LeisureArts announces the launch of placekraft. In the restaurant business we would call this a "soft opening." In the tech world they call it the "beta" phase. The site is barely functional, but there are a few things to look over. This is really just a post to say keep an eye out for the official launch annoucement soon.

Pork Rally - Lake County Fair - We Want Wow Now

In August of 2005 LeisureArts undertook the following challenge at the Lake County Fair in Grayslake, IL:


WOW your friends, family and the fair’s judges. The National Pork Board is sponsoring a recipe rally,as they seek the most flavorful, fuss-free pork recipes in America. Combine fresh pork with up to five other ingredients for a convenient and memorable main dish that says WOW! The top three entries— picked for flavor, convenience and presentation—earn cash prizes for their creators: $400 total at each fair, plus commemorative gifts!

Entries will be judged at the fair based on 3 “WOW NOW” FACTORS: Flavor: 50% Convenience: 30% Presentation: 20%

Unfortunately, we did not win a prize (unless you count the pork apron we received for being among the first 20 entrants). We suspect our apple cider brined pork scored highly on flavor and presentation, but lacked in convenience as it was a bit labor intensive. It is strike number two against us – we also failed to ribbon in a Jell-O challenge at the 2002 Westmoreland Festival in Pleasant Unity, PA. We're still learning the county fair cook-off sensibility and plan to try again this year.

Jesuits - Leisure - Josef Pieper

Odd as it may seem (given that we are not Catholic), three Jesuit/Catholic philosophers are essential to the theoretical core for LeisureArts - Michel de Certeau, Ivan Illich, and Josef Pieper.

I mentioned Illich in a previous post, and de Certeau is fairly widely known, but Pieper is a bit more obscure. Josef Pieper wrote Leisure: The Basis of Culture (1948!). Two prominent items of interest for LeisureArts are:

1. Pieper's definition of leisure, which he distinguishes from idleness: "Idleness and lack of leisure belong with each other; leisure is opposed to both." He is careful to divorce leisure from an inherent relationship to the world of labor: "Leisure is not the cessation of work, but work of another kind, work restored to its human meaning, as celebration and ritual."

2. His critique of "intellectual labor," "intellectual worker," and the integration of education into the "total world of work." Pieper, in 1948 mind you, laments the collapse of education into training. He offers that the value of the liberal arts is that "...they do not need to be legitimated by a social function, by being work." He argues that the intellectual worker " a functionary in the total world of work...[and] nobody - whether he be 'intellectual' or 'hand' worker - nobody is granted a 'free zone' of intellectual activity, 'free' meaning not being subordinated to a duty to fulfill some function." This is essentially a broader argument against the proletarianization of culture, pointing to the trap of labor as a foundation for culture.

There is much more, of course, to be said about the book, but these threads should suffice to show their relevance to re-thinking art practice in terms of leisure rather than work.

Some suggested LeisureArts advertising slogans

LeisureArts: putting the talent in dilettante.

LeisureArts: putting the vice in achievement.

LeisureArts: making art effortless and effortless art.

LeisureArts: the art of relaxation.

LeisureArts: making art is easy, but relaxation is hard work.

LeisureArts: removing the work from network.

LeisureArts: we put the art in partnership.

LeisureArts: we put the "bro" in collaboration.

LeisureArts: we take the labor out of collaboration.

LeisureArts: work ethic is an oxymoron.

LeisureArts: winning isn't everything.

LeisureArts: removing the lack from slacking.


In 2005, LeisureArts had the distinct pleasure of speaking with artist/curator Erika Nelson, the founder of: The World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things Traveling Roadside Attraction and Museum. Her practice is marginal in the best sense, operating at the edge of a number of discourses. It has no "home" in the arts, nor is it merely an "attraction." The work embodies its vagabond status by literally wandering. Her relative anonymity among art world cognoscenti is instructive when one reads discussion of "relational" or other "alternative" practices. She points to the elitist/populist divide:

" seems as if the Art World gets uncomfortable with things that normal people will relate to, and normal people hesitate to call things they relate to "Art". .. We're all so afraid of being taken for a sucker that we've forgotten how to just enjoy, and not care that we're laughing."

Become a member of World's Largest Things and support truly alternative art practices.

