airswab
Response to Dark Age Ahead and Forgotten Spaces

Loss of hindsight leads to lack of foresight.

People are forced to live their lives by the rules of the economic game. This game is extensive and lasts your entire life. Are you asked if you want to play? No.

Peoples are forced to exploit their own resources in response to the mass outsourcing of countries whose drive is to compete without consequence. Peoples are forced to be exploited by companies that dehumanize them with statistical data showing that their labor is cheaper than that of another people. They are chosen not for their skill or for their benefit but their low price. There is no concern for their livelihood by their employers. Since the industrial revolution people have been forced from their farm into factories in the name of progress. People have forgotten valuable skills and trades that allowed them independence. There is no real definition of success or progress in history that has not involved the exploitation of people and natural resources. Geological advantages have shaped the people who “got ahead”, but now lack  hindsight has lead to continued misuse of land and resources. When has the abuse of a culture and its people contributed to true progress. History has revealed that the sacrifice of many has lead to growing inequality been countries and peoples in the same country, even in the same city. Personal, cultural, and economic knowledge is not being instilled in growing generations. The concern is not for the individual or community’s, at any scale, well-being but perpetuated ignorance and lack of independence guaranteeing the people remain compliant to the rules of how the few get ahead.

How can we help these successful companies get bigger? Oh well since our people have held our ground against inhumane wages, go ahead and exploit our illegal immigrants and other desperate people in countries who are even worse off!! Hey once they finally get fed up like our people did, we’ll just go and make someone else’s lives miserable making our shitty products that no one really needs but will buy because they have forgotten how to be self-sustaining, resourceful people.

I know that I am over-generalizing and being sarcastic, ironic, and cynical. I am frustrated. These large companies are still made of people. How does a person become so apathetic towards others? When does the individual become a number? When they are born until the day they die. When does a person’s action escape consequence? When they have enough money to pay off their dues. People are working their entire lives for freedom they never receive at jobs that are not only not necessary but destroying valuable resources and the people that work there. How is this the way the most ”intelligent” species on the planet Earth has chosen to maintain its existence? This is not only inhumane, irresponsible, ignorant, totally ridiculous, cruel, unjustifiable, among so many other adjectives, but it is also not a sustainable way of life. Lack of life is death. Death of peoples, culture, animals, and the planet. Is the cost worth  the price to play the game?

WHY 

Breaking the Law.

A while ago now it was requested of me to break a law in a thoughtful manner reflecting on how acts of socially condoned law-breaking comments on and changes acts of governmental micromanaging of the people. Examples were poaching, trespassing, and jay walking. I am aware that I break laws everyday by speeding, very occasional shop-lifting in my youth, and having a large crack in my wind shield.

I chose to address the leash law. A few months ago everyone on my street with a dog was cited for our roaming dogs. A neighbor must have called it in. We attended court and paid the fees. What puzzled me was the lack of communication of someone that lived only down the road from us. They would rather we all answer to a higher authority instead of personally addressing their concerns. In response to this lack of personal communication between neighbors, I continue to break this law everyday. I live in a rural community. My dog, Muffin Cake, generally does not roam past our immediate neighbors house, rarely past our porch in cases of rain.  Dogs are intelligent animals that learn the boundaries of their territory and enjoy patrolling their grounds. He is people friendly and deserves his freedom. I live on a property that is surrounded by woods. When you are in them the lines of property and land ownership is overcome by wilderness and life. There are ‘no trespassing’ signs, but when you are in the woods, feelings of seclusion, peace, freedom, and meditation reduce these words from their meanings into the hollowness of objects without context. When we are not at home I do use a leash and acknowledge the importance of this action. However, when we are home and he is familiar with his surroundings, I don’t feel it is necessary to confine him to a house and the boundaries of a tether. I will continue allow my dog his freedom to roam unhindered until I am either personally confronted by my neighbor with their concerns in a conversation that an outside party cannot provide or a change in my place of living that no longer allows him to do so in a safe, responsible way.

Two Cheers for Anarchy Response and Excercise

All quotes are pulled from James C. Scott’s Two Cheers for Anarchy.

Infrapolotics - “Foot dragging, poaching, pilfering, dissimilation, sabotage,  desertion, absenteeism, squatting, and flight… unruly defiance… outside of the visible spectrum .. of political activity.”

