Sunday, 30 January 2011

What is Outsider Art?

It's a question that bedevils collectors and critics, who also worry about related terms such as folk art, self-taught art, vernacular art, naive art and primitive art -- words on which there is little consensus about appropriateness or even meaning.

Roughly, though, a working definition of outsider art could go like this:

Creative works-- paintings, drawings, sculptures, assemblages, and idiosyncratic gardens and other outdoor constructions -- by people who have had little or no formal training in art and who produce (or at least began by producing) art without regard to the mainstream art world's recognition, marketplace or definitions. These are people who make art for themselves or their immediate community, often without recognizing themselves as artists until some collector or expert comes along to inform that what they are doing is making art.

It is these collections and experts who have found "outsider art" useful as a way to organize collecting activities and as a marketing term. But the concept implies a certain elitism, since if there is outsider art, there presumably is someone inside designating these others as outside. And what are they outside of? Art schools? Museums? The gallery world? Culture altogether?

And there are more questions: What is it about any particular work that makes it outsider, or makes it worthwhile at all? Is there a line between idiosyncrasy, one of the most sought-after qualities in outsider art, and simple incompetence? How outside must someone be to qualify, and what happens when they are discovered by art collectors and dealers and start being influenced by them? Finally, why not call their work just plain art? Why segregate it?

These questions have been debated ad infinitum, and even its defenders admit the concept can be problematic. As a matter of convenience, though, "outsider art" remains widely used. Partly it seems to persist for commercial reasons -- demarcating a particular sector of the art market helps to create and sustain it. But it also remains a handy shorthand for work that is liable to reflect different motivations, histories and concerns than that generally produced by art school graduates.

Its visionary quality, putative naivete or innocence, freedom from formal conventions, eccentric use of materials, left-field creativity, wild subject matter or some combination of these qualities are not exclusive to outsider art, of course, but they are to some extent typical of it. In addition, the conditions under which the art is produced do have a meaningful effect on its nature, even if they don't impart the almost-magical authenticity that some boosters find in outsider art.

Read more here, here and here
Re-blogged from Found Objects

Forest Gospel: Weston Teruya

Forest Gospel: Weston Teruya: "Drawings and installations by Weston Teruya."

artist statement:

My work draws upon stories told through geography, the built environment and the societal dynamics they shape and reveal. I utilize a variety of images and objects which demarcate or characterize these spaces by signaling access, control, leisure or protection. These include materials such as barriers and fences, as well as rafts and guardian statuary. While I often focus on elements which typically define spaces of privilege by creating of sites of control, I am also particularly interested in historic markers which actively shape the reading of the sites around them, suggesting changes in the landscape over time. These are relics against which social progress is mapped.

I take these images and objects and restructure their relationships through my drawings. While these speculative pieces are built from objects drawn from real sites and carry with them the traces of their original social purpose, their new configurations allow for other possibilities, including agency or critique.

Cementimental - Untitled Harsh Noise Graphic Novel

Cementimental is the name under which I currently make all my experimental noises, using 'circuit bent' electronic sound-toys and basically whatever and whoever I can get my hands on. The project becomes more or less of a 'band' when I team up with various other noisy types to produce and perform deranged music and noise of many genres.

Cementimental is also part of/indistinguishable from other projects including Gymnastic Decomposition and Hypno-Bacon.

buy it here

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Motherfucker=Redeemer: Marc Doudin (Klangwerk: Schatten)

Motherfucker=Redeemer: Marc Doudin (Klangwerk: Schatten): "Maybe some of you are interested in my kind of stuff as well. I create some ambient spheres enriched by guitar. Simple but atmospheric."

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Hangover Sunday Film Fest 19/12/2010

So Matilda and I went out with a couple of friends and had one too many real ales last night and are suffering for it today. The only thing to do in this situation is have a homemade fry-up (check!), lots of warm milky tea (check!), cookies (check!) and a bunch of excellent films (check!). These are the films we watched and what I thought of them:

Winter's Bone

This is a really excellent film. I read somewhere that it is a 'dark fairy tale set in Missouri', which is an interesting description which I wouldn't entirely agree with, but also is kind of spot on. The acting is good, not perfect, but manages to avoid that Hollywood overacting of southern American stereotypes which you see in a lot of films (can't think of any right now; did I mention that I was hungover?). The film portrays a 'slice of life' which is mysterious and opaque, a feeling which the landscape mainly evokes, thanks to some superb cinematography. I also really liked the found footage at the beginning, which kind of sets the scene for a certain realism. However, I would say that Winter's Bone works through a more poetic realism, which I suppose is where the fairytale idea comes from. It's not magic realism at all, in a kind of Guillermo Del Toro way. No fantasy elements. Just a kind of 'tale' which is concentrated on, which sucks you in and really makes you care what happens. Matilda and I thought the girl, 'Ree Dolly' was tough as old boots, and we really wanted her to succeed in her bleak and difficult quest.

