Monday, June 23, 2008

fisa/telco amnesty - the race to erase the past

There are a few prescient observations today on the never say die FISA bill and why it is detrimental not only to your privacy and the 4th amendment but our legal system as a whole. The entire bill looks and feels so Soviet that it depresses the hell out of me. If this passes, America becomes are very different kind of place. The enormous unchecked power acquired will have bad consequences for a lot of innocent people.

In short, the bill outlines a crazy process where the Attorney General will give secret information to the judge sitting on a pending telco case. The information will mostly consist of the AG certifying that the previous certifications by prior AGs were legal, and if the judge dismisses that case on the basis of this or other information given to him in secret by the AG, the judge cannot talk about it in his opinion (I suppose other than to say he is basing his decision on secret info from the AG).

So, if the judge made a mistake of fact in reaching his decision, no appeal because the plaintiffs won't know what that fact is. If the judge made a mistake in his analysis of the application of the law to the facts, no appeal because the plaintiffs don't know what that analysis is.

Further, no stare decisis, no using the decision in an earlier telco case to help figure out a later case. For a legal system built around case law precedents, this is a sea change. It could make briefwriters like me obsolete.

Telcom immunity means we will never find out what happened in the PAST. OK, that's bad. Cases that can't be used as precedent can, over a long period of time, erode the legal system as we know it. That's bad, too.

But changing the definition of who can be surveilled under a basket warrant to remove any requirement that the surveillance subject be a spy or a terroist or any kind of bad guy--that's way beyond bad.

David Kris /Balkinization:
It is interesting to compare the pending legislation to the TSP as it may have been implemented just prior to, and just after, the January 2007 FISA Court orders. There appear to be two main differences. First, the pending legislation applies only to targets located abroad, while the January 2007 orders may have allowed surveillance of targets in the U.S. (as long as they were making international calls). Second, more importantly, the pending legislation focuses only on the target’s location (or the government’s reasonable belief about his location) not his status or conduct as a terrorist or agent of a foreign power. In other words, there is no requirement that anyone – the FISA Court or the NSA – find probable cause that the target is a terrorist or a spy before (or after) commencing surveillance. [David Kris Post one and Post two - required reading]

Call your senators if you haven't already.

fisa fisa fisa

Our spineless peers in Congress just can't seem to roll over enough to destroy the 4th Amendment.
Here's Russ Feingold on why last week's House capitulation is bad for you. The objective is to strip immunity from the bill as it heads for the Senate.
Reports of the newest FISA compromise indicate that, on telecom immunity, a federal court would be compelled to grant the telecoms immunity if there was substantial evidence that the Bush administration assured them that the warrantless surveillance program was legal. Doesn't that actually endorse and extend to private actors the Nixonian view that if the president says it's legal, it's legal, regardless of what the law says and the Constitution says? Wouldn't that set an awful precedent that an administration could get private actors to do whatever they wanted including breaking the law? [Laura Rozen]
Here's a call list:

SEN. Barack Obama
Phone: 312-819-2008 Toll Free: (866) 675-2008 FAX: 312-819-2088



Bayh (202) 224-5623 (202) 228-1377
Carper (202) 224-2441 (202) 228-2190
Obama (202) 224-2854 (202) 228-4260
Inouye (202) 224-3934 (202) 224-6747
Johnson (202) 224-5842 (202) 228 5765
Landrieu (202)224-5824 (202) 224-9735
McCaskill (202) 224-6154 (202) 228-6326
Mikulski (202) 224-4654 (202) 224-8858
Nelson (FL) (202) 224-5274 (202) 228-2183
Clinton (202) 224-4451 (202) 228-0282
Nelson (NE) (202) 224-6551 (202) 228-0012
Pryor (202) 224-2353 (202) 228-0908
Salazar (202) 224-5852 (202) 228-5036
Specter (202) 224-4254 (202) 228-1229
Feinstein (202) 224-3841 (202) 228-3954
Webb (202) 224-4024 (202) 228-6363
Warner (202) 224-2023 (202) 224-6295
Snowe (202) 224-5344 (202) 224-1946
Collins (202) 224-2523 (202) 224-2693
Sununu (202) 224-2841 (202) 228-4131
Stevens (202) 224-3004 (202) 224-2354
Byrd (202) 224-3954 (202) 228-0002
Lincoln (202)224-4843 (202)228-1371
Reid (202) 224-3542 (202) 224-7327
Coleman (202) 224-5641 (202) 224-1152
Durbin (202) 224-2152 (202) 228-0400
Smith (202) 224-3753 (202) 228-3997
Stabenow (202) 224-4822 (202) 228-0325
Kohl (202) 224-5653 (202) 224-9787
Leahy (202) 224-4242 (202) 224-3479
Schumer (202) 224-6542 (202) 228-3027

