Dec 31, 2013

new year, semi-new city

everything good takes time and effort.

(above, 28:280 by omer arbel and bocci; at the v&a)

Dec 26, 2013

christmas in london

yesterday, the streets were a cyclist's almost-dream: free of even the slightest trace of london buses though not free, unfortunately, of london drivers. then, in the afternoon, to deepest west london. there was too much cheese but that was ok, polish mushroom borscht, many interesting bottles of wine—including one brought at considerable inconvenience from barcelona that i was particularly looking forward to drinking again*—and christmas music. a lot of christmas music. suddenly, dense white smoke was everywhere, followed by thrown-open doors and windows, an overturned bowl of very delicious ice cream mix, a crying baby. through the smoke and the respiratory distress, we discerned that the oven was the source, of course, of course: our goose was nearly cooked. there is nothing like kitchen chaos to bring people together around the table, especially if that table is in the room that doesn't have smoke in it. plus, now i know: never forget to put water in the roasting pan when cooking a goose.

today is for making bread, getting the goosefat out of my cellphone and left sock, and studiously avoiding oxford street where vast amounts of money no doubt are changing hands.

* the casa pardet 1995 tempranillo reserva is a beautifully reserved, composed, alive wine—a rare (but fortunately not the only) anomaly from the country of strident fruit and Too Much Wood. it had seemed ok, if a bit depressed, the night before when i decanted it, only revealing its hideously corked nature when i opened it again just before dinner. tw, who is wise in matters of the vine, says: "I have never had a wine that seemed fine then turned out to be corked. I have had many that seemed iffy and then turned out to be truly fucked."

Dec 18, 2013

value, counterfeits, authentication, and trust

these statements seem indisputable:

the more valuable a class of objects becomes, the more likely it is that someone will try to counterfeit instances of the class.

the more counterfeiting attempts there are, the more likely it is that good counterfeits will be produced.

the better the counterfeits, the more effortful it will be to authenticate any object.

trust in the value of the class of objects is proportional to the ease with which any instance of the class can be authenticated.
let us consider the implications of this for bitcoin. the only media of exchange that are systemically immune to authentication-related trust failures (though not immune to local trust failures) are those in which trust in the medium is highly distributed.

Dec 6, 2013

Nov 30, 2013

selling points

cronuts all types of cheap gifts
carrer ample, barcelona.

Nov 20, 2013

through the science and back into freedom

Although art in practice brings great difficulties for all those entering into it, this is so to the greatest possible degree in our own time. But for someone who has reached an age at which the intellect has already come to predominate to begin exercises in the initial stages, it must surely be impossible—without destroying himself—to pass forth from his own individuality toward more general endeavours ... He who loses himself in the boundless abundance of the life unfolding around him, and is thereby irresistibly prompted to copy it—and who thus feels so powerfully moved by the total impression—will surely seek to penetrate into the proportions, nature, and strengths of the great masses in precisely the same fashion in which he enters into the characteristic quality of the details ... He who considers the great masses—with a constant sense of the way in which all things are alive, down to the tiniest detail, affecting everything else—cannot conceive of them without a particular connection or affinity, far less depict them without being drawn to consider their fundamental causes. And when he does so, he cannot return once again to his initial freedom without working his way through to the pure ground, as it were ... To clarify what I mean: I believe that the old German artists, if they had known something of form, would have lost the immediacy and naturalness of expression in their figures, until they had reached a certain stage in this science ... There have been those who have built bridges and suspension work and other such technical things simply by eye. That is certainly possible for a time, but once a certain height has been reached and one naturally hits upon mathematical conclusions, his whole talent will be for nothing unless he works his way through the science and back into freedom.
runge to goethe, 7.05.1806

At ninety I shall penetrate the mystery of things; at a hundred I shall certainly have reached a marvellous stage; and when I am a hundred and ten, everything I do—be it but a line or dot—will be alive.

