rinue: (plunge)
It occurred to me yesterday that possibly the worst thing Ciro has ever done to the world is teach me the word détournement. I now claim that all kinds of things that are obviously not détournement are détournement, which since they are not détournement is me détourning them (needless to say in a way that would not necessarily be recognized by other practitioners of détournement). Essentially, I do a lot of found art projects wherein I claim somebody else's behavior was artistic that wasn't, and give it a meaning that is almost entirely unrelated to its actual meaning - I don't mean reversing and satirizing it, I mean not related, I mean entirely transformed in a way that doesn't even slightly comment on the person whose actions I've appropriated. I can't exactly work out how it's unethical but it's clearly enough a transgression that it makes me uncomfortable, which is frankly a large part of how I can tell I'm doing it as art and not humor.

I will write a real entry someday soon I really will.

Spiders

Aug. 9th, 2014 10:59 pm
rinue: (Default)
For some reason, I just got a Google alert about something I did at the Dallas Museum of Art in 2010, and on the page is an artist's statement I'd totally forgotten which is still probably the most accurate summary of what I do as a filmmaker:

"Romie Faienza is a director, producer, photographer, and screenwriter who combines traditional and experimental film techniques to tell semi-fictional and semi-autobiographical stories of love and technology. Her work employs humor, narrative, and bold visuals to explore contemporary existential debates."

Not that I've had a chance to do much filmmaking lately, but there it is.
rinue: (inception train)
I'm a showman of the old school, by which I mean my goal is to strike a balance between meeting audience expectations (give the people what they want so they'll keep coming back) and defying them (because if I'm only showing you what you already know you like, what do you need me for?) It's the reason I am, at bottom, a filmmaker, even though I am prolific at other forms of expression; film, particularly as constructed in the US, sits halfway between commercial art and fine art. But this approach holds true pretty much regardless of the medium. Depending on your affinity for this philosophy, you could call it a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, bait and switch, boundary pushing, setup and punchline, subversive manipulation, or an editorial eye.

(Key problem: I am horrible at guessing what other people expect. I don't think it's exaggerating to say it is the pinacle of my incompetences. However, I am good at being pleasant, which often suffices. In any case, this proclivity of mine is probably more apparent in the things I like than the things I make.)

It is not something I do by instinct, although instincts are involved. It is something I do deliberately.

I don't think it's particularly in step with this cultural moment, which seems to be about purity. But! I think purity is kind of horrible, more shortcut than ethic. I do not particularly want single-sourced cocoa beans; I want a nice rounded blend, with an amount of cocoa butter that gives a good mouth feel even though it means a lower percentage of cocoa solids.

A couple of weeks ago, Strange Horizons published an article partly by me called "Defining Speculative Poetry: A Conversation and Three Manifestos." If you've read it, you know it's a stretch to call what I wrote a manifesto. It provides something of a manifest; you get a not innacurate sense of my personality and can guess at least a little how this influences my editorial choices. However, it fairly obviously takes an external point of view to define a genre (this is how people seem to apply this title; these are characteristics of some of the markets; here I'll describe back to you what you're saying to me). Which is a fairly tricksy vantage point to claim when I am an insider with direct influence on the future of speculative poetry.

But there's that key giveaway line, buried way down there: "I look to speculative poetry to push the mainstream forward."

Which, given my actual rather than assumed vantage point means: I am actively publishing liminal work which I hope will redefine both this subgenre and poetry at large, but am trying to do it in a friendly enough way you'll keep reading, because I can't manipulate an audience that I've driven away. And I understand you, I think, because look there I just described what it seems to me you like, in the most flattering possible terms.

I do this not just for me, but for you, because it's what I want you do to for me in return. I would prefer your mix tape throw in some bizarro obscure spoken-word piece at track four. One you think I'd enjoy the fifth time through, if maybe not the second time.

However (so many howevers): This puts me in a sometimes difficult position as regards outsider art. Because: I can only publish so many poems. Sometimes: I think it is a good thing to publish something there is no way you'd see if I didn't publish it. On the other hand: I know the poet is not skilled enough for me to want to read more than one thing by them in a lifetime; what attracts me is the serendipity.

And there are other poets who I do want to see more work from who I would be passing on because I know I will see more work from them. And it's awfully unpleasant to see something published in a magazine that's rejected you and think "I am so much better than that." It makes me stop reading the magazine a lot of the time, because here I felt welcomed and like we were on the same page, and clearly we're not.

On the other other hand: I am absolutely terrible at predicting how other people interpret my artwork.

On the other other other hand: Although I talk about curating as the artform of the 21st century and mean it, found art is inherently hostile. Friendly hostile. But hostile. Both to the people viewing it and to the people/context appropriated from.

And yet: Lines of power are what they are and if they can't be permeated, that's its own unfairness. And yes, it's awful to be the first woman to attend the Citadel and it's awful to be the first family to integrate a neighborhood, and maybe you're subjected to a lot of violence. A lot of violence. An outsize amount of violence, some of which is visible and some of which is invisible. But does that mean the person who let you in hurt you? (I think yes? And yet they would also have hurt you by not letting you in?)

I am maybe more aware of the ethical conundrums of being a gatekeeper than is practical when the name I'm playing with is not my own. I'm not the founder of Strange Horizons. I'm not the sole or even senior editor. And yet I was hired for being myself, which I have been the whole time.