Enough already with lawless behavior!!

ad: Blue America PAC

the mall that wasn't there

What sets the South China Mall apart from [other dead malls], besides its mind-numbing size, is that it never went into decline. The tenants didn’t jump ship; they never even came on board. The mall entered the world pre-ruined, as if its developers had deliberately created an attraction for people with a taste for abandonment and decay. It is a spectacular real-estate failure – but it is also, as I saw when I spent two days exploring the site in May, a strangely beautiful monument to the big dreams that China inspires.

The big attraction of the South China Mall was supposed to be its “foreign” design. Learning from Las Vegas, where replicas of European monuments and New York landmarks draw throngs of tourists, the Dongguan mall modeled seven zones after various exotic world locations. Its rooftops reflect at least twenty different influences, from Czech town halls to Turkish mosques.
- The National (Abu Dhabi)

continue reading at

George Carlin is dead

smiling "up" at us....

Friday, June 13, 2008

GITMO gear for father's day?

You thought the McCain golf pack was enough but why not splurge a little more at the GITMO gift shop? Yes, the Gitmo Naval base actually sells t-shirts, caps and other souvenirs advertising its detainee operations. You may want to buy now since the Supremes may move to close this hallowed institution. Now if I can just locate that Blackwater beer coozy...

via: the Sleuth/WAPO

Thursday, June 12, 2008

when art met punk

No-Wave meet coffee table....

Thurston Moore's new salute to New York's short lived but highly influential (of course) punk sub-genre of the late '70s. Actually looks quite good I think. Here's the Times review.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

and now for some swell maps

the impact on artists working in the artworld

Winkleman has a new series of posts on Tuesday’s that you may know, which more or less look at topics from readers. Yesterday’s issue was the impact of the Day Job on artists, particularly those working in the arts, rather for galleries. This is a very real topic for many artists and it is essential I think to understand what biases are out there in the art biz towards individuals that find themselves on both sides of the art equation – practitioner/support.
anonymous registrartist wrote:
I'm an unrepresented artist working in a Chelsea gallery 40 hours a week and doing my studio thing nights and weekends. There are so many of us artworkers/artists, I wonder what the dealers think about us. Is it generally frowned upon when aspiring artists are known to work gallery day jobs?
Winkleman follows:
I think there can be biases working against you in this. Not insurmountable, and not concentrated in any one dealer, but spread throughout the industry, and there's no point in not talking about them openly, if only to dispel them.

The first bias was expressed by super-dealer Jeffrey Deitch at a panel lecture he participated in about 8 years ago now. I don't want to try to quote what he said because I can't recall the exact wording, but what I took away from his statement (and I'm fairly sure this is accurate) was essentially that he wouldn't even consider working with an artist who held a full-time job. He noted how a fulltime job (outside the studio, that is) implied the artist wasn't serious enough about their artwork.

The second bias possibly working against you is the assumption that you might be too close to the business side of things (i.e., have inside information most artists are not privy to) to work well with a different gallery. This is much more subtle, and most dealers probably wouldn't even recognize it in themselves if challenged on it, but sensing it a bit in myself, I can't believe it's just me….

Perhaps the underlying anxiety, subtle as it is, stems from many dealers' fear that they're doing so much of their job poorly. There is no manual on how to run your business as a dealer, and trial-and-error is how most of us come to make decisions on the finer points of relationship management and other strategies. This, I can confirm, is felt by more dealers than just me.

