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Art Dirt Redux -- 3 Months Out


Art Dirt Redux – 3 Months Out
by GH Hovagimyan

I had been toying with the idea of a podcast when Robbin Murphy came back into New York to start upgrading The Thing’s web portal Rob & I and Adrianne Wortzel were doing Art Dirt in the 90’s out of Pseudo as a webcast. Rob & I thought it would be interesting to do an “on location” Art Dirt podcast. Thus the name Art Dirt Redux. The original Art Dirt was a round table talk show that began as one of the first audio webcasts and later was upgraded to streaming video. Pseudo’s head Josh Harris was a visionary and had the idea of setting up a media outlet using the internet that would compete with broadcast and cable TV. The programs on pseudo were structured like mass media programs with commercial breaks.

For Art Dirt Redux there are no such restrictions. What is beginning to emerge is an interesting sequence for a media communication model. We start by finding an event that engages our interest as artists. This might be a walk around to galleries or an artist’s performance or a presentation. The first sequence starts from email communication and proceeds to a real life event.

After the first sound sampling I began to get my footing and sense the direction of the actual finished podcast. What occurred to me while editing the sound recordings was that one’s memory of any sequence of events in time is not linear but rather presents itself in the mind’s eye as a chunk that has notable events in sharp focus as remembered highlights or incidental occurrences of meaning. The method of linear narrative favored by mass media is not actually true to reality. Indeed the necessity to communicate a message may dictate a linear recounting within time based media but I feel it’s only part of the picture. What seems to me to be more in keeping with both reality and our remembrance is an immersive situation, which has as much non-differentiated sensation and information as it does clear narrative. As I began to edit the sound samples I began to shift around the sounds and the narrative oftentimes layering them and reordering the sequences in time so that both a diachronous and a synchronous time was established for the unfolding of the memory. What occurs for the listener is a sequence whose meaning shifts from narration to immersion and back. This creates a sense where the listener can choose to listen intently to glean meaning or de-focus their attention to feel the totality of the sound.

Much of what I’m doing in post-production can be considered sound editing no-no’s. I sometimes remove all the pauses that occur naturally when a person speaks so that the speakers voice, usually Rob or myself, have a speeded up disjunctive quality. The words are understandable but not presented naturally. Other times I’ll layer several clips that are mixed down to a single clip. The overlapping waveforms create a muddy sound that is partially obscured. One has to listen to the background voices to gain meaning. At other points I’ll use a speaker’s voice to convey an emotion such as when Rob speaks in a soothing and knowledgeable way about an artist’s work. This conveys his personality without the narrative meaning. It would be similar in sensation to listening to a group of people conversing in another room through a wall. You can tell the emotion of the conversation without knowing the specific content.

I had remarked to Rob that our position vis-à-vis each other in the podcasts convey the feeling of me as a bit naïve asking dumb questions while Rob answers these in a simple knowing tone. This places me as a surrogate for the listener who is a curious interrogator. The listener’s mind is asking, what is this? What’s going on? What am I listening to?

The podcast is in itself an odd exercise. My intention is to place myself in a situation and view it in an objective manner via a recording device. In post production the assembling of the information is subjective in nature. What occurs between Rob and I in the course of our meanderings is closer to a philosophical or aesthetic discourse based upon what we are looking at and our points of view. This points out the Heisenbergian principal of indeterminacy in that an event can only be observed as a trajectory or a specific occurrence that can be located without knowing what came before or what will come after. The observer changes the event. What occurs in the actual event when Rob and I or myself alone engage in a sequence is quite similar to early conceptual art works such as Robert Smithson’s site-non-site work or any of a number of conceptual artist’s who placed themselves in situations and deemed the act in and of itself as an artwork.

In 1974 I began a series of “writing drawings” that were in a bound ledger. I wrote in mirror writing. This was simple for me because I was left-handed. I could draw the pen across the paper as most right-handed people do. It may be noted that Da Vinci who also used mirror writing was left-handed. In any case, on some of the pages I would write a daily musing over the writing of the day before in a different color ink. As the week progressed the meaning would become more obscure. Two things occurred to me as I made these drawings; one that memory and thought were cumulative and layered and the other that the memory of writing, the physical act was in the hand. The bound journal was lost in one of my moves from one studio to another. Perhaps a metaphor for the whole process.

I point this out to suggest that our world of memory and perception, the world we construct every day, the subjective reality is rather arbitrary. It’s one of many possibilities.

Since Art Dirt Redux is a “” project it operates within the parameters of the global information matrix. Part of that matrix allows for the transparency of visitors to ones site. Since it’s launch in April Art Dirt Redux has gained over 300 subscribers to it’s podcast. The majority of subscribers are in the U.S. but there are a surprising number of return visitors from overseas; among the countries, China, United Arab Emirates, Argentina, France, Sweden, Spain. Portugal, Italy and the UK.

What are these far flung subscribers listening to in a language not their own? It is not for a mass media art report because the podcast is not that. Perhaps they listen for the soundscape.

Art Dirt Redux website

Picture, top, courtesy MTAA
GH interviews artists Steve Mumford and Inka Essenhigh at the Drinkin' & Drawin' Competition.