Anarchist Calisthenic- The practice of breaking small, irrelevant laws that have no moral consequence in preparation for breaking a more consequential law in the name of moral and social justice. This is a term the author came up with during his stay in Germany. This came about when he was confronted with a situation where crowds of people would wait as apposed to jaywalking at red lights no matter how dead the vehicular street traffic was. Their logic was setting a good example for the children.

Vernacular Order- “Only as precise as it needs to be.” The local system of recognizing areas and street names based on function or land marks.

Official Order- State recognition of street names as opposed to local names referencing landscape of use, organization of cities to functions in an isolated and geometric manner as opposed to more organic, mixed-use cities, agriculture based on isolation of plants as opposed to polycropping.

Synoptic View-

Landscape of Appropriation- “Nearing universal system of permanent patronymic naming”  that the state deemed useful to “centralize knowledge and power, utterly neutral with respect to the purpose which they are put.”

Normalbaum-

Monoculture- Elimination of cultural diversity in a strategized system allowing for global economy with disregard to local government and economy.

Polycropping- Planting several species of crop together based on mutual gain. A more efficient and productive use of space as opposed to planting isolating large amounts of one crop.  Prevents the spread of infectious disease and pests quickly consuming the crop due to the diversity of plant life. 

Vernacular City- The mixed-use working order of a city. The city as known by the locals.

Tunnel Vision- Affording the winners of the “rat race” opportunities and benefits that 50% of those from standardized school systems fail to receive.  Isolated urban planning without longterm thought on the actual working function of the area. 

Cooperation without Hierarchy or State Rule-

High Modernist Optimism-

Structural Violence-

Mutualism- A relationship from which both, or multiple, participating parties benefit.

Social Taxidermy- “The effort to specify and freeze functions by planning” as observed by Janet Jacobs

Work to Rule Strike- “Workers have seized the inadequacy of rules to explain how things actually run and have exploited it to their advantage.”

Visual Order vs. Working Order- Visual order is the geometrically organized planning of cities or agriculture. This isolates functions, making things more orderly while also driving away the public and making these spaces less efficient and productive.  Working order is the mixed use and organic use of space allowing cohesion between functions and a beneficial relationship either between two businesses or a mutual benefit plant relationship.

Uniformity-

Best-Practice Standards-

Play and Openness- 

GHP- Gross Human Product. The amount a work process effects human capacities and skills as well as worker satisfaction. “What can be expected of a man who a spent the last twenty years of his life putting heads on pins,” Alexis de Tocquevile on Adam Smith’s division of labor.  Bringing light to the flaw of the Gross Domestic Product form of measuring a company or business’s success.

Hicksian Income- Jane Hicks idea of welfare income. “Accrued only if land and labor not degraded.”

Externalities- Products and monetary gain or loss produced by cultivation and manufacturing practices and the effects they have on their environment and the individuals involved.

"An Institutional Personality"-

Jeffersonian Democracy- “Composed of independent, self-reliant, self respecting, land owning farmers, … debt free”  with no reason for dependance. Public sphere.

"Unsafe is Safe"-  The absence of micromanagement from a higher authority increasing awareness of actions of the individual causing them to be more conscious of their own safety and others. An example being the removal of stop lights reducing instead of increasing accidents on the road.  Over signage and stop lights allows the driver to operate on autopilot and use this system to their highest advantage. The absence of these systems forces the driver to be more alert, responsible, and courteous while driving reducing likelihood of accidents caused by carelessness.

Petite Bourgeoise- A class of people, the largest in the world, the retain some autonomy and freedom through shop keeping or various other trades, “small holding peasants, artisans, peddlers, small independent professionals,” and small traders and maintain a small property. “..They maintain an autonomy over their workday. Self-respecting citizens that are hard to monitor, tax, and police due to their small economic size.

Germ Theory- Disease in terms of foreshadowing Nazi-antisemitism. “Petty bourgeois  infection had spread from peasantry to a segment of the working class.”

Collectivization- State land reform. Resisted by peasants as a “betrayal of aspiration.”

Agribusiness- Large scale corporate farming business focused solely on mass production of crop.  This overlooks health of soil and exploits the farmer and his/her land.  This method of farming is also problematic due to the dependence on fertilizer, pesticide, and genetically modified seeds in place of healthier and less short term solutions that smaller farms and polycropping provide.

