ftm quarterly volume 1. april 2011.
ftm is a retrospective quarterly e-magazine. it consolidates and elaborates on topics covered online at forgetmidwest.blogspot. volume 1 contains material originally published to the web between december 2010 and february 2011. it was compiled in march 2011. all material herein was written, created, produced and compiled exclusively for this publication.
contents music yateveo mean jeans jj art damage rocket 00000 OFF! grouplove positronic
.............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. .............................................. ..............................................
6 14 17 21 28 29 47 50
art cleon peterson sharpie show ii david ellis
.............................................. 7 .............................................. 19 .............................................. 51
photography low frequency eight years
.............................................. 9 .............................................. 40
fashion thvm atelier
politics voina egypt etc.
.............................................. 37 .............................................. 58
letter from the editor perhaps you’ve been following this publication online for some time now. perhaps this is your first introduction to it. hell... maybe you weren’t introduced until issue 13 and you’re going through back issues. in any case, i, for one, am surprised this endeavor has gone this far. i started forget the midwest in january of 2009 in cincinnati, oh. i was unemployed, broke, fucked up most of the time and pissed that all the fun we were having clearly wasn’t going to amount to anything. there was plenty going on: a growing diy music and art scene, vibrant bar culture, lot’s of graffiti getting written and good parties to go to. still, no one outside cincinnati seemed to give a fuck about cincinnati and worse, no one on the scene seemed to care enough to document the stuff that was going on to to even make a case for the city. there was just no quality entertainment journalism on the underground level. i didn’t have much, but i did have a camera, a computer and copious free time. i set out to single handedly capture what was going on and put it out into the world for whoever cared to find it. the name was tongue in cheek. everyone seemed completely ready to disregard what was happening as a geographical eddy... my goal was to make that default neglect more of a chore. in moving operations from cincinnati to los angeles in the summer of 2010 one could’ve expected the name chosen to have become more literal. perhaps it has. my day to day attention is now focused on the underground music, art and cultures of a vastly larger and more populous city. the cheekiness, i argue... yet remains. ftm now strives to cover not only the latest and strangest la has to offer, but also the bizarre gems constantly being spat from the jowls of the heartland... obscure midwestern acts placed side by side with world renowned (or soon to be) artists. yet this isn’t a one way street. i don’t simply intend to fling the works of friends and acquaintances towards a media hub in hopes of shining a light on things that ought to remain in the dark. i believe completely in the quality of the material i choose to cover. that is the single determinate factor in the content selection of this publication. forget the midwest represents a bridge. it is a way to feed the immense wealth of creative energy present in a world metropolis into the most fertile breeding ground for counter culture art that i’ve ever encountered. at the same time, it is also a point of influx for powerful work that might otherwise go unnoticed to burst forth into the world at large. i certainly never imagined when this began that it would still be alive two years later, let alone be advancing and transforming into a more permanent publication. yet ftm still remains a very singular endeavor. john crowell’s support in providing cincinnati content from afar has been invaluable and his interviews with the art damage lodge founders (in this issue) and brian chippendale of lightning bolt are superb. however, the vast majority of content presented here remains my own. this isn’t to say that this is the way i would have it. i have always sought to provide a platform, as opposed to a perspective. hopefully this quaterly, emag publication format will encourage participation and contributions from others of you who have an interest in similar content. i certainly hope you enjoy volume one. i’ put a lot into it... but there’s still a long way to go. sincerely, clark wellington
music yateveo _ smear
smear is a collection of dense and cerebral sounds. a debut release from yateveo. this is not the music that will be bumping out of your car stereo this summer. these are not party jams. yet this is not music that should be overlooked. this is thought music. conjuring moods from memory. converting imagery to dream. these are sounds that pass over your mind like a finger tip over the dog-eared yellowed pages of your favorite novel. the guitar work throughout is sublime and beautiful, but it will only linger for a second. it’s the rush of a glorious moment followed inevitably by the fact that life goes on and there’s still all the bullshit to deal with. smear begins pensive and a bit chaotic. the third track ‘i don’t know why you’re leaving’ marks a distinct change. forlorn looping, echoed vocals and surprisingly rock n roll guitar bring a clarity to what this record had been fidgeting at. this isn’t a whine. it’s the profound emptiness that remains when you suddenly find yourself alone. the album follows a sort of trajectory of the thought patterns present in that inevitable void. ‘alone time is important’ reaffirms exactly that, while ‘cough (sinus infection)’ acts much like ‘stress’ on justice’s ‘cross’ album. perfectly representing a specific mental state while being completely impossible to listen to. the album then moves through complex and profound thought patterns. philosophical vocal samples are key. it’s the moment of confusion when you are truly confronted with what life by yourself is going to sound like... inside your head. ‘outside at night’ presents the crucial crux. a moment of absolute beauty before we are left with the hanging question.... what are my options. only it’s presented at closing not as a pensive query, but as a hanging curse.
