Archive for September, 2016


Saturday, September 10th, 2016

— A proposition: that the most beautiful and emblematic images of our era come to us in the form of transmitted sporting events, frozen and distorted while being streamed over badly-connected laptops. This goes beyond the aesthetic of the glitch, or the history of the found image: the moment the screen jars and goes all wonky imposes an entire ontology; it seizes hold of us and wrenches us out of the imagined ‘natural’ or continuous order we thought we were inhabiting (here’s an event on grass; I’m watching it; no problems), plunging us instead into the realm of inexorable mediation. For the next ten seconds, or five minutes, or half-hour, as we scream at our screens and curse the broadcaster or internet provider or illegal streaming service or fibre-optic cable-installer whom we hold to be responsible for our plight, our very existence can only be experienced as a being-in-relay, a being-in-suspension, being-anxious, being-towards-technology, towards-the-law and, of course, towards-death. It’s a man-behind-the-curtain, blue-pill moment – all the more so since it reveals to us, with implacable assurance, that the first, ‘uncorrupted’ stream was in fact the construction or illusion: this is the accurate picture. Reality, in its far-flung entirety, is not the distant little game. It’s this: this vast, networked in-betweenness; this unmanageable surplus that is also deficit; this excruciating, almost unbearably intoxicating cocktail of too-much- and not-enoughness. Once we’ve drunk it, nothing will ever be the same again.

And why would we want it to be? Look at this snapshot of my MacBook during Wimbledon 2014.

With its insistent geometry of lines and vectors, broken only in order to be repeated; its dispersal of the human figures throughout space (Federer and Djokovic are genuinely ‘covering the court’); the refusal of its pixels to refresh (that is, erase their former contents) that ensures the persistence of one instant through the next one, and the next, making the image haunted, overtaken by the unshed ghosts of its own past; the reflection of the viewer (me) and his dual technologies of watching and recording (iPhone, laptop) in the screen, right down to the eye-shades, new screens that re-embed the screen that embeds them, so on ad infinitum… Forget the tedious narratives, endlessly proliferated by sport’s official media, that vainly attempt to place the ‘psychology’ of the individual player at the centre of the sporting experience. This multinodal ecstasy of relay, this communal technopsychosis, this mediomnesia, is what tennis, or any other sport, is really about. It’s why we watch it; why it matters; why it’s true.

Or this one, from a 2012 Spain-Croatia World Cup match.

Here, the screen is breaking space down into zones, flows and coagulations, sequences of colour, movement, energy. In other words, it’s doing the players’ work – but doing it much better. I love the way the artefacted section hovers above the humans, pressing down: it’s like a spaceship bearing a higher, more developed species – or perhaps the planet’s first, most native one, returning from a centuries-long sojourn across distances it has traversed as quick as light, or signals – coming in to land.

Tom McCarthy is a writer and artist whose work has been translated into more than twenty languages. His first novel, REMAINDER, which deals with questions of trauma and repetition, won the 2008 Believer Book Award and was recently adapted for the cinema. His third, C, which explores the relationship between melancholia and technological media, was shortlisted for the 2010 Booker Prize, as was his fourth, SATIN ISLAND, in 2015. McCarthy is also author of the 2006 non-fiction book TINTIN AND THE SECRET OF LITERATURE, an exploration of the themes and patterns of Hergé’s comic books; of the novel MEN IN SPACE, set in a Central Europe rapidly disintegrating after the collapse of communism; and of numerous essays that have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The London Review of Books, Harper’s and Artforum. In 2010 he wrote the screenplay for Johan Grimonprez’s multiple award-winning film DOUBLE TAKE. In addition, he is founder and General Secretary of the International Necronautical Society (INS), a semi-fictitious avant-garde network of writers, philosophers and artists whose work has been exhibited internationally at venues including the Palais de Tokyo Paris, Tate Britain and Moderna Museet Stockholm. In 2013 he was awarded the inaugural Windham Campbell Prize for Fiction by Yale University.