Autonomy of the Working Day- The workers ability to manage their own time throughout their work day with little or no supervision or monitoring from a higher authority. Farming before agribusiness and craftsmen before the industrial revolution and taylorism.

Fence Laws of the 1980’s- A state reclamation of the commons, forcing freed slaves and poor whites back into the labor workforce.

The Commons- Freed slaves and poor whites made independent poor livelihoods off of unclaimed common property before the fence laws of the 1980’s “avoid[ing] degrading dependance on wealthier neighbors/”

Oligopoly-

"Eyes on the Street"- First observed by Jane Jacobs in the 1960’s. Monitoring of the neighborhood by pedestrians, shop keeps, and residents preserving public order. This requires mixed-use neighborhoods ensuring steady street traffic, but comes at no cost to the public.

Positive Externalities- Practices improving land/labor conditions such as cultivation practices that built up soil nutrients and tilth and manufacturing practices that expand the knowledge and skill of the worker.

No Child Left Behind- The installation of standardized tests into schools in 2001 under little Bush. “Never wonder. By means of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division settle everything somehow and never wonder,” Charles Dickens Hard Times. 

Teaching to the Test- Test preparation for standardized test. Eliminating cooperative learning, multicultural curriculum, fostering multiple intelligences, discovery oriented science, problem based learning in lue of a regimented test system to calculate the intelligence of students in a limite, one-dimensional way.  ”One-product Factory” school system.

"Anti-Politics Machine"- The replacement of public debate with inaccurate and misleading quantification standards. The standardization of tests in school. SAT, ACT. The quantification of citations of scholarly papers to accrue the credibility of a source, without concern for the context of the citation. 

"A Measure Colonizes Behavior"-

"The Audit was Successful but the Patient Died"-

Cost-Benefit Analysis- French Ecole des Ponts et Chausues. Series of valuation techniques designed to calculate monetized costs and returns. Adopted by organizations due to the easy access of data.

Audit Society-

Particularity of the Human Gesture-

"The Banality of Goodness"- Francois Rochat’s contrast to "the banality of evil" of Hannah A.  Activity drew out of logic of the act. Acting ethical due to a first hand experience, ex. the sheltering of Jews when brought to the doors of people who had previously rejected the idea of taking the risk to help them. No change in risk, but the victims were no longer an abstract idea, therefore the people acted in a way that was true to their moral standards.

Historical Causation- Create narrative for an act that cannot be explained in any other way, codification, false logic of information, such as in a public struggle with high stakes. Taking historical events and accounts and stitching them together in order to make sense or explain what happened, how, and why.

Addressing the Audience

            In addressing the audience I considered what the viewer brings to the work of art in the process of viewing a piece.  In order to describe a work, references of historical content and personal encounters come into play.  This condition cannot be escaped due to the way we navigate and experience our world as visual beings. 

I wanted to acknowledge this as well as place a question as to how much one’s own personal experiences and knowledge can provide a full experience to a piece of art.  The answer is debatable.   The challenge is if there is a way to create a visual language descriptive yet relatable enough to convey any form of idea to the viewer.  Whether I have achieved this is unclear at this point in time.

I place a split mirror as a form of a barrier to a vessel.  One half of the mirror faces the viewer while the other half is facing the piece.  The vessel is clay and is painted with oils to resemble flesh.  This is speaking to the relationship that painting has with the earth as material and as it begun in cave painting.  Inside of the vessel are roses that are too short for the viewer to see without looking inside.  This in in contrast to the practice of placing a bushel of flowers in vase for appreciation creating a second barrier for the viewer’s full experience of the piece.

            I first created a series of oil paintings that deal with relationships of time in several different ways. I used several different methods to portray the passing of time and let them interact together on the surface of the canvas. Painting in itself is a way of recording time and layering and sanding away these surfaces is a process that mimics natural processes that shape the world.  Additive processes such as growth rings in trees, build up of sediment, the growth of stalactite and stalagmite are intimately interacting with the obvious effects of subtractive processes such as erosion.  Fault lines creating mountains (mimicked in the peak the two halves of the mirror create) while running rivers create huge canyons and deep caves underneath the surface of the earth.  These paintings surround the vessel, overwhelming it physically and visually.  The mirror may even serve as a barrier to shield the vessel from the paintings.

