An aware chair is not really a good joke. I’m not a funny person either, so I understand. I think that classification, being genuinely funny, comes from giving an audience what they want, an ability to feel a room. I just tell jokes for myself, like most unfunny people. I constantly observe things in a way that entertains me, I tell a great many jokes for my amusement, so most of them flop. They’re not supposed to leave. This starts to become a joke in itself, a sucked out observation, dry and cracked, that things are on a spectrum, they’re funny and they’re not funny. That’s funny. I’m not funny.
Saying a prop is a prop is that kind of deadpan sucked out joke. It’s not a joke except it has to be acknowledged as a joke. I don’t even know the truth of it. Everything in Exhibition, as a diorama of a gallery, is a prop. They’re all reproductions, representations, a virtual glamorization of some assumed actual. This observation particularly bends the first painting’s appearance. A chair contrasts subliminally, a talking chair screams that contrast, and I now wonder if the painting is a painting or a prop. It could be a black and white photo of that same chair. I’m forced to reckon with everything’s weird honor code, of identifying and ascribing values based on accumulated values, of being a fine work of art because it’s displayed. And then such it is.
Text on the chair painting reads, “Doctor Freud killed my father and banged my mom.” Its shadow looks like an apron, dormant next to a goofy looking trilby. Muted light and sort of black make a harsh light source, cutting and overtaking eachother, essentializing most of the space as dramatic. The objects are softly angular, they’re nonthreatening. This lends an air of entropy I think, they minimize the space they take up. A sensation of shrinking. I don’t know what this contrast is for. It’s another not really funny joke. Psychoanalysis is seduction. Simple answers to complex phenomena. Freud was totally invested in gender essentialism; those methods have gone down as empty hucksterism. This presentation of that essentialism, a dead father and seduced mother, an apron and a hat, may be making light of the scope of that essentialism but isn’t separate from it. Though the shrinking to me seems to convey an abandonment, of a mother and father separated from eachother and their child, the cause being whatever.
My favorite painting in the gallery is the fourth one above. I don’t think it’s actually an oil painting, but the color and saturation is reminiscent of that kind of realism. The left, a suffering reality; the right, uniform noise. They’re dead of course. This chair is just a prop, a strewn symbol of the office. It doesn’t belong in this room and it cinches the room also as that which isn’t right. And the dynamic seems obvious. On the left is unsustainable labor, on the right is a singularity. Pixels of indeterminate size and shape, invoking uniformity but avoiding any kind of pattern. The mind easily imagines this digital pattern covering all. A seeming post-post-modern overtaking, of technology or new uniform meanings. It’s a powerful arrangement containing multitudes. But the office is already dead. This overtaking isn’t a state change. Rather than an overtaking it’s an equality. This is the same as that. Our singularity is a spirit killer.
A blistering, screaming red. It doesn’t survive in a screenshot. Its lack of saturation is more akin to noise. Stripping feelings normally associated with red with a conjuration of covered, missing space. A consuming blot. This is that which can’t be cleaned away; inescapable conditions of violence. This red conveys trauma, the unspeakable, the known and unsaid. Just harsh enough to prompt an aversion of the eyes, to blur and become indistinct. Not harsh enough to inspire a full disconnect. Dissonance, then, a partial disconnect, a haze of presence and thought. It stays outside of the works to imply a state of conditions relating to them. It embodies the works to state that it’s inseparable. Separate and yet seeped; framed separate and yet of it.
An unfinished humanoid comes of the red, lacking features besides the noise that surrounds, inexplicably wearing a suit but maimed. The suit’s gray meets with their misshapen blue flesh, though from a distance they look planetary. Earth and human, a relationship lopsided, asymmetrical. It’s small compared to the negative space. Maybe trying to focus is like that, trying to keep perspective, and it’s always a small part against the noise. In other words, something never perfect. An ugly struggle, never sensibly, never quite right, ironically detached from rationalization. From the screaming which we all come into, from which it permanently textures our identity. An order that feels, dumbfoundedly, governed by that what fills and takes, instead of that which makes whole.
I’m not sure what the next image is physically portraying, but here’s to guessing. There’s a wall, a window, outlets, and what I think is a purse. Closely grouped with the purse is assumedly a solvent and a cloth. Their close grouping is a stated association. This solvent and cloth are meant to be carried around, they’re not exclusive to this room. Resting on the red noise, the cloth cannot soak it up. It’s dirtied, but not stained red, so this redness is cleanliness, unable to be absorbed or wiped away. A portion of the wall is inexplicably covered by the thick pool. Casually adjacent to reality, eroding its sanctity but not its existence, an uneasy coexistence. I think, more than anything, this illustrates a normalcy, a mundane complacency, with something blotting and all-consuming. Oppression that stays thick even in a home environment.
My second favorite drawing in Exhibition is this one of the footless deer, challenging the viewer, standing in front of a bus stop which is in front of nothing. Red noise makes up an impossible floor, contrasted with a sky of dead, pure white. A contrast, the dissociative red loses much of its power against what is familiar void. This white is harsher than a canvas, it’s the artificial sheen of printer paper, a white that leans on technology. This is a modern nothing, a tangible nothing, against a representation of lack. They gently flow beside each other, they’re comfortable, somehow similar. I feel the challenge is to consider what we’ve lost, with what we’ve gained, as a coexistence. That loss is gain, it’s tumultuous. Their simultaneous occurrence makes teasing the two impossible. It’s impossible to comprehend until ecosystems of the past and future clash teasing cognitive dissonance at what is while being what can’t be.