Bracketology [Final Four]

[via AP]

As anyone who's ever participated in an [LeisureArts] pool at the office knows full well, there always are upsets at the [Art Collective Championship] tournament. Hey, that's why they call it "March Madness."

Still, it's been quite awhile since there were this many stunning results and so few favorites headed to the Final Four. The biggest surprise of all is [MTAA] that never had even won a single game in the event until this year. "We don't mind being the Cinderella," [MTAA] guard [T.Whid] said after his 11th-seeded team knocked off No. 1 seed [Temporary Services] in overtime Sunday at the Regional final.

Apparently, there was more than one pair of glass slippers lying around. This is the first time since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985 that none of the four teams seeded No. 1 reached the Final Four. The main culprit is [MTAA], but joining it next weekend will be two other [collectives] seeking a first national title, [Oda Projesi] and [Instant Coffee]. The fourth semifinalist is [16 Beaver], which has dominated [collectives] but had fallen on harder times of late.

Tournament info updated here and here.

Gregory Bateson - Ecology of Ideas - Anthony Wilden

[WARNING: Long post ahead]

I want to take up another arc of thought instigated by Julian Bleecker (again) at techkwondo. In a recent post, there is an attempt to find ways "to describe the circulation of culture" beyond top-down and bottom-up modalities. He arrives at the idea of clusters of circulation and hints in the post's title at the ecosystemic roots of this metaphor. I think developing an ecological model for cultural production/circulation is a useful endeavor.

Four texts instrumental in developing such an "ecology of ideas" should be:

Steps to an Ecology of Mind - Gregory Bateson

System and Structure: Essays in Communication and Exchange - Anthony Wilden

A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History - Manuel De Landa.

Postmodern Ecology: Communication, Evolution, and Play - Daniel R. White

Bateson's book adapts ecological principles (recursive feedback, information patterns, network and individual flexibility/organization, etc.) to the discussion of anthropology, psychology (with particular emphasis on an ecosystemic model of the mind), and epistemology. His discussion regarding the replication of ideas is nice because it doesn't have the deterministic trappings of Richard Dawkins' work. A sample:

"It is commonly the more generalized and abstract ideas that survive repeated use. The more generalized ideas thus tend to become premises upon which other ideas shall become hard programmed…The same process determines that these hard programmed ideas become nuclear or nodal within constellations of other ideas, because the survival of these ideas depends on how they fit with the hard programmed ideas. It follows that any change in the hard programmed ideas may involve change of the whole related constellation."

Anthony Wilden (in what I previously mentioned as a shockingly unknown work) maps a number of domains utilizing a synthesis of communications/information and ecological theories. Of particular use in thinking through the circulation of culture, is the explication of the inter-relations of logical types and orders of complexity in feedback loops. Utilizing Wilden, we can start to trace the ways that hierarchies constrain, rather than determine how individual cultural agents operate, AND how those individual operations act to re-organize hierarchies. A sample:

"Any highly abstract and deeply programmed process is necessarily of a higher logical type than less abstract and more manifest processes…the epistemology of a culture or the ideology of a class are necessarily of a higher logical type than their manifestation in any particular 'individual' of that culture or class…"

Manuel De Landa offers a number of useful tools for conceptualizing cultural development:

autocatalytic loops[via Maturana and Varela]

double articulation [via Deleuze and Guattari]

The relationship of meshworks [bottom up] and hierarchies [top down] is especially germane to Bleecker. De Landa offers a reading of social formations as consisting of various degrees of "meshworks of hierarchies" and "hierarchies of meshworks."

In explaining the linguistic work of William Labov he offers this as a glimpse of enriching cluster or network models of cultural circulation:

"Given a network of a certain density, the higher the local prestige of an individual, or the larger the number of his or her contacts, the more likely it is that a variant originated by that individual will become collective and eventually become part of the accumulated heritage." [sounds an awful like the way blogging works no?]

Finally, we have Daniel White's brilliant synthesis of Wilden and Bateson's work with literary theory, continental philosophy, and structural anthropology. Explicating the non-deterministic ecology of ideas I mentioned above, White says:

"Thus DNA may not be said to 'cause' an organism to form in the sense that it initiates a linear sequence. Instead we should say that DNA is in a form of communication with its environment, that the genetic code only contains the possibilities of what can happen if certain conditions are met."