            There are appearances of figurative or animal elements in this piece.  Their appearance is metaphorical for the act of seeking to understand one’s environment through whatever means available whether it be painting, playing an instrument, meditating, building a house, praying, working, or surviving.  The presence of the animal acknowledges the human desire to record and understand the environment and to question or acknowledge one’s own existence.  This is also to imply the state of human as animal and the underlying importance of the animal in everyday life.  The paintings want to suggest the sensory experience of human existence and the yearning for answers whose path is ambiguous and varied.

            I am dealing with time in relation to the viewer for several reasons.  One is the relationship of the individual with a piece of art.  The idea of the location of a piece of art and the amount of time an individual is willing to give in order to see a piece of art.  The idea of a pilgrimage to see something sacred at a specific location or even the act of traversing to see a specific gallery or someone’s house to see a show.  Another reason is the question of the aura. Is present in the imagery of the work as well as the reflection of the viewer in the mirror.  The idea of the body as a vessel for a soul is parallel to the vessel holding the roses or the canvases layered with paint.  The pieces holding within them an aura of their existence as physical objects or the aura of the ideas that led to their creation.

 

Empathy:  The ability to understand and share the feelings of another. The power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person’s feelings.  The attribution to an object, or work of art, of one’s own emotional feelings about it.  The imaginative projection of a subjective state so that the object seems to become infused with it.  The action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings of another of either past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner. (origin: Greek empatheia, meaning passion, from empathes, from em- + pathos, feelings, emotion)  (meriam-webster.com, thefreedictionary.com)

Response to the first few chapter of “The Unsettling of America”

“The Labor of Thinking It”

            Whenever I address my artistic practice I am involved in it more as a self perpetuating life style than projects that begin and end when I am not actively making art.  I am consciously or subconsciously mulling over questions involving my environment and my place in it. 

At home I am surrounded by nature.  My house is on the side of a hill leading into acres of woods.  The slope steeply descends into a creek that winds for miles. It’s a ten-minute walk from the front door.  There is a freedom in being in a place filled with stillness and movement, the best part being there is no specific path to take.  It’s a choice of free will that drives me back again, to escape from the dictated hoops of everyday life and time constraints.

The shop that employs me is a twenty-five to thirty minute drive depending on traffic. I drive to work and become a cog in a machine making subs.  I make sandwiches that have particular assigned places for each vegetable.  The order, in which the condiments, vegetables, and meat are placed on the sandwich, is designed by the corporate office due to efficiency and a variety of other elements deemed logical.  The key to the sandwich is the slight sweetness of the bread, the company’s signature flavor to compensate for the blandness, in my opinion, of the vegetables.  This bread comes frozen and is thawed, stretched, and cooked in an oven.  I slice meat that is shipped in boxes.  The evidence that it was once encapsulates by an animal is completely diminished by its sealed plastic covering transforming it into a clean, safe hunk of organic matter.  The same way I am stripped of a human element whenever I put on a uniform and drive my car around Hendersonville, carrying sandwiches to loyal, grateful customer’s doors.

At the studio I am not solving or addressing a particular problem.  I am asking questions pertaining the nature of my existence and the job that I am happy to have, but resent my need to have it.  I paint as a way of navigating space, between the woods and the earth tat I run through with my dog and the streets I drive through, using expensive and precious gasoline.  Recently, I feel like a beetle pushing dung up the steep, sandy terrain of the Sahara.  Almost getting halfway to the top of the slope and then falling back again.  I get overwhelmed when I try to comprehend how callously individuals have treated the planet and disregarded the happiness of other human beings.  The force of their massive cruelty is the wind that takes my small, beetle legs out from underneath me and I cascade down the hill.  However, the dung that I am pushing is worth the relentless climb.  It is the thoughts of people around me that also are dissatisfied with the normal business wasting time on providing trivial services that promote apathy towards time, resources, the environment, and people. Whenever I enter the studio, I am empowered by the ascent of ideas for change, overcoming the debilitating insinuations that the lifestyle I live presents.

“The remedy safeguards the disease”

My interpretation:  The use of money to reverse a problem, instead of changing the destructive lifestyle or mindset, therefore, perpetuating the problem.  Money becomes a substitute for mental and physical effort and time.  Just as being a part of an organization dilutes or displaces the responsibility for action from an individual level.  Both of these solutions make the problem seem less tangible instead of an integral part of life.

