Studio Fridays: Ugly Imagists 

Boston is in a state of martial law. There’s a homicidal Chechen American teenager loose who is not afraid to die. The internet has also been seized. The habitual vanity of a constantly refreshing newsfeed has now been given a heavy plot. 

I guess I’m getting in on this. I can’t seem to stop caring about it. The world is constantly happening in real time and it’s tragic. 

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Here is a long read in the Washington Post called What are we losing in the Web’s images of suffering and schadenfreude?" by Philip Kennicott. It’s from December so it’s missing a few tragedies.  

He shares this thought at the end:

The Ugly Image today is inexhaustible, fleeting and transient. It would be reckless to make claims about where this is all going, foolish to suggest that beauty is dead, or ugliness triumphant. But something is happening, some kind of cleft in the moral life that is being widened, channeled out by torrents of small images that invite us to enjoy suffering or think ill of others. ”

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I’m not sure Kennicott’s proposal of the Ugly Image was drawn very cleanly- he makes a thin but entertaining comparision between 16th century flemish painter Quentin Metsys and peopleofwalmart.com

Pictures of the grotesque are something of a specialty of mine. They are different in effect from horrific images- and this is something separate from narrative altogether. It’s true though that the psychological effect of these pictorial tactics are currently flooded into our minds at a tremendous and novel rate.  I want to put some real thinking into this. Note to myself: put some real thinking into this. 

Ugly Imagists - a future essay I’m too agitated to write. Because who will hit the refresh button if I don’t? 

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Terror is just a click away, I can almost touch it. 

I am in a kind of shame cycle of feeling like I have a reasonable empathetic human interest in the psychological profile of an entire city, it’s individuals, this maniac, and the darker instinct that I just want to feed my news monkey.

Guess I thought it would be cute to have a news monkey and now look at what this thing is doing to me. 

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I have been reading Michael Lewis’ Boomerang - which follows the big swindle of banksters across a global landscape and considers national reactions by their distinct historic and cultural profiles. 

Given the elegant tools of high finance and the opportunity for greed, Lewis’s profiles how Irish behave differently than the Icelandic who behave differently than the Greek. No one is quite as vindictive or successful at bilking others as the Americans.

Teasing out this logic as the effacing journalist, Lewis does a thing that works well in story telling but is much harder to believe in life. He puts the national character to work inside the minds of individuals. 

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Here are some art thoughts about making pictures, maybe they are just life thoughts, yuck they feel syrupy, yuck I want them outside of me:

assemblage life two point oh sorry. Cubicalism. Things made from staring into the desktop, looking for a purpose  a feeling, soul. Tiny pieces of many things. I want half finished, unpolished, personalities smiling, painfully, through heavy applications of big dumb ideas. I am covering up pretty with full hearted slapdashery. I want to keep the transitions clunky. Ugly is better than slick. I want to paint like an oral browser history- a mania retold through spastic anecdotes of possible truthseeking, little flits that can’t remember what they were so excited about. Goopy Mane. sorry that I like you better than everything!!! right now there is an advertisement on my screen for ireland, it says, jump into Ireland and gives a website, ireland.com and that is half covered up by a picture of snipers looking badass and intimidating, fuck you bombkid, also there are so many reminders that facebook exists, PAUL KRUGMAN is pissed about some economists that didn’t use Excel right, Capital One bought a tiny little box next to my search bar so that in case I fuck up my click I might end up thinking about their bank for a minute, wow everything is a wreck- maybe I should restart, wow maybe I should let my eyes fall into the emptiness and wow maybe there is a good reason for the rigorous structure of language, but I keep finding my self circling the drain of my own  lousy metaphor maker… emergent thoughts bubbling up, decedent thoughts sucking down, WOW sometimes all i can think about is WOW. 

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what a mess I’ve made. wow