Saturday, September 10th, 2016
MODESTO 2014/2015

— This series of photos was taken as part of the research for a film I’m currently co-writing with my good friend Rick Charnoski. Rick is an amazing filmmaker based in Los Angeles who has worked extensively with Super 8 and has directed some really powerful intimate films with his filmmaking partner Buddy Nichols including Fruit of the Vine and Tent City. Rick’s upcoming feature film is set in the small Californian town of Modesto and these photos are from a number of test shoots and location scout/casting sessions during 2014. I have been making films in the US since 1998 when I shot my first documentary Chasing Buddha about my Aunt Robina Courtin – a Buddhist nun who teaches Buddhism to prison inmates around the United States. These particular trips to Modesto were deeply inspiring but also very distressing in terms of hearing endless stories from Modesto locals about the impact of draconian drug laws and the private prisons across the state of California.

Amiel Courtin-Wilson was born in Australia, in 1979. His debut feature documentary, CHASING BUDDHA premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2000 and won awards including best documentary at the IF Awards, as well as Sydney International Film Festival. A director and visual artist, he makes experimental films. His video installation work has toured internationally (I THOUGHT I KNEW BUT I WAS WRONG, 2004) and his films have screened at the National Gallery of Victoria, MONA, the Gallery of New South Wales and The Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Courtin-Wilson’s feature documentary BASTARDY won the Best Documentary Jury Prize at the 2009 Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards (FCCA), Best Documentary at the ATOM Awards, was released theatrically to critical acclaim across Australia and was nominated for three Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards. The same year, his short film CICADA premiered at Cannes in the Quinzaine des Réalisateurs section. Amiel Courtin-Wilson participated in the Venice Film Festival in 2011 with his first feature-length film HAIL. Courtin-Wilson is currently developing several feature film projects and a number of screen based installations including THE SILENT EYE, a feature length performance film collaboration with Cecil Taylor and Min Tanaka, which was presented by the Whitney Museum, in 2016.


Saturday, September 10th, 2016

What has me right now are the flowers. The colors are nuts. I’m soaking up smell of the leaves and flowers, and scent of the dirt they grow in.

Sarah Braman was born in 1970 in Tonawanda, New York. She currently lives and works between New York and Amherst, Massachusetts. In 2013, Braman was the recipient of the Maud Morgan Prize, and in 2014 Braman’s solo exhibition ALIVE opened at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA. Her first European solo exhibition was on view in 2011 at MACRO in Rome, Italy. Braman has exhibited work at Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY (2016); the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MI (2015); The Broadway Mall Association and the New York City Parks Department, NY (2015); Kunstforeningen G1 Strand, Copenhagen, Denmark (2014); deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA (2013); The Zabludowicz Collection Inaugural Installation, Sarvisalo, Finland (2012); THE SHAPE WE’RE IN, The Zabludowicz Collection, New York, NY (2011); The De La Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space, FL (2010); The Lisbon Biennial, Portugal (2010); Greater New York at PS1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY (2005). Braman is also one of the founders of the artist-run Canada Gallery, in New York.


Saturday, September 10th, 2016

Dear Michael,

We’ve never met. The unanticipated arrival of your postcard from the heavens deeply moved me. I was having a hard time…

I went to bed with your poem under my covers and I dreamt of my childhood home. Like an overgrown garden, it had formed with the earth and had an exterior of granite. The inside of the house was as gothic as I remembered: the wrought iron gates, the fountains, the Spanish tiles, the small chandelier in my bedroom, the child’s head of porcelain on the door. Every detail was untouched by time except for my father’s bathroom, which was covered in black veils. I woke crying from my sleep like Dorothy, with the taste of rainbow sherbet in my mouth, wanting to be home again.

Thank you Michael for sending me the most exquisite poem that defies being ephemeral.


Malerie Marder was born in 1971, in Philadelphia, PA; lives and works in Los Angeles, CA. Selected solo exhibitions include ANATOMY, Kruger Gallery, Marfa, Texas (2015); ANATOMY, Leslie Tonkonow Art Projects, New York, New York (2013); CARNAL KNOWLEDGE, Blain/Southern, London, England (2011); NINE, Galerie Gabriel Rolt, Amsterdam, The Netherlands (2007); NINE, Greenberg Van Doren Gallery, New York (2006).