art daybreak cleon peterson comes from a strange breed. his brother, leigh ledare makes jarring personal nude and semi-nude photographs. his mother has been both a ballerina, a stripper and the subject of those photographs. and cleon? cleon paintings intricate images of mass brutality. cleon peterson's work is simple and clean in construction, complex and filthy in delivery. daybreak presents a body of work in a basic, three color black/white/red palette. the majority of the pieces depict complicated and disturbing scenes reminiscent of a where's waldo spread on an all night crack binge. the images are nocturnal landscapes populated by hairless mostly nude brutes engaged in various acts of sex, violence and general debauchery. daybreak is a fitting title for this showing. the crisp precision with which these pieces are executed lends them a quality of presenting a retrospective snapshot of a night consumed by riotous chaos. perhaps the most interesting aspect of seeing peterson's work in real life is realizing how these things are constructed. the huge scale of many of the pieces engage the the viewer. they draw you in and force you to examine the details of the grotesque scenes and appreciate the work on a level other than the stark iconic aesthetics that dominate when you see them from across the room. rather than doing these large scale paintings on single panels, peterson constructs them on a grid of smaller panels. this has obvious practical applications; easier to move etc., but equally as important, if less apparent, is the effect this multi-panel construction has on tying daybreak together as a cohesive presentation. it makes the small stand alone panels feel like they could have been cropped to hide further depravity lurking just outside the the frame. it also makes you consider parts of the larger works as independent scenes, completely engaging in their own right. the most surprising element of daybreak and the pieces that are ultimately add the most value to this body of work as a whole are the self symbol works. These pieces are a deft expression of the stark, clean geometry underlying the complex and brutal scenes more typically characteristic of his work. located in a completely separate room within new image this minor collection represents both a complete departure from the sort or imagery peterson is known for, as well as an addendum of sorts to the rest of the collection. it adds a further layer of understanding to the crisp spacial clarity of petersonâ€™s complete body of work, while remaining a complete statement in and of itself.
low frequency p. clark wellington
both figuratively and literally los angeles is a city that thrives in the spotlight. the sun is relentless and celebrities can never seem to escape the public eye. yet the bright here is boring. who really gives a fuck about whatâ€™s in plain view? the intrigue of los angeles lies in what goes unnoticed. the things that happen behind closed doors, within gated gardens, in the long shadows and in the grip of cold desert nights. anything exists here. everything exists here. what you think you sow one moment is sure to have vanished in the next. hollywood is the land of the stars right? sure... but in a city so filled with light there sure are a lot of shadows.
music mean jeans at five star the mean jeans show in at five star bar downtown on november 6th, 2010 was nothing short of epic. the night built off of straight up bizarre performances from margaret doll rod and therapists before exploding into a sweaty beer soaked crescendo of bodies flying and straight up, old school punk rock. the stage diving potential at five stars is limitless. with the band only sitting a foot or two off the ground, a wide open space directly up front and a crowd fueled by 4 straight hours of $3 pbr deuces shit is almost certain to hit the fan. doesn’t hurt that no one in the establishment ever seems to give a fuck. i could tell you about there set list... or how well the band executed their performance... but uh seriously no one really remembers. it was a punk show in top form. i got kicked in the face about five times, accidentally bit some dude in the balls and some time near the end of the set was thrown on top of the crowd and forced into a complete front flip, landing on stage with my head slamming into the bass drum and using combination mic stand/howie doodat’s leg to right my self, scream something udderly mindless and intangible and hurl myself right back into the faces of the fuckers that threw me up there in the first place. if you were somehow under the impression that nothing interesting is happening in punk these days you aren’t going to the right shows... and if you think la isn’t punk anymore you need to get your ass out of fucking shitty hollywood and head downtown. cristobal campos, aka the girl with the big hair, is booking some world class bands on the reg and there are enough shitty old la bars looking to pull crowds, dank warehouses and established venues (the smell, la cita) to ensure that there is something fucking insane going on more or less every night. you don’t have to take my word for it though, this show was covered by crasier frane out of glasgow and incubate in the netherlands. oh yeah.. and if you think beers, pizza and electric guitars are stupid and that we should focus on more serious issues... fuck you. read the rest of this magazine and lighten the fuck up.