Related posts here and here.

So-called artists, you got served!

I guess I really need to re-think this whole LeisureArts thing:

TheirSpace - Danah Boyd - Concept Trucking

In TheirSpace and Power2.0, Abstract Dynamics provides an interesting counterpoint to Boyd's essay Friendster lost steam. Is MySpace just a fad? (which I linked to in a previous post). Both of their posts are really just sketches of a possible rejoinder more than full scale critiques, but useful nonetheless given the EXTREMELY uncritical acceptance of her work. She is engaged in important and thoughtful research, but we would be served better if the legions of bloggers citing her essays engaged in some form of criticality rather than ceding to her default authority in the matter. Thank you, Abstract Dynamics.

Theory Object - Inscription - Cultural Production

From TechKwonDo (Julian Bleecker):

"When you're creating a semantic object — say, a thesis, or a bit of software, or an aircraft wing — the process of going from vague idea to demostrable, exhibited, named thing has a significance that is more important than what we oftentimes misconstrue as the "final version." The process and practice of moving from idea to final version is all too often a process of making the richest part of creativity illegible."

This is a discussion of "theory objects" which has obvious implications for developing new models for cultural production. My initial understanding of the term is that rather than call this web node a "blog," it might better be conceptualized as a theory object. To quote Bleecker (whose blog linked above, is a must-read), who credits Tara McPherson with coining the term:

"...the activity of accumulating all of this must be thought of as a kind of introductory chapter for the thesis project and that the slow articulation of this ephemera into form (construction) is a way of asking and framing the important questions that undergird the project, and the construction.
[emphasis mine]"

So this site functions as a theory object that embodies the various threads of research and cultural activity that constitute LeisureArts. It is an enactment and a trace, an attempt at making practice transparent. More to come later regarding this as I have to do more research, but it seems like an incredibly useful meme...

Love [Part Three]

Love [Part Two]

When you love someone, tell them.
Love is...wanting to be near you all the time.
I'm only happy when we're together, or when I'm with you.
I guess you know I love you.
I love you more than Fridays.
Love isn't love unless it's shared.
I love you, and it's all your fault.
Our love is growing all the time.
Our love is something special.
I need loving.
Happiness is being with the one you love.
I love you a whole bunch.
I wuv you.
As long as we will be.
Me and you, you and me, that's the way it'll always be.
Cross my heart I love you.
I love you this much.
Falling in love is wonderful.
You're always on my mind, you're always in my heart.
Every second of every minute of every hour...I love you.
Loving you happens to be what I do best.
Even when the whole world is fast alseep, I think of you in my dreams.
Sometimes I hate you, but always I love you.

Love [Part One]

Concept Trucking - Pedophilia - MySpace

More context for Concept Trucking via The Onion:

Pedophile Less Interested The More He Views 13-Year-Old's MySpace Profile

And on a serious note, this from the ever thoughtful/on point Danah Boyd:
Friendster lost steam. Is MySpace just a fad?

Academic Practices - Art/Theory - Research

A very important essay discussing practice-based PhDs in the U.K. In the discussion Fiona Candlin fleshes out the complex relationship between academic legitimacy and artistic practice:

"The separations between theory and practice, artwork and academia have served to build and maintain specific competencies and authorities; supporting particular groups of people and their interests to the detriment of others. The practice-based PhDs, however minimally, have had an effect on these constructions of academic space, opening it up to a different constituency, to different forms of knowledge and of practice."

LeisureArts is eager to see these new "forms of knowledge and of practice" make their way to the academy here in the United States.

One relatively obscure, but hopeful example in the U.S. is at the University of Texas - Dallas. They offer a PhD in Humanities that offers a "creative dissertation" option.

Convivial Practice - Everyday - Luce Giard

Two important books for sketching out a notion of what convivial practice might entail:

The Practice of Everyday Life Volume 2: Living & Cooking - Michel de Certeau, Luce Giard, and Pierre Mayol

Culinary Artistry - Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page

The latter book is one of the most thoughtful discussions of cooking to be found in a non-academic press publication. It begins with a discussion of whether cooking is a trade, a craft, or an art. The book uses a rather dated idea of what "art" is, but it is still useful. Culinary Artistry treats cooking as an artistic practice - from providing palettes of flavors, theories of menu construction, flavor composition, and the process of composing a dish. There are times that more rigor and a more sophisticated understanding of what contemporary art practices actually are would be nice, but given its popular press ambitions, this is not really its responsibility.

