2001 Notebook: Weak XLVII
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20 November 2001
The Twenty-Three Wyoming Counties
It’s been a while since I published any tedious retinal art, so I decided to end the cease-fire by making a piece called Forty-Seven Cities and Towns in Kansas. The idea was as simple as it was boring: using an outline of the American state of Kansas, I’d put some sort of geometric icon over forty-seven cities and towns, each on its own page.

I ran into immediate and insurmountable problems as soon as I began the project. Kansas isn’t rectangular; some of the state’s borders are squiggly, and thus too complex for me to draw. (In fact, anything except a straight line or a circle is too complicated for me to draw.) That’s when I turned to Iowa, but that sorry state has even wigglier sides.

Wyoming came to my rescue, and just in time. I’m not sure whether Wyoming is a rectangle or a trapezoid or neither; my maps can’t agree. In the end, the only map that fit on my scanner said, “Wyoming is a trapezoid,” so that was that.

I ended up using a simplified bull’s eye instead of a pure geometric shape, and used counties instead of cities and towns. I could go into more detail about the process, but then my description would be even more boring than the piece itself. That’s a mistake all too many artists make, an error in judgment I’ll avoid if only for today.

The Twenty-Three Wyoming Counties is available in the PDF format; the usual technical annoyances and considerations still apply.

21 November 2001
I Heard This With My Ears
I’m often delighted when people use tools the “wrong” way, especially when language is the tool in question. For example, I just heard an Asian woman say, “I saw it with my eyes, the building shaking.”

What a beautiful phrase!

I heard her say it with my ears.

22 November 2001
Purportedly Rich in Noumena
I rarely regret my limited formal education or my relatively small vocabulary except on days like today. I inadvertently ran across the word “noumenon,” and now I wonder how I ever got along without it.

My piss-poor dictionary tells me that noumena are objects that can be deduced intellectually, but not perceived by the senses. If I was foolish enough to try to define art, I don’t think I’d be able to do so without using the word, “noumenon.”

My semantic discovery should lead to immediate payoffs. Now, when someone asks what kind of art I make, I’ll no longer reply, “bad conceptual art.” Instead, I will claim to make pieces “purportedly rich in noumena.”

23 November 2001
Annoying Clothing
I’ve always thought that there were two attitudes to take toward clothing: indifference and interest. Now, thanks to Robert, I understand that some people find certain attire annoying.

Robert provides sign-language translations for deaf audiences. Robert sometimes wears a gingham, checked, purple and white shirt with a bright purple tie. After a recent engagement, a member of the audience politely told Robert that his attire made it difficult to read his hands.

(Widespread reports of Rammy the Ram’s late arrival are beyond the scope of this anecdote.)

Maybe Robert will change his wardrobe. Maybe he won’t. That’s his problem. (And his viewers’ problem as well, I suppose.)

My problem is this: suddenly, I realize I am surrounded by annoying clothing.

24 November 2001
Marissa’s Art Eradication Strategy
When Clarice and I were talking about the preservation of art and artists’ archives, she cited the practice of her friend Marissa. Decades ago, Marissa was an adamant proponent that art must be topical, contemporary, and only for the moment. Unlike some artists who extensively document their “temporary” works and package every shred of ephemera, Marissa rigorously destroyed everything.

Marissa succeeded in ensuring her early work was truly ephemeral. Today, she’s convinced that none of her early works were even documented, let alone preserved.

And, of course, now Marissa regrets that there’s no trace of her early past. Poor Marissa, she got what she wanted. What could be worse?

25 November 2001
Benthham’s Auto-Icon
Once upon a time, the British more or less ruled much of the planet. That was a long time ago. Even though the Brits long ago lost their grip on the world, they’ve retained the crown in another arena: eccentricity.

And that brings us to Jeremy Benthham, who’s not been very well of late. Benthham has, in fact, been very much dead since 1832. That’s when he had the brilliant idea of bequeathing his stuffed corpse, his “Auto-Icon,” to London University.

Time has not stood still for Benthham. Like many other university lecturers, Benthham’s repeated lost his head to young students. In Benthham’s case, though, the loss has been literal: the precocious students kept stealing it. That’s why university officials have stored Benthham’s head in the basement for safekeeping.

Had university officials taken the same precautions with Benthham’s body, it might or might not be crawling with the woolly bear larvae that infect it today. Benthham’s Auto-Icon is currently in Worchester being deloused; that’s where researchers concluded he has the oldest woolen underwear in London.

Benthham should be home by no later than February.


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©2001 David Glenn Rinehart