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Jeroen Nelemans has made a career of working with living materials. He’s created spectacular large-scale installations with barnacles, seaweed, and even mold. His installation Six Feet Above is currently on view at the gallery at Broward College. The piece is a large hanging rectangular grid composed of a combination of astroturf and real grass. A pedestal in the center allows the viewer to emerge above the surface of the grass, which cuts the space in half horizontally.
Though they’re concerned with the transformation and recontextualization of natural phenomena, Nelemans’ work is always about the experience of the spectator. These are not conceptual pieces, meant to be understood and known about, or earth works, meant to be experienced either as vast monuments or as ephemeral aerial photographs — they are carefully scaled to the human body, intended to be moved through and experienced. The presence of the viewer’s body often completes the pieces.
The other part of Nelemans’ practice is video work, and the Broward College show includes a loop of some of his time-manipulation works, including TheLOOP, which combines three different filmings of the same sequence of a run of a train on Chicago’s elevated transit train line. Also on view is Live Feed-ing, in which a video monitor mimics a fish tank with goldfish in real time.
At the opening reception Nelemans gave a talk and showed several of his other pieces, explaining the connections between his video work relates to traditional Dutch landscape painting, and revealed some of the sophisticated techniques he’s had to figure out to achieve certain effects. This piece, for instance, uses Adobe After-effects to combine 231 close-up shots of insects into a single grid:
I’ve known Jeroen Nelemans for many years, and it’s interesting to see him staying with the impulses that motivated his earliest work while branching out into both more playful and more serious directions.
Cool: The Daily Beast brings a new site dedicated to art. I love mainstream coverage of contemporary art, and I’m befuddled by how little of it there is, e.g., on the shows of NPR stars (Gross, Rehm, et al.) who otherwise do not shun the Quasi-esoteric.
WikiLeaks cannot be seen in the same way. There has been, from the outset, something about its activities that goes way beyond liberal conceptions of the free flow of information. We shouldn’t look for this excess at the level of content. The only surprising thing about the WikiLeaks revelations is that they contain no surprises. Didn’t we learn exactly what we expected to learn? The real disturbance was at the level of appearances: we can no longer pretend we don’t know what everyone knows we know. This is the paradox of public space: even if everyone knows an unpleasant fact, saying it in public changes everything. One of the first measures taken by the new Bolshevik government in 1918 was to make public the entire corpus of tsarist secret diplomacy, all the secret agreements, the secret clauses of public agreements etc. There too the target was the entire functioning of the state apparatuses of power.
From Slavoj Žižek’s essay about WikiLeaks, into which he weaves Socrates, The Dark Knight, Leo Strauss, and the obligatory double-scoop of Marxism. Via Fimoculous, which happily is back after a lengthy hiatus despite Rex’s insistence that it’d never be back.
Yesterday I casually mentioned going back to vegetarianism on Twitter, and I got some responses! Arielle Castillo, music blogger turned chef, mentioned The Vegetarian Myth. I haven’t read it, but I’m familiar with the basic argument — that it’s ok to eat meat so long as it’s sustainably produced.
Sustainable meat means something fairly specific, described best in Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma (which I have read, and which I heartily recommend). It involves animals raised the way they would have been on small farms before industrialization — cows eating grass while fertilizing the ground with their manure, chickens eating the grubs that grow in the manure, etc etc. It’s markedly different from the factory farming that raises 99% of the meat available in the US. And — critically — the factory farming that raises 100% of the meat available in South Florida. Because the small farms that produce truly sustainable meat? They just ain’t here.
Feedlots — how practically all meat is produced in the world today.
Or maybe that’s an exaggeration? The chain Chipotle makes some weak claims to “attempting” to buy “some” of their meat from sustainable sources. I suppose eating there is at least a wallet-vote for more production like that. Then there’s places like Miller’s Organic Farm, which produces sustainable meat in Plantation for customers it deems sufficiently worthy. The application asks why you’re interested in their products and provides a box for a short essay answer. What’s going on here?
Maybe it’s the start of something. Michael Pollan started a wave of increased consciousness that’s slowly sweeping the nation, and places like Miller’s Farm are the tip of the iceberg. Maybe their bizarre buying model is based on their small quantities and slowness of retailer interest. Arielle tweeted later that she’s maybe working on a story about these farms, so let’s look forward to that.
Two things to mention before I end. The other book I should mention is Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, which is very well summarized in his article for the New York Times — as pasionate an argument for
vegetarianism eating non-sustainable meat as you’re going to find. And lastly, forget “organic” meat. The stuff at Whole Foods labeled organic comes from the exact same factory farming system as non-organic food, except that those animals are fed “organic” corn meal instead of regular corn meal. They’re better, but only marginally, and they don’t address the basic objections raised in these books.