been thinking a lot about art at the macro. coca-cola uses advertising not to increase its market share, but to prevent its competitors from buying more ads (and therefore, exposure). i’ve felt the commercial interests that prop up the art & entertainment markets in the united states have been using this tactic for some time now. all the diverse casts or tales of overcoming obstacles have created no meaningful change: simply opening up the doors of competition in entertaining to a larger crowd.
all this does, in the end, is reinforce the established hierarchies. capitalism that lets in a few more women / BIPOC is still capitalism. while these stories deserve to be told, the larger business model of ‘let us publish your trauma that the economic system we support created’ is kind of sick. the omnipresence of celebrity, or its ugly cousin ‘influencer,’ is still working hard to keep any ideas of how people could exist within a culture that isn’t run as a business first out of the general public view.
in an era of media control, reality takes place in what is not broadcast.
that being said, i’m still glad the galleries are open again.
i don’t trust anyone talking about normalcy right now. for one, things were terrible before the pandemic & there should be no desire to return to it. for two, the same people generally think donald trump was an aberration of the system, not a result of it, so those opinions need to be sent to the back of the line.
since 2020 was so awful, nobody seems to remember how shit 2019, 2018, or any number of the years prior were absolute dogshit as well. the idea of sentimentalizing the united states is, at best, grotesque privilege; the idea that anything since 9/11 has been worth returning to is some combination of borderline insane & totally fucked.
A few months ago, I walked into the Los Feliz Post Office to mail an order out to the east coast. I wanted to send the envelope media mail, and in return, the teller asked what the contents of the package were.
“It’s a zine, a magazine,” I said. She looked up and replied, “I’m sorry, but you can’t send this media mail.”
Now, the publication I was sending has no actual classification. It’s an art project. It was intended to be the first of a series of periodicals, but is actually just as much a stand-alone work. Which is to say, it’s nothing really, definition-wise. However, I claimed it was a magazine based on both intention and the fact it has saddle-stitching (staples) as binding; not really a book, to my mind.
Yet the woman behind the counter knew nothing of this. She just had an envelope in her hand, and my definition of what was inside it. However, because that definition was magazine and not book—even though both would be equally applicable—the package didn’t qualify for media mail shipping.
Situations like this fuck me up. So much that it’s why I took this blog down—why it’s been down for some time, and why even posting this, I’m not sure of how long it will remain up. A blog is, after all, like my art project tucked in an envelope at the post office: not really defined accurately by any established precedent.1
Sure, this could be disregarded as the ultimate first world problem, but I see a deeper reflection of social fractures within interactions like this. The lack of consistent definition cost me $3.22 in shipping this one time, which was frustrating but understandable: books and magazines are historically different mediums and it’s logical the regulations for shipping them differ.
But now books and magazines are only different in physical application, and digital technology has produced any number of publishing methods that have begun to form a permanent presence in society while remaining relatively undefined in terms of practical utility. The world at large is still learning each day how to communicate with itself, and every new technological development has the ability to alter that process.2
Looking out at the general madness of, well, everything, it’s easy to see the consequences of inconsistency. The world people see online, or in any sort of media, aligns less and less with their immediate reality. Simultaneously, the traditional structures and functions of media have collapsed, allowing mechanisms of power to run rampant and relatively unchecked. In one hand, functional definitions are being rendered meaningless, and in the other, media-based public-interest programs are simply ceasing to function.
Basically, we’re all being told certain standards apply to maintaining the systems of the world, even though it’s quite well obvious they’re all subjective and bullshit.
I was 16 when I started my first blog—back in 1998 before there was really a word for blogging. Since then, internet self-publishing has undergone many changes, splits, and shifts. What’s interesting is these formats are initially defined by their limits: Instagram was photo-only, Twitter a character-limited text-based feed. Facebook’s Wall was just AOL IM’s Away Message, but each were these inceptions of the caption-as-digital-lifestyle movement.
All of these ideas provoke curiosity, especially as generational identity is formed by one social network or the next, or language barriers created by meme comprehension. And I’ve got projects in mind to work through those ideas. For this space, though, I’ve been trying to define a more considered approach: an attempt to create some purpose to this format, even if it’s as meaningless as the difference between a book and a magazine in an envelope to Rochester.
I recently finished Enrique Martínez Celaya’s The Blog: Bad Time For Poetry, and it was a refreshing dose of what seems like an almost lost foundation of the internet: the many individual websites that populated the space to begin with. I feel like, at this point, that’s about what I can offer online: a space free from the corporate and commercial interests that have come to plague the digital environment.
I suppose at this point, I’ve given up on trying to construct something of meaning, and instead creating simply out of a reaction to the chaos of reality, and hoping that in that construction among madness, someone out there finds a moment of clarity or sanity or just reprieve from it all. It feels like most of us in the world are destined for an era of meaningless words and wordless meanings. This is just where I’ll write about my experience with it all.