Nov 16, 2013

white cube

really is a white cube. heading home after an unexpectedly long lunch in bermondsey, the aggressive luminosity of the white cube's internal lighting caught my eye. it is a feat for the ambient interior lighting of a building to be visible from nearly 40 meters away in full sun.

inside is the usual junk and then a quite large show by larry bell which is very worthwhile. the "light knots" are the most elegant and economical of the works on display. like a fred sandback yarn sculpture, these make a big point with almost no material, achieving the effect of appearing simultaneously there and not with only hanging pieces of metallised mylar. in person, these objects have an apparent volume quite different (and not necessarily larger) than their actual volume.

they're an evolution from the glass pieces in working at the margins of understanding the affordances—opacity, reflectivity, chromatic purity, and now also topography—of various materials. clearly new, yet on a developmental trajectory from previous work and with an ever-increasing economy of means. an artist i have come to admire.

his website is also ... well, you can see for yourself.

Nov 13, 2013

in the bag

this is a completely disinterested public service announcement.

my black medium deluxe courierware bag is now 12 years old. i have used it literally nearly every single day for over a decade; of everything i own and have owned, i have used this the most.

just enough pockets, just waterproof enough, just big enough, with branding so reticent as to be nearly invisible. it will easily accommodate a laptop, charger pack, cellphone, book, emergency fruit supply, water, and a change of clothing, with room to spare. i can use it as my only bag on anything up to a four-day trip. it handles odd loads with grace: i have carried sharp-edged volcanic rocks in it, as well as rare books, chunks of glacial ice, a large watermelon, and an entire case of wine (not all at the same time). stuffed with a fleece, it is a serviceable pillow for those nights you spend sleeping in, for instance, a rental car parked in the empty lot next to a motel in el paso or the departure lounge of the bangkok international airport.

people treat their old courierware bags the way people treat their old patagonia clothing; fortunately—unlike new patagonia clothing—new courierware bags are not pieces of overdesigned crap.

once, long ago, courierware were in cambridge, ma between the dolphin seafood restaurant and café sushi on mass ave. these days they are in randolph,vt. i know from personal experience that they are serious about their lifetime warranty. do you value quality and restraint over fashion and flash? would you like a messenger bag you will never have to (or want to) replace and which grows better with age? there is no time like the present.

Nov 8, 2013

the structure of retail innovation

takes a different form in every city.

Oct 28, 2013

Oct 18, 2013

it had to be done

when just starting research on R&D networks in art, you cannot pass up the opportunity to see a large fraction of the major dealers when they come to a large park 5 minutes from where you live. so i went to frieze. every other stand had a bunch of stuff by gerhard richter on display. and there seems to be quite a lot of carl andré and donald judd inventory too. it is interesting to see which galleries are absent and which artists are in short supply—and speculate about why. blum & poe were undoubtedly the best stand. they dedicated their entire space to a salon-style showing of pieces by mono-ha school japanese artist kishio suga. other nice stuff:

martin boyce at the modern institute

edith dekyndt's yellow blanket covered in silver leaf (up top), and paintings by john mcallister at carl freedman

olafur eliasson's fading mirrors at tanya bonakdar

richard long's stones and clay-washed wall at lisson gallery

a lot of weird southern arabian and neolithic stuff at rupert wace gallery

a beautiful wall of not-books by irma blank (another case of nominative determinism?) at P420

"september 1955" by ben nicholson at richard green

the shadow series by philip hanson at corbett vs dempsey

nicolas de staël at malingue (why are his paintings not on show at more museums? this is also the clyfford still problem.)

anthony caro's flat, yet dimensional metal sculptures at mitchell-innes & nash

pierre huyghe's aquaria evoking the dystopian world of michel houllebecq (my interpretation) at esther schipper

zhu yu's proposals for the member states of the UN at the long march space

waqas khan at galerie krinzinger

massimo bartolini at frith street gallery

there was also a large florilegium by ottomar ellger, who had someone in his atelier paint the reflections of a window on every single glossy berry in a large bunch of white currants. close examination of this painting (see the rose petal above) demonstrates the transparency and luminousness of old oils, which more recent oil paintings nearly never achieve.

the day was not a total loss.