There is a third potential bias at work here as well, but this one is even more difficult to describe, and, to be honest, I'm not so sure it stems from the galleries as much perhaps as it's merely a reflection of the artists working for galleries that the artists think they see in dealers (and perhaps because in the context of working for a gallery, they, as an employee, don't get the same star treatment that they see the dealer showing to his/her artists), but...the notion exists that only an artist with self-doubt about their art would work to support the careers of other artists. Again, I've never felt this myself, but I do sense it among some artists who work as art handlers or assistants or for galleries. And because I sense they feel it, perhaps I reflect it back to them merely by recognizing it.

I think Ed has mostly identified the basic biases – there are more but these seem to be mostly the broad strokes.

Firstly, the “Deitch” myth that a working artist is not as committed to their work is simply generalized garbage. It’s a myth that may as well come straight from a GOP talking point. When I hear this sort of slur, it reminds of sentiments that assume poor people are defective or lazy. This is likely no more than a glib position to hold that makes filtering easier for him and his clients. That being said, it is a generalization that does match up with the myth that a real artist sacrifices everything including their health for their art. Call it the starving artist myth which somehow has survived in a multi-billion dollar industry. It exposes the rampant classist attitude prevalent in today's art world. Ultimately a reflection of the times we live in.

I think Ed’s take that gallerists are insecure about there business practice also holds true. It is shocking on one hand but understandable that the sole proprietor could feel vulnerable, furthering proof that there is no accreditation process for becoming a dealer. As the industry becomes more standard perhaps more professional behavior will result and insecurities such as these will subside.

As to the third bias, (I do like Ed’s reflection observation because that is there) I think this is a very dangerous bias to hold. That a lack of confidence motivates one to work in the arts seems like an odd way to view things. To work in the art industry seems an obvious choice for artists as employment. For the majority, it is all they know as they have been educated almost exclusively in the arts. The “lack of confidence” shows more that they are afraid of other industries for employment. An art degree doesn’t exactly put you at the top of the recruiters list at Morgan Stanley - some exceptions of course. I think you also have to consider the psychological impulse of artists to not only make work but to be around the culture of art in general. Many artists that support other artists believe in the bigger picture that they are contributing to the cultural life at large. Not saying everyone is a martyr but many of these art workers consider this. It factors in to why they tolerate the low pay and perhaps the internal angst of watching others succeed in the field to which they are aspiring.

So what does an artist gain from working as support or admin. In the gallery game? This wasn’t really covered in Ed’s post or the comment thread but there are some skills and educational benefits.
1. You learn how a small business operates – and succeeds/fails.

2. Organizational skills that can be applied to your own practice – being an artist is also being your own business.

3. You get to see how relationships work – artist/dealer, dealer/collector, and so on. This can greatly enhance your understanding on how to present yourself and interact with those that will aid and augment your career.

4. Learning how to protect your self in business dealings and how the business works. Also, learning what it costs to do business – very important.

5. Depending on your role, you look at a lot of art. It does fill educational gaps you may have as an artist. Also learning who the people are that make the big art engine move, not just in NY but across the country and internationally is a big asset to an artist. This is especially so when you consider being an artist as a lifetime commitment.

The negatives of these jobs are obvious as the biases show. If you are lacking confidence in your work, you many want to reconsider. I’ve seen it kill many studio practices. If you believe though that your work matters, then the dreaded art job may be a boon to your understanding of the bigger picture. That being said, do not go into under the illusion that you will make tons of connections as an artist. You won’t, you’ll make a handful perhaps, but it needs to be approached with the understanding that this type of job is to pay bills and sharpen your game plan by becoming a less na├»ve artist in the market place.

I'll close with saying that the comment thread on Winkleman is quite the read so if the topic hits home, definitely check that out.

Monday, June 09, 2008

why a media anyway? Moyers on the media crisis

Bill Moyers addresses the National Conference for Media Reform in Minneapolis, June 7, 2008:

via Juan Cole

2012: end of the internet???

