the Horn Farm Paste Mob


1. People who enjoy a work understand something about it that people who don’t enjoy it do not (initially) understand.

2. There is no cultural, aesthetic or critical question that can be resolved by asking whether a thing is art.

3. If someone thinks they enjoy an artwork, they do.


Simon Evans

When I went to the SFMOMA retrospective with R (in May), there was one piece that really stood out to me– a city map doctored with text that seemed sometimes facetious (a contact address is listed as “2470 Purgatoire”) and sometimes outside cartography’s normal discursive bounds entirely (the legend “Main Gate – Security is a child against a building.”) It was titled “Different Drugs”, by Simon Evans, and when I finally remembered to look him up yesterday, I was thrilled to learn that all of his work is kind of like that:

Simon Evans (small images of selected works)

I’m a sucker for this sort of thing; eerie, abrasive, verbal. “ORIGINAL LOCATION OF ANGRY MUSIC FOR COWARDS”, “TOUGH VOICE MAKES MY HEAD LOOK SMALLER”, “IF YOU CAN’T KEEP YOUR SHIT TOGETHER ON TV WE WILL EAT YOU”. I was not surprised to read that he’s a big fan of The Fall. I was more surprised, though it makes sense, to see that he’d exhibited with Brendan Fowler of BARR, whose spoken-word pieces keep threatening to be generically confessional in the same way Evans threatens to be generically political; both of them seem to love wriggling out of their own traps.


three is three

The other day, something reminded me of 12 Inches Of Snow, the first album by Canadian reggae vocalist Snow. Its title is a rare example of a triple-entendre in popular culture: “12 inches of snowfall”, “a 12-inch record (i.e. an LP) by Snow”, and “Snow’s penis is 12 inches long!”

At least, I think such things are rare. The only other one I can come up with, off the top of my head, is the name of Parappa’s master in Parappa The Rapper. Chop Chop Master Onion is an animated onion (something you chop up), an Asian stereotype (“chop chop!”), and a martial-arts master (who teaches Parappa to do a karate chop).

In both cases, I’m not totally confident all three meanings were intended by the creators, though it seems likely. (The fact that LPs are exactly a foot across might seem too obscure to refer to were it not for “twelve-inches”, i.e. non-LP singles of that size. But also, that was 15 years ago, and even if nobody was buying vinyl, it was still a pretty vivid cultural memory.)

Possibly I have idiosyncratic criteria for ‘real’ triple-entendres, but there must be more. At the very least, there must be a third one!


A monster is a kind of person.

Something like ten years ago, Graham Nelson created the computer language Inform for people to write Infocom-style text adventures in. Now, though, Inform has been completely rewritten so that programs look (kind of) like English text, and the programmer has a slick interface to get data about their game from– branching trees of events, indexes of objects created in the program, maps… Inform 7.

I can’t wait until I have time to play with this. Natural-language programming for adventure games seems to be a win-win situation; to the extent that it’s truly natural, the programmer has a wonderful tool, and to the extent that it’s not, you get appealling passages like this:

 A thing can be whole or ruined. A thing is always whole.   To obliterate (item - a pictorial thing):      now the item is ruined;      now the item does not incriminate the player.  
 Before burning something which is protected by an important impervious thing (called the protector):      say "[if the noun is the player]You barely feel anything, thanks to[otherwise][The noun] resists flame, thanks to its link with[end if] [the protector]." instead.  
 A monster is a kind of person. A monster can be hostile or indifferent. A monster is usually hostile. Definition: A monster is scary if its strength is 50 or more. Definition: A monster is feeble if its strength is 10 or less. Some kinds of monster are defined by the Table of Monstrous Beasts.   Instead of asking a monster about something: say "[The noun] is unreachable on most levels." 

it’s worse than we thought

There may be only a few years left before The Mountain Goats acquire nuclear capability.


that was fast

Lala just posted a note saying exactly what I wished for yesterday:

We’d like to encourage those members that do have their Cover Art to ship it with their CDs. Keeping in mind, however, that Cover Art and/or Liner Notes can increase the amount of postage needed to ship your envelope. Typically, any Cover Art composed of 4 pages or less should be covered by the .63 cents postage that la la supplies. If your Cover Art is larger than this, we suggest you add .24 cents postage to cover the extra weight of your shipment. (here)

Go them! I guess “beta” means “beta”.

They also seem to want to fix the problems that arise from recommending records to people based on what they’re getting rid of. We’ll see how that works out.


la la la, i can’t hear you

I rarely get excited about internet music startups based on the description, but as soon as I heard about, I wanted to try it. People post lists of CDs they have to trade and matches them up; receiving a disc costs $1.50, which is not much more than you’d pay in postage if you did this on your own, and Lala sends you Netflix-style prepaid envelopes. It’s in beta right now and nominally invite-only, but you can sign up here without having to prove you’re special or anything.

On my Mac, the interface hangs in Safari, but works fine in Firefox. (I think I’ve been typing that sentence a lot lately.) It’s very easy to use so far. Only two problems:

1. Their database doesn’t know that (e.g.) “Grifters” and “The Grifters” are the same band. I assume that will change, but for now it may mean losing potential customers who don’t realize it.

2. The shipping guidelines include “No liner notes.” The site explains that this is because they might increase your package’s weight beyond its prepaid postage, but that problem could be solved by saying “no booklets over 8 pages”, or (better) “remove the booklet’s front cover, and include only that and the back-tray card.”

The back-tray card is essentially a fixed weight, and not including it means the recipient won’t have a spine label if they put their new disc in a jewel case. AND it generally has the most useful portion of the liner notes’ information. While not everyone cares, I would bet enough people will to matter.

I’m excited anyway.


Wangechi Mutu

I visited SFMOMA with a friend last week; both of us were seriously impressed by the exhibition on the top floor of work by Wangechi Mutu, a young (early 30s) New York artist born in Nairobi. Ten of her pieces are here.

Gender! Collage and installation art! Incorporation of/response to Surrealist representation of the body! I guess it’s not surprising I like (what I’ve seen of) Mutu’s work. I’m reminded of how much it amazed me to realize how collage art had been radical and new a century ago when the modern print industry made it possible.

Why does the ICA have to be so tiny? I wish I knew more about current art.



Click here.

Colin Holden is both a friend of mine and an artist whose work I really, really like. For a while he’s been threatening to put up a webpage of it, and at last he has! One of the pieces will be familiar to some of you.

The page doesn’t mention just how large everything is, though in many cases you can get a sense of it by looking at the detail images. I’m pretty sure I haven’t seen the finished version of “The various tensions inherent within western civilization condensed…” in person, which I hope to remedy soon. (Close-ups here, here, here, here, here, and here.)


a passion for music as an expression of art

Intergalactic Vaudevillian Steamship is a blog devoted to bringing readers the worst of rock press releases. “Lion Fever is a make-believe sickness that has manifested itself into a full blown disease.” “The band’s music captures an intense blend of excitement, pain and sincerity.” Etc. The gap between being music-geeky enough to find this funny without being jaded enough to be bored may be narrow, but at the moment I find myself in it.


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