music jj _ kills
for many of you this album dropped on christmas morning. i was hungover, passed out under a christmas tree at that point. when this album got to me for the first time, i’d just gotten back to los angeles after a three day whirlwind weekend buried in midwestern snow and booze. it was that week long twixt party holiday malaise. it didn’t stop raining. kills kept me sane. jj do this thing. it’s not just sampling a catchy beat and throwing some new lyrics over it, it’s capturing the essence of the one part of a song that you can’t get out of your head and building a whole new song based on a stoned version of that one perfect moment. when kills starts out with uber soft vocals laid on that dre loop your hooked. when they follow it with a listenable rendition of taio cruz’s dynamite and drop lyrics like “best living or dead hand’s down”... your buying it. “my fragrance smells like sin, when all i do is swim”? seriously? that’s the most glamourous selfcondemnation i’ve ever heard. kills is radio pop playing through the walls off your neighbor’s radio on a saturday morning when you wake up, smoke a bowl and drift back to half sleep cause you’ve nothing else to do. lyrically i can’t tell if this album is about ending a relationship with a single person or a stoned, cash insulated, resort detachment from humanity in general. probably both. ultimately, what makes jj so great is that it doesn’t matter if their money has always been there, or if they’ve never had to sell the drugs the sing about... they’re just so fucking chill about it and make you feel so good about wherever you’re at that you can’t help but dig it. and if you don’t... they’re still gonna take your money... and just maybe kill you.
nordic dream thug indeed.
art sharpie show ii sharpie show ii went down at crewest gallery in downtown la on december 4th 2010. i sympathize if you harbor some skepticism towards art and music events with corporate sponsorship. the sharpie show is unique, however, in that the work presented here is both created by and an homage to the product lending its promotional support. that being said, the rules for entry into the show are simple: as long as your art was created with a sharpie it can be considered. this open-ended, medium driven selection of work is immediately striking for it’s quantity and diversity. respect to crewest for supporting the graffiti scene and skewing the press for the show towards the “street artists first tool” angle, but this exhibition has little to do with any tags illicitly scrawled on derelict city walls. pieces on display ranged from standard, yet well executed framed black and white illustrations to colorful pieces that could pass for paintings from across the room, skateboard graphics, chris giorgio’s hats and even miniature transformer sculptures crafted from the disemboweled markers themselves. the event added appeal with live art from douglas cruise in the main gallery and a front room display featuring huge, impressive pieces by travis moore. moore’s work ranged from intensely detailed line work depictions of los angeles love, to bold tri-color pop art and stunning beer bottle realism. the show was well-presented, well-attended and firmly reinforced the notion that “it’s not the number of crayons your given, but what you do with the colors in the box.”
music art damage interviewed by john crowell
The evening I interviewed Jon Lorenz and John Rich of the Art Damage Lodge was the last night I would step foot in the main performance room of the DIY music venue’s Hamilton Avenue location. Since October 2007, Lorenz and Rich, along with Joe Kuth, have organized experimental music shows (featuring artists such as Yellow Swans, Hair Police, Wolf Eyes, Mount Eerie, and Blues Control, just to name a few), film screenings, and other events in an iconically monolithic upper room of an old Masonic temple. In that time, the venue has become a fixture for weird music in Cincinnati. I spoke with Lorenz and Rich on the evening before the Art Damage Lodge’s farewell concert and garage sale weekend. After their landlord sold the building, the Lodge had been forced to suspend any future shows (except for a concert with Calvin Johnson and Yoni Wolf in February) while the volunteers who organize its events continued to look for a new space. Along with giving the experimental music space a respectable sendoff, Lorenz and Rich hoped the proceeds from the garage sale, which sold off CD’s, records, couches, music equipment, and electrical refuse, would start the process of raising funds for a new venue. Sitting among stacks of CD and DVD cases waiting to be sold, I took this opportunity to talk to the founders of the Art Damage Lodge about their beginnings, highs, lows, and future. [Forget the Midwest] How did the Art Damage Lodge get its start? [Jon Lorenz] I was running a space before this called Skull Lab. John Rich and I met before I left there and became friends. We decided before I left that we would start a new space. We wanted to do a space that was dedicated to experimental music. [FTM] I understand that Art Damage was the name of a radio show before it was the name of your venue? [JL] It still is. It’s been around since ’85. John [Rich] hosts it, I co-host it: Mondays midnight to 3 am on WAIF. John was instrumental in getting it back on the air. The radio show was something we both listened to at a fairly young age. It was something that had an influence on us [while we were living in this] city trying to find weirder things going on. It was something that inspired us, so when we started a space we kind of wanted to pay homage to Art Damage and make that connection to the past. [FTM] Over the years, as you’ve booked shows here, have you found a lot of bands make a stop in Cincinnati because the Art Damage Lodge exists as a venue? Do you feel your space has filled a gap in the local music community? [JL] I think in general most weird “out-there” music is connected to DIY culture. So most of the shows we’ve had, the bands would rather play at a place like this than playing at a bar or something.