Saturday, September 10th, 2016

Yeah, you know he too big to be a housecat, and he too small to be a lion.
“Crosseyed Cat”, Muddy Waters

— This was the first book I wrote. It was a book of journals, but I wrote it for publication. Hoping to get it published, I mean. When I was just out of high school, and finished with writing anything I didn’t want to write, someone told me if I wanted to be a writer I should keep a journal, to keep my hand in. He was a family friend—a stage director in Boston who came through Cleveland every year or two in the summer. So I started writing this journal, though it was never daily, and it was never private. I typed it up, the entries, made photocopies, gave them to a couple of friends, who circulated them to other friends. I must’ve gotten that idea from when I drew cartoons in high school. And I sent them to this family friend, the director, who wrote me long letters about them. I did it for a year. (It was a good year to keep a journal: I was on a steep learning curve, nearly 90 degrees. I must’ve found school so arid and oppressive that I put myself on hold till I could get the fuck out of there and start my life. What’s the opposite of precocious? I was delayed or something. I was overdue. So I covered a lot of ground in that year, including my first encounters with women, a guy, an orgy or two—there might’ve even been a little makeup in there, who knows? And possibly a scarf. My first scene—in this case, the Cleveland music scene around the Mistake and the Phantasy and the places in the Flats; a lot of hitchhiking; my first trips on my own to New York and my introduction to the Lower East Side; my first time trying to move to New York; my first girlfriend, such as she was; first breakup.) I went from a lonely lurking suburban virgin living at home who’d never smoked a joint to, okay, a still-pretty-green kid living in an old hotel downtown and kept as a sort of pet by a couple of older dykes, shooting pharmaceutical morphine and getting lost in their floor-to-ceiling library of New Directions, City Lights, Grove Press, and Black Sparrow books. (In the morning, beside the bed, there’d be a big prenatal vitamin stolen from the same pharmacy where the morphine came from and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. Pretty nice setup.) More consequential: writing this blue book of mine was my first experience of turning my life into writing.

It’s written by a guy who didn’t know I exist.

As an object, the book is kind of an awkward possession. It’s embarrassing. I can’t read it and I can’t bring myself to get rid of it. So I’ve lugged it around the country, place to place, for 35 years, and it’s sat in the bottom of a box or a drawer or a milk crate, with the dust and bits of spiderweb and termite wings. It’s soft and puffy now, as though it’s been through a flood. I like the book as it exists in my imagination. It has a kind of glow around it, which is dispelled by a glance at the thing itself. But with its feeling of time-as-it-happens, with its variety of tones and textures and its collage of vignettes and snatches of dialogue and descriptions of the weather, it became the template for my first novel, Through the Windshield. Writing it, I discovered the kind of book that comes natural to me to write. The approach was waiting there for me: I found my form. It was also my first experience of how something this size—a year of your life, 400 pages—takes shape at a chance word or suggestion. I started it on October 5, 1980, with an account of driving, alone, to see a show of watercolors in Canton, and I ended it on October 4, 1981, with a description of the sky. I was ready for anything.

Click any image to view larger
Photo credit: Don Heiny

Mike DeCapite is the author of the novels THROUGH THE WINDSHIELD (Sparkle Street Books, 1998; Red Giant Books, 2014) and RUINED FOR LIFE! (excerpts of which have appeared in 3:AM and Sensitive Skin); the chapbooks TRAVEL NOTES (Price of a Drink, 1995), SITTING PRETTY (CUZ Editions, 1999), and CREAMSICLE BLUE (Sparkle Street, 2012); and the short-prose collection RADIANT FOG (Sparkle Street, 2013). His work has appeared in CLE, CUZ, Evergreen Review, Vanitas, and many other publications. In 2016, with photographer Ted Barron, he presented the Sparkle Street Social & Athletic Club, a series of performances accompanied by photos and films, at the Howl! Happening gallery, NYC. DeCapite lives in New York.