The Practice of Everyday Life Volume 2 proves a nice theoretical companion to Dornenburg and Page's book. Its second half, "Doing-Cooking" investigates a variety of culinary practices. The book is a "practical" extension of de Certeau's Practice of Everyday Life Vol 1. in which he offers ways to think about ordinary and everyday practices as moments of creative resistance and engagement. Cooking, in the second volume, serves as an example of the "...creative cunning in the undefined whirlwind of everyday practices..." What I am calling convivial practice is really just a broadened application of Giard's "doing-cooking." It is the terrain that LeisureArts seeks to operate within. We cook because it is a practice that is intricately social, mundane, and a field of pleasures. To quote Giard:

"...[re:cooking] manipulating ordinary things make one use intelligence, a subtle intelligence full of nuances and strokes of genius, a light and lively intelligence that can be perceived without exhibiting itself, in short, a very ordinary intelligence."

I forgot to thank Oliver Luker for providing the impetus for me to consider this again.

And I should also direct people to Gastronomica as an exemplary synthesis of academic/popular writing with regard to the culinary arts.

For the socio-political dimension of conviviality please see Ivan Illich's Tools for Conviviality:

"I choose the term 'conviviality' to designate the opposite of industrial productivity. I intend it to mean autonomous and creative intercourse among persons with their environment...I consider conviviality to be individual freedom realized in personal interdependence and, as such, an intrinsic ethical value."

Lindsay Lohan - Rent-A-Limo - Louis Vuitton

Lindsay Lohan will become the new face of Louis Vuitton. Now, spotting a Vuitton handbag will be like seeing someone standing up through the sunroof of a rented limo.

32 Accepted Spellings of Donna Summer's Name [For Muammar Gadafi]

Donna Summer Dona Sumer Dahnna Sumir
Dohna Sumer Dahna el-Summer Dohna Summir
Dohnuh Suhmor Dohnnuh Summor Dahnnoh Sumor
Donnah Summer Donnoh el-Sumyr Dawna Sommer
Dawnna Sommor Dawnah Summir Donna Suhmor
Dohnna el-Summerr Doneh Sumohr Dahnnah el-Someor
Dahna Summyr Dawnnah Sumer Donah Sumohr
Danneh Sumir Donoh Sumer Dona Summur
Dawnna Summir Donna Suhmor Donah Sumurr
Dahnna Sumur Dawnah Summor Donnoh Summerr
Donnah Sumyr Dahnoh Suhmor


It's March Madness, time to fill out those brackets! Download this printer friendly bracket and make your choices for the LeisureArts 2006 Art Collective Championship. We've seeded the top 64 Art Collectives for a championship battle. Will Red76 defend their #1 seed? Or will a mid-major like the Atlas Group pull off an upset?




Armory - Ohio State Fair - SCOPE

From AnonymousFemaleArtist:

"OK, for example: $50 to get into the -scope opening last night? Ridiculous. I wish I'd gone to Ridykeulous instead. What was I thinking? For starters, -scope looks like the Ohio State Fair."

Is this suppsoed to be an insult? The art world should aspire to produce anything half as interesting as the Ohio State Fair or any other state fair for that matter. And of course this comes after she says:

"[Charlie, from artnet] Finch's suggestion that "it's time to revolt against the elites of all stripes, especially in the world of art" is a valid call to arms."

If only she could see the irony.