Work has become a matter of driving to a specific location, putting in hours, and driving home.  We strive towards specialized skills with higher pays, gone are the days of the jack of all trades and self efficiency.  Pipes broken, hire a plumber. Car breaks down, take it to a mechanic, because you have little idea how they machine you drive works or how to fix it when it breaks.  People work for the ability to be consumers, going to grocery stores and affording a place to live.   They may or may not have free time to live life as they choose. This new definition of work has distributed the responsibility of creating the resources for living from the individual to someone else, somewhere else.  Work is never escaped, only displaced.  Luxury time and comfortable living is the standard desirable lifestyle, but at what cost? Is the loss of independence a worthwhile investment?  There is domestic colonialism, which keeps the people under the will of a ruler, and foreign colonialism, keeping people in another country under the will of a ruler.  The people who are forced to cut down their forests for another countries use, for example, would not being doing that if they had another option.

          The Agrarian Question is a disturbing one.  The concept of pheasants taking back the land from the land lords has insinuations of violent rebellion.  It also implies that people are the enemy when it is the mind set of the people that is causing the problem.  Apathy is a disease that has stricken the nation into submission in order to survive the money game with winners and losers.  Its a treacherous monopoly, but reaching in the bowl and taking the fish isn’t going to satiate the cat’s hunger permanently.  Mendell is suggesting to make better use of the land you own. The revolution of liberating the lifestyle of citizens, not a the pheasant rebellion against landlords.  

Who is this We?

A community is a group of people that live in a particular area;  a unified, interactive body of individuals;  people holding a common interest.  A community people can either by linked together by a specific activity that they enjoy or by proximity of living between each other.  Communities excel when there are a plethora of endeavors being made by intrigued peoples.

It is helpful to view a community as an ecosystem of humans.  This likening of a traditionally “man-made” system to a naturally occurring environment brings light to the truth of the necessity of variety.  Variety in nature allows the community of organisms to thrive and feed off of each other’s success.  This is true for mankind, while instead of a literal meal, the energy transfer may be creative, intellectual, cultural, and/or economic.  Taking the complexity of monetary gain out of the equation reveals a simple truth. Widespread growth of one company is not good for the community if it requires drowning out smaller local business.

Another element of a healthy ecosystem is sustainability.  This is an element constantly overlooked by the human species.  A threat to the contemporary community may be unrealistic long-term expansion and growth.  Many communities are touched by either colonialism, which usually occurs when a population migrates to a new territory while maintaining subjugation to their home country, or imperialism, one country or people exercising power over another using direct or indirect methods of control.  All too often, when one population of humans desire resources, they delve into another communities supply.  While this may not hurt the exploiter directly, it will indirectly. In the natural world, one population’s suffering will offset the balance of the larger picture.

The complicating factor that exists in the world of humankind is profit, for this is our adapted link to survival at a now basic level.  This shift from resource to money being the driving point of work is the dilemma that both plagues humans as well as making their lives more “comfortable”.  The profit motive is the desire for profit that motivates individuals to engage in business ventures.  According to economists, the “rational economic actor”, homo economicus, desires wealth, doesn’t want to work for it, but is capable of infinite, rational decision-making.  This mind-set of ration-based economics is irrational in itself due to its lacking of the human elements of emotion, responsibility, and morality. 

When monetary profit is involved and a person’s time, rather than the quality of the product they make becomes the commodity, the human elements of the work place are seen as mistakes, replacing these ideas with the more “efficient” scientific management.  This is a result of analyzed and synthesized work flows.  Taylorism, invented by Fred W. Taylor, involves production efficiency, job fragmentation, separates execution of work from planning, and replaces approximations with precise measurements.  This system of ideas was created to make a more efficient and productive work place.  While this system may be better for the numbers, it strips the work place of human dignity and individual nature, rendering workers as replaceable, malfunctioning machines. 

As an artist, I view myself as an observer and make sense of my environment by comparing it to nature.  It is helpful to separate myself from my physical occupation and become a narrator putting the pieces together.  I use line as a literal residue of movement or translation to portray the interconnected state of everything that makes up our world.This allows me to see objectively instead of taking the diluted and artificially enriched elements of the world personally.  Therefore, I am able to think creatively about my experiences as I negotiate my place in the world in regard to the bigger picture.