In general, it’s just me and John who do the booking. Once in a while, someone will come to us with an idea for a show, but usually it’s us. We have enough people contacting us to have a steady stream of shows. People have found out about us. . . people who have played here have told their friends. . . word gets around and connections are made. There’s been some bands on tour . . . and if it’s someone we like we’ll contact them and try to set them up with a gig. We’ve always tried to book at most three for four gigs a month just to keep things spaced and keep us from getting burned out. [John Rich] We really try to stick to what we really want to do. [FTM] Have you had any notably awesome or notably bad shows? Were there a time everything just went wrong or, inversely, completely exceeded your expectations? [JL] The only notably bad one was Chinese Stars [laughs]. Everything went wrong. [JR] They were little bitches. I’ll openly quote that those guys suck. [JL] [Laughs] Yeah, they were little bitches. Basically the story is that they set up to play and there was an issue with the electricity. They had a lot of gear; more so than anyone else who had ever played here, and it was pushing the limits of the electricity and the PA. So there were issues with the sound. Most bands, if it becomes an issue, will turn down their amps a bit because they realize they’re pushing it a little too much. So instead of doing that, they started yelling at us about it and bitching to the whole audience about how they had to haul their amps up the stairs. [JR] [sarcastically] “These amps don’t have enough juice!” [JL] Whatever. We dealt with it and said sorry, but we couldn’t do much about it. They left and didn’t really say “thanks” or “bye.” It was just really awkward. And then the next time they came to town they emailed us because they were playing some random theater out in the suburbs and wanted help promoting it. [JR] We’re just dudes man! We’re not a bar, we’re not making money! We’re putting it on for them. I can’t really think of any other [negative] stories. The great thing about the experimental music community is that there aren’t very many jerks. I think people in the experimental music community up here are pretty chill. [JL] In general we’ve been nice to everybody and everybody’s been nice to us. [JR] No one’s trying to be a rock star. No one’s trying to be anything they’re not. In terms of shows, you usually go in not really knowing what will come out of it. [JL] It goes both ways. There are shows we think people we be really excited about and come out and see and then they won’t . . . but then there are shows when we think there’ll only be a few people and a bunch of people will come. I think the first Mount Eerie show was the biggest one we ever had.
[FTM] Yeah, I was at that! I had never seen so many people here.
[JL] There were over 250 people here. I had seen [Phil Elvrum] many times, and none of those crowds were even close to what we had here. I’ve seen him play to 15 people and another time to 80 people. Artists like him who don’t play here often tend to get big audiences. A lot of K Records artists get big shows here, because since they don’t come around here very often, people get really excited when they do come and play.
[FTM] What happened to cause you to move? [JR] The building got sold. [JL] Our landlord sold the building to somebody new . . . I think she’s making videos in here . . . I’m not really sure. She’s being nice enough to let us have the second floor of the building to put on a show with Calvin Johnson and Yoni Wolf of WHY? on February 18th. [JR] The floor below us has a performance space. It’s the same size but it’s got a stage and balcony. When we first looked at this building, it was between that space and this room, where the Masons did their rituals. For what we were doing it sounded better and more cavernous. [JL] It seemed more appropriate to have people playing on the floor. [JR] And the other room has columns . . . which would have gotten in the way when we had screenings. [FTM] Are you looking for a new location? [JL] Yeah we’ve been looking for awhile – haven’t had much luck. [JR] It’s one of this situations, with the economy, that it’s really cheap to buy, but no one’s really renting because no one is buying the buildings. So there are places that are selling cheap for a building, but we only have day jobs. We’ve seen some places we’d like if we had the money, but we have to find somewhere to rent. [JL] We’re trying to take it slow, not rush into anything, and find something nice. [JR] Yeah, a place we can get excited about, not just some gnarly space. [FTM] What can people who are fans of the Art Damage Lodge do to help you find a new place? [JR] Give us massive amounts of money! [JL] Rob a bank! (Laughs) [FTM] Is there a PayPal account people can give to? [JR] Yeah there’s an Art Damage one. We’re not trying to sound greedy – the money’s not going to us, it would go to the venue. We’re a non-profit organization, so it can be written off on your taxes. Plus it gets you good vibes and love. [FTM] What’s this garage sale you’re planning going to be like? [JL] We’re all a bunch of music dorks so we’re selling a bunch of music stuff. A lot of books and CD’s and records . . . Lots of weird, obscure music. [JR] Stuff for everybody.
[JL] John’s selling more than all of us, like 80% of his music collection. He’s collected all that crap for ages. . .
[FTM] Why are you selling it all now? [JR] Why not? I have a vision of sitting in an empty room with just a chair forever. [Laughs] It’s all gotta go man. What money we make will ultimately go to a new space. [JL] We’ve been here for a few years, so we’re selling a bunch of stuff we don’t need anymore. [JR] I just don’t want to carry anything, man. Other people buy it and they carry it.