Love - It Multiplies [P-R-O]

ARTFORUM - New Art Practices - Cross Pollination

Claire Bishop - Aesthetic/Ethical - Critical Modalities
Maria Lind - Tactical/Agnostic - Ted Purves
Grant Kester - Artforum - Claire Bishop [The Continuing Saga]

This quote from IC-98 is an incredibly important document in the discussion of new "art" practices:

"IC-98 (”Iconoclast 1998”) was founded in 1998 as a reaction to the
restrictions of academic writing. From the beginning, the group has tried to act as freely as possible, always putting the context and the idea before the medium, and the group-subject before the individual, never minding the barriers between different disciplines (academic, artistic or activist). In practice, the world of contemporary art has proved to be the most flexible environment for diverse projects, being a free zone of experimentation within the society at large. Though the label ART has an enormous power to neutralize any message, and regardless of the fact that art world increasingly resembles the high fashion industry, it nonetheless offers possibilities to put forward ideas without the preconditions of academic work (rules, objectivity), the market (surplus value, capitalist modes of distribution), or activism (the threat of dogmatism). In fact, in IC-98’s idealist-pragmatic programme the projects are labeled art only for strategic reasons – the strategy works as long as the concepts of art do not come to dominate the discourse. The same applies to the individuals working in the group: you call yourself artist, just because it is institutionally convenient, [emphasis mine] because the very concept of ARTIST is obscure."

I think it is something that frames an interesting challenge to conventional attempts at finding critical positions relevant to so-called new art practices. Claire Bishop has written extensively about "relational" practices and most recently in the 2/06 ARTFORUM. In The Social Turn: Collaboration and its Discontents she rightly argues that we need more critical models for understanding this work than the mostly "ethical" perspectives in circulation. I think she misses something very important however, namely, that many of these practices might be better served by not considering them via art critical methodologies at all. There are a number of forms of cultural production that might call for new theoretical tools to interpret properly. Like IC-98, I suspect there are many people operating in the domain of art discourse because they have nowhere else to go, even though their interest in connections to an art historical lineage is ancillary at best. In Depth Perception in the 3/06 ARTFORUM, Matthew Stadler provides a glimpse of what may be ahead in his discussion of Red76. Ultimately he touches on the "indifference" I am describing and lays out a vision for "the new territory we are faced with." I am hopeful that we are moving in that direction.

This notion is being fleshed out here as well.

Mathematics - Practice - Abstract Systems

I've been reading Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value by David Graeber as part of a project by Sal Randolph. I also recently read David Foster Wallace's Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity. Both books discuss the development of mathematics moving from the practice of counting to the "idea of number." Graeber explains that Jean Piaget "...insists that the basis of any system of knowledge is always a set of practices." This line of thinking seems to dovetail nicely with the trajectory of art history. The idea of art, and ultimately, the arc of conceptualism, would be born of material practices. What keeps this interesting is that Graeber notes the recursive nature of knowledge systems - "...[development is not] simply a matter of achieving a certain level and then stopping; there are always new and more complex levels one could generate." Art then, to extend this a bit, can be seen as a set of material practices that provide a launching point for abstract conceptual models which then act recursively to frame future material practices and on and on...

For an expanded discussion, see Anthony Wilden's Ecosystem and Metasystem which is Chapter 12 of his book System and Structure: Essays in Communication and Exchange [a staggering book which has not been nearly as influential as it merits - it is out of print and I can't even find a decent link for a discussion of Wilden himself although this book is a nice application of many of his ideas]. In the chapter he maps out a number of features and types of recursive systems using a communication theory framework. In this chapter alone he touches on evolutionary theory, linguistics, economics, etc. Extrapolating his analysis to art practices allows for some interesting ways to reconfigure art historical narratives.

Some context for Concept Trucking

Concept Trucking is envisioned as a venue for continued research around the thematics highlighted by the following links. It also provides a platform for constructing new modes of creative and intellectual engagement with MySpace or other social networking sytems.

Identity Production in a Networked Culture: Why Youth Heart MySpace by Danah Boyd

vizster by Jeffry Heer and Danah Boyd

BBC News Magazine Article

UNC Chapel Hill Virtual Communities Course Study

NY Times Article

Analysis by Adrian Chan

Panel Synopsis by

For Doug Hall

For Charles Gute [via Betye Saar]

Whitney Biennial

Maybe the merger with UPN will make it interesting next time.

Speaking of...

The LeisureArts Sesquicentennial is currently seeking its Stage 1 curatorial team for its 2156 exhibition. The curatorial process is broken into three 50 year stages. The exhibition will feature the best contemporary art of the next 150 years. More details to follow.

SZO/SZP - Poland

Poland purchased for the Szpilman Award.

A deal gone bad

I bought a MySpace account that had 4000+ friends on ebay for $20.50. Something gave me the impression it was stolen.