The Problem with Modern Art #1

Bob Georgeson, Cellular, Date unknown, Photomontage

I had started a whole series of works ages ago under the 'loose' banner of 'The Problem with Modern Art' which referred to my frustration (and annoyance) every time I picked up a copy of Art Forum or a similar art publication and saw what some artists were getting away with (in some cases very successfully!). I describe this kind of art as 'easy', in that it requires little skill or intellect to realize. 'If they can do it then so can I' became the mantra, albeit a bittersweet if not wholly immature sentiment...

But, every now and then I am looking for something and stumble across these never exhibited works and think 'Hey, it doesn't look all that bad!'. And this one has some elements of things I am currently interested in. But I better not give away too much lest you think that I am serious...


Bob Georgeson, Nude, 200?, Pastel

I forgot I used to draw once, a long time ago before computers...

broadsheet - hate and love, ethics and YouTube...

I have a love/hate relationship with contemporary visual art and culture publication broadsheet. At times the art wank is insanely infuriating. Post-critical art? Post-crisical? Please...spare me. I am getting on in years and simply don't have time for this crap, and why, I ask: when we have hundreds of years of great literature to draw inspiration from do artists and critics feel the need to invent a new language? Stick to the pics I say, especially when I am served up this kind of drivel...

"The term "post-crisical" refers here to the notion of an art beyond that of the crisis-driven criticality of Western post-Enlightenment discourses and not that of a non-critical art." Paul Gladston, Associate Professor of Culture, Film and Media and Director of the Centre for Contemporary East-Asian Culture Studies at the University of Nottingham. Jeez, with that lot you would need an A3 size business card! Anyway, I am sure he's a lovely bloke...

But, every now and then broadsheet serves up some more digestible articles and even concepts. I had done a post ages ago that dealt with an issue dear to my heart, that being the rise of 'curators' and in my opinion their over importance. Too many curators spoil the wrath referred to an excellent article in broadsheet about the failure of many curators in Australia to live up to expectations while they swanned around in 'artist as celebrity' land.

The December issue of broadsheet begins with darling of the moment (or at least an Adelaide moment) Richard Grayson's critique of the Australia show at the Royal Academy. Well, it was always going to be an impossible task to draw together a survey of ALL Australian art with a loose theme of 'the land' and do it justice. Perhaps the art could not be seen for the exhibition.

Of more interest is the piece on video artist Craig Walsh's latest work at the MCA in Sydney, where he was sponsored by mining giant Rio Tinto to do a residency in the Pilbara that refers to the aboriginal 'owners' of the land and the company that exploits it's natural resources. Ethically an interesting dilemma...

But, the article that I found the most thought-provoking was Lebanese multimedia artist Ali Cherri's 'found archives or, what we can learn from YouTube', where he talks about using 'found footage' and it's distinction (if indeed there is one) from 'archival footage'.

As someone who draws on the 'archival' resources of the Internet Archive for my own work, Ali's use of amateur footage of the 'Arab uprising' from YouTube in his, propelled me to think of taking some different directions in 2014. While eros and thanatos will always be dear to my heart I believe that artists have a role to play in defending freedom of thought and expression in a time of a global push to the far right. I cannot sit back and ignore this any longer. And while Ali's interest is within the Middle East, are the recent protests in Hamburg and Spain a premonition of what's to come in Australia? Ali's thoughts can be found here...

who is anonymous waves?

UPDATE (March 1 2014) Since this article was first published the blog known as Bob Georgeson has been transformed into the anonymous waves website, therefore some of the ideas have been superseded and the links below may no longer work. The article has been left intact for archival reasons.

Well it's me (sort of), but that doesn't explain why. The idea started back in late 2012 after discussing aspects of collaboration with emptywhale. I had been impressed by what seemed like the growing number of creators working across different disciplines, and while musicians were often used to collaboration as a matter of course, it was largely infrequent among visual artists. With an increasing interest in audio-visual creations such as video I felt that to publish works under my name alone was a disservice to those whose work I 'appropriated'. The idea 'gelled' rapidly with the discovery of UbuWeb and the Internet Archive and the Creative Commons licensing principle, which enabled me to work with 'found' footage and sounds. A logical progression from my previous work in photomontage, and where my love of music could now come to the fore. The name anonymous waves comes from a line of the Francis Picabia poem 'Anecdote', pulished in 1918:


You see, I am crazy to imagine it
I am a man with nimble fingers
Who wants to cut the threads of old pains
False folds in my anxious brain
History in arabesques memories
I am only happy on the open sea
Where one goes further
On anonymous waves

Francis Picabia, from Poèmes et dessins de la Fille née sans mère 1918

The first cut of the website came into existence as a 'visual poem' loosely based around the poem, and used a variety of images, both my own and public domain. It also assumed a level of web browser knowledge of the user and content was there to be 'discovered' rather than 'fed'. While I liked the site it seemed that very few others shared my enthusiasm! During 2013 I also started a Netlabel housed on the Internet Archive, the idea to have a repository for all my collaborative work. I had been unhappy with the template restrictions of this blog in the way that my videos were embedded and displayed, so decided to rebuild the anonymous waves (a/w) site as a 'front end' for the Archive repository. Getting a .org domain name was easy, mapping it to the site less so (are you listening Google?).

