenues due (backdated to 1776).

    Thank you for your co-operation.

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    Wednesday, April 13, 2005

    Ethnic Joke, or Why I Keep Making Political Art

    This isn't a post directed at particular 'other' ethnic groups than it is a revealing self-mockery. I picked up the joke off, the political satire website started by a fellow Singapore NYer Colin Goh, with a self-declared 'democratically and proportionately racist' joke bank.

    A Russian, an Ethiopian and a Singaporean were being surveyed by the World Bank. The question was "What is your opinion on how much money you spend on food?"

    The Ethiopian asked, "What is food?"
    The Russian asked, "What is money?"
    The Singaporean asked, "What is an opinion?"

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    Wednesday, February 23, 2005

    New work, continuing from a series I begin in summer, on queer domestic life. Posted by Hello

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    Wednesday, October 20, 2004

    The people at Singapore Art have been nice enough to log down some of my exhibition info .

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    Tuesday, August 10, 2004

    About six weeks ago (already!), I brought to Sammy's class a Victor Burgin image for discussion. Unfortunately, those visuals were terribly degraded, and with my webspace long in coming, I had little opportunity to share it. I promised Sammy that I'll put it up eventually, so here it is, Angelus Novus .

    The triptych continues to scintillate with its multifarious possibilities of interpretations. It is akin for me to what Umberto Eco calls an open text, a site of renewed and fluctuating pathways with which to enter it. I spoke to Martha about how the triptych might speak to the body, the closeup of the face at a great distance from its wings - those urbane streets below - as though the figure is alienated from its very skin, the very structures that give it flight.
     Posted by Hello

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    Saturday, August 07, 2004


    Meeting with Allen Frame brought up the possibility of transgression as a heuristic mechanism for devising new and liberatory power relations, i.e., a new politics. He asked me what is my most transgressive self. I have no idea which one to start with, because I have more than one to pick from, and the success of each depends on the social, political, temporal and art context in which it is deployed, and each is as temerous as a line across paper, breaking up even as it progresses, even as it creates itself. I am reminded of the line in David Wojnarowicz's drawings, in his book Memories That Smell Like Gasoline .

    Each line is a reiteration of a memory, a grace note in the trauma of that recollection, an aggregation of private pain exposed on the public face of paper like a scar, like a vein peeping through the transparency of skin.

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    Thursday, August 05, 2004

    My Proposal

    The passage from citizen to the caesura of exile is fraught with the alienation from territory and place. Adrift, expunged, the exile suffers the constancy of homelessness and a longing to return to that same place. Home becomes a nomadic signifier adrift in a sea of possible meanings.

    In its search for home, the exile enters the condition of the émigré, with its problematic dialectic between assimilation and differentiation, between the displacement and reconstitution of one’s origin, and the refusal to accept any sort of new birth. To the question, ‘where are you from?’ the émigré answers with the place of new beginnings, the exile answers with the place before.

    Between these, there exists the ephemeral condition of the unhomely, a coinage by Homi Bhabha, derived from the German unheimlich to denote the ‘in-betweenness of reality’, a notion of hybridity that suspends location premised on an ‘inside/outside’ compass. The opportunity for emancipation for the subjects rests, for Bhabha, in uncertainty – to either know one’s place in time, or time in place, never, at once, both. ‘For some of us’, he quotes Derrida, ‘the principle of indeterminism is what makes the conscious freedom of man fanthomable’.

    It is in this uncanny terrain that I find the source and site of my cultural work, a terrain that adopts the visually familiar as a trope for distantiation. My strategies are, at this stage, both exploratory and manifold:

    - the displacement of homeliness within domestic spaces
    - the absurdity of the continually magnetic desire to return to what Olu Oguibe calls ‘the site of our nativity’.
    - the depiction of that fluidity at once a means of survival and a scar of enforced transitivity for that subterranean community exemplar – the queer
    - the virtuality of cyberspace as a metaphorical map of an in-between reality.

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    Cartier-Bresson died today. An entire age of photography fades away with him.  Posted by Hello

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    Tuesday, August 03, 2004

    Allegra Geller (Bridget Fonda) with a pistol of flesh, teeth and bone. Posted by Hello

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    The Moebius Strip Posted by Hello

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    Flesh as an interface in David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ

    In Cronenberg’s cinematic game eXistenZ, player-actors participate in virtual-reality role-play that inverts the order and hierarchy between fantasy (gameplay) and reality, between the ‘inside’ or interiority of the mind, and the ‘outside’ or exteriority of the body, between the Lacanian Symbolic and the Real. Like a Moebius-strip, the topology of one slips into the other, such that by the time the sleight-of-hand twist closes the movie, it is impossible to tell what is inside/outside. The name Allegra Geller is its exemplary phenomenon; suggestive of both the fraudulent mystic Uri Geller and the Latin word for ‘lively’, this character vacillates so unsteadily between embodiment and out-of-body-experiences that it is impossible to unambiguously state her presence/being (is there a her in there?)

    Visual tropes

    What facilitates these slippages is Cronenberg’s visual conflation of bodily flesh and high technology, such that each is mutually metonymical. What is a progressively visual trope is the blood-and-bones physicality of technological interfaces:

    - The phallic red-ended communication device that Ted Pikul carries,
    - The game pod that Allegra Geller invented as portals into a distinctly sensual reality,
    - The bare-bones gun that killed the Seminar Leader and the Chinese waiter,
    - The injurious teeth,
    - The game port that integrates the spinal synapses to technological stimulus,
    - The antibiotic Geller supplied to Pikul’s infected pod that is both engineered and biochemical.

    ‘Remember the venereal worms that wriggle in and out of bodies in "They Came From Within," the little toothed penis in Marilyn Chambers' armpit in "Rabid" and the TV that James Woods massages out of his abdomen in "Videodrome"?’

    Brief Readings

    Of course, flesh and skin has always been mediatory to the human face-to-face interactions. What is unusual in this case is the metonymical relation between the body and high technology, and their mutual interchangeability. One can read a few things into Cronenberg's flesh:

    - That the flesh is insistently the new media through which the new sociology of v-r operates; it is the means of transmission for dialogue and communication, immigration and travel, violence and injury, healing and termination. From this, Cronenberg echoes Virilio’s postulate
    - That the final technological frontier is the body, that the pursuit of the technological new takes us towards the revision and conquest of the body.
    - Moreover, the integration of technology to the flesh produces a cyborgian ‘metabody’, to use Virilio’s term, that explodes the traditional limits of man in death and mortality, thereby exploding the meaning of self and identity. As the ending imply, the metabody game-player has the potential to continue his role indefinitely, in a closed loop.
    - The reverse osmosis of the flesh towards technology also engenders new sensualities, and new erotic possibilities. In other words, the mechanics of sexualization extends as far as technology would go. It is possible to talk of an ‘erotics’ of technology.
    - That overtures towards realism is repeatedly short-circuited by destabilized and shifting epistemologies. For one, meanings of old categories of will, self, time and phenomenon fall into indeterminacy. For another, how does one experience the Real, much less represented it, when the process of simulacra/images/media places it at an insurmountable distance?


    I quote’s Craig Seligman:

    ‘He is a poet of flesh and its mutations, its diseases… The intersection of the sexual, the mechanical and the monstrous has always obsessed Cronenberg, and these ports -- artificial sphincters on the lower spine that nobody seems to be able to keep a moistened finger out of -- fall somewhere between the erotic and the awful [ that is, the older meaning of 'awful'- both terrible and awe-inspiring].’

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