“That’s all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel. There’s no part in it, no shape in it, that is not out of someone’s mind […] I’ve noticed that people who have never worked with steel have trouble seeing this—that the motorcycle is primarily a mental phenomenon. They associate metal with given shapes—pipes, rods, girders, tools, parts—all of them fixed and inviolable., and think of it as primarily physical. But a person who does machining or foundry work or forger work or welding sees “steel” as having no shape at all. Steel can be any shape you want if you are skilled enough, and any shape but the one you want if you are not. Shapes, like this tappet, are what you arrive at, what you give to the steel. Steel has no more shape than this old pile of dirt on the engine here. These shapes are all of someone’s mind. That’s important to see. The steel? Hell, even the steel is out of someone’s mind. There’s no steel in nature. Anyone from the Bronze Age could have told you that. All nature has is a potential for steel. There’s nothing else there.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values
Future Sculpture, Clarence Street Art Collective, The Cedars, Dallas, Texas
Oblique Strategy:Is the intonation correct?
After a really rough day I needed a little victory so I made a sweet potato casserole to take to a potluck tomorrow. Is a well-cooked casserole a work of art? Probably not. Especially when its destiny is a long table already groaning under other casseroles also full of sweet potatoes (at least mine does not feature marshmallows – it has goat cheese and walnuts) or green beans mixed with oversalty industrial mushroom soup and canned fried onions. I’m sure mine will be ignored, no matter how delicious. Such is the ultimate destiny of all art.
P.S. After having written the above, I went to the kitchen to put my cassarole, which had been cooling on a rack, into the fridge to take to the potluck tomorrow. While transferring it, I dropped it, flipping it onto the kitchen floor.
“The marriage of reason and nightmare that dominated the 20th century has given birth to an ever more ambiguous world. Across the communications landscape move the spectres of sinister technologies and the dreams that money can buy. Thermo-nuclear weapons systems and soft-drink commercials coexist in an overlit realm ruled by advertising and pseudo-events, science and pornography. Over our lives preside the great twin leitmotifs of the 20th century – sex and paranoia…In a sense, pornography is the most political form of fiction, dealing with how we use and exploit each other, in the most urgent and ruthless way.”
― J.G. Ballard
Tony Collins Art, Dallas, Texas
Oblique Strategy:Make a sudden, destructive unpredictable action; incorporate
Is it a bomb?
Or simply a disposable fuel tank.
Does it matter? Now, anyway, it’s just a sculptural form.
A piece of shaped steel, sexy somehow. It pulls the eye to it.
You wonder about its story. Where did it come from?
Why is it hanging there?
“Artists use frauds to make human beings seem more wonderful than they really are. Dancers show us human beings who move much more gracefully than human beings really move. Films and books and plays show us people talking much more entertainingly than people really talk, make paltry human enterprises seem important. Singers and musicians show us human beings making sounds far more lovely than human beings really make. Architects give us temples in which something marvelous is obviously going on. Actually, practically nothing is going on.”
― Kurt Vonnegut Jr., Wampeters, Foma and Granfalloons
Downtown Fort Worth, Texas
Oblique Strategy:Retrace your steps
What are the reasons for the modern vertical big city downtown? Maybe three is no reason… maybe they just are, like a mountain or an ocean. Maybe simply the value of a square foot of property.
There is the perceived need to pack a large number of lawyers, accountants, and administrative assistants together in order to foster some sort of symbiotic synergy between them. Think of the three dimensional human density in a fifty story high rise… it is unprecedented. I saw a documentary on The Lost Boys of Sudan – the Africans were brought to Houston and given ordinary apartments. They had never seen a two story building and were constantly afraid of falling through the roof of the first floor. Imagine their reaction in a skyscraper.
With today’s multi-use towers, will we have people born, live, work, and die in the same building? It’s certainly possible. It may be inevitable.
But I think the real reason for skyscrapers is to impress the rubes. To amaze the hayseeds off the farm and in the city for the first time. After all, they are the only ones that look up.
The planet Earth is a speck of dust, remote and alone in the void. There are powers in the universe inscrutable and profound. Fear cannot save us. Rage cannot help us. We must see the stranger in a new light-the light of understanding. And to achieve this, we must begin to understand ourselves, and each other.
—-The Outer Limits, Control Voice, ending narration, The Galaxy Being
Tower, Downtown New Orleans, Processed in Photoshop(twice) and Illustrator
The army sent him halfway around the world and forgot him. He was wounded and they remembered him long enough to take the shrapnel out of his chest – they said they took it out but they never showed it to him and he felt it still in there, rusted, and poisoning him – and then they sent him to another desert and forgot him again. He had all the time he could want to study his soul in and assure himself that it was not there. When he was thoroughly convinced, he saw that this was something that he had always known.”
― Flannery O’Connor, Wise Blood
“How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 8:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so? ”
—-Charles Bukowski, Factotum
Detail of Barbecue Trailer, Braindead Brewing, Deep Ellum, Dallas, Tx (click to enlarge)
I was having a nightmare. It wasn’t a horrible nightmare – it wasn’t like I was battling with a giant Adenoid that was devouring London or anything like that – it was a simple nightmare of hopeless frustration, defeat and failure. To my horror, I sudden realized that it wasn’t a nightmare after all – that I had woken up hours before and was simply out and going through my normal day.