music rocket 00000 _ what women want
what women want is a four song ep from cincinnati grunge nuggets rocket 00000. the ep is the band's first widely available release, dropped quietly back in july of 2010. having previously only heard this trio live in dark, crowded rooms through various shitty pa.s, this release is refreshingly clear. the mix brings out the strength and purpose behind kevin bruce's vocals while his dynamic guitar licks and tight drum and bass support from ian wissman and mike fisher (respectively) provide a driving, upbeat vehicle to carry tough lyrical content through in a way that's... daresay... catchy. the closing track braveheart: forever young, in particular highlights this interplay between jagged pill social commentary and head-nodding positive energy. and while you could throw this band in any number of genre categories and draw comparisons of their sound to anyone from fugazi to les savy fav, perhaps the closest comparison in overall feel, at least on that last track is desaparecidos, the short lived and equally hard to place conor oberst side project circa 2001. that band itself was difficult to label, typically being tossed in with emo at a time when that tag was being applied to pretty much everything, thus making it the worst time in history to be referred to as such. but don't get to hung up on comparisons. rocket 00000 has a sound and drive all their own, incorporating noise and punk elements into songs that are way more listenable than you think they should be. in only four songs these guys have created a sound that's big. and loud. and really fun to listen to. what women want is a nice first statement... and hopefully a portent of things to come. ...and yes they're all mel gibson movies.
music OFF! record release show OFF! was set to do a release party for the release of their first four eps on vice records on friday december 17th, 2010 at the sex in downtown LA. the show was moved around at the last minute to the strange on melrose in east hollywood. apparently the free friday night show had generated a crowd that was already over capacity before the doors even opened at the sex. the strange had it's own set of issues dealing with this epic show. when i first walked up to the event they told me it was over capacity and no one was getting let in for the rest of the night. five or six people got turned away while i stood on the sidewalk like wtf. then all of a sudden they hustled ten people through the front door... myself included. i walked into the middle of a no bunny set that was sucking. people were whipping complimentary water bottles and spare change across the sweating, seething crowd. the amps were out. the lights were fucked. i thought the show was doomed. i moved closer. some inebriated blonde chick was getting punched in the face. she jumped on stage flailing around. security threw her out. couch cushions began to fly. no bunny broke into an epic set that totally made up for the previous bullshit i'd walked into. they finished their set and cleared out. i headed for the bar in back. no booze. "you have beer?" "soda or water." "fuck" against better judgement we headed down the street for a beer. we get back to the venue and chug a couple deuces in the back lot to a link wray dumpster dance party. walk back out front and try to get back in with the third and fourth deuce tucked in coat sleeves. immediately told no re-entry, no in and out, no one else is getting in for the entire night... period. fuck right. half a no bunny set and out? we walk across the street. then turn around and walk back. immediately let in. no questions asked.
we re-enter mid OFF! set. the spot is a sweaty, steamy, humid mess. this is the middle of the quadrennial LA monsoon season. the floor is slick. the air is thick. my filthy t-shirt can't wipe the fog off my camera lense fast enough. OFF! rages on stage. you can't tell the crowd from the band as the pit rushes the stage. the set is explosive and quick. keith morris ended the set with hi fives all around. epic. i knew i'd missed white shit's night-opening set. sorta bummer, but now i thought the show was over, that my beer excursion had not only made me miss half the OFF! set but the entire oh sees set as well. those sea donkeys. needed only to turn around though to find thee oh sees had set up on the opposite side of the room. they start playing. the crowd surged. surprise closing set by a non-headlining act. sweat and microphone head and the most impressive display of the night ensued. the lights come on. the crowd is hustled out the doors. i'm now completely satisfied with my evening, but the night isn't over yet. rumor has it peaches is playing. back downtown.
fashion thvm atelier we headed down here on december 17th right after the OFF! release show got out cause someone called us and said peaches was playing. that was probably bad info... but someone did call us. we missed any sort of performance other than the djs, but it was enjoyable none the less. the installations were large, strange and engaging and it was often difficult to define the lines between clothing, art and industrial detritus. light and dark spaces defined the interior of the thvm warehouse at 1317 palmetto st. people tended to congregate in the latter. there was a demo retail selection in the front area of the space, a huge abstract, high contrast black and white mural along a forty foot span of wall running nearly half the length of the building, a door-in-the-wall cut out that was kind hard to place as art but not exactly your ordinary sidebar either. the definitive exhibit of the evening was most certainly the whale. a toothy paper macheish ghost suspended in a net of twisted thin wire. the thing had a massive presence in the room. you couldnâ€™t keep your eyes off of it, but at the same time it was hard to say whether people were just trying to keep to the shadows or if they wanted to stay away from this looming apparition. we drank keg beer and plenty of champage. we danced in the dark. we got real high. we bought black jeans directly from the person who made them at three in the morning. thvm is quickly developing a name for themselves in the international fashion world. their mix of dark, tossed about styling, affordable pricing and effortless cool make their clothes desirable in new york, berlin and tokyo. their immense warehouse district compound, eye for art, taste for music and love for booze... and apparently deep pockets, make them a force to be reckoned with on the los angeles party scene as well. .