Oct 17, 2013

like everywhere else

after the initial burst of irritation, london turns out to be more or less like everywhere else, except better for cyclists, not so good for rain, amply provisioned with parks, and oddly undersupplied with legumes. however: fewer dogs and less tea-drinking than i'd expected and would like.

We saw stars
And waves; we saw sands, too;
And despite many crises and unforeseen disasters,
We were often bored, just as we are here.

a comforting thought. and not bored yet. in fact, not often bored.

Oct 13, 2013


it's worth visiting hauser & wirth's show of reinhard onnasch's collection at their savile row galleries. few of the pieces were actively boring, and there was a rare sighting of some beautiful clyfford still canvases. also, nothing is for sale so there is no pressure to buy. i know that this will set many minds at ease in these difficult economic times.

morris louis's paintings always capture my attention, more for their detail than their enormous size—the cloth of the canvas itself is a compositional element in these paintings (the same reason i like sigmar polke's three lies of painting), and the gentle bleed of the thinned acrylic is particularly appealing.

and john wesley, despite the simplicity of his figures, somehow manages something like anatomical accuracy in his very stylised figures. it is the type of accuracy that omits everything except what's needed to put across the point; a sort of distillation.

the nicest thing, however, was the quiet glass box by larry bell which was a bit overwhelmed by its placement in the back room, opposite a flavin fluorescent tube wall-installation. this image does not do justice to the encounter in person.

Oct 5, 2013

one box down

nineteen to go.

Oct 3, 2013

the palace

of fruit, 76 rue montorgueil in paris. it may be true that chasselas is better as a table grape than a wine grape.

Sep 27, 2013


i call your attention, in this list of other punctuators now disused*, to le point d'acclamation: "bras levés, c'est le V de la victoire."

* from hervé bazin's plumons l'oiseau.

Sep 23, 2013

hail champagne

Hail, of course, is the great enemy of outdoor exposed neon tubing. Hailstorms often caused sign shops to break out champagne.
rudi stern, let there be neon

Sep 20, 2013

Sep 16, 2013


here is a quite nice paper cup by greg, at dwelltime. is art on paper cups in the zeitgeist? i stopped by the saatchi gallery last week and saw a clump of used coffee cups by paul westcombe covered in ink and colour drawings.

Aug 31, 2013

hyde park

understanding not control

I believe that the best pots are made by potters who have learned to understand rather than to control their materials and techniques.
jack doherty [and also here]
much like going nowhere and seeking no victory.

Aug 25, 2013

Aug 17, 2013

economy of means*

irwin 1 irwin 2 irwin 3

for this landmark irwin piece, an enormous room with an odd window at the whitney is installed only with a sheet of sheer fabric scrim, a black painted line, and a black-anodized aluminum bar. as you will not fail to notice, the room and its parts—walls, floor, scrim, bar—look different and unexpected with each new angle and change of light. the scrim, in particular, hovers between complete solidity and bare presence and snaps from one state to another with disarming ease. this is especially noticeable on a partly overcast day, with rapidly fluctuating light coming in the window. this is a worthy way to spend a new york afternoon. do not overlook the hockney video painting tucked in a dark corner two floors down, which takes the question "how can time figure into representative art?" and gives an answer that is unusual not only because it involves jugglers.

at the whitney, at least for the next few weeks.

* also relevant: olafur eliasson in the divine comedy.

Aug 12, 2013

don't panic

the balloon saloon

a moment, please

new york city in august is filled with the scent of trash and there are always too many people underfoot. finding quiet, though difficult, is not impossible.

the mean streets of manhattan

19th st and 1st ave

22nd st and 2nd ave

Aug 2, 2013

general magic

ed brought a little piece of technology history to coffee this morning. they had better logos back then.

