Ai Weiwei Is a Bad, Bad Man

If anyone from the Chinese censorship office is reading this: 草泥马.  The title of this post is meant ironically, and there’s a special place reserved for the likes of you.  Forgive the unprofessional language, but you can go straight to Hell.  What you do is evil, and the civilized peoples of the world, including most of your fellow citizens, will never forgive you for it.  I know one Anglophone philosopher on the Internet means nothing to you, seeing as you have no scruples about silencing thousands of other voices, but there you have it: the truth, and nothing but.

For the rest of you, whom I have no doubt I like much more,* it’s time for radical philosophy, art, and odd curatorial decisions.** Continue reading

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Yves Klein and Interpretation III: Much Ado About Nothings

I know I’ve talked about Klein’s Zones of Immaterial Pictorial Sensibility before, but, wouldn’t you know it, it’s hard to leave a good nothing alone.  As I’ve hinted once or twice before (what blog title?) I’m a fan of Eco’s rather Augustinian school of interpretation that allows for multiple overlapping interpretations of a single work—so let’s have another go at interpreting the Zones, shall we? Continue reading

Why the Intern Liked Your Book

Okay, enough with the snark, it’s been done already.  I’m pretty sure a goodly number of the people who read this and aren’t looking for insightful commentary on Yves Klein’s monochromes (which accounts for a shocking amount of the traffic ’round these here parts) will have to publish academic books at some part of their tenured lives.  What follows is a short list of things, from my standpoint as The First Person Who Reads Your Proposal, that you might want to know. Continue reading

Academic Ebook Conversion Sucks

No, really.  It does.  Ain’t no other way to say it.

Part of this, as seen in this lovely little Gruniad article, is because ebooks are essentially different editions of the same book.  Just as paperback books don’t follow hardback pagination, ebooks, being their own strange format, won’t follow any print pagination. Continue reading

Copyright Fun: Supreme Court Edition!

So now that we’ve had our PIPA/SOPA backlash, it’s time for the issue that’s gotten a lot less attention: what The Supremes were doing while Wikipedia & Co. were rioting.

Now, I’m as much a fan of copyright law (and following it!) as the next guy, but this is ridiculous.  In a 6-2 decision yesterday, the court ruled that a number of foreign works that had been part of the public domain are now under copyright (again).  While it may seem sensible that, if the treaty you sign says you have to treat foreign copyrights like American ones, you treat foreign copyrights like American ones, this misses the point that American copyright law is fundamentally unfair and imbalanced, extending protections to an extent unknown elsewhere in the world.

Continue reading

Yves Klein and Interpretation, Part 2: The Strange Hell of Beauty

I left off last time with the idea that Klein’s works seek to create a void, to instantiate a nothingness.  Why, exactly, is this such a horrifying idea?

Short answer: anyone can play God; Klein’s trying to become Anti-God.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.  And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.

Creating the Immaterial Zone—annihilating gold in the Seine

Now, the idea of creation ex nihilo is something that drives philosophers batty; to make a very long story short, it’s something only God can get away with.  Of course, creation has a flip side in annihilation; anything that now is, can just as easily not be.

This is the key message of Yves Klein.  To return to the original primal void requires more than simple destruction, but rather an act of God, a true annihilation of being.  Klein, time and again, attempts to create this utter nothing, to sell “zones of immaterial pictorial sensibility” to those willing to embrace annihilation and negation: Continue reading

Yves Klein and Interpretation Pt 1: Why Art Museums Need Philosophers

Blue Monochrome (IKB 45)

Last year, the Hirshhorn put on about the best exhibition I’ve ever seen at any museum—which as a chronic museum rat, is saying a lot.  Their Yves Klein retrospective, “With the Void, Full Powers,” was nothing if not spectacular, thought-provoking, and, for reasons I’ll get into later, terrifying.  It was about as close to a perfectly curated exhibit as you could ask, with the exception of one thing.

The title was completely wrong. Continue reading