Winter's Bone examines a folk morality which lies deep in the heart of the American countryside, running parallel and independent of the law of central government. It must be a strange place, America, but in films like this, I wonder how much of the rural American culture one could understand, coming from East London, for example. I mean, yes we have our own folk morality in social clubs and building sites, but it is the literal distance between any idea of 'centre' in America, and the federal states. In Winter's Tale, the morality which rules is one of blood, loyalty and stern silence. The film itself unfolds in an almost stern silence, the soundtrack only mumbling at certain points, a bow rustling against a violin string.

I was also reminded of Stephen King's recent novel, "The Dome" which I read to Matilda over a period of about six months. At the heart of this book was a small town in Maine, rendered totally independent of the central government by a mysterious dome. The sci fi plot device is background to the nightmare politics which evolve without federal authority. The town is run by a corrupt religious fanaticism, which is a cover for a massive Crystal Meth industry. The novel is overly long, but worth reading.

The Social Network

This film was quite a change from Winter's Bone. Completely different tone, texture, pace, subject matter...Another good film though; not as good as Winter's Bone, mainly because it didn't feel as weighty, and I like weighty. The Social Network is a slick, fantastically well made film, great acting again, nice narrative style (switching between the court case ending, and the relevant history leading up to that point). This film also ties in very specifically to our contemporary reality, in that 'we are all facebook users'. Like someone said somewhere, we are all concerned about the way facebook has invaded our everyday lives, and watching this film I was grasping for an ethical perspective on whether it is a bad or a good thing. One answer to this would be whether the guy who made it, Mark Zuckerberg, was a bad or a good guy. But if he was a bad guy, would I stop using it? Maybe. But I'm more likely looking for the film to tell me he is anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian, so I can feel like I'm not being totally manipulated.  What's good and solid about The Social Network is that it doesn't make it that easy; at some points we are rooting for Zuckerberg against the temptations of advertising, other times he is an arrogant dick who I hoped would lose everything in the end. I suppose we could say the tag line somehow sums this sentiment up: " You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies". The Social Network has been voted best film of 2010 by the Sight and Sound critic's round up; I'm not sure I agree with this, and I think that this decision has a lot to do with how invested we all are in the film's subject matter.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Recent Tokyo Sleep Police activity

An exciting weekend for TSP, having been featured on the following two blogs:

which has also resulted in almost a hundred hits on my bandcamp page:

I really appreciate this, and it has really revitalised my confidence - perhaps I'll finish mastering this new record and get it out!

Friday, 10 December 2010

First 15 songs on shuffle (from Facebook)

First rule - be honest! Don't keep shuffling forward for "cooler" songs. This is a 'getting to know you' exercise. Once you've been tagged...(1) Turn on your MP3 player or music player on your computer. (2) Go to SHUFFLE mode.(3) Write down the first 15 songs that come up - title and artist. NO editing/cheating, please. (4) Name your note after the last song to come up (5) Choose people to be tagged. It is generally considered to be good manners to tag the person who tagged you

Here's mine:

1. Taking a Beating - Last Exit (Koln)
2. Aftermath/Isle of Self - Dolphins Into the Future (On Seafaring Isolation..)
3. Untitled 7 - John Frusciante (Niandra Ladies and Us..)
4. The Spanish Merchants Daughter - The Stoneman Family (Anthology of American Folk Music)
5. The Cycle of Abuse - Emeralds (Does it Look Like I'm..)
6. Exile - Loren Mazzacane Connors (Halana 1 Single)
7. Des Rives - Thomas Koner (Zyklops)
8. In the Murder Room - Smegma (Pigs for Lepers)
9. Close to Far Away - Universal Order of Armageddon (s/t)
10. Jungle Blending - Graham Lambkin (Salmon Run)
11. Nothing Implied - Vocokesh (Through the Smoke)
12. Dino - Harmonia (Deutsche Elektronik Musik)
13. Crowning Orbs - Zomes (s/t)
14. Rotational Change for Windmill - Eleh (Location Momentum)
15. Zauberberg IV - Gas (Nah und Fern Disc 2)

To be fair, I regularly cull my Ipod music, because I like listening to it on shuffle. I find it helps discover new music, because otherwise I put something new on there, and always skip past it when actually selecting something. So nothing particularly embarrassing. Oh, and if you were wondering why  I tagged you, as we don't really know each other (I'm thinking here of Hal McGee, Neil Kulkarni, David Stubbs), I would just really like to see your shuffle list!