politics voina voina is a russian anarchist art group. banksy recently donated proceeds from his latest print sale to their cause. many of them are in jail for various acts of public indecency, vandalism and the like. their work is primarily high impact, shocking performance type pieces. they have projected a gigantic neon green skull on a government building, held orgies in state museums, flipped cars, and vaginally assaulted poultry in supermarkets. their style is to engage in abrasive, highly public stunts designed to generate maximum attention to bring light to the corruption and injustice in russia... and just generally doing anything to piss off the establishment. their work gains resonance by constantly being well documented through photographs so that even when half the collective is arrested for an outrageous performance based stunt, the act still lives on and reaches an audience much larger than those initially present through modern communication channels. this is civil disobedience to the highest level. simply stated you can do zero real damage but can still have a massive impact if it is photographed and distributed properly. this concept of the documentation and distribution of evidence of a anti-authority statement being equally, if not more important than the act itself has been prevalent in street art for some time. With city officials and the like being quick to paint over everything, especially resistance messages, having your work photographed and put out on the internet is crucial to really giving your message a voice. the political graffiti of banksy and others would be profound regardless, but much of the world would be oblivious to it without the efforts made to communicate it to a broader audience. whatâ€™s interesting about voina is that often there is no physical mark left. with the exception of a huge, crudely drawn penis on the street surface of a drawbridge that, when raised faces directly towards kgb headquarters, most of their work is performed and temporary. the documentation becomes the expression. which brings up the question of whether some of voinaâ€™s work is even performance art at all rather than high risk photography. in any case, if you are still looking for a reason to care about out spoken artists getting locked up for making statements against government abuses and corporate corruption in russia consider this: thanks to goldman sachs a russian company is now a significant shareholder in facebook. just saying. a giant cock as middle finger to the kgb via drawbridge is pretty hilarious/inventive regardless.
eight years film derivatives vol. ii p. clark wellington
you can’t talk for too long about contemporary photography without entering into some sort of debate over the merits of traditional film vs. digital. for the record, i think this argument is bullshit. film obviously has it’s aesthetic value. it’s one of a kind, there is greater opportunity for perfection coincident with higher chances of character enhancing flaws. digital photography, however, affords us the opportunity to turn out quality work at a rate... and to a broader audience than has ever before been imaginable... let alone possible. many people simply scan their photos to create a digital version of work that was originally created on film. i don’t have a scanner. instead i began photographing original prints from negative through a 60mm macro lens. this gave me the ability to not just project film work to a larger audience, but also to do in camera edits, be it cropping, focus or contrast eight years represents the same process that i used when compiling gucci, my first collection of film come digital work, except instead of recent work on novelty cameras, these shots are mixed b/w and color prints from 35mm from the year i turned 18. re-shot once again through a 60mm macro lens. new representations of some of my earliest photos.
music grouplove @ the bootleg grouplove was in top form for their show at the bootleg in westlake on january 10, 2011. the band has truly come into their own since we last saw them at spaceland, opening for the white arrows on the last night of their august residency there. riding high off the strength of singles like naked kids and colours and the recent release of the video for the latter they confidently took on the headlining role for this show. it was interesting to see these two bands play together again in a flipped scenario. it wasnâ€™t only grouploveâ€™s musical performance that seemed to have been fine tuned over recent months, but their stage show as well. a huge backdrop and colorful stand up strobes surrounding the stage gave an electric atmosphere to their set. the size of the bootleg venue allowed these new visual effects to achieve maximum impact. this residency was a build up of sorts for a tour of europe and the uk throughout february. with a seemingly growing following in australia as well it is exciting that this band seems to be building an international following as rapidly as their local la fan base has developed. white arrows, for their part, were solid and true to form. returning the favor in going on before grouplove during their residency at bootleg isn't a step down, but rather a strong nod and a well balanced trade off in a dynamic and interdependent la music scene. the entire lineup was on point and the cavernous space of this re-purposed industrial venue gave added weight to the instant psychedelic atmosphere created by their staple geometric light show projections and concise beach-stoned sound. ryan hahn of local natives plays tunes in between bands and throughout the night. he wasnâ€™t pulling out anything unheard of or even particularly adventurous, but he definitely brought good vibes and his song selection was solid. this must be the place.
music devil girl from mars _ positronic remix
i had this hallucination once after i drank a bunch of cough syrup. satan was speeding across the desert at sunset in a souped up, chop top, model t hot rod. he looked sort of like the tex avery wolf wearing racing goggles with his tongue hanging out. i was a bug that got splattered on the windshield. ... this song is like that vision combined with the video for goldfrapp’s rocket. koala fires are a fairly mediocre indie rock band from cincinnati. devil girl from mars was originally released on their album the beeping in our hearts in january of 2010. positronic is a house party dj known for digging way down into esoteric samples to produce deep, dark tracks that envelop you in a doped up haze. he’s fond of slowing vocals down nearly beyond recognition and throwing them in the mix with floor shaking bass and space age electronics. his previous work includes making freddie gibbs sound as stoned as he says he is and a version of lil wayne’s wetter that clocks in at over ten minutes. on this track positronic removes all but the most critical vocals and warps them away from the girl in favor of the devil. add to that a hard, catchy, club ready bass line, some some afro beat rhythm, synthy keys, a sweet squelching vibrato beat and enough electronic pings, pops, swooshes and slides to make you think lucifer left the inferno on a starship and you have a song that’s as deserving of the title disco goth as anything out there. the satanic hum chant, creepy laughter reverberating throughout and totally fucked vocal sample at the close are icing on the cake.