And so the build began. I had envisaged that as a/w developed that this present blog (and Bob Georgeson) would be subordinated and fade off into the blogosphere, but ah, the best laid plans! Just as soon as I planned this I started getting a lot more cross postings and traffic. Popularity is very hard to ignore let alone dismiss. The outcome of all this? There is a role for both sites. This blog continues much as it has over the past two years (24,000 plus page views in that time) while the a/w site is the front end for future creative pursuits, and I hope further and future collaboration with some of the extraordinary artists and musicians I have met in that time.

The anonymous waves website is simple in structure with minimal text (cynical readers might breathe a sigh of relief!). The Video page is roughly sequential and makes available the films at a good presentation size (you can go to the Internet Archive by clicking on the I/A icon should you wish to download the files). The Art page comprises graphics created at 640x640 pixels (CD size) for free use and the offer of design and typography skills. The Music page is stuff I listen to, and am influenced (and inspired) by, predominantly in video format and includes such gems as Dizzy Gillespie, Marcus Miller, Marilyn Mazur, emptywhale and Hyaena Reich to name a few. The Projects page lists current ideas and their status like the anonymous waves shopfront proposal. The Writing page is poetry I like and has the 'not to be missed' sound file of e.e cummings reading his masterpiece anyone lived in a pretty how town. Contact details are there (you can also follow us, and be followed, on Twitter), and finally The Other Side, a gallery of suitably deranged influences and hero worship. Bunuel, Arp, Picabia and the patron saint of the site Ulrike Meinhof.
In a time of a global push to the far right Ulrike's knowing look reminds us of the price of freedom...

And why do all this? Well, exposure on an international level, making art available (for free) to a wide range of people, challenging oneself, subverting the traditional power structures in the art and music worlds are a few reasons, but most of all because it's fun. Ideas for collaboration welcome... 

merzbo-derek and DILETTANTISMUS

Following on from the last post in the spirit of promoting the labours of others I also came across these two blogs late last year after noticing a spike in traffic from reposts of my Temptation of Saint Anthony and other works from The Brides of Christ series. It is fascinating to see the effort that people put into their passions and how the Internet makes it possible for them to share them publicly. So, thank you to Philippe Robert and Audrey Carsons respectively for the interest... 

merzbo-derek has an intriguing and eclectic visual blend (tableaux exotiques & odalisques beat) (natures mortes & musiques fictives) and superb presentation:

while DILETTANTISMUS (massive masturbation in the name of necrophilia) is definitely NOT for the fainthearted but has enough art amongst the gore to be of interest:

Click on the images if you want to proceed to the blogs...

In decline

On a recent visit to Sydney I was struck not only by the unsustainable growth of the metropolis, but in particular by the 'dehumanizing' experience of the M5 motorway tunnel, where one is shot down into the darkness (I must admit the first 300 metres caused by leaving on my sunglasses) and propelled like an electron in a particle accelerator toward an uncertain future accompanied by a soundtrack of engines, exhaust pipes and roaring extractor fans.

Late last year I came across a delightful blog that intersected with this experience and it seems like a fitting start to the new year to bring it to your attention. In decline is described as "straddling the line of decay and eroticism" and lists as its interests industrial decay, wastelands, machinery, disorder and of course the erotic. A recent post:

Spare Ass Annie

When I became captain of the town, I decided to extend asylum to certain citizens who were persona non grata elsewhere in the area because of their disgusting and disquieting deformities. One was known as Spare Ass Annie. She had an auxiliary asshole in the middle of her forehead, like a baneful bronze eye. William S Burroughs

Force of Resistance, Stress, Heat, Collapse

Deformity is contrary to expectation. Horror of the dysmorphic invokes the notion that formal conventions are somehow correct and keeps with the classic aesthetic principles. The revolting appearance of a functionally specific aperture, wets the appetite.

Simple deformity breaks no internal rules, it is aberrant for compromising only exceptions. One can violate conventions without appearing deformed, it is only understood as the violation of what is expected or accurate.

Eric Tabuchi, Anatomy, 2006, Photography

NOTE: Sadly this blog has been recently removed...I have decided to leave this post anyway as an inspiration to myself if not others...