This raises an eyebrow, but not a surprise if you are following the net neutrality struggle. Worth watching through the end - get involved.

Friday, June 06, 2008

a new suite of paintings

I've just completed these three works which were made concurrently and I guess form a trinity of event. Truthfully though, I think there will be a few more additions in this size (24 x 18 in.) with the same basic elements. I have to say working small like this provides for some real headaches but when you feel serial, you behave serially. Currently untitled, but I'm leaning towards some sort of allusion to Delillo's White Noise as part of the title, or sub-title.

a new work

just finished this work on paper - 30 x 22 in.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

you've been left behind - but check your email

I'm guessing this is genius on some level - from Wired:

If millions of Christians suddenly disappear from the face of the Earth as the opening act for Armageddon, Threat Level thinks most nonbelievers will be too busy freaking the hell out to check their e-mail. But if they do log in, now they can be treated to some post-Rapture needling from their missing friends and loved ones, courtesy of web startup You've Been Left Behind.

For just $40 a year, believers can arrange for up to 62 people to get a final message exactly six days after the Rapture, that day when -- according to Christian end times dogma -- Christians will be swept up to heaven, while doubters are left behind to suffer seven years of Tribulation under a global government headed by the Antichrist.

"You've Been Left Behind gives you one last opportunity to reach your lost family and friends for Christ," reads the website, which is purportedly run "by Christians, for Christians." The domain name is registered through an anonymous proxy service, presumably to protect the proprietors from the Forces of Darkness, and not because they're up to anything shady.

and you thought sub-prime predatory practices were sneaky...

nikki sudden and the jacobites

one of the greats..

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

working late tonight - some shocking pinks

pretty much my sound track this evening as I hit my 2nd of many coffees.....

then there is this version of pinks .....

Creative Insubordination

ok here's an opportunity for you all that is totally in line with Timothy Buckwalter's posts on artist's lists/writing as process from a few weeks back. For artists who can actually deal with language, this could be a great enterprise!

Issue VII, Creative Insubordination, Winter 2008 - Daily Constitutional, Richmond, VA

Deadline: June 15th, 2008

WANTED: Artist's Writing, Artists who Write, Text-Based Work, Manifestoes, "Classified Ads", Letters to the Editor, Comics, Jokes, Food, Issue Specific Proposals, Multi Issue Ideas, Rants, Raves, Gobbledygook and other STUFF.

Next Issue Theme: Creative Insubordination Description: Writings and submissions wanted for publication.

Daily Constitutional is an artist run project consisting of the publication of a magazine in themed issues, the first of which was released December 2005 at the Miami Art Fairs. Daily Constitutional is currently seeking submissions for the seventh Issue to be release in December 2008, as well as submissions that may span several issues. In addition Daily Constitutional is also accepting proposals for work made specifically for the publication. Proposals may be for a single issue or may span several issues utilizing any part of the publication.

Eligibility: Open to all national and international Visual and Performing Artists Outcome: Selected writings will be published along with relevant images. A short bio and contact info will be included on the contributor's pages. Descriptions of work and CV are only for reference purposes and will not be published. Additional issues will be released twice a year. Each contributor will receive a few free copies of the publication and the remaining copies will be distributed at the release event free of charge and available for purchase at art centers across the US and through

Contact information and Submissions:

DailyConstitutional, Attn: Submissions PO Box 4683, Richmond, VA 23220

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Mitja Tusek

Mitja Tusek is a new - old artist for me. I just discovered this work through a used book from Strand. Living in the belly of the hyper art-spin world, I'm getting real satisfaction from uncovering artists from the 80's and early 90's particularly Europeans that for whatever reason were outside of my educational sphere. So I present Slovenian artist Mitja Tusek who made these incredible wax pieces pictured above in the early 90's. A nice parallel to Richter, a strong commitment to the evidential nature of presence.

Here's some info on the artist circa 1994- but he is still quite active on the circuit as a quick google search reveals.

Image1 : Untitled (Wax no. 63), 1992
Image 2: Untitled, 1990