Sunday, June 13, 2010

Yes, Yes. I'm listening....

Missive #65, 2009

I began listening to books on tape while working on painting jobs back in the 90's.  The books provided fertile ground for my mind during the hours upon hours I spent alone in nearly automatic physical work.  Now I listen to a spate of podcasts and some audio books on my ipod.  (My ipod and my Netflix subscription are the two single most life "enhancing" accessories I've acquired in this century.)
I don't have so much uninterrupted alone time in which I can listen, but listen I do, when commuting, or doing dishes, or some of my more repetitive studio tasks.  I imagine that at times, the level of listening to programs reaches that point of distraction to which President Obama referred recently.  And it's true, the reason that I listen, mostly, to be informed, to be entertained, and experience many of the books I should have read in high school but never did.  Occasionally, a particularly heady mix can be overwhelming, especially if it sends me on an inspired train of thought relevant to some current work at a moment when I'm otherwise engaged and can only scratch out a few lines of notes, and hope I can remember to revisit the topic later when I can flesh it out a bit.
But I'm interested in stories, ideas and how some ideas can cross over,  form, and inform others, and how those are then transmitted to yet others in a multiplying effect.  ( I'm always fascinated by the viral and the ambulatory potential of concepts.

So here's a sampling of the programs I listen to regularly (and support financially as I able):

A variety of Public Radio programs, particularly Fresh Air, Science Friday, This American Life, The Story, APM's Marketplace Money
Bob Edwards Weekend is informative and pleasurable most of the time, and It's great to hear this voice again after he was unceremoniously kicked to the curb by NPR several years back.  Along with all the interviews he does, he's picked up the This I believe banner on which NPR was doing segments for a time.  Virtually week in, week out Edwards and TIB executive producer Dan Gediman dig into the audio archives of the Edward R. Murrow program dating from the 50's ...classic high minded/ high ideal sort of stuff.
I dig Studio 360 as it's the only nearly main stream broadcast program that covers visual arts on a consistent basis - and there's usually something provoking within each episode.
Bad at Sports is a weekly staple of my art thought diet, while Sound Opinions is my Monday morning commute ritual.
The Moth is another treat - fairly short episodes of people telling their own stories to a live audience.  This one runs the gamut from hilarious to heartwrenching, and there's rarely a dud that makes it through.  In a way, it's a mini capsule of much of that which is good in what This American Life offers.

I've just started listening to the Poetry Foundation's Avant-Garde All the time podcast hosted by Kenneth Goldsmith.  I wrongly resisted listening to this for a while (for no good reason), even hough I deeply appreciate all the treasures held within the online archive of  I guess I feared that I'd be mired in a rambling collage of obscure sound bites...and although I enjoy poetry (theoretically), much as with the commitment of viewing video art, I feel I have to be prepare myself for whatever it may demand of me - and that's not an easy thing to do if I'm doing the dishes or something else.  I need not have worried though, and I should have checked it out much sooner given how much I enjoyed Goldsmith's talks at Dia:Beacon, and how I've come to respect him as a deeply thoughtful dude and excellent communicator.  In the couple of episodes I've listened to thus far, Goldsmith narrates you through a collection of audio works from the archive, presenting either snippets of recorded pieces.  His contextualization sets the tone and, I find, is a great impetus to dig deeper through the website for other works.

Another program I look forward to each week is Marketing Over Coffee.  The two hosts, John Wall and Christopher Penn, meet each week to record at a Dunkin Donuts put on an informative, easy to listen show.  I find this podcast interesting on a technical side as I look at how I may use the internet for promoting my work and, certainly networking, but also as a way to consider using online infrastructure as a conceptualized delivery system for projects and artwork - like last December's advent project.  The scope of the show is very specialized and might be too "inside baseball" for those not engaged with the topic, but I get something out of it when I listen...And best of all, unlike other podcasts that may hold some value for me if I can wade through the untidiness of the presentation, these guys don't waste my time, they have a good personal rapport, they banter, but they stay on point with their topic - and it's a reward for the listener. 
With that unsolicited endorsement out of the way, do I want to thank the pair for mentioning me and my website on their program.  During an episode, they mentioned they had a physical mailing address in the unlikely event anyone preferred to send snail mail, so a Missive postcard (pictured at the top of this post) was dispatched forthwith.   They rightly interpreted the piece as stacks of jeans and puzzled over that fact.  For a period of time, long ago, I worked at the Levi's store on 59th & Lex in NYC and Missive #65 is made up of  fragments of photos I took in the store... a little behind the artwork secret secret for you.  These postcards are collages of old snapshots and are like my history remixed, and mashed-up.

Looking at my list, there are loads of podcasts that have gone dormant, or ....
There are several podcasts relating to certain university courses, various art related lecture/roundtable series like the Frieze Art Fair, SVA's visiting critic talks (this is a video pod) available on Itunes U.  There are various museum podcasts which at times can be interesting, but often sound like they are pandering to a novice audience.  SFMOMA, or the Henry Art Gallery in Seattle are included in this list.  The National Gallery will intermittently post some great talks.   MoMA's podcast posting on Itunes U has long gone dormant, and I'm really disappointed by this.  There are some great talks in their online archive and on Itunes U.  The Tate Modern's Tate Events is, by sheer volume, the best maintained Museum podcast., dense with hour upon hour of potentially dry as dust dissertations and talks, but often there are some real great moments worth listening to. One of my favorites was a conversation with Lawrence Weiner in Feb 2008 (many of the presentations are archived on the Tate's website as videos which is a plus for some presentations.  lacking the visuals.

Also on the video podcast side (which is great when riding the train) are Tedtalks, Vernissage TV, Coolhunting.
Several of the above programs are non profit and depend on support from listeners, and I have, when possible, directed a couple of bucks their way.

Alright, that's about enough...but now you know what I'm listening to.

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