art mola salsa a showing of new work by david ellis, mola salsa opened on saturday february 5th 2011 at new image art gallery. this body of work is a bit of a new page in ellis' repertoire. these pieces take ideas that have appeared in his work in the past, namely the animal and swirl motifs, and present them in an entirely novel way. there is a move in this collection away from the huge scale, brash and abstracted qualities characteristic in much of his earlier work. these pieces instead draw their strength from subtlety, attention to detail and often jarring juxtapositions. it's a credit to the artist, and to the success of this show, that the impact of the pieces isn't at all diminished by the shift in focus. in fact, the impact is arguably heightened. mola salsa seems to represent a battle of sorts. the conflict between violence, destruction and mechanization and the emanating intricacy of life forces. trees blast a message of life from the loudspeakers, bird creatures radiate internally human auras and animals meld seamlessly with the constellations of the universe. meanwhile, smoke billows thick from the machinery of war, infused with the classic magical swirls that are an ellis signature. the subject matter here is all explicitly expressed and clearly, though less obviously linked. the work is brilliantly constructed and thoughtfully tied together stylistically. what appears to be simple shading and coloration from afar (or when viewed in internet resolution pics) is in reality complex and intricate line work often appearing as though it were created via spirograph. it wasn't uncommon while wandering through new image to find yourself suddenly a bit shocked after pulling back from a study of subtly varied textures to remember that you are looking at the humanesque innards of a glowering owl man or otherwise alarming creature. but yet this work isn't reliant on this fine tuned detail. it's given force by bold, contrasting, black and whites and imbued with a sense of the cosmic through complexly structured, omnipresent starscapes. like all good art it jumps out at you and will attract attention from across a room while still rewarding the viewer for taking a closer look. it's also important to mention that while it was stated previously that mola salsa represented a move to a smaller scale for ellis, this work is by no means small. the artist's traditional canvas is a wall. he does murals, graffiti, street art... whatever you want to call it. so while the stuff in mola salsa isn't 8' x 10', ~38" x 50" isn't exactly a quiet format for a gallery showing. it's not to be overlooked either that props are given to those street beginnings in subtly placed wheat paste and taggings applied to a closet door in the narrow hall of the gallery.
so all in all mola salsa was fucking great. a treat for long time fans, a stunning first impression if youâ€™re just being introduced and a clearly stated refinement of skills that retains, if not amplifies, the impact of the work. individual pieces are connected stylistically and the show as a whole is a vivid expression of symbolism through juxtaposition. that these works are done on paper and and hung unpretentiously by binder clips, cincinnati style, is a nice touch that fits completely with the rough around the edges chic that new image owns on. icing on the cake. speaking of new image... what a fucking rad gallery. they are acquiring the work of the best players in the game right now and are displaying collections regularly that are at once completely definitive of the artists work and also a bit (r)evolutionary. they also specialize in housing new and original bodies of work from fellows who are known but still a bit underground... which of course is a plus. perhaps my favorite thing about shows at new image is the duality present in the openings themselves. in both the daybreak and mola salsa the ante chamber is used not as a simple extension of wall space, but rather as a whole nother dimension of the presentation. in daybreak it was clean, stark, geometric, object art serving as a counterweight to the dense, heaviness of peterson's more characteristic pieces. in mola salsa, ellis took advantage of the space by showcasing his equally notable video work via tv on a white pedestal and working on a live piece in the dark, lit only by the flickering blue of the television screen and surrounded by an ever changing swarm of gallery visitors. the live art provided insight into the artist's process and the video added depth of introduction to those experiencing david ellis for the first time. new image is great because it excels at making an opening reception an event. whether it's a dj in the closet or live art and video in the side room, they know how to infuse gallery openings with a unique experience that adds value to coming out to see impressive work on the first night. blond chili added to the event vibe when andre hyland showed up filming a jesse miller segment of a gallery walk through and interview with ellis. a cincinnati connection that was likely overlooked by the casual observer.