Jul 6, 2013

the days are just packed*

ninth street espresso, hi-collar, fresco, japan premium beef, bohemian, the future perfect, mile end, matter, il laboratorio del gelato, the reed space, amor y amargo, umi no ie, and flatiron wines. it takes a great deal of effort to pack this much research on urbanism, design, and frozen confection innovation into just one day, but our commitment to scholarship is unwavering.


Jul 2, 2013

execution success

nice things.*

* ?: Le caroubier est un arbre dioïque de la famille des fabacées, originaire des régions méditerranéennes (îles Canaries, Afrique du Nord, Proche-Orient, Europe méridionale). [more]

Jun 21, 2013

the cow and the computer operator

It is important to use your hands, this is what distinguishes you from a cow or a computer operator.

Jun 20, 2013

rivers of the windfall light

cambridge, ma; june 2013

"famous among the barns"; july 2008

michael david; "july 2005."

Fern Hill

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden

Follow him out of grace.
Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

dylan thomas; 1945

Jun 18, 2013

tacit, inexplicable knowledge

There’s a lot of work being done today that doesn’t have any soul in it. The technique may be the utmost perfection, yet it is lifeless. It doesn’t have a soul. I hope my furniture has a soul to it. I do not feel that it is possible to make a working drawing with all the intricate and fine details that go into a chair or stool, particularly. Many times, I do not know how a certain area is to be done until I start working with a chisel, rasp or whatever tool is needed for that particular job.

Jun 16, 2013

Jun 5, 2013


sweetgrass, by lucien castaing-taylor and ilisa barbash, documents an instance of the long-standing practice of grazing private livestock on public land: the summer pasturing of several herds of sheep in the montana mountains. in 2003, we trailed a sheep band during our poorly planned foray into the bridger-teton wilderness in wyoming's wind river mountains; for ten days, we walked through montane forests filled with crushed saplings and grassy bowls stripped of grass and roiled into mud. public land grazing is perhaps ill-suited to the scale of industrial ranching.

but this is incidental in sweetgrass. for much of the film, the camera is the stable lens into a world of sheep, dogs, and people running, walking, eating, and being frustrated at each other; it achieves the appearance of the true ethnographic eye—invisible to the participants and capturing the range of their daily experience.

remarkable and worthwhile.

Jun 4, 2013

the german tradition

Volkmar Arnulf stresses that to him bespoke tailoring is about the customer’s need, not imposing a style on the customer ... As a tailor you are embedded in a certain history of tailoring but a first-class bespoke tailor should try to find out what serves the customer using all his knowledge and tools. "I always try to figure out, which line will make the customer look as good as he possibly can. Later, when striking the pattern, I apply various thought models to reach the right result ... How can a computer do that?"

May 30, 2013

May 28, 2013

the perks of ease and convenience

I traveled with West to New York. We stopped at a grocery store in which the cash registers were equipped with one of those devices that reads the price of an item automatically, a computerized checkout system. This one wasn't working well. West got down on his hands and knees and poked his head in under the cashier's counter to have a look at the thing. The clerk made her mouth an O. When West came out, dusting off his hands, he explained that he had helped design this particular model when he had worked at RCA. "It's a kludge," he said grinning. The clerk had some trouble figuring what the beer we bought ought to cost, and as we left, West said, out of her earshot, "Ummmmh, one of the problems with machines like that. You end up making people so dumb they can't figure out how many six-packs are in a case of beer."
(where are they now? a status update from december 2000.)

May 21, 2013

buff til shiny

this is wim delvoye at sperone westwater.

on the road again

new york, 2013; paris, 2009.

May 13, 2013

the right beer at the right time

When the cool of the pond makes you drop down on it
When the smell of the lawn makes you flop down on it
When the teenage car gets the cop down on it
That time is here for one more year
jonathan richman, that summer feeling*
(for illustration only; what we're actually Drinking now is la clarine on the fifth day.)

(and if you're watching jonathan richman anyway, you can't not see the one with the camel outfit.)