Anyway, I'm not agonizing over this. It's just that when I'm going through submissions, and I run across something I like, a certain amount of the time, the thought follows: the other editors would not choose this one. And I'm never quite sure whether that means I should give it less attention or give it more attention. Particularly since I always like more poems than I have room to publish. I wish I could show you some of the stuff I reject. I really love it.

Meanwhile, I still have a cold. Multiple colds on top of each other. Drinking a lot of water. Drinking a portion of limoncello. King David and the Spiders From Mars is out. I have a story in it which among other things tells you the process that happens to you biologically if you're burned alive.

And I almost never talk about things that haven't happened yet, less out of superstition than because I don't like getting advice from people (unless I specifically ask, in which case you know because I've asked) and because I find it excruciating if I don't do something I've told people I'll do. That's not leverage I like to hang over myself if I can avoid it. But even if this doesn't go anywhere, it's nice: I've agreed to give a British director named Paul Gay (who directed the first couple episodes of Skins) a short-term free option on "A Robot Walks Into a Bar and Says. . ." to shop around and see whether he can get a feature greenlit.

No idea how likely that is, and no idea whether the critical success of Her is an advantage or disadvantage, but it's nice to be asked. Nice because it's fun to imagine, and nice because Jonathan Lethem was nice when I wanted to adapt one of his short stories, and that generosity meant something to me.
rinue: (Default)
A full house for the holidays; Uncle Rex and sister REL both currently in residence and friends Ed and Ashley coming up the day after Christmas. There are enough beds for everyone, but Rex is sleeping on the sofa anyway, which is not a bad choice because it is a comfortable sofa.

Ciro and I were not able to buy anyone Christmas presents this year, even cheap ones. (We were not for instance able to send Christmas cards, which cost just a card and stamp.) Our savings were totally wiped out by funeral costs. Almost exactly; we didn't go into debt either. I could theoretically put presents on a credit card since by the time it became due, three more paychecks would have come in, but I'm expecting some medical bills and don't know how much they'll be, so I'm erring on the side of caution.

(Oh the joys of the American health insurance system, where you have no idea what a procedure cost you until months after it happened, and even then have to figure out what in hell the various codes mean that made the same visit cost vastly different amounts in two different months. With no help from billing, since they're not the coders. You can't contact the coders. Massachusetts recently passed a bill that insurers/hospitals/doctors have to tell you up front how much you'll pay out of pocket and then honor that, and even have to tell you the nearest alternatives and their prices, but it hasn't fully gone into effect yet. Which will get health care back to something like a marketplace, which it right now certainly isn't.)

Fortunately my family are not big presenters to begin with. Mom and Dad do sometimes get splurgey sorts of things that are group-ish presents, like kitchen equipment or game systems. Last year, Ciro and I slightly parodied this with the gift of the Gabrielle Stott Memorial Nut Grinder (so that we can remember Mom while grinding nuts, even if she isn't standing right there which she usually is), but it wasn't really a parody because we use that nut grinder all the time. If you wonder whether a nut grinder is worth $10, I tell you now that yes, yes it is.

In any case, I have been getting people conceptual presents - pieces of paper that say what I would have gotten them if I could get them something. The beauty part of this is that since I can't get the things anyway, I can get things that I really couldn't get - things from the future, animals that don't exist, awards from bodies which do not give out awards, etc.

If you are yourself in a bind Re: presents, I offer this as a solution you too can use. So far, although I don't have time to make anything really pretty, I have at least used nice stationery and nice inks, but really you could write something on the back of a receipt in a pinch. Run into somebody you want to give a gift to when you're out and about? Just duck into the restroom and scribble something witty that shows how well you know them.

I do suggest clearly labeling it as a concept present, though. Because conceptual art reminds people of Yoko, and who better to think of, really.
rinue: (Default)
It is fashion week in New York, which means I occasionally get to see pictures of pretty clothes, but am also subjected to hagiographic television specials in which badly-dressed male talking head after badly-dressed male talking head tells me how fashion is the center of the universe and more exciting than anything else that has ever existed. They demonstrate this by making unfortunate comments about how New York is being swarmed by flocks of exotic and mysterious creatures and bright flashes of color (because women can be any number of things, but none of those things are people).

This is an example of the problems that occur when you declare everything "art." If fashion is art rather than design, then women's bodies are canvases. Like canvases, they are inert; they are vessels upon which the artist inscribes his genius. As when chosing a canvas, the artist may pick the size and color of woman that best suits his vision, and ignore the rest. The artist does not serve the canvas; the canvas serves the artist. The artist need not retain a canvas once she is no longer "fresh," nor need the artist worry about preservation once the work is done, the strain that might be placed upon a body by a poorly-structured frame. That kind of worry is for conservators.

This is why well-paid male fashion "artists" can sit around talking about how tremendously important fashion is while themselves dressing like shlubs. Fashion in their view is not clothing. It is art that is done to women.

Thankfully, there was a segment with Diane von Furstenberg, who said the following: My job as a designer is to be a friend to the woman. I want her to know when she wakes up that she can go to her closet and there will be something comfortable and easy that will make her feel confident throughout whatever day is ahead of her.

Thank you, Diane von Furstenberg. Thank you for your design.

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