politics egypt etc. the world is now bigger than it's government. it's that simple. america has long stood for an ideology of freedom and democracy in it's public language, while simultaneously favoring foreign political allies who blatantly reject such such notions in order to preserve international relationships that it believes maintain more important, long-term security goals. in decades past, the support of brutal south american dictators to keep down communism was overt and wide-spread but poorly communicated to the world population at large at the time it was happening. it's quite ironic that now, in our new age of globalism and open communications that america's own booming tech darlings, facebook, twitter etc. are at least partly responsible for foreign government collapses that are at the very least somewhat embarrassing to u.s. foreign policy positions. let's look at a complete picture here. in the last several weeks we have seen the collapse of a corrupt, but western aligned government in tunisia and now we are witnessing what appears to be the imminent demise of the long standing authoritarian regime/crucial u.s. strategic ally that is the egyptian government under hosni mubarak. in roughly the same time frame, facebook received an extremely favorable valuation from recent us taxpayer bailout recipient goldman sachs. likely an enormously profitable move for both parties involved. perhaps these occurrences are completely coincidental. likely they are. it's worth noting, however, that facebook played a crucial role in the success of revolts in tunisia. the new york times has reported that though the arab news agency al jazeera was officially barred from covering the uprising in that country, an independent journalist working on their behalf gained access through a friend, and once there was able to absorb first hand video reporting from tunisian citizens who witnessed and recorded government abuses via his personal facebook page. as soon as al jazeera began airing this footage the effect snowballed generating enormous amounts of coverage that never would have previously been possible.
egyptian riots in the past days were largely organized via internet outlets. digital communication was so much a part of their success that the egyptian government called for a communications blackout in much of the country. shame on vodafone and others that gave in. i won't begin to expound on the likely political pressures involved in those decisions. i'd only like to say that it is disgraceful that a company that wishes to make any claims in the way of customer service would cut off those very services in the times of greatest need. never mind the protest organization. what about families that need to know where loved ones are when the streets are filled with angry people and buildings are in flames?
politics regardless, both the egyptian government and the telecom companies involved are fools. a bandaid on a severed carotid. is this giant political scheme? a huge conspiracy? probably not. it is very interesting however. viewing this from a detached standpoint shows one promising trend for all the people of the world who want justice, freedom and a chance to live life without fear of oppression. this is a clear sign that the governments of the world, be they positively intentioned but generally ineffective in some areas, or outright authoritarian and corrupt are no longer capable of keeping their citizens uninformed, powerless and in the dark. the freedom and ingenuity that exists, indeed thrives, in america will overcome and triumph, even over the long history of blunders its government has charged into, especially in areas of foreign policy. i am by no means saying that facebook is a perfect little beacon of light. just simply that communication, openness and human connection; even when digital, is too strong to be oppressed. the point of all this isn't that the u.s. government is somehow backhandedly financing the overthrow of it's traditional middle eastern allies via aggressive, though diffused tech investment, it's actually quite the opposite. the point is that government has no clue how to govern the newly globally interconnected population of the world. we could be applauding the current u.s. administration for issuing a clear statement to egypt not to use bloody violence to maintain their power... if it could somehow be perceived that we had a choice in the matter. had this same situation happened ten years ago there would already be u.s. troops on the ground. that is now simply impossible. no one, anywhere would stand for it. world governments are no longer capable of understanding the effects of the vastness of what they do. things done to ease domestic economic tensions negatively effect traditional foreign policy standpoints. the pro-democracy propaganda pitched to the american public for the past decade or two to justify questionable middle east military engagements is now put clearly, obviously in direct conflict with u.s. foreign policy positions maintained within countries in the same region during the same aforementioned time period!
the united states would have liked to see this happen in iran first obviously. if that were the case we'd be cheering in the streets. and maybe in some ways the failed protests in that country a year ago were a root of the movement happening now. but never-the-less, egypt and tunisia are not iran. the latter is a declared enemy of the united states and the two former were, until quite recently, strong allies. further complicating matters is the fact that Mohamed ElBaradei, the adjunct leader of the egyptian uprising, is a former leader of the iaea, a tool the u.s. and western governments have consistently relied on in their efforts to keep iran nuke free.
politics fuck i could be wrong here. what with stuxnet and all i wouldn't be much surprised if the u.s. government had finally schemed a way to roll out the domino effect, middle east democracy surge it has always envisioned. but again... that's unlikely. i find it much more believable that we are witnessing the first phase of a new era in confusion in international politics. for better or for worse. people are simply too well connected... too informed, for the same bullshit, cover up tactics to work anymore. and, as always government will be very slow to react to the change. you want to tack on a couple more bizarre political intrigue scenarios to this whole mess? how about a russian company being a big player in that facebook deal? putin's iron fist on the russian judiciary keeping big money oil guys in prison most likely just because they were seen as opposition to vlady? russia's likely connections to iran's nuclear program and german corporate ties to that same program's undoing. oh yeah and israel is probably at least a little nervous now, right? intrigue is at an all-time high. i haven't provided answers here. only a conglomeration of ideas that hopefully will provoke some thought in someone. things are quite complicated these days. but unlike in years past, they are also now immediately accessible and freely discussed... or tomorrow i get shot. google it. you own the government... it doesn't own you. that's true for everyone. clark wellington january, 29th 2011