In high school, tenth grade, our english class warmed up each day with a ten minute writing exercise. There was a prompt, but if you didn’t find it interesting, it was fine to write outside of the prompt. I almost never followed the prompt, until it was required to follow the prompt, finally. I guess my teacher caught on, or people noticed me getting away with it (students did have to, sometimes at random, share what they wrote). I’ve lost and forgotten nearly every entry I wrote for the class, I mean, nothing was meant to be permanent after all. I tried writing a novel off of one of my warm-ups. The drafts are terrible, I’ll never finish it, but I think of it sometimes as a videogame and it’d work. It’d work but it’s profusely dumb and it’ll probably never see the light of day. Though, in remembering, I want to make it. I want to see my most innocent idiocy light up the world.
I can remember a few more entries now, but they don’t matter, it’s just interesting how all of this was blocked from view, and now I see that belated eulogy I wrote about Elliott Smith. In many ways I’m still that kid, still writing the same not-quite-sad, never-happy, disaffected shit. Eliott Smith’s music is amazing and it also draws in insufferable fuckboys like flies. Why does it make me angry, why does it make so many on the internet angry, to see entitled men handle their depression ignobly? It’s not a hard question. Nobody has the luxury really, but somehow, the same kinds of people since modernism, always parade in their ennui. Like a base reaction is they’re immature and need to grow up, I see threads of that thought on twitter all the time, but they’re grown. We all know they’re grown. This is how they grew, left stunted, they’ll never cope, they’re never given the tools. It’s frustrating how it manifests in some people, but the root isn’t different.
Initially I confused the image above with someone’s thoughts, their mathematical learning, being blown out of their brain. Which provoked a visceral first memory, of english class, of a particular warm up, of having to talk to my teacher after class. Unbounded my boring, unnecessary nostalgia began to flow, but this is important, if only because I feel an unchanging stasis. I’m not like I was six years ago, I’m not like I was an hour ago. But I’ll never hit a satisfying answer because I see myself denied the tools. I’m not sure what the tools are yet.
That day I wrote that the pursuit of knowledge is fruitless. The more knowledge I gained, the more I alienated people, the more I felt alone. If the purpose in life is to live, if it is the only inconvertible purpose to living in that it is self-explanatory, then knowledge seemed counterintuitive. It seemed to lower the quality of my own life. For anything that enriched my inner self, I learned of horror and injustice. Through learning I built up a personal code that was woefully inadequate to assimilate into society with. I wrote that the pursuit of knowledge is demonstrably detrimental to an individual, being something insatiable, filling up a lack inside the self with more and more angles of knowing how much lack there is, and how the lack never ends. It is a wholesale myth that ignorance is worse than knowledge, because within ignorance is confidence. Ignorance is a means of comfort, it fuels adaption. I believed an ignorant person takes up less responsibility and ultimately less space, at least to their own perception, which, in the context of staying alive, seems to be an inarguable boon. If someone knows not how they’re inadequate, then for all intents and purposes, they are not.
I guess this clashed with objective reality. It got under my teacher’s skin. I didn’t know it then, but I know now. She talked with me after class and I think it’s because she read what I wrote as an attack on her career, absolutely a great part of her identity. I did not mean it in that way. So, of course, instead of engaging, she talked down to me, saying that knowledge is how you better yourself. There’s no way to get ahead, to become anything in life, without learning. Because of learning we know who we are, we build relationships, and we find success in life. Knowledge is the foundation of society. This lecture was very classist, more than my abridged version leads on, but it also wasn’t wrong. I don’t like confrontation. I mumbled that she was right, it was just a thought experiment, and shuffled my way to the next class. And you know, it was something that just spilled from me in under ten minutes.
Other screens, above the illustration of math death, are from the comic OKx2, by 2(3-5[278-25678]), who is the artist of Exhibition. I don’t know what their alias is supposed to mean, except to be something that’s hard to say and remember, and they accomplished that much. I thought the comic was too splintered and quick with its pacing. OKx2 tossed out plot beats, jokes, and general thoughts immediately as they were established. I loved the artwork and continued regardless, finding that once it established its tempo, there was a solid, idiosyncratic whole being teased out. This occurred at the near end of the comic, which left me well, sorry to be a cheese, but it left me wanting more.
If not apparent from context, the protagonist of the comic has surgery to force him into disability, which will prevent him from writing. This disability manifests as actual ability, an exaggerated eloquence that’s annoying, though stereotypical for someone who self-identifies as a writer. There seems to be a mean-spirited edge of ruminating on the purpose of traditional literature and arts culture in a society that’s unable to appreciate the arts at large. It works as satire. It’s also so convincing I have a hard time taking it as ironic, even alongside its absurdity, even as the comic is signalling for any reader to not take it totally serious. There is a raw alienation occurring between the protagonist and their world, and it’s an uncomfortable object of satire, because there’s no presence of institution in the comic, just desperate writers barely making ends meet.
I don’t know. Sometimes I feel even more unconvinced of intellectual truism. There is goodness, I’m thankful for relationships I’ve made and the quiet purpose I’ve decided to match. I feel an urge to denounce elitism, but I see the same dilemma. This subculture isn’t elite. It’s weird and esoteric. As I contemplate the fruits of my labor, my truism seems as counterintuitive as ever. This is success of some kinds, but not others. I don’t think there’s true happiness and I think that’s what I failed to see as a teenager. There will never be a time where a person stops being ignorant.
2(3-5[278-25678]) on itch